Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Those Falls Cops are at it again - and how secure do you want to be?

You need a scorecard to keep up with the antics of the men who wear the uniform of the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio police department. This week the latest chapter in the seemingly endless saga was played out when one of them was sentenced to six months in jail for beating up his girlfriend. Among other things he broke her nose. The chief says he won't be a cop any more because a convicted felon can't carry a gun.
Now that's reassuring, but you mean it's the only reason his days of wearing the blue are over? How about the fact that he's a bully who uses his fists on women? Isn't that reason enough to kick him off the force? Perhaps thinking so is naive when you have a department with far more than its share of thugs and bullies. If you don't live here, my advice is to stay out of town. I can remember back to when it wasn't that way, a time when Falls cops were good, upstanding citizens and you didn't have to be more concerned about them than the armed robbers. Guess that shows how old I am.
Sometimes I wonder if the War on Terror isn't over and the terrorists have won. If we give up our civil liberties because of them aren't they victorious? I just watched the CNN news about a car driving into the airport terminal at Glasgow. A female reporter there said how great the security is at airports in the UK. She told about walking a hundred yards or so in a terminal and being stopped by officers eight times. If you pause and just stand still for a moment security officers rush over to ask what you're doing.
Hell, it wasn't that bad even in Nazi Germany. Old Gestapo agents must be asking, "Why weren't we that efficient?" In my opinion, however, being stopped by cops eight times in a hundred yards isn't security, it's oppression.
Some people are saying that giving up a few civil liberties is OK if it means we are more secure. Is it even possible to be secure at all times? Being cautious, being prudent about where you go and what you do is one thing, seeking permanent security is another. Only a fool would walk down streets controlled by gangs waiting to pounce. Only a bigger fool would give up walking down all streets because of fear. That's no way to live.
War taught me a lesson. Being reckless will get you killed. Being overly cautious will also get you killed. There's a distinct difference those two courses of action just as there is a distinct difference between being free and being perpetually secure. You can't have it both ways.
Jimmy Breslin wrote a great book, "The Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight." This week's terrorists in the UK belong to the Gang that Couldn't Blow Things Up. What a bunch of bumbling incompetents. For that everyone should be thankful. Hopeful, too, that the boys in Baghdad, the true experts, don't expand their sphere of operations. But don't let the thought worry you or they will have already done their job without ever leaving home.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm Back in the Saddle Again - at Least For Now

Through no fault of my own the DSL that takes me to the Internet went belly up at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Through no action on my part it came back on at 3 p.m. Thursday, which was half an hour ago. While I did nothing to make it go away and nothing that I know of to bring it back, a lot happened during the interval.
First of all, Jackie learned a few new words. In German. A few in Italian. Words that will not be repeated here in any language.
Second, the world's number one hater of telephones - that's me - spent an hour or so on the phone talking with a couple of fellows in India or Pakistan or somewhere in that vicinity. As I didn't speak their language and they didn't speak mine, at least not very well, a joyous time was had by all.
Most of my end of the conversations went like this:
"What did you say?"
"How was that again?"
"Repeat that, would you?"
"I didn't understand what you just said."
There were a couple of high spots, such as the following:
"Did you ask if I have a brain in my head?"
"Oh, you asked if the light was still red. Sorry about that."
So you get the idea. Anyway the DSL is working. At the moment.

The DSL Blues

Have I given up blogging? No. Has the DSL server quite serving on my computer? Yes. To put it another way, I haven't been able to get on the Internet all week. Much to Jackie's annoyance I'm writing this short note on her computer. That's the one without DSL. The one that runs so slowly you can't help screaming at it every couple of minutes.

So just so people won't start sending flowers or notes of condolence I'm posting this abbreviated blog. However, if the DSL on my own computer doesn't start working soon I may have to resort to violence. ON Juno's DSL, of course. Before that can happen my blood pressure may solve all problems.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Guess I Was Wrong - Men Should Smell

I posted the blog about the smell of a good man on a writer's message board and was amazed by the number of responses. The majority of people, especially women, seem to believe a man should be all perfumed up. One lady likes the smell of a man just after he has showered with Irish Spring soap. I was pleased by that because it's made by Lever Brothers, the company that prevented the Stodghills from starving to death at the depths of the Great Depression.
My dad, Ol' CBS, was a super salesman, which was why they hired him back after he had quit a few years earlier because he felt the grass was greener at Scott Paper Company. He always felt the grass was greener somewhere else.
Anyway, long before Irish Spring came along the company sold another deodorant soap, Lifebuoy. Or tried to sell it because many grocers and druggists were turned off by its medicinal smell. Ol' CBS found that to be a challenge and devised a plan that worked four times out of five. This was back in the days of the corner grocery store, the kind where the grocer or a clerk would wait on customers and fetch whatever items they asked for, then tally up the bill on the side of a brown paper bag, the one in which he'd then pack the groceries.
So Ol' CBS would wait until there were no customers in the store and then lay a box of Lifebuoy down on the counter. More often than not the grocer would slap it off onto the floor. "I have to put food there and that stuff stinks!"
Ol' CBS would pick it up, brush it off and then hold it up as if he were displaying the crown jewels while solemnly saying, "If you don't use it, you'll stink."
Other salesmen were selling Lifebuoy by the case, he was selling it by the carload. That means enough to fill up a railroad box car with cases of Lifebuoy.
The big brass at Lever Brothers investigated the reason for this and came up with an advertising campaign based on B.O. - body odor. The deep voice of an announcer saying, "Bee - Ohh." soon was familiar to every radio listener.
Twenty or so years later the delicate noses of Americans found the great fragrance of Lifebuoy a little too much to handle so it came to smell like any other soap. Not so the British and numerous other Europeans. They went on liking it as much as ever.
The original Lifebuoy is still made in Ceylon for distribution across the pond. Americans with decent noses can buy it by mail from the Vermont Country Store. That's where we get it. Ol' CBS would be proud.
On his second stint with Lever Brothers he was first sent to Milwaukee and then Eau Claire, Mansfield and finally Akron. When they wanted him to go to Cleveland he quit again and began selling Trojans. After that came Gillette, Old Forester and Early Times whiskey, Kaiser automobiles and finally phonograph records, his great love in life, in his own store. I don't believe that even once in all those years did he ever take a shower with Lifebuoy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Smell of a Good Man

When did it become OK for a man to wear perfume? They must have sneaked that one past me when my back was turned. Even the overpowering smell of perfume on a woman can sometimes be enough to gag a maggot, but on a man . . .?
Not the men I have known and I've known a fair number of them over the years. At times nearly every one of them emitted a manly smell. Sometimes a bit more of it than those nearby would prefer. Not one of them found it necessary to add a little manly fragrance to what nature had provided.
Times have changed, though. Now there are at least three TV commercials hawking manly fragrances. The fellow on one of them doesn't look all that manly but that's beside the point. On the second one, young women go completely bananas and leap all over the guy who just squirted a manly fragrance on himself. Then there's another in which a woman attempting to look sexy keeps moving forward until she's almost popping out of the screen. At that point she says something like, "I don't want to smell you until I'm this close."
Truth be told, most of us don't want to smell whoever she's talking to at all. Have you ever been on an elevator with someone who has doused a manly frangrance on himself? In my opinion Webster must have changed the definition of manly if that's what it smells like.
Well, I guess it's OK if a guy wants to give the impression that he just stepped out of a Parisian cat house. Personally I prefer the good old aroma of a locker room or a gym bag whose contents haven't been to the laundry for a while. Those are manly smells.
* * *
Boy, do these guys ever need help! Not the kind that comes out of a bottle or a spray can, the kind Kojak or even Monk have up in their heads. The following item ran in the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press. "June 11 - WOMAN REPORTS ASSAULT: A Stow woman reported that a man she knows placed his hand under her skirt and grabbed her inner thigh while riding in her car at Cook Street and Portage Trail between 11 and 11:30 p.m. The man then exited her vehicle and left on foot. Police reported no suspects."
Do you suppose anyone thought to ask her the man's name? The Cuyahoga Falls Police Department in action - always vigilant, always hot in pursuit of desperate criminals and guys with roving hands. They do occasionally arrest a 17-year-old with a cigarette in his mouth, of course. A lieutenant, however, once said arresting someone driving 41 miles an hour in a 35 zone where children are playing, "wouldn't be fair." To whom, the kids or the driver?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Quit Looking Scornfully at American Idol

My dad taught me to like music. All kinds from opera to country and everything in between. There's good and there's bad in all of it so those who say they like only one kind of music miss a lot in life.
So I enjoy watching American Idol. It's interesting to see what happens to the contestants who make it deep into the competition. Take Chris Daughtry, who finished about fourth in 2006. Today he's the rage in the world of pop. So much so that even though I like him I'm growing weary of seeing his face everywhere I turn.
All this came to mind while I was enjoying a bowl of tomato soup for lunch and between slurps was watching this week's Top 20 in country music videos. That means the tops in CD sales as well.
Number One performer for the fourth week in a row was a young woman named Kelli Pickler. A year ago she was a small town girl who was learning about a lot of things she had never previously heard of and laughing about them as he made her way through the weekly eliminations on Idol. She was cut with five or six contestants remaining. Now she's quickly growing rich.
Fourth place went to Bucky Covington, a lad eliminated on Idol a week before or after Pickler in 2006. At the time the judges said he might have a future in country music. They were right.
In third this week was the Idol winner from a couple of years ago. Her name is Carrie Underwood and she isn't growing rich, she already is rich after selling more than a million CDs and videos. She's won music awards and is in constant demand for personal and TV appearances.
Then there is another Kelli and for the life of me I can't bring her last name to mind. Minds tend to be that way when you reach my age. Anyway, she's won music and acting awards and is a huge success by any standard. (Thanks to "Peter" for reminding me its Kelly Clarkson).
A number of other former Idol finalists are doing well in the music business. So please, don't look on the show with scorn or laughter. It places a great many young people on the fast track to success. That's good, isn't it? If you really think about it, American Idol may be the most worthwhile show on television.
* * *
On the subject of music, a lot of old songs are showing up on TV commercials these days. I mean really old songs. Two from the 1920s, "Blue Skies" and Irving Berlin's "What'll I do?" are being heard for the first time by millions of young people. The latter was one of several great songs Berlin wrote when he was having serious problems in his love life. The parents of his girlfriend were adamantly opposed to her having anything to do with Irving, even hustled her off to Europe for a while. It all worked out OK in the end. Fortunately for the rest of us Berlin was unhappy at the time and now eighty years later we are still wondering, "What'll I do when you are far away and I am blue, what'll I do?"
Another oldie from the1930s now on commercials is Jimmie Davis's "You Are My Sunshine." It was a country song that quickly went far beyond that genre. Jimmie, you may recall, fooled all the pundits by being elected governor of Louisiana.
Whenever I hear it I think back to the days immediately after World War II when I was made an MP and was stationed in the far north of Germany. Local girls in their late teens or early twenties cleaned our barracks, which months earlier had housed slave laborers at an aircraft factory. The barbed-wire fence still surrounded the area.
One day after my shift ended I was returning home when four or five of the girls came out the door with armed locked as they headed to their own homes. In what loosely passed for English they were loudly singing "You Are My Sunshine." And flirting a little, of course. Young girls and young guys are pretty much the same everywhere.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Doesn't This Seem Hypocritical?

I was reading a news story today about a 19-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman being arrested because the man was driving a van after a few too many drinks. Nothing odd about that except both of them were naked as jaybirds. The woman is charged with underage consumption.
That set me to thinking, something I do now and then.
A young fellow or a young woman can't legally drink until they're twenty-one, but a young fellow or a young woman can go to Iraq or Afghanistan and get their butt shot off when they're eighteen.
Am I the only one that senses a little hypocrisy in this? I know the do-gooders will say anyone under twenty-one doesn't have the judgment needed to consume alcoholic beverages. So hold it right there a minute. Are you saying, Mister and Missus Do-Gooder, that these same young people lacking judgment about drinking do possess the judgment to carry a gun in a combat zone?
Now this is an area in which I have some personal experience. I was eighteen when they handed me a rifle and sent me into some of the biggest battles in history. A great many of those with me were the same age and a great many others were nineteen or twenty. Some of the latter were infantry squad leaders, even platoon sergeants.
So I can tell you without fear of contradiction that people that age in combat damn well better have good judgment. Their life depends on it. The lives of those with them depends on it.
With that in mind could you say, "You're too young to have a drink," to a young soldier back from Iraq or Afghanistan?
Could you say, "I support you all the way, soldier. I appreciate the fact that you served faithfully and killed our enemies and did your job well enough to protect your buddies. But you'd like a beer? Oh, no, you're too young. Your judgment isn't good enough."
If you could say that, then you should be out on the streets carrying banners protesting the laws of the nation that allow those under the legal age for drinking to serve in the military. Believing anything else is pure, utter hypocrisy.
Eliminating those too young to legally drink would completely cripple the armed forces, of course.
If someone had told me I couldn't have a beer or something even stronger when I returned from World War II while still only twenty I would have started another war right on the spot. No one ever questioned it, but the legal age for drinking at that time was eighteen.
It should be no different today. If you are old enough for the country to send you to fight and possibly die in a war, then you are old enough to drink in that country.
Don't waste your time trying to convince me otherwise. In my book anyone who feels that way is a hypocrite of the worst sort. It you are one of them, it isn't that young person who lacks judgment, it's you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Living with a Rogue Police Department

Well, they got another one. Another Cuyahoga Falls cop has been arrested, this one for allegedly beating his two young daughters. He was picked up in another town because in the Falls they hide their offenders behind a Thin Blue Wall. And do they ever have the offenders.
While working as a reporter I've known a lot of cops in a number of different cities and the vast majority were good men who worked hard at a job that occasionally could be tough. Not all were good, of course. A few were bullies, a few were lazy, a few were thieves. For the most part, though, they were fine men who did their job thoroughly and conscientiously.
Not in Cuyahoga Falls, however. There's some good ones, there always is, but it seems the department is loaded with abusers, bullies and men who in one way or another are corrupt. The force gets more than its share of newspaper coverage as a result.
I've had a first hand look at the kind of men who are far too prevalent on the Cuyahoga Falls Police Department. It was in January a year ago when one of them named Jeff Hill gave me a stiff-arm to the chest. I was eighty at the time, he was in his mid-twenties. The blow was hard enough to force me to take a nitroglycerin pill to alleviate the chest pain.
I reported the incident, but that meant going to the Falls cops. What did they do? Nothing. Said the union rules prevented it or something like that. The prosecutor from another town looked over the report and told them it wasn't worth pursuing. Now suppose I had stiff-armed a cop, would that have been worth pursuing? You'd better believe it because that Thin Blue Wall works in only one direction. I informed Mayor Don Robart about it and he, too, did nothing.
This latest incident involves a cop named Ralph E. Flynn. A few years ago he was charged with domestic violence and pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct. He was given a couple of options by the mayor, be placed on probation or be fired. He chose the latter, but got his job back about six months later when the police union filed a grievance. The Thin Blue Wall at work.
Will it happen again? Probably. Why not when those same upholders of the law will file another grievance if he's fired.
The humorous part of the latest affair is that Flynn's first problem came in 2005. After the recent incident the chief, John Conley, said, "This is an unusual circumstance for me in my four years as chief." What a memory the man possesses.
I remember when it was so different. The department was made up of men like Bob DeHart, who dedicated himself to lending kids a helping hand, Horace Simms, a quiet man and a standout model builder, Don Brown, a Falls High athlete who rose to be chief, Clarence Chance, who was killed in a motorcycle accident while on duty, Don Burt, who had played on the Little League team I coached. There were more, many more. Times have changed on the department, and not for the better.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

When Jackie Made the New York Times

We were reading the paper in the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel in New York City one morning a number of years ago when Jackie let out a screech and cried, "Oh, my God!"As I had found nothing too exciting in the pages of the New York Times I turned, startled, and there on the sheet she was holding up was her picture. Not some little mug shot, either, but a photo two columns wide and seven inches deep. Beneath it was a cutline reading, "Jackie Stodghill, a researcher for her husband, Dick Stodghill, the mystery writer, yesterday during a meeting of the Mystery Writers of America."So after years of trying to get the Times to send a reporter and photographer to one of its functions the MWA had at last succeeded. And accompanying the story of the seminar at John Jay College of Criminal Justice wasn't a photo of Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, Isaac Asimov or some other big-name writer but instead one of Jackie with her shoes off and her legs and feet up on her chair.We wondered how this would go over with the other MWA members and their spouses, but we had nothing to fear. Jackie was greeted as a celebrity later that day by everyone, including Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton and Isaac Asimov. Even I got to bask in a little of her glory. We're still laughing about it.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Whatever Happened to Good News Judgment?

OK, this is it. I've had it up to the ears with Paris Hilton. The noon news on CNN was about little else despite the fact that something must be happening in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world. What person with an ounce of brains upstairs gives a hoot about this hard-eyed, spoiled rich kid?
Mitch Albom had a great column about her recently. He asked what she had ever done and the answer was nothing. As he put it, she hasn't done a thing, she just is. He's right, that's the sad part of the whole story. Make that non-story. But shouldn't a person, any person at all, be known for something more than that she just is? Shouldn't you be able to say she bakes a good chocolate cake or he works hard building tires every day or the kid scored an 85 on a math test? But Paris Hilton just is. And yet a lot of people are ga-ga over her. Somebody please tell me why.
Despite the judge's orders the sheriff in La-La Land let her out of jail, supposedly because she was sick. She'd been pressing the medical call button and crying all night. Probably owing to a severe overdose of pampering.
The truly sad part of all this is that in a month or two she will receive a million dollar advance for a book about her pain and suffering. A few million copies will be sold and then the book will be made into a movie and all the people who can't read will be able to share her agony.
So like I said, I've had it.
* * *
General Peter Pace has resigned. Isn't that an awful name for a general? Sounds like a character in a Broadway fantasy. On top of that he looks like a shoe salesman, not a general. He speaks in a hushed monotone that couldn't be heard on a parade ground and he sometimes sounds like a far-right bigot. I wouldn't want to follow him into battle. I'm glad he's gone.
* * *
I've also had it with Danica Patrick, who masquerades as a race car driver. She won't challenge the big guys on the track and she's constantly involved in minor accidents that she claims are someone else's fault. She topped off her performances last Sunday by confronting Dan Wheldon and actually poking him with a finger as he turned to walk away. The other women drivers, Sarah Fisher and Milka Duno, should take her aside and give her a lesson in ladylike behavior and the need to stop whining and pouting. Neither of them act that way, only Danica, who comes across as wanting to be a celebrity more than a race car driver. She'd fit in better at NASCAR or a fashion show. Or at a party with Paris Hilton.
* * *
Those of us who are sick and tired of being told to Press 1 for English aren't saddened over the delay in the Senate passing an amnesty bill for illegal aliens. That's probably all it is, a delay. Funny, isn't it, that German immigrants never demand that you Press 3 for German and Italians never ask for a Press 4 for Italian option. Nor did any of those from dozens of other countries. So why do Hispanics deserve special treatment? Those who have come here the right way learned English. Aren't those who have sneaked across the border smart enough to do so? One thing is certain, they'll never get anywhere in this country until they learn the language that has been just fine for everyone else since the day the Pilgrims landed.
And so ends the rant for today.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Why Are People So Surprised?

I don't understand it. Why are so many Americans shocked by the fact that Russians strongly oppose the idea of the United States building a missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland? Those countries are in Russia's front yard.
Would we cheer if Russia announced plans to build a similar system in Canada? In Mexico? I hardly think so. Defense systems can quickly be converted to offense systems and that shouldn't come as a shock to anyone.
The Russians are fine people if left alone. The world owes them a debt of gratitude because without them we might all be living under a swastika banner. Too many Americans are prone to saying we won World War II. We didn't. We helped win it. Without Russia's involvement the German army couldn't have been defeated. Remember, that would have been the German army of 1941 and not the clapped out remnants we encountered when Italy and France were invaded. By then the cream of that 1941 German army was pushing up daisies on the Russian Front.
If you doubt that, consider this. Sixty-three years ago today was D-Day in Normandy. The landings and the battles that followed in establishing a solid beachhead were brutal. Opposing the Allies were 12 German divisions, many of them less than first rate by German standards. Nineteen more were stationed to the north at the Pas de Calais and there were a few in the south of France.
At that time how many were engaged on the Russian front? Not 12, not 31, not 40 but 146. Imagine what it would have been like if a fraction of that number had awaited us in France. And they would have been 1941 divisions, not those previously decimated while fighting in Russia.
General George Patton, whose mouth was bigger than his brain, thought we should have tackled the Russians after Germany was defeated. The former German soldiers I got to know while an MP after the war found that suggestion hilarious. They had fought us, fought the British, fought the Russians. To a man they believed the Russians would have pushed the Americans and British back into the English Channel in a month at the most.
During the week leading up to the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima the Russians opened an offensive against the Japanese. Opposing them were some of the finest troops the Japanese possessed. The Russians rolled them up at an average of 25 miles a day. The Russian infantrymen must have been double timing just to keep up. Don't think that didn't play a role in the Japanese decision to surrender. They had seen what happened to the Germans.
No one ever went wrong by leaving the Russians alone. Napoleon found that out because he didn't. Hitler found that out because he didn't. They make good friends but bad enemies so no one in his right mind would poke that sleeping bear with a stick. World War III wouldn't be much fun for anyone so let's hope George W. Bush remembers that.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sin Taxes and Similar Nonsense

Does anyone else see the irony in so-called sin taxes?
The health officials and TV commercials beat an unrelenting drum to get people to stop smoking cigarettes. But wait, cry the politicians, don't do it until we build our beautiful new stadium.
That's because their beautiful new stadium will be paid for by slapping an additional tax on cigarettes. It's happening again right here in River City.
But just suppose the quit smoking and drinking campaigns were successful and overnight everyone in the country tossed their fags away and became teetotalers. Think about it. No more money pouring in from taxes on tobacco. No more money from taxes on beer and booze. Panic would ensue. Who's going to fund all the projects? The non-sinners, of course, and would they ever be screaming about it. They might even be begging the sinners to go back to their old ways again.
* * *
Since the nationwide ban on smoking in public places went into effect, smoking by teenagers has increased significantly. Not here, in Ireland. They have called a conference to discuss the matter. Oh, for Pete's sake, the reason why is obvious so who needs a conference or a study? It's called the Beans-in-Ears syndrome. Remember back when a modicum of common sense remained and parents knew better than to tell their kids not to put beans in their ears? Or their nose. Why? Because the kids would immediately start hunting around for beans to put in their ears. Or nose. Any rational human being knows the best way to get kids to do something is to tell them not to. That also applies to a great many adults. Think back to Prohibition. People who had never taken a drink of whiskey in their lives were suddenly searching for a speakeasy. Human nature, that's the problem, and humans tend to do what comes naturally.
* * *
Times are changing in Ireland, that bastion of the traditional household - a man, a woman, their children. A recent census revealed that fewer than one in five Dublin households was comprised of a husband, wife and kids.
What happened? Ireland became prosperous. Today it has one of the leading economies to be found. It wasn't that way when the British occupiers did their best to keep the Irish dirt poor. When the occupation ended 85 years ago conditions took an upturn and since then have continually improved. The lesson to be learned is this: When money is tight, families remain together because they have little choice in the matter. There were far fewer divorces in this country during the Great Depression. When money flows more freely, so do people. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes it isn't.
* * *
The Republic of Ireland also is a bastion of the Catholic church. Abortions are outlawed, of course. Not so in England. Recently the Irish government began allowing women to go to the UK for abortions rather than seeking a back-alley practitioner. You can outlaw them but you can't stop them. That's just the way it is.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Military Records - Is Anything Else as Screwed Up?

Been busy dealing with a problem with a book. The publisher has it all straightened out now so I'm free to do a little blogging.
There's been a lot of publicity lately about the site on the Internet so I gave it a shot today. It can get darn complicated, I assure you of that, but after wasting an hour I enjoyed a good belly laugh. That came when I looked up my World War II draft registration.
I've often said there is nothing in the world more screwed up than military records. Well, maybe military intelligence, or lack thereof. My draft registration was perfect until I got to the last item. The date of birth was correct, the date of induction into the Army was correct, in fact everything seemed to be correct. But then I came to "Civil Occupation."
Remember now, I was a stupid 18-year-old high school dropout who had worked a couple of years and then enrolled in an Indiana high school because I had heard that anyone drafted got credit for an entire semester. I majored in auto mechanics and swimming.
So what was listed as my Civil Occupation? This:
Actor (Motion picture actor. ) or Director, Motion Picture (Motion picture director.) or Entertainer.
Well if that isn't the last straw. I could have spent my Army days touring the world with colonels and generals fawning over me. Private Mickey Rooney did that. I could have handled Ronald Reagan's assignment. He traveled all the way from Los Angeles to San Francisco for a month and then returned to La-La Land.
But me? With my background as an actor, director or entertainer they handed me a rifle and stuck me in the infantry. OK, I asked for the infantry but when I did so I was unaware of having been an actor, director or entertainer. A bad case of amnesia, I guess.
I've seen a few other Army records that were almost as bad. Two different dates for heading overseas, three for when I landed in France, stuff like that. Then weeks after being discharged I noticed that my papers said I had gone to clerk-typist school. To this day I use two fingers, the old reliable hunt and peck method of typing.
There was more, but that should give you an idea about military records. Like the morning we lined up at Fort Meade the day after receiving 17 shots before going overseas. The sergeant in charge said, "Today you get your overseas shots." Two-hundred men yelled, "We got them yesterday!"
The sergeant shrugged. "They lost the records."
Overnight they lost the records of 200 men. Thirty-four shots in 24 hours. But I wonder, could it have been there at Fort Meade that I somehow became an actor, director or entertainer? Or could I have been acting the fool the day I signed up at the draft board? Beats me.