Wednesday, February 20, 2013



I grew up in a world, at least in our house, where we were not concerned with germs. We didn’t use the word and worry about germs as we do now.
It was a given, and natural instinct, to stay clear of any fecal matter. Although animal dung was mixed with dirt to grow a garden we did not handle it.
We had no refrigeration and knew when food began to grow blue mold it was at a point of no longer eatable.
We had to make a call as to bother washing off maggots or throwing out the meat.
I remember as a child washing off little white eggs green flies had laid on a piece of meat during the day. However, food being boiled or fried always killed what might have hurt us.

Germs are now an obsession in this country. I agree there are many things one should do to lessen the chance of contracting the flu. However, seeing everything as contaminated makes life a dread. One can actually lose the freedom of a simple life worrying about what germ nay be lurking. Nothing is more precious, in my mind, as a simple life. I’d rather get a few ailments, and build up some resistance and immunities, than walk around with plastic gloves on my hands, a white mask over my nose and mouth, stop at all sanitizers, wipe hands on Clorox napkins, shun friends in fear they may breath on you.

On a side note, I caught myself doing a no-no at Walmart. I was in the process of buying tomatoes, pealed off one of the plastic baggies, I could’t open the stupid thing, so I put a little spittle on my fingers, opened it, and commenced to finger a tomato or two with the same fingers. (I was polite enough to place the ones I fingered into the bag.)

Too many of the folks, especially our children, are over sanitized. That is why, I believe, kids get sick every whipstitch. Everything is treated with an antibiotic. Millions of people have overdosed on antibiotics to a point where the drug industry can no longer come up with a pill that works. Germs have outsmarted the antibiotics and are laughing at humanity.
Maybe, just maybe, to get sick, let nature work its wonder, build an immunity to simple sicknesses, is the way life is meant to be.

Going back to germs. If you are one of those paranoid folks, let me help you to get discouraged.
How often do you sanitize your spigot at the sink? Your handle on the drawer that holds you trashcan? Your phone? The handle on the refrigerator? Your armrests on your easy chair? Every door knob in your house? Your countertops? Your steering wheel? Your car  keys? 
You want to be a slave to germs, shrivel up in fear, lose your simple freedom? 
As for me I’m free! I depend on my reasonable good sense and the Good Shepherd, Who has taking care of me to this day. I know He will have the last word on my future whether I fret over a few germs or not, and I will give Him all the glory. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why Shoes

This short story is from my book "A TIME AND PLACE The Making of an Immigrant." This version of the story is expanded and will be published as part of an e-book in the future. The story below takes place in Germany around 1946.

Along with scarred and banged-up knees came tough, little bare feet. We wore shoes only in the winter. I never had a pair of boots to wear when sleigh riding or building forts and snowmen. My knitted socks kept me warm only until the snow around the ankles melted, saturating my socks and shoes with freezing water. I had so much fun, but it seemed like I always had to quit the fun stuff early, not because I was tired, but because my feet were about to freeze off. 
My shoes were always either too big or too small. When my shoes were too big, Mom had me stand on cardboard as she traced my feet with a pencil. She then cut out the shape and put the cardboard inside the brogans, sometimes two or three layers, to fill them enough so the laces would tighten. I stuffed wool balls or old rags into the toe area to keep the feet from sliding forward. 
I never had a pair of new shoes. If there was a shoe store in town, I sure did not recall one. Where the used shoes came from was not discussed. As I got a bit older I wore mother’s old ones. If the sole had holes, which was often the case, a piece of stout material was slipped under the cardboard on the inside. As my feet grew and the shoes were still usable, spacers were removed one at a time. 
The Sunday-go-to-church shoes did not wear out. Year after year the same pair was shined and worn to church. Once the toes became cramped, I simply balled them up and walked kind of pigeon-toed until back home when the feet were liberated again. In any case, with Sunday shoes on, you did not and could not do much running.
Summer time was when you got your bare feet in shape. Nothing was hard enough to hurt the bottoms. We took great pride in the toughness of our soles. We tested them on new gravel doing a stationary run and seeing how far we could sling the rocks backward with our feet. 
Another boy-thing we did for fun, was the dirt slide. Sliding down on our backsides of the Lederhose was fun, but taking a running jump and sliding down an almost vertical mud track on your bare feet was tough. For sure, after a good rain, the wet soil really added speed. However, climbing back up the bank on the slippery mud was a bit slower. 
We tested walking on shattered glass, but only when someone dared you to do it.
As always, we waited longingly for the days to grow longer and the snows to be gone from the well-travelled paths. To be bare footed again was a springtime dream. 
Ah, what a welcomed sight, when a couple of boys spotted a horse drawn wagon coming our way. I can still see the beasts laboring up the incline to reach the town’s center. Even while a long way off, we craned our necks to see if a generous pile of horse apples had been left behind. Most often however, such a pile, still steaming with warmth, was left sitting in the center of town; a treat just for the taking. 
We'd run and lovingly step into the warmth, sort of kneading the fluffy droppings with our toes. The juice oozed between our toes and feet as we worked to find the last pockets of warm spots. No wonder we had such growth spurts in the spring.