Yesterday I spent the morning and afternoon with my first grade grandson. He was sick. His Mom brought some games over to our house for us to play with him including “The Game of Life.”
Other than having Homer Simpson characters all over the gameboard and playing cards it was the same game I was always asked to play by my old next door neighbor, Becky. I was never a big fan of the game. It was sort of like playing house only with mortgages and car repairs. Besides that, when I played it with Becky we were in fifth grade. Jacob is in first grade and while he’s a remarkable little reader he can’t yet fathom mortgages, promissory notes or tax shelters. so, we sort of played by the rules he had learned although I did my best to read the instructions as we began the game. At least it ends by reaching the end of its path of rectangles unlike Monopoly which requires going round and round in a square circle.
Jacob got help from Grandma after she returned from her religious internship. She kept his money in order and he ended up with a half million bucks compared to my hundred grand. Now I don’t want you to think I was a sore loser or anything but we were playing by Jacob’s rules.
Well, there is playing “The Game of Life” and there’s living life. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, so much so, that I haven’t kept up with my blogging and have yet to commence this darned book I want to write. So, to catch my eight loyal readers up here are a few of the lifelike things I’ve been doing.
Which of my relatives brought an illegitimate child into the world?
I got an email from a second cousin who had been contacted by a non relative who was trying to figure out the connection between our family and a mother-in-law. We share a surname, my Grandfather’s, but the legal birth documents are full of frauds. My second cousin and I have been putting our heads together and recently narrowed the connection down to some other cousins once or twice removed. The connecting of dots has been greatly aided by DNA tests. The floor of my office still has records strewn across it as a result of this little family research detour. Unfortunately, there is more stuff on the floor from other recent searches. Its been easier to put off a refiling than it has been to put it all away.
Honoring World War Vets and the V-12 Program
Park College has made several appearances on previous posts. My Grandfather the war hero was a very devoted alumnus and I’ve visited there several times this century to help them celebrate his life. This spring they are setting up an exhibit of the college’s (now a University) long history of collegiate military training. It began with the V-12 naval officer’s training program in World War II. It was set up to help the military train officers for the war and to help salvage colleges which had lost enrollment as young men poured into the military. My Father, then living in Kansas City, Missouri, enrolled directly into Park’s program from his high school’s ROTC program.
I just sent Park University both my Grandfather’s dog tag from the First World War and my Dad’s tag from the Second. I thought the father-in-law/son-in-law connection made them an interesting pair. I also sent a few photos of my Dad’s V-12 graduating class down as well.
This photo came from my Dad’s high school yearbook which I found in the KC Public Library. Its my Dad in about 1942 in his ROTC uniform. He’s in the center of the front row.
Some serious history candy
In addition to the fascinating history unfolding before me in the news everyday I’ve also been watching some interesting programs on PBS.
Last week I saw the Independent Lens program about the movie that created Hollywood, which is now so roundly criticized by Republicans for propagandizing America, – Birth of a Nation. Oh, and two-and-a-half years later my Grandfather would find himself assigned to be an officer with black soldiers who enlisted in Harlem to fight the Hun.
I’ve never watched it but am well aware that it helped reestablish the Ku Klux Klan in the United States after its appearance in 1915. What makes it particularly interesting to me is the fact that it was shown in New York City despite loud objections from Harlem’s black population. That was the same time that my Grandfather, neighbor of an escaped slave, was studying for his Master’s degree in history at Columbia University right next to Harlem.
As the program makes clear the Democrat my Grandfather told me had been the worst vote of his life, President Woodrow Wilson, eulogized the film at the same time as he instituted segregation in the Federal bureaucracy. I don’t know how my Grandfather felt about this but he would tell me with bitterness years later that he blamed Wilson for getting America into the First World War. That was an ironic thing for an MOH winner to say. In one more irony Columbia University’s history department was also the leading exponent for the revisionist history of Civil War Reconstruction that argued that the KKK cleaned up the South by instituting Jim Crow. And on that note I’ll mention once again that I gave a little talk about my Grandfather’s service to a VFW in Topeka to which my Grandfather belonged.
And this week there was an equally interesting Independent Lens on PBS called “Accidental Courtesy.” Its about Daryl Davis, a black musician who found himself getting to know members of the Ku Klux Klan and disarming them to the point that many of them renounced the Klan. The contrast between his success with the Klan and the distaste his work caused some members of the Black Lives Matter movement is arresting.
It is a study in how to win over people through sheer human decency and I imagined myself in Mr. Davis’s shoes albeit with other adversaries.