First Amendment Issues: Public Funding For Private Schools

One of the most important doctrines of our democracy, of any democracy, an important condition required for the successful functioning of our society, of any free society based on democracy, is providing universal public education to all. Educated citizens are required to adequately govern ourselves. We are best served when the general public has a solid foundation in academics, at least the basic fundamentals of reading, writing, arithmetic, the sciences, and certainly, critical reasoning skills. Critical thinking skills are essential to understanding and plowing through the mountains of information and propaganda thrown at us every moment.

It is a terrible thing to see our public school systems being targeted for destruction, in favor of private sourced corporate-provided market-based schooling. The volunteer program of core values offered to help struggling school systems to meet the needs of their pupils has been vilified by those who would destroy public schools so that their private academies run by corporations and religious groups can prosper.

Do we have issues in some schools? By all means. The urban inner-city schools struggle to stay above water as the challenge of educating kids from low income and single parent families who have little or no time for participating in education programs. We complain that the money spent on those kids is wasted when the scores come out poorly. Budgets are slashed as a result, plunging the system into a downward death spiral. The outcome is predictable. Rural schools suffer from a lack of resources, as well.

More budget cuts are made to public schools while at the same time funds are shifted to private schools, many run by religious and secular organizations that have their own agendas. Our taxes, which should be used for educating through public school systems, are diverted to those private, religious, for-profit organizations, many of which do not provide a proper education. Testing results of charter schools, and private schools do not justify the transfer of public funds to private businesses.

When our kids are taught that evolution is a fraud, that science is unproven, that global warming is fiction, that creationism is fact, then we are in deep trouble. WE ARE IN DEEP TROUBLE. When the general public is dumbed down to the lowest level of thinking skills, then those who would grab the power has the reins. For instance, check out the popularity of cable news programs which are not news at all, just fountains of gibberish, slanted opinion, and political hype. Most of Fox news is wrong, incorrect, or just plain lies. They are not alone.

As a prominent spokesperson of note recently said: “Facts no longer matter; Perception is all.” sadly he is correct.

May we have a moment of sorrowful inner weeping.

GUIGC: Another Adventure In Camping

After Bobby was born, the house on Montvale was more than a bit crowded. The small bedroom that we boys shared was cramped, although I was not aware that it was too full. The next year we played musical houses with uncle Herman and uncle Steve. Herman and Mary moved to Martinsville with DuPont, we moved to their house on Alberta, and Steve and Pauline moved into our house on Montvale.

The Alberta house provided a lot more room for us, with a separate bedroom for Joe, one for Harry, and Davis and I shared the “sun room” at the back. Bob stayed in the master bedroom for awhile, before he too moved into the sun room. A full attic provided a view of the valley, and I stayed up there many months later.

Our house on Alberta was the center of motion in the neighborhood, as usual. People coming and going all hours, parties, games, projects. Motor bikes and tinkering with cars on Sunday mornings. The place was a three ring circus. I don’t know how mom managed it all.

As the middle guy in this circus, I usually felt left out, a part of the background. I suppose it was just the normal angst of becoming a teen, as it now looks from here, but it seemed real at the time. I wondered if anyone really cared if I was there.

I determined to find out. On a Summer Saturday morning, I stuffed my backpack with cans of beans, some bacon, a few eggs, a few biscuits, my sleeping bag, a half-shelter pup-tent, my handy hatchet, matches, a fry pan and a pot. With not a word to anyone, I left on my adventure. Not so much as “Bye”.

At the end of Alberta is a path through the woods that emerges on Spring Road. Across that road was the lane to the Spessard Farm. I followed that path past Mr. Spessard’s house, across Lick Run, up the hill past Mr. Brickey’s log cabin, with the hogs and chickens under it, and into the wilds I had not seen before.

Wilderness and woods and no paths to follow. I finally found my way to Garst Mill Road, crossed it and up the hill on the other side. Over the hill was the Bower’s farm, with a large spread of corn, and vegetables growing along side the dirt path. I went past the Bower’s place along the lane that led to McVitty Road at Oak Grove. Electric road was not even a dream then. Farmer’s fields covered the landscape.

Across McVitty road was a small pathway to my goal, a camp site I had heard of, at the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. The climb up the mountain was not so hard, as I remember it. Today I would have a struggle to reach the top.

There was a small camp site on top, where someone had made a fire pit, and cleared a space for a tent. that fit my plans perfectly. I set up camp and settled in for the duration. All I had to do was get water from the tap at the store down the mountain at the corner of the highway.

I was alone with my thoughts, in solitude and quiet. Here I was the central character, the main man. The challenge I had set was to live on my own and make it without help from anyone. I was feeling pretty cocky by week end.

The next Saturday, I broke camp, and hiked back the way I had come, back to Alberta. I arrived just as lunch was being put on the table. Grilled cheese sandwiches, made with mom’s pimento cheese. Still my favorite.

I walked in, sat down at the table and munched on my sandwich. No one asked where I had been, or why I had been gone. No one made mention that I had been absent for a week, with no one knowing where I was. Not even that I hadn’t bathed for a week. That took me down a notch or two.

Today, a kid who is a half hour late would raise an alarm. I was gone for a week, and no one seemed to notice. Such were those times.

At The Nursing Home

The Nursing Home

It matters not what tomorrow brings,
Today is just a skit
A passing moment in life’s play
Not more than just a bit.

No tomorrow ever comes,
Today is not so real
Only years gone by have any truth
And play on endless reel.

Wake not the old grey head that nods,
The steady rocking treads
Upon a ground not here,
But stead lives inside her head

She lives again those childhood times
With friends who still dwell there.
It’s not for us to break the spell
Of some small happiness,
Or interrupt those youthful days
When time did endless swell.

What sights do those dark eyes espy
Beneath that silvered crown?
Do days go by outside your room,
Within your rocking chair?

Do childhood friends call from far beyond
To join their carefree play,
Or babes who grew too quickly up
When you would have them stay?

Or old loves gone to solemn rest
In springtime blush of youth,
Are they at restful peace at last,
All dressed in Sunday best?

What ever happened to old so-in-so?
So quickly time flies by
They must have gone on before,
I hope they might stop by.

She sits the long empty days alone
With only deep quiet sighs,
While fleeting memories of childhood days
Replay behind those eyes,
And scenes of life’s more happy times
Play out in golden skies

So many times you kissed my hurts
And gently wiped my tears.
Kept vigil at my sickbed,
And shooed away my fears.

You held my hand, rocked to sleep,
Gave encouragement and love.
You shared my sorrows and my joys,
As I grew from child to man.

How you cheered and smiled
When I ran the race,
And reached the goal far outpaced.
And comforted me when I fell short,
And never lost your faith.

And smiled so broad
When you beheld
Your first grandchild in
Warm and soft embrace.

Soft mannered, and strong willed,
You faced life’s many griefs,
And taught me how to weather them,
And take each day’s grace
As gifts to be explored.

With trusting smile and endless faith
Of life’s promises fulfilled.
A trusting soul of patience
Made all my fears be stilled.

Now pages of your times past by
We change places in our roles,
The child becomes the parent,
The parent now the child.

Comforted and held with
Bruises kissed, tears gently wiped
And sickbed vigil kept.

Bright eyes that fade into ages past,
Seeking, watching, wondering
Where the days have gone,
What will tomorrow’s tomorrow bring?

Like ripples on a great wide pond,
Your love has spread,
Reached far shores beyond,
Touched souls and hearts far from your world,
Gently kissed them a mother’s love

Rest now and be at peace,
As you reach those quieter realms,
And know that deep within our hearts
Your love will always dwell.

A crown of glory awaits you there
If there is a God above,
And by your faith we’ll meet again,
When our time comes to bear.

Continue reading

GUIGC: Adventures In Camping

Eden’s recent foray into 4-H camping reminded me of some of our camping adventures when we were still young and foolish. Camping later as a scout was more an organized chaos compared to our adventures usually orchestrated by Joe.

For instance: A group camp-out at Fishburn Park.

A site was selected on the hill above what is now the picnic shelter, which was cleared at that time, now heavily forested. Joe’s idea was to make a communal sleeping bag of several large blankets big enough to cover ten or more kids. The edges were pinned together and pillows added for comfort. We gathered the blankets, some cooking pans for fixing a meal, and a flashlight. One or two candles were along in case the batteries failed.

Toting the bundles to the park was the easy part. Setting up a camp site took awhile as it was a steep learning curve we had to climb. After the blankets were fashioned into a semblance of a large sleeping bag, we settled into fixing dinner over a campfire. Beans and weenies, I think. I still love them.

After nightfall, and a few ghost stories around the campfire, it was bed time, and we snuggled under the covers all together, girls and boys both settled down for a snooze.

If you have ever tried to sleep on the hard ground, you know it is not the most comfortable bed in the world. Every pebble grows into a bolder, every small twig becomes a log, every ant hill grows into a mountain. At least that is my impression of that sleeping spot. And bugs love to skitter over your skin.

Night sounds echo around the woods, crunching noises seem loud and coming nearer. Is it a bear, maybe, or a skunk? Either one would be disaster. How do you sleep in that situation?

The camp site was on the side of the hill, slightly sloped down toward the open field that was the park grounds. Of course, we slipped down that slope as the night progressed, until we were all jamb packed together in the bottom, one on top of the other, warm but crowded. Maybe that was Joe’s purpose. ?

(If you needed to go to the bathroom, getting out of that melee was not easy, and the night sounds were not inviting. A little kid just doesn’t have the power to hold it for long. You can guess the rest.)

Needless to say, the night was long, sleepless for most, and a bit damp at the bottom. I guess the older kids had a good time. Fortunately, the weather held off and we got no rain. Breakfast was burned hard-scrambled eggs and extra crisp bacon. It tasted pretty good. One night’s adventure was enough for us. Camping trips were not offered like that again.

Interesting that Harry doesn’t seem to remember that excursion. Hmmm?

Memories Of Camp Life

This morning, Jenna shared pics of Eden off to 4-H camp, a first time experience for that girl. It brings back so many memories of camp. One in particular of Jenna’s first camp trip. Putting her on the bus was one of those special moments parents hold dear.

G-Ma has many stories to tell about her 4-H camping, both as a camper, and as a counselor, Big Chief, Little Chief, songs and games, etc. And now our Eden is grown enough to go off on her own to camp. (Will is a counselor this year, and he better look after her, because I know where he lives.)

My big camping experience was at BSA Camp Powhatan, near Hiwassi. Our troop and one other were the first to utilize the new camp, and it was not ready for prime time. It rained. The rains started just after our transportation left us off, and continued until the last day. The paths were little more than muddy ruts which swallowed our sneakers, as we sank in up to our knees. Day after day the rains came, and some were torrential.

The creek was dammed for a swimming hole with a large tree chained across the branch, and boards slanted against it. During the night of heaviest rains, the dam gave way, and the wall of water swept away the counselors camp downstream. No one was hurt, but that was just luck. Our cooks didn’t make breakfast that day.

Tents were on platforms with four cots to a tent. Without showers our daily bath was the cold water in the creek. Some of us decided to pass on that experience. It got pretty rank after a few days of constant rain. Everything was wet, and smelled of mold and mildew. Socks just soggy rags.

The parade ground was an open field with a tall pine tree for a flag pole. Of course, someone got the bright idea to use that pole for hoisting our scout master’s undershorts, and cut the line so it couldn’t be pulled down. I don’t know who did it, but one of the older guys did shimmied up to the top and pulled those drawers down. Just a small memory of camp life.

So, off Eden goes to start her camp stories. Have fun, girl, and come home full of tall tales to share.


GUIGC: Parks and Rec

Visiting the Grandin Court Rec Center yesterday reminded me of the early years of Sandlot Football. We usually played in the empty lots along Lofton, between Barham and Guilford. There were a few houses on the Guilford side, and Kyle Walsh’s house on the corner of Barham and Lofton. In between was a vast open space for games, kite flying, and just messing around. that’s where we played a lot of what might be called football. General chaos might be a better fit.

There were usually 25 or more kids there, all involved in the game, with unmarked boundaries from one end of the block to the other. The big kids usually handled the ball, but we all got involved in the games. Even the little guys were usually included, at least until it got serious. Then we sat out on the sidelines and watched as the big guys tackled and blocked each other, without helmets or pads. It could get rough.

Organized football came in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. civic clubs sponsored teams with coaches, and schedules. The better teams were from the Williamson Road area sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. They were always bigger and meaner, and aggressive. They usually won all their games.

Fishburn Park on colonial Avenue was the field where we practiced. I remember the coaches, forget their names, but they were at a serious disadvantage; they had us to work with. Walking to practice was OK, but the uphill climb back home was torture. We had uniforms with helmets and pads by then, but they only weighed me down. We had 12 boys on the team, most showed up for practice and the games, but sometimes we played with nine. We were 10 pounds lighter, and so we avoided getting hit on the field.
We were pretty well pushed all over the place by “those guys”.

I was a running back, what is termed a “corner back” in today’s parlance. That meant I led the ball carrier and blocked the tacklers. Usually, they blocked me. I sometimes ran with the ball, but that was not fun. “Those guys” were out to hurt someone, and I didn’t really like being their target. And we had to play both offense and defense. They always had squads for that. Fatigue is no stranger.

We won exactly zero games. Nada. Even when we showed up and had a full team count, we lost. They often stopped the game after the first half because the score was so lopsided. Zero to 42 in their favor.

That was my experience in organized sports until Steve came along and I helped coach Little League Baseball, which is another story.

So much for my sporting career. Now, auto racing is another matter, for later.