Selected Columns of Frank McDonough, Jr.
[The following newspaper columns written by Dwight’s maternal grandfather Frank McDonough, Jr. (8/26/1885-11/29/1964), in the late 1950s and early 1960s and published under the heading “The Old Mountaineer: Thoughts by the Wayside” first in The Columbine Herald and later in the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph have been selected by Dwight from the large number that Dwight has on hand. There are too many to include on this site, so selection has been necessary. The selectivity has mainly been to choose those that illustrate his character, which justified the love that so many people felt for him. Many of the columns that have not been selected deal with then-current political issues. Since these, too, are valuable, it is worth pointing out that the entire collection has been deposited with the Palmer Lake, Colorado, Historical Society for what is hoped will be permanent retention.]
February 21, 1958:
Once more we honor the birthday of George Washington. As we look back through the years of history, we are apt to associate certain names with great accomplishments or with certain human attributes. We associate Mark Twain with humor, Rembrandt with art, Beethoven with music and George Washington with honesty.
The story of the hatchet and the cherry tree may have been a myth, but strangely enough, it depicts exactly the character of the man throughout his life. Washington’s honesty and integrity was above reproach from his boyhood to his dying day. He lived honestly, he served honestly, he advised honestly and he spoke truly. When he had served his country to the full, it was not without emotion that he made his Farewell Address to the People of the United States. He spoke from his heart and he spoke with all the honesty of his great character. The address itself is couched in all the stilted wordiness of the day, but the substance is there for all to read and reread, especially in this day and age, and the substance and advice is as applicable to us as a nation today as in the day of Washington. There are those who may say that the world has changed, that it has become smaller, that peoples thousands of miles away are now our near neighbors, and that military dangers are close by instead of in a far off distance. These things are true, but the basic relationships between people are the same as they were then, and these relationships are as identical in their cause of strife and wars and quarrels today as they were on September 19, 1796, when the address was given.
Remember, Washington thought honestly, and advised honestly. It is well worthwhile to quote freely from the address, and to take heed of the thoughts and advice given. Washington felt that our greatest strength was in our own Union of States and in this Union we would have “greater strength, greater resources, proportionately greater security from external danger, and a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations.” He felt that foreign alliances would stimulate, entangle and embitter us in quarrels which were not our own, but which had been going on between other nations of the world for centuries.
He warned particularly against overgrown military establishments, “which under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.”
Washington was rather wary of political parties, especially those founded “upon geographical discriminations” and no doubt he foresaw the day when a whole section would become fiercely partisan, only to be dominated by unscrupulous political mobs in our larger cities.
He had some ideas which might be studied carefully by us today. Listen: “antipathies against particular nations and passionate attachments for others should be excluded; and that in place of them just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated—the nation which indulges toward another habitual hatred or habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity and to its affection.”
“Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, I conjure you to believe me fellow citizens, the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”
July 24, 1959:
An idle hour of a still, sunny, summer day is a value in life which we all should seek. A similar hour in the whiteness of a winter day is of equal value. These idle hours in these days of rushing madness are hard to come by. They do not just happen, but they have to be sought after and deliberately created. If one can select such an hour, now and then, it is preferable that you be in the deep silence of a patch of forest or upon the mossy bank of a mountain stream, but if these are not accessible to you, the greensward of a park, your backyard flower garden or patio, or even the cleared silence of your living room will serve. The philosophers of the ages, and the monks of long ago, knew the value of such hours for meditation and contemplation of the past, the present and the future, and they attained not only the physical rest which they brought, but they swept clean their minds of the sordid and worrisome things of life. If each of us could find such hours now and then, seek them out if necessary, we should find immeasurable benefit.
Recently I had the good fortune to find one of these hours, and I assure you that I shall seek out others in the future. I was on the cool of a mountainside, and there was nothing to disturb or to distract except the beauty of the columbine at my feet, the flutter of the wings of a bird seeking its nest, and the hum of a bee now and then. I realized that I could do as ancient Egyptians learned to do—exclude every thing and every thought—until my mind became an utter blank. Perhaps there was an unknown value to that in that at least it produced absolute relaxation of mind and body, but it seemed that there was more substance in thinking of what life had been, what it might have been and what it might be in the future.
It was not hard to realize that I have had a happy life and, I hope, a useful one. I realized that a tide had borne me to the shore of life. I have lived upon that shore, and now I knew that the tide which brought me was receding and carrying me slowly, but inevitably back into that unknown which is infinity. I knew that that life had been a happy one, but the real question of my meditation was whether I was satisfied with how I lived and what I had accomplished. And if I were not entirely satisfied, what could I have done to have reached a perfection of feeling?
The ultimate of satisfaction might be reached if one had created a majestic overture such as Von Suppe’s magnificent one to the Poet and the Peasant. This was a masterpiece of a master mind of music and will live in the minds of men thru the ages. The melodious grandeur of clashing sounds burst upon the ear of the listener as a bursting galaxy in the summer skies might appear to the eye of the watcher. It is beauty, tempered with serenity; it is everlasting inspiration, soothed and softened by tender tones. One creation such as this would place one into the realm of perfect satisfaction with life.
I believe it would be the height of satisfaction if one could be a sculptor and as his sole life work carve a Lincoln Memorial for all to see. This is the creation of immortality in marble. The purity of its whiteness does not in the least dim the luster of the soul of the great man. The bystander stands in silent awe, and somehow catches the dignity and depth of character of the subject. It is all a masterpiece of a master artisan and will live to influence men for generation upon generation. One could be satisfied with just one such accomplishment.
Think of the lifelong satisfaction of a Bryant who could give the world a Thanatopsis. He was a mere boy when he wrote that immortal work. Just one poem, and his life’s work was done. He need not have written another because he had created a masterpiece. He had put together words and thoughts far beyond the powers of an ordinary man, and think of the satisfaction he must have had with his life when at last he joined that innumerable caravan, and with pleasant, satisfying dreams was laid to eternal rest upon the bosom of the Nature which he loved so well.
Few of us are endowed with the genius which enables us to write an immortal poem, create an ethereal image in stone, or put together a majestic overture which will live forever. We are but ordinary folk who must get our satisfaction in life from making the most of the human tools which are at our command. We should get our satisfaction in projecting the good that is within us for the benefit of others, building our characters as beacons of integrity and decency for all to see, molding our conduct thru life that we may lead others in straightforward paths, and with kindness and temperance bring to ourselves complete satisfaction. Then, and only then, will we have created our own immortal monument.
September 12, 1959:
A visit to a modern hospital or convalescent home is an enlightening thing, especially when one compares present conditions to those of the past. Many a present day householder is juggling the family budget to find out whether or not he, or any of his family, can afford to be ill and meet the mounting costs of medical treatment and hospitalization. It may be that these institutions are pricing themselves out of the range of the pocketbooks of ordinary mortals, and thus driving society to socialized medicine. Heaven forbid.
The history of the Healing Arts is very much the same as the general history of mankind. We take a few steps forward, then there is a period of stagnation, then a few steps backward, and then forward again and the process is repeated. No doubt the forward steps are greater and more progressive than the backward ones, otherwise we would still be back in the conditions of the dark ages. But the history of the Healing Arts over the ages is a shocking one. At times there has seemed to be certain progress, but at other times the practice of these arts has sunken to the depths of filth and depravity, and some of the methods of the past are entirely unbelievable in this day.
The medical school of the University of Alexandria was ages old when the kindly physician, St. Luke, studied there. Its medical library was famed thruout the then known world, and yet it could not have been founded until the city was built in 332 B.C. Hippocrates, the famed Greek physician, practiced his art a century before the founding of the University of Alexandria, and he not only had a heritage of medical practice back of him, but Greece itself had in his day a background of long medical tradition. Before him the ancient Egyptians had reduced the art of embalming down to a nicety, yet they knew nothing of the anatomy of the body, and they left no medical writings of any consequence.
It might be said, therefore, that written medical history began with Hippocrates. And please do not make the common mistake of confusing him with the word hypocrite, altho his name and that word sound very much alike. He left an imperishable legacy to his profession, the famous Oath of Hippocrates, and he also left the Law of his profession and other writings. In the Law he confessed the ignorance of many who practiced, and also reluctantly confessed that his profession lagged in progress to the other professions.
Within the past fifty years there seems to be a vast awakening, advances in medicine and surgery have been rapid, and slowly but surely the members of the profession are overcoming that which has woefully impeded medical progress thru the ages – the reluctance and failure to recognize new methods and new practices. Thru the centuries every step forward in sanitation, in antiseptics, in anesthesia, and in surgical methods has been bitterly and cruelly opposed by members of the profession. There seems to be definite progress made along these lines, but there is still room for improvement.
This column is inspired by a recent visit to a top-rated hospital. One cannot help but marvel at the results being accomplished, and then one comes to the kind of cases which are most controversial, and for which the true solution may never be found. One example will suffice. This particular patient is of advanced age far beyond the normal expectancy of life. She has been in a coma for three and one half years. She knows nothing, recognizes no one, is helpless, her case is hopeless and, as the doctors say, she is a mere thing of living cells. And yet they keep the breath of life in her, not with any hope for a brighter future for her or for anyone else, but merely for the sake of keeping her alive. There are thousands of such cases, and in the normal course of life these patients would die a natural death and pass to the great beyond. No doubt the theory is that something of value may be learned, but to a layman it seems that it is a reversion to the cruelties of the dark ages.
Let us look at the ancient Oath of Hippocrates for a possible answer. After all, he was wise beyond his time. The Oath says, “I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel.” This is in accord with the Mosaic law and the code of all moral nations. The Oath continues, “I will follow that system of regimen which according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous.” When a physician pronounces a patient beyond all medical aid, and other physicians agree, it would seem quite mischievous to keep the patient alive as an inanimate body of mere living cells. It would seem reasonable for him to alleviate the pain as best he could, and permit the patient, gently and quietly, to pass into either the long night of dreamless sleep or into the unknown wonders of a heavenly hereafter.
September 20, 1959:
It is to be regretted that in the current Rush to the Rockies centennial, the philosophies and ideals of the Pioneers, and their fathers before them, have not been stressed more prominently, especially to the younger generation. True Americanism should be taught to our children from the earliest grades. I was so impressed by a talk about our early Western Pioneers recently given that I felt compelled to use the material freely and at random.
We marvel at the display of courage and steadfastness of our forebears who had established this country; those pioneers, men and women who had turned their eyes toward the West, did not demand that some government take care of them when they were cold and hungry, nor demand maximum pay for minimum work, or pay for no work at all. In fact they demanded nothing but freedom as they looked at the rolling plains stretching away to the tall green mountains and lifted their eyes to the bluest of skies, and said, “Thank you, God, we can take it from here.”
In those days the prevailing philosophy was that it was the duty of every citizen as the basic creed of American life to attend to his own affairs – to build his own home and business and churches and hospitals out of his own labors – to seek no extra favors from government but to be treated fairly and protected in his rights. He did not expect nor demand any grants except for purely public facilities. In those days men set their own limitations. A man could climb as high as he could carry his weight, and whatever he gained he gained by his dreams and by the application of his own effort. Then he was secure.
It was common and natural to be self reliant – to feel free to work, to earn, to build, to accumulate, to spend or give away – man craved to work out his own destiny, but with due respect and recognition of the rights of others. It was the American dream to achieve these worthwhile things as a peaceful, God-fearing, honorable people. We were not thought to be wards of the government. On the contrary, we knew the government guaranteed certain rights and opportunities, but did not guarantee the successful accomplishment of individual objectives. We built a people devoted to this idea, to this goal. Is this, then, our present philosophy? As Americans are we yet devoted to these same ideals established by the builders of this republic? Do we measure up to these basic premises – to the propagation of this fundamental fabric of our system?
It cannot be emphasized too strongly – it cannot be said too sincerely, that true security in our American life goes hand in hand with full freedom – freedom to work, to earn, to save, to build, whether it be on farm or in factory, on ranch or highway, in railroad or automobile ships, in office or store, whether preacher, teacher, lawyer, farmer, mechanic or doctor, whatever the job. Everyone is a laborer after his own hire. He has the same ideals – a right to the same hopes and aspirations to enjoy a way of life under a system of government dedicated to the rights of individuals, the recognition of the personality of man and the dignity of his soul.
I have the conviction that while conditions change, and benefits accrue, truths do not change; they are unchangeable and fixed. It is as true today as when first proclaimed that, to be free, men must want to be free; they must want the right to think and speak and act and worship as their conscience dictates without interference from a paternal or socialistic government. It is likewise true today that security for the individual goes hand in hand with liberty. It is in the same manner true that diligent and honest effort is at once the price and the touchstone of all worthwhile things. This, them, is our challenge – shall we keep our freedom – shall we maintain our free institutions – are we confused about moon shooting and guided missiles? Are we aiming straight? Are we missing the mark? Are we reenacting the scenes in ancient Rome and Spain and China and Greece? Have we relegated real and spiritual values to the scrap heap and placed material things in the ascendancy? Are we failing in our duties as Americans?
I am indebted for these thoughts and these expressions to the Hon. Wright F. Morrow of Houston, Texas. These philosophies were contained in a speech which he gave in Austin on the occasion of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Texas chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity. These teachings should be placed in a primer of true Americanism; should be taught to our children from the first grade so that we may remain free men and not slaves; working men and women, not drones; frugal and saving people, not spendthrifts; and so that we may always be on our guard against the tranquilizing influences of false ideologies.
November 4, 1959:
People like to be fooled, and I am inclined to think that they like it best when they think everything is on the up and up.
Old P. T. Barnum made his living out of fooling people, and when he said that there was a sucker born every minute he must have been referring to himself as well as other folks. Barnum came West back in the boom days before the “Panic of 1893” and he was quite enthusiastic about this mountain country of ours. Some hot-shot promoters of booming Denver Town took him out in their buggies and sold him a tract of land that had a gorgeous view of the mountains. Barnum was enthralled with the whole situation, dug deeply down in his well-heeled jeans, and laid out P. T. Barnum’s Subdivision. And was he a sucker! He fell in love with the view and overlooked the obvious defects of the situation, the defects being that the tract was “across the tracks” and there were no viaducts, and old P. T. Barnum was stuck. Fifty years later he might have recovered a goodly part of his original investment, without interest. I imagine that Barnum rather enjoyed being a real sucker for once in his life.
Certainly, folks all over the country enjoyed these quiz shows where other folks made fortunes overnight. Except for the fact that it makes good publicity for the politicians, and establishes poor public relations for some rather decent folks, there is no particular viciousness in the fact that certain quiz shows were rigged. There was gross deception practiced, but we are a people who seem to love being deceived. If we do not love it, we at least put up with it day after day. And when we find out that we have been hornswoggled, we either swallow our pride and go about our business, or chuckle over the fact that we have had a good one put over on us.
These politicians who are creating such a furor over rigged quiz shows, which involve at the most only a few hundred thousand dollars, really are doing nothing but creating a diversion to call attention away from their own follies. It is almost of daily occurrence when some military or reclamation or other project is presented to Congress upon the representation that it will cost, say, fifty million dollars. Invariably, it turns out that the project costs two or three times as much. The politicians are being fooled day in and day out by such false representations and the trouble with the situation is that the taxpayers all over the United States have to bear the brunt. The constituents are the suckers in these kind of cases, and there are indications that the general run of people are getting weary of being such expensive suckers. We are all being fooled from day to day, and I doubt that we enjoy it, notwithstanding the philosophy of P. T. Barnum. Possibly we all enjoy being fooled by a little foolishness but not by foolhardiness.
But to get back to the TV shows, or any other show, for that matter. We all enjoy the land of make believe. We are transported into the land of unrealities, making ourselves believe for the moment that it is the land of truth.
The most notorious of all the unrealities are the wrestling matches. We know that they are faked and that the eye gouging and screams of pain are staged, yet it makes an enjoyable show for many people. Those who put on these exhibitions make no pretensions as to their honesty and so there is no scandal connected therewith. And with equal interest we watch the football and baseball contests with full confidence that they are honesty personified. To learn otherwise would be a shock to the American public, and to learn that any particular contest of that sort had been rigged would not be an enjoyable experience.
Personally, I like the Westerns. I like their honesty. There is no faking about them. When Matt Dillon shoots the drunken outlaw from Texas, you see the gun fired, you hear the shot, you see the man fall, and you just know that he is dead as a door nail. And you like it, not because you are blood-thirsty but because the fallen outlaw got just what he deserved and retributive justice has been served.
One gets so steeped in the make-believe world that for the moment one takes on a make-believe blood-thirstiness. Who among us has not at some time or other hoped that they would turn mild and inoffensive Chester loose with a six-gun and have him mow down a few rapscallions? I heard one hope expressed that some day Kitty might take a shot-gun and have a duel to the death with some other lady on the streets of Dodge City.
All of this is enjoyable because we know that nobody is trying to fool anybody, that all of this is honesty personified. And if perchance you transport yourself into an honest land of make-believe, you are only reverting to type. You are bestowing upon yourself a membership in the fraternal order of Suckers and you are doing the very natural thing of belonging to that breed of cats, one of whom is born every minute.
December 6, 1959:
Once in a while we hear someone make reference to “the good old days” and it makes one reflect on how good those days really were. The good old days to some of you were days not too long ago when the kid with a space helmet was a real curiosity, and that awesome thing he wore on his head was merely a toymaker’s dream of what might come in the future. To me, the good old days go back much farther than that – to the time when the home telephone hung on the wall and when “cushion” tires on a bicycle were a rich man’s luxury. My first bike had small hard rubber tires, and was known as a cheese-cutter, but it got me around until one day the back wheel had a hot box, and it never did cool off. I had to cut a hundred lawns at twenty five cents each before I was able, some two years later, to afford a new second hand bike. But this one had cushion tires!
Those were the days when swimming pools in the home or the school were entirely unknown. We could walk a few miles to City Park and wade around in the duck pond, or if we had the round trip carfare amounting to ten cents, we could ride down to the Platte River and spend the afternoon luxuriating in the clear waters of a stream that had not been polluted with the sewage of a big city. Having that necessary ten cents was a rare occasion so that visits to the river were few and far between. On hot summer afternoons we were left to our own devices, and there being no YMCA or school pools, if we wanted to cool off with a good swim we had to invent our own ways and means. Frankly that was not hard to do. A nice full flowing irrigation ditch ran along 25th Avenue, and near Humboldt Street it widened somewhat. It was not too much of a chore for the kids to gather fallen cottonwood boughs and other sticks and stones, build a stout dam and calk it with mud, and soon we had a swimming pool fit for the Gods. Our mothers never worried about us, nobody supervised our wild splashings, and the summer’s sport didn’t cost the taxpayers one thin dime.
I am greatly in favor of Little League baseball teams, but do not forget that in the good old days the kids in our neighborhood also had a baseball team, with nine good men and true, and one little substitute who usually carried the water bucket. If our pitcher was knocked out of the box, the left fielder came in and pitched shutout ball for the rest of the game, and the pitcher played left field. One of the kids had an old Louisville Slugger bat which was somewhat worse for wear and the handle had plenty of splinters. Most of our gloves were made out of discarded kid gloves of our mothers – with the fingers cut off. The catcher had to rely on a quick eye rather than a mask or tummy protector. But before we could play, we had to have a ball. That really was no problem at all. We could buy a solid rubber ball, the kind the girls used for jacks, for one cent, and with that as a start all the kids of the team would start saving string. How meticulously did we wind one piece of string after another around the rubber ball, and when we thought it was about the right size we would hunt in the byways until we found some old worn out high laced shoes. Cutting this into two dumbbell shaped pieces to fit the ball, we would sew this cover with heavy black thread coated with bees wax from some mother’s sewing basket, and we were in business. We won the first game, I remember 30 to 10, down on the vacant lot where the whole team had been clearing and levelling for a week.
And then of course we had to have uniforms. A bolt of red cotton flannel served the purpose nicely. In order to buy the bolt we slaved at a couple of roadside lemonade stands, selling at a penny a glass. Our greatest source of income for this purpose, however, was a concert we gave, charging a nickel as admission fee. One kid played the zither, another sang a song, and I recited Paul Revere’s Ride, getting stage fright at the most dramatic point. The uniforms were handsome things. They were red shirts, with M.A.C. across the front – standing for Marion Athletic Club.
Time never did hand heavy on our hands, but when excitement seemed to pall we would pack up and camp overnight up in the wilds of Cherry Creek. Or in the winter time we would level off a space on the north side of some house, flood it every night, and have our own private skating rink. When there was snow we would belly bust down the slopes of Grasshopper Hill.
We never had a dull moment. We never had an idle moment. Sometimes I think our parents wished we would have. It would have saved so much in shoe leather and pants. Those were indeed the good old days, and if my recollection serves me right, I may say that I never did hear a kid say, “What is there to do today?”
December 21, 1959:
There ought to be a law! How often do we hear this phrase, and how often have you said the same thing? And when you said it, you really meant it. As a matter of cold fact, however, we have altogether too many laws on the statute books already, and our legislators might do well to have a special session for the purpose of doing nothing else but repealing useless or senseless laws, revising and simplifying others, and generally clarifying our statutes so that laymen, lawyers and courts could understand the language.
It is curious reading to go back to the old days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, realizing that these people came to the new world to have freedom, and then learn that the first thing they did was to take freedom away from practically everyone by laws and regulations that now seem utterly silly. And the enforcements and punishments were drastic and strict. In Connecticut these regulations were marked with such extreme severity that they have come down to us known as the Blue Laws.
Severe punishments were meted out for the commission of acts, innocent in themselves, but declared to be high crimes or misdemeanors by man-made statutes. The women of the day were held to drab attire because it was forbidden to buy cloth with lace on it, or to be adorned with embroidery or silver buckles, and silk ribbons were also beyond the pale.
The sufferings of the female sex were alleviated somewhat by the laws which forbade cooking, making beds, sweeping, and other similar drudgeries on the Sabbath Day. They at least had a complete day of rest for one day in the week.
The menfolk were not allowed to walk about town, except in a reverent manner to and from meeting – and it was absolutely forbidden for the men to shave or cut hair on Sunday. This must have been a great boon to the men because safety and electric razors had not been invented as yet, and shaving in cold water, which many hardy New Englanders still do, was a rugged adventure.
The punishments prescribed for these various high crimes and misdemeanors were varied and sundry and seem crude by present-day coddling standards. They consisted for the most part in the stocks, the public whipping post and the ducking pond. I think that these forms of punishment were invented by men who themselves had a personal repugnance to such ordeals. There was a certain amount of physical pain inflicted by the various instruments. Think of having your hands, feet and head inescapably encased in heavy, rigid, wooden forms, where you were exposed either to the heat of the sun or the rigors of wintry blasts.
The whipping at a public post was somewhat more painful and severe, and probably more effectual than the old-fashioned razor-strop. The ducking pond was a sort of simplified teeter-totter, a long pole on a fulcrum, with a basket holding the victim at the lakeside end and a few husky men at the other – on dry land, of course. A few ducks in the pond, sometimes after the ice had been first broken for the purpose, served to cure the criminal of all future evil intent and no doubt was a sure deterrent to the repetition of the offense.
In addition to the physical punishment involved, these forms of expiation for one’s crimes had another feature which was all to the good. The sinner was exposed to public view, he was subject to public ridicule, and he suffered not only from his own thoughts, but from embarrassment and shame, and no doubt repentance was uppermost in his mind.
In modern times we have completely reversed the whole process, both in the definition of what is a crime and in the nature of the punishment. The misdemeanors of three hundred years ago are innocent, everyday acts today. The major crimes of long ago and today are much the same, but today we are also deeply concerned with what may be termed nuisance crimes, especially as increasingly committed daily by those of the younger generation. These take the forms of strewing tacks on a village street. Stealing hub caps, breaking into private dwellings and stealing nothing of particular value but above all is the utter vandalism of breaking into schools and churches, defacing the walls and destroying valuable records.
The cure for such things seems to have escaped us. Police are helpless. Courts hesitate to send a boy to the reformatory because he comes out as an educated criminal. Psychiatrists and parole officers admit their inability to cope with these young devils successfully. When a sentence is meted out and then, suspended, the culprit merely assures himself that he “got away with it.”
We might all seriously consider taking a three century step backward and try out the punishments of the puritanical days. Our present-day methods of treatment of the problem having failed, why not try out some of the methods of our ancestors? A set of stocks on the courthouse grounds, a ducking pond gadget at Prospect lake and a whipping post at the police building entrance, in cases of last resort, might all have salutary effects. And I could name a few vicious little vandals whom I would like to see in the stocks – and they wouldn’t like to be there more than once.
March 9, 1962:
In the not too distant past the word would get around out of some mysterious somewhere that Lou Dockstader’s Minstrels were playing at the old Tabor Grand, and that the band and cast would parade up Seventeenth Street promptly at 12:30 p.m. The teenage students of old East Denver High School did not need a specific invitation. All they needed was a tip, and as that was their lunch hour, five or six hundred of us would gather to see the spectacle and join in the fun. Those were the days before a horde of high school and college students could be gathered up into organized demonstrations. We were just in it for the excitement. Like teenagers of today, some of us had a little common sense and used it in a modest sort of way; some of us didn’t have any common sense, but would acquire some in after life; many of us had good sense but were at the age when it was too much of a chore to use it; and some of us didn’t have any common sense at all and never would have. This might be a cross-section of the high school and college kids who recently picketed the White House.
In those days the demonstration was spontaneous and unorganized. The marching consisted of parading alongside the band for a block or two. Our chanting was sporadic yells of “Hi Lou, Hi Sambo, and Hi Bones.” Of course there was some rough stuff, but it was merely when a stray apple core from a lunch box sailed thru the air and, finding its mark, knocked a top hat on to the pavement. The wonder of it is that Peter McCourt, who was manager of the Broadway Theatre, did not get wise to himself, especially as Othello was playing at the Broadway. He could very well have taught us the chant, “Dockstader, Go Home,” or better still, “Dockstader, No, Shakespeare, Yes.” With a few well prepared signs to the same effect, he could have made it rather annoying for Mr. Dockstader. But altho the teenagers yearning for any old excitement were the same then as now, theatre managers and other leaders of the community were not at all modern. The progress of the technique in such matters has been perfected in the last half century, and is about on a par with progress made by the rest of civilization during the same period. Of course, the thing that put an end to our shenanigans was the fact that the school bell for classes rang promptly at one o’clock and we had to race for it, or else.
The reports say that anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 high school and college students picketed the White House grounds, demonstrating against the further testing of nuclear bombs in the atmosphere. I think there might be many oldsters who would gladly join in, especially after the weather that this rugged old earth has gone thru recently. But if these youngsters were not using their innate common sense, how does it come that that someone of the older generation didn’t use a little? Kids are pretty good folks, after all, and most of them would be glad to listen to reason. Serving them coffee on the White House grounds only added to their fun and enjoyment, and soft-pedalled the serious issue which was at stake. Their leaders should have been called up for a little serious talk, with microphones so that all might hear. Just a few questions might have been propounded, and when these had been asked and answered, the bottom would have dropped out of the whole affair. The questions might have been as follows:
Did you know that a moratorium on the testing of nuclear bombs had been solemnly agreed upon between Russia and the United States?
Did you know that Russia broke that solemn agreement by the explosions of the largest bombs in history?
Have you picketed the Russian embassy with the same demands you are making here?
If not, why not?
Is your group picketing the Kremlin with these demands, and if not, why not?
If we accede to your demands and cease further testing, will Russia agree, also?
If she does agree, what assurance do you have that she will keep any new agreement, when she has failed to keep her past agreements?
Most of those kids are all right. Most of them have some real underlying common sense. Some of them with dirty necks and wild bloodshot eyes, will never be anything but what they are now. But the bulk of our younger generation would see the light if the true light were presented to them. Perhaps there are too many folks in Washington, and elsewhere in these United States, who do not want our younger generation to see the light or know the truth. These are the snakes in the grass who should be rooted out and exiled to the land of their loyalties.
And let us never forget that these kids like to have their fun and excitement even as you and I. There is just so much exuberance within them at their age, that they have to let off steam in some fashion. The next such mob that gathers with their hands and heads full of “baloney,” let us hand each one an American flag, and some ready-made signs reading, “America first, last and always,” and then watch the fun as the trained chanters of communism vaporize into absolute nothingness.
March 14, 1962:
A woman stood amid the rocks of our gigantic peak, and inspired by the almost limitless vista which she saw, Katharine wrote her immortal “America the Beautiful.” To the far north were the glittering pinnacles of the Medicine Bow, and Longs with its cross of snow. The skies in the southland were pierced by the twin points of the Spanish Peaks, and the Sangre de Cristo glistened in distant beauty against the turquoise of the mountain sky. In all majesty and touching the heavens, the crest of the continental divide beaded its string of snow – white pearls along the western horizon, as the setting sun tinged fragile, fleecy clouds with pure gold. Below and beyond, and to the place where she would soon descend, rolled the forest, and thread-like streams wended their way to give lifeblood to the fields of waving grain. The city below, and thriving villages scattered over the distant plains testified to the contentment of a contented land. Indeed, all that Katharine saw below was beautiful, but when her spirit became inspired with it all, the vistas of her mind envisioned all of this land of ours – all of America the Beautiful.
To be sure, in the inspired mind of Katharine Lee Bates, the picture became enlarged. She saw from the rock-bound New England coast to the surf-whitened swirls of the Pacific under the La Jolla cliffs. She could follow the great, three-forked river of the Ohio, the Missouri and the Mississippi from the dells where their first rivulets flowed, down through the lush valleys of the midlands to the great delta below the levees. Her thoughts took her from the great inland sea, guarded by the nebulous might of Rainier, across the wheatlands, the wastelands and pinelands to the golden, citrus-ladened groves that abound close to Miami’s shores. The awe-inspiring roar and mists of Niagara, the magnificent colorful depths of the great canon, and the handiwork of nature in the caverns of New Mexico, each surpassing in beauty any work of architecture which the hand of man might conceive – all of these make up our land which is truly America the Beautiful.
I am sure that the great inspired heart of the poet knew that far greater beauties existed in this land, beauties surpassing mere physical and material landscapes. She knew that this land was where the souls of men could reach out and enjoy the open air of freedom. When she wrote, she knew that from sea to shining sea, for the first time in the history of man, men could come and they could go beyond the oppression of any tyrant’s hand. The wide open spaces which are ours are wide and free and open for the minds and spirits of men to take or leave as they choose. The peace and security of this sanctuary of freedom was not bestowed upon us gratuitously, but its beauties had to be gained by the very struggle of overcoming the physical beauties of the wilderness….
April 9, 1962:
Dog haters need not read this column. As a matter of fact, they need not read any further columns of mine because I am a dog lover, and our philosophies of life are entirely different. I am a lover of animals, my parents were before me, and my children inherit the trait. There are many varied values in life and the love of our domesticated companions as well as the creatures of the wild is a value to be cherished. We hope that we have been sensible enough to distinguish between human relationships with each other, and that between human and animal. Such relationships are akin, but not the same. The love of a human for an animal need in nowise detract from the love humans bear for each other. In fact, such love may be a strong cementing bond between humans.
In the San Juan mountains is a lovely valley, surrounded by jagged peaks rising to the heavens. The early morning sun tinges the topmost peaks with saffron and rose and pink, and they glitter in majesty against the lightening morning sky. In the evening the cliffs cast purpling shadows that flare down into the valley in awesome sublimity. After a storm, the mists hang low and billow up the canyon in rolling mystery.
I love these majestic hills, the great caverns of nature which they cause and the exhilaration and tonic of the rarified atmosphere in which they are bathed. Our great Colorado artist, Charles Partridge Adams, caught these various moods and placed them on canvas as an inspired artist might, so that the beauty of it all might be brought into the gallery or the living room. I love the one of the sunrise that hangs in our home, but this love of a painting does not detract one whit from my love of the actual scene itself. The different values of the different loves can and should be distinguished, but both, in their own way, add to the richness of human experience.
In a recent local column of this area, sympathy was extended to us in the loss of our constant companion of fifteen years. He was a Mexican shepherd named Toasti, of whom I have written during his lifetime. In this little personal item it was said, “Toasti was one of those animals who thought he was people.” How true that is. I am sure he never thought of himself as other than a full and complete member of our family. I am also sure that we never thought of him otherwise. He was the little fellow who came to us as a dusty, weary wanderer from a mesa in New Mexico, and he immediately assumed dominion over our hearts, our home and our family. As king of his new domain, his absolute autocracy was wielded with the sceptre of love. Not once in all the fifteen years of his reign did a snarl of hatred emit from his lips, nor did the savagery of human cruelty appear in his demeanor. He taught us many values of life – the values of patience, affection, love, loyalty, devotion to duty, self-effacement and modest courtesy. From him we learned the many characteristics which we human should acquire and use in our daily lives, and from him we learned that true companionship is a virtue to be attained.
With the passing of a loved one, whether human or animal, as time goes on memories of pleasant hours often recur. A void comes in daily life, a void which is there because someone is missing. And this continues until nature inevitably adjusts our hearts and minds, and we continue to live as it was intended we should live. We cherish our memories and indulge in the dreaminess of lotus flower contemplation. As all people of the past have done, and as they will do in the future, we think – think of that which may lie beyond in the great infinity of the unknown….
April 14, 1962:
Did your ever have the entirely natural impulse to sit down and write a letter? The favorite is to write a letter to the editor. These letters take two forms. You either thank him for the nice publicity he has given to a campaign in which you are interested, or condemn him for some editorial he has written and with which you do not agree. A similar impulse leads you to want to write to the sponsors of some TV or radio program telling them how horrible their latest commercial is. A favorite target is the disc jockey who plays tom-tom discordance hour after hour, and you want to ask him why he doesn’t play something that the folks with the purchasing power might enjoy. Sometimes we feel inclined to write to some prominent politician or athlete and praise or criticize him. If you do finally give way to your impulse, it is purely for the purpose of getting the thing out of your system, and then you feel better.
There is one letter I wanted to write, and wish I had. The great Christy Mathewson was stricken with tuberculosis, and it was in the days when they had not conquered the dread disease. I wanted to write him to come to Colorado where I am sure, with the living of a normal life, he would have regained his health. I never did write the letter and I have regretted it ever since. I now have a strong urge to write three letters – to Roger Maris, Quigg Newton and President Kennedy – none of which is too important, but here goes.
To Roger Maris
Care New York Yankees
Pay no attention to this horde of reporters and photographers who are trying to make your life miserable. This seems to be a trait of theirs to invade the privacy of public figures, warp the normal into the abnormal, exaggerate the small mistakes, and to hurt and harm you rather than be of help. You are a great ball player and they know it, and if you were mediocre they would leave you strictly alone. They would love to crucify you as they did the great Ted Williams. Just take it all in stride, consider it an asset and testimony to your true greatness. I have had the pleasure of seeing you in action. You are a gentleman on and off the field. You have ten thousands of unknown friends who recognize and admire your ability. I am one of them. Best regards.
To Dr. Quigg Newton, president
University of Colorado
Some neighbors, all of whom are taxpayers who support the University of Colorado, have been asking questions, some of which I have also had in mind. As head of the institution, you should know and perhaps can give the answers. You say you wrote a letter some two years ago to the coaches urging them to observe the highest ethical conduct and to keep within the rules of the NCAA. Do you write such a letter annually, and if not, what was the occasion for that particular letter? Did you follow up the letter, and if so how does it come that there have been such flagrant violations by the coach who has now been dismissed? Why did you await NCAA charges before taking action? Certainly you must have been aware that there was wrongdoing.
The great puzzle is that as the record now stands, Coach Grandelius was the sole and only culprit. How naïve do you expect ordinary citizens to be?
And now, Mr. Davis, a fine young man has been hired. He has been the secretary of your alumni. Would you have us believe that he knew nothing of slush funds that were misused in an unethical manner, and if he did know, why has the matter been concealed? Of course the fruit of this wrongdoing has been a winning football team, many members of which must have been parties to the unethical conduct. Do you and the new coach intend to retain the fruits of victory – the fruits of the wrongdoing which has been charged and admitted? As an old friend, I sympathize with you, but these and many other questions must be answered, and you are the one who will have to give the answers. With best personal regards.
To J. F. Kennedy
Dear Mr. President
I see where your nice little wife, Jackie, was taken for a ride on an elephant. After reading the article my distinct impression was that it was the taxpayers who were being taken for a ride.
This impression was heightened when Ed Murrow announced that accompanying her, at public expense, was a camera man at $1050 a week, and a director at $1000 a week.
I wonder how much was charged to public expense for the peanuts Jackie fed to the baby elephant – three days in succession according to publicized reports. Jackie, of course, was on a good will tour and in that connection had an “official” private interview with Mr. Nehru, and also a private “official” visit with the Pope for another half hour in his library. In this latter private siesta, was she representing our nation or your church? I don’t know. I was just asking. Her total mileage to date is now 39,459 miles, and by the way, yours is a shoddy total of only 19,060 miles. You two like to travel around alone – separate, apart and alone.
That’s one thing we must hand to brother Bobby. He took along his wife, and his travel speedometer now is a record for the Kennedy family, a total of 46,883 miles. Think of it, Bobby, the attorney general who should be at home prosecuting Jimmy Hoffa and the Communists, travelling twice around the world. His check alone for his trip to Poland cost the State Department $15,000! Eddie added 39,030 miles, making a grand total for the Kennedy dynasty since last May of 144,432 miles! Hope you all take your carpet bags with you when you all go to Massachusetts next fall. Respectfully yours.
May 2, 1962:
There are two words, used in the common jargon of the day as applying to human beings, that I do not find in the dictionary. One is oddball, and the other is square. It used to be that when we said a man was square, it was meant that he dealt squarely and fairly with other men and that he had a high degree of integrity. That meaning seems to have gone out of use, and when the beatnik of today refers to a man as a square the meaning is that he is somewhat akin to an oddball. Many various meanings could be attached to these two words, but in this column I shall deal with a single definition for each word. It must be that all right-wing extremists are either oddballs or squares, or perhaps both. Having studied the early history of the founding of our country, and being imbued with quite a little of the spirit that moved the founding fathers, I am compelled to admit that I am rather super extreme in my thinking. In addition, I am naturally left handed and I approach things from the port side. I also get aroused and a little wild at times, as southpaws are inclined to do. Therefore, in trying to reach a definition for these words I have to back into the subject, so to speak, and reach conclusions in a roundabout sort of way.
There must be at least one very definite description of a man who is an oddball. I should say that a man who pays his debts is an oddball. I have rather definite reasons for saying this. Let us step to the Washington scene and see what we find. With very rare exception, not a voice is raised in favor of paying off the astronomical debt of our nation. Congress continues to extend the debt limit and to vote appropriations beyond our means. Heads of departments continue to plan greater and greater expenditures without a thought as to where the money is coming from. The President speaks not one word about paying a single dollar of the nation’s debts, but on the other hand talks about spending fifty billion dollars to go to the moon and the planets. Of course we cannot blame the President for his attitude because he never had any debts, so he knows nothing about paying them. If he did have even large personal debts, Papa Kennedy’s trust fund would have taken care of them. So on all sides we hear scarcely a voice crying in the Washington wilderness and insisting that we pay our debts. The thoughts and actions to the contrary are so overwhelming that it leads to the inevitable conclusion that the ones who want more debt and who do not consider paying the present ones, constitute the normal persons of the day and age. Anyone who is not normal is an oddball. Therefore, the conclusion is inescapable that anyone who pays his personal debts, or desires that the nation pay its debts, is rather in the super oddball class.
It may surprise you to learn the fact, but the first and foremost oddball in this country was none other but George Washington. Our country’s father believed that for certain purposes it might be necessary to go into debt. But he very seriously warned that we should first pay off existing debts before incurring new ones. In the city which bears his honored name, he would today be laughed to scorn for his old-fashioned ideas. He would be denounced openly as an extremist, and the spewing propagandists who breathe their venom under Muscovite orders, would damn him as an oddball who was undermining our friendship with Russia. I may be all wrong, but I firmly believe that at the next election, the candidate who rises in his might and stands for payment of present debts before new obligations are incurred, would be overwhelmingly elected. It might be well to find out whether the debt-paying oddball or the thoughtless spendthrift is the more powerful.
A square is akin to an oddball, but actually a square is a man who gives an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. The normal of today is the man who, under organization rules, produces as little as possible for the highest wage he can get. This is placing him into a seeming delightful Utopia of prosperous grand living, but actually is leading him to the brink of starvation and disaster. Let’s admit it. The man who today has the integrity to give an honest day’s work for a reasonable compensation is a square. The fellow who does not do that is a thief – stealing from himself and stealing from his community.
And now comes a lonely voice crying from the Utah wilderness. By the new dealers, the fair dealers, faro dealers and fake frontiersmen he was branded in effect as an oddball and square because he was a practical man. Listen carefully to his crying voice. “Nations may, and usually do, sow the seeds of their own destruction, while enjoying unprecedented prosperity… we are the base of the Lord’s operations… We must protect this base from every threat. From idleness, subsidies, doles and soft government paternalism which weakens initiative, discourages industry, destroys character and demoralizes people… We must as a nation live within our means, balance our budgets, and PAY OUR DEBTS. We must establish sound monetary policies and take needed steps to compete in world markets.” This is the warning of Ezra Taft Benson, a true oddball and square, who is so abnormal as to be guilty of sound thinking.
It seems to be the normal today to indulge in unsound financial practices; to substitute spendthriftism for frugality; to featherbed instead of work; to pass on to our children’s children the payment of our honest obligations; and to have absolutely no thought for the morrow. If this be the normal of the day, those of us who think otherwise are oddballs and squares.
May 30, 1962:
The great war between the northern and southern sections of our nation was a highly emotional conflict, and as the casualties grew from month to month and from year to year, our American people became shocked in their minds and utterly weary in their bodies. Neither side anticipated anything but a short, decisive and victorious encounter, and with true American spirit each looked upon their men as an unconquerable host. With the final drama coming at Appomattox, the total casualties shook the nation and the world. Weary and undernourished men returned to their firesides, untold thousands maimed and crippled, others stunned to their souls in contemplation of the catastrophe of which they were a part.
In the following years, an awakening nation, with recollection fading into the distance of time, in a resurgence of emotion, felt that a day should be set aside to honor those who had given the last full measure of devotion. The thirtieth day of May was set aside as Decoration Day, and by reasons of the earlier seasons April dates are observed in the South. With the coming of other wars and other deaths, and the broadening of the thought beyond the mere decoration of graves, the day became a time to honor all dead in the memory of grateful citizens, and so Memorial Day brings back grateful and loving thoughts of those who have passed into infinity whether in conflict or in peace. It is altogether fitting that we observe this day, and that we think upon the immutable law that inevitably takes all living things.
I honor these dead with all the depths of feeling and memory, but as the thoughts come I have the feeling that something is terribly wrong with the society in which we live. My memory goes back to a scene at Waterloo Station, London, during the first world war. A Welch regiment was entraining on their way to France. These were no men – they were boys, boys of tender age hardly big enough to carry their rifles and rollups. Some of these boys would soon lose their lives, some would return home maimed for life, and others would be scarred in a memory of horrors. The ones who did not return were now the honored dead, but how much more glorious might it have been had they been allowed to live to roam their green valleys of Wales and to sing their hearts out as only the Welch can do.
Standing at the grave of a man named Smith – and that actually was his name, I honored him from the depths of the real grief which was in my heart because he had been my friend. I last saw Eben Smith at the officers’ training camp at Camp Funston. He was a smiling example of a hale and hearty American young man who, as a boy, had climbed over these same mountains upon which we lived. He had inherited a competence from his father, and used it modestly and wisely. He loved life and was exuberant in the living. He was a gentleman and became a well trained and efficient officer in the 89th Division. Eben had everything to live for and yet he was willing to risk the supreme sacrifice for his country. He served with bravery and distinction at St. Mihiel and into the Argonne. And then just one week before the armistice, while leading his platoon before Sedan, an enemy’s bullet pierced his forehead, his eyes were closed forever, and in his instant death his country lost a value of manhood that was irreplaceable. The loss to Eben was total, the loss to his country equally as great. We honor him as a dead hero; we should have gained much had we honored him as a good citizen who still lived and could serve his country in better ways.
On a recent Memorial Day we stood in the rain to honor the ones who slept beneath the sod in row upon row. The tiny flags, sogging in the rain, denoted their country’s gratitude, and flowers here and wreaths there pinpointed the sorrow of a loved one. In the mist of the day, memory went back across the great sea to the base of a lonely hillside in France. The fog of the valley beclouded our sight; the drizzle of constant rain mingled with the tears which we could not hide. The shots of the death salute seemed muffled in the dreariness of the scene. And then taps, and taps in rather hesitant and rasping tones, signified the final end to those whose mangled bodies we had just laid to rest. We at graveside respected them then, we honor them now. They have since come home, perhaps to Alabama, perhaps to our own Colorado. With all honor to their names, and all admiration for their brave deeds, on the day of memories I cannot help but feel the tinge of real bitterness against a society which would permit such things.
Are we as humans, forever condemned to send out our strongest to be killed, and to kill others? Is legalized murder in battle to be our lot forever and a day? I do not see the worthwhileness of it all, nor do I see any accomplishments that have come down thru the ages. We seem destined to continue on and on in this senseless way, and if we are so predestined perhaps Armageddon is at hand. The tools of Armageddon are with us thru our own inventive genius, and who knows, the day may be here now, or perhaps tomorrow.
Our still living hero, Lt. Col. John H. Glenn, Jr., has said, “I feel we are on the brink of an era of expansion of knowledge about ourselves and our surroundings that is beyond description or comprehension at this time.” Let us hope that Col. Glenn is right, and as we gain the knowledge toward an ultimate goal, we shall learn to honor the living and to keep them alive.
In the meantime, on Memorial Day we honor the dead whom we have sacrificed thru age-long ignorance.
June 26, 1962:
The flag of our nation represents the idealism of thoughtful men. The focal point of their minds was that the individual was entitled to absolute freedom of thought and action. The only boundary to this freedom was that each individual should so exercise his liberty that his neighbor be not harmed by his conduct. With that in view, they bound themselves so that moderate and reasonable laws could be formulated for the orderly management of the affairs of the Nation. At no time did they contemplate that a super state should come into being which would become tyrannical and oppressive, because it was exactly that sort of oppression against which they had rebelled.
When we speak of the minds of men I am sure that we all must realize that this idealism was as strong in the hearts of the colonial women. There were many heroines during the revolution including those who continued to swab the cannon as their husbands fell in battle. A particular shrine at which we may all worship and gain inspiration is the home of Betsy Ross in Philadelphia. This is in a neighborhood where it seems that each dwelling is trying to squeeze its neighbors into almost unbelievable narrowness. The Ross house cannot be more than twenty feet in width, and they must have carried the furniture to the upper floors piecemeal up the narrow winding stairways. How quaint Betsy must have been, and yet how practical and clean. Before going up to the bedroom shrine where our flag came into being, one is arrested for all too long by the cooking room – kitchen if you please. Copper kettles and iron pots, and irons and grates, tongs and bellows, all testify to the simple practicality of the day. Betsy laid out the flag on a large bed which occupies almost the entire room on an upper story. There must have been beauty in the soul of that little woman, fierce love of country in her heart, and a flame of patriotism in her being. The tenderness of love must have guided her fingers as the lovely banner assembled into a thing of deep beauty and meaning. The cloth she used was of ordinary material. The colors put together were the simple primary ones of red and blue, with the purity of unblemished whiteness intermingled. One stands in awe and reverence in that little room, and emotion wells up into one’s throat when it is remembered that in this very place was born the symbol which was to lead the world in the battle cry of freedom.
We should observe Flag Day not only in sentimental admiration for the beauty and artistry of our national emblem, but with a full understanding in our hearts of the symbolic meanings of the strips and the galaxy of stars in the deep blue of a night sky. These thoughtful men of the thirteen colonies had full realization that the customs, habits and temperament of the people of Vermont were different from those who lived in Georgia, and for that reason each state retained its own sovereignty and the independence of its own people. It was never contemplated that uniform rules of conduct should be promulgated and enforced from a central point in the nation. Indeed, they were taught that when they were told when to sow and when to reap by a central power, their sovereignty of their state and the freedom of the individual would be lost, perhaps forever. The alternate bands of red and white stripes in our flag are representative of the banding together of sovereign states in the thought that in the union of freedom-loving people there would be strength in the common defense.
The ones who designed our flag knew that to the westward lay fertile fields to which they might move and live in freedom. They knew that those who might so move would have in their hearts the same spirit of freedom and liberty and that they would form their own sovereign, independent units of government. Each star in a growing galaxy was placed on an exact equality with all other stars which were to come in future days. Each star shone out from a field of deep blue so that purity of the whiteness of its freedoms should gleam out to all the world. The freedom of the star which represents your state should never be sullied by any action of the other stars or by the action of the galaxy as a whole.
Our flag is emblematic of these basic principles. As we salute the flag, let us not forget all of those freedoms for which it stands. We are apt to be perfunctory in reciting the pledge of allegiance. We are apt to be unthinking as flags are raised daily on school grounds and post offices, and to take the procedure as a matter of rote. When we lose reverence for its presence, when we become thoughtless of its deeper meaning, and when we fail to admire its true beauty, each such moment we are placing ourselves one step further away from the freedoms and liberties for which it stands.
July 2, 1962:
According to the authorities we are fighting a losing battle against juvenile delinquency. Students of crime, the welfare workers and the psychiatrists all admit that the solution is farther away than ever. We humans, supposedly the supreme beings of the animate world are unable to solve the puzzle. Perhaps other creatures, and especially those of the wild are wiser than we, and we might do well to try to learn some lessons from them.
The robins are now bringing their new broods into the world of living things. Keep in mind that these faithful parents have for some time anticipated the cycle of nature which replenishes their species. They have worked thoughtfully and hard to prepare a suitable nest for the coming little ones. This must be a strong and hardy thing, yet comfortable, and must be sheltered from the elements and from predators. The structure and architecture must be strong and perfect in design, otherwise there would be failure. Long days of patience and devotion to duty follow, and nature urges the coming parents to the utmost sacrifices. When the ugly birdlings are eventually hatched, there follows a period of sheltering the young and providing their subsistence. But finally there comes a day when the facts of life must be taught the fledglings. The day of reckoning approaches, and unlike the human species, stern and sometimes harsh measures are invoked to teach the youngster that which we all should learn.
Early this morning we witnessed the second step in the preparation of a youngster for the proper conduct of his future life. The first step, of course, had been nudging the gawking, fleck-breasted youngster out of the comfort and warmth of the nest. This child of nature must exert his self-reliance and spread his wings or he would plummet to the ground like a leaden thing.
The second step which we witnessed was when the mother bird coaxed the fledgling to spread his wings in upward flight, and he was coaxed to the limb of a scrub oak, high off the ground. The good provider soon returned with a sumptuous meal of worms and it was welcomed with wide-open beak. In bird language which we neither heard nor understood the youngster was undoubtedly told to stay exactly where he was and that the mother would return in due course. Thus he was taught the lesson of obedience. And he obeyed. He obeyed thru long weary hours when his own little desires must have called him to disobey. At first he stayed as a frozen statue of marble, immovable and in perfect obedience. But he was also learning another fundamental of life and that was none other than patience. As the hours passed and the mother did not return, the little one would stretch his neck and yawn. A nest mite caused him to scratch under a wing. He would transfer his weight from one leg to another. After four hours of waiting he began to call with a plaintive cry, and his patience was becoming exhausted, but he was learning its lesson. And he was learning the greater lesson of obedience.
After long hours the mother bird called to him and he was quick to fly from his perch. He was told to hide in the underbrush, where his speckled breast would provide protective coloration from unseen enemies. And there he was fed a luscious conglomerate of angle worms and wild strawberries.
But from there on, he was on his own. He had been taught how to protect himself and where and how to feed himself. This was the hour when he must assume responsibility for his own well-being. All coddling had ceased. I am sure that in the early clap of his novitiate his parents would not let him starve, but inevitably the hour and the day came when there was no one else to bear his burdens. When he learned that responsibility was his and his alone and that his true security was in hard work on his own behalf, then he became a self-sufficient citizen of the bird world, and security was his, indeed.
When in the days of his youthful helplessness a roguish predator magpie sought to make easy prey of him, then the members of his family called to members of other families, and in screaming defiance, they all joined in protective attack against the criminal. But all in all he must learn to so discipline himself that he might adjust to the vicissitudes that might beset him. He learned that strict obedience to the laws of nature was his greatest asset for survival. He had learned the hard way that to live he must work, and in working he would find his reward of happiness. No super-government would be there to shield him. No unseen hand would be there to feed his hunger. He must provide his own shelter against the ways of the world. And in the doing of this he must observe the strict self-discipline which he had been taught, he must exercise the patience which he had learned, he must obey the inexorable laws of the world for survival, and over all he must assume entire responsibility.
The last I saw of young Mr. Robin was when he was in the garden. He had no time for delinquent antics. He was pulling a long worm from the ground in order to provide his daily bread.
July 11, 1962:
July is the month of independence, the month when the thoughts of men came to fruition, the month when men freed themselves from tyranny. It is also the month of victory, the month of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, the month which marked the turning point in the great struggle which freed a whole race of men from enslavement. It is the month when the greatest steps were taken and accomplished to release men from the control of other men, and to release their acquired properties from confiscation by oppressive taxation.
This is the month of midsummer when the people of the nation go into the freedom and exhilaration of the great outdoors. With summer skies overhead our people breathe the clear air of the mountains or feel the tang of the winds coming inshore from the infinity of the sea. This is the time when we feel sudden freedom from restraint, we realize the freedom from the controls of our mode of life, and again we are back to all the refreshing simplicity of being back to nature. This summer month of July, or, perhaps to many, the month of June or August, is the time of year when momentarily, at least, we are free.
Soon we must go back to the seeming drag of earning a living, that being man’s lot if he is to survive. The winter time of confinement and hard work can also be a time of joy if we will let it be, because there is more joy in labor than there is in idleness. But there will be no joy as we return to our necessary routines unless we have taken back with us the spirit of freedom which we have gained from our vacation days. The very simplicity of the outdoor life is one of the clear foundation stones of the liberties which we enjoy. If we seek to temper the winter days to come by soft and luxurious living and bind ourselves with the strings of social conformity, we find that we have lost much of the freedom which we enjoyed so much when we were truly free. We try to substitute luxury for simplicity, conformity for personal freedom, and debauchery for clear thinking. These are mistakes in life which we are all prone to make in varying degrees and they become increasingly injurious as the years roll by. We may all be physically weary after the vacation days, but we certainly should be clear-headed thinking about many things.
A nation is made up of a multitude of individuals, and the course of life which the individuals pursue often determines the pathway in which the nation follows. Tough and hardy citizens make a tough and hardy nation. The history of France follows this pattern to a great extent altho in the days of its greatest luxury a large portion of the people were starving. The struggling militancy of medieval days bred patriotism and love of the homeland. Great leaders such as Joan of Arc sprang from the peasantry to arouse the national spirit for freedom, and she paid with her life for her effrontery. Henry of Navarre led the good fight for religious freedom. Lafayette came to America to help men gain their birthright. But France thru the years went from militant hardihood to soft luxurious living and thence to ruin. Uncontrolled luxury and debauchery at the top, and absolutely controlled individual action at the bottom, told the historic story of national failure and decadence. And so with Rome and Spain and the Hapsburg dynasty.
As those of Islam make the pilgrimage to Mecca, the birthplace of Mohammed, to renew their faith, so we in America should make the pilgrimage to Philadelphia and worship at the shrine where liberty was born. As one stands at the entrance to the sacred room where the great men gathered to sign and where the self-evident facts of the liberties of men were proclaimed, any feeling of subservience which may have come into your soul of late years disappears. Once more you stand as the ruler of yourself – a sovereign among other sovereigns. This place is the base, the foundation which upholds the keystone of the arch of human liberties. You do not stand in awe, you stand with respect and admiration for those men who, in quaint costumes of the day, gathered here to pledge to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to uphold the liberties they had proclaimed. That pledge was not made by those men just to each other, but to you and to me and to those who come in the future. We should renew that pledge to each other and to our posterity.
The place where our liberties were spawned is a hall of utmost simplicity and plainness. The chairs were sturdy, utilitarian things; the tables were covered with green cloth; the floors were quite barren; the walls had little to detract from colonial simplicity. Here, without ostentation, freedom came to men.
In the rococo lavishness of the Tuilleries, amidst overtones of wealth and luxury, the liberties of men were lost.
The world has progressed and we can hardly go all the way back on the road to homely surroundings, but neither should we so advance in pretention that we forget the lowly surroundings of our birthplace as a nation. The men who gathered here were architects of basic thoughts, molders of simple language with which to couch expressions of their dreams, and they gave to us in simplicity that which we may lose in the overdrawn ostentation which is becoming so prevalent today.
July 18, 1962:
It is hoped that the recent visit of President and Mrs. Kennedy to Mexico will cement the bonds of friendship between our two countries. They will have met the suave crust of the upper level of Latin society, and these folks can indeed be charming. They will have seen hundreds of thousands of ordinary people lined along the streets and highways, but they will not get to know them. It must be remembered that these friends of our south of the border love a fiesta or celebration of any sort. No excuse is too flimsy for them to drop all labors, tramp for miles on end to meet and mingle with other folks, and to enjoy themselves just being part of a colorful crowd. No doubt these folks enjoyed the panoply of a visit from a foreign potentate and his attractive lady, and then they will return to their home grounds and await with anticipation the coming of the next fiesta in the course of the next week or ten days.
There are three ways to visit this land of manana. One is to skim along the highways at a speed competitive with the recklessness of the Mexican drivers. In this way one sees glimpses of the color and beauty which is Mexico, but their travels and the knowledge gained will have been quite superficial. A pleasant method for a visit is to follow the main trails to the show places and lavish hotels of Mexico City, Acapulco and Mazatlan, but Mexico is not learned by this method. The same result could be obtained by a tour of lush resort hotels in our own America, where the same drinks are served, the same night club froth is furnished, and the same white tie social status is sought.
The true way to see and learn Mexico is to lend oneself to it. When once the great river is crossed, a different world is entered. Our own drab is replaced by color, the color of purples, blues, reds and orange. The white or gray of stuccoed adobe becomes tempered from monotony by splashes and trims of color which give warmth and beauty to the scene. The plainest of our homes and streets are replaced by the natural artistry of an artistic people. Our barren utilitarian aspect cannot compete with the winding roads, the narrow sidewalks, and the glimpses thru arched doorways of shaded and flower-ladened patios. A tiny carefully tended patch of green may be the world domain of its indolent owner.
This is truly a different world, and the farther one travels south from the border, the more apparent it all becomes. Mexico is not Tia Juana, nor Juarez, nor Nuevo Laredo. It is Irapuato, Morelia and Chapala. Across the tracks from the modern city of Torreon may be seen the dug-out abodes of the Holy Land at the time of Christ. As one travels the rim of an extinct volcano, one may look down upon the thriving city of Zacatecas lying in the sun warmth of the old crater. The cobalt blue of a living stream threads its way thru Uruapan on into the bordering tropical jungle. There are secrets of beauty and artistry in Mexico to be unlocked by our people of the north, if we do so with proper friendliness and understanding.
The people of our southern neighbor are as varied as the physical changes one sees with the eye. Perhaps we do not understand them, and certainly they cannot understand some of our antics. We can learn much from them, and they in turn can learn much from us. The people of the higher strains are folks of great charm and culture, and tho rather aloof to strangers can be delightful friends.
In Jalisco you will be startled to see fair skins and red hair. In Morelia the early strain has remained quite pure and these folks are artists and musicians of the highest order.
The great lake of Chapala with its tide has its picturesque fishermen; and the other great lake of Patsquaro boasts the fairy-like boats with dragon-fly gossamer sails, and the dance of the old men with bent backs, false noses and canes that help them wend their way down the street is atmosphere to be long remembered. But in a thousand towns and small villages are the peons of mixed blood – Indian, Spanish and perhaps original Aztec. These are the sodden ones who will not do today what they may perhaps decide to do tomorrow; where any intelligence is hidden behind a bovine demeanor; where satisfaction in life seems to be gained by a place to sleep upon some sidewalk at night and a place to doze in the sun by day.
In the towns are the markets, as large as any of our supermarkets. But the aisles will be banked with a thousand flowers; colorful cloths hang from above; there are booths where all things are sold – clever wooden toys and horn carvings; silver beads are displayed and the fine filigree of silver bracelets and rings and medallions are the work of true artists; fruits and vegetables are displayed next to the carcass of a newly slit goat with muscles still pulsating in reflex. The stenches of the meat booths mingle with the perfume of the flowers, and this is Mexico.
To us, Mexico is an enigma but that is because we fail to recognize the influence of climate and race. When Mexico gets sanitation, refrigeration and education it will be one of the great countries of the earth.
The President will hear of its ills and necessities. We hope he does not come home with his usual cure all in mind – the expenditure of money. Mere money will go down the drain of political pathways that are devious, to say the least. The building of sixteen-story apartments will take them out of their housing sphere. Welfare do-gooders will stir resentment. The job must be done by enlightened Mexicans for their own people, and they can do it with our sympathy, help and friendliness – not with our money.
October 7, 1962:
We think of autumn as a time of beauty, but rarely do we think of it as a season of friendliness. The vivid colors creep slowly into Nature’s garb and slowly but surely we are surrounded with a glory that is all too short in point of time. We mountain dwellers have the advantage over city folks in that as the leaves color and then fall they remain as a tapestried carpet upon our pathways until the early winds and then the snows of winter sweep into the underbrush to act in enriching the soil for the growth that is sure to come when winter finally departs.
Men have tried to describe the beauties and artistry of autumn with but little success. Its truth is that which must be seen with the eye and then repose in the soul and the memory. After the first brief brush with equinoctial temperament, Nature cools the nights to crisp healthiness, but turns a warm and sunny face to smile at men during the lazy days of fabled Indian Summer. Perfect days may come then even as in June, but the tuning fork of Nature sounds delicate warnings of frigid winds soon to come from their Norways and blankets of white to shroud the sleeping earth. During the season of transition, we of the mountains see the hillside maples burst into sudden flame of red, the aspen in the canyons and arroyos wave their quaking banners with yellows and russets and golds, and the scrub oaks protectively curling their leaves against the coming storms and bathing themselves in copper and bronze.
All of these things are the beauties of autumn, but all too many of these signs forebode the unfriendliness of the winter to come. It is a period of unconscious human tension against unknown vicissitudes.
And yet we of the mountains enjoy a friendliness from the wild ones which is not the privilege of urban dwellers. During this time the migrant, feathered friends stop at our pools and sanctuaries. They visit in friendliness, eat a few meals with us, and then depart to southern climes, to revisit us in the spring. These migrants add much beauty to the autumn time because the colors of so many blend into the coloring of the leaves and we know that Nature is protecting them in this protective coloration. The squirrels, who have been wild and free and silent during the warm days, now seek the higher reaches of the pines and scamper from limb to limb in wild abandon, pausing now and then to chatter a happy greeting between their munching of the fruits of the pine cones.
The larger animals come down from the high places because here the browse is better and more lasting and there is still water in the pools of the fast-drying creeks. The deer are friendly only in a distant sort of way. They come to visit in the early morning or the late evening. They come to our garden, not to destroy, but perhaps to enjoy the peace that is there and with full awareness that their enemies do not live here. I love to see them at the top of our little hill, still and motionless against the evening twilight sky, immobile as the men of Taos as they stand on their parapets while the sunset fades.
An unwelcome visitor is the porcupine who is armed for defense against the world. When he is lumbering down the road, we lumber along the other side as did the Levite on the road to Jericho. He is an enemy to trees and to other living things, and we do not consider him among our friends.
There are others in the wild with whom we live in amity. Perhaps we have gone to too great lengths in seeking their friendship. The rinds of our melons provide feasts at our door for the bears who have now come for the choke cherries, the hazel nuts and the acorns. The cubs delight in the hard candies which we place upon the dinette window sill, and they chomp it with abandon as children who have not as yet learned proper table etiquette. The mother bear may be hiding with watchful eye in the nearby bushes, but we do not seek her friendship nor does she seek ours.
Except for a spare carrot now and then, we do not feed the jumpy high-kicking rabbit which feasts in early morning upon the blooming clover. We do, however, invite the coming of a nocturnal visitor, the raccoon who comes to visit at our front doorstep every night with almost clocklike precision. There she finds the spare chunks of bread and cake which we scatter in early evening. She eats with politeness and delicacy, and the beautiful little face seems to look up at us with appreciation. Her face would qualify her in any animal Miss America contest, and the bushy-ringed tail would catch the eye of the judges. The other night a strange interloper invaded her domain and gobbled her snacks as tho he had the guilty conscience of a thief. It was an opossum, whose skinny tail makes him look like an inverted ant eater. She would not qualify in any beauty contest because from front to rear her measurements ranged 22-36-48.
When we say that last night we saw the most beautiful animal we have ever seen, we have not grown maudlin, senile nor have we fallen out of our presidential rocker. But there she was on our doorstep, a perfection of God’s artistry. Black as the waters of the river Styx; white stripes as pure as a strip of polar snow; as perfectly shaped as Miss Universe; the gorgeous tail is fringed with flecks of silver filigree. This beautiful innocent-looking beast is named Mephitis, but it has defensive weapons beyond the power of man to overcome and no deodorant will suffice. It will get friendly with you – but don’t get friendly with it or you will regret it. It is the common skunk and like many politicians, it is friendly, but it stinks.
November 26, 1962:
The perfect script has been written. That is, the near perfect political script, and it has now been partially enacted. If all the script writers of Hollywood had been gathered together, paid top prices, and told that the premiere would take place promptly on November 6th, they could not have done a better job. Of course there have been one or two things of no little importance left out of the manuscript, whether intentionally or by inadvertence I do not know, but I will mention this later.
Before scanning the script, it might be well to go back into the history of the past two years. A beatnik named Castro had taken over the Island of Cuba. You may remember that Castro was the fellow who, according to the Colorado Daily at Boulder, was not a communist but merely a democrat working along peaceful democratic lines. Some of the rest of us did not feel that standing some 1,700 men against a wall and shooting them down was exactly a democratic process, but the fact remains that Castro did this thing and we all knew it. It was also quite well known that those great friends of democracy, the Russians, were visiting Cuba in larger and larger numbers, and were joined by visiting Chinese. Naturally, our cold war enemies had to send in technicians to assist the Cubans in their agricultural ventures because the Russians have been so successful in feeding their own people. Soon technicians in uniform began to appear, and to help these help the Cubans resist a supposed invasion from the United States, munitions and guns and tanks were sent from Russia. This is a mere summary of what was happening in the unfortunate island. And thus the cancer grew and every one of us knew what the ultimate result would be, and felt the danger to our welfare and the welfare of the Cuban people.
And so, the enactment of the script, as tho it had been tape recorded. In late August faint murmurs came from the banks of the Potomac that there would be a crisis in November, and we all guessed that it might be sometime around November 6. Whether this prognostication arose in the minds of a Harvard professorial group, top-ranking astrologers, or from the master-mind of the Klan now residing at Hyannisport, we do not know, but it was in the script.
The next step was the address of the President to the nation in which he stated that he was carefully examining the situation, that it was well in hand, that there was no danger, and that the missiles from Russia were defensive and their range was from 25 to 50 miles.
At this point, our citizens began to ask what had become of the Monroe Doctrine, but later in the script it was discovered that it had been superseded by the Kennedy Doctrine—whatever that may be.
Suddenly the predicted crisis begins to show over the horizon as election day draws near. Suddenly it is announced that a Russian ship a day has been arriving in Cuba carrying arms, ammunition, tanks, technicians and armed men and that this had been going on for four months or more. Naturally the excitement heightens and the predicted crisis is in the offing. Overnight, it appears, it is discovered and announced that intercontinental missiles with a range of 2,000 miles have been emplaced on Cuban soil, and that we are in grave danger. A ship is sent to intercept an incoming vessel, and this warship of ours just happens to be named the John F. Kennedy Jr. How come? But that is only a minor detail because a national hero begins to emerge. A quarantine is announced, reserves are called up, aerial surveillance takes place and Russian bombers are discovered all over the place. The master hand takes charge, ultimatums are made and Mr. Khrushchev backs down. What a great victory—just before election day! Well, it almost worked, but not quite, especially in our State of Colorado. But the script as written and carried out was almost perfect. And now the whole situation is again in flux, fluxing (if the word may be used) against us.
One little detail of the situation has been carefully submerged, presumably under governmental censorship. There is a pleasant little harbor on the north coast of Cuba called Banes. Altho better fishing grounds are off the Nova Scotian banks or along the Aleutian waters, a vast fleet of Russian fishing boats are well qualified to fish because they have radar equipment, radio antennae, photographic cameras with telescopic lenses, and lots of other paraphcrnalia with which fish are caught. I happened to have fished along the southern Florida keys, and altho there are fish to be caught on occasion, the millions of gnats and mosquitoes temper one’s pleasure. But to accommodate the Russian fishermen, the harbor of Banes must be enlarged—and furthermore, it must be deepened! Thru inadvertence, perhaps, one little item escaped thru the censorship of Washington, and it was learned that three or four Russian submarines equipped with radar warheads were permitted to enter the harbor of Banes. The November 6 crisis had passed, the I.B.M.’s are being shipped back to Russia (or are they?), the big bombers remain, and the nuclear submarines still repose in the deepened harbor of Banes! The new Kennedy Doctrine has been softened. Election day is past. The Russians make promises which I personally would not believe if they made them with their hands on a stack of cases of vodka. We now must have $695 millions for a boon-doggling civil defense administration!
The script was carefully written, carefully enacted. What a bunch of suckers we are!
October 9, 1963:
To: Department of Law
Inheritance Tax Division
308 State Capitol, Denver
This application is filed on behalf of the estate of a good citizen of Palmer Lake who passed away last week. There may be a more formal and properly authorized application filed, and if so, this may be considered as supplemental thereto. The name of this good citizen was Gladys, and we shall refer to her as that because it was her real name. The last illness of Gladys was long and lingering and fraught with pain, but the end came with unexpected suddenness and she entered a new and better world in one glorious instant of time. Thru her life she had earned that moment of glory, and no doubt it was the reward for the kind of good life she had always lived. Her exact age is entirely immaterial because she was ageless in the spirit of the way she believed life should be lived. I first knew her a quarter of a century ago and her age then was the same as it was on the day of her demise because her zest for life was the same then as it was at the moment she entered the arms of her Maker.
Gladys undoubtedly had many safety deposit boxes in which she deposited her treasures. I do not know the names of any banks where she might have had a box, but that is immaterial because bank vault boxes are cold and materialistic things. Gladys for all the years of her life deposited her friendship in the hearts of all other folks whom she met. She deposited her love even in the hearts of strangers. She deposited a wealth of community service in the hearts of her neighbors. She never deposited dross, but always the wealth of her kindliness was of pure gold, and the richness of her jewels was reflected in the sparkle of her friendly eyes. It would be hard to evaluate the great wealth which Gladys deposited in the hearts of others.
Your Schedule A requires the listing of her ownership of real estate. Actually, her holdings of real estate were quite vast, but the only details I can give is that they were in El Paso County [where Colorado Springs is the major city], and located in Township Eleven South, of Range Sixty-seven West of the Sixth Principal Meridian.
Gladys lived on a wooded knoll on which there grew pine and spruce and scrub oak. She loved all of these and owned them in her heart. She also owned the little parcel of real estate to which each was attached. She owned the areas along the creek where the choke cherries and the mountain mahogany grow. In the springtime fields of columbine came into bloom, and as to these she attached a short-term mortgage lien upon which she rarely foreclosed except possibly to gather an armful and take them to some ailing friend. And I think she owned a good portion of Sundance Mountain, upon which on winter nights the great star glowed in all its pristine beauty. The pride, at least of partial ownership, reflected in her face as the light of the star lightened the darkened winter night. Gladys was not averse to claiming ownership to the fields which stretched to the rim rock of Ben Lomand, and even to the horizon beyond. She did not measure her holdings as other folks do in footage and acreage, but solely by her love of the soil upon which growing things thrived and by the visions of glory of awakening things in the Spring and the colorful tapestry of autumn. If it were possible to evaluate these holdings I would attempt to do so, but it is my considered opinion that only the Great Appraiser could set a price upon them.
Your Schedules C and D call for the listing of stocks and bonds. We are now getting into wider fields, because to my knowledge Gladys held stock in every worthwhile enterprise that was projected in her community. Her investments of interest, thoughtfulness, solicitude and hard work repaid her wonderfully in the self-satisfaction she received and in the knowledge that she had added to be well-being of the folks among whom she lived. Her word was her bond and it never varied in value during her lifetime. A complete record of her lifetime bank accounts has been kept by the Great Recorder, and I am sure that there is sufficient credit balance to pay for taxes, if any.
Her holdings of miscellaneous and personal properties were vast in scope and to be envied by all others. Her many and varied friendships constituted a wealth impossible to measure. Of a more tangible nature, she owned several dogs, whose love and adoration for her was an indissoluble tie which bound them together. How fortunate a human being is who has the love and confidence of an animal. It is quite impossible to set forth whether Gladys owned these dogs, or whether they owned her, but either way, it was a partnership of love.
Perhaps the most valuable possession Gladys had was her smile. Her smile softened the drawn lines of pain, it radiated to friends and strangers alike, it created an aura of beauty that extended far beyond her mere presence. Could all folks invest in a smile as Gladys had, how truly wonderful this world would be and what a motive power if would be among the people of the many nations for eternal peace.
Any deductions which could be claimed on behalf of Gladys would be mere mundane things which would not vary the actual value of her true estate one iota. If, by chance, you should choose to send an appraiser here to evaluate the estate of Gladys, I am sure that he would agree that her holdings were vast, and that if any tax was due, it would be from the community and the state to the memory of Gladys.
July 18, 1964:
The racial question is becoming an overboiled pot of human misery stirred out of all sense and tranquility by an outside hand whose sole purpose is now being accomplished. I write with an unprejudiced mind. We have had as guests at our table two young men and their interpreter from the new nation of Niger. These were friendly visitors hoping to learn from us, and we spent many enjoyable hours with them in our home.
These men were clean and wholesome, but as you looked into their faces we discovered that on the cheeks of each were three long, slashing knife scars which were considered by them to be badges of honor. Realization came that these men were not only of a different race but of a different breed with different ideals and different methods of thinking, and the thought came forcibly that as between us never the twain could meet. They did not want our way of life nor did we want theirs. To be quite frank, and brushing aside theoretical idealism, there was no single valid reason why there should be any social contact between us. As human beings we each had perfect equality in seeking and living our own way of life.
Except for friendliness and momentary contact socially, I have been unable to find a single reason for forcible intermixture. I agree in essence with the great emancipator whose philosophy was, “Because he did not want a Negro as a slave was no reason why he should want her as a wife.”
The interracial turmoil is a thing deliberately stirred by communist radicals and there is no single reason for placing the two races upon a social basis. Voluntarily those who wish should be placed upon an equal social basis; otherwise, those who have a revulsion or a prejudice should be permitted their own choice of living, worshipping, travelling or any other phase of free American life.
Those who force integration upon others to whom it is revolting are doing so solely to create enmities within our ranks which otherwise do not exist. Equality does not mean forcible intermixture of customs or modes of living. Our Negro people deserve better and more intelligent leadership. We must not forget that in our America we are permitted freedom of choice and this freedom should be permitted to all according to their own wishes and desires. Equality of opportunity should be granted to all, but equality is a two-way street.
[From a column he wrote in June 1963, which is appended here because of its pertinence to the preceding:] A small group, being conservatives and non-joiners, decided that it was high time for a new organization. So they formed one. They call it the Caucasian Branch of the Civil Liberties League. There is a saying that if you give certain folks an inch, they will take a mile. Under outside or ill-advised agitation, the interracial turbulence is getting dangerously out of bounds. There are plenty of white folks who are thoroughly sympathetic with the basic fact that all men are created equal and entitled to equal opportunity under the law. But this same group cannot get it thru their thick skulls exactly why they should be deprived of their own right to select their own friends, develop their own institutions, meet and eat and talk with folks of their own choosing. Those rights are as sacred to white people as they are to people of other races. The admitted fact that the rights of some are entitled to be advanced, does not mean that the rights of others should be submerged.
[The following column, on the same subject, was written a month later, in July 1963:] Sometimes out of the mouths of babes come pearls of wisdom. Any trial lawyer will tell you that an innocent child makes the best and most impressive witness. There are some pitfalls, however, because now and then there is a child who indulges in imaginative flights of fancy and this must be determined beforehand lest such a witness fall flat on his face. Now and then a precious pearl of philosophy may fall from the lips of an adult who may be entirely proficient in his profession but who ordinarily does not engage in philosophical reflections.
Wholly incidental to a happening on a major league baseball field recently, one of the athletic greats of all time gave voice to a piece of philosophy which might well be applied to the problems of his race. Willie Mays is a giant of a man, a giant in his profession, and some of his philosophical sayings have been far from childish. He may have given the Negro leaders a text upon which they might well rely for future guidance down a pathway of progress. Their present methods are causing deep resentment among their best friends. In a recent game, Willie made a magnificent catch against the center field fence. When he came down with the ball, he was limping, apparently with an injury to his foot. Later, he was asked whether he was hurt. His reply was a golden philosophical nugget. He said, “They don’t pay me to get hurt. They pay me to play ball. So I play.” That is selflessness of the first degree and well points the exact way in which he has reached not only the top of his profession but has earned himself a definite place in the society of men regardless of his color.
With entire sympathy for correction of the many wrongs suffered by the Negroes, I feel that in the present upheaval and the following of false leadership, they will in the long run do more damage to their cause than good. False leaders and false gods can lead to ultimate misery and failure. Reaching for the clouds, or for the top rung of the ladder may be the proper goal in any movement in the progress of mankind, but true progress is made in climbing a ladder only by climbing rung by rung and progressing upward step by step. The people of Liberia were catapulted by idealists from abject slavery to freedom in a country of their own. They had some able leaders, they were fully financed, they received helpful aid from their well wishers of the white race, and yet after a hundred years of self-government cannibalism still exists in their nation and in other ways confusion and helplessness exists. They had reached the top of the ladder without going thru the laborious process of climbing slowly and surely.
When the final solution of the racial problem is found, and it will be, it will not be thru the guidance of outside communistic influences, the pushing of excitable do-gooders, nor because of the bayonets under command of immature, ambitious, self-constituted dictators. It will be found only in the application of common sense, common decency and the recognition of the rights of all men irrespective of creed, color or politics. We all deplore the slow progress of the past century, but we must admit that while it has been slow, it has also been sure.
I write in all kindliness and from the perspective of our mountain west where from the early pioneer days men have had to prove their status by their own hard work, their own initiative and their own accomplishment. In my school days, from grammar school thru the graduate school of a great university there were colored folks in practically every class, and the only distinction I ever noticed was the distinction disclosed by accomplishment, whether the individual was white or black. To his great credit, James Meredith said as much in his recent speech in Chicago—and he was booed for his expression of common sense.
An item in Newsweek stated that verbal instructions had come out of Washington to various government offices in Florida and elsewhere, for them to disregard the requirements of the civil service law as to ability and fitness, and to employ more Negroes, far beyond the proportion to the population. These orders were verbal because the administration did not dare to make a written record for all to read. But in such tactics lies the greatest danger to the Negro himself. If a federal administration can use bayonets or disregard the law of the land on behalf of colored people, the day may not be far off when these instruments may be turned against them.
One of our greatest freedoms has been the freedom of choice. This is the freedom to choose one’s friends and associates, freedom to choose fraternal relationships, and to choose where and with whom he wishes to dine, or the neighborhood in which he desires to live. But these choices to be effective must be mutual. Certainly, there are many white citizens with whom I do not care to associate in any manner whatsoever because we have no mutuality of interests, no common ground of association, and no parity whatsoever in the way we think, the customs we have or the habits we have been brought up to observe. This freedom of choice does not give some other person the right to choose me against my will.
Volumes have been and will be written
on the subject of interracial relations.
The problem cannot be solved by violence. It cannot be solved by following an outside
leadership of agitation. It can be
solved by the application of common sense, by recognition of the rights of all
men as fellow human beings. Each
individual earns the respect of others only because he has earned it by his own
mode of decent living, his own hard work, his own ability and his own