Category Archives: History

Making America Great Again – Circa 2050

duck and cover

I’ve wondered at times what it was about the 1950s and 1960s that allowed those two decades to dominate the nostalgia market during almost all the late 20th Century. In a lot of ways it just doesn’t make sense.

Sure, we had a better music, rhythm and blues, wailing ballads of quality country ad western, and all that new frontier of rock and roll at its birth. Songs we knew well enough to sing along, or alone as we rode down those roads before super-highways on used tires.

Old cars with personality, greasy hair, dandruff, acne and bad teeth. Parents and grandparents who went through the Great Depression and worked hard to assure we wouldn’t experience those kinds of difficult times.

Mostly at the time it was in the world around us and I don’t recall being all that happy about all the other crap that came with it. Constant brink of war sf a sort that it’s better not to remember. Knowing when you turned 18 you’d have the draft hanging over your head. And a lot of bullying everywhere you turned.

If you worked doing farm work the farmers and ranchers who hired you felt a moral obligation to shout and verbally abuse the workers anytime they got within earshot. Construction jobs? You’ve never seen bullying and abuse that could compete with a construction foreman. It was there on the school playgrounds, on the streets, anywhere people happened to be.

And mostly nobody much said a word. It just went with being alive.

Our little farm was just across the railroad tracks on the ‘Mexican’ side of town. When I was in the first and second grade I walked home from school the same way several ‘Mexican’ kids walked. I was smaller than them, anglo, and outnumbered. They started just by yelling insults, but gradually it worked up they’d chase me with sticks or throwing rocks at me.

There came a day I was running home just in front of them, arrived with my mother on the front porch. They gathered on the dirt road in front of the house, still shouting and throwing rocks.

“Get out of here you little Mescin bastards!” She ran down off the porch waving the broom. “I’ll twist your heads off and shove them up your butts!” She never got close to catching them, but they were off.

Then she came back where I was waiting on the porch and smacked me upside the head with the broom so hard it broke the handle. Grabbed me by the collar and proceeded to beat my backside with the handle fragment. “If I ever see you running away from a fight again you’d better not set foot in this house!”

When my step-dad got home she told him, and it was off to the back porch with his belt. But at least he followed that up a bit later by teaching me to fight.

I don’t know what these kids today are going to have to feel nostalgia about. Maybe some of them will have similar memories or they’ll just remember all the computer games and hum rap music to themselves and smile.

But you can almost bet when they reach 50 or so they’ll be rallying around the flag and trying to elect candidates who promise to make America great again. The way it is today.

Old Jules

How’s that work ethic coming along?

work ethic caption

Growing up in a family where everyone worked, was expected to work, some things are branded on the psyche and tend to remain there. When I was a pre-schooler and my mother was working in the cotton-patch pulling boles during harvest, my sisters and I had our own pillow-case sized sacks. And though we didn’t pull a lot of cotton, the experience established a niche in our thinking processes that never went away, for me.

[The Runaways – 1947, posted here July 9, 2013, tells a bit about that time]

It’s only as I had five-or-so decades of life behind me that I ever seriously examined the values concerning work I’d lived with and adhered to all my life.

I’d pursued a career almost twenty years, blindly believed my dedication to the job, and the job, itself, were a major piece of what made me valuable as a person. And a spinoff of that belief was that a person who didn’t hold that view and allow a job to measure his worth probably wasn’t worth much.

But toward the end of that career the realization began to creep in that I was devoted, pouring my heart into a job that probably didn’t need doing. That I was wasting my life and that I was actually having a negative influence on the lives of many other people by my single-minded pursuit of that career.

Tough wake-up call it was for me. Jangled my entire life.

So I left that career for another, and wasn’t long in realizing that I was not that job. The job was just a way of making a living. That I was actually in another job that probably didn’t need doing. And I looked around me and saw it was true for almost everything going on around me.

Yes, there are essential jobs out there. Jobs that really need doing. Running the municipal sewer plant, for instance. Driving the garbage truck. Making sure the crops farmers plant are nurtured and harvested. Delivering food essentials to the population. Placing food on the counters for sale to the public.

Now isn’t that interesting? The most fundamentally essential jobs in our ‘civilization’ are the least coveted? That the rewards for doing them are less than those for people selling something, or representing someone in a lawsuit, or working in a unionized factory as a piece of an assembly line? Or repairing automobiles?

I’m inclined to believe the entire issue of the work ethic in this country, and the people who embrace the notion it’s a measure of human worth, needs a lot more careful examination.

I hope I’ll be doing some more blog posts about it for a closer look. Which I expect will raise the hackles of some readers.

Old Jules

Why Napoleon’s troops shooting the nose off the Sphinx with artillery in 1799 was a good thing

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the British Empire the past few months, and considering the implications of its almost spontaneous collapse during the decades after WWII. This was written November, 2013, but I find it’s still worth a chuckle today. Old Jules

This reblog is only a portion of the original piece.   If you want to read the entire blog entry you can read it here: Why shooting the nose off the Sphinx was a good thing

So Far From Heaven

Hi readers.

A lot of you probably think the world would have been just as good a place if Napoleon’s troops hadn’t shot the nose off the Sphinx practicing with artillery in 1799.  You might even think if they’d just stayed home in France and shot the noses off every Frenchman they could catch the world would be better off?

In the interest of science, Napoleon's troops couldn't know what would happen up there without shooting some artillery at it to find out.  Same as Hiroshima and Nagasaki later on.  Theories are worthless unless they're tested. In the interest of science, Napoleon’s troops couldn’t know what would happen up there without shooting some artillery at it to find out. Same as Hiroshima and Nagasaki later on. Theories are worthless unless they’re tested.

Well, you’d be wrong.  Napoleon’s troops did just the right thing blowing off the nose of Sphinx.

Keep in mind, these were Frenchmen.  All they knew how to do at that point was try to take the heads off whatever got in the way.  But they saved the Sphinx.  If they'd left it alone until the British took over in 1802 the Sphinx would be in London.  Housed in a wonder-of-the-world-sized British Museum.  Same as everything else the British could haul off from every country they ever conquered. Keep in mind, these were Frenchmen. All they knew how to do at that point was try to take the heads off whatever got in the way. But they saved the Sphinx. If they’d left it alone…

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What the heck is a ‘domiciliary?

These were the Domiciliary Buildings…. they we used from the 1880s until after the Vietnam War.    One of the guys I play chess with lived in one of them a few times back in the late 1970s    They were full back then.

There was a time when the Doms had residents from the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War and World War 1.   They kept them separated by wards because they all thought their war was the ‘Big One’ and tended to try to injure one another over it.

Back then they fed everyone in a single building, had formations most days with everyone required to wear a uniform and turn out on the streets.   And they were kept busy repairing, landscaping, even digging clay for the bricks to build and repair the buildings on the campus.

The old house I live in was built in 1896 by these old guys, and it’s easy to see they weren’t carpenters.

Beginning January 1, 2018, they began some renovation on the old ‘dom’ buildings.    Some entrepreneur was given a 99 year lease on the buildings and they’ll have the interiors, currently death traps, torn out so’s the buildings can be rented out as apartments.

They’ve already done that to a few others not shown here, and the campus has around 200 residents living in the four buildings.  Maybe more.     When they’ve done the other thirteen old ‘dom’ buildings this place is going to be jam-packed again, but with all sorts of people I imagine.

Time hurries on.

Old Jules

The dreams of royalty lost

roadsigns

Around 1970 I was a part of a coffee klatch at the University of Texas Student Union Building ‘Chuckwagon’.    The group came together spontaneously and it included a number of people with whom I remained friends for decades, or the remainder of my life until now.

But the only woman in our group was an absolutely breath-taking beauty named Mishi Magyar.   When she sat down the conversation had to stop a few minutes while to allow our heartbeats to slow to normal.

But what distinguished Mishi from being just another pretty face was the weirdness of being the descendant of fairly recent royalty.    Mish was a member of the family that ruled Hungary from around 1000 ad until 1918.    And she believed she’d rule Hungary again in her lifetime.

You see, Mishi was convinced the reason things had gone so poorly for Hungary since 1918 was, first, the Hapsburgs inept rule until WWII, and the Communists later.   None of which, Mishi believed,would have happened had the Magyars remained in their proper place on the throne.

So given this unfortunate state of affairs for Hungary existing in 1970, Mishi believed when the Communists inevitably collapsed, Hungarians would see where it all went wrong and bring the Magyar kings back to lead them into a brave new world.

Mishi did have a backup plan, however.   She was engaged to the male heir, or one of the male heirs, to the Montgomery Ward fortune.    So on the off chance the Hungarians took too long getting rid of the Communists, she’d be sure to live in the style of US royalty.

I’ve sometimes wondered what ever became of Mishi.   Whether, when the USSR folded up its tents and went home, she waited anxiously for the Hungarians to demand her return to her rightful place in the world.    I suppose ‘return’ is a poor choice of words, because when I knew her, Mishi had never visited Hungary.

Anyway, I’ve done some web searches and have never found anything to indicate she married into the Ward fortune, became the Queen of Hungary, or just rode her pretty face into some roller-coaster of celebrity status.    She could have made a great mentor for, say, Paris Hilton.

I will say, however, that judging from a scan of the history of the end of Magyar rule in Hungary, Mishi didn’t show much evidence of having done much reading on the subject.    Hindsight.    Back when when her eyes were sparkling with enthusiasm across a table-full of guys I never thought to wonder enough to read up on it.

But it appears Americans do love royalty.   Even when the only royal families are either British or Muslim.    Mishi missed a great opportunity not trying to chase down Prince Charles of the day.    She might have been just what the doctor ordered to bring us back into the British Empire.

Thanks for the visit.

Old Jules

Baby it’s cold outside. And inside is nothing to brag about.

 

jan 16 2018 zero

Hi readers.   Thanks for coming by for a read.

I think our ancestors would most likely consider us a passle of sissies.   These old houses have seen a lot of extended periods when the outside temps didn’t get up to freezing.    Bound to have.    And in those days they were relying on steam radiators, fireplaces,  and lots of blankets.

Well heck.    I think yesterday it got into the 20s F for the first time in over a week.   And if it’s going to get into the teens today there’s no sign of it.     The ‘central heat’ here, combined with my electric radiator heater are just about able to keep the indoor temp up to 61 degrees F.   That’s not the level of warmth I find inspires me to take a badly needed shower, to I tried using the Coleman 30,000 BTU tank-top heater to get things nearer a welcome taste of clean.

Nothing doing!    The carbon monoxide detector kicked in before it got up to 65 degrees F.

This wouldn’t have been a problem for my granddad living in his tarpaper shack out in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico.    He’d have been just trying to keep the 2.5 gallon galvanized bucket he kept by the door for drinking water and to dipper into a washbasin from freezing solid.     If he could manage that a bath could wait until spring.

But Walter E. Hudson  my old granddaddy, didn’t much like bathing anyway.   “Do it too often and you’ll wash off all that protection.”    I’m guessing the people who lived in this house probably subscribed to the same doctrine.

But I have it on good authority we’re looking at some serious global warming, coming soon.    So I’ll plan on a shower then.    And try to keep an adequate supply of clean underwear.

Thanks for the visit.

Old Jules

Celebrating MLK day by doing the laundry and trying to stay warm.

Hi readers.     Thanks for coming by for a read.

At 6 am the thermometer on my porch declared it was almost 20 degrees F.   And an hour later it dropped to around 10 degrees F.    So there you are.

I hope you are all having a merry little MLK day.    If you didn’t get all the presents you were wanting old MLK to bring, maybe the Valentine will give them to you, or the Easter Bunny.    Don’t give up hope.

So, it being a clear day full of sunshine I figured I’d go down to the laundromat to celebrate MLK.    Discovered sun or no sun, those sidewalks and parking lots are SLICK.  No, not slicker than greased owl droppings, but still slick enough to throw a man who was not sufficiently careful, or one who felt the need for a broken arm or hip.

But it was worth it.    I’m blessed with a load of clean laundry, all folded nicely, ready to go into the various hidey holes and drawer-like places here.    And while I was waiting for my dryer I stopped by Wendy’s for a Caesar salad.    Which I didn’t get one of because all their damned Romaine  lettuce was recalled.

So I had to settle for some other lousy salad that wasn’t worth the chewing it required.

But it was worth it anyway.    Because at the booth across from me I heard the most INTERESTING conversation!     It all began with a few remarks about MLK and the issue of whether racism in this country has improved since his time.   Mostly these folks figured it hasn’t.

But of course, they weren’t alive or adults to experience how it was when MLK was doing his work.   Everything seems to me to boil down to conjecture and personal experience.    Along with the manifestations of racism a person chooses to call by that title.

But I’ve digressed.    What struck me as most interesting was that the conversation drifted to something they were calling, ‘restitution’.     Evidently there’s either a plan in place, a program somewhere, or just a fond hope among a lot of people that we who are alive today are going to be compensated by someone sometime for bad things our ancestors experienced.

To me this sounds peachy, but somehow unlikely.    My personal ancestors, I know, experienced great hardships, deprivations, injustices and sometimes even rudeness.   I’ve always resented the fact nobody ever offered to pay me for all that stuff that happened to them.

But my impression listening to these people at Wendy’s was that they thought ‘restitution’ for things our ancestors suffered but we didn’t have to not only made sense, but was somewhere on an agenda and might happen.

Where do these ideas come from?     Is it because we’ve endured a system of inherited wealth and power all these generations after we ceased being aboriginals?   So if we can inherit wealth, we should also be compensated for the suffering dead people endured?

The world is a crazy place, and to me that definitely sounds like an idea not likely to come to pass, but stranger things have happened and still do.    After all, we do allow people to inherit power and wealth generation after generation.   Which probably would have sounded fairly crazy to aboriginals.

Thanks for the visit.

Old Jules