Roosevelt and the New Deal

Teddy Roosevelt, our 26th president once said:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.

It’s one of my favorite quotes and I’ve referred to it in this blog before.

Teddy’s distant cousin and our 32nd president Franklin Roosevelt was many things to many people. Some, who lived in Roosevelt’s time, and especially those who thought themselves benefactors of his policies, loved and adored him. For many, he was the only president they ever knew. He’d been elected to an unprecedented four terms and served for 12 years before his death. Today is the anniversary of his birth.

In an effort to lift the country from the depths of the Great Depression Roosevelt enacted a series of financial reforms and regulations that came to be known as The New Deal. Not surprisingly he received a ton of criticism and was mocked for those policies.

But in doing it he created hundreds and thousands of parks, schools, hospitals, bridges, roads, dams, and other public-works initiatives spread across the country.

Among them is Hoover Dam less than an hours drive from my home here in Las Vegas. Without it this city would never have grown from the sleepy little town it once was. Today it is the most popular tourist destination in all of North America. Over 42-million visitors come to Las Vegas each year. It takes a lot of water and electricity to make that happen, and Hoover Dam, built three decades before the boom. provided it. Funny how things work out that way.

Franklin Roosevelt’s programs put millions to work and saved many of the unemployed from abject poverty. Among them was an uncle, from rural Pennsylvania. As a young teenager Eli worked on a Civilian Conservation Corp project in Arizona. Despite his being a life-long Republican he held Democrat Roosevelt in high regard for not only providing him a job, and income of $30 a month, but my uncle said, “It helped change my life.”

Roosevelt was despised by many of his political opponents for not only his fiscal policies, but for his stand on social justice. Many scholars of economics believe FDR likely caused a delay of the economic recovery due to some of his strategies. Even today we are at no loss for the armchair quarterbacks who pass judgment on his decisions with the luxury and benefit of hindsight. But, It is not the critic who counts.

In a similar way, as it did my uncle, the lives of many of the 3-million young men who participated in the Civilian Conservation Corp and came to be known as The Greatest Generation were changed as well. And let’s not forget: A great many of those lands, buildings, structures and other projects created under FDR still stand today as monuments to his legacy.

Hence Franklin Roosevelt is given credit where he rightfully deserves it. He was the man in the arena.

I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made. ~~ Franklin Roosevelt


The Life Line

I recently came across something on the Internet and thought it an interesting idea. It can be found in various forms, not many different from the others though. I’m sorry to say it comes with no mention of its original author. It is often seen without a title. I have given it one and have rewritten it.

I’ve changed the order of things. I’ve changed the wording, I’ve added a lot and taken away a little. It is my version and from what I’ve seen, I think it’s the best.

I share it here.

Every second someone leaves this world behind. They take nothing with them. They’ve arrived at the front of the line. An ending as well as a beginning.

Age, status, health, wealth or heritage has nothing to do with our place within it. Realize it or not, we are all standing in this line together.

We think little about it. We ignore the line’s existence. But here we are and here we stand, with no possessions, equal in every way. Continue reading

Distractions, Choices and Perfectionism

As is far too often the case, I’ve been a bit remiss in writing in my blog. This will be only my 8th post for the entire year. Despite all my best intentions, what can I say? It happens! Just know, like any good friend, I haven’t forgotten you.

There are always the, what in my life are, “normal” distractions. Here are just a few, listed in no particular order:

My genealogy research.

My genealogy website.

Visits from family and friends when I’m “home” in Las Vegas (Although it doesn’t occur nearly enough)!

Reading. I’ll never get “caught up”, the list seems endless. I’ve been fascinated lately with the classic novel Little Women and its author (a distant cousin). I know… I’m a guy… crazy huh?

Watching television shows (mostly political, documentaries, real life in nature). Netflix movies… then there are all those YouTube videos that run the gamut.

Traveling… to far away and exotic, worldly places like Mahaffey, New Hudson and Pahrump, NV.

Going to the movies (again, mostly real life in nature), but I haven’t done much of that lately.

I’m a procrastinator.

I’m a perfectionist!

I’m old, I get tired.

Television personality Geraldo Rivera once said, “Life is a series of random choices, and what we make of life is what you make of those random choices.” So true and I’ve come to understand as well, with those choices come consequence. With them we sacrifice one thing for another. Distractions come at a cost to this blog.

I don’t think, especially at this stage of my life, I could write for a living. I admire those who do. I’ve had friends who do. One of my cousins has written several books and publishes a weekly column. He’s done it for years! In another life I used to write on a daily basis. Then I’d read it out-loud. I actually got paid to do that.

What an absolute chore that would be now! For me, the deadlines and pressure to produce would just be too much. Guess that comes with old age (although my cousin is older). I give him credit, where it’s due. My last self-imposed burden was in September of 2011. It was a thirty-day challenge to write a blog every-single-day. I did it, but I doubt I’ll ever do it again. It was painful. Now I write because I want to, not because I have to. Or do I?

For most anyone, writing is a laborious and time-consuming process. I think it’s worse for me. I have a friend, and former News Director to thank in-part for this. He’d often ask his co-workers about their writings, “Is it compelling?” Is it? I’ve never forgotten that and I likely miss the mark frequently.

I’m never bored with life, there is always something to do, something to occupy my mind. Lucky me, I always have ways to wile away the hours. I’m never at a loss of “what to do now?” There are a lot of hours these days to wile away.

Life is such lately I’ve been known to say, “A lot of times I don’t know what day of the week it is, and I often don’t care.” Some people envy me, they tell me so but, there’s so much more I could be doing. I miss my volunteer work with the USO and I’d like to contribute some time at the local Veteran’s hospital. I think about it anyway …

It seems I’m always writing. If I’m not adding notes to my Evernotes app, making lists,* making plans or writing in my journal, I’m working on editing and perfecting a future blog. Being a perfectionist, like Kermit’s Bein Green, isn’t easy but it’s a cross I must bear. It can be burdensome to a writer, that wants to be read. You might be surprised how many blog drafts I have, just waiting for me to finish. There are currently more than 40 on a variety of subjects. The number of times I’ve rewritten and edited what I write seems almost to be an affliction, a debilitating habit at the least.

Often I’ll be writing on my genealogy website or working on family biographies. The biographies of two uncles in particular had been in the works for several years. After dozens, possibly a hundred or more rewrites, I finally finished one of them several months ago. The other may soon be worthy of sharing. I know, to some, my interest in genealogy and family history is considered odd. I’ve been criticized for it but… it is what it is.

Occasionally I’ll turn to my own personal history and work on that (again odd to some, I know). I often think I should be devoting more time to that cause, as one never knows how much time we have left. There are just far too many stories that need told while time is a finite, priceless commodity.

I recently came across another persons blog writing about the Liebster Award. I’d never heard of it. Apparently it’s an award given by bloggers to other bloggers. It’s website says:

Bloggers are a funny bunch. We read a lot, write a ton, scour the web for new content to consume, and even give ourselves awards for this stuff.

That’s me! All except for the awards part… but there’s always next year.


*Related Posts: Lists – Evidence of a Troubled Past?

Favorite Quotes Friday – 11-30-2018

Our national politics has become unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. It seems the gap between opposing viewpoints may be at its widest. It’s the one thing we all can agree on.

With the coming of social media — and specifically Facebook — people who were once friends are no longer. How silly, how short-sided. How pathetic!

Thomas Jefferson had it right.

I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. ~~ Thomas Jefferson



The Scourge of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse

I’m often reminded the terrible price my family has paid because of alcoholism and substance abuse. It’s the primary reason I’ve never been one to drink or to “get high.” As mentioned in these pages* before, I tried marijuana as a teenager. Just like president Bill Clinton, “I didn’t like it, and didn’t inhale, and never tried it again.” While there were few who did, I believed Bill Clinton. Believe me.

When it comes to alcohol, I admit it… I tried that once as well. I was 19- years old and a new Airman at Vandenberg Air Force Base. I’m not sure why, but I think it was to just see what it would feel like. So — young and stupid — one evening I drank a tall glass of Bacardi Rum. Beyond the silliness and fog of that night, I paid the awful and memorable price the next morning. I learned what it felt like.

I’m happy to say I never drank or used again. It doesn’t mean however, I haven’t tasted from time to time, I have in very limited moderation. Once experienced I never saw the need to drink myself into a stupor ever again. To me, there is zero attraction to getting drunk and in using drugs. I’m able to get high on life without dulling my senses and resorting to the mind-numbing use of artificial means. My high is as good as anyone’s. Go ahead world, call me “crazy”!

Since those poor, but thankfully isolated choices, I’ve often been asked why I don’t drink or do pot… and my answer has always been the same: I grew up seeing how alcohol destroyed the lives of my loved ones and how it affected the lives of their families. An uncle, torn by the ravages of his combat experience during World War II, turned to alcohol and it ruined his life. Other uncles and aunts were also alcoholics and passed it on. Two of my cousins were killed in auto accidents because of drunk driving. Another was killed in his efforts to distribute. Other family members have spent time in jail, and in prison because of their addictions. Others have been in and out of rehab. Wasted years, worse yet… wasted lives. There is never total recovery. Once addicted, it is always with you.

My family’s story is just one among the millions of others whose lives have been touched by what some consider accepted behavior. It is not. It bothers me to see how casual people are about the use of alcohol and “recreational” drugs. Now communities and states are legalizing the use of marijuana. Not because it’s the right thing to do, but they see it as a cash cow. A bandaid for previous mistakes of overspending and over-indulgence. Not even our government can escape the nonsense!

The price society pays is ENORMOUS and devastating to millions of families and individuals who are its innocent victims. Some of the most gifted, celebrated artists and entertainers of our times have lost their lives to the lure of alcohol and other abuses. The list is endless and none of us truly escape its far-reaching consequences.

Alcohol it seems is universal. It’s part of our culture, required in ritual celebrations, it’s being social, it’s part of the gathering and it’s always been here. It’s used by everybody, reputed by nobody.

It makes strong men weak and leads the weak to believe themselves strong. A husband’s fondness for drink will often overcome his love for his wife… his family… and even for his God. Jobs are lost, wages wasted, life savings swallowed up and productive lives destroyed. Wives and children are victimized, beaten, abused, deprived and abandoned.

The damage extends to communities and society. Crimes, corruption, even murders are committed and horrible deaths are suffered on our nations roads and highways. Terribly wasted lives, lives cut short, families destroyed, unintended consequences at a huge immeasurable cost in lives, dollars, misery and the human spirit… all because of alcohol.

~~ Adapted from the Ken Burns documentary Prohibition

A friend recently described his use of alcohol as “escapism”.  To me that’s just another tired, old excuse. What are people really escaping from? Nothing! There is no avoiding the realities of the world. “Masking” may be a better word, and it’s only temporary. Those seeking to “escape” in the end, or at the very time they’re hoping for relief, will only find disappointment. Often they’ll find they’ve only made their lives, and the lives of those they love, worse. Alcohol and other substance addictions are a scourge on mankind.

Yes, I get high on life. While we all face challenges (and I’ve had my share), things we’d rather ignore than confront, there are always things to be thankful for. Life itself among them. One needs only to visit a cemetery and read the headstone inscriptions to realize just how very lucky we are.

I am forever grateful I escaped those addictions. For whatever reasons, I guess I was lucky. I can only thank the friends I chose, my faith in God, and the knowledge things could always be worse.

We take far too much for granted. We’re often like sheep, never questioning the standards others of our society have established. We just go-along. The notion that alcohol abuse is normal, or an acceptable escape from stress and hardship is a sad commentary indeed on our values, how we think, and who we are.

 * See #s14 & 15 at this blog.

Miss Morgan

A teacher affects eternity. You can never tell where their influence ends.
~~ Epictetus ~~

I’ve reflected here on a few occasions my school days as a self-appointed class clown. A couple of other companions were as equally gifted in our quest for attention. Their stories have been shared here as well. It wasn’t until many years later I came to realize, the attention I sought was a misguided attempt to make up for other things lacking in my life.

I’m not proud to admit, in my pursuit to be noticed, I was especially brutal to my Jr. high school music teacher, “Miss Morgan.” In hindsight I deeply regret how I mistreated and disrespected her … all to get a cheap laugh from classmates, who did provide a few. The woman was a Saint and despite all I dished out she showed me uncompromised patience and encouragement. I didn’t realize it at the time… she really cared, but few kids notice those things.

With time my behavior in school actually improved. I began to understand there were better ways to find the recognition I wanted. I started to take my studies a little more seriously. For some reason, if only for a brief moment, I found myself suddenly on a roll… My grades had never been so good. I made the school’s Honor Roll.

It was during that semester, when Miss Morgan gave me an “A”. She’s the only teacher, before college, I ever received that high a grade from. I had a few Bs and B-pluses that earned me that Honor Roll status, but only once did I get an “A”. Not sure I earned or deserved it, but I got it… and Miss Morgan gave it to me.

Dawson, Margaret Morgan (Miss. Morgan)

Margaret Morgan Dawson

I wish I had told her then… but many years later I came to the decision, I wanted to try to locate and apologize to her for my inexcusable behavior. That likely would have been a wonderful, memorable conversation but, as often is the case in such matters, it wasn’t meant to be. In July of last year, in an effort to learn more about her, I discovered her 2005 obituary. Miss Morgan died 13-years ago today.

How surprised I was to read about her life and her numerous accomplishments. I shared it among my school friends on Facebook and the reaction was much the same. In addition there were many positive comments about this remarkable woman. A few of us shared our regrets, youth wasted on the wrong people. Regret is an awful word.

She was a well-educated, gifted and dedicated musician. One who shared her talents, as you’ll see. Of all the many teachers I had in those days, she is truly the only one I remember well. All the others are literally… just a blur. Despite all the years and distance, I’ve never forgotten Miss Morgan, and throughout my life have often been reminded of her. She made a difference and because of that, her story deserves a place in this blog. To that end, I share it here, with a grateful heart for having known her. God bless Miss Morgan.

NOTE: Comments from her students and others who knew her would be appreciated. Please add yours below.

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Who Are You? Where Are You Going?
Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.
~~ Billy Graham ~~

For as long as I can remember Billy Graham has been someone I’ve always looked up to. A towering personality throughout my life. I vividly remember as a 5 or 6 year old boy lying on the floor in front of an old black and white television watching him. I was mesmerized by his speech and his style. There was just something about him that, even as a very young boy, grabbed and held my attention. His message touched me. It’s always been that way and I’ve spent untold hours watching his crusades on television and his many interviews. If Billy Graham was on, I wanted to watch, I wanted to hear him.

As an adult I came to recognize his greater qualities, which is probably something I sensed as a boy. He was genuine, he was sincere and, he was humble. Beyond his words, his life-long example made an impact around the world. He never wavered. A few years ago I found myself once again captivated by his words when reading his book Nearing Home in which he shared his personal experience of growing older. I could relate.

It was not, with any great surprise, I heard of his passing yesterday at the age of 99. And especially no great surprise the huge influence he’s been credited with in the lives of millions over his long life. I was just one among them and am grateful to have had the experience.

I share the following story with the hope you appreciate it’s timely significance.

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