This Cool Vintage Custom Rat Rod Made My Morning

When I pulled into the post office parking lot, one Friday morning this past spring, this cool truck was right behind me. The care that went into its customization was evident, though some may call it a rust bucket.

I love the individuality expressed by its owner, who was quiet polite, holding the door for me in a debonair manner, his appearance resembling the truck.

Enjoying an E. B. White Essay Beneath an Apple Tree

Nothing says New England like the soft glow of apples, shining in the sun, the fascinating texture of tree trunks and branches, the spell that infuses the understory of an orchard. I’m missing my jaunts to the Northeast, but reading the works of authors whose words capture the classic spirit of the area sustain me.

Several years ago I received a book of E. B. White essays as a gift at Christmas. I haven’t had a chance to read them all, but it is fun to save them as a treat on days when I’m feeling down.

Although the essay I read on a recent afternoon was a lament for the disappearance of sleeper cars and passenger trains, it was heartening to hear the author’s echo from the past, of a mode of transportation I knew still existed, but I never experienced, in my early years. It sparked thoughts of things passed, that I myself mourn today.

Simple things, like neatly packed grocery bags pushed to our cars by polite bag boys or girls, people who pumped our gas and performed on-the-fly fixes; telephone operators who would assist us for free, no matter what type of problem we were experiencing.

Dial telephones without answering machines could actually be more efficient than smartphones. When I was a kid, we all felt secure in the fact someone would help us if we suffered a serious problem, without a long wait, though we weren’t connected 24/7.

Now we supposedly have unlimited access for our every need or desire, if we have a smartphone, but we must push buttons and wait for many minutes before we can reach a human voice. Everything is about company profits, not convenience as marketing propaganda would have us believe.

If E. B. White were alive today, he would certainly have material for essays memorializing conveniences that have been lost due to the need for company profits, as was the difficulty with passenger railways in less populated areas, once interstate highways were created.

Weekly Wisdom – The Penny Mason Post

I think television’s become a downright dangerous thing. It has no moral barometer whatsoever. If you want to talk about something that is all about money, just watch the television. Tom Petty
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Mister Rogers and Tom Hanks Two Thoughtful Educator-Entertainers

Can’t wait to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Haven’t gone to the movies in years, but this one should be worth a step out into the chilly autumn weather.

When I picked up Parade Magazine the other day, I thought I was looking into the face of Fred Rogers, but it was actually a very well made up Tom Hanks. What better personality to portray the icon of children’s TV programming?

Parade asked Tom to name five things he learned from studying the life of Fred.

Slowing down was the first thing Tom mentioned. Movie making is normally highly frenetic. That’s contrary to what Mister Rogers was about.

Tom commented that the show was indeed designed for kids. It addressed difficult ideas of physics and of human relationships in a manner to which children could relate.

The cardigan sweater, the Converse or Sperry topsider tennis shoes, reflect the fact that Fred was comfortable in his clothes and in his own skin, it seems. He took on difficult issues of race and marital relationships with simplistic, yet poignant words and acts.

I was surprised to learn he was from a wealthy family, though I suppose I shouldn’t have been. Thoughtful individuals with the confidence and freedom to follow their goals find it easier to get their messages across. Think JFK.

Fred’s health tips include:

Rising at five am to a glass of hot cranberry juice – to answer every piece of mail he received from young viewers.

A daily 20 minute swim.

And here’s my favorite take away:

A framed quote from Fred Rogers:

“That which is essential is invisible to the naked eye.”

That’s true in any neighborhood.

Have you seen the movie? Did you watch Mister Rogers as a child?

I haven’t yet seen it and admit I only watched Captain Kangaroo as a kid, though I did see clips of Mister Rogers, and heard of his shows from others.

I have to see this movie at some point, and I plan to look for DVDs of the shows.

Book Review of Drive Thru Dreams by Adam Chandler

This tale of the history of the fast food industry was quite entertaining and enormously informative.

Among other fascinating facts, I learned that Ray Kroc was quite the tough guy. The McDonalds Brothers got ripped off, though thier name will go down in history.

The Colonel was a true fast food pioneer, but he toiled endlessly to reach the top, then, when the interstate highway system was constructed, the chain’s locations on small town main streets suffered, necessitating a revamp, financially and logistically.

By that time the Colonel was in his sixties, yet he tirelessly took to the road in his own car once more, plugging franchise opportunities to small-time restaurant owners.

When he sold the chain, the man who started it all was taken advantage of in the end.

The overall fast food story follows the course of most American business over the past half century.

Companies pulled to success by the bootstraps of creative, determined, individuals, have been taken advantage of by corporate interests who, today, reap immense profits with only pennies going to those whos dole out bags of hamburgers, cups of Coke or Pepsi, or the new innovative menu variations that cater to the changing culture of fast food consumers.

But what would we do without our fast food in today’s hustle culture? We baby boomers can reminisce all we want about leisurely family dinners prepared by our mothers, where each of the day’s events were discussed in depth, wise advice given us by our parents, as we anticipated the dessert course, served on decorative plates.

The reality is, try as we might, not many families have work schedules that permit formerly  common civilized rituals.

So, should we praise Ray Kroc and pass the Big Macs?

I wouldn’t go that far, but I do recommend reading Drive Thru Dreams. It’s a documentary style book but it won’t bore you. Expecting to scan it as I do most non-ficion publications, I drooled over the interesting details on every page.





Ohio Buckeyes Ripen in Local Woodlands

As their namesake Ohio State University team takes to the field, buckeys ripen on laden branches in the woods in early autumn.

Unlike many other nuts, buckeyes are reportedly mildly toxic, in their raw state. Supposedly, Indians roasted and mashed them into a nutritional paste, but don’t try that yourself.

The slightly shiny brown irregular orbs are quite attractive, so keeping a buckeye in one’s pocket for good luck might be fun.

Want to learn more about or to grow Ohio’s official nut? Here’s a link to an Ohio Department of Natural Resources article that includes guidelines.

Evening Light at the Lake

Swimmers take to the water as the sun descends behind a curtain of clouds. It’s about eighty and muggy. A classic late August day. The last day, sadly, for those who love the traditional months of summer.

But September and October hold magical moments of their own – apple picking, county fairs, clear bright days when sunlight shines on painted leaves . . .

And more great days to visit the lake – to sit on wave smoothed logs and stare at the horizon line, stroll the beach, shopping for sea glass and stones – to imagine the bright future which seems possible when one is by the water.

Book Review of Women at the Wheel A Century of Buying, Driving, and Fixing Cars By Katherine J. Parkin

I knew men were quite sexist concerning women drivers, doubting their ability to take the wheel, check their own oil, or make a simple repair. But I never realized the entire extent to which they went to use sex to sell cars.

This book is quite an eye opener. Rather amusing actually, as, thankfully, attitudes have changed greatly over the past few decades.

Some of the ads were a bit surprising to me. At a time when married couples couldn’t be shown in bed together, fully covered, blatantly risque innuendo was used in automobile ads.

A 1941 ad shows a girl in a short cabana coat, mentioning her car is “Faultlessly lubricated with Valvoline . . .”

A 1961 ad for a Lotus begins by saying “He found it appalling to just go out and buy it! So it was practically a marriage . . .” Speaking of purchasing the car, not an illicit affair.

A 1973 Subaru ad compare the car to “a spirited woman who yearns to be tamed.

Here’s another surprising type of ad that would never appear today, but was published as late as 1971 – for shock absorbers. The text mentions that “a car with worn out shocks can be as dangerous as a child with a loaded gun”. A little girl with an actual pistol is portrayed cradling it with the barrel pointed at her face.

If you’ve ever wondered what it was that drove Thelma and Louise over a cliff, you need to read this book,” says author Ruth Schwartz Cowan, calling the book, “a fascinating work of historical scholarship”.

From women learning to drive to all girl car repair shops, this work of non-fiction details the rise of female drivers in a fun, entertaining manner.


‘Twas the Summer of ’69 – The Best Days of Our Lives?



Happy 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival!

This Bryan Adams tune, written, I believe, in the 1980’s has sentimental implications for those of us alive in the late 1960’s.

I was eight years old, going on eighteen. Standing on my own parents’ porch, I thought the good times would last forever. My dad had a simple job but was well paid. We weren’t rich but never worried about money if something broke or we needed to visit the doctor. My mother stayed at home with me.

Certainly, Viet Nam and the drug problem were downers, but we were on our way to a society of equality for all, enjoying the high point in the tide of mid-twentieth-century postwar prosperity for the burgeoning middle class.

1969 was one of the most happening summers in our history. Young people were politically active, prolifically promoting agendas focused on love and peace.

I remember hearing about Woodstock on the radio. It sounded cool to eight year old hippie, me. Too bad the “Aquarian Exposition” celebrating peace and music turned into such a mess, on the field and in the crowd.

I wouldn’t have loved the mix-ups, the mud, the mayhem, but I still celebrate the music and the movement to create a world without war, with rules fair to all.

I never dreamed America would change so much by this time in my life. I’m not yet even a senior citizen but . . .

When I was a kid – we were told that each generation of the middle classes that followed would be more prosperous than the one before it.

The opposite trend is true today. Income inequality is rampant, thanks to unbridled corporate greed. Few are standing up for the rights of the average working citizen.

Woodstock didn’t really accomplish a lot but the spirit of the movement inspired the young to become active in the promotion of peace and individual freedom.

Perhaps you’re too young to remember this hippie music festival but would like to learn more about it? Or maybe you were around at the time but wish to review the details? Either way, here’s a description of the way the event played out.

I don’t recommend some of the behaviors exhibited by the hippie activists, but today, we are much in need of a movement headed by young people, an idealistic, organized effort to promote peace, equality, philanthropy, fair hiring practices and pay scales.

Citizens in their twenties and thirties must begin to vote, communicate with leaders, run for office. Only by a renewed sense of activism, can the middle class lifestyle we once took for granted return as a reality for the majority of workers.

Service industry positions are just as important as corporate management, yet a great chasm exists between the lifestyles of those who call the shots, and those who repair plumbing, remove trash, wait on tables, stock shelves.

It wasn’t my intention to digress from celebrating a half-century-old music fest. But when I reflect upon the happenings of the summer of ’69, I channel the sense of security that filled the streets where factory workers relaxed on weekends, see the lovely, stylish ranch houses with payments modest in comparison to incomes.

I travel down country lanes in memory, recalling the small farms where neighbors earned a modest but sufficient living, enjoyed a peaceful existence.

In addition to Woodstock, there were many intriguing happenings – both positives and negatives, but all definitive, over that 1969 summer.

The moon landing, the Met’s winning streak, Slaugherhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, the Stonewall protests, the Manson murders .  .   .

But most of all, I recall my favorite pair of orange shorts, paired with my sky blue and white striped sleeveless top, shiny yellow sandals, the canary colored waist tie I took from my dress and made into a headband the week of Woodstock, complete with a magic-marker-drawn peace sign, and the word “love” written in bubble letters.

I remember that time now, as though it were a fantasy, the department stores that sold quality merchandise for the new American lifestyle – where my mom bought things for our new ranch house.

The fast food chains were moving in and every weekend Dad would drive us to the latest. We would sit outside in the shade, me asking for a rock station, while he tuned in an Indians baseball game.

Today our small town lives are stressed and uncertain in comparison, but during this fair summer season let us celebrate the golden anniversary of that monumental year by playing the music and planning for change.

Lets start a modern day movement to create a better future for everyone, inspired by peace, love, and the music of Woodstock.