Category Archives: Good Republicans

The America that Bret Kavanaugh helped make..


…elected Donald Trump.
………

At the moment it is 4:30 am in France. I am only miles away from where another man – who was helping to make the America that really is great – fought and was awarded the nation’s highest military honor. My eight loyal readers know him as my grandfather – George Robb.

Whether I fall asleep again or not tomorrow – today- I will walk over some of the ground he trod as his friends and fellow soldiers were being blown to dust and blood all around him. And I can’t sleep because I woke up thinking about that smarmy little skunk Bret (pay no attention to that frat rat rapist in the closet) Kavanaugh is invading my pilgrimage to remind me what’s at stake back in the land my Grandfather helped make!

Well, I have a lot to say on that account but having mostly bit my tongue about Trump World to write about my pilgrimage I had to go find a quiet place in my latest hotel room to get that off my chest. I am going to try to get a little more shut eye before walking the path of heroes who’s blood once soaked into this land.

The Reader

At the insistence of the Duluth Reader’s publisher I quit submitting my by weekly column when I filed for the Eighth District Congressional Seat. Heaven’s forbid that my dotty columns might pose a journalistically unfair threat to Donald Trump’s local pet Pete Stauber. The Reader, unlike Fox News, really tries to be “fair and balanced.” I was originally tendered my Not Eudora spot to be a “conservative” voice against the many liberal voices happily volunteering to keep the Northland informed. At the time these liberal voices considered the Trib to be rabidly conservative. (I have to pause briefly to laugh a little)

Actually writing even one column once every two weeks is more work than I could easily handle while occasionally poking Pete Stauber in the ribs, studying French, escorting family on trips and planning for next weeks departure for France. Now the later looms. My wife and I will board the plane one week from today.

I had originally thought I would submit a weekly column about France while I was away. I didn’t know if the Reader would want them or not. I’ve just decided to submit two columns on my travels instead – one every other week. I will likely blog daily about my travels for my eight loyal readers. To do so I will need to take my computer because posting from my cell phone, while possible, is a pain…….and I don’t mean a loaf of french bread.

The logo above is a computer graphic I used 18 years ago as a newbie Internet enthusiast to help get people to the caucuses to choose delegates for John McCain in his first run for the Republican nomination. The creeps, trolls and assassins who made Donald Trump an accidental Republican President were already at work back then slandering McCain. When he was slandered out of the running I only had a few pathetic Republican breaths left in me. I ran for the legislature as a republican in 2002 but I was not like the usual Republican suspects today.

I have roughed out a few words on the column I’ll be sending into the Reader later tonight. Polishing them up and last minute organizing for my trip are on today’s docket. Finishing a book on America’s involvement in World War 1 will take up the following days.

Gotta get started.

My Kind of Loser

John McCain is on his death bed. The news has it that he is no longer accepting treatment for his cancer and that his family is gathering together. Although he was not a perfect vessel for my moderate version of Republicanism he was the last Republican I could enthusiastically throw my heart to. In 2000 as the caucuses for the Presidential election grew close I became one of his early organizers from my home and started a webpage to encourage his supporters to go to the caucuses. I just found it in the Wayback Machine a service devoted to keeping old websites from evaporating into the void.

https://web.archive.org/web/20010127085800/http://snowbizz.com:80/CaucusMcCain/CaucusMccain.htm

I’ve been casting about for a subject to write about in my return to Not Eudora. Thinking about our current draft dodger President who called Senator McCain a “loser” while on his merry way to sullying our nation’s Oval Office I know just what to write. My next column will be about my kind of loser.

Jennifer’s third Question, re: affiliation

Also, what’s up with your party affiliation? You were a Republican. Then, the party abandoned you, so then you’re a Democrat. But now you’re running as a Republican. ARE you a Republican again now? Why should I, Jane Q. Voter, vote for you when your party affiliation is prone to such cussedly diametrical opposites? I’m a Democrat/Republican—c’mon, I want to vote for someone I know is on the team for real!

Jennifer,

I am an American first and foremost. That is my primary affiliation. And I’ve always cast my vote with America not a mere political party in mind. That has meant my votes for candidates from both parties as well as a few independent candidates. And Remember that George Washington, a model of humility, fidelity and honesty as well as the first President of our nation, was worried for good reason about political parties. He called them “factions”. He imagined that like in France during the Revolution such factions could cause much mischief and he was right. They damn near tore the nation apart leading up to the Civil War. They seem to be trying to replicate that experiment now.

I’m sure you have read many of my posts on Good Republicans or God’s Own Party or the Bush Leagues Those are nothing if not a lament for a very different Republican Party. I’ve been struggling for a quarter century trying to reconcile a great party’s history with what it has become.

As I have written before. I like Democrats. I tried being one for five or six years. I’d simply prefer liking them as my fellow Americans rather than as a cheap imitation of the good things that Democrats stand for.

Email – wishes I was a Republican

This is a message I just got from an old high school classmate whose family bought my family’s old Mankato, Minnesota Home:

I wrote about this a long time ago here.

06/12/18 11:07 AM
Dear Harry, I read your article about Trump the racist in the Duluth Reader. You are spot on about that guy–what a disgrace. The Free Press had an article today about him coming to Duluth, all he will do is talk about himself. It also mentioned that you are running for Congress. Good luck! (I still think you should run as a Democrat.) Be sure to come to our 50th reunion! Details will come later. Your old house is doing just fine. Harley and I ramble around in it but it does fill up with grandchildren and other visitors now and then. *****

This was my reply:

Hi *****,

That’s a great house to fill with grandchildren. We’ve got two. I’m sure I’ll try to make it to number 50.

I left the GOP a little before Obama. I enjoyed being a Democrat that year and miss him as our president. As for my running as a Democrat. Gee. I can’t forget what Will Rogers said. “I don’t belong to any organized party…….I’m a Democrat.” I fear they are about to reelect Trump and that thought gives me the heebie jeebies.

In the 50 years since I got to good old Mankato High the two parties political handlers winnowed and cleansed them of dissenters and orignial thinkers year by year until they became like the Skeksies and the Mystics in that movie by Henson “The Dark Crystal.”

We won’t be whole again as a nation until some liberal thinkers are Republicans and some conservative thinkers are Democrats or some other two party system develops that don’t act like opposites. We need the Dark Crystals missing shard to be replaced.

I can’t predict the future but I can take the party my family was long affiliated with and try to inject some humility, common sense and decency into it.

Harry

Bringing back Phil to manage my school board campaign

Alanna Oswald told me yesterday that she might not to vote for me because of all the posts in which I whine about having to campaign instead of writing about my Grandfather. She says my getting off the School Board might be the only way she gets to read that book.

Its a tough choice. I’d love to compare George Robb with his fellow Kansan, oil billionaire fifty times over, Charles Koch. My Grandfather was a rock ribbed Republican but Koch is making it his business to roll back not only Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society AND FDR’s New Deal BUT the trust busting reforms of Teddy Roosevelt. Koch truly wants to take America back 100 years to the Gilded Age and Jim Crow. Perhaps that explains the jarring video I saw the 82-year-old Koch along side our Era’s Stepin Fetchit Snoop Dogg. Koch is a lot more comfortable with a black idiot sidekick than a sober and brilliant Black President taxing his billions and restraining his pollution.

Hell, when I was exploring the Kansas State Historical Museums files on my Grandfather I got a peek at his old College scrapbook which gave a pretty strong hint that my then 21-year old Grandfather liked Teddy Roosevelt. He pasted in a flyer from Park College’s Teddy Roosevelt Club into the book the year the ex-president’s Bull Moose party challenged Wilson and Taft. It was probably Koch who talked right-wing talk show host, Glenn Beck, to denounce Teddy. Beck was regularly invited to attend Koch’s soirees to return America to the days of John C. Calhoun and State’s Rights.

But as tempting as it is for me to try to save America with a boring reminder of a more decent political past, my Grandfather also set another standard before me when he fought in the Great War. As the lyrics to one of his Era’s war songs put it “…and we won’t come back till its over, over there!” I’m afraid that my school board work is not over either.

My Grandfather’s war lasted about one year. Mine began 28 years ago (if not earlier) when I first ran an unsuccessful race for the Duluth School Board in 1989. That was two years after moving to our new home on 21st Ave E and my Daughter Keely’s request that I build a snow dinosaur. I was reminded of this a week ago when visitors asked if they could look at my scrapbook of a 30 year snow sculpting career.

Following my second failed attempt to run for the School Board I decided to make a not so subtle comment about the struggles of the Duluth Schools in 1991 in snow. The DNT’s head photog, Chuck Curtis, snapped a photo which made it to the Front Page if I remember correctly. A passerby with a camera took a photo of me sculpting it and sent it to me afterwards. Until the advent of cell phones Claudia and I got used to flashes coming through our drapes on winter nights from folks dropping by to take a picture of our front lawn to mail to their friends in warm weather states.

Like my Grandfather I conceived of my campaigns for the School Board like his Meuse-Argonne campaign. I ran a third time and lost that election as well. As a consolation Claudia gave me a small black figurine of a disconsolate Gorilla sitting chin on hand like the thinker for my birthday. That became my inspiration for yet another snow sculpture and perhaps an augury for a change in my political fortunes.

This sculpture was the first of a couple which made it to newspapers on the Associated Press circuit.

By now I had a name for my gorilla. Phil. It was prompted by yet another gift from Claudia which came with a card inspired by the cartoonist Gary Larson:

After christening Phil I decided to attach a story line to him. He became my “campaign manager” who couldn’t get me over the finish line. I pinned the blame on him in a letter I penned to the News Tribune. That’s in my scrapbook too and for school board wonks its a most interesting peek back at our school district’s history.

What I wrote is the gospel truth. In the 1987 school year (the year in which, by coincidence, I lost my teaching job) our school district reported that we had 1200 seniors. And yet only 775 seniors graduated. We were paid by the state of Minnesota to educate 425 students who seem to have vanished into thin air. It was school board counselors who told me to check the numbers and they were confirmed by an employee in the Minnesota Department of Education. Sadly, the MDE didn’t lift a finger to call the District on the carpet. It was a preview of how they would handle the preposterous financing proposed for the Red Plan.

Discovering that public school administrators would lie was as shocking to me as it was for Loren Martell to find himself handcuffed for addressing the Duluth School Board during the Red Plan. Its the sort of experience that turns concerned citizens into ever vigilant watchdogs. Its been my Meuse-Argonne ever since.

I thought I had left the School District in pretty good shape when I retired from the Board in 2004. Three years later, after the voters were denied a chance to vote on the half billion dollar Red Plan, I realized that if I could get elected again I could put the issue before the voters. I was prepared to offer a smaller plan should that referendum fail. Instead, the Dixon administration worked hand in hand with my critics to attack my motives and those of Gary Glass. In doing so school administrators passed on one more great lie – that Johnson Controls would earn no more than 4.5 percent of the building program’s cost. Throw in the wildly incorrect promise that the Red Plan would barely increase property taxes and you can see how my vigilance was rekindled.

The travesty of seeing my colleague Art Johnston raked over the coals has done little to restore my faith – especially after it become evident that 30% of Duluth’s eligible ISD 709 resident students have left us. Golly! We’ve got new half-billion dollar schools to fill up and maintain and we are not succeeding at either objective. I’ve got five months to make a case for shoring up our schools even while my Grandfather’s life story begs to be told.

This began as a light-hearted reintroduction of my old campaign manager, Phil. I’m bringing him back.

Phil has given me the idea to raise money for my campaign by selling snow sculpture trading card packs in lieu of political propaganda. Goodness knows I’ve taken lots of pictures of my creations over the years. Here’s the first page of my scrapbook’s Table of Contents:

I’m going to do things a little differently. Rather than ask for donations by mail this year I think I’m going to offer the trading cards in sets of five to help me recoup my expenses incurred to defend Art Johnston. That was because the school board used the excuse of a nonexistent assault to remove him from the Board. My Mother’s death left me with a modest inheritance that allowed me to give Art $20,000 to help defray the $75,000 legal charges Art incurred to defend himself from the vile accusations hurled at him, to wit:

“Racism” (He was a member of Duluth’s NCAAP Board for crying out loud)
“Conflict of Interest,” for sitting in on meetings affecting the employment of his school district employed partner. Nevermind, that a Red Plan supporting Board member sat in on similar meetings when a relative ran a school bus into a child – the relative was given a desk job!
“Violence” Who wouldn’t be mad after serving five years on the School Board while constantly denied public data and then discovering that the School Administrator who recruited your last opponent was now orchestrating a spy network to harass your partner starting on the very day you beat the candidate that said administrator encouraged to run against you?

$20,000 is almost all I “earned” over my first three years on the School Board. I spent just as much trying to get a Red Plan referendum on the ballot. Its been expensive to pay for the honor of serving the public.

So, if I print up trading cards, I’ll treat it as a small business and use the proceeds to pay for my campaign. Maybe I’ll break even on the cards and avoid going any deeper into the financial hole to stay on a school board that has finally calmed down from the insanity of 2014 to 2015. Calmed down yes, but we still need to get out from behind a $3.4 million dollar a year eight ball that costs us 36 teachers.

It may be hard for folks to take Phil seriously as my campaign manager so thank goodness my old rival, Representative Mike Jaros, has agreed to be my campaign chairman. He ran a dozen or more campaigns and never lost. Having only won three of 16 campaigns for public office myself, I am in awe of his record.

I just can’t wash my hands of Phil. He’s been the logo above my old webpage for almost twenty years now. Like me, Phil deserves a little respect.

Snakepits

I was desperate not to sit at home all day and read and a Park Point walk beckoned. It was a little breezy on the shore when I started so I moved to the inland trail and found this little garter snake. I think this is only the second time since I moved to Duluth 43 years ago that I’ve seen a snake. I found a redbelly snake with my kids up by the Pigeon River when they were little. I think I took a picture, or tried to, of that one as well.

I know gartersnakes are not uncommon because Claudia told me Minnesota Power had troubles at sub stations when garters overwintered in them in huge groups and occasionally slithered into the works and shorted out whole neighborhoods.

Speaking of snake-pits the latest history of Republicans, Destiny of the Republic describes the war between “Stalwarts” and “Halfbreeds.” The halfbreeds were sort of the equivalent of today’s RINO’s and like them their nickname wasn’t one of their choosing. While both sides of the party were ungenerous to the South the Stalwarts were all big business and Spoils system oriented.

The Halfbreeds would ebb and wane they gravitated towards all manner of populist parties in the decades ahead but in 1880 when the Party nominated James Garfield it was the Halfbreeds who had the upper hand. I should have been so lucky.

This is a ripping good book and its author, Candice Millard, also wrote another highly regarded book that I’ve often thought would be interesting to read, “The River of Doubt.” That one is about Teddy Roosevelt’s near suicidal exploration of a tributary of the Amazon after he lost the 1912 three way race that put Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the Oval Office. As my eight loyal readers no doubt recall I’m in the midst of reading books about the politics of my Grandfather’s youth. I have wondered for years whether my Grandfather supported the liberalish Teddy Roosevelt or William H. Taft who the conservatives found more acceptable in that race. I have my suspicions but I’m looking for something definitive – maybe I’ll find it in the many letters I copied and brought back from the Kansas Historical Society but have yet to dig into.

Reading these books is helping me put the 2016 election in perspective. My early years during the Cold War were a time of relative restraint once Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy was humiliated out of politics. There is something in people that drives them to divide themselves up and blow their differences of opinion out of all proportion.

A few days ago I reread the 22nd Amendment to check on the limits of Presidents. I couldn’t recall if it only forbade Presidents from serving a consecutive third term or any third term. I was wondering if Obama could serve a non-consecutive term like Grover Cleveland did after our four years of Trump are over. Sadly, that’s it for Obama. The Republicans who were outraged by FDR’s 4 consecutive terms got the 22nd Amendment passed in March 24, 1947, two years after Franklin Roosevelt’s death.

What I’ve learned from my recent reading is how often presidents in my Grandfather’s Era flirted with a third term. Teddy did, Wilson did and Ulysses S. Grant was willing to serve a third term as well. Lots of Republicans in the Reagan years wished the 22nd Amendment had never passed.

False Memories

I finished yet another book today, Mr. Speaker. Its the second book covering American politics leading up to my very Republican Grandfather’s adulthood.

Thomas Reed is described by some as one of the most important politicians that American’s have never heard of. He was a loyal Republican (hence the tie to my Grandfather) and he is famous for fixing the House of Representatives which had descended into a long Era of gridlock following the Civil War. In many ways the two political parties have changed markedly since then. Reed for his part resigned because he opposed the Spanish American War. That put him at odds with most of America at the time and his own Republicans.

I was interested in his expertise with Parliamentary procedure which is something that was missing at School Board meetings in my first couple of years back on the School Board. On Deck, Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard about the assassinated James Garfield, which will probably be followed by Karl Rove’s history of “the first modern presidential campaign” in 1896 that elected William McKinley who also was stopped by an assassin’s bullet.

Oh, and I almost forgot the title of this post – “False memories.” I wrote a couple of years ago that I’d first read about Thomas Reed in John Kennedy’s 1955 classic “Profiles in Courage.” As I finished Grant’s book on Reed today I was very curious to reread what JFK had to say about Reed’s courage. I found the paperback I’d re-read in 1995 (its on my reading list) and discovered in its heavily yellow-markered and separating pages that JFK made no mention of Reed in Profiles. I checked the index – nada. I skimmed a couple chapters of that Era to see if he was mentioned. No way.

Dammit!

On the day that President Trump will give his first speech to Congress…

… I was fixing old posts. One of them was this short post from JANUARY 23, 2012. Richard Nixon’s simple explanation for why America should have two political parties reaching for the center instead of the periphery demonstrates the wisdom he had and that he ignored in order to become President in 1968.

Today the Bernie Sander’s diehards are hoping to do to the Democratic Party what the Tea Party did to the Republican Party. Break it.

From that post:

In 1959, Vice-President Nixon, speaking to members of California’s Commonwealth Club, was asked if he’d like to see the parties undergo an ideological realignment, the sort that has since taken place, and he replied, “I think it would be a great tragedy . . . if we had our two major political parties divide on what we would call a conservative-liberal line.” He continued, “I think one of the attributes of our political system has been that we have avoided generally violent swings in Administrations from one extreme to the other. And the reason we have avoided that is that in both parties there has been room for a broad spectrum of opinion.” Therefore, “when your Administrations come to power, they will represent the whole people rather than just one segment of the people.”

Divorcingest – My Buddy fires back

Original message ——–

From: “Your Buddy”
Date: 2/2/17 11:12 AM (GMT-06:00)
To: harrywelty@charter.net
Subject: Re: 3 AM again | lincolndemocrat.com

Harry:

You said:

I do think that there is something admirable to be said for the virtue of loyalty which in marriage is generally referred to as fidelity. It is consonant with the traditional marriage vows of loving, honoring and obeying in sickness and in health.

From my quotations file:

Friedrich Wilhelm : One can promise actions, but not feelings, for the latter are involuntary. He who promises to love forever or hate forever or be forever faithful to someone is promising something that is not in his power.

Further, you had said:

Trump is infamous for never reading books.
Perhaps Kennedy and Clinton read much more than Trump reads, but they apparently still messed around.

“Your Buddy”

And I fire back:

Is your point that Neitzsche was right?

I think Freddy underestimated human will. That’s ironic because he was all about the superman. What kind of a superman has such a weak will?

As for Clinton’s and JFK’s shortcomings. It hardly exalts Trump for him to suffer from the same ones. Indeed, a part of my analysis was intended to point out that in addition to his being an unfaithful husband, Trump is, unlike those other two presidents, an intentionally ignorent, and even stupid president.

Any disagreement with this addendum?

Harry

I could add that Paul Ryan’s favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, was an apostle of Neitzche’s and that her novel the Fountainhead reaked of its narcissism. Congressman Ryan kept her books on prominent display in his office until it was pointed out she thought Christianity and all its humility crap was a terrible influence on a good superman. Donald Trump comes to mind.

There is in fact a college that has become a shrine to Ayn Rand and her philosophy. Hillsdale College has become a sort of Lourdes for young conservatives. It has a sordid history that once begun is hard to turn away from.

Oh, and the young Republican who said folks like me were mass murderers……..He graduated from Hillsdale.

Generosity and trust 2016 and on Aug. 29, 1942

I mentioned the magnanimity and solidarity of Duluth’s students yesterday particularly at Denfeld with its post-it note campaign started by its student rep on the Duluth School Board Johanna Unden. Today the DNT has another wonderful story confirming the class and thoughtfulness of our students, this time at East High. Shanze Hayee, a freshmen, found other students to join her in wearing a hijab an Islamic scarf that makes many Westerners nervous.

I’ve made much of my Grandfather, George Robb, in this blog. I’d like to share a letter I just received from his old Alma mater, Park College, in Missouri yesterday. It comes from the time following Pearl Harbor when American-Japanese were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. My grandfather was asked by the college’s president if it would be wise to enroll some of the Nisei as students during this time of war. Here is what he wrote:

Here’s an enlarged image:

Rhinocerous

Rhinocerous

Whether President Elect will attempt to rule like an autocrat remains to be seen. He ran as a demagogue. I expect that he will attempt to persuade the public as a demagogue when things aren’t going his way. I hope I’m wrong.

In any event I think this NY Times piece demonstrates my thinking. Contrast the current Republican President Elect with my grandfather’s Republicanism in the previous post to get a sense of how deep my feeling’s run.

Veterans Day 2016

These were given to me on Veteran’s Day when the Philip Billard VFW Post 1650 of Topeka, Kansas, honored George Robb on the 99th anniversary of Armistice Day. I gave this speech for the occasion:

I would like to begin by thanking Andy Olson for inviting me to speak on this Veterans Day in memory of my grandfather George Robb a humble recipient of the Nation’s Medal of Honor. For years I have wanted to write a book about my grandfather. And this week in Topeka while rifling through the archives of the Kansas State Historical Museum I have discovered so much new information that I think that my wish will be far more likely to become reality.

My grandfather began a short lived diary upon setting out to New York City for embarkation to the trenches of World War 1. It began like this:

“On the 28th of December 1917 the author of this diary arrived in New York City over the Pennsylvania line.”

“He left his home in Salina Kansas on the morning of December 19th at 2 o’clock a.m. He could not help but wonder as he set forth for the station WHEN he would see that home again and what experiences he would meet with in the meantime but he could not help but feel that whatever they might be he would move equal to them – he MUST move equal to them for his for his home folks sent him forth, with expectation and full confidence that he would be a real Soldier and Home Folks are under no circumstances to be disappointed.”

I knew my grandfather was a very big deal starting at a very tender age when I would fall and scrape my knee and come to my mother crying. She would tell me “Harry, you’re grandfather was shot in the war and he didn’t cry.”

As time passed I would grow in awe of his reputation for courage, honesty, modesty and one other quality I had only heard about from my Mother – George Robb’s ability to write a good letter. Until Andy Olson arranged this little gathering I hadn’t read more than one example of such. Over the past 2 days I have copied a thousand of them at the Kansas state archives all left to the state by my Mother Georganne and her sister Mary Jane.

I will read one of them to you at the conclusion of this speech.

One of the first lessons I learned from my grand father was of humility. You can’t read any account of my Grandfather in the newspapers without their mentioning that he didn’t want any fuss made about his Medal of Honor. If I ever had any doubts about his worthiness they have been laid to rest after several month’s reading and research. In my estimation  George Robb was eminently  worthy of the Medal of Honor that was bestowed upon him.

Although I do not have time to elaborate now I’ll mention 4 related moments of his life and Kansas experience. 1. His next door neighbor in Assyria Kansas in childhood was an escaped slave. 2. He served as a white officer in the storied 369th Infantry a unit whose soldiers were composed of African American soldiers. 3. His study of history was such that he understood better than almost anyone else the role that African-Americans have played in defending this nation. And lastly, While living in Topeka his grandson (speaker points to himself) was one of the first to experience the new world after Brown vs. Board of Education when Loman Hill Elementary welcomed the students from the segregated Buchanon Elementary. All of these circumstances concerning my Grandfather have played a large part in my life and my thoughts and have continued so to this day.

If you check the files at the Historical Society you will find the speech that George Robb delivered to Topeka’s famous Saturday Evening Literary Club written about the time that Harry Truman integrated the United States armed forces.

He laid out all of the arguments that have been given by white politicians to dismiss the ability of African Americans to fight in the armed forces. He knocked them aside one by one. And of course there was his service in the trenches and his first-hand observation of his fellow black countrymen as they faced death at the hands of a determined enemy.

My grandfather was a man of his time as well as a man ahead of his time. I believe that he was trying to tell his fellow white Topekans to be comfortable at the prospect of black men serving with their sons in the United States military.

To reassure his audience he suggested that African-Americans were not yet equipped to be officers but that was years ago. Today, I can’t help but imagine my grandfather looking down from heaven much gratified to see that the Commander in Chief of today’s Armed Forces is half African-American just as I am gratified  that, like me, President Obama’s mother was a Kansan and a white one at that. 

In light of our nation having endured one of its most divisive presidential elections I should mention one more thing about my grandfather. He liked Democrats even while he did everything he could to make sure they wouldn’t make a hash of the nation or the state of Kansas.

All of us would benefit from George Robb’s example as we move into the future. Much remains to be done to heal our wounds just as it was the case in my grandfather’s boyhood with Jim Crow and the denial of voting rights to most African Americans.

Upon returning this week to bury myself in the state’s archives concerning George Robb I had a couple of other things on my wish list. I wanted to visit my paternal grandmother’s old grade school now the sight of the Brown vs Board of Education National Historic Site.  I only got there with 25 minutes to spare of their opening hours yesterday. As brief as that stop was I was brought to tears listening to the voices of hate I remember  from my childhood coming from some of our Nation’s political leaders broadcast from a powerful display. In many ways they were tears of satisfaction comparing the state of America today with the conditions in my grandfather’s lifetime.

As you veterans know the integration of America’s military has had no small role in our progress.

As I  left the Historic Site I craved a dinner at Bobo’s Drive Inn which I remember fondly from my childhood. On the way to that restaurant I passed by the Stormont Vale Hospital where my brother and sister were born. As I approached the hospital I could see a dozen police vehicles lights flashing hugging the side of 8th Street. On the other side of the street people were holding up cell phones taking movies. Of course, I had to crane my neck to see. I saw a man the color of one of the non commissioned soldiers in the 369th Infantry lying on the curb surrounded by a dozen policeman. I did not watch the news last night so l do not know what transpired. It was a sobering reminder of the progress we have yet to achieve today.

At the beginning of this little speech I told you many of the reasons why my grandfather, George Robb, is worthy of the honor bestowed on him today 99 years after the end of World War 1. I told you I’d always heard he wrote a damn fine letter. Yesterday I read parts of a great many damn fine letters. I’d like to leave you with the letter he wrote to my mother who was a newlywed living with her husband in Arkansas City where I would be born about one year later.

This letter was a revelation to me. I have read many of the speeches my grandfather wrote and they were academic, proper and forbidding. I never got a letter quite like this and I can’t imagine many other fathers writing a letter to their daughters shortly after their marriage quite like this one. I hope you enjoy it.

But first I should preface this letter with this information. This was 1949. My Rock ribbed Republican grandfather had endured 20 years of Democratic Leadership by Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. He hated it. And yet as my mother told me George Robb liked Missouri’s Democrat Harry Truman. It was a different age. Here’s the letter:

Mrs. Dan M. Welty 
501 North B Street
Arkansas City, Kansas

Dear Mrs Welty,

I take my Pen in Hand to indulge in some congratulations. I congratulate you upon having successfully navigated 21 years of democratic rule. With all those years upon your shoulders you should have the wisdom of a hoot owl.

I congratulate you upon being the daughter of Mrs. Robb and the sister of the globe-trotting Mrs. Sage.

I congratulate you that your father has not been in jail recently.

I congratulate you upon having a handsome husband. Feed him well so that he may remain sleek and and pleasing to the eye.

If there is anything else upon which I should congratulate you, let me know and I will be glad to fill in the gaps.

Your aunt Mae recently underwent a very romantic experience. One of the nights when it was about 6 below, at 4 o’clock in the morning her telephone rang. She got out of bed and paddled over the icicles in her bare feet to the phone. On the other end of the line and inebriated voice said, “Is Dorothy there?” Your aunt said, “To whom do you think you are talking?” The Jolly chap replied “Wake up the other girls. I have a couple of friends who want to be entertained.”

I do not exaggerate when I say that “Madam” Peppmeyer poked his eyes out of the phone and then threw scalding water upon him.  In fact, her vocabulary became so heated that the next morning the company found two or three telephone posts burned to the ground. I also congratulate you on your aunt, but it would seem to me that that was rather an abrupt and unsympathetic way to greet romance. No doubt had your aunt been sweet twenty-one instead of seventy-six she would have been a bit coy with the poor chap.

On the morning of the 10th, I will stand up your mother and Edith and have them sing “Happy birthday” to you.

Sincerely yours,

Pop

May we all face our uncertain  future with such good cheer. That will be a little easier knowing that the defenders of our Nation’s military are composed of such as George Robb. I thank you all for your service and for remembering on this 99th Armistice Day one of your best and our nation’s best, my Grandfather 1st lieutenant, George Seanor Robb.