Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Long Time Coming

East Jackson Class of 1973
This was my first class reunion since I got out of high school. I figured I better go before I'm no longer around or I don't recognize anyone or even myself in a few years. I had a very good time. Everyone talked to me  and I took some nice photographs. This group photo was taken by Tom Tyszko. I was amazed at how everyone still looked the same. Thirty Two of us showed up [one is not in the photo] the evening of August 10 at the Cascades Manor House. Out of 123 graduates we had 25% represented that night. Particularly nice was a table that had 3 or 4 different years books from our time at EJ: 1970 to 1973. A few of the guys even managed to organize a golf outing with each other the next day. If your reunion is coming up next year, try to go and don't forget to take a camera to record the memories. *Cheers* -Jimio

Friday, August 16, 2013

What a Great Day to Start a Weekend

Downtown Development Authority and WKHM at Grand River Marketplace  
This is Race Weekend and in Jackson that means lots of people scurrying about and the bright sunny skies just adds to the desire to go outside and check out all the activities. Here at the Grand River Marketplace local farmers come in and sell their top notch produce. They have a fantastic restaurant and they brew their own beer and wines. Musicians play on stage and also outside. Come down and try a burger with bacon jelly sauce or a reuben with  Wisconsin cheese washed down with homemade ales or wines. This is Jimio saying *Enjoy your Weekend*

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Jackson's First 80F Day of 2013

You can really tell when the weather is getting nice when people start using the outside tables at restaurants around town. Here this man is enjoying a Stones Brew and savoring this most wonder warm and pleasant day. This is Jimio saying *Cheers* to all who love the Great Outdoors of Jackson.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Lost Art of Writing Letters

A few letters I have received over the last 48 years
Now that the Age of the Internet is upon us, we must kiss goodbye the old vestiges of the envelopes marked "First Class" or "Par Avion". As I peruse over these ancient forms of communication, I must bestow a few excerpts that have captured my eye. Here is a letter from my Grandfather living in Alexandria Virginia in 1969: " Your cousin in Texas had a letter from the US Naval Academy and another from West Point asking him to go to their schools. But the military schools require one to serve 5 years after graduation but that would interfere with his playing professional football which might make him rich". My cousin graduated and went on to play football with the Washington Redskins from 1974-1981 #59 Middle Linebacker. Another letter from Grandpa in 1964 he writes: "Tell your daddy to write me - I hear he has changed his business again. I am worried by the thought of the long drive he has to make when the snow and ice comes, even if his car has the most modern tires and chains, yes even with a safety belt - That is a long drive to make every day. Enclosed is a check for all of your sisters and brother. Get your mama to cash it and give each of you a dollar. Write again soon - Lots of Love and Kisses to you all -Grandpa." From a Chess Friend in England on a Christmas Card: "Happy Christmas Jim -Cheers,Mike" A thank-you letter from a chess prodigy: " It is extremely nice for somebody like you to take the time and expense to help my cause. I am positive that the books you donated will provide enjoyment and learning for the ones who are not as fortunate as we are. You simply cannot imagine how precious your contribution is. Sincerely yours -K. K. Karanja May 28 1988"  Letter from a friend who had recently moved: " The scrambled eggs here are prepared by steaming which kills all taste and texture like eating some kind of yellow plastic and other such gastronomic monstrosities. We must get all the old shoes from around the USA and pretend they are roast beef." Letter from Uncle Jerry dated June 6 1979: "I've been busy trying to get the boat ready to put back in the water. It's been one thing after another but I finally took her on a Shakedown to South River. She runs well and except for a loose window everything seems ok." Hand written letter from Hit Parader Magazine dated November 1980: "Thanks for your letter to Hit Parader. We hope you saw the Judas Priest feature in the last issue. Keep on the look-out for the next issue of HP - there's a Molly Hatchet story coming and more on Judas Priest in the Hit Parader Annual Issue. Just stay with us and we'll try to feature as many Heavy Metal artists as possible. Sincerely Yours, Shelton Ivany -Editor" Letter from my brother Brad stationed in Rota Spain in the Navy dated Jan 11 1977: "My little spanish car is driving me crazy. It seems like everytime I turn around, something is going wrong with it. If I never see another 'Seat' again when I leave here, it wont break my heart."  The Seat is a Spanish Car pronounced "Say-At" http://www.seat-cars.co.za/  Another except from a letter Brad wrote on Sept 3, 2005: "We have already started packing our bags for the Philippines. Marina plans on using every allowable pound."  On June 25, 1986 Brad writes: "Jackie Gleason died last night and Fred Astair the night before. It makes you realize how old you are getting when people you've watched and heard about all your life are dying. A few years from now there will be kids who won't remember their names." Here is a little quip from my brother dated March 4, 1983: " If your Pinto makes it one more year I think you will have gotten more than your money's worth." Letter from Momio Jan 27, 1983: "Winter paid us a visit last week and transformed the meadow and trees beyond into a crystal palace. Every tree, branch, twig and blade of grass was encased in a sheath of ice that refracted the light like a thousand mirrors." Letter from Momio dated Sept 1, 1987: "Did you see the new lake wall out front of the house? They covered over our hand prints we made in the cement, yours and mine and wiped out the date. I was so sad to see it go. So much for posterity." I think we put our hand prints in that lakewall around 1975 during a patch up job. Letter from Momio dated Sept 24, 1982, she writes: " If you were to ask me what I miss about Michigan this time of year I would have to say the ducks and geese on Gilletts Lake. The birds down here in Georgia have been strangely quiet of late. I suppose that's because the birds of summer have left and the birds of winter haven't arrived yet. However, the birds that stay thorugh the year - the mockingbirds, thrashers, and towhees are not as raucous as usual. Perhaps there are too many cats in the area. Like Rome, we are infested with cats." Here is an insightful take on Momio's political vision: "Looks like things are warming up in Central America. Here we go again. The agony of unacceptable alternatives. They say Duarte is a moderate but I doubt he has the stamina to be a leader. Reagan says he wants to negotiate with the Russians but from a position of strength, hence the arms build-up. Fiddle - dee - dee, you don't know who to believe anymore. I think Haig is inept. He was a good general and that's where they should have left him, as a commander in the field. He certainly is no statesman. Too bad they don't have Kissinger in there. A lot of people don't like him because of his association with Nixon but when it came to foreign relations he was absolutely marvelous and he was particularly adept at negotiating." Letter from Daddio dated Dec 4, 1981: " James, remember when Mama used to take you all to the Toyhouse the day after Thanksgiving and you would come home and tell me all about the trains and race cars you saw."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Perfect Age

Jimio at age 12
Jimio at age 30
Jimio at age 56 with nephew Mark
What is the perfect age if you could stay there? I think it depends on who you ask and what age they would enjoy being for however long they wanted to. For some people I suspect they would like to be age 12 forever. Having a golden childhood might enhance their selection. I had a decent childhood but I would never want to be eternally set at age 12. Can't drive or go anywhere you want, when you want. I feel the perfect age is 36. You are not too immature to know the finer things in life and still young enough to participate in rigorous endeavors. Young enough to play a few pranks on friends yet old enough to take on adult responsibilities. At age 56 I think was not the perfect age for me. For   many it is a time of a higher living standard and a better position [hopefully] in one's career, but who wants to live with the aches and pains, the root canals, the pharmacy visits and screaming grandkids forever. I guess on the plus side your own children are grown and have their own jobs and the grandchildren are not over every day. So I can see some trade-offs, and blurring of the decades along the edges.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Can you Walk like a Zombie?

Fresh is always better than frozen or canned
The Jackson Michigan Zombie walk was October 13, a nice unlucky number and a dreary rainy day for a Zombie Walk. The rain added that nice gruesome touch. We can't have Zombies walking around on a gloriously sunny day now can we? I'm sure real Zombies didn't use umbrellas either but who wants all their bloody makeup washed off? This years walk was a mind curdling success. At least 350 zombies signed up at  the Coffee Shop while a band played Death Metal [ Quite good I might add. Very crisp clear chords and sharp drumming ] There was a Cadillac Hearse to lead the walk. A skeleton looked out the back window and it eerily reminded me of the Grateful Dead. Well I beat the walkers to the Michigan Theater due to riding a bicycle. I could have beat them walking since many were dragging a damaged leg or stopping to try to eat human flesh. In West Africa a Zombie's Soul was captured in a bottle and sold to clients for luck,healing or business success. In Southern Africa a dead person can be turned into a Zombie by a small child. Also some Witches [Witchcraft VooDoo types I suppose] could turn persons into Zombies and possess them and force them into slave labor. After rail lines were built to transport migrant workers, stories came about  of "Witch Trains" which looked normal but were stuffed by Zombie workers controlled by a Witch. The trains would abduct a person boarding at night and be turned into a Zombie or beaten and thrown from the train. I guess they weren't good Zombie material. Also there was some drug or potion one could ingest that gave the appearance that one looked dead, only to wake up hours later. This had to have helped the Zombie craze not to mention some Schizophrenics thinking themselves to be dead while still walking around. One of the earliest Zombie books was "Magic Island" by William Seabrook in 1929. That spawned the movie "White Zombie" starring Bela Lugosi in 1932. The modern Zombies as we know them seem to have been born by the book "I Am Legend" written by Richard Matheson. Soon after that the movie "The Night of the Living Dead" by George Romero in 1968 crawled from the Grave. Songs about Zombies have been done by Fela Kuti in 1976 and by The Cranberries in 1994. Who cant remember the rock band "The Zombies"!
Zombie Priest
A Zombie Family that stays Together

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Grandfather's Letter to his Grandson

Howell - Charles - James - Geraldine

John - Howell - Charles - James and Geraldine in front who got kicked by a playful Colt

My Grandfather James
Letter from my Grandfather at age 80 written to me at age 11 in 1966: " The Gilded age I was born in was 1886. My Father had a Stock Farm with 120 head of race horses - blooded stock they said and a big family coach, painted in black and gold. Four horses - High Steppers they were, and my Father built a big brown stone four story house with family initials on the doors. Electric lighting had just come out and all the electric switches for the whole house were in one little room, like a pantry. They were knife blade switches - copper brass exposed. The door was kept locked. We had door bells, big bells one could hear all over the house. We had a big coal furnace in the cellar. I tried to run away and become a drummer boy in the Spanish American War but our boys died like flies with yellow fever. Guess it was a good thing my father and his colored work hands caught me and took me back. I remember we had a special kind of dog with lots of spots. He ran under our carriage where ever we went. I wore kilties and had long curls down my back like a girl and got in so many fights that Papa took me to Philadelphia and had my hair cut short and bought me a boys brown suit. Many bicycles had a real high wheel and a short wheel. The street lights were manufactured gas and a man came along every evening to light the lights. He had a step ladder and a long tapir. Then they invented the incandescent lamp. They were set high in the corners and a man came along every so often and put a stick of carbon in them. They arranged the lamps so they could be let down to the street level and raised in place again by ropes. Drug stores sold two kinds of ice cream. Vanilla and Chocolate. A nickle would buy a loaf of bread and it was 5 cents for a cigar - or a pocket full of candy. Tutti Fruity ice cream was sold by street peddlers for 1 penny a scoop. Bananas were sold by street peddlers as were vegetables and fruits. My Papa would spit on the apples and rub them hard with an old rag to make them shine. In Philly us boys used to go around in gangs of 25 to 50 teenagers and the gangs all had names like the "Boone Rippers" or the "Cannery House Gang". The "Stone Yard Gang" which I belonged to had a fort with a big fence around it and full of chipped stones. The telephone came out when I was a baby. My Mothers Father was called "King of the Commission Merchants" in Philadelphia. Philly had cable cars that ran all the time. When they started to move, they let down a grip which grabbed the cable through a slot in the middle of the car tracks. Every once in a while the cable broke and everything stopped. There were many big wagons in the streets all the time and there were quite a few traffic jams with so many horses and wagons and carriages. In New York, the street cars were pulled by horses and they charged 3 cents for children and 5 cents for elders. The seats ran lengthwise of the cars. Many men wore high silk hats and hard derby hats. I didn't see any felt hats until after I went West in 1907. The street sidewalks were all brick and the roads were all cobble stones. There was always a rumble and it was noisy. Men came along with street brooms and shovels, sweeping up the horse manure. There were many mules also. Mules were animals with a mare for a mother and a little jackass for a father. They are man made animals, not put here by God like other animals. They cannot breed and have young mules - only a horse can have a male baby. The horse manure was sold to farmers to use in their gardens as a fertilizer. Some fertilizers were ground up with dead fish and animal bones. My father, your Great Grandfather was a big strong man 6' 2" in his bare feet and his arms were as big around as my legs at the hips. He had black curly hair, blue eyes and red cheeks from his Irish mother. He was a great swimmer and a dead shot and seemed to fear nothing. He liked to shoot wild ducks and wild geese. He gave me a Martin-Henry 16 shot repeating rifle when I got old enough to hold it up and shoot it. When I went west, my sister and my brother Charlie hogged all the old things when the old residence was sold and I got nothing. Your Grandmother Eva did not want any of the old stuff. "