Our USA Summer

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Our USA 速


Charming Stories & Photos Created by remarkable Americans just like you!

Our Country - Our People - Our Stories

Our USA Magazine


my notes

e have gained so many new contributors (and friends) to our digital edition. Stan Hitchcock, celebrated country music personality, writes a poignant tale of “a memory, a vapor, a ghost of the music that is gone” in The Old Man That Time Forgot. I was immediately enchanted with Suzie Duncan Sexton and Secrets of an Old Typewriter when she expressed that she wrote “stories from a smart and sassy small town girl.” Maura Knowles “The Morselist,” writes about ways to be healthy, in Throw Open the Windows. Our returning contributors – Sally Edelstein, Tama Kieves, Kay Thomas, Mark Barkawitz, Larry Fish, and Shelly Morris – each offer their individual vignettes of “Our USA.” Included among these is a loving tribute about Hope, written by my sister Mary Valentino. I still love print, mind you, but am finding there are many interesting, varied avenues that digital offers, which print does not. For example, we are able to link directly to our contributors’ blogs and websites, and just with a click of your mouse you are taken there. We are able to expand the number of pages, 100 with this issue, primarily because we don’t have to worry about the cost of paper, print and shipping, which allows us to lower the price to our readers. I hope you enjoy our summer issue, and as always, if you have a downto-earth story, a poignant memory, an amusing anecdote or fantastic photography or art to share with us and your fellow Americans, please do so at www.ourusamagazine.com. Wishing you a wonderful summer!


Cher Valentino, Editor Wendy Junker, Marketing Director Our beautiful cover photo is an enigma. It was taken by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Tina M. Ackerman on March 27, 2002. The caption read “With American flags creating a patriotic theme, a youngster waits on the pier for a Sailor stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), during homecoming events for the carrier battle group (CVBG). Theodore Roosevelt departed Norfolk, Virginia, on September 19, 2001, to join the fight against terror.”

CJ, Production Manager Debra Jennings, Text Editing Bubba, Director of Goodwill

This file is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain. We have been unable to track down the photographer or the little girl who would now be a teenager. Does anyone out there know these people?

Back Cover - Randy Litwin www.rlitwinphoto.com P. 16 Nigel Wedge P. 24, 29, 70 Bob Oswald


P. 35 Kristin Talluto


P. 36 John Peña


P. 50 Stuart Chapman P. 64 Gary Bridgeman P. 68 Alina Alexandru http://alinalungu.com/

our usa magazine PO Box 275 Leicester, NY 14481 PO Box 761 Sidney, NE 69162

www.ourusamagazine.com admin@ourusamagazine.com



Summer ‘13 Copyright © 2013

All rights reserved. Reproduction in any manner, in whole or part is prohibited.

Our USA Magazine

10 Photo - Carol Highsmith

Our Country, Our People, Our Stories

10 Saving America 26 Occupation: for Posterity

Iconic photographer Carol Highsmith’s gifts to all the American people.


Garden Rebels

Will the next Revolutionary War take place in our own backyards?

20 Vegetable


Gardening from seed to Harvest.

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The mid-century American housewife was the most envied woman in the world.

34 A Deeply

Moving Portrait

This story is nothing short of a real life Notebook.

38 Hope “Hope is something we always hear. When we hear it we experience it, and when we experience it we speak it!”

Summer 2013

42 Roll Up for the Mystery Tour

A visit to lesser-known North American Beatles Landmarks.

50 The Old Man

That Time Forgot

“Yeah, it had been 63 years ago, now,...man, it don’t seem more than yesterday.”

56 Homeward



3 Photographers

Memories of a place held deep in your heart.

6,7,9 Contributors

60 When You

68 Throw Open

Trust in yourself and you’ll likely find everything you’re looking for.

Open sunshine! Open your windows and breathe in the fresh air! A lil’ fresh oxygen does the body and soul good.

Discover Your Real Self

the Windows

Natural Order

When a little help from a friend seems appropriate.

78 The All Stars As American as baseball and mom’s apple pie.Old images, old smells, old memoriies, stir up the deepest emotions.

64 Secrets of an

Old Typewriter

Stories from a smart and sassy small town girl.

66 Gotta Love

86 Made in the USA

Media, PA

Made in USA

33 Patriot Profile: Simplicity Sofas 41 Patriot Profile: Bullet Blues 72 Back in the Day Freckles

76 I’m Just Sayin’ Overthrowing the Queen


74 Upsetting the

30 My Hometown

The 30 Day Journey

Movie review and Interview with Josh Miller.

88 The Story of

Change Those Summertime Picnics The Story of Change urges us

94 American Moment

An informal gathering of old and new friends, and food.

98 Resources

to start exercising our citizen muscles to build a more sustainable, just and fulfilling world.

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A Shout Out to Our Contributors Sally Edelstein Sally Edelstein is an award-winning artist and writer whose work has focused on mid-century American culture. Her nationally exhibited collages of vintage imagery offer a remix of popular culture. Her blog, EnvisioningTheAmericanDream.wordpress.com, offers up a curated collection of vintage advertising and illustrations of mid-century American consumer culture. Weaving personal stories along with vintage images, the commentaries are an amalgam of satire, history and memoir. www.sallyedelsteincollage.com

Patrick Hannigan

Patrick Hannigan is a decade-long resident of Media, PA, and is an architect and digital artist. He is a 1994 alumnus of Virginia Tech University with a B.Arch degree. He and his twin brother, Mike, who is also an architect and fellow Hokie (VT alum), have collaborated many times, specializing in residential projects located in Media and neighboring communities. www.gemini-arch.com

Stan Hitchcock

Stan Hitchcock has been actively involved in the Country Music industry from the 60s through to the 90s. Stan Hitchcock was the young kid with the greats, a buddy of the superstars, and a media giant shaping the careers of the up and coming kids who needed to be presented to the television generation. Currently, Stan and his wife Denise are involved in their television network called Blue Highways TV which they helped found. BlueHighways TV, features America’s roots music, concerts, festivals, arts and crafts, Western Lifestyle and other positive family programming.

Amy Abbott

Hoosier Amy McVay Abbott writes a bi-weekly column, “The Raven Lunatic,” for multiple Indiana newspapers, and is the author of a book of essays, “The Luxury of Daydreams” (available on Amazon.com). Visit her web site at www.amyabbottwrites.com.

Kay Thomas Kay Thomas has lived in the rural Finger Lakes hills of Western New York for many years. After a successful teaching career, she is pursuing opportunities in freelance writing. Her first book, “AND ONE MORE THING: I Brake for Squirrels and Other Thoughts I Have No Doubt About” is based on her bi-weekly social commentary column in the Livingston County News, Geneseo, NY. www.thelcn.com

Susie Duncan Sexton

As I consider myself nothing more than Peter Sellers in Being There, or at my liveliest as Inspector Clousseau, it is difficult to make “Susie” sound interesting? I am proudest of being mother of Roy, whom I consider the person I would most wish to be. I grew up in a very small town, and after having ventured briefly out and away, returned to my roots, be that what it may, and I shall discuss that aspect of my life some other day? I love to rhyme, and I always have time...for stray animals and causes which involve “innocents” being victimized by our self-centered society.

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Tama J. Kieves Tama Kieves is the best-selling author of “This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love!” and “Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!” As a sought after speaker and career coach, she has helped thousands worldwide to discover, launch, and live the work and life of their dreams. Visit her at www.TamaKieves.com and sign up for her free “Inspired Success Launch You Kit” and free mojo-messages. And join her Facebook tribe!

Maura Knowles

I am a professional actor/singer/writer and baker. I created Mac-n-Mo’s Morselicious Treats for my Dad, a diabetic, and a recent quadruple bypass surgery survivor. Mac and Mo’s is a vegan baked goods company committed to producing the healthiest treats possible for kids and adults alike. We use only wholesome, locally sourced ingredients to create gluten-free, no-salt, no-addedsugar treats that you can enjoy guilt-free. http://macnmos.com

Michael McGranahan Michael McGranahan lives in Modesto, California, where he maintains a bankruptcy trustee practice while pursuing his writing career. He was born and raised in San Diego, and holds degrees from San Diego State and Stanford. His first novel, Silver Kings and Sons-of-Bitches is a historical novel of love and obsession in Victorian San Francisco. He is currently working on his second novel Abbey of London, set in Elizabethan England

Larry W. Fish Larry was born and raised in the beautiful Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. In 2004 he moved to North Carolina with his wife, Lina. He enjoys writing short stories of his youth, politics, nature, and scary fictional stories. Larry’s first novel Golden Haze won critical acclaim, his second novel Walk to Love should be in book stores soon. Follow Larry on his blog, “Writing by Fish” http://lwfish62.blogspot.com

Mark Barkawitz Mark Barkawitz has earned awards for his fiction, poetry, essays and screenwriting. His work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, literary journals, ‘zines and on dozens of websites. He has IMDb feature film credits as screenwriter, actor and associate producer. He has taught creative writing classes, coached a championship track team of student/athletes, and ran the 2001 L.A. Marathon. He lives with his wife and two children in Pasadena, CA . http://markbark.org

Shelly Gail Morris Shelly Gail Morris is “everybody’s girlfriend.” A southern girl, Shelly was born in Atlanta, GA that now resides in good, old Nashville, TN. She has been married for 26 years and has two boys and two dogs. She enjoys writing about strong women pursuing their dreams and following their hearts. Her new book, “Mae’s Open Arms,” is available now from Oak Tara Publishing. www.ShellyGailMorris.com Our USA Magazine

South Wedge Soap, P.O. Box 31251 Rochester, NY 14603-1251. 800-888-8468 http://southwedgesoap.com

Favor your skin naturally with handcrafted soap made from ingredients traditionally used for skin care by indigenous cultures worldwide. We utilize food grade seed and nut oils, floral and herbal essential oils, natural plant materials, and high purity water extracts thereof. Each bar incorporates at least one ingredient tenderly grown in the “South Wedge� of Rochester, New York, a prized horticultural area for the last hundred years. Remaining flora are purchased from cultivated sustainably farmed sources, not robbed from the wild. The base oils are made into soap by the energy efficient cold process which retains the natural glycerin yielding a softer texture soap than commercial hot process bars. Our soap contains neither animal by-products, synthetic fragrance, nor detergents. Recycled paper and cellulose film packaging is thoroughly biodegradable.

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A Shout Out to Our Contributors


Amy is the author of The American-Made Guide to Life where she blogs about quality products and items made in the USA. This NYC resident is fueled by coffee, Thai food delivery, Pilates, math, and sunshine!

John Peña

John Peña is a multidisciplinary artist who grew up in Washington State. He received his M.F.A. from Carnegie Mellon University and has exhibited works at The Kate Werble Gallery in NYC and The Kevin Kavanaugh Gallery in Dublin. A few of John’s projects include: racing with clouds, sending a letter to the Pacific Ocean every day for the last nine years, and creating a pirate radio station that played extinct birds sounds. John currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. www.johnpena.net

Dave Barnhouse

Dave Barnhouse has never forgotten the values learned in his youth. He is a self-described “country-boy” who grew up in small-town Richmond, Ohio. “I want my art to make people feel as though they were back home on a Friday evening experiencing the warmth of a cozy fire and smelling the homemade bread and cookies coming from the oven.” Dave’s paintings are snapshots of life the way he remembers it from the 1950s and 60s. www.davebarnhouseart.com

Jeanie Tomanek

Artist Jeanie Tomanek draws upon themes that first developed in her poetry; exploring various feminine archetypes from myths, folk-tales and even her own experiences. Tomanek is self-taught, and has always painted for pleasure. It is only in the last decade that she has begun her full time artist career. She lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband Dennis and two rescue dogs. She has one daughter who lives in Amsterdam. http://jeanietomanek.com

Bob Oswald

Bob Oswald, a retired 30-year veteran of Eastman Kodak, devotes his time to all sorts of photographic expression including portrait, commercial, travel, fine arts and loving all those things that creep, crawl and fly, wildlife photography. http://lightbanditphotography.zenfolio.com

Randy Litwin

Randy Litwin is a self-taught and colorblind photographer who has pushed past conventional methods and developed his own unique style in creating vivid and emotional photographs. He is known for his portraits and roller derby action photographs. Samples of his work can be viewed at www.rlitwinphoto.com Our USA Magazine

Saving America for Posterity

Historic Route 66 Motel sign, Kingman, Arizona July, 2006

“Ice Cold Pop� sign and American flag advertised on Route 66, Seligman, Arizona, May, 2009

66 Drive-In Theatre, Carthage, MO Built in 1949, one of less than 400 Drive-In theatres in the United States today. August 12, 2009

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Carol M. Highsmith, a distinguished and richly published American photographer, has donated her work to the Library of Congress since 1992, and has dedicated the rights to America’s people. On April 28, 2013, the CBS television news magazine “CBS This Morning” featured Highsmith’s work in a lengthy segment titled, “Saving America for Posterity at the Library of Congress.”

Snow Cap burger cafe, Route 66, Seligman, Arizona - July, 2006 Delgadillos is also known for its silly staff, described by some as “madcap,” who have been known to make a show out of entertaining kids with fun practical jokes.

Hamel is where the two Metro East alignments of Route 66 part ways, the earlier path heading through Edwardsville and Mitchell towards the Chain of Rocks Bridge and the Show Me State. The later corridor heads further south towards Troy and Collinsville before heading into Missouri from East Saint Louis. July, 2009

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Siesta Motel, Kingman, Arizona July, 2006

Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, Arizona October, 2006 The brain child of Frank Redford. There were originally seven Wigwam Motels. The wigwams have a steel frame covered with wood, felt and canvas under a cement stucco exterior.

Snow Cap burger cafe, Seligm

Route 66 also known as the Main Street of America, was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in America, originally covering a total of 2,448 miles, from Chicago to LA. It was recognized in popular culture by both a hit song and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s.

Big Blue Whale, Route 66, Catoosa, Oklahoma October, 2006 12

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13 Here it is! Jackrabbit Trading Post, Route 66, Joseph City, Arizona

man, Arizona

Small town along the path of Route 66, Elkhart, Illinois July, 2009

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Garden Rebels

By Daisy Luther The Organic Prepper

10 Ways to Sow Revolution In Your Own Back Yard


ometimes I think that the next Revolutionary War will take place in a vegetable garden. Instead of bullets, there will be seeds. Instead of chemical warfare, there will be rainwater, carefully collected from the gutters of the house. Instead of soldiers in body armor and helmets, there will be back yard rebels, with bare feet, cut-off jean shorts, and wide-brimmed hats. Instead of death, there will be life, sustained by a harvest of home-grown produce. Children will be witness to these battles, but instead of being traumatized, they will be happy, grimy, and healthy, as they learn about the miracles that take place in a little plot of land or pot of dirt. Every day, the United Nations and the Powers That Be take steps toward food totalitarianism. They do so flying a standard of “sustainability,” but what they are actually trying to sustain is NOT our natural resources, but their control. This morning I came across one of the most inspiring, beautifully written articles that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time. Julian Rose, a farmer, actor, activist, and writer, wrote an article called “Civil Disobedience or Death by Design” and it is a “must read” for anyone who believes in the importance of natural food sources. “From now on, unless we cut free of obeisance to the centralised, totalitarian regimes whose takeover of our planet is almost complete, we will have only ourselves to blame. For we are complicit in allowing ourselves to become slaves of the Corporate State and its cyborg enforcement army. That is, if we continue to remain hypnotized by their antics instead of taking our destinies into our own hands and blocking or refusing to comply with their death warrants. This ‘refusal’ is possible. But it will only have the desired effect when, and if, it is contemporaneous with the birthing of the Divine warrior who sleeps in us all. The warrior who sleeps-on, like the besotted Rip Van Winkle in the Catskill mountains.”


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Photo by Nigel Wedge

Does it sound dramatic to state that if things continue on their current path of “sustainability” that we are all going to die? If you think I’m overstating this, read on. The case is clear that we are going to soon be “sustained” right into starvation via Agenda 21.

healthful, nutritious food will be something that can only be purchased via some kind of black market of organically produced food. • Regulations abound in the 1200page “Food Safety Modernization

• The European Union is in the process of criminalizing all seeds that are not “registered.” This means that the centuries old practice of saving seeds from one year to the next may soon be illegal. • Collecting rainwater is illegal in many states, and regulated in other states. The United Nations, waving their overworked banner of “sustainability” is scheming to take over control of every drop of water on the globe. In some countries, people who own wells are now being taxed and billed on the water coming from those sources. Nestlé has admitted that they believe all water should be privatized so that everyone has to pay for the life-giving liquid. • Codex Alimentarius (Latin for “food code”) is a global set of standards created by the CA Commission, a body established by a branch of the United Nations back in 1963. As with all globally stated agendas, however, CA’s darker purpose is shielded by the feel-good words. As the US begins to fall in line with the “standards” laid out by CA,

Growing your own food wields many weapons. • You are preserving your intelligence by refusing to ingest toxic ingredients. Many of these ingredients (and the pesticides sprayed on them) have been proven to lop off IQ points. • You are nourishing your body by feeding yourself real food. Real food, unpasteurized, un-irradiated, with all of the nutrients intact, will provide you with a strong immune system and lower your risk of many chronic diseases. As well, you won’t be eating the toxic additives that affect your body detrimentally.

Act” that will put many small farmers out of business, while leaving us reliant on irradiated, chemically treated, geneticallymodified “food.” In the face of this attack on the agrarian way of life, the single, most meaningful act of resistance that any individual can perform is to use the old methods and grow his or her own food.

• You are not participating in funding Big Food, Big Agri, and Big Pharma when you grow your own food. Every bite of food that is not purchased via the grocery store is representative of money that does not go into the pockets of these companies who are interested only in their bottom lines. Those industries would be delighted if everyone was completely reliant on them. • You are not susceptible to the control mechanisms and threats. If you are able to provide for yourself, you need give no quarter to those who would hold the specter of hunger over your head. You don’t have to rely on anyone else to feed your family.. Our USA Magazine 17

Consider every bite of food that you grow for your family to be an act of rebellion. 1. If you live in the suburbs, plant every square inch of your yard. Grow things vertically. Use square foot gardening methods. Make lovely beds of vegetables in the front yard. Extend your growing seasons by using greenhouses and coldframes. This way you can grow more than one crop per year in a limited amount of space. Use raised bed gardening techniques like lasagna gardening to create rich soil. If you have problems with your local government or HOA, go to the alternative media and plead your case in front of millions of readers. We’ve got your back! 2. If you live in the city or in an apartment, look into ways to adapt to your situation. Grow a container garden on a sunny balcony, and don’t forget hanging baskets. Grow herbs and lettuce in a bright window. Set up a hydroponics system in a spare room (but look out for the SWAT team – they like to come after indoor tomato growers!) Go even further and look into aquaponics. Create a little greenhouse with a grow light for year-round veggies. Sprout seeds and legumes for a healthy addition to salads. 3. If you live in the country, go crazy. Don’t just plant a garden – plant fields! Grow vegetables and grains. Grow herbs, both culinary and medicinal. Learn to forage if you have forests nearby. Learn to use old-fashioned methods of composting, cover crops and natural amendments to create a thriving system. 18

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4. Raise micro-livestock. This option may not work for everyone, but if you can, provide for some of your protein needs this way. Raise chickens, small goats and rabbits for meat, eggs and dairy. If you are not a vegetarian, this is one of the most humane and ethical ways to provide these things for your family. Be sure to care well for your animals and allow them freedom and natural food sources – this is far better than the horrible, nightmareinducing lives that they live on factory farms. 5. Save your seeds. Learn the art of saving seeds from one season to the next. Different seeds have different harvesting and storage requirements. 6. Go organic. Learn to use natural soil enhancers and non-toxic methods of getting rid of pests. Plan it so that your garden is inviting to natural pollinators like bees and butterflies. If you wouldn’t apply poison to your food while cooking it, don’t apply it to your food while growing it. 7. Be prepared for backlash. The day may come when you face some issues from your municipal government. Be prepared for this by understanding your local laws and doing your best to work within that framework. If you cannot work within the framework, know what your rights are and refuse to be bullied. 8. Learn about permaculture. Instead of buying pretty flowering plants for your yard, landscape with fruit trees (espalliering is a technique that works will in small spaces), berry bushes, and nut trees. These can provide long-term food sources for your family.

9. For the things you can’t grow yourself, buy local. Especially if space is limited, you may not be able to grow every bite you eat by yourself. For everything else, buy local! Buy shares in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Visit your farmer’s market. Shop at roadside stands. Join a farming co-op. Support the agriculture in your region to help keep local farms in business. (One note about farmer’s markets: some farmers markets allow people to sell produce that originates at the same wholesalers from which the grocery stores buy their produce. I always try to develop a relationship with the farmers from whom I buy, and I like to know that what I’m buying actually came from their fields and not a warehouse.) Find a local market or farm here.

There is a food revolution brewing. People who are educating themselves about Big Food, Big Agri, and the food safety sell-outs at the FDA are disgusted by what is going on. We are refusing to tolerate these attacks on our health and our lifestyles. We are refusing to be held subject to Agenda 21’s version of “sustainability.” Firing a volley in this war doesn’t have to be bloody. Resistance can begin as easily as planting one seed in a pot.

10. Learn to preserve your food. Again, go back to the old ways and learn to save your harvest for the winter. Water bath canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, and root cellaring are all low-tech methods of feeding your family year round. Not only can you preserve your own harvest, but you can buy bushels of produce at the farmer’s market for a reduced price and preserve that too.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca Amy’s Organic Garden owner Amy Hicks harvests greens at her farm in Charles City, VA. Ms. Hicks’ farm participates with Fall Line Farms a local food cooperative in the Richmond, VA area that offers a wide variety of household food staples and specialty items on an ever changing inventory of fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, flour, grains and more. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

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Vegetable Gardening: Harvesting Gardening from seed to harvest

By Claudia Ficca

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fter all your hard work taking care of the weeding, the pruning and the watering, you now understand the joy that comes from stepping out in the garden and seeing all your plants bearing the fruit of your labor. The time has come to eat the benefits! No salad is better than one made from handpicked, ripe tomatoes and fragrant green basil. Here are some tips for harvesting and preserving your vegetables. Tomatoes Tomatoes are ready to pick when they are fully red and firm, but not hard. When the harvest starts, check the plants every few days and pick those that are ripe. Overripe tomatoes will fall off the plant and rot quickly. How to freeze: Wash, remove stems, and pat dry. You can cut them or l e a v e them whole. Place in freezer bags and remove air using a straw. Label and seal. Keeps 6 months. Another option is to dip the clean tomatoes into boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and peel. Place on a tray and freeze for 30 minutes. Then place in plastic bags, remove air, seal and label. Sun” Dried Tomatoes In our climate, a better option to sun dried tomatoes is oven dried tomatoes. All you need for this recipe is time, tomatoes, olive oil, and salt. Preheat your oven to 250°F, slice tomatoes in half (lengthwise), place skin-side down on lightly oiled baking tray, season with a little salt and place in oven for about 8 hours. You can then place the cooled, oven dry tomatoes in mason jars with a little finely chopped garlic and dry oregano and cover in oil. Visit my blog for more photos and recipes at www.letiziagolosa.com.

Saving seeds for next year Saving seeds is a method used by many vegetable gardeners to grow beautiful vegetables year after year. Allow perfect tomatoes to ripen until they become soft. Cut them in half and squeeze the gel and seeds into a jar. Cover with 3 inches of water and shake well. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 24 hours before pouring out the liquid. Discard the floating seeds, and rinse the larger seeds on the bottom in a strainer and then dry them at room temperature for approximately 2 weeks. If handled and stored properly in a cool dark place, tomato seeds can last up to 6 years. This method can be used with peppers, eggplants, zucchini, fagiolini... String Beans Pick beans before you can see the beans swelling in the pod. This method insures that the beans will be tender. For continual harvest pick them frequently (every 3-5 days). How to Freeze: Wash, pat dry, cut into pieces or leave whole. Transfer to freezer bags, remove air, label and seal. Keeps for 6 months. Cucumbers Cucumbers are tastiest when harvested young before the seeds fully develop. Harvest sizes vary with the variety, but a good gauge is as follows: 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inch in diameter and 5-to-8-inches long. Making pickles with garden cucumbers is a great way to preserve them. Zucchini Zucchini are best harvested when young and tender, the skins should

be soft enough to poke fingernail through. My husband’s aunt “Zia Lucia” from Campobasso gave me this recipe when she was here for a visit a few summers ago. Like most recipes passed down from our Italian aunts, mothers and grandmothers, the quantities are very vague: “abbastanza sale, qualche spicchio d’aglio” (enough salt, a few cloves of garlic) but we manage to understand this language and keep passing it along. Zucchine crude sott’olio Raw zucchini in olive oil Ingredients• Zucchini 1 kg • Minced garlic (as much or a little as you like) • Vegetable oil • Fine sea salt • Peperoncino: 2 Tbsp (optional) • Chopped parsley • Dried Oregano Preparation: Wash and dry zucchini. Grate them and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with a handful of salt and let sit 24 hours. After 24 hours squeeze out excess water from the zucchini and place in a large bowl with chopped garlic, oregano, parsley and peperoncino (if you want some heat!). Toss all the ingredients to combine. Fill sterilized jars with mixture, cover with oil. Let sit uncovered for 30 minutes, add more oil if needed and seal tightly. Keep in a cool dark place and enjoy after 40 days. Refrigerate after opening.

Eggplant Eggplants should be picked as soon as they are ripe, this can be seen when they are just about fullygrown and their color is bright and shiny. Cut, do not pull, the fruit from the plant. How to Freeze: Want to make a fast parmigiana? Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch slices, sprinkle with Our USA Magazine 21

salt and allow to stand 30 minutes. Drain off excess liquid and fry gently in oil until just tender. Cool on brown paper and pack into plastic bags with parchment paper between slices. Seal and label. When you are ready to use, simply assemble as a parmigiana with frozen eggplant slices and bake. Keeps up to 3 months. Peppers You can harvest peppers when they are green or leave the fruit on the plant until they turn from green to orange, yellow, or red. It’s best to harvest peppers when the fruits are full size and firm. How to Freeze: Wash, remove seeds and cut into slices or leave whole. Place on a tray in a single layer. Freeze for 30 minutes. Pack in freezer bags, remove air, label and seal. Freeze up to 6 months. Peperoncino To have hot peppers all year round simply thread them on a string through the stalks and hang them in the sun on a south wall. You can also preserve them in oil like sun dried tomatoes. After the harvesting season is over, remember to winterize your vegetable garden in the fall by removing the plants, raking the fallen leaves and pulling out the weeds. Also clean and store all your tools and gardening accessories for next season. I hope my gardening series inspired and motivated you to gear up and start your first vegetable garden. Sources: http://panoramitalia.com http://www.veggieharvest.com Marthastewart.com: Harvest & Beyond http://www.gardenguides.com 22

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Irrigating Strawberries, North Cohocton, NY - Bob Oswald

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Occupation: Housewife By Sally Edelstein


Head of the Household 1960

he mid-century American housewife was the most envied woman in the world...smart…yet easy-going with never-you-mind freedom; that was the new Mrs. America! “To be an American woman today,” Life Magazine gushed in a late 1956 special edition dedicated to the American woman, “Is to be cast in an exciting challenging and difficult role – exciting because the sky seems to be the limit in education, work and freedom.” 1960 was not only a new year but a whole new decade, filled with unlimited possibilities and promises of new freedoms for everyone, including m’ lady of the house. 26

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Although it would be another year until Americans would be asked not what our country could do for us, but what we could do for our country, anticipating that spirit, we were asked – for the very first time – to extend ourselves and fill out our own 1960 census form without the assistance of a Census worker. Nonetheless, Uncle Sam still dispatched an army of 170,000 Census Bureau workers toting identical 14 pound cardboard satchels to go door to door to collect the data from those non do-it-yourselfers.

Along with Life Magazine and the electric bill, the 1960 Census forms arrived in our mail early one March morning. Mom eagerly opened the hefty envelope from Uncle Sam and got right to work.

While Mom sat at the Formica kitchen table twisting a #2 pencil steadily round and round in her fingers as she attacked the questionnaire, Dad was busy doing a double crossword puzzle.

Dawdling at the breakfast table scribbling in words, he brushed some English muffin crumbs off the page and drank a third cup of instant coffee.

However. Uncle Sam stated very clearly: “Do not count housework.”

“Well, here’s one I’m sure of,” he said smiling broadly “‘Head of a Household’, seven letters.”

Like most housewives, Mom’s life was seemingly carefree. In the easydoes-it-beauty-without-buffingself-polishing-wash-and-wear-fast acting-no-bending-no-stretching-no scrubbing-no-rubbing-magicallycarefree-push-button world that was the American housewife’s world, she felt like a queen.

Confidently he filled in the letters in his square neat handwriting: HUSBAND. Mom gave a fairly satiric grin and poured herself more coffee. After writing in my father’s name as “the head of the household” on the first line of the Census form, Mom proudly filled in “homemaker” in the blank for wife’s occupation – it was the new modern term for housewife.


As if Mom would ever consider that work.

“Well that’s that,” Mom said when she had finished filling out the Census. She spoke in the happy energetic tone of one who has found her mission in life and expects to enjoy it to the fullest. Mrs. Housewife She genuinely gloried in her role as the perfect wife and mother. After all, “What kind of woman am I if I don’t feel this fulfillment?”she and her friends would ask themselves.

One week, Newsweek magazine ran a special scientific report investigating the changing lives of educated women. “Who could ask for anything more?” Newsweek asked in the March 7, 1960 article. “The educated American woman has her brains, her good looks, her car, her freedom…freedom to choose a dress straight from Paris (original or copy) or to attend a class in ceramics or calculus; freedom to determine the timing of her next baby or who shall be the next President of the U.S.”

Mrs. America Vintage magazine Better Living featuring ad for Mrs. America Contest

Mrs. Housewife, they were told again and again in the plethora of articles and ads that appeared in the media, your judgment and taste have helped make the American standard of living the highest in the world! One of the questions on the form concerned whether any member of the household other than Dad worked: “Did this person work anytime last week?” the government asked. You were instructed to include “part-time work such as helping without pay in a family business or on a family farm.”

Dad always boasted that Mom was the ideal wife – she could balance a checkbook, get out of a restaurant without losing her gloves, wear a pair of stockings twice without developing a run, and prevent the Chinese laundry from smashing his shirt buttons and spraying on too much starch. Our USA Magazine 27

Reading further, the ad continued in its description for the ideal American Mrs. “What is the typical American woman like? We polled top homemakers of the country to find the answer. Is it you? If you love a party, hate doing the dishes and find ironing a bore, you are according to our American Mrs. Quiz, as normal as ‘blueberry pie’.” Mom grabbed the magazine from Dad and continued reading: “How does she spend her day?

Although Dad kept nudging her to enter the annual Mrs. America contest sponsored by the American Gas Association, Mom demurred. The contest was a nationwide search for America’s outstanding homemaker. She was selected on the basis of her ability as a homemaker and her personal attractiveness. “If your husband boasts about your cooking,” the ad explained, “if your bright new curtains were stitched by hand, and you’re a good homemaker, this contest is for you.” “You can be the next Mrs. America!” Dad read out loud looking straight at Mom. Along with the honor, the grand prize for the best homemaker would include a new Freedom Gas kitchen and an exciting all expense paid pleasure trip for Mrs. America and her husband to the fabulous Belgian Congo!


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“Most of her day is devoted to her house and family. She has several children and does almost all her own housework alone, though she sometimes hires help to give a hand with heavier chores. “The way youngsters love to eat, it’s no wonder that the American Mrs. puts cooking at the top of the list of favorite homework. Second best on this list – this surprised us– is cleaning. Sometimes she works outside the home, but it’s usually on a limited part-time basis.

“Mostly she chooses a profession like church organist, beauty counselor or voice teacher to give creative expression to some special talent. “And when Mrs. America’s mister said ‘till death do us part,’ he meant it!” “Not one separation in all except in the line of military duties.” Of course, if Mom were to read further in that Newsweek article about the young wife with a brain who seemed to have it all, she would read about the boredom and stagnation that was creeping into the lives of thousands of young wives. “She is dissatisfied with a lot that women of other lands can only dream of,” the magazine reported. “Her discontent is deep, pervasive and impervious to the superficial remedies which are offered at every hand.”

http://envisioningtheamericandream. wordpress.com

Summer Garden, Scottsburg, NYOur - Robert Oswald USA Magazine


Everybody’s Home Town By Patrick Hannigan


edia, a suburb of Philadelphia, has all the great qualities of a special home town. Its most distinguishing feature is its trolley cars. Running in the center of the main avenue, State Street, the trolley system is the only one of its type still in operation in the entire country. Being the original final stop of the railroad from center city, Media originated as a summer vacation destination for Philadelphians. Media was home to a number of grand hotels that have since been converted into homes and businesses. Throughout the year, many outdoor events are held along State Street and have become annual traditions. From the lighting of the tree and the holiday lights outlining the buildings, to several food, arts and craft fairs, music events, and car shows, Media provides an abundance of special events for all to enjoy.



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Media, PA

Media has its very own lighted ball for the countdown on New Year’s, parades for all the major holidays and some not so major, including Veterans Day, take place on State Street. Some newer traditions have recently joined the long standing ones. For instance, during the summer months, State Street is closed off, and restaurants take over, filling the street with tables, diners, and entertainment. And just outside town, Rose Tree Park’s outdoor amphitheater hosts music acts daily in evenings throughout the summer. The courthouse maintains a large presence in the town and has even hosted some presidents on occasion. Media also holds a five mile run every June throughout the streets of the town, and proudly boasts the recognition of being the very first “Fair Trade” town in America. But, just like any great home town, the best part of my hometown are the people, making Media, PA quite deserving of its motto: “Everybody’s Home Town.”


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Robert Bohinick at a John Phili[p Sousa tribute concert in Media, PA - Photo - Patrick Hannigan

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Simplicity Sofas

Furniture for Small Spaces and Tight Places

Proudly Made in the USA


t’s a common problem – trying to squeeze a big sofa upstairs or through a narrow doorway. What do you do if it just doesn’t fit? A small North Carolina furniture company has come up with a solution that is spreading across the country. Simplicity Sofas is a very unusual enterprise. Every sofa, sleeper, sectional and chair it makes is designed to fit through even the narrowest doors, stairways, halls and elevators. They are a perfect fit for RVs, boats and bonus rooms as well. The company’s furniture is manufactured in High Point, North Carolina where it is custom-built to your individual specifications. It is then shipped within 30 days directly to your door by UPS Freight. This furniture is not available in retail stores. There are no wholesale or retail middlemen between you and the factory. Everything ships unassembled in 2 or 3 boxes. Putting the furniture together is a snap, requiring only 15 minutes for a single person to assemble a sofa and no tools are needed. Disassembly is even faster. Does that sound too good to be true? Then check out the company’s video here, where you can see a a small 8-year old boy assembling a 170 lb. Simplicity Sofa, by himself in 3 minutes 52 seconds.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Remember, these are not cheap imported plywood or pressed-wood products built on massive assembly lines. Simplicity Sofas builds high quality furniture that is hand-crafted one piece at a time using solid oak frames. The frames, springs and cushions are all Made in the USA and backed by lifetime warranties. This furniture can be assembled and disassembled hundreds of times without any loss of structural integrity; great for people on the move! There are over 200 different fabrics to choose from. Other options include: slipcovers, spring-down cushions, 4 different cushion styles and 10 different arm styles. Sofas are available in three different sizes (full-size, mid-size and apartment size) for each style. In addition, there are loveseats, chair-and-a-half’s, chairs and sectionals also available. Simplicity Sofas is an award-winning company, with multiple awards for both its product design and its “extreme” customer service. Some of the most recent awards include: • 2013 and 2012 “Best of Market” Awards at the International Home Furnishings Markets. • 2012 Small Business Innovator of the Year Award – Winner of the $20,000 Grand Prize.

Step 4

Relax & Enjoy

•2012 Customer Experience Innovation Finalist awarded by the CXPA (Customer Experience Professionals Association). Simplicity Sofas is not for everyone, but if you have a small space, tight place, narrow doorway, tight elevator, twisting stairway, older home, apartment, RV, boat or if you are in the military or move often, then Simplicity Sofas is a perfect match for you. Our USA Magazine 33

A Deeply Moving Portrait A

ndrew and Jacqueline met in 1982, when they were both eight years old, while attending elementary school in South River, New Jersey, where they both grew up. They dated on and off through junior high school and high school and remained friends regardless of their break-ups, and remain friends until this very day. Jacqueline was the first girl Andrew ever kissed and the first girl he told his father he loved...and now, 20 years later, they are permanently in each other’s lives. Andrew left for the United States Army two weeks after he graduated from South River High School in late June 1993. Jacqueline graduated a year prior in 1992. They had kept in contact over the years through many mutual friends via email, and when Andrew visited home throughout his Army career. But it was an intermittent relationship. On a whim, Jacqueline found Andrew on Facebook. They spoke over the phone and on Facebook throughout May 2011. Jacqueline went to North Carolina to visit Andrew during July 2011. After several visits from July 2011 through December 2011, Jacqueline and Andrew decided to move her and her three daughters down to North Caroline to live together. Inescapably, on September 11, 2012, after both enduring 20 years of heartache and pain, they were married. Andrew is currently serving the United States Army Special Operations Command. He has 20 years in the Army and is currently a Sergeant First Class. 34

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Words & Photo By Kristen Talluto

His current assignment is with the Headquarters and Headquarters Command 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he serves on the Brigade Staff in the Brigade Civil Military Operations Center. Andrew has been deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 10 years experience in both countries. During Andrew’s career, he sustained several injuries during combat. In 2005 and 2006 while in Afghanistan, Andrew’s vehicle was struck twice by an IED1, wherein he suffered a concussion both times. In 2007, while in Afghanistan assigned to Special Operations, Andrew and his unit detained three Taliban insurgents. During this detainment, Andrew was shot in the center of his chest plate armor, which knocked him six feet to the ground. Andrew sustained two cracked ribs, a concussion and severe bruising to his chest. In 2008, while in Iraq, Andrew returned from a night mission wherein eight terrorists were detained. After their mission debrief, Andrew went outside on top of a 10-foot-tall Connex2 when they were attacked by an enemy rocket and mortar fire. The blast blew Andrew off the top of the Connex and he sustained a blown ear drum and, compression fractures to T11 and T12 in his neck. In 2010, during Andrew’s last deployment to Afghanistan, his Special Operations Unit was on a direct action raid, when their Chinook helicopter was struck by a rocket propelled grenade and the helicopter plunged 15 feet to the ground.

The American flag that Jacqueline is wrapped up in was once draped over the casket of Andrew’s best friend and brother, who lost his life fighting for this country. Jacqueline’s 18-year-old daughter, Summerlyn, is wheelchair bound due to severe disabilities. Andrew talked about Summerlyn during our photo session and said that initially he was scared of how he would handle having a completely handicapped daughter, but his love for her, her sisters and her mother set every single fear he had aside. He went on to say that she is a wonderful child and he loves her like his own and that the bottom line is, she’s his daughter and he’s honored to have the title of dad. Baby number seven, Lola Grace Marie, made her debut May 11, 2013.

Their story is nothing short of a real life “Notebook” Their story is nothing short of a real life “Notebook.” I truly believe that this image and story should be published, not only because I photographed from my heart and soul, but because the images alone tell a true life story of undying love and devotion of a wife and soldier, especially when we live in a world full of constant war and turmoil. 1

Improvised Explosive Device

A large metal cargo container used by the U.S. Army for shipping supplies, as to overseas bases. 2

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Hope - Steel Sign and Photography / Desert Aire, Washington Using a steel sign that read “Hope,” I waited until sunset to capture the shadow of the sign on the landscape. ~ John Peña 36

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By Mary Valentino

38 38

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ope is a funny word, as it is a feeling of believing that what we want will happen. As a child we wish to grow ever faster so that we become full-fledged adults, soaring to new heights, spreading our wings. We remember those long lazy days of summer where we spent countless carefree hours playing outside, aching for the time to pass and yet not to pass.

As teenagers we are caught between two worlds hoping we do not make a mistake – wanting to be taken seriously as a young adult and yet craving, as a child does, the warmth, love and compassion of our family and friends in all that we say and do. When we hit middle-age we are too busy and hope that work, family and social commitments are accomplished each and every day. And by our sunset years we long and hope for the memories of years past, that they will sustain and fortify us in all that we have done and hopefully have yet to do.

So why is hope such an important word? Because hope gives us the strength to go on and achieve the impossible in this life and on into eternity. We can all think of countless instances in our life, and the lives of others, when we ponder this word HOPE. One in particular comes to mind when I think of hope. My dad, well into his eighties, was in the hospital and had been hooked up to an IV catheter and other equipment due to his battle with cancer. My sister and I had been visiting, but had to leave for a short while to take care of an errand. Neither of us wanted to leave, as we both knew dad was very unpredictable with his advanced medical condition. Lo and behold, when we returned, blood everywhere, we found out that he not only had ripped out his IV catheter and was now confined in a chair so he could not get into any more trouble, but that he had also encouraged his roommate, Geronimo, to rip out his IV lines and join him in the battle to escape!

I had to laugh, as my dad, a WWII veteran, did not know the meaning of the word “No!” or despair. What he had in his heart, knit into the very fabric of his soul, was eternal hope – hope that he would live forever, hope in God, hope for that day that he would make it out of the hospital and live to tell the story, and he did! What amazed me is that he not only had hope, but that he perpetuated this hope to others and they took action. Hope is a perpetual call to action. To truly turn from despair and move forward with grace on this continuum of life, whatever the circumstances. Our parish priest once gave a homily on hope that went something like this...Satan was recruiting a poor lost soul and invited him into his underworld where he kept his most prized possessions. There the person saw riches beyond belief – gold, jewels and everything of his heart’s desire. Then he came upon a plain wooden box that did not appear to be much of anything. Curious, he approached the box but Satan quickly cut him off from touching it. He said, “You may have anything in this room but not this one small treasure.” The despondent soul asked, “Why? Why would such a small unimportant thing as a box loom larger in value than all the riches in this room?” Satan, smiling, replied, “Because this box holds Hope and without it people will wallow in their despair and turn to me, as you have.” I love this text from the book “Praying with Saint Paul” by Father Harry Cronin: – “Hope is something we always hear. When we hear it we experience it, and when we experience it we speak it!”

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To play a part in the restoration of the U.S. economy by connecting American manufactures with consumers; to educate consumers on the importance of buying American made products; and to partner with American manufacturers and businesses to collaborate on maximizing their use and distribution of Made in USA products.


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Bullet Blues: Born in France, Made in America By Isabelle Benoit

lthough I was born in France, I came to the USA and fell in love with the country. I intended to stay a month, but that turned into a year, and now I’ve been here ever since. I’m Isabelle Benoit and I founded Bullet Blues Custom Apparel, LLC in 2011. I’m so proud and honored to be an American-- the American spirit is what inspired me to start my company. Beginning with a line of jeans, I made it a guiding principle that every item of Bullet Blues’ apparel was to be made by American craftsmen, using materials made in the USA. I’ve been asked, “Why would a French woman care so much about making an apparel line in America? And why blue jeans--what could be more American than jeans?” The reason that I feel so strongly about producing a fashion line domestically is an inspirational story that I think you will enjoy. My story also explains the origin of the name “Bullet Blues.”

A year before Bullet Blues came to be, my son Guillaume and I visited the American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy. Located in Colleville-sur-Mer, it honors the American soldiers who were killed in Europe during World War II.

Code-named Operation Neptune, the Normandy landings were fatal and bloody missions for the brave soldiers that fought there. I was moved by the stories of these young men – and also felt a personal connection to them. Both my grandfathers were taken prisoner in Germany and the rest of the families had to survive on their own. Nearly 10,000 courageous men were laid to rest there, but one grave in particular touched our hearts – the grave of an unknown soldier. The cross reads: “Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God.” A young man who made the ultimate sacrifice, yet someone whose name the world would never know. Filled with respect and gratitude, we knelt beside the grave and prayed. After I returned to the United States, I wanted to honor the men who perished in those battles, as well as to express my American pride. I felt that the best way to do that was to create American-made clothing, using American-made resources. And Bullet Blues was born. The name “Bullet Blues” was coined to honor the soldiers, their bravery and their bullets. Their patriotism should never be forgotten, and it’s my hope that Bullet Blues will be a lasting reminder of their valor. The company’s name is a symbol of all the admirable American men who who sacrificed their lives so that France—and Europe—would remain free.

I’m also very proud that Bullet Blues is part of the increasingly powerful movement to keep American jobs here. Like many business owners, I’m committed to producing in the USA, keeping America working, and helping to make our economy strong. I’ve been fortunate that Bullet Blues jeans has expanded and seen great success. All the hard work has paid off! We’ve added more denim styles, and a chic collection for women. We’ve received rave reviews, and even more styles are in the works. One reason that I think the company succeeds is our commitment to making the apparel in the USA, using American-made materials. My personal style brings a European flair to everything I design–and my standards for the line are extremely high. Consumers want quality and they look for the “Made in USA” label. I’m very proud that Bullet Blues produces premium apparel, made in the USA. American production means more American jobs, and that supports our country’s economy. Our USA Magazine 41

Roll Up for the Mystery Tour: A Visit to Lesser-Known North American Beatles Landmarks By Chris Epting

Reprinted with permisssion by Rock Cellar Magaazine 42

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here are many well-known Beatles landmarks scattered across North America. Many of them are well known, from the Hollywood Bowl, to the Ed Sullivan Theater to the Dakota Apartments. But are there other lesser-known sites that still hold some compelling Fab Four history? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Here are a dozen of them.

Washington Coliseum: 3rd and M Streets, NE Washington, D.C.

On February 11, 1964, just two days after their debut on Ed Sullivan, the Beatles gave their first concert in the United States at the Washington Coliseum. Today, the building is used as a parking and storage facility for garbage trucks.

Larrabee Sound Studios: 4162 Lankershim Boulevard Universal City, California In early 2003, an American Internet auction house claimed to have proof that the Beatles reunited in secret in the mid-1970s to record a final album. The website said the recordings had been made at a session in 1976 which ended in an argument between the members of the group.

This created a huge controversy, utterly disputed by the remaining band members and management. The tape label listed the songs Happy Feeling, Back Home, Rockin’ Once Again, People of the Third World, and Little Girl. But, the tape itself was said to be “bulk erased” by the Beatles because the session ended in a disagreement. Larrabee Studios North currently occupies the building where this supposedly mysterious recording happened. Our USA Magazine 43

On February 16, 1964 , the Beatles made their second TV appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. However, this time the performance was broadcast from the Napoleon Room of this popular resort hotel, not the Sullivan Theater in New York.

Deauville Hotel: 6701 Collins Avenue Miami Beach, FL

The nightclub still exists and is located just off the hotel’s main lobby. During their stay, the Beatles visited Muhammad Ali (then-Cassius Clay), who was there training for his upcoming championship fight with Sonny Liston.

Blue Jay Way: North of Sunset Strip Hollywood, California

Photo: Greg Feo

On August 1, 1967, George Harrison was staying at a rented house on this street. He wrote the song Blue Jay Way while awaiting the arrival of former Beatles publicity man Derek Taylor, who had gotten lost in the fog. Shortly thereafter, the piece was recorded by the Beatles for the Magical Mystery Tour film and soundtrack record. Fun fact: you may have a hard time determining if you are actually on Blue Jay Way, because folks keep stealing the sign. 44

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Candlestick Park: 602 Jamestown Avenue San Francisco, California

On August 31, 1966, the Beatles played their final American concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

From the Candlestick Gig

The official song list that cold and windy night included: Rock and Roll Music, She’s a Woman, If I Needed Someone, Day Tripper, Baby’s in Black, I Feel Fine, Yesterday, I Wanna Be Your Man, Nowhere Man, Paperback Writer, and Long Tall Sally. Our USA Magazine 45

Delmonico Hotel: 502 Park Avenue New York, New York

This mid-town hotel actually hosted two significant Beatle events. The first was in late 1963 when their manager Brian Epstein visited Ed Sullivan (who lived in the hotel) to square away details for the Beatles first U.S. TV appearance on Sullivan’s show in a few months. The next year, on August 28th, Dylan paid a visit to the group’s hotel room while they were in the middle of their first U.S. tour and introduced them to pot, thus getting them high for the very first time.

Doug Weston’s Troubadour: 9081 Santa Monica Boulevard West Hollywood, California This legendary club has seen its share of history. The Troubadour is where Elton John performed his first show in the United States on August 25, 1970 (he was introduced by Neil Diamond). Randy Newman started out here. Cheech & Chong were discovered on its stage. But it was also here on March 12, 1974 that a drunken, despondent, Yoko-less John Lennon made infamous headlines when, after he and (also drunk) Harry Nilsson were about to get tossed for heckling The Smothers Brothers, he taped a Kotex to his forehead. When a waitress refused to give him what he thought was proper respect, he snapped, “Don’t you know who I am?” “Yeah, you’re some ass– with a Kotex on his head,” was her response. 46

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105 Bank Street: New York City, New York John and Yoko first moved to New York City in 1971 and lived in this small West Village apartment. Lennon loved the fact that he could live in relative quiet and anonymity among the busy New Yorkers and soon, he and Yoko relocated to a more grand residence at the Dakota Building, a famous landmark at 72nd Street and Central Park West. Tragically, it was at the Dakota where Lennon was shot to death on December 8, 1980.

The Queen Elizabeth: 900 Rene Levesque Boulevard West Montreal, Quebec

On May 26, 1969, newlyweds John Lennon and Yoko Ono took the corner suite rooms (1738-40-42) at the elegant Queen Elizabeth Hotel to stage their week long “bed-in for peace.� A couple of weeks before that, the couple had bedded down in the Amsterdam Hilton for their first bed-in for peace, as documented in the song, The Ballad of John and Yoko. On June 1st, the lovebirds ordered up some recording equipment, and with comedian Tommy Smothers playing guitar, the song Give Peace a Chance was recorded. Joining them in the suite to sing were Dr. Timothy Leary, Montreal Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, musicians Derek Taylor and Petula Clark, and members of the Canadian Radha Krishna Temple. The single was released a month later. Today, couples can make their own peace in the same bed as John and Yoko in that very suite. The weekend package includes a souvenir photo of the 1969 event, breakfast for two, a bottle of wine, and a welcome gift. Our USA Magazine 47

Toronto Rock and Roll Revival: Varsity Stadium 277 Bloor Street West Toronto, Canada

According to Ringo Starr, it was Lennon’s first-ever solo performance—the famed Plastic Ono Band concert here at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium on September 13, 1969—that proved to be the end of the Beatles’ career. With the exception of the famous rooftop concert at Apple Headquarters, this was Lennon’s first live appearance since 1966. After the concert, Lennon returned to London with his mind made up to quit. Starr is quoted as saying “After (John Lennon’s) Plastic Ono Band’s debut in Toronto we had a meeting in Saville Row where John finally brought it to a head. He said: “Well, that’s it lads, let’s end it.” The show, billed as The Toronto Rock and Roll Revival, also featured The Doors, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Alice Cooper and others, and for Lennon, resulted in the album Live Peace in Toronto and the single Cold Turkey.

WKNR: 15001 Michigan Avenue Detroit, Michigan Remember the infamous “Paul is dead” rumor that hinted that Paul McCartney had secretly died and was replaced by a lookalike? This is where it started. On October 12, 1969, WKNR-FM’s popular DJ Russ Gibb opened the phone lines for his usual Sunday afternoon “rap” with his listeners. Then came the call that changed history. Eastern Michigan University Student Tom Zarski called with questions about the supposed death of Paul, thus beginning the tale that would immortalize both Russ and station WKNR-FM in Beatle lore. DJs, television news reporters, newspapers, and magazines picked up on the story (which had been rumored for a year or two after a supposed car accident McCartney had) and began to look for clues. The rumor eventually became a full-fledged conspiracy theory as members of the media and Beatles fans searched album artwork and song lyrics for clues to the cover-up and McCartney’s supposed death. 48

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he old man stood in the shadows, back stage in the large, historic theater, leaning on his push broom next to the wheeled cart that held his cleaning supplies, listening to the loud music and screaming crowd. His arthritis was aching bad tonight, his hands twisted and swollen, and although he could no longer make the chords on his guitar, he could still hold the broom well enough to get by. He was lucky the theater manager dimly remembered his theater history, when the old man had stood on that stage, sharing the show with Hank Williams, Sr., Red Foley and Minnie Pearl. Yeah, it had been 63 years ago, now, and he had just been 24 years old, but already had his number one song on the charts, hmmm…man, it don’t seem more than yesterday. Those were the days, man, rolling high, drawing the crowds, selling the records. He would have to make a point to meet this young Star when he came off stage, tell him a few stories of where it all came from, this Country Music…yeah, that’s what he’d do.



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He had been hungry and cold, the day he came and applied for the janitor position at the old theater, but then, seemed like he always felt hungry and cold, in his late eighties, but able to lie and pass for a somewhat younger age, because he really needed to find work. The flop house where he had a bed was threatening to kick him out if he didn’t come up with some money. Come up with some money…man, that used to not be a problem…not for him in the glory years…Now, it was old age pension, and a small retirement check each month from the Musicians Union, which together just barely paid for the lumpy bed, a meal a day and a bottle of Thunderbird Wine about once a week.

The Old Man That Time Forgot By Stan Hitchcock

Photo - Stuart Chapman Our USA Magazine 51

He had watched the buses pull up in back of the theater, bus for the young Star, bus for the band, bus for the sound and lighting crew, bus for the merch. Yeah, times sure had changed since he and his band traveled in a ‘56 Chrysler touring car, five people jammed together with instruments, bass fiddle tied on top, then later went to a station wagon and a trailer which was a heap better.

the income tax he was supposed to be paying. They took it all. The bus, the record royalties, writer’s royalties, sound systems, instruments. Gone, all gone. The good times wife, became bad times gone, and took the house, which was all he had been able to save from the

Finally in 1962, he had enough hit records to buy his first bus, an old Flex that he had bought off of Carl Smith, a beautiful custom job that Carl had babied for several years during his hit period. Tour buses became the way to go and he moved up to an MCI in the years that followed, with a special stateroom in the back where he could go to be alone with his developing habits. He was the darling of country radio and he just knew it was never gonna stop. But by the 70’s it did stop and fortune seemed to stop smiling on him. He had developed a pill habit in the 60’s and graduated to coke and alcohol in the late 60’s and early 70’s. While he was drying out and kicking the habit in rehab, his old manager had run off with the secretary, taking all the singer’s money when he left. Never did see the old rascal again, heck he was probably laying up in some South Sea Island somewhere, but the real kicker was, he also did not pay 52

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“come and take-it guys.” He tried to shake it off and and get up and come back strong, all he had to do was clean up and get back to work. He kicked the habit all right, but the run he was on had passed him by. The bookings stopped coming in, because of the reputation he had gotten during his pill and drinking times, and shows he could not meet, because he was just too sick to sing.. Photo by Ross Nicholson

By the 80’s, radio had completely forgotten him, he couldn’t get in the door of any of the old major record companies that used to be chasing him. He had a brief flare up in the late 80’s, but the independent label he was on went belly up, owing him money. Boy, if only…The old man snapped back from his memory trip, jerked back to reality with the loud music climax and pyrotechnics going off…the girls in the audience screaming and reaching out, wanting to touch the torn jeans, fancy boots, that no cowboy would be caught dead in…or touch the body underneath, as the Star stood on the very edge of the stage, pelvis thrust out, proud and flushed with the applause…not even aware that he had been about a half note off on his vocal performance, but the old man’s ears had picked it up instantly. Dang, he thought, onkey must not matter anymore in this new music, used to be a matter of pride with us in the old days. I might be old and hard’a hearin’, but I could sure hear that bad note. The crowd was going crazy, screaming and hollering…encores taken, pelvis flashes more prominent… light show pulsing and sweeping… da...dummmmm! The drummer finished his frenzy and it was over. As the Star headed off stage, the old man took a step

forward to maybe shake his hand and share a few stories about how it used to be…kinda becoming music buds, maybe, or… but the moment was lost when the Star shouldered past him, almost knocking him off balance, never knowing or even caring that he was going past real country music history. The Star headed for the bus, with his security detail pushing fans out of the way, he, looking neither left nor right, ignoring the imploring hands reaching out to touch…Yeah, sure different times, I reckon. Why, after the show we did here, those 60-some-odd years ago, Red, Hank, Minnie and I went out and sat on the edge of the stage and signed pictures and autographed albums for over two hours after the show…But, they are all gone now, all the greats that I toured with…I don’t know how I managed to stay on as long as I have…I sure miss those folks, the musicians and the fans…all gone…all gone. The old man pushes the broom, picking up litter left by the show crowd…The crew has torn down and loaded up, the buses backed up and headed out to the next show, the crowd all gone home…and the theater is all his. As he is surveying the darkening theater, he feels a deep pain, almost like an electric shock, going up his neck and shoulders. He staggers a second, regains his legs and walks back toward the stage. A strange melancholy has taken hold of him, a yearning, for he knows not what...but, something that he’s had but is now gone. He walks out on the stage…finds the very center, where he had stood before…He looks down at the old torn stage boots that he still wears under his work uniform, a remembrance of what was, as the pain in his chest seems to radiate throughout his body. He coughs a couple of times, trying to ease the pain in his throat…opens his mouth to utter the first line of his biggest hit, feeling it well up inside him, oh, to just sing it one more time…“When you’ve loved…” His breath runs out, leaving him reaching for the next words…which never come. He senses a presence on both sides of his body, he thinks of Hank…Red…Minnie…as the spirit departs the old worn body, and he feels a peace at last. The old man slowly crumples to the floor, in the exact center of the stage, where he stood with the greats so many years ago…so many years ago…so many…

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Lincoln Hall in Chicago, IL

America’s Heartland by Dave Barnhouse 54

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Homeward Bound By Amy Abbott


he home I left more than three decades ago is no more. The houses I lived in are still there, but my childhood is long past. My trips to my hometown are for funerals, wakes or cemetery visits. Ten days ago, my brother, father, and I drove to the cemetery to visit my mother’s grave. That Saturday was a sunny day with a hint that spring may be coming.

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For me, visiting my hometown of South Whitley is like stepping back in time, like the New Yorkers who accidentally discover Brigadoon in the musical of the same name. Those who live there surely do not romanticize it as I do; memory plays tricks. I see it as the town was in the early 1960s, almost like the painted storefronts used as props for the South Whitley High School reunions. On a hot August afternoon, I’m riding my bike to Arnold’s Gas Station with my friends. I have a coin burning a hole in the pocket of my coralcolored Blue Bell jeans. I slide my dime in the coin drop of the chest freezer for a cold pop. Yes, we call it pop. Not soda, not coke (in the generic sense), but pop. At home, I am allowed only 7-Up, but at Arnold’s I get a forbidden Coca-Cola, chilled in a green glass bottle. The Kent Theater is gone now, but I still see in my mind the sparkly front sidewalk and lighted marquee featuring “Herbie the Love Bug” or “Gone with the Wind.” My cousin and I sat transfixed and somewhat terrified in the small onescreen theatre, watching the iconic Margaret Mitchell story. Tickets were 50 cents each, and long-time proprietor Vi LeBrun sold us popcorn in the in the traditional small cardboard red and white box for 10 cents. Where there is now a parking lot, I imagine the old South Whitley High School, which graduated its last class in 1971. I picture the old-style gymnasium where community 58

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members of all ages performed in several wonderful follies, and the Lions Club held its annual cake walk and Halloween contest. I remember visiting my dad, who was the agriculture teacher, in the back wing with its shop and an intriguing sink with foot controls. My brother and I often helped Dad sort and staple homework assignments, or run the mimeograph machine in

the office (where incidentally there was a Coca-Cola machine, away from my mother’s eyes). There is the little yellow house on Walnut Street where we lived until I was 10, and we moved to the country. Each summer my parents held my birthday party, complete with female classmates in party dresses, white socks, and Keds Red Ball Jets. Mom supervised games that involved string, toothpicks, apples and marshmallows, with a prize of penny candy from Baxter’s Dime Store.

Dad dragged in the picnic table from the back yard, and we feasted on Mrs. Hathaway’s homemade angel food cake with boiled icing. If they are feasting in heaven today, I swear it is on one of Blanche Hathaway’s homemade cakes! Living in a small town has good and bad points. When I was 18, I wanted to be anywhere else. Seeing more of the world helped me figure something out.

greener pastures.

For me, childrearing in a small town has more good than bad. My husband and I moved away after college and came back to Indiana, to another small town on the opposite end of the state. Our child grew up here in the wonderful town of Newburgh, and hopefully will have beloved memories. He also left the nest when he was 18 for those

My trip two Saturdays ago brought back good memories, and somehow I forget or ignore those that are not so pleasant. Anyone who tells you they had a perfect childhood has a bad memory. What makes good memories remain alive are the people who carved them, those friends still on terra firma who bring a smile to my face just by the mention of their names. On Saturday, we had lunch with four of them, lifelong friends of my family.

The old cliché says there are no friends like old friends. Though we were in town for just a few hours, we talked and laughed with these beloved people. While my grandmother and grandfather and mother are now gone, spending time with people who knew and loved them is a wonderful way to honor their memories. The American writer Thomas Wolfe believed “You Can Never Go Home Again.” I chose to repeat the entire quote here because it is worthy of thought ‘“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time--back home to the escapes of time and memory.” Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again, 1940 (published after his death)

Wolfe certainly had experiences I did not, and he grew up in Asheville, North Carolina while I grew up in northeastern Indiana. I chose another analogy, and I’ll stick with mine. Our lives are much like a garden, or a rich Indiana farm field. We nurture and care for our garden or farm, and are wary of what the seasons bring. We often remove weeds to enjoy the beautiful flowers or reap the richness of harvest. For me, the people in my hometown are the richness of the harvest, in its fullest sense.

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You’ll Find Your Real Work,

When You Discover Your Real Self

By Tama J. Kieves


Original Art Portal by Jeanie Tomanek Our USA Magazine


y students and clients want a plan. “What would you love to do in this moment?” I ask them. I know what some want to do in that moment. They want to find a career coach with a plan. I realize how terrifying it seems to give up a sense of security for a tiedyed bohemian sounding bromide like “follow what you feel in the moment.” It seems as ridiculous as a travel agent saying, “Hey just jump on a plane and let’s see where it goes.” You’d like an itinerary. You want to know what to pack. But, see, that’s the deal. You won’t be going there. The one who has the questions--will not be the one who revels in the answers. Besides, I’m not in this to help someone find a career. I want to help people find themselves. If I can help them find their True, magical, alive, and buoyant Self, I know they will walk in a different world and make a difference to our world. I also know they’ll find their career, along with reasons to weep with gratitude every day for the rest of their lives. In the book “The Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh,” Mobi Ho, the translator, tells a story about working for the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, who went by the name Thay. One day working in the kitchen, Mobi, about to stir the stew, looked about the kitchen frantically. Thay entered and said, “What are you looking for Mobi?” Mobi answered, “The spoon!” Thay responded, “No, Mobi is looking for Mobi.” I love this teaching story. When you find your real self– your peaceful, wise nature–you will discover everything else you need.

Recently I went to a concert to see Krishna Das (known for his amazing chants) perform. On stage, he told a story about Maharajji, the Indian saint he’d studied with, along with Ram Das. Someone once asked Maharajji how to meditate. The guru told him, “Meditate like Jesus.” The devotees asked, “How do you meditate like Jesus?” They were hungry for direction. Maharajji fell silent, slipping into a state of bliss. Tears streamed down his face. He answered, “He lost himself in love.” Krishna Das said, “I would have preferred it if he told me to stand on my head naked while chanting a thousand times, the 800 names of God. Then I could do something,” he joked. I know some of my clients would much prefer I give them assessment tests, do their numerology, Vedic astrology, tea leaves, Strengths Finders, and Myers Briggs. I could really make a living selling magic darts, just throw them anywhere on the wall, and I’ll tell you what you’re meant to be, and I’ll even bless a plaster chip for free, plus shipping and handling. Of course, if I told people I had a program that would map out everything for them and certify them, too, they would whip out their credit cards before I could finish my sentence, and I would tell them I was kidding–because I could never plot the astounding life encoded within them. It’s just that no one really wants to discover their own answer, feel their way through the unknown, let go of all the chatter and fear that they don’t have an answer for, and lose themselves in love. But it’s the only thing I want to offer them. I want them to experience their own unprecedented power, their own

irreplaceable genius. I am not so arrogant as to presume I know the potential of every individual, and that my limited experience gives me the right to proscribe their limitless wonder. I do want to ease the pain of not knowing. But I don’t want to cheat them of their true answers with some forced and poorly crafted amalgam of generalities. Besides, I know they already have a way, and more than that, they have a power and a love that will take them all the way through anything and everything in their lives.

Thay entered and said, “What are you looking for Mobi?” Mobi answered, “The spoon!” Thay responded, “No, Mobi is looking for Mobi.” You may think this “trusting yourself” stuff is wonderful for Vietnamese gurus and Indian saints. You may be interested in a more pragmatic approach. Well, let me tell you, I’m an honors graduate of one of the greatest fiefdoms of logic and power in the world, and they subscribe to a similar system. When I attended Harvard Law School, I had a boyfriend attending another law school. I was stunned as I read his lecture notes. “They told you that?” I’d say. “They just gave you the salient points?” I was filled with envy. My professors posed questions, and drilled into our assumptions and logic. We had to read everything and glean our own conclusions. Just when you wanted to kill these extremely high-paid pedagogues for exasperating your intellect–and calling it education– they’d say, “We’re not teaching you the law. We’re teaching you how to think like lawyers.” Our USA Magazine 61

At my retreats, I tell participants, “You have your own inspired success strategy.” Meanwhile, they act as though they have nothing inside but tangled seaweed and losing Lotto tickets. But I know the Guide of Genius will assist them. I know that as they start listening to and trusting themselves, they will receive impeccable next steps, an impulse or sparkle in the wind. I tell them to take their time and be patient because everything they are meant to be–is worth everything they have. They are learning the hang of a new language, the most important language ever. To an untrained eye, the path may seem less structured. But there are less visible lines when you navigate bigger territory. Premature structure can give you the illusion of control and safety, but in the end these limitations yield limited thinking and results. You may force quick answers with structured strategy. Yet you will also be searching again very soon. The truth is the only thing that satisfies. I want you to trust your own way. No one can give you this way. No one can take it away either. Please stop grasping at polished solutions that will leave you raw in the end. Please stop paying for cheap substitutes that are expensive anyway, on your pocketbook, and on the hours of your life they steal. There are no substitutes for your soul’s itinerary. Give yourself time. Stop trying to do so much so that you won’t feel lost. In fact, I dare you to lose yourself. Lose yourself in love–and fear will slip away. Then you will find everything you’re looking for, and more than you knew you could.


Paths by Jeanie Tomanek

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Between Here and Home by Jeanie Tomanek

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Secrets of an Old Typewriter By Susie Duncan Sexton


nly fleetingly ever entertaining the idea to author the “great American novel,” which ranked up there with achieving fame as a prima ballerina or opening an exotic animal sanctuary or climbing Mt. Everest, I now find that I pathetically look forward to unremarkable royalty stipends quarterly. No one is more surprised than I. Let’s remember, though, that pop-artist-sociopath Andy Warhol promised that all schmucks everywhere would achieve 15 minutes of fame, sooner rather than later. 64

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Photo “The Faulkner Portable” - Gary Bridgman Thus, I sadly consider that my achievement is already considerably watered down within Andy’s once prescient context. Demeaned again… Singers, revolutionaries, reality show show-offs, bloggers, critics, yellow journalists, prayer warriors, various activists, family focus folks, protesters, tweeters, armchair psychoanalysts, opportunistic politicians, and athletes (from peewee league to professional) overpopulate the earth and crave recognition

with accompanying cash results. “Show me the money!” And, thanks to Facebook postings and Letters to Editors, casual conversation–one on one and face to face– is on the wane while grandstanding proliferates. Look at us all! So much to say…and so little time. And even less quality information. Earnestly promoting Hillary Clinton in 2008 (please, tell me that she did NOT amass wealth while trading in “beef” commodities–is that just Republican propaganda?), I

submitted truly “progressive-thinking” logic to a multitude of newspaper editors and would have relished morphing into a political PUNdit, just a shade more solemn than Stephen Colbert. Instead, I delved into “nostalgic” trips to a not so long ago past, the glorious 50s and 60s, sans an abundance of candidness, sexual “allusions of grandeur” or naming of names unless in an adulatory mode. Super-heroes, wizards, paranormal situations, mythological concepts or a heavy reliance upon quoting scripture, or the capitalization of pronouns such as “He,” “His,” or “Him” also got ruled out as other millions of writers perfunctorily handle those topics. I decided to return to the yesteryear of hippies, lipstick, flower power, Disney, Howdy Doody, Ike, JFK, birth control pills, the Golden Age of Television, space exploration, and “Hi Ho, Steverino/ Madison Avenue.” Similarly to scantily-clad Lana Turner perching upon a drugstore stool and finding her platinumblonde-headed kittenish self “surprisingly” discovered in a surreal land of orange sunrises/sunsets and certifiable nuts, somebody incredibly “Greek to me” virtually grasped the high neck of my flannel nightgown as I inventively devised one status following another on the “social network” late into each night and into the early morning light. This Facebook ghost bearing gifts made me an offer I could not refuse. “Write more stuff, and I’ll be your editor!” At first I envisioned a Trojan Horse gliding across my screen -- then I succumbed breathlessly, yet confidently, to flattery. An anthology of reflections from a past era got born, entitled “Secrets of an Old Typewriter: Stories from a Smart and Sassy Small-Town Girl.”

(My original title – “Misjudged Gargoyles & Overrated Angels” – seemed pointedly, appropriately provocative for our Harry Pottercavorting-with-vampires saturated intellectual and cultural climate… but what do I know?) Ironically, a former cab-driver/cop, now a famous writer across the pond, recently shared with me several of his publication-horror-stories involving an unusual “apostrophe controversy,” yet his popular book, a murder mystery, is soon to be adapted into a movie. I matched him with an inventory of my own author-afflictions, which plague what otherwise might have qualified as one fun “Walter Mitty”-ish ride spent signing actual physical books at retail outlets across the nation, appearing on the Letterman show, replying to Charlie Rose’s probing questioning, and bantering with Jon Stewart. As far as I am aware, no attempts -- by Tarantino, Spielberg, nor Scorsese -- to access my “contact info” have occurred. Perhaps notifications from film directors fall into that category of “the check’s in the mail!” Although occasionally a handful of folks insist that I should “keep ‘em coming,” referring to columns I offer monthly, mostly I try to read “something” positive into blank stares I encounter while out and about mixing it up with the public. One astute reviewer DID compare me to fellow Hoosier Kurt VonneGUT – I DO have guts! Another reader likened my style to that of a science fiction novelist, the late “Ray Brad Berry” (Translation? Ray Bradbury) who wrote “Fried Green – Dandelions?” (A little confusion between “Tomatoes” and “Wine!”) Amateur critics run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous. I compensate through development of thick skin to

coordinate with my thick waist. Should you, or any of your connections, wish to read me, check out www.susieduncansexton.com where my personalized history of the world, part I, can be downloaded onto your Kindle, your computer, your iPad, your whatever. If I sell enough ebooks, I’ll rush out to become more worldly, tantalizing, mysterious, scandalous and possibly finance an exotic animal sanctuary at last. Perhaps, I’ll offer another Tall Tale-Tail-Tell-All…with a spine, a slick cover, and numbered paper pages. I’ll locate a vanity press that will provide precious illustrations of pudgy baby giraffes, gorillas, alligators, wallabies, elephants, gazelles, monkeys, lemurs, zebras, and ocelots. Please buy “My Coloring Book” immediately upon its release to Wal-Marts, Targets, Meijers and… All of the drugstores in America! I surmise that one day I’d land exactly where starlet Lana Turner once held court (legendary Schwab’s OR The Top Hat Café?)…comfortably situated upon my very own padded – (bar)stool! More likely, seek me out at a card table near you where I’ll happily supply my autograph via the flourishing stroke of a big fat waxy crayon! “Susie Duncan Sexton colors in the chiaroscuro of the American experience.” ~ David Ross, my handsome editor The “Faulkner portable”: American novelist William Faulkner’s (18971962) Underwood Universal Portable typewriter, resting on a tiny desk his stepson helped him build. This space at Rowan Oak, the author’s home. He insisted that this room not be called his “study.” According to biographer Joseph Blotner, “he did not study in it, so there was no sense in calling it that. It was the ‘office,’ the traditional name for the room in the plantation houses where the business was transacted.” Our USA Magazine 65


ummertime cookouts are dependable staples in our lives. Hardy old-fashioned food never fails when you look over the choices displayed on the picnic table.

this aversion surfaced from my childhood that could bother me still today. Oh, I guess it could be something worse. Salads are not my warm weather comfort food.

You are guaranteed there will be a spread of potato and macaroni salads—all variant shades of white with touches of each cook’s special ingredients making the dish a classic recipe.

I will fill up a big portion of my paper plate with tossed salad. (How I love it when the hostess considers how much weight is placed on a flimsy plate, and chooses to use sturdy heavyweight ones). There is one thing that puzzles me every time. I can never get my hands wrapped around the plastic tongs well, and I drop green leafy stuff on the table. It makes for a mess. I’ve seen some spectacular salad spills in my day, so I am probably a pretty average loser. And always, by the luck of the draw, I’m the first one to use a new bottle of salad dressing. That requires balancing my drink and putting down my plate carefully on the table’s edge to open the dressing.

My husband and his two sisters – unbeknownst to each other – make “mom’s potato salad” for a reunion party. There sits the three bowls side by side. One sister claims to have the actual recipe; the other two cook from memory. Both women are positive mom used Hellmann’s Mayonnaise™; their brother is certain that mom used Miracle Whip™. The siblings banter back and forth and sample each other’s work. Which one makes the most accurate rendition? No decision is made; no victor is declared. They move along to the merits of using celery, peppers and mustard to give new life to an old family tradition. I keep my mouth shut, though, laughing to myself. Since my mother-in-law passed away before I married her son, I have no firsthand knowledge. I approve of my husband’s version, which is not one iota like my own mother’s recipe. (My mom’s potato salad is hands down the best if you ask me.) It just goes to show you how siblings have their own versions of everything under the sun even though they grew up in the same household. Which leads me to yet another quirk of mine: I dislike anything with an overpowering taste of mayonnaise—even a dish disguised and wrapped up. I take a small portion first to check my taste buds. I have no clue where 66

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Inching down the line, I spy baked beans topped with chunks of bacon in long aluminum pans ready to serve an army. Different folks have their own opinions on the right quantity when bringing a dish to pass— from the widow who cooks for herself, to the career gal who manages a catering business. It is a trip down memory lane standing in the serving line with the person who brings the baked beans. She eagerly relates a quick story about grandma’s secret ingredients—which you never do find out —and a few other pieces of family history, too, sprinkled in for good measure. At one picnic a lady was raving to me about her special recipe for baked beans until her young daughter, overhearing the conversation, reminded her mother that she hadn’t done more than open a couple cans of beans. It never fails,

out of the mouths of kids comes the truth. The woman insisted that she had seasoned the beans with some extra spices to make them original. It wasn’t my place to referee. I took a big helping in hopes that her “doctoring up” was not in vain. On every picnic table there is a “mystery” dish—a casserole, vegetable combo or fruit concoction. The first brave soul that spoons up a bit revealing the inner contents deserves my kudos. That leaves it wide open for me to examine, poke and prod while speculating its merits with my fellow line mates. Of course, there are way too many desserts. Amateur cooks love showing off and outdoing each other. It can turn into a rivalry. These cooks should have a silent auction to see how much their delicacies would raise for charity. I haven’t even mentioned the hot dogs, hamburgers and sausage on the grill with buns and relishes alongside. It is always intriguing to be in different parts of the country and see what local meat brands are served. Ribs, pig roasts, chicken barbeque and spiedies can be a treat to talk about for days. Ice tea (great to splash over insect bites), lemonade, soft drinks and other liquid refreshment cool me down a degree or two on a hot day. Standing in line watching guests fill their plates, laugh and talk together—old and new friends–is what brings meaning to an informal gathering. You make do. It’s the occasion after all. I’ve arrived at the end of the table, and I will look for a seat under a shady tree to savor all the colorful delights on my plate along with the yellow jackets that have crashed the party.

Gotta Love Those Summertime Picnics By Kay Thomas

“Miguela, kneeling still, put it to her lip”. Watercolor painting published as frontispiece in: “The Spanish Jade” by Maurice Hewlett, Harper’s magazine, 113: September 1906. “Miguela, kneeling still, put it to her lip”. Watercolor painting published as frontispiece in: “The Spanish Jade” Our USA Magazine 67 by Maurice Hewlett, Harper’s magazine, 113: September 1906.

Throw Open the Windows

By Maura Knowles

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Photo by Alina Alexandru


ummer is on our doorstep. And our friend Mo, the Morselist’s, creative “cleanitis” craving is in full swing. ‘Tis time to morselfy your cleaning, so let’s get started with some of Mo’s top 10 tips! 1. Clear the clutter. You all know what I mean. Get it clear and clean! 2. Donate items you haven’t used or worn in more than six months to a worthy cause. 3. Start a compost bin, can or jar, if you don’t have a yard. I use a large jar to put my brewed chicory root and vegetable peelings. Coffee grounds, tea leaves and even clean egg shells mixed in with soil does wonders for your garden and reduces waste. DOUBLE MORSELICIOUSness! Watch this three minute video from The Sierra Club “How to Compost in Your Backyard.” 4. Make your own eco-friendly cleaner. My favorite concoction is to mix baking soda with peppermint castile soap and warm water, which makes an excellent fresh smelling non-toxic, scrubbing agent. Consider adding fresh lemon juice and even using the used lemon for extra fresh scent, scrub and shine. For the sinks and toilet bowl, not using the same sponge, try a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar. It actually fizzes when you mix the two, so it’s kind of fun…yes, one must make fun out of cleaning! It’s the MORSELIST’s rule! 5 Clean your refrigerator. Start by taking everything out, shelf by shelf. Yes, you may do this one shelf at a time. Deep clean the inside of your fridge with a mixture

of warm water, fresh lemon juice and baking soda. Towel dry and put everything back, assuming your food items and jars, etc. are already clean. If not, clean those, too and toss any old and moldy items… say that 3x quickly: OLD and MOLDY OLD and MOLDY OLD and MOLDY 6. Clean out and clean up your pantry/cupboards: After removing your shelves, again one at a time, consider lining them with fun lining paper…so much easier to clean. Heck, you can even make your own, if you’re feeling extra Morseliciously crafty, or get your kids involved. Make it fun and, while you’re at it, clean up your pantry items that contain high fructose corn syrup, sugar, MSG, too much sodium, ingredients you can’t pronounce and did I mention sugar? 7. Open sunshine! Open your windows and breathe in the fresh air! A lil’ fresh oxygen does the body and soul good. 8. For mo’ oxygen in your home, pot some plants in every room. You know I LOVE my green and yes, I have plants in every room of our home. Not only does it provide natural beauty, it provides mo’ oxygen and cleaner air. Triple Morseliciousness! 9. Start an herb garden, even if it’s just one little pot of basil. I have a pot of fresh basil on my kitchen counter and it lasts much longer than buying a bunch of basil at the market every week, plus it’s so fragrant and there’s something really fun about clipping your own fresh

herbs for every meal. Try it, you’ll like it. Just ask Mikey. (And if you don’t know that reference, good God, I’m old!) 10. As a reward for completing Mo’s spring cleaning list, I’ll share my Morselicious Nilla Nutty Shake recipe. As with 99.9% of my recipes, this is vegan, gluten-free, almost no sugar or sodium and, of course, loaded with oodles of Morseliciousness! Enjoy!

Morselicious Nilla Nutty Shake ½ cup canned coconut milk ½ cup almond milk (I prefer unsweetened) 1 tbsp vanilla flavor ¼ tsp pure ground vanilla optional: 1 tbsp cacao nibs crushed ice Serves 2 Blend all ingredients in a highspeed blender until desired consistency and sip or slurp the “MorseliciousNess.” Tip: If you double or triple the recipe, you can freeze remaining shake in popsicle molds or ice cube trays and blend again with mo’ milk of choice when your craving strikes. Our USA Magazine 69


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A Newly Cut Field, Conesus, NY Photo - Bob Oswald

Baked by Trappist Monks: Quality Since 1953



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y mind is slipping back in years like it does so many times. I’m now in the year 1963. It was a typical year in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Late spring was turning into early summer, and the time that my brother, Jim, and I spent in the forest was a daily event. This particular year though, we had no idea at the time that our lives were going to change. Jim and I grew up with nature all around us. We were taught by our parents to admire and respect it. Jim was walking near a small stream that passed a short distance from our home. He spotted something in the brush that immediately caught his eye. It was a newborn fawn covered with spots. The mother was nowhere to be seen, which was unusual for such a tiny animal. The fawn was very weak and our family feared that the mother may have met an untimely death. Jim carried the little fawn home and we nursed it back to health by using a baby bottle. Growing up with nature all around us we knew what we had to do. Our mission and our job were to protect God’s creatures. That isn’t saying that we were not hunters. However, everything that we killed we ate. It was a time in our lives when that was a necessary thing to do. I have since that time given up hunting. Now many years later, I would much rather hunt with a camera. 72

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FRECKLES By Larry W. Fish

It was at that time Freckles came into our lives. What else could we possibly call such a frail little fawn covered with spots? Freckles grew and spent much time in the forest around us, but always came to see

the people that saved her when she was so little. We would hold out an apple in our hand and she would take it from us as we petted her just like she was our favorite pet. She was an unusual pet, but growing up country would often bring such circumstances into our lives. I can remember having a pet grey squirrel and a pet raccoon when I was a little boy.

Freckles continued to grow and brought our family much happiness. I’m sure that she felt the same way about us. We could go outside of our home and call her and smile as we would see her running toward us. No matter how old I get, I will never forget the time that Freckles was in my life. That was 50 years ago. It was a very rural area at that time. I’m sitting in front of my computer now, thinking of how the housing boom of the last couple of decades has shrunk the size of the forest land in the Pocono Mountains. This little country boy is now approaching 65 years old. I now live in another state, in a city next to a state park. I can walk into that park of over 5,000 acres and I can feel the little boy that is still inside of me. I’m watching some squirrels playing nearby. I listen to the sound of the wind whistling through the tree branches. I can look out over a little lake and smile as I think back over my life. Although I am now hundreds of miles from the Pocono Mountains of my youth, this state park keeps those memories alive in me. As I think back through the years I can see it’s been a good life. I will never forget Freckles. She was special. I’m proud to be an American. I smile and realize how special that is.


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ith toolbox in hand, I walk out to my truck from the small repair job just completed at an old customer’s home in an exclusive west-side neighborhood. Home security signs mark manicured lawns that fit the landscapes like large, green, area rugs. Overhead, a flock of sparrows cruises a blue sky highlighted with a hint of late afternoon clouds. Suddenly—as if out of nowhere—a big, black crow dive-bombs the flock, striking a single, unfortunate sparrow. Clutching the prey in its claws, the crow bats its large, black wings and caws, as if warning the panicked flock, that chirps and dives vainly at the crow in an effort to free their captured comrade—but to no avail. The crow lights on an upper branch in one of the giant cottonwood trees across the street. With one claw, it holds down the struggling sparrow, while caw, caw, cawing at the chirping flock that continues to circle and swoop, but with no more effect than irritating gnats. The crow draws itself erect, pulls its head back, and then hammers its yellow beak down into the much smaller bird. “Hey!” I wave my old Dodgers cap up at the carnivorous crow. But it pays me no heed. When it draws its head back again and spikes down a second time at the still struggling sparrow, I drop my toolbox, hunt up a couple walnut-sized rocks from the dirt around a nearby bush, then hurry across the street. “Hey!” But the crow still ignores me and strikes down again at the sparrow.


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I know the little bird is probably dead meat by now and I know it’s the natural order of things—only the strong survive in nature—and the crow’s pretty high up in the tree, but I position myself with a clear shot at a familiar distance: about 60 feet away. I line myself up so that an errant throw won’t go through a neighbor’s window, which I would then have to explain and repair. Holding one of the rocks loosely with my thumb and the first two fingers of my right hand, I lean back on my right leg, lift my front foot off the ground, and fire a would-be fastball up into the tree. The rock smacks the branch under the crow and ricochets—like a knock-down pitch at an opposing batter—into its chest, knocking the crow backwards, causing little black feathers from its tuft to hang momentarily in the air, until it flaps its extended wings, hovers, and shrieks a defiant caw-w-w! The flock scatters. The wounded sparrow rolls slowly off the upper branch, plummeting, spiraling down, when suddenly its little wings flutter, then extend to swoop and lift the wounded bird just over the ground. Incredibly, the little bird beats its wings and climbs back up to join the still-circling flock. The big crow lands on another branch, stares down at me, and caws loudly. “Back at you, buddy.” I drop the other rock and—while keeping an eye on the crow— head back across the street to my truck.

When I get home, my teenage son—in cap and sweats—is waiting for me. “Can you catch me? I need to throw today.” “Sure.” My son plays baseball for his high school team. To stay sharp, he throws with me on our make-shift mound in the backyard, which keeps me sharp, too. I follow him out. He hands me my old catcher’s mitt. “What took you so long?” “I needed to throw today, too.” “Huh?” He stands on our homemade pitching rubber—a wooden 2x4 sunken sideways into a mound of decomposed granite from the local lumber yard—rubs the redseamed baseball between his hands, and awaits my explanation. Standing behind home plate—sixty feet, six inches away—I turn the bill of my well-worn Dodgers cap around and raise my mitt as a target. As he warms up, I tell him about my one-pitch save. “Lucky throw,” he assesses from the mound. I correct him: “Good throw.” And toss the baseball into his alreadyextended glove. “Lucky sparrow.”



ORDER By Mark Barkawitz

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reedom is the American way— except in my house. In my house I am the dictator, ruler, monarch, king, president and, of course, the queen. It’s my way or the highway. Haven’t we all said that or felt that as parents? Haven’t we all said something like “as long as you are under my roof . . .”? Or maybe, “as long as I’m paying the bills.” Don’t we feel as parents that we are entitled to force those little folks that we brought into the world to listen to what we have to say? As queen of the castle, by golly, my heirs will do as I wish. We spend so many years teaching, nurturing and protecting our kids that it is really a challenge to stop giving orders and actually listen to them. When do we step back? When do we zip up our eager mouths and let our children become adults? When do we begin to embrace our kids own opinions? America is the land of the free and home of the brave. Yet if I am paying all the bills— you will adhere to my rules and you are only free when I say you are free. And if you are brave, let me see you pick up your underwear and clean your toilet. As parents we have a say so. It’s our money. No freedom. No bravery here. It is our kingdom—until it isn’t. The years have passed and all of my warnings, and declarations, and advice, and musings and stories have been daily pounded into my boys’ brains. I want to say that I always listened to their every word or idea. But admittedly, I am a southern woman and probably gave my own opinion way more than necessary. Now my boys are nineteen and twenty-three, and I see the dynamic of my little empire has changed. 76

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Listening can be such a hard thing to do—especially when I disagree. (I am still the queen, right?) But we must respect our children’s decisions and ideas. Of course, we try to truly hear them all the time. But I feel at a certain age, they cross an invisible line and we have to shut up, and we have to start granting that freedom that they deserve. After having opinions for all of these years, it is quite difficult. Sometimes I have to bite my lip or leave the room not to shout out my own thoughts. (After all, I am always right— right?) I have to literally force myself to let them grow and make mistakes. I have to let them believe in their silly ideals and argue with the television and shake their heads in disgust. I want to make them see things my way all the time, but I cannot. And I have slowly realized that those days are in the realm of the past. Strangely, it’s not about money, because I am still paying for things in their lives. It is a weird maturity that just happened. I didn’t see it coming. Maybe it was moving out and going to college. Maybe it was suffering failures and successes in high school. I can’t say. The queen is unsure – shocker I know. They seem to feel that Mom doesn’t know everything anymore. She’s not stupid, like she was in those high school years. But now they feel they can disagree with me and boldly go where many teenagers have gone before. It’s not a nasty, in your face balking. They believe in their ideas and feel strongly about their topics. Holy cow, could they be reasoning? It’s freaky! Didn’t I find rolling papers a few years ago? I find myself staring at my boys

thinking, “Who are you?” Their crazy ideas actually make sense. Their stupid musings are quite intelligent and, dare I say, smart. WHAT! I said that in a high pitched voice with a long southern drawl. My boys care about the world and what’s going on in it. They care about our leaders and the decisions they are making. They care about the Earth and preserving it. They are thinking ahead in their own lives. They are planning and venturing out on endeavors that make me (the Queen) a little nervous. When suddenly I realize they really are free and brave. As Americans they have been raised to listen and learn. And now they want to make a difference and be heard themselves. The queen isn’t officially overthrown, but her words are not law anymore. Dang. So be aware that someday your kids (even the ones eating mud) will someday have terrific, novel ideas. Be warned that you will have to zip your mouth and nod your head in agreement, even when you have a thousand misgivings. Let them be free and let them be brave. You raised them that way. This is the United States, and they are Americans! I’m just sayin’.




By Shelly Gail Morris

Helena Bonham Carter is The Red Queen in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (A Film by Tim Burton)

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The All Stars by Michael D. McGranahan

Beguiling word, Converse. And a marvelous creation. Certainly the finest tennis shoe known to man— or boy growing up in the 1960s, at any rate.


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lack canvas. White stitching. Rubber toe in a half-moon shape. Heel emblazoned with a little patch that said All Star. Converse All Star. Beguiling word, Converse. And a marvelous creation. Certainly the finest tennis shoe known to man—or boy growing up in the 1960s, at any rate. The proliferation of knock-offs surely demonstrated this point more elegantly than could the arguments of any fifth-grader. Thus I reasoned while surveying the pitiful abominations attempting to pass as tennis shoes, lined up before me at the Kenny’s Shoe Store. The canvas of a Converse All Star shoe, I had been explaining to my mother, thinking this would be relayed to my father, the holder of the family purse strings and the ultimate arbiter of all things financial, was nearly indestructible. So durable was its essence that a hacksaw would likely dull its teeth ere that remarkable material give way to rips or tears. And the stitching, comprised of thread so tough it could only be likened to steel cable, was so resistant to fraying that nary a loose thread would be seen after countless years of abuse. No seam sown with this stitching, I had assured her many times, would ever unravel, thus saving untold amounts on the purchase of replacement shoes. But the rubber sole. Oh, that incomparable Converse brown rubber sole, cleverly arranged in a diamond pattern. So appropriate, that pattern.

Even a ten-year-old knew that nothing was harder, tougher, or longer lasting than a diamond. Those diamonds I would examine every night, had I the fortune of owning something of such immense value, confident that I would find no wear whatsoever, and that those miraculous surfaces, simultaneously crystalline-hard and responsively supple, would be no worse off after the prior sixteen hours of running, jumping, sliding, and scuffing. “This shoe,” said my mother, picking up a counterfeit from off the shelf, “looks exactly the same as a Converse.” Sadly innocent. Or brainwashed by my father. I wasn’t sure which. Just the fact that I was in a Kenny’s Shoe Store was humiliation enough. I glanced around hoping no one I knew was there to spread the word of my disgrace. I may as well buy shoes at Woolworth’s Five-andDime! Any tennis shoe worth its salt—and especially Converse— had to be purchased at La Mesa Sporting Goods. Ah, the hours I could spend in that store…the smell of Wilson baseball gloves... the glow of polished Louisville Sluggers…the cleats…the bows and arrows…the football helmets…the Schwinn Bicycles. The fragrance of leather, rubber bicycle tires, resin, and sundry ointments combined to create a veritable ambrosia to a tenyear-old boy.

Ah, the hours I could spend in that store…the smell of Wilson baseball gloves...the glow of polished Louisville Sluggers…the cleats…the bows and arrows…the football helmets…the Schwinn Bicycles. They don’t make sporting goods stores like that any more. This wasn’t a big-box, warehouse store mind you, but rather a compact, even intimate space crammed full of wondrous and miraculous treasures stacked from floor to ceiling, with the baseballs and gloves and shoes all within easy reach for maximum tactile pleasure, while the canoes and rafts and tents were nestled high up in the corners, just under the ceiling, reachable only by the ladder that seemed a veritable stairway to heaven. I especially loved to try out the different bats, taking one at a time out of the huge barrel, admiring the amber brown stain, the shiny, polished surface, the black Louisville emblem stamped onto the meat of the barrel. Yes, this one feels good, nicely balanced, not too heavy, not too light, though the handle is a little narrow for my long fingers. And so I’d pull out another one, searching happily for the perfect bat. And from the bats I’d move on to admire the bicycles, then the bows and arrows, and so on.

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But this was all a warm-up. A dance. An intricate ceremony leading inexorably to my final destination—that little corner I would always visit last so that the memory remained fresh in my mind for as long as possible. The shoes. Tennis shoes. Converse All Star tennis shoes. The anticipation was exquisite torture, but torture I knew would soon find its reward in a bitter-sweet reunion with those miraculous black and white canvas shoes with the brown, durable, diamond-patterned rubber soles. Yes, bitter, because as the closed sign was being hung in the door, I would leave the store once again without my beloved shoes, but sweet because I knew they would be there when I returned, like that star in the sky the patient astronaut knows he will one day land upon. “And this shoe,” my mother added, handing the counterfeit to me with a kindly, but determined, expression, “is much less expensive.” Yes, I wanted to say, because it’s a fake. My father had gotten to her; I should’ve known. I took the knock-off shoe from her and scrutinized the canvas with a contemptuous sneer, looking it over as one might an inferior baseball card—anything other than a Topps, that is. Hmmm. This does look like a Converse. Same white rubber toe, same—No! Don’t be fooled, I told myself. That Kenny fellow was as sneaky as a trench-coated watch salesman. Clearly not the right shade of black canvas, I knew, recovering my wits, nor did it have the rugged texture of coarse canvas required of a real tennis shoe. I glanced at my mother, imploringly. Clearly she could see the difference. 80

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Any reasonable person with a pair of eyes could see the difference. What my mother did see, but was too kind to say, was that I was inflicted with a serious case of tennis shoe envy. She knew with a benevolent, maternal wisdom, that I wanted the tennis shoes that my friend, Jake, had. What she didn’t know was, I wanted everything Jake had. Jake, you see, was a year older than I, had his own room, a go-cart, a dog, a retainer that heaven knows why I thought was cool—because it made him lisp (was I really that stupid?– apparently). And, of course, Converse tennis shoes. In other words, everything I didn’t have, but was determined to acquire as soon as reasonably possible. Jake’s goddess-mother (not goddess as in Aphrodite, but more along the lines of Demeter), I hasten to mention, maintained a drawer in her kitchen dedicated to Bazooka Bubble Gum. Honestly, she did! No pennies required, no dispensing machine. Just there for the taking. Incredible. But, if you’ve recovered from the shock, she also kept 6 oz. bottles of Coca-Cola in her big, white refrigerator. Coca-Cola that she would actually allow us to drink! My hazel-green eyes would grow wide at the sight, and even today I have to catch my breath when I think of those magical, curvaceous little bottles, sitting like ripe fruit waiting to be plucked off the shelf of their refrigerator. The nectar of the gods there for only one purpose: to quench my rabid thirst. Though truthfully, it had nothing to do with thirst—had I just drank half the

water in Jake’s Olympic-size pool, I would still have lusted after that Coca-Cola. Jake always did the honors, pouring ever so carefully the precious, decadent, teeth-rotting, beverage into two glasses, until he was sure we had identical amounts (it’s important, by the way, to allow the foam to settle in order to get an accurate read). I gulped my portion within seconds and began to eye the Bazooka drawer. Jake, living in what amounted to a real life Never Never Land, a virtual hedonistic theme park that catered to his every dietary, athletic, and sartorial whim, stared at me in puzzled wonder,

as one would a dog that, having been fed nothing but dry food his whole life, devours with gusto a few tasty morsels of fatty steak thrown to him by a kind, neighbor lady.

Of course, familiarity breeds contempt. Our family owned a very nice house. In fact, now that I think about it, I’d say it

“Do you think we can have some gum?” I asked sheepishly. Awash in a surfeit of pre-adolescent delights and, therefore, apathetic to their charms, Jake merely shrugged. He just couldn’t figure me out. “Sure,” he said, “why not?” I stared in breathless anticipation as he opened the drawer— chock-full of the heavenly little square pieces (that would never be seen within miles of my house), each individually wrapped in those enticing jackets of blue and white and pink—plucked out two pieces, and tossed one in my direction. We unwrapped the gum in a familiar and intricate ceremony, careful not to tear the Bazooka Joe comic on the inside, a magical little bonus that made something already almost too wonderful to contemplate, just that much more incredible. The comics were, even for a fifth grader, rather corny and rarely funny. But it didn’t matter. Jake read his to me, I read mine to him, and we rolled our eyes and made smart-alecky remarks. Then, chewing and sluping with delight, I would stash the little comic treasure in my pocket, where it would be available for the rest of the day, any time I wanted a sniff of the Essence of Bazooka, the flavor you see, disappearing all too quickly from the

gum itself. The pleasures of a Bohemian existence, I was learning, were fleeting indeed. I slowly turned the counterfeit tennis shoe in my hands, examining it like a skeptical geologist would a rare specimen too-easily-found, then handed it to my mother. “This canvas,” I explained, “won’t last very long. You can see how cheap it is.” I emphasized the word cheap, implying, of course, that if she would pay just a little more, I could have the quality and rugged durability of Converse. “That canvas looks very sturdy to me,” was her reply. What was obvious to me, I learned at an early age, was not so obvious to everyone else. Jake, for example, couldn’t understand why I liked his house better than mine. “Let’s go to your house today,” he’d say. “No, let’s go to your house.” I was no dummy. His house was Disneyland, mine was Knott’s Berry Farm. Say what you will, there’s just no comparison.

was a damned impressive house. Ranch style, four bedrooms, a den, two car garage, and in a fantastic neighborhood. It had a California-shaped pool with a lovely, blue porcelain dolphin on the bottom. The water wasn’t heated, though, come to think of it. Jake’s pool was heated. And had a slide. And a pool-sweep. I had to clean our pool—by hand. Avocado leaves fell like debris from a tickertape parade straight into our pool on a daily basis, and the only way to get them out was for a ten-yearold boy/slave, aka yours truly, to fish those leaves out, one at a time with a net at the end of a very long pole. Jake was probably at home, drinking Coke and chewing gum while I was schlepping avocado leaves. I grew to hate that pool. I could swim like a fish, though. Jake and I were good athletes and we’d have races. Sometimes he’d win, sometimes I would. And we’d have contests to see who could hold their breath longer, swimming underwater laps without rising for air, back and forth, back and forth, until Our USA Magazine 81

our lungs were ready to explode and we could feel our eye-balls about to pop out. Winning was important. On the days we swam at my house, we’d get out of the water, shivering of course, and lie down on the hot cement until its warmth radiated through us. Finally, our teeth would stop chattering and we could talk. We probably talked about baseball. Jake was a shortstop, naturally. I was a pitcher and first baseman. Now, when it was wet, Jake’s hair displayed a remarkable property. It was so thick and luxurious that he could run a comb, or fingers, through it and the front, just at the forehead, would form this high, flat ridge, stiff and straight and proud. It was as if a great wave had crested and was ready to break onto the beach of his freckled forehead. It was a thing of beauty. My hair was thinner and wispier and, try as I might, I could not duplicate that brilliant, shining, swath of wondrous hair. Have you ever noticed that some people seem to have everything? Like the handsome actor that has talent dripping from his pores and a gorgeous actress clinging to his arm, whose rendition of Hamlet can bring you to tears, who then, just for good measure, grabs a microphone and sings an aria worthy of the Met, or lights up the dance floor like Fred Astaire. Does God fall asleep at the switch once in a while? How does this happen? How can one person be blessed with so much? I just shake my head. Although, at ten-years old, I still harbored fantasies that I could somehow achieve Jakeness. And Converse All Star tennis shoes were the first, and most crucial, step to Jakeness. 82

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I turned my attention to the stitching on the Kenny’s “shoe” (if it could be called a shoe), slowly, painstakingly inspecting, taking mental notes, building my case against the egregious counterfeiter like a clever and methodical lawyer. Obviously inferior machine work, I noted with disdain. My mother, less discerning than I, was incapable of seeing this fine point of tennis shoe craft, so I didn’t even bother to point it out. But the whiterubber trim. Now that... that was obviously, even to the untrained eye, of deplorable quality. And on the heel, it said—prepare yourself— Hi Jump. Ha! An ignominious declaration of shameless forgery, if ever there was one. Undoubtedly there was a law somewhere that required Kenny’s Shoes to make this admission of guilt and put it on their product for everyone to see. At that very moment I realized that government could, in fact, accomplish some good in the world. “This rubber,” I pointed out to my ever-so-patient mother, “ will come off. See how it’s not very thick?” I helped her by tugging on the edge, which dutifully started to separate from the rand. “If it does, we can have it glued.” I grimaced at the thought of owning such an inferior product. “But, mom,” I whined. How to make her understand? It was like the baseball glove ointment. She just couldn’t see that I needed a particular leather treatment, found only at La Mesa Sporting Goods. Jake would generously share his with me, but I needed my own so I could oil my

glove into the wee hours of the morning. It was the only way to get it into proper condition. Almost black, that is, like Jake’s. It took copious amounts of ointment and hours of patient labor over many days and weeks, applying and rubbing, applying and rubbing, until your fingers were so sore you couldn’t even, well, pick up a baseball. I had learned this important skill at Jake’s kitchen table, where I watched like a neophyte monk as the Dalai Lama of gloveoiling shook the little can, turned it up-side-down, then pressed the nozzle to release the rich foam (similar to whipping cream) into the palm of his glove, then rubbed it in with a piece of cloth. His glove was a magnificent, dark, dark, dark brown. If a small portion of the leather wasn’t quite as dark as the rest— say, in between the fingers— the Master would pay careful attention to that surface, coaxing out hues of dried-Cuban tobacco leaf and rich, dark chocolate, until finally a state of supple perfection was achieved, along with a properly dark color. And oh, those gloves of ours, after the oliling was finally done, were soft, I can assure you.

They were almost too perfect to use, to dip down into the dirt to scoop up a grounder, or casually toss onto the dugout bench where they might get knocked with callous disregard to the ground. But use them we did. Bravely. Nobly, even. Of course, the result of all this oiling was that our gloves stood out on the baseball diamond, dark beauties in a field of pale-faced mitts. We wore them with great pride. They were different. And we were different.

Now that... that was obviously, even to the untrained eye, of deplorable quality. And on the heel, it said— prepare yourself— Hi Jump. Ha! An ignominious declaration of shameless forgery, if ever there was one.

Having exhausted all other arguments against the phony All Stars, I had only one line of attack left as I stood beside my mother, she waiting patiently for a resolution to this prolonged battle of wills. But, never fear, I had left the strongest, most compelling argument for last. The game-winner. The coup de grace. Slowly, I turned the imposter up-side-down, thinking as I did that diabolical Kenney would never

have the audacity to copy the dazzling, diamond pattern of a

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true Converse All Star sole, and thus by pointing out to even the unschooled eyes of my mother, the obvious deficiency in this, the most crucial element of any tennis shoe, my case would be won with hardly a word of explanation or argument. The bottom of the Pretender stared up at us. I looked down at it

All Converse images courtesy: ChucksConnection.com (a virtual plethora of all things Chuck) Bazooka Gum courtesy: Wikipedia.com Coca-Cola courtesy: CocaCola.com Catchers Mitt courtesy: KellyGloves.com


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withwidening eyes. Horror began to grow inside my tightening chest. To my dismay, the sole was not only in an identical diamond pattern, but also in the same brown hues of the one true Converse. This was a disaster. A catastrophe. How could they? Wasn’t there a law? I tried to focus, to recover my wits, thinking fast. This was a crucial moment. The fate of my world would turn on the words that I was about to utter. “I know these soles look the same as the Converse,” I said to my mother as casually as possible, my heart thumping in my chest, “but they won’t last as long.

The Converse rubber is different. It’s tougher. These will wear out fast and I’ll need another pair in no time.” “The Converse are just too expensive, Mikie,” she said, reading my mind. Yes, Converse were more expensive. The Corvette Stingray of tennis shoes, no question. But wasn’t it better to spend a little more and get the best? Was I doomed to a life of second best? Why did Jake never have to settle for secondbest, while I always did? That I was rich as King Tut, I had no way of knowing, of course. A child, after all, is lacking in perspective. My parents, I must grudgingly admit, were wisely attempting to cure my severe case of pre-teen consumerism, fighting like brave warriors to kill the beast whilst it was still small, knowing that it would grow into an ugly monster with the onset of puberty. Most parents in our neighborhood, including my own, grew up in the Depression and were maddeningly frugal. It was in their DNA.

Except Jake’s parents, of course. They were enlightened. It does strike me, though, that when it comes to having “stuff,” it’s all relative. No matter how much “stuff” you proudly display, someone always has more. And the same goes for those who think they have too little. Someone always has less. I now have children of my own, and I can’t help but think that they’d be better off if the “stuff” they craved was baseball bats and bicycles, rather than i-Phones and X-boxes. Call me old-fashioned, but there was an innocence about La Mesa Sporting Goods that disappeared with Apple Stores and Best Buys. I just can’t imagine today’s youth caressing the next i-Phone “App,” longing to upload it to their latest electronic device. Where’s the love in that? Humans need to touch real things, to smell real leather, to feel the texture of real wood, to tie a knot in the laces of a finelymade tennis shoe. And if we don’t need those things any more, then something has gone terribly wrong. But as I write this, it is with great joy and a tear in my eye that I look down at my brown (yes, they come in colors now) Converse tennis shoes. Shoes that my son bought me for Christmas a few years ago. Yes, my son. Those canvas shoes with the half-moon toe and brown rubber diamond soles that I never owned as a boy, that I could now afford but would never have thought to buy, I now own as an adult. And they make my heart go pitter-patter even to this day.

And what really puts a smile on my face—my son also has a pair, as do my little nieces, and their friends, and their friends’ friends. Yes, Converse is still alive and well in the age of laptops and Twitter. A hold-out against the modern technology that would consume our lives, a proud and defiant statement that in fact, some things are still simple and never change or go out of style. The Corvette Stingray, and the Coca- Cola, of tennis shoes. O’ Converse All Stars, long may you run the playgrounds of our endless youth.

O’ Converse All Stars, long may you run the playgrounds of our endless youth.

Editor’s Note: The Converse “Chuck Taylor” All Star is the classic American sneaker. Since its origins in the early 20th century, Chucks had always been made in the USA, and so the anouncement in January, 2001 by the Converse Company that they were declaring bankruptcy and halting all manufacture of Chuck Taylors and other products in North America was upsetting to many people. The new owners of Converse are continuing to manufacture Chucks Taylor shoes but only overseas in Asia. In 2003, Nike, Inc. purchased Converse from the interim owners.

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The American Made Guide to Life by Amy


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few weeks ago, Josh Miller gave me a copy of his new documentary “Made in the USA: The 30 Day Journey” to watch and review. Josh has been a vocal advocate in the Made in America Movement and a great supporter of my blog. I was, of course, intrigued to watch about his journey and see how it all panned out. Beyond that, though, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I must say that I underestimated what I was about to watch. Here’s the thing: you make a movie about spending 30 days traveling across the country and using only American-made products, I think it’s going to be straight forward. I’m going to learn about all these great products and companies that I didn’t know about; it’s going to be informative. I think, hey, this guy’s going to show me how it’s done. And then you see that it’s not so easy and there are some stumbling points. How do you do simple things like brush your teeth or eat or take a shower or any of that normal stuff when a lot of things are just not made in the States anymore? You know, it’s sometimes hard even for the guy making a movie about stuff made in the USA. It makes me realize just how complicated and intricate American manufacturing and American consumerism really is.

In fact, I did learn a thing or two about American products. Josh has some great interviews with companies across the U.S. spanning lots of different industries: All American Clothing Co., Art Flo, Bullet Blues Custom Apparel, k’NEX, NOLA Brewery, Sun & Earth, and Three Dots. Josh’s positive spin on what is being manufactured in the U.S. now and what is doing well was refreshing. It’s great to learn directly from business owners the reasons that they have decided to stay an American-made company and why offshoring isn’t appealing to them. Again and again, I’m finding it nice to hear from people that it is possible to produce a US-made product, to do it well, and to make a profit. The documentary also touches on the impact that politics and historical events have had on U.S. manufacturing, both on a national level and well as on Small-Town USA. In areas where manufacturing was a key source of employment, for example, a company’s decision to move elsewhere affects the local residents even more profoundly. Yet again, however, Josh turns the conversation into a positive one. The movie highlights ways in which longtime running companies are adapting to survive in this economy (by teaming up with new businesses), how the U.S. can still make a comeback (with entrepreneurship), and how there are even current domestic industries that are growing (beer!). It gives me hope. Our USA Magazine 87

Interview with Josh Miller by Amy


What are a couple of your favorite USA-made finds?

During the journey I was surprised how much of our lives literally are ruled by electronics day in and day out. Also, it baffles me that we don’t make any cell phone or laptops here in America. Since electronics seem to be the future, you would think America would put in place policies that would encourage manufacturing in the electronics arena. After the journey I was shocked to see how big our fan base has grown and continues to grow. I knew then I must continue pushing forward and continue to raise awareness. Many Americans out there are out of work, and we must fight to bring jobs back to our shores. I definitely love all of the fans we have, we couldn’t do it without them.

I love Bullet Blue Jeans and really all of the clothing companies I came across are very comfortable clothing. Meeting with the All American Clothing Co. was a great experience because they make you feel like family when you visit them, and it had nothing to do with me making a film. That is just a great company who cares about the consumers. I agree that clothing made here can sometimes be more expensive, but that is not always the case. When you compare common shopping locations such as American Eagle and stores like that, many American made brands can easily compete with those prices. Outside of products, my meal in New Orleans at The Company Burger was heaven for me. I had some local beer and local beef. The food there was

re there any things that surprised you on or after your journey?


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awesome and they pride themselves in American-made appliances and buying local. The Company Burger was a great experience. Also, going to K’NEX toys made me feel like a kid again! :)

Any things that you’ve still been trying to find American-made? I think there are some opportunities in the American-made community for sportswear, haven’t heard of too many companies making sportswear. I’m a very active individual so if you’re a sportswear company please let me know. I think the “Made in America” community has done such a great job at making folks aware of products, etc. I’m proud of how this movement has evolved and people respond to each others inquiries on my fan page when looking for products. Great fans/supporters!

What’s on your agenda now that the movie is finished and out? I will continue to promote this movement and the film. I’ll be headed out to Hollywood soon to work on some new TV show ideas and some potential feature films. This first film of mine was a passion project inspired by tragedy so it will always remain close to my heart and so will the great fans and supporters. I will continue to remain active in the “Made in America” community. I love film and I’m going to keep doing that as long as I can and I look forward to several projects I have lined up.

What do you think is necessary for the next step in the Made in America Movement? The next step in the “Made in America” movement is to create a plan to prosperity. I’m a firm believer that talking only goes so far, we’ve got the world watching, it is time we spring into action and let Congress and President Obama know that America wants to go back to work and we want a diverse economy which includes a strong manufacturing base. That is another development that will come soon, I’m in early talks with several folks to put together a detailed plan to send to Washington D.C., we’ll find out if Washington is listening to us soon enough. More updates will come forth in the coming months. I look forward to listening to the great minds of American Made businesses and the workers that make this movement possible. The American Dream is still alive, we must seize it!

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ver since I learned where our stuff really comes from – and how this system is trashing people and the planet – I’ve been trying to figure out how we can change it. I’ve read a lot of these: 100 Ways to Save the Planet Without Leaving Your House, 50 SimpleThings You Can do to Save the Earth, The Little Green Book of Shopping. I thought they might have the answers, but their tips all start here – with buying better stuff – and they all end here – with recycling all that stuff when I’m done with it. But when it comes to making change, this story of “going green” – even though we see it everywhere – has some serious shortcomings. 90

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It says that if I become a smarter shopper, and tell my friends to do the same, I’ve done my part. And if I don’t buy all this green stuff, then it’s my fault that the planet’s being destroyed. Wait a minute. My fault? I didn’t choose to put toxic products on the shelves or to allow slave labor in factories around the world. I didn’t choose to fill stores with electronics that can’t be repaired and have to be thrown away. I didn’t choose a world in which onky some people can afford to live green, leaving the rest of us to be irresponsible planet wreckers! Of course, when we do shop we should buy the least toxic and most fair products we can, but it’s not

bad shoppers who are the source of the problem, it’s bad policies and bad business practices. And that’s why the solutions we really need are not for sale at the supermarket. If we actually want to change the world, we can’t talk only about consumers voting with our dollars. Real change happens when citizens come together to demand rules that work. Look, it is important to try to live green. As Gandhi said, “be the change.” Living our values in small ways shows ourselves and others we care. So it is a great place to start. But it’s a terrible place to stop.

The Story of Change By Annie Leonard

After all, would we even know who Gandhi was if he just sewed his own clothes and then sat back waiting for the British to leave India? So how do we make big change? To answer that question, I went back and looked at Gandhi, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, and the environmental victories here in the 1970s. They didn’t just nag people to perfect their day-to-day choices. They changed the rules of the game. It turns out, there are three things you find whenever people get together and actually change the world.

First, they share a big idea for how things could be better. Not just a little better for a few people, a whole lot better for everyone. And they don’t just tinker around the edges; they go right to the heart of the problem, even when it means changing systems that don’t want to be changed. And that can be scary! Hey, millions of us already share a big idea for how things can be better. Instead of this dinosaur economy that focuses only on corporate profits – we want a new economy that puts safe products, happy people, and a healthy planet first. Duh, isn’t that what an economy should be for? Trying to live eco-perfectly in today’s system is like trying to swim

upstream, when the current is pushing us all the other way. But by changing what our economy prioritizes, we can change the current so that the right thing becomes the easiest thing to do. Second, the millions of ordinary people who made these extraordinary changes didn’t try to do it alone. They didn’t just say, “I will be more responsible.” They said, “We will work together until the problem is solved.” Today it’s easier than ever to work together. Can you imagine how hard it was to get a message across India in 1930? We can do it now in less than a second. And finally, these movements Our USA Magazine 91

succeeded in creating change because they took their big idea, and their commitment to work together, and then they took action. Did you know that when Martin Luther King Junior organized his march on Washington, less than a quarter of Americans supported him? But that was enough to make change – because those supporters took action – they did stuff. Today 74% of Americans support tougher laws on toxic chemicals. Eightythree percent want clean energy laws. Eighty-five percent think corporations should have less influence in government. We’ve got the big idea and the commitment. We just haven’t turned it all into massive action yet. And this is our only missing piece. So let’s do it. Making real change takes all kinds of citizens – not just protestors. When you realize what you’re good at and what you like to do, plugging in doesn’t seem so hard. Whatever 92

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you have to offer, a better future needs it. So ask yourself, “What kind of change maker am I?” We need investigators, communicators, builders, resisters, nurturers, and networkers.

I know that changing a whole economic system is a huge challenge. It’s not easy to see a clear path from where we are today to where we need to go. And there’s no ten simple things we can do without leaving our couches! But the path didn’t start out clear to all these guys either. Dr. King said, “Faith is taking the first step, even though you don’t see the whole staircase.” So, they worked hard to get organized, practiced the small acts that built their citizen muscles, and kept their focus on their big idea – and when the time was right, they were ready.

At StoryofStuff.org, you can explore these types of change makers and find your first, or your next, step to take action. Being an engaged citizen starts with voting. That’s one of those basic things that everyone’s just gotta do. But it gets way more exciting – and fun – when we put our unique skills and interests to work alongside thousands of others.

It’s time for us to get ready too – ready to make change and write the next chapter in the story of stuff.

“Faith is taking the first step even though you don’t see the whole staircase.”

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An American An AmericanMoment Moment

By Bernd By Mergener Bernd Mergener


y intent is to record and show Moments in American Life. This came about in the wake of two strokes that I had in February which rendered me unable to continue my Blacksmithing career (self-employed for twenty years) which I have done since age fourteen. I have lived with the American tribe for forty years and was very welcomed when I came from the shores of Germany to marry one lovely girl, Lee. I have begun a new hobby, photography. For forty years I have observed life in this country. If I had a degree from Harvard it would be in Anthropology. The sale of my tools allowed me to buy a camera and I had the help of friends to set up my blog. My intent is to take pictures that tell a story or if you look close enough, becomes a movie in itself. The subjects and events will be diverse and I hope that my pictures will reflect my goal to show true American moments. This photo montage will give you a glimpse of the the annual Bethabara Highland Games and Celtic Music Festival held in Winston-Salem, NC.

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Reminiscent of the Scotch Fairs that were held in the Carolinas in May in the late 1790s, the Bethabara Highland Games offers a relaxing day for family gatherings with congenial kinfolk, musical entertainment, and the camaraderie of competition.

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Keith Roberts - Blacksmith & Storyteller

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Beth b Peter Blum-Tinsmith

a ara

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