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Pappy's Blog

A blog about whatever moves me at the time, but it is not political.

Updated: 2017-08-22T16:10:56.139-04:00




Christmases PastI'm writing this for the younger folk in the clan...hell, after turning 75 this fall, everyone is younger, save a handful. I want to tell some stories from the 1940s.My first memory is 1945...when I was 4. Dad made it home for Christmas after being away in the Army for 3 1/2 years. I do not remember specifics other than Dad's presence after waiting for him at the train station in Mahoningtown until (if memory serves) after Mid-night. I was not sure I was as happy to see him as the rest of the family seemed to be. That's another story, however. Christmas of 1946 is a different matter.Joe graduated from High School in January 1946 and promptly went into the Navy. With his departure Mom and Dad hired an Amish man, Jonathan J. Byler (then 19) to work the farm...with Dave...which meant he would live with us as well. So by Christmas, Yone as we called him, was very much a part of our family. He lived in the room behind the kitchen, later became Bonnie Lutz' room, then the TV room, for those of you who remember.He showered in the cellar near the furnace. A shower head was installed among the floor joists, and a drain was in the floor there, or so I recall. No matter, there was always a thin layer of coal dust down there, so it was not the most enticing place to shower. It was still there when the house was sold, but not used after Yone left. I remember Jim and me using that shower only once or twice over the years. But Yone was like a big brother.On Christmas morning 1946 he and Dave were back in the house after milking the cows (6 or 7 by this time) and the furnace was stoked and heating the big house. The old place had little or no insulation so the heat went right up to the roof and melted any snow that was up there. This year there was plenty and just as Jim and I were stirring there was a big snow-slide off the roof and onto the back porch below (this is a year before the garage went on so there was quite a drop to the shed roof of the porch.) Jim and I slept in the little room on the North West corner of the house. With a loud crash the snow hit...I had heard it before and knew what it was, but this time Yone tried to convince us that the sound was Santa leaving the roof of the house...naaa....he didn't fool me: too late in the morning, it was daylight, it was snow, I just knew it. That pretty much ended my belief in the old elf. Too much empirical data indicating otherwise.We were not allowed to open gifts before Bonnie and Pop-Pop arrived, so we were focused on seeing their gray car come done the road and park adjacent to the barnyard gate. They never came up in the drive, as I recall. They were driving a 1935 Ford...the black 1948 showed up later. Of course, Tottie was with them. But as I think about it, I am not sure if in 1946 she was with them. I am guessing yes, however. When she was in the country she would take the train to New Castle for Christmas. Her presence was off and on those early years since she had stints in Puerto Rico and then Greece.Tottie added significant flavor to the Christmas experience. She brought trinkets with her; trivia from abroad or New York City, either of which was coveted by us kids. Most of the "in" games at the time showed up for us at Christmas...Pit, Authors, Scrabble to name just a few came to Luacres courtesy of Aunt Tottie.By 1947 Yone was gone. Joe was released from the Navy early due to the shrinking armed forces after WWII, which meant he was back in the house...we were all home together, once again.Dad started a tradition this year. He purchased a "trophy" with a plastic base and had a athletic figure in gold plate affixed to the top, its was hand raised and sported a crown of laurel on his head. There were gold-plated plates on the front and back suitable for engraving. Dad bought it from our three season neighbor and jeweler, Sam Tieche. It was to become an annual award for some fete of a member of the family. I was awarded the "trophy" that first year, which said: "1947 - Tom - Swim". I guess Dad thought it was of note that during the previous summer I lea[...]



Lots of LuckIn the May 2016 edition of The Atlantic writer Robert Frank outlines the role he and others think luck plays in our lives. Frank knows something about luck when his heart failed and he was rescued by paramedics just minutes after his heart stopped because they were in the area rather at their home base miles away. He was revived when 90% of those afflicted don’t make it. He goes on to outline what researchers have found about the role good fortune plays in our lives.This got me to thinking about my own life retrospectively (something I do all too often Aleene says) and what Lady Luck has made possible for me.RC drinking his morning coffee...about 1960My dad used to say we should be grateful (read that lucky) that we were born into a loving family. This was in the late 1940s when there were half as many people in the United States and we as a nation were still in the afterglow of having WWII behind us. He thought to have love was important and I am sure it is, but it never occurred to me that a child would not be born into such surroundings. I took love for granted.Circa 1946I thought I was lucky to be born into a family where I was the youngest and was doted upon by my older siblings (not the one closest to me in age, however.) I guess I could have been a little prique and not received their attention, so I was lucky. I understood how to keep that affection flowing my way. Turns out I was not #5 in our family I was really #8 and had it not been for the deaths of a brother and twin sisters (who were five months premature) I may not even have been conceived. Was that luck or as many think, God’s will?Our farm house as it looks todayLuck was involved that my parents thought it best to seek a farm as a place to live when Dad was called back into the Army when WWII broke out. It turned out to be a learning lab for me  in many ways. I was lucky I had role models to emulate in the area of hard work and love of nature. I was lucky to learn how to drive a tractor when I was 12 so that I felt a certain amount of independence when I was out in the open air mowing or raking hay. That was my “happy place” in those days. That feeling stayed with me for five years as I took over some of the farming operations. The farm turned out to be much better than the city for a place to spend my teen years.I was lucky to be born with some musical talent and to a mother who shepherded me toward vocal music and the experiences I gained from rehearsing and performing. I should also  mention the satisfaction I got out of appreciating great musical works. Lucky me.Fortune played a role in my life choices, I am sure...where I went to college, what classes I took and the young men with whom I lived. I know that I made good choices, but where there was no reason to go one direction or another; I was lucky I chose the roads I traveled. I was lucky to be ordered to a ship on the East Coast vs. the West Coast during the Vietnam War. I served in the Mediterranean instead of Yankee Station. My good fortune continued while serving on board Roosevelt, since I served with some fine officers and men. When comparing notes with contemporary navy junior officers, mine was an uplifting experience not a sad one.The only time I did a comprehensive job search with a resume and all, I chose Campbell Soup (and they chose me) when there were other good options and multiple offers. When I arrived for my first day of work five of the twelve men in my department were former Naval Officers….and two were Penn State grads. Was that luck in that I had made those choices which made me more attractive to that organization? You see I learned so much at CSC and after all, they moved us to West Michigan where we stayed for 35 years. I feel lucky that we raised our family there.Then there was my choice (or her choice) for a marriage partner. Lady luck smiled on Aleene and me as she put us on the same track to find each other and discover our common bond: a strong family. While circumstances and choices pushed us close together[...]



Consider and Hear MePresented October 16, 2016Psalm 131 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 4 lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him," lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. 5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.I learned the words to this Psalm when I was 14. It was given to me as sheet music by my voice instructor to memorize. Entitled “Consider and Hear me,” It was my first solo. I remember practicing it at the top of my lungs when I was plowing with my John Deere revved up loud so as to hide my singing. The words have never left me. I have to say that I have used them over and over as the need presented itself. I learned it, of course, in King James language.One of my concerns of the contemporary world is the trend...the statistic...that many young folk are leaving the traditional church. This demographic in our society has a different view of the world than those of us who were born in the middle of the  last century. And one of the traditions they seem to have discarded is the value of a spiritual life...a belief in God and a practice of worship. I despair for them, because as I tried to point out to the children this morning...those of us who need to discuss things...pray and lament out loud, as it were... they have no connection with their creator. They have neither the language nor the passion...and I might add...the pleasure of verbally processing their concerns with God either through words or music.Is this a serious deficit? When might this be a problem for them? Well, you never know….when did you need to talk things out with the Creator? When did you call upon your spiritual background to get you through a dark place in your life?Let me tell you a story about a friend of mine who put his faith and his spiritual background to use in a time of extreme need.Capt. W. R. AlcornIt is my pleasure to introduce you to Wendell Reed Alcorn...farmer kid born in 1939 in Western Pennsylvania...a tough kid...who dogmatically went to church every Sunday...learned the hymns, and the prayers of the church and went off to Penn State to become a forester. That’s where I met him.We became fraternity brothers...not the frat boys you hear about, but part of a group of 48 guys who lived together in the early 1960s who all were in school to study agriculture….we were all farmer kids.Wendell was two years ahead of me and while I was unsettled on my career choices, Alcorn was fixated on flying jets, not, as you might think, managing stands of trees. Upon graduation he was off to Navy flight school. Two years later I followed him, not in aviation, but into the Navy nonetheless. During the summer of 1963 we intersected in Newport, RI as I was finishing up my training before entering the fleet and Wendell was going to Justice School before he joined his squadron to fly a jet.His squadron was attached to the USS Enterprise. I on the other hand, was headed to the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D Roosevelt. I to the Mediterranean and Alcorn, ultimately,  to Yankee Station in the South China Sea. I did not see him again for over 25 years.Alcorn was now going by the name Ray since his initials were WRA… and he felt Ray was easier to remember than Wendell...I still stumble when I talk to him. Ray was shot down over North Vietnam and spent the next 7 plus years in the infamous Hanoi HIlton. To add some perspective, let me read you a portion of what he wrote on his release in 1973:On 22 December 1965 after twenty days and twenty-nine combatmissions, I was shot down and captured in North Vietnam.       I was sustained during those long years in prison [...]



Bonnie Beal

I am sure all of us Grands have our stories, so I can only share mine. Part of my memories of her are colored by Mother's filling me in on her childhood.

She was stoic...the only time I saw her cry or lament was when her dear Will died in 1948. We rode in the care behind the hearse and that is where I saw her in tears. She recovered quickly and I never heard her lament about her loss again. I was seven and spent days with her in the summers between 1949 and 1956.

She and Dr. Beal (Will, Pop-pop) took over at the farm while Mother was in Butler VA Hospital (Deshon) for weeks with Chickie...and as far as I know, we never missed a beat...other than the time I sneaked into the bathroom and indulged in some chocolate flavored Ex-Lax and barfed...yep, I do remember that.

She was positive and loving to her grandson...always had room on the couch for me when I was in Junior High School...after band concerts or dances...she was always available.

I "squired" her, as Dad referred to it, to her door on countless Sundays after church. Each time playing the role of the model woman...Aunt Ann used to kiss me on the cheek when I squired her, but Bonnie never did.

Bonnie had the disposition of a saint...she was not Quaker, but she espoused Quaker values...never heard a cross word come from her...never, about anyone.

She would not let Aunt Nell defend her living with her brother-in-law in Aurora, IL when she returned to New Castle; "Now Nellie, that's enough about that...."

We were always in church together...she sang alto...very accurate tone-wise...and it is how I learned to harmonize. I preferred sitting next to her for the "Helps" and besides she tolerated my squirming. Dad, on the other hand, would squeeze my leg to make me sit still...back in the day. When it came to religion I know I have often said to myself...If it was good enough for Bonnie, it is good enough for me.

So...loving mother, grandmother, stoic, even tempered, good natured, and independent to the end. She lived alone at 413 until she was 96...then lived with Mother for four years before she moved in with Ms. Smith in New Wilmington until she passed at 103.

I often thought Mother got short shrift when it came to Bonnie. We all made over Bonnie and loved her, but Mom was the one with the responsibility and had to do the work...right down to the end. Bonnie had 38 years of being the doted on dowager in our family Mother had less than a quarter of that time...but that is a different story.

Bonnie was every grand-kid's favorite, to be sure, and a model of decorum and faithfulness.



Lots of LuckIn the May 2016 edition of The Atlantic writer Robert Frank outlines the role he and others think luck plays in our lives. Frank knows something about luck when his heart failed and he was rescued by paramedics just minutes after his heart stopped because they were in the area rather than at their home base miles away. He was revived when 90% of those afflicted don’t make it. He goes on to outline what researchers have found about the role good fortune plays in our lives.This got me to thinking about my own life retrospectively (something I do all too often Aleene says) and what Lady Luck has made possible for me.My dad used to say we should be grateful (read that lucky) that we were born into a loving family. This was in the late 1940s when there were half as many people in the United States and we as a nation were still in the afterglow of having WWII behind us. He thought to have love was important and I am sure it is, but it never occurred to me that a child would not be born into such surroundings. I took love for granted.I thought I was lucky to be born into a family where I was the youngest and was doted upon by my older siblings (not the one closest to me in age, however.) I guess I could have been a little prique and not received their attention, so I was lucky I understood how to keep that affection flowing my way. Turns out I was not #5 in our family I was really #8 and had it not been for the stillborn deaths of a brother and twin sisters I may not even have been conceived. Was that luck or as many think, God’s will?Luck was involved that my parents thought it best to seek a farm as a place to live when Dad was called back into the Army when WWII broke out. It turned out to be a learning lab for me  in many ways. I was lucky I had role models to emulate in the area of hard work and love of nature. I was lucky to learn how to drive a tractor when I was 12 so that I felt a certain amount of independence when I was out in the open air mowing or raking hay. That was my “happy place” in those days. That feeling stayed with me for five years as I took over some of the farming operations. The farm turned out to be much better than the city for a place to spend my teen years.I was lucky to be born with some musical talent and to a mother who shepherded me toward vocal music and the experiences I gained from rehearsing and performing. I should also  mention the satisfaction I got out of appreciating great musical works. Lucky me.Fortune played a role in my life choices, I am sure...where I went to college, what classes I took and the young men with whom I lived. I know that I made good choices, but where there was no reason to go one direction or another I was lucky I chose the roads I travelled. I was lucky to be ordered to a ship on the East Coast vs. the West Coast during the Vietnam War. I served in the Mediterranean instead of Yankee Station. My good fortune continued while serving on board Roosevelt, since I served with some fine officers and men. When comparing notes with contemporary navy junior officers, mine was an uplifting experience not a sad one.The only time I did a comprehensive job search with a resume and all, I chose Campbell Soup (and they chose me) when there were other good options and multiple offers. When I arrived for my first day of work five of the twelve men in my department were former Naval Officers….and two were Penn State grads. Was that luck in that I had made those choices which made me more attractive to that organization? You see I learned so much at CSC and after all, they moved us to West Michigan where we stayed for 35 years. I feel lucky that we raised our family there.Then there was my choice (or her choice) for a marriage partner. Lady luck smiled on Aleene and me as she put us on the same track to find each other and discover our common bond: a strong family. While circumstances and choices pushed us close together, I really think that [...]



An update on a fifty year-old story

I published a blog back in 2012 that was my account of a flight I took from Mayport, Florida to Tyrone, Pa in 1965 with a shipmate, LCDR (then) Tim Grier. He was going north for a board meeting of a family operated exclusive school for girls, grade 7-12. If you read the details of my blog I also revealed that I had visited the school in 1962 as a member of the Penn State Glee Club.

By chance I ran into the URL of Grier School the other day and went through the entire site to see if I recognized any buildings or names. There were references to several Griers, but no mention of my associate, Tim. I was feeling nostalgic for something Navy, so I wrote to a name on the "Contact Us" list and explained my relationship with Tim. Next morning I got a reply saying that my email had been forwarded to the Board of Trustee President, Dr. Douglas Grier, Tim's brother.

We had a spirited exchange of emails...each recalling to the other about the aviational prowess of Brother Tim. Sadly, however, Dr. Grier revealed that Tim had passed last August after a bout with cancer. He was 83. I was sad, of course, but relieved to know that he had survived Vietnam, which is where he went after leaving FDR and that he had a good career in the Navy.

Dr. Grier also revealed that his son was about to take over the reins of Grier School which would make the 5th generation of Griers to lead the exclusive girl's school. 

It is not often that one is able to "close the loop" of time with an old associate even though the end of the road is death. Rest in peace Timothy.



Remembering my baptismGranddad Beal and me; 1941I don't often discuss my beliefs in my blog, but I am making an exception today. This post is about my Christianity....Methodism and family. You see, unless I miss calculated, one branch of our family has been Methodist for the last 150 years...or more. It's not about being better than other belief systems, but it is about legacy and connection.Yearly, Methodists are reminded of their baptism. Perhaps it is because most of us are baptized...brought into the infants. We are asked to simply remember the significance of the occasion. The only physical connection I have of mine is this picture and, of course, my baptismal certificate. The picture was taken on "my day" and is the only picture I have of Granddad Beal and me. He died when I was seven and my memory of him is chair, calling grandma "Mother" and of course Christmas-time...his last in 1947. But...on the day this picture was taken, my baptism, he was focused on me and the possibilities of my life. That is what I call a blessing.Today, when asked to remember my baptism I thought of this picture of Pop-Pop and me. Remember the old song, "Old time religion"? It is my guide when my faith falters at times...."if it is good enough for your (mother, father, or in this case grandfather), it's good enough for me." Somehow, people in my family who loved me, protected me, and reared me knew what I know, lived in a different time than I, but they fundamentally believed what I believe. Don't get me wrong, there are some differences that 75 years of experience has revealed (as per John Wesley's Quadralateral, which you can Google), but belief that we are put on this earth to love, show compassion, and to share has not changed. Whipple Dam 1952I was also recalled the picture to the left, which has little to do with my baptism, although they were all there and basically share my belief system. I thought of it because they all three nurtured me and for that I am most grateful. Dave, Jim, Joe and of the few pictures when the four Lutz boys (off-spring of Dorothy and Raymond) were together at the same time.How can I not remember these big guys in such a setting? Whipple Dam is located near State College, PA and the occasion was the graduation of the two big dudes from Penn State.What does this all have to do with remembering my baptism? It is a time for reflection...for recalling...who was "God for me" over the years. We are asked to nurture those who are baptized in our community...and so off and on over many years I think of Joe, Dave and Jim serving in this capacity in my life.Who is God for you?[...]



(submitted to New Wilmington Globe/Leader)Some Luacres History Our family moved from Highland Avenue, New Castle to Valley Road in Neshannock Township in May 1942. Dad, a dentist, was in the Army Reserve having served in WW I and knew he would be activated that summer. There were five of us ranging in age from 14 years to nine months (me). Mother said that if she had to raise her family alone she wanted to be in the country not in the city. Mother and older kids were not strangers to spartan living. They had spent the previous ten summers in a cottage with no electricity or indoor plumbing near Volant located just below the dam. But they were not experienced at farming. The place they bought from Tom and Daisy Smith consisted of 63 acres, a house, barn and several out buildings. Her friends thought she was crazy, but it became the training ground for the Lutz family.  We called the place Luacres. The ensuing three and a half years, until the end of the War and Dad’s return to his practice in the Greer Building on Mercer Street, were filled with one new experience after another. Some included learning to milk the five cow herd; how to till the soil with a team of horses; how to tend a Boomer coal fired furnace; how to survive the war years with rationing. I was too young to remember those early years, but I was tuned in as a six year old when I started school at Walmo in 1947. In 1946 and 1947 we welcomed Jonathan Byler (from Volant) to Luacres. He lived with us and ran the farm to fulfill the requirements of his military deferment. Jon (we pronounced it Yone) was just 19 and gave our family a taste of Amish culture, which stayed with all of us. After he left our farm and married, there were frequent visits to Jonathan and Deana Byler’s place over the years to renew old friendships. During Thanksgiving break of 1950 the Big Snow left an indelible mark in my memory as Brother Dave, two neighbors and I took a load of 5 and 10 gallon cans of milk to Linger Light Dairy by tractor and wagon into New Castle. I recall the trip up Mercer Road to the Neshannock Fire Hall where we left two five gallon cans for neighbors who might be out of milk, across Shenango Road, south on  Wilmington Road and down Jefferson Street hill where we stopped for lunch on the Diamond. On the trip home we fetched a 55 gallon drum of fuel oil for a neighbor. Heady stuff for a nine year old.,As my siblings left home (Joe to the Navy and then Penn State, Dave also to Penn State, Phyllis to IUP, Jim to the Air Force and Slippery Rock) I  became the sole kid on the farm in 1956. By this time I was in George Washington and headed to NeCaHi (where all five of us graduated) to be a member in the last class (1959) to come from Neshannock. I spent my teen years raising replacement heifers for Harold Green of Glen Road. Mr. Green was Brother Dave’s father-in-law I worked both at home with my small herd of cattle that I raised for 4-H projects and at the Green farm with their 60 head of Holsteins. After graduation I headed to Penn State to study agriculture. While I was finishing my junior year (1962) Dad died in his office. While Mother hung on to the farm for a couple of years we were all building our own lives around the country. The old house with its coal furnace became too much for her. Luacres was sold in pieces: the house and barn and land west of Valley Road in 1964 and the bulk of the land east of Valley Road to the Neshannock Creek in the mid-1970s. After Penn State, I spent five years in the Navy, taught school, worked for Campbell Soup who sent us to Michigan in the early 1970s. My wife Aleene (Laurel 1961) and I raised our family there and stayed for 35 years. Today we reside in Newberg, Oregon where our daughter Amy and her family live. I have had an interesting career mostly in in education and human resources, but I still self ident[...]



Why I love baseballBaseball has been a part of my life experience since I can remember...going back to 1947. Living near (50 miles or so) Pittsburgh made the Pirates our family team. The radio was on in the house most weekend afternoons as we listened to the play-by-play of the beloved Buccos. During home games the announcers (Rosey Rosewell and soon after Bob Prince) called the game from Forbes Field. The away games were called from Pittsburgh with some sort of teletype hook-up to the city where the game was being played. I am not sure that every pitch was sent over the wire, so the announcer made up action to fit what was sent. For example the wire might send something like, “Kiner singles on a 2-2 pitch.” That is what would be recorded in a score book. So, Rosey would imagine the pitches that got the batter to a single: “Here’s the windup, the stretch, the pitch….low, ball one.” There was no background sound other than the sounds of a newsroom and what patter he would generate. It would be like calling a game by looking at Yahoo Sports Ap and reading what they show  there. It was like listening to paint dry.As boring as it sounds it piqued our interest in the game and kept us up on how the Buccos were doing. We, of course, was sister Phyllis, whom we all called Chickie. She was the baseball fanatic. During those years...1947-52 while she was at home before graduating from High School she would clip the press reports out of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (which Dad brought home from the office, daily) and pin the most dynamic up on her bedroom wall. When you walked into her room your eyes were attracted to the clippings.Chickie would play catch with me in the front yard while we listened to the Pirates on a small table radio...extension cords stretched as far as we could from the nearest outlet in the house. Of course, home games were more fun with the crowd noise and Rosewell’s trademark: “Raise the window, Aunt Minnie, here it comes.” There would be a crash of a breaking pane of glass and his final words, “She never made it…”On rainy days when we couldn’t be outside, Chickie taught me how to keep score...pencil, paper, clipboard and a ruler to make your own chart.Catch consisted of a taped up ball, and two being a five fingered mit that allegedly was used by my oldest brother Joe when he played organized ball. The backstory was that Joe broke his front teeth in an inverted V which dad repaired with gold...the material of choice in the 1930s. And the story continues that allegedly Dad said no more organized baseball for his boys. Continuing that if we broke our teeth, we had to fix them yourself, somehow. But back to the games of catch. The second glove was often a small mit with no padding. Later, I bought a glove which I played with through Little League.She stood at the big white pine tree in the front yard and I had a spot near the driveway, probably 50 feet away and throw as hard as I could to make her wince. She was a teenager then and a good catch and thrower. I am not sure how many ten year olds had 16 year old sisters that  play catch with them. Notice Dad's work attire...There were others, of course, including Dad. He did not last long since he could not risk injuring his hands being a dentist. Jim and I played catch, too, but not the seemingly hours that I spent with Sister.In the summer of 1951 five of us….Dave, Tillie, Chickie, Jim and I ….. frequently attended North County League baseball games. We went to Volant mostly, but I remember going to Pulaski, New Wilmington, and Eastbrook. It was there that I learned the finer points of the game...positioning, pitching and hitting. We had a connection to Volant, of course. Our family had a cottage along the Neshannock Creek just below the dam of the old mill during the 1930s until the f[...]



My love of pipe organ music.... I do not expect anyone, except for a very few, to understand why I love to listen to pipe organ music...especially Bach...and especially played by the late Virgil Fox. But for now, listen if you like, to Mr. Fox's arrangement of Now Thank We All Our God written by Bach. Our organist played it today at church and it brought me to tears.You see, my first memories of church...First Methodist in New Castle, Pa...of the Greer organ played by Mr. Edwin Lewis who also was my voice instructor when I turned 14. Edwin was a showman...not like Virgil Fox, but if you got to know him...and I did when I was taking voice from realized he was an eccentric master musician. Sunday after Sunday he would make the walls of that church tremble with the vibrant sounds of that great music. So, today when I hear great music played on a grand organ it runs shivers up and down...and I weep.Listen to this, if you want to experience some Christmas music written by George Fredrick Handel.This will keep you going for a while, if you like, no love, as I do the sound of the Wannamaker organ in the big store in Philadelphia. We were there at Christmas time in the late 1960s and early 1970s...not every year, but several of those holiday seasons and we generally took the train over to Philly from our home in New Jersey to see and hear this great organ. We did not get to experience Virgil Fox, but it rocked, none the less. The Wannamaker organ is the largest in the world, I understand.Being tuned in and turned on to organ the 1940s and 1950s...I happened to be in New York City during the spring of 1962 for a concert tour of the Penn State Glee Club (at Town Hall) and a friend of mine...Art Mauer (now deceased) and I went to Radio City Music Hall to see a movie and as the movie was ending the Mighty Wurlitzer rolled out and began playing the closing credit music of the film and then burst into a short concert before the Rockettes performed. Notice the difference here between the show organ at Radio City and the Wannamaker organ above playing Bach. I realized that while I liked the heavier sounds of Bach versus the show sounds of the Wurlitzer it was still a pipe organ and it gave me chills. I was back again at Radio City when the ship was in New York and off to Radio City again...not for the Rockettes, but for the Wurlitzer.Fast forward a few years and a pizza place opened in Grand Rapids known as 20th Century Pizzeria that had a Wurlitzer theater organ...boy did we make plans to go there for a listen...again...the rich full sounds of a pipe organ, but alas playing contemporary music, not Bach. Ok, but not fulfilling.One more personal church experience after New Castle was always electronic so I began buying recordings of Bach played by Virgil Fox. But my experience with live pipe organ music drifted off...that is until Newberg First United Methodist  popped onto our radar. Bam. I was hooked. Jane Mendenhall was organist then and I literally cried when she played. Now Janet Lyda is our organist and she can still bring me to tears as she did today.But if you want to hear my favorite...listen again to Mr. Fox and you will get a glimpse of why I love pipe organ music and love to dance the gigue (or jig.)[...]



Happy Birthday Aleene....Mother in 1970What should I get for her this year? I've been saying that for the past 54 years...we started dating in 1961. There has been this or that not too imaginative on my part. The best things have been dinners out at a favorite spot, at least that is what I think. Recently, the past 30 years or so, we just agree to not do anything special for each other and just keep being supportive and thoughtful for yet another year. That has worked well...for me at least.This year is no different except I decided to write about her, a bit. You see, Aleene does not, loathes...attention and being singled out. But she also knows that sometimes I cannot help myself. This is one of those times.Age five...flower girl on the leftShe went through some pretty scary times this year...made us both think about the future. I decided to let readers track her progress through the years...gracefully and with dignity; well, mostly. Love-able and capable...About 12 at campAt 21...beautiful, eh?Ten years agoMy favorite...New Castle in  1969[...]



Missing my buddy....

Two years ago we lost a good friend as I mentioned here when we realized we were facing a future without him. Well, the future is now and hardly a week goes by when my partner, Howard, and I don't refer to John in various ways.  John said this, or John showed me that, or that was before John and Janie moved to Bend or after...we rarely refer to his death. It is too painful.

John was instrumental in our church garden, which I took over when they moved. But I could always consult with him...that is gone. Likewise some of the side trips he and Howard took while they were partners....that is gone. But in the midst of all the memories of loss are the positives. We still have his spirit with us.

We keep in touch with fact, we were guests in her home this summer just before Aleene's NSTEMI (heart attack). We got to see their daughter Sarah and her husband Josh who live just down the street from Jane. (When I see Sarah smile I think of her dad.) Their oldest daughter Eilidh (pronounced A-lee, Scottish don't you know) and her husband Jeff and daughter Paige live in Portland and we follow them on Face Book...John loved Miss P. But my memories are in pictures of garden, Scotland in 2008 and Mexico in 2013...they just keep popping up.

Just want the cyber world to know that I am once again reminded that when someone leaves in the flesh, they are remembered by their spirit. Peace



Now that we’re marriedThe ship was in and out in early 1965. Now that we were married we looked for opportunities to be together. That is, after all, why we tied the knot in January instead of waiting until Aleene's graduation in June. While I wasn’t making a lot of money, I did not spend much either. It cost about $100 for a round trip ticket between Pittsburgh and Jacksonville. So, by mid March, just six weeks after we were married I sent Aleene some money and she showed up for a long weekend. That is when she got pregnant with Jeff….well, just do the math. Jeff was born on December 12.She made it down again in late April and was able to even eat a meal on board in the wardroom. The ship was on its way to Norfolk and we thought about stowing her away for the overnight ride, but thought better of it. Instead, I took leave and we drove up to VA where she flew home. I want to interject here my belief and feeling that in today’s world, we would not likely seen the need to get married for us to spend these weekends and short weeks together. But we were kids from the 1950s...we would not embarrass our families like that. We got married to legitimize our hook-ups. We did not see the risk in marriage, but there was, of course. We had great attachments of family background and personalities. We had been through a lot together. As it turned out we were more compatible than we realized and it worked out just fine.The ship continued to operate off the East Coast and was scheduled to return to the Med in late June. We spent days alongside the pier in Mayport getting ready for the upcoming cruise. There was another LCDR onboard, the fuels officer, who was from Central Pennsylvania. He had scheduled to fly a small Navy transport from Mayport to Tyrone, PA in late May. He needed someone to ride in the right seat, an observer. The catch was, according to Navy Regs, the observer had to be an officer who was eligible for command at sea. I was such a guy and Tim knew that. He also knew I had a wife going to college in Central PA so he asked if I could see my way clear to accompany him. I jumped at the chance. Aleene had the car, which meant she could drive over from Indiana to Tyrone (about 60 miles)  on a Friday afternoon and be back in school  by Sunday noon. It was on.Tim Grier was the son of the owner of Grier School for Girls in Tyrone. It is a prep school for wealthy girls that focused on equestrian training. I had been there once two years before with the Penn State Glee Club. We put on a concert there and then served as dates for the spring dance. Think about men turned loose on high school girls. Yep, it was true.Tim was a pilot and had learned to fly in the mountains of PA as a teen ager and had flown in and out of the little air strip many times. I was stoked. His deal was to fly with him on Friday, stay over in the school’s visitor quarters two nights...meals, with the girls, included.The flight from Mayport Naval Air Station is another story altogether. The experience was one I will never forget. I have written about it several times and will point to that story. Suffice it to say here, we made the trip, landed the plane and Aleene, seeing our C-45 swooping around drove right to the air strip. We checked into our quarters and showed up for dinner. It really scalded Aleene to have to eat with all those staring girls. I, of course, was in uniform and that was enough attention, but she felt conspicuous. Tim attended his board meeting on Saturday and on Sunday morning, early, we jumped in our orange and white Navy plane and headed south. On the way back, Tim took us off the coast and gave me the yoke...I flew for about an hour while he “rested.”When we landed at NAS Maypo[...]



Taken the first week of OCSin anticipation of making itthrough the 18 weeks.Early Navy years…I flew into Newport, RI on 19 May 1963. I was ready. It was a Sunday and we were to report the  next day. The recruiting office in Pittsburgh had set up our transportation and accommodations. There were two other guys flying with me, one from Pitt and the other from Duquesne. As it turned out, our names were alphabetically close, K, L, M. We not only were in the same company of 24 men, we were roommates. Navy OCS in 1963 was straight out of  WWII with wood barracks...which were also like our classrooms: two story structures with porches (we called them weather decks) surrounding them on both stories. Right across the bay, a nest of Navy ships including the carrier USS Essex.  This would be home for the next 18 weeks.I will spare my readers  details except to say that there were a couple of remarkable items that I will share. First, my class was small, as classes go; about 280 of us. The mix was about one third former enlisted who were seeking a commission after either going to college some place or direct commission because they were E-7 (Chief Petty Officer) or above. Another third were professionals (lawyers, civil engineers, pharmacists, supply types, medical specialists, but not doctors or dentists, and those heading to nuclear power school, etc.) The final third were guys like grads, some recent and some who had been out for a while. We would be the “ship drivers” or eligible for command at sea. It was an older, more experienced group who were really, really smart. As a result the academics were more competitive, but the military side was less “chicken” than it might have been if we were all recent grads. The old salts referred to us, albeit affectionately, as “college girls.”   We had alums from most of the Ivy League schools and major universities from around the country. So I did not feel badly that I ended  in the middle of the class academically.The other item was that by chance I ran into a former fraternity brother who was going to Navy Justice School to become the legal officer of his squadron. He was a pilot and already in for two years. Fast forward two and a half years and he was shot down over North Vietnam and was a POW for over 7 years. I remember him stopping our section coming over to me and getting into my face saying, “Lutz, what the hell are you doing here?” He was a Lt(jg)...big stuff to us. He retired after 30 years as a Captain. We are still in touch today.On 20 September 1963 I flew home in my Navy blues with orders in hand headed for the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA 42) with a ten week stop in Philadelphia for Damage Control and Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) defense school. The stop over was significant because Philly was just two hours from Joe and Shirley, Greg, Jane and now Carolyn. They were now in Gettysburg in a new, much more spacious house.As that fall progressed, I made the trip from Philly to Gettysburg every weekend...a couple of those weeks Aleene came over from Indiana by bus...just couldn’t keep us apart. On one particular weekend, I was getting in my car after class on a Friday to drive to Gettysburg to meet Aleene. It was her 20th birthday the day before (November 21). As I was pulling my things together we got the news that Kennedy had been killed. That didn’t change our plans, but I recall spending most of the time together glued to the TV as the news covered the event with little interruption for other programming. It was November 22, 1963.Greg was 8, Jane 6 and Carolyn just 4 months old. We got to reconnect once again. J&S would get the kids ready fo[...]



Significant events and decisions….1962 - 63At long last the end, graduation, was in sight. School had been a grind...a means to an end...I didn’t always enjoy my classes and questioned why I was in the major I found myself. But by January 1962 I could see my way to adulthood, employment and promise. I began to make plans accordingly. First, I decided against changing majors which might require more school. The shortest distance between two points is a straight, I loaded up on classes to try to graduate a term early. That worked out in my favor.You have to understand that I was not making decisions in a vacuum. I had two big brothers who had traveled this path before me as agricultural majors. I had another brother who had chosen the military after high school and was now going to college in a field he truly loved. I had my eyes open for ways to change my goals without taking too long to get there. I started exploring both the U.S. Coast Guard and the Navy after graduation. Then there was this girl thing going on.I can’t downplay the importance that Dad had on my decision making. I had consulted him several times about the military. I had, after all, gone from Air Force ROTC in my freshman year to Army ROTC in my sophomore year and was not enamored with either. Dad was a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, but he was not dogmatic about it. Joe chose the Navy, Jim the Air Force and while Dave had not yet affiliated with the National Guard...that was after his ordination, I saw my way clear to go in any direction I chose. Home on leave 1943Aleene and I had not yet developed our relationship beyond dating when we were both home. I have to admit it was nice to be able to talk openly with her, but I could not see my way clear to commit beyond that. Long distance relationships are difficult, because it is hard to read the other person: are they sincere, or just having fun? I had scaled back my social life at Penn State, however. Subconsciously, I was committing; I just did not know it, I guess.She had been to State once and I was scheduled to go to a pledge formal later in the spring. Things were lined up ready to go when I got word she was home in New Castle and  in the hospital with acute appendicitis. I remember visiting her in the hospital...her mom and dad present. There I stood gazing at her in a hospital bed and gown when she slowly pulls something out from under the cover. It was a pledge paddle which had been a favor at the dance. Her brother had smuggled it into the hospital. This was new territory for heart swelled.Spring 1962 I was on cloud nine...travelling with the Glee Club and because I was focused on I could get in an OCS program, I found renewed energy to hit the books and score some good grades. I could feel that all taking place. Aleene was aware of some of this because when I announced I had chosen the Navy, she said she thought it was going to be Coast Guard. The real reason was that I had one fraternity brother who was a year ahead of me go through Navy OCS and succeed and another wash out of the Coast Guard program in Yorktown, VA. I was committed to the Navy.Dad knew this and was fine with that decision. He had turned into such a supporter for whatever I decided I didn’t worry about any of the whys or wherefores. I have to add that Dad and I were always a work in least to me. You see, he was called to active duty when I was 9 months and returned when i was four. When he was released from active duty in December 1945 he intruded on my space. I was mother’s boy, not his and I resented his taking over her time. His military, kickass attitude when he came home furth[...]



How did we happen to get together?During the summer of 1959, as I indicated in the previous blog, when Dave and Tillie moved to Maryland, my involvement in the farming enterprise slackened. I traveled to South Central Pennsylvania with Mom and Dad (now known as Mimi and Barlow) to visit the Joe Lutz family: Oldest brother Joe, Shirley (also Aleene’s aunt) Greg, who was about four, and Jane (two.)  It is important to comment on this visit because.they were much older and I was only 7 when they were married in 1949. So, this  was a test as it turned out...they put up with my goofy antics and were interested in my plans to go to Penn State and study agriculture, which is where they spent the first three years of their marriage. I was becoming a young adult, so I felt like I fit in.It was logical, then, for me to look for a ride to Chambersburg (only two hours away) for a weekend visit during my freshman year at State. Joe linked me up with his boss at Cumberland Valley Cooperative informal getting to know you visit. It was hardly the highlight of my visit because I again bonded with the little ones and enjoyed the family time and good food. A couple of months later, after talking to Joe, I made another trip down south for a more formal visit with Mr. Floyd Mains, head of CVCA. He and Joe had cooked up interesting proposal...give me a job in the Chambersburg feed mill to learn the business, sort of an internship. Well, it  happened. By June I was in J&S little house on Krais Avenue. It was the summer of 1960.My job was “strong back, weak mind” type of work. Just the thing an 18 year old needed to stay on the straight and narrow. It was the first time I got a regular pay envelop…$65 a week. While that does not sound like much in today’s dollars, it was more than adequate for me.The Chambersburg location of Cumberland Valley Co-op was a branch of the Shippensburg home operation, it was however, the largest by volume. Dairy farms were everywhere around Chambersburg and my farming experience and growing agricultural knowledge made a good fit. But I was going to lift 100# sacks of soybean meal and cow feed, not planning and executing financial strategies, but it was a foot in the door and was giving me an perspective on Agri-business.The story was not my work, but the day in, day out experience with my host family. We had a ball. Shirley packed my lunch every day...she fed me and cared for me like a mother might. In exchange I paid a modest amount for room and board and a little bit of child care on evenings when J&S wanted an evening out. We went on picnics virtually every Sunday, after church, either to Cowans Gap State Park or Caledonia State Park...each with its own unique characteristics, but a chance to escape the confines of Krais Avenue (the house was only two bedrooms and I occupied the single room upper level.) We frequently made these visits with friends of theirs...principally the Jacobs family who had a son my age and daughter 16 and twin boys about eight.We also made a couple of sojourns to the Potomac river across the line in Maryland. Their dentist, Dr. Addleman, and his family had a cottage there and a power boat. That is where I learned to water ski.The summer flew by...I was much more fit when I left in September than when I arrived in June. Oh yes, a word about leaving Chambersburg that summer. Brother Jim was finishing up his four year hitch in the Air Force at Langley, VA. On the way to New Castle he stopped in Chambersburg for a few days and was just in time to take me back home. I do not recall more specifics...oh, we went to a Liz Taylor movie while ther[...]



Things I learned on the farm# My three year internshipToday we call them internships...back in summers of 1956-57 & 58 it was simply a summer job. Technically, I suppose, there is a difference, but it was during this time that I got educated in the art of dairy husbandry and in farm life.Yes, we lived on a agricultural lab of sorts, but we were not milking cows by the years referenced above and the farm machinery I had direct access to was limited to a tractor, a sickle-bar mower,  plow, harrow and a hay wagon. But at the end of my freshman year at George Washington I was fortunate enough (not knowing it at the time, of course) to be invited, encouraged, in fact, virtually begged to assist at a modern (for that day) diary of 60 milking Holsteins. My Brother Dave, ten years older than I and a 1952 graduate of Penn State in Animal Husbandry, was herdsman for the dairy belonging to his father-in-law, Harold Green of Glen Road, Lawernce County, PA. Dave and his wife Tillie and their daughter Margy (now Shuppy for you New Castleites) also lived at the Glen Road farm in the second house from the corner. The elder Greens lived in the beautiful brick house on the corner.There was a lot of rain that summer, 1956, and “making hay” was tough going. Not only was it difficult to get the hay dry enough to bale and store, it also became problematic in some fields to even get a loaded hay wagon out of the field without getting stuck in the mud. That is where I was pressed into service.After our team of horses was traded for our first tractor (a 1940 John Deere “B” with hand clutch and all) in about 1947 dad was talked into upgrading to a 1954 JD “40”. While I learned to drive the B, the 40 was “my” tractor. I plowed acres with that beast, well little beast, and mowed pastures for several farmers. I was 15.The call came for me to come over to Green’s farm to pull hay wagons out of the mud in tandem with their Farmall Super “C”. So off I scooted up Valley Road, up Sunset Valley hill (Eagles Hill), across Mitchell Road to Route 18...and then north to Glen Road (about 2.5 miles total) on my Johnny. Once I got there, I virtually stayed all summer. The “need” for a third tractor and operator became a convenience of having an extra hand and another set of wheels that could handle wagons, hay rakes and the like. Besides, working late into evening I could shower at Dave and Tillie’s and crawl into bed there and be ready to go early in the morning. I did not live there permanently, of course, but it sure was nice to have not only a bed available, but also delicious hot meals. Tillie was a great cook.They were kind to me, especially that first summer, because I was not expected to get up for the morning milking, but quickly had an assignment for evening chores on most days. That first year, 1956, they were still using electric milkers (DeLaVal) and dumping milk into a strainer affixed to a 10 gallon milk can, which then was trucked into the cooler in the milk house. The next two summers we used a pipeline system that was installed in early 1957. My job was to wash the udder of the next cow or two in order to let Dave and J.R. (Dave’s brother-in-law) keep the three milking machines sequenced and ready to go onto the next cow. As I got more experienced over the second and third summers, I was allowed to actually put the milkers on, determine when the cow was adequately milked and remove the milker. Sounds simple but when you make decisions about the cow’s mammary system you are messing with the economics of the farm. Big stuff for a 16 year old. By this time I becam[...]



Things I learned growing up on the farm# Life and death are constant companionsI do not want this to sound maudlin, but as a kid Brother Jim and I witnessed birth of animals and death of well as the passing of our grandmother.By the time we were both in school at Walmo, Jim and I spent a lot of time together around the farm. There were always chickens and ducks to feed, which were our responsibilities, as well as various chores involving some hogs and six or seven milk cows. Jonathan (Yone) Byler (our Amish hired hand) came to live with us when our oldest brother, Joe, joined the Navy after his graduation in January 1946. Brother Dave was finishing his last two years of high school at NCHS. The farm was in full tilt. Yone needed an agricultural deferment so he would not have to serve in a hospital even though he was a conscious objector. Points were awarded for so many chickens, pigs, and cattle and after adding all the points, we fit the bill.Yone lived in the room behind the kitchen, but with only one bathroom (up stairs) space was tight so he used the privy outside and a rudimentary shower was installed in the basement between the furnace and the coal room.Along with milking cows and feeding horses, there was always some poor animal to butcher so the  locker Mother rented on South Mill Street was filled to the brim. She was still feeding seven mouths at the time. Chickens were the mainstay, but every so often we butchered a hog and I remember only one bovine. The big animal slaughtering expert was a gentleman named Frank Jaworksi. Frank and his family were old family friends, which is another story, but they would help out when needed. They were patients of Dad's and lived on Sunny Avenue on the West Side of New Castle.Butchering day found the men all outside stunning, sticking, scalding, scraping and cutting while the women and children with weak stomachs were in the kitchen wrapping meat and preparing such things as blood pudding. Mother Jennie Jaworski would stand at our stove and thicken fresh blood with flour and who knows what else. I remember seeing her stirring the mass in an iron skillet with 3” sides….looked better than it sounds. I do not remember eating it.The death of a pig was inconsequential...a cow was somewhat worse because they usually had names and chickens were downright exciting to kill, but I loathed picking the feathers. We understood the cycle of life and the need to eat. Sides of bacon and smoked hams hung in the fruit cellar of the old house. There were jars of fruit, vegetables and some meat that surrounded the walls of the cellar. We understood country life, farming and cooperation.Jim and I witnessed a cat giving birth one sunny afternoon when we heard her crying and figured out she had made a nest near some bales in the hay mow. We lay there and watched six little kittens arrive each in its own little sack, which the mom ate. We were about 7 and 10.  Calves mysteriously appeared in the pasture, but it took several more years to witness a calf being born as I recall. By that time we were much older than the cat birthing experience. Birthing was part of farm life...helping the mother, sometimes...moving the calf or just downright pulling it out of the birth canal. We watched a favorite dog die one afternoon...very suddenly,  It seemed to us she had been poisoned which was the only explanation for such a quick demise. We dug a hole in the orchard behind the house and buried her. That’s what you did with dead pets.But on a warm day in late May 1952 the death of a family member made a lasting impressio[...]



Lessons I learned on the farm# Neighbors are the lifeblood of a rural communityOur corner of Lawrence County was a pleasant valley on the eastern edge of Neshannock Township extending from the base of the hill below Mercer Road to the Neshannock Creek, about a mile away. Valley Road runs generally north and south while the nearest cross road to the north of our farm was Sunset Valley which runs due east to the river.Fixing the location is important because between our house on Valley Road and the Neshannock Creek (The Crick, we called it) a distance of a mile, were five houses and farms. They were our neighbors. Their importance cannot be over-stressed because of the interaction that took place in the 22 years we lived there. Let me describe them, but first some background.Our family moved to Valley Road in the spring of 1942...Dad was in the Army Reserve and was about to be called up for active duty at the outbreak of WWII. Mother, faced with rearing her brood of five children alone ages 9 months (moi) to 14 years, simply chose to do so in the country, not in the city. They traded the house on Highland Avenue in New Castle for a 63 acre farm on Valley Road...and $3,000. The deal was worth $5,500 at the time ($85,000 today). She was willing to go it alone in a 100 year old house with, at the time of purchase, no indoor plumbing and water fed to the kitchen by gravity. That soon changed, of course with some updating, and the coal fired furnace was in good working order.There were animals involved too, which included a draft horse and three head of cattle that were purchased to support the family, but all the information Mother and oldest Brother Joe needed to husband those animals resided not in their body of knowledge, but in that of our neighbors.The Sarah and Russell George farm were to the south. They were an aging couple whose farm bordered ours. Their daughter, a senior in high school, was my keeper many times when Mother needed an extra pair of hands. Dad Russell worked at “The Pottery” or Shenango China. He farmed part time, but did not depend on farming for their livelihood. He had several significant inputs into our horse husbandry including stopping a runaway team as they ran down the road and Brother Joe could not stop them.At the crossroads of Valley and Sunset Valley was a compound of small buildings and a four room house with neither running water nor indoor toilet. When we first moved to the farm the compound was owned by the Eagle family...I don’t remember them, but the hill on Sunset Valley between Mercer Road and Valley Road was dubbed Eagle’s hill after that family and we traversed that stretch of road many times in the winter on sleds. It was great fun. By 1946 the Tieche family inhabited the compound and it became a tidy, attractively painted group of buildings and kept in apple pie order. It was a neighborhood hangout for my age kids because two of their kids were twin boys a year older than me. Tieche senior was a jeweler and the family used the compound as a summer place as their main residence was on Crawford Avenue. They were great neighbors; always ready to help.The first place east on Sunset Valley was owned by the Noss family and changed owners soon after we arrived…was sold to the Kendall family made up of dad, mom and five kids roughly matching the ages of our family. Dad Kendall was both a farmer and owner of a mobile feed mill...a grist mill, if you will. He ground our cow feed and I spent a lot of time on their farm with their youngest son. I got my eyes opened as to how a family that larg[...]



Things I learned on the farm# Chickens are OK after all.Let me say right now that I do not like chickens. It has to do with my relationship with them as a child...they were ubiquitous. I did not like eating eggs, so there was no attraction. I did not like eating their meat, either, which is linked to the fact that we butchered our own and the smell just got to me. But we made money with the critters, but I came to believe any meaningful farming enterprise had to include them (Ag Ec 6 truth).The cycle began in the early spring of each year. We purchased 50 straight run chicks from Hutchinson’s Feed Store. Straight run means there were a mixture of males and females, which made them less expensive. As you might expect, females (pullets) were more desirable, so we probably got more males, (cockerels) than one might like. But that was ok because we would hustle them off to market in six to eight weeks for some quick money.There were three chicken houses on the farm when Ray and Dorothy bought it. Two were small, probably 8 x 10 and the third was much larger, maybe 10 x 20. The three coops were adjacent to each other, in fact, one smaller one was connected to the largest one. The single house, we used as a brooder.The brooder house had electricity so a heat lamp or two could be suspended from the low ceiling. There were quart jar waterers that consisted of a special lid screwed on so that when inverted it gave a nice source for thirsty chicks. There were several feeders that consisted of little galvanized troughs with guards covering them so the birds could not walk in them. It was a chicken nursery.If chicks survived the cold nights and predators (cats, rats, racoon) they grew quickly and could be moved to a range shelter. Pullets were identified and put with the layers already in production while the cockerels were either sent to market as broilers or were saved for caponization destined for a 4-H project and ultimately for dinner tables at Thanksgiving or Christmas. We always had capon for those two holidays until we quit raising neutered birds. I have to admit capon breast meat tasted super good.I learned what caponization meant from 4-H since each June the County Agricultural Agent would come to the farm, set up his operating table and extract the two tiny testicles located inside the body just under and behind the folded wing. It got to the place where we would first watch, then perform the operation. These birds grew large and produced great meat. They did not crow nor did they look like a rooster. They were Capons.The pullets matured into laying hens first laying tiny eggs soon followed by large a day, every day...well, until they went through a molt or resting phase after about a year. When they began to molt we called them clucks because they became mean and nasty until they began to produce again.Our layer setup was rudimentary...with makeshift laying boxes fashioned out of the managers in the former horse side of the barn. They were dark...and deep. So, when you gathered eggs you could not see what was in the nest...eggs, chicken setting on eggs or other. It was not uncommon for a layer to be on the nest and a nice chicken would allow you to slip your hand under her to pull the eggs out one at a time. Other birds, clucks, might peck your hand. Did I say I disliked chickens?But we managed to process eggs by washing and weighing when necessary and taking them to market; fifty cents a dozen to Mother’s friends. We got to keep the money. And at Thanksgiving, we butchered capons and sold them. [...]



Things I learned on the farm# It’s always best to tell the truthI must have been eight...or nine...that would have made Jim 11 or 12. Part of our chores was to change the water in the chicken-house part of the barn. (there was a period of time when we put chicken wire up in what was formerly the horse stalls to house our 50 or so layers.) I hated it.There was water in the barn but we never left it on because in really cold weather it would freeze and the pipes might (and did) burst. So we turned it on and off in the Spring House which was water-central for the place.There were two sources of water in the little block structure...a virtual was a running spring which originated in the orchard behind the house and a well that was drilled adjacent to the Spring House. The well was a traditional 100 foot well with a eductor-type pump. It was not always there, but probably was in the time period of my tale...1949-50. The spring in the orchard flowed above ground feeding a small run that traversed the barnyard and was also piped below ground. The piped water lead into the Spring House and into a concrete trough. It flowed year round and was very cold. The trough in the Spring House was used to cool the fresh milk and could hold maybe 4 - 10 gallon milk cans (and watermelon in season.) The trough had an overflow pipe that vented out under the ground to the little run which ran through the barnyard. It also had a pipe that also went underground and vented to a larger trough that was used to water the cattle and horses. It was big enough for two people to lie in, but too cold to stay in the water very long even on a hot summer day. Jim and I tried it many times.So, back to the chickens. If you turned the water on to the barn, you had to turn the water off on the return trip. Most of the time we simply dipped the two buckets of water into the watering trough in the barnyard twice a day to water the chickens. If you turned the water on there was a spigot in the chicken area are which was hooked to the well and would pump water with good force. Either was acceptable, but in either case you had to throw out the old water to get rid of the straw and other debris.Out I went...zooming past the Spring House, set, I guess, on dumping the buckets and dipping them into the watering trough. When I got there I deducted that the water was not all that dirty and simply skimmed the straw off the top of the buckets….and zoom, back I went to the house.Well, Dad watched the whole thing and asked me if I remembered to water the chickens...yep, I did...I said. To which he observed that he had not seen me come out of the barn to dip the buckets… which I said...Oh, I used the inside which he said….I didn’t see you turn it off….to which I said….Oh, I forgot to turn it off; I go do it now. Not so fast my boy (he grabbed me by the arm) and said….Jim, you go turn it off.BUSTED…..The end result was my bawling because I knew I was caught in a lie and Dad did not have to spank or anything...I was crushed. End of tale, but not the end of the on-going struggle I had with Dad. I have more stories to relate in another lesson.[...]



Lessons I learned on the farm# A milking cow should be reveredIf she rates a place in the milking area of the barn, in our case it was metal stanchions, and eats grain in the manger, then she is royalty. These female bovines (Bos taurus) not only supply the precious fluid milk that is prized and salable, but they also are the mothers of future herd replacements that are the life-blood of the farm. I also must hasten to add that at the end of her milking life she still supplies edible meat.A female calf (a heifer)  born of a good producing cow gets special attention and nutritional supplements not to mention medical care to be sure the young calf stays healthy and thrives. Male calves (bulls) have lesser value, unless of course his mother is an exceptional milker. He then can be raised to become the herd sire. Otherwise he is sent to market immediately or is castrated and raised for meat when he reaches 800-1000 pounds.Heifers are allowed to nurse their mother for the first 48 hours to get the benefit of mom’s colostrum milk then she is taught to drink from a pale and is fed milk replacer or a nutrient rich powdered milk. She is watched during her first few months of life to be sure she is healthy, strong and shows traits of good body conformation of a potentially good milker.When the heifer is a year old she is approaching sexual maturity and has to be watched closely for signs of ovulation so that she can be impregnated within those next few months. She needs to be bred by 15 months of age so that she can freshen (have her first calf) by the time she is two which allows her to become a producing member of the herd.That is the rotation that takes place constantly in a producing dairy herd. But on a small farm with a small the one I was reared on, milking cows are more than a continuous lactating machine and an annual producer of calves. They become members of the barnyard...with names and personalities that make the drudgery of daily, repetitive labor almost fun. Such was the experience I had beginning as a small child and accelerating during my teen years.The first members of the herd I remember were Star, Dolly, Marge, Walnut, and Flo. They were my big, warm, sometimes smelly friends that greeted me daily. Their daily production was logged on a chart as a reminder of how they were progressing in their lactation (the time after they gave birth) and to determine how much feed they would be given to maintain their milk production.Thier personal when they ovulated, when they were bred and when they were due to calve was kept on a simple calendar supplied by the local feed mill. All these technical names had farmer names: ovulating...bulling;  breed or bred….to impregnate; with calf...pregnant; give birth...freshen; dry stop lactating. It was all very natural and we understood the terms as they related to the barn and did not interchange them when it came to the same cycle with humans.Yes, a milk cow is honored and respected for her economic and nutritional value. For example, I was raised on raw milk until I was 10. Pasteurization was for milk shipped to the city from the dairy, but farmers drank milk straight from the cow...strained and cooled, of course, but rich whole milk containing lots of butterfat.Farmers are paid for their Class A fluid milk by the content of butterfat. Whole milk purchased in the store contains 3.25% butterfat. But milk prices at the farm are based on a base of 4.0%. Depending on t[...]



The CauseOctober 18, 2015Matthew 25:31-4031 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 Before Him will be gathered all nations, and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats. 33 He will set the sheep at His right hand, but the goats at the left.The Judgement of the Nations...that’s the title my Bible gives this Matthew 25 passage. Judgement is something that is not very popular in current Christian teaching, but we do it all the time, don’t we. “Judge not, lest you be judged” was written on the chalkboard in the kitchen of the old farm house where I grew up, just above the list of chores that each of us was expected to accomplish that day. That was the way our mother organized her family of five kids back in the Forties...but the scripture choice was always printed larger than the tasks that followed. Mom was trying to teach us something in addition to keeping the farm running. She followed the parenting philosophy that, “Children have to be carefully taught.”As some of you know, my parents moved us to the farm just after the beginning of WWII because Dad was in the Army Reserve and knew he would be activated. He was a dentist and served in WWI also. Mother told him that if she had to raise five children, ages 13-9 months, alone, she wanted to be in the country, not the city. So it was by the fortune of war that I became a farmer-kid. During Dad’s absence she took on the task of not only raising a family but managing a 65 acre general farm. As you can tell her influence in my early development was significant. Her tools were scripture and music, which have stuck with me all these years.So here we are today reading about judgment by none other than...The Son of Man, himself….all the nations involved here...and there he sits on his throne of glory. And what’s he do? Separates nations like a “shepherd” separates the Sheep from the Goats….and the Sheep go to the right and goats go to the left…    “this way, please, you gnarly goats.“ And that saying has endured...separating sheep from the is used over and over when it comes to delineating good from bad, haves from have-nots...and as a high school math teacher used to say when it came time for testing...sheep were the knowing and goats were those less prepared.So here we are being told that the nations will be Judged….sheep = good; goats = bad. To top that off the good nations to the Right...bad nations to the Left. How does that make you feel, all you southpaws? Then the goats are damned to hell, no less.When I took this assignment to speak on this text, I of course, accepted it with laser-like interest since, hey,  I am first and foremost a farmer kid...and my first animal 4-H project was a pen of lambs. Those cute little sheep, so wooly and soft, and here, sheep are scripturally uplifted as the more desireable of their close relative...goats.But before I could get into my study of this lesson, I had to figure out why the Biblical preference. Check this out: we talk about the Lamb of God not the Kid of God. And  “There were in the same country Shepherds abiding in the field”...not Goat herders abiding in the fields. Then there is the story of the “Ninety and nine,” who were sheep not goats...and the shepherd struggles to find the lost lamb not the lost goat. You get my point.So we hav[...]



Lost an old friend this weekend

Terry Agal was my boss for eight of my 14 years at Hart & Cooley. He lost his life Saturday (October 10) in an auto accident on I-80 near Iowa City. I know little of the details, so I will leave it at that. But I do have to acknowledge our association and friendship.

I followed Terry in several jobs during the first six years I was with the Company. When he was named V.P. of Human Resources he became my boss. We worked closely as a team even though there were rough patches along the way. He traveled quite a bit negotiating contracts around the country, so it fell on me to be the sounding board in Holland. I learned from him.

One example was the strike in 1990. Terry was chief negotiator while my job was to be sure contract language was clarified at the table because at the time I was the one who had to "administer" the new agreement. There were two accountant and an operations person... on the Company team.

When we got into the strike situation a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service was assigned to our situation. The mediator was a big man whose background came from years as a negotiator for a union...he was tough in a smooth sort of way.

His advice to Terry was to be tougher. His point was that it had to appear that the Union was working hard to get every last penny out of the Company so the membership did not feel like the strike was for nothing. "Get mad. Swear at them, or something. Make your point stick," he advised.

Well, Terry was a gentleman and mild mannered. He didn't ever swear, that I heard anyway. So at the next bargaining session Terry took the FMCS gentleman's advice and said something like: "Look, guys, this is all the budget  will allow....damn it." Whoa...Terry swore. While it sounded fake-like to those of us who knew him, it was out of character for him and got their attention....I guess.

The Union rep sitting next to me (we were in a U-shape arrangement not strictly across the table) was a tough kid...sincere, but a big, tough young man. He pushed his chair back and caught my eye and mumbled just barely audible to me, "Wow, Terry swore. He must mean it." The gambit worked, or maybe the mediator had prepped the Union that Terry was going to make this gesture for them to know he was out of monetary authority.

But that was Terry. I am sure in future negotiations in Memphis, Sanger, Huntsville and elsewhere, where there was a strong union, he did better at revealing his stern side.

Terry was a Christian in several senses of the word. I will not get into theology here, but he not only followed Christ...he had a testimony to go with it. And he lived it.

I've lost touch with him since we moved to Oregon and have not seen him in years, but true to form the last time we had lunch he made it a point to thank me for helping him along the way, when really, it was the other way around. I have good thoughts about those days 20-25 years ago...peace be with you Mr. Agal.




The research continues...Sheep vs. Goats

Thanks to a former high school classmate of mine, whom I have not seen in over 50 years, I got a bit of insight on the Biblical difference of the two cute rumanants and why one is the more preferred. He picked up my plea for help from Face Book through a mutual friend.

I also had a discussion with a respected Biblical scholar who, while not giving me a definitive answer, pointed me in a good direction. I say good direction because my scholar-friend cautioned that the difference was probably culturally based on the belief system of 1st Century folk and could be either practical or spiritually based. You know, there may be more than one reason that sheep came out the preferred unit: scientific or mythological. A bit heavy, I agree, but it made me dig a bit deeper.

My first reference alluded to the behavior of the two animals; sheep being gregarious and likely to listen and follow the shepherd, while goats are headstrong and go in their own direction. There is some substance to this argument, in my view, because of the experience I have had principally with sheep and more vicariously with goats. Although I used to get pretty mad at my sheep when they escaped their about head-strong.

But I have to add here that in my very first Animal Husbandry class I was given a definitive clue by the professor. He was a cattle guy and did not want to talk too much about sheep and goats and did not want to be bogged down in a discussion about appearance when the breed characteristics might be very similar. At that point the instructor became very brusk and said, "Boys, (there were no women in that class) if you can't tell the difference any other way, look at their tails. Sheep tails (or what is left of them) turn down while goat tails turn up..."  And that was that.

So the development of the sermon continues...commentaries, dictionaries, and more interviews. It is starting to come together.