Monday, April 23, 2018

Sanibel Island

April 23, 2018
Dear Friends,
I called my brother Tom. Thomas Joseph Owens, almost 76, a high school teacher in Los Angeles, lives in Sierra Madre east of Pasadena with his girl friend Marti.
His daughter's dog Aviv, was ten years old and had to be put down for an inoperable stomach blockage. Tom said Jordana was devastated, her being an only child, the dog was like her brother for ten years. Aviv was a good dog and gone now. That's why I called.
Tom's girl friend Marti works in administration at the University of Southern California. She commutes by train and bus to the campus. Her job ends at five, Tom said. His job ends at three but than he has tests to grade and lessons to plan.

I called at dinner time and heard Marti ask Tom if he preferred Thai curry soup or tomato pasta. Tom said tomato.
Well, the dog was the big news. Tom doesn't live with his daughter Jordana, but he is over at the house very often to walk the dog and do other things. So this goes way back. Jordana is 20 and studies dance, especially ballet.
I called because the dog died. I would have called anyway because Tom is easy to talk to. I like to ask him small questions.
Do Marti and you watch TV in the evening? She watches TV, I correct papers.
The TV doesn't bother you? No. I teach high school. I do not get distracted by noises.
I have often admired my brother's ability to command respect in a classroom of teenagers at a high school in Los Angeles. He has two natural advantages. He is tall, over six feet, and he has a natural baritone voice.
But it's mostly skill and experience, quelling the daily riot of teenagers. I personally am terrified about teenagers. I could not teach them. They would howl and whoop and laugh me out of the classroom. I would hide in the closet or throw erasers at them. Do they still have erasers and chalkboards?
Tom is almost 76. He does not care to talk about that. I say to him, you must be one of the oldest teachers still working in Los Angeles.....Pause ..... There are some older than me .... But you keep going ..... Yeah, I like teaching ..... Are you going for the state record, oldest teacher? ... No comment.
In 1952 our dad quit his job after twenty years. He worked  for J.G. Taylor Spink at the Sporting News  in St. Louis.Dad ran the Chicago office for Mr. Spink and sold the advertising. He was good at it. He held this job all through the depression. But in 1952, after twenty years, with a pretty smart wife and five children, he quit his job -- Dad would never admit to the truth -- whether he quit or might have been fired. It didn't matter because he wasn't going back. Instead he mortgaged the house and started his own publication, a fishing magazine. My dad did not take too many risks, but this was a big one. And he bet the ranch on it.
To cap it off, to celebrate confidence in his eventual success, he took us on a three-week vacation to Florida.
That was 1952, in the summer, in an almost new green Buick, all the windows rolled down, going down two-lane highways, no air-conditioning, just the hot wind, all the way down to Florida, Mom, Dad, Mary, Tom, Carolyn and Freddy -- six of us. Katy, the baby, was left with Aunt Mary and Uncle Earl.
Sanibel Island is off the Gulf Coast of Florida -- the first time I had ever seen the ocean, the sky was so blue and vast. We took the short boat ride to the island and discovered the entire beach covered with white, white sea shells, hundreds, millions. It was a paradise, we picket a large bucket of shells to take home and make us wonder.
Mom said the sea shells didn't smell good, but we loved them and we kept a basket of shells in the house for the rest of my childhood, a reminder of far away places.
That trip to Florida was our first family vacation. When we came back to Wilmette, our home in the Chicago area, my mom and dad published the first issue of their fishing magazine. It was a success and continued to be a success for many years.
Correction. My older brother Tom and my older sister Carolyn both insisted that we made this trip to Florida in April, not August. Carolyn said, I remember because we celebrated my eighth birthday on May 2 at a Howard Johnson's.
This is astounding. If we took this Florida vacation in April that means my parents took all four of us children out of school . They never did things like that -- except they did this one time.
Aviv was a good dog. This story seems to have wandered off to my brother's teaching career and our family vacation to Florida, but this story is really about a dog. Aviv, ten years old. He was a good dog and we will never forget him.

The News. Looks like Trump is winning. The Cohen files were supposed to bring him down. Democrats said this time we really got him, only we ain't really got him and he's still winning, grinning, playing golf and going to North Korea..... Now Trump might lose big in November, that could happen. He could lose the Congress, possibly.

The Democrats have Nancy Pelosi, Stormy Daniels and the Teenagers for Gun Control .... and the Starbucks protestors and California Governor Jerry Brown .... Kind of a grab bag of people .... And the mainstream media .... All determined to bring Trump down .... Can they do it?
What the Democrats lack is a leader like Barack Obama. Sure, they can put a million people on the street on short notice, but what good does that do? I expect the Democrats can take back the Congress in November, even without a leader, even without a unifying theme, but with an intensely negative enthusiasm for Trump. That is not an inspiring vision, but it will increase turnout, and a high turnout will beat the Republicans and take over the Congress in November.
This is just my take on the situation and I am usually wrong. Personally I am tired of Trump. He exhausts me. I would rather watch TV news about Prince William and Kate having their third child. Call me an escapist, but I need a break.
Let's finish with some good news, about wind farms in Denmark as reported in the NYTimes. Do you think they made this all up? I don't. I think they sent one or two reporters to the area and those reporters made a lot of phone calls, and toured the facilities and researched their findings on the Internet and wrote an accurate account to the best of their knowledge.
Have a good week,

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Fred Owens
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