Money Well-Spent Not Evil – July 9, 2017 – Daily Chronicle

I recently had a minor windfall. I found a quarter! It reminded me of another day when I walked to the hair salon where we used to live.

I heard mourning doves cooing under some bushes. Stepping off the sidewalk to investigate, I spied a quarter nearby. Eureka! Slipping it into my pocket, I continued walking, forgetting about the doves.

I passed a school playground. A dime was lying there under a swing set. Might have been milk money for some youngster, but I slipped it into my pocket without qualms. Maybe he’ll be more careful next time.

As I reached the hair salon parking lot, a nickel next to a parking meter caught my eye. Is there no end to my good fortune today?

Someone must have dropped it as he fed the meter and was either unaware of it or too proud to stoop for a measly nickel. Not I. As a child of the Depression, I had no such pride.

I now had 40 cents more than when I began my walk.

Sitting under the hair dryer, I contemplated what to do with my new found riches. Not nearly enough for a gratuity for the hair dresser.

I thought of the old maxim, “”money is the root of all evil.””

Was I an evil person?

Then I recalled a different version of that saying. The pursuit of money is the root of all evil.”

Since I had not pursued this new-found wealth, I was in the clear and felt no guilt.

Walking home, I stopped at a news agency for a newspaper. I found two pennies as I crossed the parking lot.

Will they discontinue minting the lowly penny? They report that it costs more to mint than it’s worth.

I hope not. What is to become of me with a name like mil (small ““m,” which is a tenth of cent)?

The pennies reminded me when I was a little girl. My mother tied three pennies in the corner of my hankie (no disposable tissues back then). They were for the collection plate on Sundays at church. How I wished I could have purchased a jawbreaker or a stick of gum instead, as I dutifully donated them.

I don’’t recall what became of my windfall but you know the old saying, “easy come, easy go.”

At least I still have the quarter I found.

Two Ordinary Fathers –                                  June 21, 2017 – Daily Chronicle

Two males arrived (legally) in this country many years ago.

One was brought here as a toddler by his parents in 1888. Ellis Island was not processing immigrants at that time, so no record of his arrival exists.

The other arrived in 1918, processed at Ellis Island and was listed in the ship’s manifest as a single, 18-year old man.

The 18-year old came here looking for an opportunity – not entitlements. The toddler had no voice in the move.

New arrivals at the time sought the company of fellow immigrants and settled near them.

A common language bonded them, but they soon learned and adopted English and the culture here.

One settled in a metropolitan city, Chicago, and became a tool and die maker.

The other grew up in the Midwest on a small farm, where he and his siblings took up farming along with their father.

They found brides to whom they stayed married all their lives, had children who grew up to be useful citizens, just as they were. Their sons and daughters loved them dearly and respected them. They were successful in their chosen fields of work.

They grew up during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s but did not have to experience that hardship personally.The Depression. Also wars, in which their ages precluded their service.

Neither brought fame or shame to their good name. Their names did not ever appear on a police blotter. The same is true of their offspring. They lived and died with no public note, other than obituaries in local newspapers.

Their lives may be described as ordinary. One might also say they were fortunate. They brought their offspring up well, instilling in them a Puritan work ethic.

Take these two men and multiply them by the millions who have immigrated to this country and you have what is the bedrock of our population that makes it the great country that it is.

If we build a wall to keep out those who come here illegally thinking it is a land of milk and honey, that seems fair to me. At least we don’t have to build walls to keep people here.

To paraphrase an old saying, “Immigration is the sincerest form of flattery.”

By the way, those two male immigrants I mentioned above?

I’m proud to say they were my father-in-law and my father.


Do we have to leave Earth in order to survive? – June 8, 2017 – Daily Chronicle

Stephen Hawking, the genius theoretical physicist, said we must gather our belongings and get out in the next century if we are to survive.

Hawking suggests we are at great risk of mass extinction if we don’t leave Mother Earth.

I’m not really starting to pack just yet, but it’s a scary prediction that at least has me thinking about it, and I’m looking for an overnight bag.

I’d also start thinking where I’d like to live should his prediction come true while I was still alive (doubtful).

Man has been searching the skies for signs of intelligent life on other planets for years with no success.

If there is life on other planets, they’re probably far too intelligent to want to reach us. If they ever do so, we’d probably end up being their pets, like a family dog or cat. Can you see yourself playing fetch in the backyard like Fido does now? Or being relegated to being a mouse exterminator as the family cat?

Hawking went on to cite the danger of artificial intelligence. In a Washington Post article by Peter Holley, Hawking said: “Once humans develop artificial intelligence, it will take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans who are limited by slow biological evolution couldn’t compete and would be superseded.”

Have you ever tried to overrule your computer? There are times when mine seems to have a mind of its own – when it won’t allow me to use “ain’t” when making a point, or certain cuss words. (I don’t say “ain’t” and I don’t really curse, but it’s just an example.)

Remember Hal, the computer in the film, 2001 Space Odyssey? How he (it) took over?

Following is a quote I read and jotted down many years ago, from American nuclear physicist Ralph Lapp: “We are aboard a train which is gathering speed, racing down a track on which there are an unknown number of switches, leading to unknown destinations. No single scientist is in the engine car and there may be demons at the switch. Most of society is in the caboose looking backward.”

You’ve probably heard that we’re looking for signs of intelligent life on Mars.

Considering the mess the world is in, it begs the question – is there intelligent life here?

Stay-at-home mom vs. career mom – May 18, 2017 – Daily Chronicle

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. It got me thinking of the two types of modern mothers.

I admire women who combine motherhood with their ambitions for a career. The dual career is not for sissies.

When I was a child, few women worked outside the home until World War II. When young men went into the military, women filled the jobs that became available.

After that, women no longer were content to stay at home.

Women who stay at home are fortunate in being able to see their little ones take their first faltering steps and utter their first words.

It is not always possible, financially, for people to have this luxury. I have heard women, when asked what line of work they are in, reply: “Oh, I’m just a housewife.”

Excuse me? Just a housewife? That is an all-consuming role. Mothers are counselors, chauffeurs, nurses, dietitians, arbiters who settle small disputes among siblings, accountants who manage the limited budget of a single income, etc.

Later, when children leave home and head to college, mothers often resume working, because of the “empty nest” syndrome or find the need of more income to defray the cost of college tuition. Or increasing costs of living. Many women do not pine for a career, but simply find that they have to work.

Whether they stay at home raising children or combine work with motherhood, the rewards are wonderful. I salute all mothers.

Some day your little daughter may tell you she hopes when she grows up she will be just like you, or your toddler son climbs on your lap and tells you, “When I grow up I am going to marry you!”

Rearing children is a wonderful and rewarding experience. We need no license to do it and just blunder into the role, and do the best we can.

It’s a learn-as-you-go experience. We can only hope we did well.

In “First Mothers” by Bonnie Angelo, she profiled 11 recent presidents. The recurring theme throughout the book was how close they were to their mothers. She quoted from a book, “The Presidential Character,” by James David Barber, “Character building is placed squarely in the mother’s court.”

There is an old saying, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” I say, “Women who rock the cradles rock!”

Who knew we needed fidget spinners? –     May 3, 2017 – Daily Chronicle 

Am I the last person to learn about fidget spinners?

I like to think I am abreast of the times as I read the newspaper (at least the headlines) and catch the highlights of newscasts.

But this latest craze somehow escaped my detection.

I know a new version of the smartphone is just around the corner, although I don’t really understand what a smartphone does.

I am delighted to live in this technology era, even if much of it is beyond my comprehension. How do they come up with these things? To think that there is a need for so many items is a source of wonder to me.

I’m not quite on a par with the person who saw a Thermos bottle for the first time. When told it keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, he asked, “How does it know?”

Youth takes all this gadgetry in stride. While I am not exactly of the horse-and-buggy era, I have seen so many modern improvements, it never ceases to amaze me what the human mind can dream up.

A writer recently said, (and I quote), “”I must have spent the last month in a cave 500 miles from the nearest child.”

Granted, I am surrounded by elderly people my own age and considered out of the mainstream of life, but they are erudite retired college professors, teachers and people who still lead active lives.

We have kept up on some of the technological inventions such as computers, iPads, cellphones, etc.

We are part of the generation who fought wars, built factories and highways when the horse-and-buggy days ended, and there was a need for better highways and other improvements that are taken for granted now.

We may not fully understand a lot of the devices we use and appreciate.

But fidget spinners? Come on! What happened to just twiddling our thumbs?

Please bear in mind that this was written by an elderly female curmudgeon who thought they’d never improve on the Edison phonograph. (Just kidding, of course)

Bring on the new smartphone. I’ll be first in line to buy one if it will screen all telemarketing, surveys and other nuisance calls.

Is anyone working on ridding us of all the bleeping commercials on television and radio besides the mute button? That would be real progress.

A Less-Than-Awesome Start to a Career – April 14, 2017 – Daily Chronicle


April 26, now called Administrative Professionals Day, was previously called National Secretaries Day.

Years ago, before I retired, the nomenclature changed, but the duties remained the same – dictation, typing, filing, etc.

In high school, I decided I wanted to be a secretary upon graduation.

After taking stenography and typing, I became a secretary in the high school superintendent’s office during study periods.

Other gals also worked for him, but the superintendent appointed me his No. 1 secretary. It was a no-pay job, and we earned extracurricular points for performing clerical duties.

I shared the outer office with a football player who had broken his leg in football and could not navigate the stairs to the study hall.

When the superintendent announced that I was to be his No. 1 secretary, he said one of my duties would be to dust his desk each day. (Whoopee.) I was just 17.

I eagerly leaped to the task, knocking his Parker 51 pen off his desk! I can still see it stuck in the oak floor!

I picked it up and replaced it in its holder (although the point was now ruined); snickering was heard from the football player.

Next, the superintendent asked me to add up the figures he called out to me. The adding machine (pre-modern calculators) was an old relic that had a total button that you depressed while pulling the lever toward you to clear the machine. The lever came off and fell clattering to the floor; more chuckling from the football player.

Next, the superintendent dictated a letter that I took down in shorthand. Preparing to transcribe my notes, I twirled paper into the typewriter. When I hit the carriage return, (no automatic wraparounds back then) the typewriter plate sailed across the room.

More snickering. By now, my embarrassment was total.

Upon graduation, the football player presented me his photo, upon which he wrote “I’ll never forget you, the pen, the adding machine or the typewriter.”

I learned later he was responsible for the pranks, loosening the screws that held the adding machine lever and the typewriter plate on.

I confronted him at a high school reunion years later. Ironically, he did not recognize or remember me. But I never forgot him!

I’m happy to report, my secretarial career became a reality, despite the rocky beginning.

Happy Secretaries Day!

(Sorry, it will always be that to me.)

Great Thoughts about Little Things – April 4, 2017 – DeKalb Chronicle

            I’m taking a break from today’s more serious problems of the world, and offering  something superficial.  These are my own personal observations, in no particular order.             I hope they take your mind off of more serious current  events.

             Picture yourself lying on your back on a grassy hill watching white puffy clouds floating by against an azure sky. Let your mind wander.

            A radio commercial asks if we would like to have our personal debt cancelled.  A phone number is provided for further details.  The first thought in my head is, what about those who pay their debts promptly? How do they feel about this?

            Another scenario is a mother and daughter being told they look like sisters!  The mother beams. But how about the daughter who in all likelihood is at least about eighteen years younger than her mother.  How does she feel about the comparison?

            While carrying a full cup of coffee across the room to my computer, I find that if I look at it, I spill a little, but if I don’t look at it — no spill.  Why is that?

            If you speak to someone in a whisper, in all likelihood, they will also whisper.  In high school I had a sore throat and could not speak above a whisper.  I whispered to the teacher, “May I be excused today?”   He whispered back, ”Why?”

            Why hasn’t anyone invented a shoulder strap for handbags that stays on our shoulder?  Same about bra straps.

            Try this:    Ask a woman what color lipstick she is wearing and note, she will lick her lips before answering.

            When I can’t hear someone speaking to me, I raise my voice.  How does that help?

            When calling the theater asking for the start time of a movie, the time is not accurate because we are subjected to an endless showing of advertisements that go on and on long before the actual movie starts.

            We elderly tell the history of a piece of jewelry or garment we are wearing when someone compliments us on it.  Why do we do that?

            When someone asks “how are you?” we seniors reply by telling them more than necessary. Remember, “How are you” is a greeting.  Don’t tell them about your indigestion.   It’s a greeting,  Not a question.

            These are examples of things that puzzle me.  How about you?  Space constraints prevent adding more.

Quitting to Gain Self-Improvement – March 14, 2017  – Daily Chronicle

It is customary for some people to give up something during Lent.

I don’’t recall it being Lent back on March 5, 1956, but that was the day I quit smoking forever.

Back then, as a secretary, I worked among men who were free to smoke at their desks.  Women, however, were not allowed this privilege.

This was prior to the women’’s liberation movement in the 1960’s and most of us just accepted it.

I recently read a report that “tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease, even secondhand smoke.”

Reason enough to stop smoking.

That life-changing morning around 9 a.m. I left my desk to go to the ladies’ lounge to take a few quick puffs. I was preparing a monthly four-page legal-size financial statement for our parent company.  I could ill afford the time away from my desk, but the habit was strong.

As I took a few quick puffs, I thought “”this is silly,”” and put out the half-smoked cigarette and never smoked again. I gave away a half a carton of cigarettes, ashtrays and a lighter I had received as a gift. I told everyone in the office and all my close friends I was quitting.  My statement was met with derision. No one believed I could do it.

The reason I broadcast the news was, if I failed, I’’d be too embarrassed to admit it.  As time passed, I was often asked how I did it, “cold turkey.”

If you try and fail, at least those days you stick to it, it’’s good for you.

The habit was so ingrained in me that after three months when I was offered a cigarette by someone, I actually accepted it, leaned forward for a light, until a close friend grabbed it from my mouth, reminding me I had quit.

My late husband teasingly said, “”People quit one bad habit, and substitute it with another: “boasting about it.”” Not true. I only talked about it when people asked how I did it.

If you put your mind to it, you can do most anything.  Why not try it?

Even if you don’’t smoke, is there anything else you could give up in the way of self-improvement?

Worth a try. Good luck.

Just don’’t ask me to give up my email, iPad and computer.

The Difference Between Knowledge and Wisdom — February 27, 2017 — Daily Chronicle

When I was a young pre-school age girl, I used to accompany my father on his errands around our small town. Whenever we met people they’d ask how old I was and when I’d start school.

My doting father would say,  “Oh, she’s already so smart.  She won’t have to go.”

In my naiveté I believed him until that first fateful day when he walked me to school.  I cried all the way, reminding him of what he always said.

He explained how wonderful it would be to learn to read and get an education.

Learning to read was thrilling for me, even though I didn’t comprehend everything I read.    I may have sounded intelligent as I repeated what I’d read, without really knowing.  A talent to remember is a good thing.  But does not necessarily denote intelligence.

My dictionary defines knowledge as “The state or fact of knowing.”  And wisdom is “An understanding of what is true, right, or lasting.”

Knowledge is fleeting.  Wisdom lingers.

You may know it would not be smart to jump from a plane at high altitude without a parachute.  But wisdom keeps you from doing it.

An instructor once told us, we can’t know everything…but knowing where to seek answers is the first step to wisdom.

We have much data in books, the Internet, Television, etc.  But do we have more wisdom than our forefathers?

Old age does not necessarily endow us with wisdom and good judgment, much as we’d like to think it does.  We seniors sometimes feel we know better in all things.

A by-word of the elderly is, “We never used to do it that way.”  This indicates a reluctance to change anything.  I give you the saying,

“The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

War is a good example of insanity.

It is good to take away only what is important from any experience.

Mark Twain observed we should get out of an experience only the wisdom that’s in it.  A cat may sit on a hot stove lid once and know not to do it again.  But it also will not sit on a lot of cold ones in the future either.

A final thought:

My late husband said “It’s what we learn after we think we know it all that counts.”

What’s in a Name? — February 8, 2017 — Daily Chronicle

Donald Trump is the first “Donald” elected to the presidency.  I discovered six presidents were named James (“Jimmy” Carter, Garfield, Buchanan, Polk, Monroe and Madison) –  more than any other first name.
Five presidents named John (Adams, Quincy Adams, Tyler, J. Calvin Coolidge, Kennedy).
Four presidents named William (Harrison, McKinley, Taft, “Bill” Clinton).

No other presidents were named Donald, even though Donald ranks 440th as a popular name in the U.S.

One of Walt Disney’s famous cartoon characters is Donald Duck.  No political implication here on my part.

The Gaelic name Domhnall means ruler of the world.  (From the trusty Internet)

I wondered if any president changed his given name like so many movie stars did?  Would changing one’s name make one more successful?

Would Joan Crawford have made it as Lucille LeSueur?

Would Cary Grant have been the romantic idol he was as Archibald Leach?

Hedy Lamar was originally Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler.  But she was more than just a beautiful actress.  A not-so-well-known fact is that she was also a brilliant scientist and inventor.

When a baby is born, we have no way of knowing what type of personality it will have.  Do they become who they are later in life due to their moniker?

Baby girls are sometimes given masculine names. Does she become more masculine because of that?

Your name can also reveal your age.  I was once introduced to someone by my full name (Mildred) and when he heard my name, he said, “You must be about 50, right?” He endeared himself to me immediately — NOT.

Did I mention this happened years ago?

The Bible is often used as a source for names too.   The first name I thought of is Mary, of course.  Then there is Sarah, Ruth, Mathew, Mark, and the afore-mentioned James and John.  No Goliath though.

Is our personality influenced by our name?

Would I be different if my name were more glamorous?  I guess not when you consider “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Only works on the infamous rose.

I guess we are who we are.

Do you know why you were named as you were?