Before I get started on this week's entry, allow me to answer a question we received a couple of days ago. A reader complimented us on the professional look of our site, and asked how hard it was, and whether it was expensive. It is neither. Everything that you see here is free of charge. There are additional features that can be purchased as options, but you can accomplish what we have done here without laying out a cent.
Simply go to http://weebly.com and follow the simple instructions for creating an account. Choose a theme, or general "look" of the site (there are scores to choose from), upon which you will be taken to a blank screen like the one above. At that point you simply drag and drop from the left sidebar whatever you want, for example, a block of text, a picture, set out quotes in a different format, or a text-picture combination, which is what you see here. Create separate pages to organize your presentation, lock them with passwords if they are for certain eyes only, and import third-party widgets such as the visitors' log you see to the right. The real beauty of this service is that what you see while you're typing is what you'll see on the page when you post. Anyone who has ever struggled with Blogger's "Guess what this is going to look like" text box will appreciate this feature.
And now, on to the business of the week...
OUTBREAK! It's a word that gets your immediate attention, and will cause high anxiety feelings if it appears on your local newscast. Look, I don't try to follow the news too much; I get enough depression dealing with my own issues, but some things are impossible to overlook. There seems to be a sharp rise in the number of mumps infections across the country, and here in California, we're dealing with a small but tragic outbreak of a disease that mimics polio, and can to date only be treated by the amputation of the affected part, which can be especially devastating for the children who are its victims. As a grandparent, these things are distressing to me.
If you went to school in the 1950s, chances are good that you knew a classmate who wore an arm or leg brace because the poliomyelitis had atrophied that part down to a toothpick that couldn't lift its own weight. Some kids were confined to iron lungs because they couldn't breathe on their own. In some of the lesser diseases, I personally had bouts with measles, mumps, and chicken pox. Chicken pox was frightening, as my whole body was covered with multi-lobed blisters that resembled the gun turrets on a B-17, and the measles laid me in bed in the dark for a week while my fever at its peak reached 106`. Okay, you modern kids who have grown up with the benefits of vaccines in your lives, may be thinking, certainly not pleasant, but an old-timer's rite of passage.
But the fact is that these childhood diseases could and did kill children whose immune systems weren't up to the challenge. I seem to remember reading somewhere that measles killed more American children in the 1950s than smallpox. Consider that for a moment. A disease that practically every child in America was guaranteed to get, the only treatment was to put the child to bed in the dark for a week, and it was deadly! What must it have been like for a parent in those days?
And then came Dr. Jonas Salk. At the dawn of the 1950s, this hero developed a vaccine that would prevent polio. The child had an injection when he started school, a couple of boosters during his school years, and the fear of this life-destroying epidemic was banished forever. This was rapidly followed by vaccines to prevent measles, mumps, and a whole pantheon of childhood diseases which became unnecessary to the childhood experience. Miraculous, yes?
Before I continue, I'm going to take a few steps down a side road and shine a light on something for your consideration: Imagine that the pharmaceutical industry of the 1940s and 50s operated the same way it does now. The government funded Dr. Salk, and gave him all the money he needed to find his miracle cure for the most feared disease of the age. Today, it's all in the hands of the corporations. Imagine for a moment that you have AIDS. You are probably taking a drug cocktail three or four times a day at a cost of thousands of dollars per dose. How is it, then, in the interest of a drug company to develop a vaccine that you're given once for $100, and then they never see you again? It's a pretty safe bet that we're never going to see one, and that's only one of the many scandalous developments that has reduced this once-great country to what it is today.
But the subject here is childhood diseases, right? Eradicated, right? WRONG! Now we come to the age of the celebrity-doctor. No, not those guys on the late night infomercials. I refer to such learned lights as Meryl Streep, Ted Danson, and of course the gifted Jenny McCarthy. Credentials? None. Influence? Ah, utilizing the soapbox provided by their dubious acting or posing-nude-for-Playboy skills, they have done more damage to America than Sherman's army during the Civil War. Doctor Streep, with her high-profile campaign against alar, or daminozide, single-handedly destroyed the American apple industry; next time you have to pay top dollar for apples imported from New Zealand, you might consider dropping by her website to leave a thank you note. Doctor Danson warned us 24 years ago that the planet would only support human life for another ten years; don't know about you, but I'm starting to get worried. And now we have Doctor McCarthy standing up to assure us that childhood vaccinations gave her child autism.
It's difficult to blame them. After all, in a population of 300,000,000, it is no surprise to find three high-profile idiots. No, who I blame are the tens of millions of low-profile idiots who ignore the advise of thousands of health care professionals, and the evidence of the lack of leg braces, pox scars, and iron lung wards all around them to listen to the advice of a woman whose main talent consists of showing her crotch to a camera, because she wants someone to blame for her child's tragedy. Stop listening to these fools, America! Turn off Access. Turn off TMZ. Turn on your brains, for God's sake! If you want to be entertained by a movie, check out an actor. If you want to know what's proven to keep your child healthy, visit a doctor.
Or on second thought, don't. Every nation, being not just an outline on a map, but a manifestation of the will of its people, gets what it deserves through its own making. You're making your bed, America. Enjoy sleeping in it...
It was my plan the last time I posted, to recapture our wedding day. I'll try to recall it all here and I hope you enjoy it. The title of this post is Camelot because I thought so much of our president John F. Kennedy and that was his favorite play. The time he was in office was amazing and he had such charisma. When he was murdered, I was so hurt. I'd seen death once before, but his was so senseless. He was a wonderful person and so, when I met Jack and things developed between us, I was happy again! Like I was before. My own personal Camelot was unfolding before my eyes. But only the good things. Sad times would come, as they do to all people, but in my heart and mind everything was perfect and happiness and wonder was ours. Funny how good that sounds... "ours". I was no longer alone and rejected. I was accepted exactly as I was. Loved for who I was. It was a long time coming, but nothing could make me happier.
Our wedding day was beautiful. The weather was perfect, it was so still and peaceful. The sun was out and not a cloud in the sky. My beautiful Camelot. The music went on and the pastor was there already. We took our places in front of the Pastor, and in front of the beautiful Christmas decorations my family had done. The table was beautiful with different foods and the wedding cake. Everything was perfect. The Pastor began the ceremony, and we each said our vows as the Pastor lead us. We were supposed to kneel for the blessing, but we forgot and it would have been hard in the dress anyway. It was significant because we are still standing together after all we have been through. Even when sickness threatened to take Jack from me, we stood firm. He fought so hard to get well, and God was present with us just as He was on our wedding day. The blessing was given, and then we went to cut the first piece of cake, and begin the festivities. We each took a bite of cake and I received a hug from Jack's Grandmother Helen, and she was crying. She said "God Bless you Bonnie. I was so touched. Jack's mom said I was too emotional. This was her son and I was giving my life to him. Who wouldn't be emotional? My Dad opened the champagne and made a toast to us. It was odd, the things he said. But after all the years we have spent together, the thorns on the roses he had made reference to, have been real. But the roses are still blooming in our lives, and the thorns are no threat to us. God is in control as He always has been.
The family was enjoying the festivities, and we made our exit. We had to go to the base where we worked and pick up our checks. We didn't change clothes, we went directly to the base and the woman who had told me before I met Jack, that nobody would ever want to marry me because I was too fat, hid. She actually hid from us. She told my friend Linda that she'd never seen anyone actually glow before! So I know she was aware that our union was something special.
That evening we had a small reception at our home. Jan and David came, but I don't think my Mother and Dad did. Kay had brought the cake from my Mom's house and put it in the fridge. My brother had taken a fork and eaten almost all the cake. The only part left for us was the top and a few slices to give to our guests. He was unbelievable. But he was being true to who he was. After everyone left, Jack and I changed clothes and went out for a ride on the scenic drive and we wrapped up the evening by going through Balboa park which was decorated for Christmas. It seemed to me the whole world was celebrating our union. We went home and still had to wrap presents we had bought for the family. The next day we would celebrate Christmas with everyone. We had even done our Christmas shopping in our wedding clothes! We had a wonderful time because we were now "one". It is even true today...almost 40 years later. We are still "One" and our union has been so blessed. God has been good to us. You 7 grandchildren are a part of the gifts of life He has given. That's one reason I talk so much about God to you. I want you to know how real He is and how much He loves you and wants to be a part of your life.
The next morning we got up early and had cake for breakfast and coffee, and got ready to go deliver the gifts. I had bought him a hat, which he wore, and he bought me a sweater which I wore. We still have both of them! I found them yesterday. I still have my dress but the leisure suit is no longer with us. I don't remember what happened to it. After all the gifts were given, and we had all celebrated, we went home to rest. We stopped at the little corner grocery store, and I found a small piece of fruit cake and bought it to make the day complete. Jack bought something but I can't remember what it was. Then we went on to the house and I changed clothes and started making us lunch. Grandma Helen and Kay came over and joined us. My life was perfect and exciting and so much fun!
About a month before our wedding anniversary, I gave birth to our twin sons! But that is a story all it's own and I'll cover that the next time I post. I want to convey the miracle that our wedding is, to you. God picked a man and made him strong and enduring and brought him into my life. He has always taken care of me, loved me, and forgiven me when I've done things to hurt him. It was never my intention to do those things. Life happens to us and we all make mistakes. Forgiving them is the key. When you have a union such as ours, you can overcome the odds, no matter how they are stacked against you. Neither of us had a good example to follow. Jack was raised by his Great Grandmother and his Grandmother, and his Mother and Father were missing from his life. But he is an amazing person because he overcame the hurt and abandonment he has felt for years. My example was my parents fighting all the time until I thought I'd go mad. I actually did as a matter of fact. But I have regained my mind and my life and I am busy and happy making our home a cozy nook for the 3 of us and all the grandkids and their parents. Jack, Sid, and I are the 3 Musketeers! We stick together and help each other and in this there is a beautiful unity. God has been so good to us. I hope each of you find this kind of love. When the right one comes along, you will know it. It will strengthen you and you will find the meaning to your life you have always wanted. I pray that each of you will be as blessed as we have been and continue to be. After all, my miracle is sitting on the couch right now setting up a football game we will play tomorrow... and the beat goes on!
Love to All 7 of you,
As I've mentioned before, I grew up in the very affluent neighborhood of Point Loma, an exclusive suburb of San Diego, California. I've covered the circumstances more than once, so I won't rehash it here. I've talked about my family not fitting in due to our meager financial means, but this time, I'm here to talk about the good stuff.
And there was plenty of good stuff. My teenage years began in the fall of 1961. While I was largely unaccepted by the general population at school, I did have a cadre of friends from my own neighborhood that I had made from the time I moved in at the age of six. Our "neighborhood" consisted of one block of houses set off a main street, and not directly connected to anything else. These homes had been built as a single development and sold at roughly the same time to young families, and I have calculated that there were over forty kids living around that cul-de-sac, all very close in age. On the map above you will see a curving road at about one o' clock from the red marker. Our block was at the top (west) of that road. There were two Little League fields at the end of our street in a back-to-back arrangement, and we could field four baseball teams to play on them when all the kids were available. There were always some fun and games going on, from cowboys and Indians to hide and seek to wrestling on the lawn. It's always spring in San Diego, and fun times were readily available for the price of walking out your front door.
Go straight up from that red marker until you come to the ocean, and you will have found Ocean Beach. OB was one of those fabled little California beach towns where it was always summer, and the living was easy. It was full of hippies and surfers, and everyone was friendly. It was three miles away, an hour's casual stroll from my house, and on the far side of the world. Nobody cared about the size of your money pile down there, in fact, nobody seemed to have any. I would ride my skateboard over; going down the ultra steep hills into town seems like suicide today, and I have to wonder where I found the guts. If one little thing had gone awry, I would have had a good view of them while I waited for the ambulance!
The town has gone upscale in recent years, the five-and-dimes, the sandwich shops, the Strand, a 25c creature feature theater, all having been replaced by antique shops, photography studios, and high-end furniture stores, but the last block down by the water has kept its flavor through it all. Down there you can find surf shops, the OB International Hotel (an antique in its own right), and The Black, a dimly-lighted store selling every sort of hippie paraphernalia from tie-died clothing to marijuana accessories. Feels like home. And yes, they still have that diagonal parking. Real easy to park, you just crank the wheel and you're in; getting out on a busy weekend day is another matter all together, but that's just part of the charm that is OB...
At three o' clock from the marker can be found Shelter Island. Today this is some of the most exclusive real estate in Southern California. There are resort hotels that feature top-name musical acts on an almost daily basis, the world class Bali Hai Restaurant at the northern tip, and several yacht clubs, chief among them the venerable Shelter Island Yacht Club. That little pier in the photo has a bait shop at the end that sells a wicked fish taco, and Bonnie and I still go there to hang out sometimes.
But back in the early 1960s, it was largely undeveloped, with only the Bali Hai and SIYC occupying opposite ends. A rock sea wall about three feet high backed a calm relaxing beach, and when I wanted to fall off the radar, this is where I went. I'd beachcomb, chase the seagulls, fly a kite, or just lie in the grass and watch the clouds, and to my certain knowledge, no one ever thought to look for me there. If anyone asked where I'd been, I'd just straight-up lie, and tell them OB, or Mission Bay, or Portland Oregon, anything but let my secret out. It was a source of great serenity, and helped me keep it together when things were tough at home or school.
I have recounted how I was sent to Monterey to live with mom three times. First in the summer of '62 for two weeks. That wasn't bad, as I was unsupervised for about 16 hours a day, and plus had I not gone, I probably never would have seen Hatari (or PT-109, for that matter). The second time was 1964, when I did the first semester of 10th grade at Monterey Union High School. Didn't like being away from home, and returned to San Diego to complete 10th and 11th. I was sent back for the summer of '65, and when it was time to go home, I was told that I would be doing 12th grade in Monterey. I told mom that I by God would not either, and by mutual agreement I joined the navy on October 12th, 1965, five days after my 17th birthday, thereby officially bringing my four carefree teenage years to a close. Yes, I was still a teenager, but the navy will have discipline, and I have to say that they taught me a lot. I saw a lot of places and learned a lot of skills (some more useful than others), but those are stories for another time.
I hope you've enjoyed these anecdotal tales of life from Southern Cal in the '60s, and I'm glad to have lightened the mood somewhat. If it sparks any memories of your own, click on Comment and pass them along.
Meanwhile, get out there and live life like you mean it!
On Christmas Day of 2013, my husband Jack got sick with the flu. My daughter was getting better, but was still sick herself. We thought it was just the flu and we'd be getting better soon. I caught it too and had it for 3 days but began getting better right away. All except the cough that went with it. Then on the 7th of January my husband told me to call the hospital because he thought he had pneumonia! So I did, and thus began our walk in the darkness of sickness and hospitals and rehab facilities.
If you have ever taken anyone or anything for granted, stop! You never know when someone will be called to end his life here and begin anew in another realm. Don't take anything for granted because everything we have in life is a gift. The way we treat others comes back to us in our times of need. I can't possibly enforce this strongly enough. If you have someone who cares about you, stay on good terms with them. Don't treat people like yesterdays stale lunch and shrug them off with not another thought. My daughter and I walked together in the darkness of hospital corridors and Nursing Facilities. Our beloved husband and Dad was suffering in the ICU of the Kaiser Hospital and was in a very strange bed that saved his life. For 10 days he was not visible to us, because the bed enclosed his body and rotated it from side to side to help his lungs clear up. We asked for prayer and we prayed every morning, and every day with him in his hospital room. We prayed at night before we went to bed. No one thought he'd make it through this. But he did! He is strong and God is able to do to the uttermost the things that we cannot even conceive of!
This site is for things that we experienced in our youth. But this is a subject that will loom in my mind for a long time to come.. I cannot bring myself not to mention this episode of our lives. There were many tears, and worry tried to swamp us. But our faith in God gave us strength and the prayers of so many people were answered. The Nurses who worked with him and the specialists that came in to see him and to discuss different plans of attack on this disease. We had support from others who prayed even though we didn't know them personally. He is very strong as we told them at the hospital. And 2 months after he contracted the diseases, he left the Nursing Facility walking under his own steam to get in the car.
Jack is so important to us. We love him so much and he is everything we could ever ask for in a husband and a Father. We were just beginning to share our Golden Years and he had just published his first book. He wasn't finished with life and we have him back! There is nothing too hard for God. Nothing is impossible with God. Indeed, we have one of God's Miracles sitting right here with us in our living room and the last 2 months seem like a nightmare mow... it has ended and the sun is shining once more. We shall enjoy all our days together and we will cherish the one we almost lost, forever more. So please, if you love someone, tell them. If you need someone in your life, let them know. Don't take life for granted for it can be snatched away in a heart beat and you will regret so much the things you didn't say. I LOVE YOU JACK! There is nothing I wouldn't do for you! I am so thankful you are home because we have a lot of living to do! You are a vital part of all of us and we will always know the value you have in our lives. God Bless You Always and May You Always Walk with God's arm around your shoulders helping and guiding you every step of the way. You are an amazing person and you have much to give to the world!, and to us! But better yet, you have much love to receive and we will be so happy to give you all you need in this life and a view of the life after this one! You are Very Special! And I am so proud to know you and to be your wife! Good Night Sweetheart, and sleep worry free right beside me as you have for almost 40 years! And may we walk into the future unafraid and full of love and peace for all time, for all eternity!
According to our little counter, we get a slow but steady stream of visitors here, and It has occurred to me that some of you may be wondering why we haven't had a new post since back before Christmas. So I'm going to tell the whole sordid story here, and maybe we can get back on our semi-schedule.
Christmas evening I started showing flu symptoms. I had shaken it off by the next day, but it came back again harder just before New Year's. I was scheduled to be off because of the holidays anyway, so I just loafed around the bed thinking "this is unusual" for
a couple of days, and it broke again. I returned to work, and it came back worse than ever on a night shift, the 6th, with almost nobody around, and I could feel it getting worse by the minute. I made the 25 mile drive home, and I don't remember one thing about it. The next day, evening I guess, it was to the point where my wife and daughter took me to the ER. They put in an IV, but it wasn't doing all they wanted, and they decided I needed a "pic line," sort of a super IV. I remember them explaining it to me, nearly every word going right over my head, and them asking if I wanted that treatment, I remember giving a very weak nod, and the next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital three weeks later. I had contracted the "ordinary" flu, whatever that is, H1N1, and pneumonia simultaneously; I didn't think that was possible, either.
They had placed me in a medically induced coma, and loaded me in a brand new, almost experimental device called the Roto-Prone bed. Once strapped into this thing, you are rocked, inverted, and spun (gently), as they use gravity and centrifugal force to draw the fluid from your lungs. It apparently works, as my presence here attests. They also cut my throat and put in something called a trach-line (root word, trachea) to help me breathe; I
never actually saw it, but it drove me crazy, and they tell me I bent every effort to trying to get it out. Fortunately, I was unsuccessful.
Having now experienced a coma first-hand, let me tell you what it's like in there. Your mind, normally a very busy place, is floating, unoccupied, in a black void. I imagine it's close to what sensory deprivation is like. Desperate for anything to occupy itself, it will seize on any little pixel of information that finds its way in, and construct a whole narrative around it. Since you are aware that you are ill, in pain, restrained, and whatnot, that narrative takes that into account, and creates a series of nightmares that seem to go on for days without letup. In one, all the doctors that I could hear talking were metal-voiced robots who were waiting for my wife to come so that they could kill us; motive unknown, but when you
believe something like that, you just believe it. In another, I was a British sailor (I've always been something of an Anglophile) stationed in Singapore. A buddy and I were lying in ambush in a shot-up shipyard waiting for the Japanese to try to cross from the mainland so we could engage them in a firefight. They never came, but for four days, dream-time, we laid on concrete, moving as little as possible, concealing ourselves under rotten shrimp cans, dead fish, twisted through fallen girders, and so forth. I could "feel" the presence of another Brit, but we never spoke and I never saw him, so I don't know whether he was someone from my real life or not. What broke this was an Asian-accented feminine voice (one of
the nurses, no doubt) clearly asking if I wanted a bath. She was present in the dream, though I couldn't see her either, and I began to frantically warn her away: "There's going to be a battle, you're going to get shot, you have to get out of here!" and other things along that line before my brain caught up with my mouth, and I suddenly said, "A bath?" Warm cloths descended on me, pulling me out of that nightmare and setting me up for the next, which
thankfully, I don't remember, and hope I never do. My advice to anyone who chances to find themselves in a bedside vigil with a coma victim is don't make a sound. No talking, no singing, no wind chimes, no nothin'. The less information that trapped brain gets to work with, the better.
They tell me I was in the hospital for 35 days, but I don't remember much of that, just flashes of lying in an uncomfortable bed. February 11th I was transferred to a rehabilitation center where I found that my legs were virtually paralyzed. The doctor had some fancy name for it, and said it's common among people who are bedridden for long periods. He said it can take a year and more to recover. The nurses were fabulous, seeing to my every need with smiles on their faces, no matter what the task was, and through the efforts of a brilliant young physical therapist named Eric, I graduated from barely being able to stand, to a walker, to a cane, to walking on my own in two and a half weeks. They discharged me yesterday, and I'm back home with a walker just in case. I'm nowhere near where I was before all this happened. I'm shaky, weak, and have no stamina, but every day brings
improvement. Couple that with my natural determination (read "stubbornness"), and to quote from Roots, "Gonna learn to run!"
And that brings us up to date. So, how were your holidays?
This is for the grandkids, the family, close friends, and anyone else who can keep a civil tongue in their heads! It amounts to an interactive book of memoirs, but only if you interact... so get to it!
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California has been my home since 1965. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I'm home to stay!
What is there to say about a ten-year old turning 65, besides, what the hell happened?!??