Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happy Birthday


I was listening to my Podcast this morning from Story-corps about mental hospitals in the 1950 and how terrible they were.  At that time the main therapy was electric shock treatment.  Historically the resident population  in mental hospitals was at the highest.  The proven method of therapy was to lock people up and throw away the key.


When I was nine years old and my sister was eleven years old our mother was placed in the Iowa State Mental Hospital in Cherokee for depression.  I remember details of that time as if it was yesterday.  My mother suffered from severe migraine headaches.  We lived in northern Iowa so the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota was the closest, best medical facility.  She was admitted there and diagnosed with mental illness/depression and sent to the State Mental Hospital in Cherokee.  

My sister and I lived with our paternal grandmother a few blocks from our home during the time our mother was hospitalized.   

Mother's treatment was electric shock therapy.  My father would drive my sister and I to Cherokee on Sundays to spend time with our mother.  I remember sitting on the lawn at the mental hospital grounds on a blanket with our family.  

I also remember that when my ninth birthday occurred no one remembered.  At that time the birthday kid would bring treats for the whole class on his birthday.   I did not have any treats.  Later that day I mentioned it to my grandmother.  And she was very sorry that nothing was done.  She got me a Hostess cupcake and that was my birthday cake.  

We had many aunts and uncles in the community and when word got out, my sister had many birthday cakes for her birthday.  I was happy for her and thought it was neat that they did remember her birthday.  Now 60 years later I still remember the time that my mother was in the mental hospital and everyone forgot my birthday.  Funny how things like that stay with you.

I also remember that from the time I was in kindergarten to the day I graduated from high school my friends and classmates would never refer to someone as being crazy.  They would always say hurtful things like, "That person should be put in Cherokee."   Of course they never considered that my mother had been a resident there for a while in 1951.

When I was living in New York City during the 1960s I was just a few blocks from a major mental hospital, Creedmoor, and each time I would drive by on the Cross Island Parkway I was reminded of 1951 and Cherokee and my mother.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Boys of Summer


With apologies to my good friends Susie and Bill who are avid baseball fans, I want to tell you up front that baseball is probably the most boring thing that man has ever invented.  


It is right up there with watching paint dry.  

There is the seventh inning stretch which is wonderful because it signals the opportunity to get ready to leave the stadium.  

If you have an MP3 player baseball gives you the opportunity to listen to a lot of music uninterrupted by others.  

You do not even have to worry about crowd noise because the crowd never makes a sound except at the unlikely event that someone will actually hit the ball or score a run. 

I always enjoyed bringing my super powerful binoculars (yes, I am a voyeur) and watch people all over the stadium doing all sorts of things.  

The people on the far side in the really cheap seats are the most interesting.  

You can see them do the most unusual things up to and including having sex.  

Yes, it happens at the baseball stadium.  

Another excellent example of people trying to kill time waiting for the game to be over.  

As a matter of full disclosure I must tell you that I dislike all sports not just baseball.  

And yes, I have played sports, I have coached sports and I have watched every sport imaginable.   

I just think that now the new season is upon us I have a responsibility to let everyone know that baseball is probably the most worthless pastime ever invented by man.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A day late and a dollar short and late for school


I love diversity.  

I welcome all of the people of the world who come to my community to live and work.  
I enjoy learning their languages as I know they enjoy learning English. 
Different cultures.  
Different places.  
Different backgrounds. 
It only makes us stronger. 
It does not weaken us one bit.   
This morning I saw all of this in action.  
I have an elementary school bus stop in front of my house. 
Each morning at 8 am I look out to check who is there and who is not.  
Boys and girls alike.  
Some from the United States and some not.   
A little United Nations at my curb.  
This morning at promptly 9 am a young boy about 6 came and stood in the normal place in the street.  
After a couple of minutes the neighbor across the street went over to him and gently told him that the bus was there an hour ago.  
An hour early because of daylight savings time.  
The little boy paused and did not know what to believe.  
He finally walked back to his house with a skip in his step probably imagining that he gets another day off this weekend.  
I love diversity and for those of you do not like pushing one for English, deal with it.  
Thank God you have a finger to use to push one.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Free Speech


The First Amendment to the United States Constitution addresses many issues.


  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."   (With added emphasis.)

Nowhere does it say that people have to be smart or nice.  

Nowhere does is say that the majority has to agree to whatever is being spoken or that we all need to agree.  

The amendment says freedom of religion and not freedom from religion.  

If you don't like religion then you should go to another country.  

The people from the Westboro Baptist Church have the right under the first amendment to peacefully assemble regardless if we like what they are saying.  

The American Nazi Party had the right to march in Skokie many years ago the same way that Martin Luther King had the right to march in Birmingham.  

We can't cherry pick the things that we like and do not like.  

We can't say that we are offended so therefore a religion or a group should not be able to demonstrate.  

We have to take the bad with the good.  

Once we tell people that they do not have the right to freedom of religion or free speech then we all lose our rights.  

I would hate to live in a country where my personal opinion determined others rights.  

The next thing you know they will be telling me what I should or shouldn't do with my life.