Thursday, November 1, 2018

Editor's Corner


 

November 2018

“November is auspicious in so many parts of the country: the rice harvest is already in, the weather starts to cool, and the festive glow which precedes Christmas has began to brighten the landscape. " — F. Sionil Jose, Filipino writer.

November! Another month, another issue! And Yes! Your editor takes this publication online as a labor of love. It was dedicated, and still is, to AG Adair, my late husband who started in newspaper while still in High School - as a Jr, he and a friend, leased and operated a local newspaper publishing twice weekly, and were recognized by the Associated Press as the youngest owner-operators of a news publication. He went on to learn linotype at the Uvalde News in TX, then after his service in WWII, returned to newspaper work, owning his own paper in Crane, TX for a few years then becoming News Editor for the Monahans News in 1963, where he continued, adding photography and printing pictures after changing over the plant to digital type and installing and operating a 4 unit Goss Press with full 4-color capability, and was working on a story in 1996 when he suffered a fatal heart attack. During our marriage we also owned and published several different small monthly newspapers..Cross Trails for square dancers and callers, Hobbie$, Etc -which went to 7 countries and 43 states including Alaska and Hawaii by mail subscriptions. That evolved into this online ezine Pencil Stubs Online after his death when I could no longer afford the rising cost of publication, supplies, and overseas postage to continue actual print work, thanks to the assistance by Mike Craner who did/does the web work. I also worked as Circulation mgr for the Monahans News, reporter and staff member to do layouts for another area newspaper, and when a department head in Fedway at Longview, prepared my own quarter page of the double truck ad run weekly in that city's newspaper (hot press, using rubber mats for photos in ads.)

Bruce Clifford's song lyrics are "Over and Out" and "The Limit" for this month. Bud Lemire has two poems, "I'm Afraid of Needles" and "Tennis Elbow." John I. Blair sent three new poems: "Beneath My Feet," "Like A Tiny Dinosaur," and "As Days Grow Dark."

One of our laid back authors Mark Crowder (he sometimes writes as Lexie, the cat, sometimes as Rabbo, the super rabbit) researched and prepared "For the Fallen" an Armistice Poem written at the close of WWI in 1914, Source: The London Times (1914) ©1914 By Laurence Binyon.

Linnie Jane Joslin Burks, late aunt of your editor and the author of the column "Armchair Genealogy" left many poems along her way while serving 32 years as a Southern Baptist Missionary with her husband Dr. Edgar Burks in Nigeria. Four of those poems found their way for this issue: "She Loved Me," "On President Kennedy's Funeral," "Snow," and "My Work," the latter the true focus of her life.

Marilyn Carnell with aplomb, tells of her Driver Licenses, for several different states, not always the easiest task. Melinda Cohenour's "Armchair Genealogy" adds to the tale of the Traitor, Benedict Arnold V, beginning to tie into family origins of her own.

Thomas F. O'Neill in his "Introspective," reveals an early friendship with an amazing celebrity, and how it helped shape his future. Judith Kroll aka Featherwind uses her "On Trek" column to emphasize "Lovelights," and includes an eye opening photo for which she penned a few lines.

"Cooking with Rod" by Rod Cohenour introducing a Chocolate Raspberry Mousse, a stunning and delicious addition to his repertoire. Mattie Lennon's "Irish Eyes" subtitled "Scalpels, Skulls, and Rigor Mortis," blends reviews of a couple of recent publications and their authors with a few jokes and a personally pleased announcement.

LC Van Savage "Consider This" recalls an uncle who was "A Veteran" and how he coped being home again. She also has one of the articles, in which she tells about "Hallowe'en Then" and the many differences from today.

Bunny Dunn graciously gave permission to print her tale "My Experience with a Possessed Person" which has echoes of a Halloween type encounter. Many readers may recognize this author as being one of the leading chatters in the former chat site based in Switzerland, "SpiritWeb Org • An Approach of Spiritual Consciousness, Spiritual Web Chat" hosted by Rene (TheFire) .

Thanking our webmaster Mike Craner without whose patience and expertise this ezine would not have been in its 21rst year, is a heartfelt appreciation.

See you in December!!!

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at www.pencilstubs.com and also in the blog www.pencilstubs.net with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Armchair Genealogy


 

The Arnold Family - England to America
A Patriot and A Traitor – Cousins


      Last month, we began the exploration of Benedict Arnold’s military career – one that led both to great admiration from General George Washington and to eventual disgrace as America’s most infamous traitors. This month we shall attempt to understand the forces at play in his life. We shall also trace the distant relationship of Benedict Arnold to our family. Through his Westcott ancestral line, we may ultimately find a closer relationship than now known.
 
MILITARY CAREER, cont.:

      In his first outing in command of troops in March of 1775, Benedict, as Captain, commanded a unit tasked to gain control of Fort Ticonderoga. Although successful, we find our young Benedict was frustrated after losing his personal battle with Ethan Allen who had marched from Massachusetts with his rowdy troop of Green Mountain Boys. This was a militia unit formed in the 1760’s in a back area bounded by the British provinces of New York and New Hampshire, an area which would later become the State of Vermont. It was a family affair with units commanded by Ethan and by members of his extended family. The troops held deep ties and loyalty to Ethan Allen’s family and to him, personally.

      “Arnold was surprised and a little angered because Ethan Allen did not care if Arnold had permission from the Committee of Safety and Arnold couldn't talk Allen out of relinquishing command. Arnold had to concede to accompanying Allen and his rowdy, rough and tumble fighters. On May 10, 1775, they surprised the British garrison and the Green Mountain Boys celebrated by invading the rum stores of the British and getting totally sloshed. They virtually ignored Benedict Arnold except when they were teasing and jeering him. Arnold had an argument with Colonel James Easton, who was to deliver the missive announcing the victory of the capture to Massachusetts. In his regimental memorandum book, Arnold wrote:
“I took the liberty of breaking his head, and on his refusing to draw like a gentleman, he having a hanger [short sword] by his side and a case of loaded pistols in his pocket. I kicked him very heartily and ordered him from the Point immediately.”
(SOURCE: http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/served/arnold.html)

      The enmity between Ethan Allen, his related commanders, and Colonel James Easton was but one festering wound upon Benedict Arnold’s soul. He may have found quick satisfaction in manhandling Colonel Easton, but that was short-lived. The two strong-willed and bullheaded men, Allen and Arnold, would begin planning the first assault on British troops garrisoned in Canada. Meanwhile, Fort Ticonderoga was being held by their dual command.

      “Easton returned from his mission to Massachusetts while Arnold and Allen were planning the Canadian Invasion. Easton had done his best to diminish Arnold's participation in the capture of Ticonderoga and the two were arguing once more. The hot-tempered Arnold soon had some more people to fight with: Connecticut governor Johnathan Trumbull appointed Colonel Benjamin Hinman to command the Fort. Ethan Allen relinquished his command. Arnold did not, instead threatening to sail two ships under his command directly to a nearby British outpost and surrender them. Hinman then enlisted the treasonous Arnold's soldiers, took command of his ships, and dissolved his command. Completely affronted, Arnold went to Albany and there sent off a statement of the situation at Ticonderoga to the Continental Congress.

      “Arnold had been caught in the middle of the political machinations of Connecticut and Massachusetts, both vying for the glory that would accompany the capture of the British stores at Fort Ticonderoga. When Massachusetts acquiesced to Connecticut's preeminence in the territory, Arnold most certainly felt abandoned.”
(SOURCE: http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/served/arnold.html)

      Here we witness the first evidence of Benedict Arnold’s thought process which would presage his ultimate treasonous acts. In a fit of pique, rather than think calmly and enlist the aid of those who actually respected and supported him, he rashly threatened an act certain to bring down wrath upon him.

      We now know that upon returning home, Benedict would learn of the death of his young wife. Coupled with the anger still fomented by his embarrassing and frustrating confrontation following his successful taking of Fort Ticonderoga, was the anguish of his deep personal loss, topped by the inability of the Continental Army to remunerate him properly for his personal expenditures in support of the cause. The Massachusetts Committee of Safety repaid him only a small portion of his total bill, nowhere near the total. It would be some time before he was fully recompensed.

The Siege of Montreal:

      General George Washington had been much impressed by Benedict Arnold’s daring actions and saw value where others merely saw arrogance. He let it be known he wanted Benedict to take a commanding role in the campaign which would be led by Gen. Philip Schuyler. Benedict’s long years of trade with the Quebecois made his knowledge of the people and the terrain valuable. In advance of the trek Benedict Arnold sought to gain some knowledge from a long-time acquaintance, John Dyer Mercier. Mercier made a most unfortunate decision. He handed off Benedict’s letter to two Abenaki tribesmen who were in concert with John Hall, a French-speaking British deserter. Somehow that letter fell into the hands of the British command who, now alerted to the impending invasion, had time to buttress their garrison. The entire campaign seemed fated from the start. Of the 1,100 troops marched northward by Arnold, only 600 made the trip due to the horrific cold of the winter, disease, and starvation. Upon arrival, they found a much larger defense amassed in advance. The weather also did not help. Rain poured down upon the troops, a cold and chilling rain. Montgomery was killed, Benedict suffered his first leg wound, and Daniel Morgan was called upon to salvage what he could of the effort. In spite of Morgan’s heroic efforts, the Americans were ultimately forced to surrender. From his sickbed, Benedict refused to surrender – “bellowing commands” to his troops, not merely reluctant but determined not to leave absent triumph. It was to no avail, but word of his actions reached Washington who marked this up in his favor as well. Washington named Benedict Arnold the rank of Brigadier General.

      We touched upon the rough and tumble nature of Benedict Arnold’s character in last month’s column. Here again that came to the forefront:

      “Arnold became involved in a dispute with Moses Hazen, an officer under his command, whom he accused of insubordination for failing to carry out Arnold's orders to seize supplies from Merchants in Montreal during the American army's retreat. Hazen issued counter-charges against Arnold for issuing the order to plunder in the first place. Hazen was acquitted at his court-martial, and Arnold was ordered to apologize, an order he indignantly refused. General Horatio Gates intervened on behalf of Arnold, who was given charge of a small fleet of ships and ordered to Ticonderoga.”

      Benedict Arnold was mounting up enemies among the officers with whom he would be tasked to fight the cause of America’s revolution. The very attributes which made him a strong commander in battle were negative faults in his personal interactions. These feuds would cost him a most desirable promotion to Major General. While he defended multiple complaints brought by his peers and senior officers, Benedict watched junior officers being promoted ahead of him to Major General. He was embittered. Once again, his admirer and defender, General George Washington, would intervene behind the scenes to investigate why he had not been consulted in connection with the promotions handed out by Congress.

      This promotion, however, was granted without the seniority both Washington and Arnold felt he deserved. He would be standing in an inferior capacity to many junior officers who served under his command previously. He sent a letter of resignation to Washington. Washington, unbeknownst to Arnold, was working behind the scenes to secure a position of command on a second Siege of Montreal. He refused Arnold’s resignation, instead placing him in a substantial role in the second Siege of Montreal.

      In a letter to John Hancock in Congress, Washington defended Arnold thusly:

      “If General Arnold has settled his Affairs & can be spared from Philadelphia, I would recommend him for this business & that he should immediately set out for the Northern department. He is active-judicious & brave, and an Officer in whom the Militia will repose great confidence. Besides this, he is well acquainted with that Country and with the Routs and most important passes and defiles in it. I do not think he can render more signal services or be more usefully employed at this time than in this way-I am persuaded his presence & activity will animate the Militia greatly & spur them on to a becoming conduct. I could wish him to be engaged in a more agreeable service-to be with better Troops, but circumstances call for his exertions in this way, and I have no doubt of his adding much to the Honors he has already acquired.”

      When he learned of this opportunity, Arnold asked to put his resignation on hold. He immediately took off for the north. On August 8, Congress voted not to reinstate Arnold's seniority and he would never forgive them for the slight.

      Arnold exhibited an innate strategic sense in battle. He crossed horns with Generals Schuyler and Gates on more than one occasion, even when his tactical plans were accepted and proven successful. Again, the hostility he faced reared its ugly head when his contributions to both strategic plans and tactical execution failed to be mentioned in the official reports to Congress. He exhibited bravery on more than one occasion, even when injured. These efforts failed to be recognized by those whose disapprobation of him surmounted any level of respect they might otherwise have felt.

      Even after Gates relieved Arnold of his command for insubordination, Arnold charged onto the field of battle astride his horse, reinvigorating his troops and others at Bemis Heights. After leading two separate onslaughts, Arnold along with Daniel Morgan’s troops were able to push open the center of the British line, ensuring ultimate success. In the final assault, Arnold’s horse was shot and it fell upon the very leg Arnold had injured in prior battle. The bravado of the Continental troops was so great, Burgoyne surrendered not ten days later. Now, the French were willing to enter the fray in support of the American rebel’s cause. Benedict “Arnold’s actions, perhaps more than any other officer there, led to the American’s success.”

      Even though Arnold’s seniority was later restored, the damage had been done. He was now forever lame, had been discredited by his superior officers, ignored by members of Congress, and was now a widower with young children and felt the sting of being alone to raise them. He returned home with enmity in his heart.

PERSONAL FACTORS:

      While recuperating from his wounds at his home in Philadelphia, 38 year old Benedict met and began wooing Margaret “Peggy” Shippen, the youngest daughter of Judge Edward Shippen. A mere 18 years of age, Peggy was vivacious, strong-willed, and deeply involved in the Loyalist’s cause. They wed in April of 1779.


Peggy Shippen Arnold and daughter Sophia, by Daniel Gardner, circa 1787–1789.

      The Shippen family was upper crust society, wealthy, educated, and well respected. Arnold was once again thrust into a life of social status, but without the means to support the lifestyle. He, once again, resorted to the old street savvy ways. He engaged in real estate speculation, a capital-intensive industry. In support of his needs, Arnold began utilizing government assets as his own. He used his position to approve the use of a ship and later invested in it in clear contravention of propriety. He was brought up on charges and court-martialed in June of 1779.

      By this time, he had already begun negotiating with the British to sell military secrets and to use his position to weaken the defenses of West Point. He had been given command in spite of his peer’s opposition. Now he bartered that command for filthy lucre! Through the intermediary Major John Andre, a friend and possible former lover of now wife Peggy Shippen Arnold, Benedict funneled information to the British in return for money. He even gave vital information on the movements of his old mentor George Washington.

      In a letter dated 12 July 1780, directed to Major John Andre and Sir Henry Clinton, Benedict outlined critical information about American troop movements, specifically a plan of disinformation revealed to Benedict by his old friend and trusting mentor, George Washington. Benedict shamelessly betrayed Washington, providing full and complete information that could have brought death to General Washington. In the letter, he also revealed this was not the first information provided the Brits for money. He apparently reiterated his prior betrayals as a reminder of his monetary value to them. In the final paragraphs of that letter, Arnold reveals his motivations and belief as to the ultimate failure of the Revolutionary cause:

      “He disclosed his general feeling about the impact of the war on American resolve and morale. He thought that Americans were tired of the war and would give up soon if they did not see any substantial benefit. He thought that the last few struggles were futile and showed American weakness and discouragement. Furthermore, Arnold again emphasized that he expected substantial and urgent payment for his services.”
(SOURCE: http://clements.umich.edu/exhibits/online/spies/stories-arnold-2.html)


A portrait of the Capture of Major John Andre, British spy

      When Benedict Arnold learned of the capture of Major John Andre and the discovery of his betrayal, he escaped aboard the very ship that had brought Andre to American shores, the Vulture. His betrayal must have brought to Benedict the ultimate sting of defeat. As reported by US History.org (see Source information above):

      “Arnold defected to the British and received substantial remuneration for his defection. These included pay, land in Canada, pensions for himself, his wife and his children (five surviving from Peggy and three from his first marriage to Margaret) and a military commission as a British Provincial brigadier general.

      The British provided handsomely for Arnold, but never completely trusted him. He was never given an important military command. They moved to London where he found no job, some admiration and even some contempt. He moved his family to Canada where he reentered the shipping business. The Tories there disliked him and had no use for him, and eventually he returned his family to London. When the fighting began between France and England, he tried again for military service, but to no avail. His shipping ventures eventually failed and he died in 1801, virtually unknown, his wife joining him in death three years later.”

 
OUR RELATIONSHIP TO BENEDICT ARNOLD:
Gen. Benedict Arnold V, The Traitor (1740 - 1801)2nd great-nephew of husband of 8th great-aunt
Benedict Arnold III (1683 - 1761)Father of Gen. Benedict Arnold V, The Traitor
Benedict Arnold II (1641 - 1727)Father of Benedict Arnold III
Damaris Westcott (Arnold) (1620 - 1679)Mother of Benedict Arnold II
Stukely Westcott (1592 - 1677)Father of Damaris Westcott (Arnold)
Jeremiah Westcott (1633 - 1686)Son of Stukely Westcott
Eleanor England (Westcott)(1643 - 1692)Wife of Jeremiah Westcott
Hugh Parsons (1612 - 1684)Father of Eleanor England (Westcott)
Hannah Parsons (1646 - 1685)Daughter of Hugh Parsons
Thomas Matteson (1673 - 1739)Son of Hannah Parsons
Mary Matteson (1651 - 1701)Daughter of Thomas Matteson
William (of Deerfield) Joslin Col. (1701 - 1771)Son of Mary Matteson
William "P.R." Joslin (1757 - 1846)Son of William (of Deerfield) Joslin Col.
William (James) Riley Joslin (1792 - 1871)Son of William "P.R." Joslin
William Henry Joslin (1837 - 1921)Son of William (James) Riley Joslin
James Arthur Joslin (1874 - 1956)Son of William Henry Joslin
Lena May Joslin (1918 - 2010)Daughter of James Arthur Joslin
Your author and her siblings - the four Daughters of Lena May Joslin Carroll.

      Interestingly, our relationship to General Benedict Arnold V, the Traitor, may be closer. By DNA testing, we discovered our maternal uncle on the Joslin line had his closest match to one Westcott Campbell Joslin, Sr. Your author is still researching that line to determine our Shared Ancestor and, perhaps, break down the brick wall that still exists between William “P.R.” Joslin and the Colonel William (of Deerfield) Joslin. For it is our belief that P. R. was the grandson, not the son. When and if we chip away successfully at that wall, it is believed the Shared Ancestor with Westcott Campbell Joslin will provide the parental line that is missing – that ONE generation. Clearly, Westcott was named for his Westcott relatives, but we have yet to ascertain exactly how that interrelates to our line.

      Next month, we cover the Arnold Family – the heroes. That line intersects directly with my husband’s, Rod Cohenour. It should be interesting!

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Cooking with Rod



 

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse



Well, it's the Fall season, Halloween just past and Thanksgiving just around the corner. My better half and I have been scratching our heads trying to figure out great new desserts. Our challenge? To find a recipe with no eggs to accommodate a nephew with severe egg allergies. We played around for awhile and came up with an absolutely fabulous dessert: Chocolate Raspberry Mousse that will knock your socks off!

Most chocolate mousse desserts are based on a frothy mixture of rich chocolate thickened with egg yolks beaten to a creamy blend with melted butter using egg whites whipped to firm peaks to fold into the mousse. This would not work for our needs.

My sweet mate did her research, then reached into her old recipe box to create a good way to achieve the rich flavor, the foamy texture, and a diverse blend of tastes to excite both the eyes and the palate. I think she did a great job. One source of inspiration came from a blog that featured a traditional chocolate mousse enriched with espresso. If you can add espresso, surely you can add raspberry puree, right?

Here's where we found the inspiration: Dark Chocolate Mousse with Expresso. Jen Reviews

Try both methods, but most important, dare to test your own creativity and ...

Bon appetit~!!
Chocolate Raspberry Mousse
Melinda Cohenour – October 2018

INGREDIENTS:
  • 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp. Almond extract (use 1 tsp. for whipped milk and 1 tsp. for puree)
  • 1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 6 oz. pkg. Sugar Free Raspberry Jell-O
  • 8 0z. Pkg. Cream cheese, softened
  • 12 oz. Pkg. Semi-sweet chocolate chips to melt
  • 2 Tbsp. Milk
  • 12 oz. Fresh or frozen sweetened raspberries (must have nice, firm berries for garnish)
  • 8 oz. Pkg. Toasted slivered almonds
  • 1 bottle Hershey’s Chocolate sauce
  • Ground Cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS:
    1. Make raspberry Jell-O per box instructions. Allow to thicken and firm without being fully set (but not watery). Chill evaporated milk in large mixing bowl in freezer for at least thirty minutes and chill beaters in freezer. The milk should have formed a few ice crystals around the edge and bowl and beaters should be quite cold. Do not remove until ready to whip (see instructions below.)
    2. Fresh raspberries: Place half in saucepan with sugar, cook and stir until they break down into a puree. Put puree through strainer to remove all seeds. Save best raspberries for garnish.
    3. OR Frozen sweetened raspberries: Thaw, strain to remove all seeds. Retain all pureed berries, mashing if necessary. Save best berries for garnish.
    4. Melt chocolate chips or pieces in microwave with small amount of milk. Stir occasionally. When melted stir in raspberry puree and almond extract. Set aside.
    5. Remove slightly frozen evaporated milk, bowl and beaters from freezer. Beat evaporated milk in large mixing bowl. It will whip like whipped cream and will almost triple in volume so be sure to use your large mixing bowl. After beating with chilled beaters for about 30 seconds, add half of powdered sugar and 1 tsp almond extract. (Powdered sugar contains a small amount of cornstarch which helps to firm up the whipped cream.) Evaporated milk should whip to form firm, soft peaks and resemble a good whipped cream. Jell-O should be just set and neither hard nor watery. Begin adding small amounts of the Jell-O to whipped evaporated milk. Continue until all has been added. Set this in fridge until ready to fold in chocolate mixture.
    6. Chocolate-raspberry-almond mixture should still be warm. If not, microwave until just warm. Whip softened cream cheese and fold into chocolate mixture.
    7. Now fold chocolate almond mixture into Jell-O/whipped evaporated milk mixture. When beautifully blended, spoon into parfait glasses. Sprinkle lightly with ground cinnamon.
    8. Garnish with fresh raspberries, drizzle with chocolate sauce. Sprinkle toasted slivered almonds on top. Serve chilled or warm, but only garnish just before serving.

Look for us in December! See pic below.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

 

Sifoddling Along

Driver’s License Stories


       For most people getting a driver’s license is a pretty mundane task. Oh, the first one is usually special. If you are a teen, eager to get through a rite of passage, but usually after a move is one of the first tasks is to get a driver’s license as it is usually necessary to have a current i.d. to sign up for utilities or cable, etc. For several different reasons I have had to take tests 10 different times in 7 states. I speak from experience.

      My first test was shortly after my 16th birthday. I was agog at the prospect of driving the family car once in a while. I had practiced behind the wheel and studied for the written test. The Missouri driving test was supervised by a State Trooper; a tall scary man wearing a Smoky the Bear hat. After surprising him that I could easily parallel park, he said “Let’s go see what is happening with the flood.” There had been a lot of rain that week and the creeks were coming up. Off we went to the highway bridge where we could observe the muddy water overtopping the creek banks. I passed the test.

       It was several years before I had to take another test. This time it was in Iowa City where my new husband and I were attending the University of Iowa. It went pretty smoothly although I recall that as a new driver of a stick shift car, the hills were a challenge.

      Back to Missouri so my husband could take a job with a State Health Department regional office. New baby in tow, we set off for a new life. There was some drama when our much driven Falcon started sputtering on our way to our new home. We limped into town and promptly went shopping for a new car as responsible parents had to have responsible transportation. We decided we could afford a new car now that we would have an income to make the payments. A sporty new blue Mustang was our choice, but to our chagrin we found we had no credit rating. We had taken great pride that we had both got our college degrees without debt. We found out that it wasn’t an asset in the real world. “Go charge the baby a pair of shoes at Sears.” was the advice given by the salesman. “Get a credit history.” He sold us the car anyway.

      Next was Minnesota. My husband had a new job with the U.S. Public Health Service and was sent to liaison with the state Health Department to implement their growing immunization program. Polio vaccine was newly available. Jerry got his license handily. When it was my turn, I drove to the testing site as I had to take both a written and a driving test on a special short course that required quicker reaction times than ordinary streets. I checked in with the clerk, who said

      “Do you have a current driver’s license?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“May I see it?”
“Of course.”


       I handed over my Missouri license. She took a pair of scissors and cut it up. Almost immediately after I began the driving test, I turned left into the far lane. “Pull over, the tester barked. You just flunked the test. It is Minnesota law to turn into the nearest lane. You will have to come back tomorrow and try again.”

      Back to the clerk. “What am I to do? I need to get home.”
“I don’t know” she said callously “You don’t have a license.”

      I called my husband and he and his brand new boss had to come rescue me. I lived in Minnesota for 12 years. An average sentence, I thought.

       Back to my home town where I could attend the nearby University and earn a PhD. Only the written test was required. No big deal.

      My next move was to Illinois (Again, only a written test. Easy peasy.) I got one speeding ticket while living there, but learned that if you go to court and ask for court supervision, after three months the charge is expunged. I went for that.

       I took a job in Kansas. My Illinois automobile license expired one day before the move and I decided to not renew it for one day; what were the chances of getting caught? Of course, I got stopped by a policeman whose eagle eyes spotted that my license was out of date. I pled my case that I was moving to Kansas as we spoke and after looking over my packed car, he observed “I believe you because you have plants in the back seat.” Replacing my license in my wallet, I gratefully drove away to another beginning.

       When I arrived at the Kansas DMV I discovered that my Illinois driver’s license was missing. “No problem, “said the clerk. If you will pay for the call, we will contact Illinois and verify that you have a valid license.” It worked.

      After taking the written test, I went to pay for my new license. The woman ahead of me in line stepped up to the clerk. “How long have you lived in Kansas? "
“About a year.”
Without missing a beat, the clerk said “In Kansas there is a substantial financial penalty if you apply for a license after 6 months. Now, how long have you lived in Kansas?”
‘Three months.” The woman promptly replied.
“Fine” said the clerk said. Just pay the fee.”

      About six months later, I found my Illinois license hiding in a wallet slot I seldom used. Kansas will always be my favorite state for welcoming a newcomer.

       I then got a job with the Campbell Soup Company in New Jersey. It was relatively easy to pass the written test. A car is a luxury in the east. Public transportation is available – scheduled frequently and convenient to use. Parking a car is a nuisance in a major city and my second husband hadn’t had a car or a driver’s license in years. After arriving at the DMV we were told that as our new Thunderbird had a console, we would have to come back with a car designed to make it possible for the Officer to reach the brake. We rented a car and he and I got our licenses.

      We moved to Pennsylvania and encountered a new problem. Computers were relatively new in 1989, and the test was computerized. I am one of those people who takes tests by answering the easy questions first and then go back for the puzzlers. Not possible with the new system. I flunked the test. I think it was because I didn’t know the difference between twilight and sundown when it came to turning on my lights. Of course, I couldn’t take it again that day. I had to come back the next.

      Upon my husband’s retirement I moved Missouri for the third time. I had it down pat .Studied the manual and took a written test. No problem.

      Then fate determined that we move again to Minnesota as we lost our home in a flash flood and had no place to live. If you recall, Minnesota was a difficult experience the first time. It hadn’t changed. Still difficult, but different circumstances. Because we had lost our vital papers in the flood we found that we had to present birth certificates, marriage licenses and my divorce papers to prove my name. This took three months to acquire for both of us as incorrect prices cited and staff cuts in various states slowed the processes. Meanwhile we had to return to the DMV every 30 days to keep our applications “alive”.

      What have I learned from all this? Most states do not recognize the importance of using the License Bureau as a marvelous opportunity in public relations. This early introduction into a new home can be a pleasant one or a big pain. It can be one more onerous task required by a move, or it could be a warm welcome with information about the new state and community and would make the transition much easier.

      It is my understanding that I will not need a license when I cross over to the other side, so I don’t have to worry about that problem anymore. It wouldn’t be a problem if it were required. In my next move, I will be too old to drive.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Introspective


 

      I’m going to tell you a story about an extraordinary human being - who I met in September of 1978. I truly admired this person because he was an amazing person.

      His name was Muhammad Ali and in September of 1978, he was the first heavy weight boxer to regain the world championship title for the third time.

      Ali’s training camp was in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania, approximately 12 miles from my home in Shenandoah.

      In February 1978, Ali went up against Leon Spinks it was Spinks 7th professional fight and he captured the world heavy weight title from Ali. Ali began training hard for the rematch in Deer Lake.

      My hometown’s mortician was a boxing manager and he was managing a young boxer that trained at Ali’s camp. The mortician was friends with a man who was a friend of my father. One day they took me to see Muhammad Ali.

      When I walked in to one of the cabins at the training camp there was a large boxing ring there. Ali was bigger than life inside that ring and he joked to reporters who were snapping photos of him. He joked about how ugly Leon Spinks was and pulverizing him in the ring might improve his looks. He was funny, and he was extremely aware of how people like me saw him as a boxing legend.

      One day I took the public transportation bus from Shenandoah to Deer Lake and I ran from the bus-stop up to his camp. I saw Ali running along a path in the woods. I ran up to him, but I was unaware of the champ’s security detail. One of Ali’s security guys tackled me to the ground.

      All I heard was, “Hey, Hey, what are you, a cop, he’s just a kid!!!” those angry words came from Ali himself. He then pulled me up by my arm and said, “look go over to that cabin I’ll be over there later.” This became a regular thing for me, not getting tackled, but going to Ali’s camp.

      Ali could never remember my name he just called me “Kid.” I started hitting the punching bags and jumping rope there. I got to know the members of his entourage. One of the boxers there was from Shenandoah and I would get a ride home from him.

      One day Ali yelled over to me, “hey, Kid, are there any good movies playing.” I told him the Capital theater in my hometown was playing Superman. After Ali’s workout four cars pulled up in front of the cabin. One of Ali’s entourage people asked me to get in one of the cars.

      When we arrived at the theater a man in the ticket booth said to the Champ, “hey did anyone ever tell you how much you look like Ali?” My only response from that statement was a sarcastic “Duuuaa.”

      Muhammad Ali bought every seat in the house and when the ticket booth guy asked “Why?” Ali said, “I want to watch the movie.”

      When we sat down before the start of the film. The champ looked at me and asked, “hey kid have you ever noticed how all the superheroes are white?”

      “I never thought about that” I said.

      He then asked, “have you ever thought about how all the angels are white?” he then paused for a second, “how come there aren’t any black angels?”

      My reply was, “I think angels are spiritual … kind of color neutral.”

      Ali then asked, “have you ever thought about how your god is white? All the twelve apostles were white.”

      “I never thought about that either,” I said, “was Muhammad black?” I asked.

      “Of course, he was black and so was Jesus” he said.

      “I wouldn’t know, I never met them,” I said, “Is your god black?”

      “God is god kid, only people are black and white” he said.

      “Well,” I said, “you’re a superhero for many people and you're black.”

      “Well, Kid,” he said, “I won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympic games, and I couldn’t get a hamburger in a diner, because I’m black.”

      “Maybe they heard about you stealing those bikes” I said.

      “What are talking about?” the champ asked.

      “Howard Cosell said, you started your career stealing bikes,” I went on to say, “he also said you’re not the man you were ten years ago.”

      “Hey, Kid, every time Howard opens his mouth he should get arrested for air pollution.” Ali went on to say, “besides, I talked to Howard’s wife,” Ali paused for a second because the movie started, “and she told me Howard’s not the man he was two years ago.”

      He then put his index finger up to his lips to let me know the movie started.

      When the movie ended the guy in the ticket booth looked at me and asked, “What does he do?” pointing to Ali, my only response was a sarcastic “duaaaa” I then said, “he will soon be the only heavy weight boxer to regain the world title three times.”

      The ticket booth guy’s eye widened, “you mean he’s the guy?” he said in a surprised tone of voice.

      Well, Ali did go on to regain his title for the third time but for me that was just a foot note to his greatness. His abilities in the ring captured the imagination of children and adults all over the world. He was truly a champion with a bombastic way of expressing himself. He wasn’t just a great athlete in many ways he was also a great entertainer. But most of all, his capacity for kindness transcended, race, religion, and one’s economic standing in the world.

      What he taught me 40 years ago is how to reach out and treat others the way you would want to be treated. You can also define the true character of Muhammad Ali by how well he reached-out to those of the least influence.

      Ali in 1978, reached out to the grandson of a coal miner. He revealed to me, that the true measure of Ali’s worth was revealed by what he gave to others and his true legacy will not consist in his athletic abilities alone.

      Ali liked to tell people, “I’m the greatest,” his greatness, however, will not be defined by the ring. His true greatness consisted in his capacity for kindness and the kindness that he bestowed on me will truly be his greatest legacy in my heart and soul.
    Always with love,
    Thomas F O’Neill
    Phone: (800) 272-6464
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    Email: introspective7@hotmail.com
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