Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Blood Turns To Gravy

The following is an excerpt from my book "After The GIs - The Immigrant".
The time was in the mid to late 1940s in Post War Germany.

After we celebrated the coming of the Christ Child we tackled the Christmas goose the next day. The meat, gravy, stuffing, and dumplings easily lasted the week and until midday of New Year’s Eve.
The special evening meal for New Year’s Eve was the Gansjung that had been marinating for a week.
Now, that pot of blood, mentioned in my earlier post, with its delectable additions, was destined to become the New Year’s Eve meal. Before the lid went on the pot a week ago, Mom added a good cup of vinegar, salt, bay leaves, a couple of sliced onions, celery leaves, fresh carrots, parsley, and plenty of peppercorns. This special concoction had marinated in our cold bedroom until the appointed day when all was brought to a boil and left to simmer till done. 

Mom put aside the morsels (the neck, kidneys, gizzard, the goose feet) that had marinated for a week, then strained the blood. In so doing, she separated the spices from the sauce. To achieve the desired thickness of the blood based sauce, Mother added flour, brought it and its morsels to a boil until ready.
On New Year’s Eve the feast was complemented with Semmelknödel (bread dumplings), cabbage, and boiled sugar beets. This Bavarian delicacy was called Gansjung (young goose), a perfect extension and finale of the holiday season.––

Good luck and Happy New Year!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Old Magic of Christmas

The following is an excerpt from my book "After The GIs - The Immigrant".
The time was in the mid to late 1940s in Post War Germany.

The day of December 24 started and continued like any other day. However, my sister and I knew this was the big day. Our home showed no signs of Christmas, no tree, no decorations, only the baking smells of the special season. We helped Mom bake a variety of cookies. We cracked nuts and greased pans. Dagmar and I knew that sometime before midnight, that day, December 24, the Christ Child would come.
Around 4 in the afternoon, Mom put us to bed with a promise to wake us before the evening was over. She told us if the Kristkindle is going to come, it would not want to be seen. It is a Heavenly Being and it only takes a moment to come and be gone again. The timing had to be perfect.
So we went to bed, full of excitement and expectations. We lay perfectly still––imagining, expecting, quiet as a mouse. Whether sister went to sleep, I do not know. As for me, I was too excited to do any sleeping. I listened. I dreamed and envisioned and tried to put the magic in order. I was a thinking little fellow, always wondering why things worked in certain, and often unexpected ways.
Around 8 o’clock in the evening Mom came into the bedroom to wake us up. We bounded out of bed, full of excitement, and entered the kitchen. The single light bulb hanging from the ceiling was turned off. However, the whole world glowed in splendor. In the corner stood a tall Christmas tree. It shimmered and glistened with its many ornaments and tinsel. All the tinsel was lovingly placed, one strand at a time, by Mom while we slept. The ornaments were handblown glass, and family heirlooms.
White wax candles flickered on the tree, each with its little drip bowl to catch any melting wax. The candles were clipped to the branches of the fir tree. Glass ornaments, very fragile and sprinkled with many sparkling tiny crystals, shimmered as they reflected the magic. The tinsel hung like angelic hair. It quivered and slightly swayed from the candles’ warmth and responded to our every breath. We stood close to this wonder, enthralled by its magic.
For many long moments our little family stood quietly in front of the tree––mesmerized. We held to each other. After the magic had burned into our hearts we sang Silent Night, Holy Night. We, the three of us.––Father had gone to war . . . .
We sang that song every year on Christmas night.
After singing, Mom lifted us up, one at a time, so we could blow out the candles. Slowly the room turned dark, but the magic did not vanish. The Holy Night continued and was filled with its own special smell––the smoke of snuffed wax. To this day, I love to smell a snuffed, plain candle’s smoke.
Mom pulled the string to the light. Our joy continued. With the Christmas magic still in our hearts, we searched under the tree for presents. The presents were baked treats, rock candy, and woolen clothes knitted by Mom. One Christmas, I also received a 10 cm long drafting ruler. One time, I received a set of coloring pencils and paper to draw on; another year a stamp collecting album, and once a compass set with a fountain pen.
After we unwrapped the presents, we sat around our kitchen table and enjoyed the evening eating cookies and drinking hot Glühwein. This hot mix was made with cheap red wine and equal amounts of hot tea. It had simmered on the stove with orange peels, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and sugar, since Mom sent us to bed. Any alcohol the wine might have had had long evaporated. To this day, the taste and smell of this hot punch means Christmas.
Just before midnight, if we didn’t go to midnight mass, we heated Weisswurst, a mild, white sausage, in a pan of water––a Christmas Eve tradition. We dipped the sausage in sweet mustard and ate it with our fingers. Together with warm potato salad and buttered hard rolls it completed the special evening.. . . Heaven came down––peace––and gladness of heart.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

The Christmas Goose

The following is an excerpt from my book "After The GIs - The Immigrant".
The time was in the mid to late 1940s in Post War Germany.

Several times we enjoyed a goose for Christmas. I wonder, looking back, how did Mother do it? I wouldn't doubt she cashed in a silver coin for it, one she illegally hoarded in the early forties. No such thing as a frozen goose existed in that day. Freshly butchered, was the only way to have one in the forties. Though I never witnessed the butchering act, it must have happened nearby, because after the head came off the blood was drained immediately into a pot for future use.
The next step in this holiday ritual was to dunk the lifeless goose into scalding water. It took our big pot to do this, and many sticks of wood to get the water boiling.
After the scalding part, our little family plucked the feathers, all the feathers off the bird. Even the undeveloped pinfeathers under the wings and in hidden folds of the bird. All were diligently plucked.
Mom carefully removed the non-edible innards; they were but a few. She scrubbed the goose’s feet, chopped them off the bird, and dropped them into the pot that held the drained goose blood. The neck she cut off and put into the same pot to marinade. The gizzard she turned inside out, cleaned it, and it also ended up in the same pot.
The heart and the fresh liver we split in half. After they were salted and peppered they were fried on the spot. It made a lip-smacking snack, whetting our appetite for the feast to come.

We stuffed our Christmas goose then baked it in the oven. The stuffing included chopped stale bread and hard rolls, onions, celery, parsley, a couple of eggs, some sage, and salt and pepper. It all was tossed together with scalded milk to get a loose moist mixture.
Throughout the year, every meat dish was always expanded with much gravy. The Christmas goose was certainly no exception. Gravy not only stretched a meal, but it added comfort to the other trimmings. Gravy had the taste of meat, and when one closed their eyes, it was meat.
Of course, the rendered goose grease was considered gold. Mom skimmed it off the gravy, a golden yellow, granular spread when cooled. It easily spread on sliced rye bread, with a little salt added, and made a mighty treat when the winds and snows howled. We also saved a bit of that yellow gold for medicinal purposes. Mom stored it in the cold, curtained off room, in a Nivea Creme jar. (see the Home Remedies section in the book)
Story has it, the Christmas goose got its fat from being force fed. The way my mother explained it, the goose was simply penned-up in a cage and systematically forced to eat much more than normal. This was done by holding the head of the goose back, prying open its beak, then stuffing food down the throat with the handle of a wooden spoon. Not a comforting picture, but it rendered a fat goose and a bounty of yellow gold.

(Look for the post on what we did with the goose blood)

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

We Did Not Write To St Nick

The following is an excerpt from my book "After The GIs - The Immigrant".
The time was in the mid to late 1940s in Post War Germany.

Here in America, the Post Office receives thousands of letters each year addressed to Santa. In the mid forties, I also dreamed and wrote to the Christ Child. We expected the coming of the Christ Child on Christmas Eve.
A week or so before Christmas, my sister and I would write an invitation to the Christ Child to come and visit our home on Christmas Eve. The little letter also included a short wish list. We kept the wish list really short, for it was just not right to be selfish and ask for much. Other than cookies, fruit, and some of Mother’s knitted wears, we seldom got more than one extra present on Christmas Eve; the day of gift giving.
We stuck the little written note between the window and the sash so the Christ's angel could pick it up as he flew by. The longer the letter stayed stuck in the window, the better behaved and more polite we became. There was always that chance the angel  remembered some bad behavior or deed and as a result would pass us by.
In my child’s imagination and anxiousness I often looked out through the window into the dark night. I hoped to see Christ’s angel as it flew by. I actually saw him once, very briefly, like a bright blip. He did not come close and take the letter, but I prayed for the angel to come back; and he did––on his time. The little letters always vanished.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

St Nick had nothing to do with Christmas

The following is an excerpt from my book "After The GIs - The Immigrant".
The time was in the mid to late 1940s in Post War Germany.


Practically every day on the Catholic calendar was dedicated to honor a saint. That day, if your name was the same as the saint's, you celebrated your Name Day. December the sixth is Saint Nickolaus’ day. The Catholic’s celebration of Saint Nick has nothing to do with Christ Jesus and His birthday. Activities honoring Saint Nick were a bit unusual and were not related to what is called Christmas in America.

In my younger days, Saint Nick visited the homes of families on the sixth of December. We didn't have malls or television, so the only way a kid got to see this colorful character, bearded and royally cloaked in red, was when parents thought it worthy to either reward or punish their children. . . .Let me tell you what I mean.

Saint Nick was always dressed in a red coat with white cuffs. He wore a tall hat like the Pope would during certain religious festivities. He walked with a tall staff in one hand and was proud of his long white beard. He toted a sack over his shoulder with goodies in it.

When Saint Nick came to visit the home on the evening of the sixth, he would ask the parents for a report on the behavior of the children during the previous year. If the child was deserving he or she may receive a few cookies, apples, nuts, or rock candy, along with a little admonishment to strive to be an even better person the coming year.

To have a Saint Nick come to one’s house, parents visited a local Gasthaus where men, wearing Saint Nick outfits, were gathered and waited to be hired.
However, for children who really needed a bit of additional reprimanding, Saint Nick’s helper, Knecht Rupprecht, would have to come along. This Knecht Rupprecht doled out the deserved punishment––as he saw fit!

Oh my, my!––This Knecht, he was an ugly, bent over, mean-looking creature. He dragged a long and heavy chain on the ground behind him. This introduced him as the coming of doom. One could hear the chain clanging as he smacked it onto the cobble stones. He would snort and grunt and would make eerie noises as he came up the front walkway, or up the steps, to pay the wayward child a visit.

He wore a sackcloth mantle over his shoulders and a crude rope tied around his waist. His hair, dark and scraggly, stuck out from under his floppy, black, wide-brimmed hat. He was marked with dark shadows under his beady eyes and showed a deep frown that extended down from each side of his mouth.

I recall one night in the mid 1940s, when our little family visited the home of a friend with two teen-aged daughters. We had a friendly and jovial visit until a terrifying commotion outside the house suddenly entered my ears and heart. Wow!––What?––Sure enough, Knecht Rupprecht approached the closed front door. Through the window I saw Saint Nick restraining his Knecht from totally going mad and breaking down the door. My sister and I shivered. I vowed never to do anything wrong as long as I lived. We did not want to face this evil creature at our house!

Saint Nick and his sidekick entered the house. The room filled with evil. I had slid down in my chair and was barely able to watch the goings-on above the table’s top. After a brief report from the girls' mother, the Knecht stomped and smacked his wooden switch on the floor. With much huffing and snorting, he started to chase the giggling girls around the house and into the bedroom. Soon the calamity subsided. The girls had received their reward. I, however, could not understand the disrespect these girls had for an individual of such authority.

I also remember on one such night when a young boy, a little older than me, still having respect for “The Authority” was rewarded with Rupprecht's whipping cane. After a good salting, the naughty boy found himself stuffed in Knecht Rupprecht’s sack. The Knecht, grunting and mumbling, carried the boy, over his shoulders, into the night. Several hundred yards from the boy’s house he shook the boy from the sack into the deep snow in the forest. The boy received additional stern warnings and was told to find his way back home in the dark.

After that ordeal, I bet the boy had to change his clothes from the inside out!

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sack Time

In Germany we eagerly awaited the Christ Child on the eve of the 24th of December. Not only did the Christ Child come on the 24th, but that was also the night we first got to see the decorated Christmas tree.

Sack time at our house has become a standard Christmas Eve tradition. Ever since the grandkids were small they had their own Christmas Sack. The sack, a simple pillowcase, acts as a small replica of Santa's sack.
Carol and I printed the grandkid's name, and year issued, on the sack with a big permanent marker.

As Christmas approaches we start to gather small items and begin to fill each sack. Dark chocolate for the girls, beef jerky for the boys, are just a few things to start with.
For that special kid it might be sweet and sour pickles, or Maraschino Cherries for another.

When the children were really little, cloth pins, rubber bands, or a ball of yarn were great gifts for them. As the kids got older, we, the grandparents, could no longer anticipate their wishes. So we started the Elf Letters.

The Elves, better known as Sugarplum and Cringle (Carol and Franz), send out a letter to request the child's wish for his or her sack. The letter contains a form to fill out for the child's request. They then place the request in the self-addressed stamped envelope, to return to the Elves.

Sugarplum (Carol) has as much fun as the children when she receives the returned letters. With joy Sugarplum uses all her internet wizardry and shopping prowess to fill the requests. The sacks continue to get plumper. We do have a spending limit.

Sack time finally comes.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Going To Bed Was Not Punishment

This is one of more than a hundred stories now published and on Kindle at Amazon.
The book captures my early life until I was seventeen years old.


My mother, a firm believer in much fresh air even in the coldest of weather, often bundled me up and sent me out to play. My mother’s knitting turned me into a wool-wrapped mummy. With a couple of wool sweaters, a cap, mittens, scarf, knitted underwear, and socks, I played until my feet got cold. My feet got cold when the socks got wet. The socks got wet because my britches were too short and snow crawled down into my shoes.  –I had no boots.

Likewise, my sister, never too young for fresh air, was wrapped and tucked in woolens, placed in the carriage, and set out to enjoy the day. I was told not to wander off too far, and to keep an eye on Sis.

During cold weather it seemed like it snowed all the time. One day, while I was supposed to be keeping an eye on Sis, I was having the best time and was not paying much attention to the thick squalls of snow coming down. I totally forgot about little sister, as did Mom. When I finally checked on her, the carriage had filled with snow, except around Dagmar’s little head where her face lay peacefully napping.

No one heard of babysitters back then. The oldest sibling was in charge. He or she knew the routine, the rules of the family, and decisions were backed by the parents. The same was true at our house.

In the evenings when my sister and I were left alone at home, beginning when I was barely five years old, we had to fend for ourselves. Dagmar, three years younger, went to bed around dusk. I usually returned to the kitchen table, the center of all activities.
Again, I’d like to mention the extreme quietness of life in those times. The dome shaped kitchen clock supplied a constant ticking that soothed and somewhat mesmerized. A little crackling in the stove made the evening complete. When all the fire died, I also went to bed.

Bed was a heavenly place, a refuge from the cold. On very cold nights, when Mom was home, we preheated the foot area of the bed with a warm water bottle, which was a solid brass, oval container, highly polished, and a little bigger than a three-pound loaf of bread. It sported a screw-on cap on top. A little chain soldered to the bottle and cap kept them from being separated. The warm water bottle easily slid under and around the featherbed to desired spots; the hot water inside doing its magic. A wonderful addition to life indeed.
We used other tricks to warm the bed. Several hot clothes irons, wrapped in towels, as well as a hot cobble stone, heated in the oven, made wonderful bed warmers. I remember sneaking up to the bed, reaching in, arms stretched out, and moving the warming objects around under the feather covers until heaven was ready.

When we jumped into bed in the winter time, we lay between a feather tick under us, and a feather bed as thick as a fat man’s belly on top of us. The pillow, also stuffed with feathers, was as wide as the bed. When my head hit it, it collapsed around my ears.
In the dead of winter when the stone walls of the building absorbed the outside cold, I’d pull my knitted hat down over my face with nothing but my nose sticking out of the bed. On occasion the horses below kicked their stalls, in a way signaling that we were all together in this challenge.

Mostly, the nights were deathly silent. Nevertheless, I cannot deny to overreacting to any creaking, cracking, and fluttering noises. When I couldn’t interpret the source, I simply crawled deeper into bed.

Many times, I remember waking up in the morning after the breath of the night’s sleep had formed a frozen circle of hard crust on the featherbed around my face. One could knock on the frost and it would sound like knocking on a door.

The bedroom’s single pane window stayed open in the summer. Being high above the dark backyard, we didn’t worry about mosquitoes. However, everything else was free to enter the room. Moths didn't try, we had no lights. Bats tried it at times, but there was nothing for them to feed on.

The neighboring cemetery had in its midst a funeral chapel. The short, squatty bell tower of that chapel was home to several large hoot owls. The owls frequently sounded off in the night and made two little kids wide-eyed and well behaved.
More than once during a season, one of the owls fluttered up to our window to have a look around. To us, the owl was so big that it had to duck to look into the room. When it decided to sit a while on our lone windowsill of the bedroom, we hunkered down. Often, it did not only look in at us, but loudly hooted; all the while bobbing its head from left to right... We prayed a lot. 

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Fantasize, The Hidden Evil

Why do women, even young girls, dress to attract men?

Being in style has nothing to do with my point.

What I'm saying, to flaunt the female shape to entice men is wrong. To reduce sex crimes should be simple: do not entice the ignorant, lustful, wretched male dogs that are traveling among our midst.

I'm sure other women looking at the emphasized shapes, motions and appearances flaunted are not impressed. And I'm sure woman do not want to sexually attract other women. So, if you are spoken for, save it all for the love of your life.

Why then do married women want to attract other men? Or, why do young impressionable girls want to attract men if they have not yet lived long enough to have witnessed the wickedness that lurks in the world and even in serene neighborhoods?

I remember when pretty ladies were used to sell a product, however, they did not sprawl their legs from one side of the ad over to the next page.
I remember when girls flirted with their eyes not with a cleavage deep enough to expose the piercing in their navel.
I remember when girls crossed their legs whenever and wherever they sat down.
I remember when panty hose were knee-high because no skirts came above the knees.
I remember when courtship was courtship. When engaged meant you promised to be married. When marriage was till death do us part.

Now, everyone is in a "Relationship". I do not mean a business relationship. This word "relationship" now can mean anything you want it to mean. Absolutely anything ! ! ! you fill in the spaces. The closet is wide open. You pick your relationship.

Do you know who said, "In as much as you lust after a woman in your heart, you have already committed adultery with her."?

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Friday, September 12, 2014

This Beats Chicken and Fries

In Munich a snack is served on a wooden plank. Not that they don't have any dishes, but to bring the food down to earth. Food on a wooden slab automatically makes it local. It eliminates from your brain words like "processed", or words like "vacuum packed". When you see food on a wooden plank you don't worry about a little stamp that says "Best before a certain date."

What do you think about that? Lipsmacking beautiful! A culinary master peace! Look at the complimentary colors! Van Gogh would have savored this! The health nuts would be awed until they discovered the heart of the offering.

Starting on the left, crisp lettuce enhanced with a dab of pimento cheese joyfully pricked by a few pretzel sticks. An array of sliced accompaniment of red and green onions, tomatoes, and the famous Munich beer radish, sprinkled with Feta Cheese keeps pouring on the mouth smacking enticement.

Now, on the right side of the wooden platter is where the proteins hit the cheese. There is sliced smoked ham and local Wurst piled on top of headcheese. The chunks of pig snouts, tongue and jowlels are waiting to be devoured with buttered rye bread chased with a hunk of pickle. Deeply smoked and dried Landjager provide an increased sensation to the already feverish tastebuds. Of course, under all is an ample layer of sliced cheeses to what we call in German "to close the stomach." 

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Respect for Authority

Respect for the Authority

Human nature always wants to live by its own will. If not curbed it’ll destroy all that is in its way to achieve what it desires.

When does this selfishness start, and when does the need to curb it begin?

We are all born with it. A baby may cry because it is hungry, but a toddler will whine to get what it wants. Soon the child will scream and stomp, snort and backtalk to try to get what it wants. Once in school the child now needs the latest styles in clothing and footwear and has a hard time taking orders from the teacher.

You may say that kid is just spoiled. I say that kid is destined to despise authority because eventually someone will say “No.” “No, you are not allowed to do that.” Or, “No, you cannot have that.” Now that child begins to show animosity and hate toward these authorities that are anchored in law and have been given the power to control unchecked behavior.

Soon the adults are disliked. Then the teacher is hated. Then the principal. Then the boss. Then the police. “All are against me” is their cry.

The earlier a child hears the word “No” the easier it is for him or her to understand that there are limits and that there is always an authority higher than oneself. The word "No" must stick. No means: no, period. No arguing, no deals, no capitulation. To disobey must always bring consequences.  

That is why the traditional family structure is so important. A strong and loving father figure, anchored together with his wife, can curb the natural desire of the child who always wants.

When a young person has total disregard for authority, life becomes a constant confrontation. Respect for others is secondary.

Trayvon Martin, if he had simply continued to walk through the guarded community, he would be alive today. Michael Brown if he had had total respect for authority he also would be alive today. Both cases had nothing to do with race.

Say “No” to your kids, it's good for them.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Jump to Conclusions

Franz's Symbol of Wisdom
I have been guilty of, and so are most folks, to jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts.

The truth is, if we listen to rumors and gossip we come to conclusions and may never know the real truth, or all the facts.

The sad thing about such a situation is that we build an opinion about a person. Opinions often become a picture of the other persons character and integrity; which is sad.

We all know once we judge, or conclude on a persons character, we as humans will hardly ever change our mind. As a fact, we look for the flaws we based our characterization on to verify our opinion of that person.

We have a saying in Germany: (I'm translating) "If a person has lied to you once, you will never initially believe in him again, even if he speaks the truth." 

This opinion forming starts as soon as we meet the person. It also works the same way as ones grandchildren grow and leave an impression on you.

We recently had some grandsons over. As the day concluded, I instructed one of the twelve year olds to bring the fishing poles into the basement and lock the door. Later that night I went to the basement to see if the the door was locked. Sure enough, the deadbolt was not engaged.

The next day I went out the basement door after I flipped the deadbolt open. I started to do some chores and needed a tool out of the basement. Oops. The deadbolt might have been open, but the door was locked!

My grandson did what I asked. He did lock the round doorknob from the inside. This type of locked knob does turn from the inside, but not from the outside.

I've got to admit, in my mind I labeled the boy a little aloof, not always listening, not doing what he was told.

The fact remains, had some one else gone out the basement door before I did, I would have never altered my opinion about the boy.

I was wrong by having judged to quickly.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"  Matthew 7:3  NIV

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

America Is Good

When I think back to when I came here in 1955 my heart glows within me. Everything was so new, so different, so challenging. America lay before me like a picnic blanket full of good. 

When Jafar Musa came from Nigeria to stay with my son and his family to receive his schooling from Liberty Christian Academy, he also was overwhelmed by America.

He calls my daughter-in-law and my son "Mom and Dad." And their two daughters and son are his sisters and brother.

Jafar is 6'4" tall and is a super-quick forward on his school's basketball team. At only 17 years old, he is, you may say, still growing.

He felt like a king getting to play basketball on a hardwood floor. The best he ever played on was a concrete slab.

He has never had a white egg before. All he ever saw were brown ones. 

He never had peanut butter before in his life. (I can relate to that. I never had peanut butter either before I came here.)

He never had real coffee or tasted ketchup before.

The first words he uttered when he rode in a car in this country were, "smooth roads."

After he witnessed the fancy washing machine and dishwasher at my son's house he was amazed. So, when his new Mom asked him to wash the car, he sheepishly looked for a car-washing machine in the garage.

Can you imagine, Jafar had never tasted french fries before he came here!

Jafar's goal is to get a good education and hopefully receive a scholarship to play college basketball. That is the way he is able to stay in this country. He often quietly slips from family gatherings to study. He is on a mission to do well and not disappoint his new family and his own back in Nigeria. He is a gentle giant, and we all have grown to love him.

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Sunday, July 6, 2014


We just came home from seeing the movie AMERICA. As an immigrant I could not help but cry on several points that were brought to light.

I've been here almost sixty years. In those years our country has changed. Has it changed for the better?

I'm not a scholar on history, but I've lived long enough to know that this country is dying. Not only is it dying spiritually but also in heart. So many folks are clueless about their own history. Clueless as what is going on, and what is pushed in the media, and in their schools and universities.

There is a pervasive underhandedness in our Government that Hitler would have been proud of. A slow dismantling of the free spirit so vital to the building of this country. This dumbing down, and the culture of dependency, is now after 50 years coming to fruition.

God has become Santa Clause. The worship of self is supreme. Freedom has become to mean free stuff. Capitalism is now a dirty word. Economics (not taught anywhere, except as an elective in college) is a non issue. Who needs economics when there is no downfall of spending more than you make. Why make a budget? Government is there to send you a check when you get in the hole. For that matter, why work at all? There are too many millionaire that need to cough up more.

Even my own family has no time for factual documentaries like the film "2016". Or the movie "The Last Once Of Courage". I will recommend to see the movie AMERICA. But, I know what I will hear, "No time, too busy, everything is fine."

Everything is not fine. We have been dumbed down for too long. Our last Great Hope is still alive. One country, under God, indivisible, with justice for all. . . Is it?

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Friday, May 30, 2014

How To Grow Minnows

A shorter version of this story is in my book "A TIME AND PLACE A TIME AND PLACEThe Making of an Immigrant." I have expanded the story and it will be published as part of an e-book in the near future.

How To Grow Minnows

In the branch below the dam we caught minnows. On occasion, one could snatch one barehanded by running it into a shallow corner, but most of the time we used a large white handkerchief. We hollowed out a low spot in the stream then stretched out the cloth and pinned it to the stream’s bottom with a few rocks on the corners. We then squatted on each side of the branch. With hands ready at the water’s edge we watched and waited quietly, motionless, until several minnows came to rest in the hollow of the kerchief. In unison and a sudden snap of the corners we pulled up the cloth. Most of the minnows darted out, but often one or two were caught. We quickly added the prized catch to a canning jar filled with water. It took quite a spell for the creek’s water to settle again, but, we had all day.

When the day’s catch reached a half dozen or more, we carried our cache uptown to my friend’s house and to their family bathtub. We filled the tub half full of water then dumped in our catch.

Now the time came, for all participating men, to hunt for food for the obviously underfed fish. If we were to see them grow to any edible size, in the tub? . . . we had to feed them. Well, down to the branch we returned to catch some morsels of food out of the fish’s natural habitat.

Worms, snails, bugs, flies, grasshoppers, and leeches were a good start. The leeches we realized were hard to find. They stuck on slippery algae under the sheet of water running over the pond’s dam. Those critters, kind of orange-red with a jagged sucking cup on one end, would rather stick themselves to our bodies than be shoved into a jar.

Well, we gathered enough food, what we considered, for the minnows in the tub to grow to some good sized fish. It included all the food groups, worms, flies, grasshoppers, bugs, and snails, all stuffed into the glass jar. Uptown we jaunted, and simply dumped the jar full of creepy things into the bathtub.

While the project still dwelled on our minds we’d check on the minnows before the day was done. However, after a few days we found most of the fish food had died in the tub or had merely crawled out to greener pastures. A week or so later, it was reported that the minnows also had croaked.

This gets me wondering, with my now Americanized brain, why did that family have a tub when no one used it for over a week?

As to the extent of our own washing, most days Mom just wiped and rubbed me down with a coarse, damp rag. She swiftly hit a lick around the face and behind the ears, and checked for black-looking sweat rings on the neck. We washed our own feet, followed by a cursory inspection by Mom to make sure the rust was off before we crawled into bed.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

The Washington Butterflies

The Washington Butterflies. What a beautiful, politically correct name for a football team.

You must admit that nobody will be offended by the name. Just think there are enough attributes to the butterfly so every player on the team would be able to emulate at least one.

I can see the football team's players want to flutter like butterflies. Happily dance like them. Butterflies float in the breeze. They are endowed with beautiful colors. They tenderly land on flowers as not to hurt them. Butterflies are not aggressive. They don't need protective gear for they all love each other.

Wouldn't you want to pay $75 to see a football team with an attitude that matches their politically correct name? THE BUTTERFLIES––gentle, soft, all loving.

What fun to sit with people all dressed in pinks and purples, slathered with sunscreen and sipping only 8 oz size drinks.

Because it is an honor to be called a Redskin.

The American Indian is fearless. He has proven to withstand whatever nature throws at him. The American Indian is a warrior. He is strong, cunning and aggressive. He is tough, rugged and resilient.

A football team named The Indians is a refection of their prowess. It is a man thing––after all, we are talking about a man's game.

Monday, March 17, 2014

We Raced Snails

A shorter version of this story is in my book "A TIME AND PLACE A TIME AND PLACEThe Making of an Immigrant." I have expanded the story and it will be published as part of an e-book in the near future.

We Raced Snails

In damp places, under dense, dark trees, where the sun never shined, and the rain had washed the ground bare, we raced snails. Big snails, the ones who carried their houses on their backs, were thought to be the real racehorses.

We readied the track by scratching into the dirt a starting and finishing line. Side line markers were made out of thin sticks to guide the snails to the goal line. Behind the starting lines we made chutes out of sticks to point the snails in the right direction.

We picked big, wide-bodied snails with their houses seemingly too small for their size. We figured they’d be faster because they didn’t have to carry the extra weight of a large house. Strategy! Strategy!

Well, the race started when the snails were placed in the chutes behind the starting line. Their heads had to face toward the finish line. Of course, when one picked up the critter, the head and tail disappeared into their house. One had to be aware which end was where, as not to place your racer with the south end facing north onto the starting line.

We laid on our belly and waited. It took quite a spell for the snail’s body to expand and reappear. Good thing it was cool and comfortable under those dense bushes and trees. Slowly, the slimy glob got bigger. Like two tiny bumps, the eyes came out of the snail house first. Soon they expanded outward; eyes on two little sticks with a distinct dark pupil at the end of each.

The race had officially started. To yell and cheer the snails on did not work. All it would do was scare it back into its shell. So, you left your racer alone. The snail usually just sat there a while and checked out the new environment. As it oriented itself––it laughed at us.

Well, after a minute or so of orientation the snail still had not moved a sliver toward the finish line. We laid low, quiet, and motionless. Finally, all still and safe, the snails began to slither leaving a thin trail of shiny slime.

One would think, with eyes as good as theirs, stuck way out there on those little stems, they could see better. After all, us boys had the finish line and the side lines clearly marked. Yet those dumb snails were determined to veer off to the left or right or even turn around. Once the race began we agreed not to pick up our racers and face them in the right direction. However, we could place a stick to one side or the other if our snail started to veer way off track. Every time we did that, the dumb critter retracted into its shell. It then took its good old time coming back out, look around, before slothfully continuing toward the goal.

I never won a snail race, nor did anyone else. After an hour’s worth of racing, the racers, having traveled hardly the length of one’s hand, were certainly not worn out, but the trainers were. So, we went on to more exciting things.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014



I think our government is the worst offender, and perpetrator of this farce called Racism.

Every government form you have to fill out asks of your race. I have started to enter “American” and no one has ever challenged me; yet.

After all, If just one of my ancestors, back in the 1700s, were to be a Chinese, would I be an Oriental. According to our government I would be. I base this on the fact that no matter how long ago a person who had an African ancestor, that person is always registered as Black. I know many so called Blacks who are whiter in skin color than my folks back in Germany and they are still referred to as Black in this country.

This is a game. A vicious game by politicians to keep animosity stirred. The point is, if you are in a so-called Minority there are benefits due to you. All you have to do is keep that “Chip On Your Shoulder” and you qualify.

Would it not be nice if all American citizens simply be called Americans. Then all other classes could be identified as either Visitors, Guest Workers, Illegals, etc.

One of the fallouts of keeping racism alive is the dumbing down of white men. Just notice, whenever a commercial needs a jerk in the add, it is always a white guy. Whenever a commercial needs a clueless guy, it is a white guy. Whenever a fat slob is needed, it is a white guy. If fat kid is pointed out, it is always a fat white kid. It even goes to the extent of showing a white guy breaking into a house on a Home Security commercial. You know why the ad agencies choose whites. They can’t cry “Racism.”

So, I challenge our government to call all Americans “Americans” and do not classify anyone by race.

Just think, if the Media were not allowed to call, or differentiate, simply by color of skin. Or, if it were illegal while taking a survey, or a census, to ask your race? The Government would be able to lay off a gazillion folks who just play with those numbers. 

It would shut up the race mongers and keep them from stuffing their pockets. It would mend the division of Americans. It would keep politicians from catering to certain folks while antagonizing others. I think America would be a better place if describing the looks of people by race were illegal.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

After Thirty-two Years

After Thirty-two Years

It has been a long time since I picked up an artist’s brush and painted just for the fun of it. 

Thirty-two years ago, I felt I had to establish myself as an accomplished artist. I do not know if I ever made that rank, but my name went out, won several first place awards at art shows, and received the recognition I sought. When my name got into the local paper the name of my new business, B&B Printing and Advertising, also made it. 

My pen and ink drawings became the sought-after draw for advertising in real estate brochures, and line drawings found there place on countless church bulletin covers. All were printed by the new printer in Bedford.

This, my first try at painting for years shows, if nothing else, that I’m stale at it. I set out to achieve a more impressionistic look. I found myself falling into a traditional style.

The wall above the fireplace, at the cabin, needed something big and dramatic.

During the day, the lighting from the sun, or cloudiness, makes the painting evolve and bursts into colors.

Some of the detail reveals my attempt at impressionism. The opposites are there, golds vs deep blues, pinks vs bright greens, but not loose enough.

I made the frame and plan to change scenes. I plan to paint a winter scene, and one of spring. Maybe even some of our favorite places Carol and I have visited. 

Retirement is good. Now that I have fewer building projects planned, I can now get back to painting.

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