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Charming Stories & Photos Created by remarkable Americans just like you!
Our Country, Our People, Our Stories
Photo: Jessica Shyba
of New Year’s Past
It was a freezing finish to the 50s, that last day in December of 1959, and the exciting “World of Tomorrow.”
Plowing through Wintry Lessons
My father was stubborn, take the snowstorm incident.
22 Finding Me Does reading all the AARP literature really prepare you for retirement?
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24 The Real Places
36 Growing Up On
I was some “place,” some “where,” yet I was kind of nowhere, too, and anywhere...
25 Facts About Being a Farm Kid - A Tribute!
In Our Lives
26 Five Ways to Get
What to do when you’re feeling broken, beaten or blah.
42 How TV Has
Made Us Stupid About Farming Poor TV… So much disdain for an inanimate object!
30 Wishes Granted 44 An unconditional love affair.
Farm Fresh Produce doesn’t have to be boring.
54 The Story of
70 A Long, Long
Explores how we can move our economy in a more sustainable and just direction.
Linda Ronstadt looks back on four decades of music.
78 My Side of the Made in USA
In 1985, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed December as “National Made in America Month.”
The soulful sound of the train whistle conjures up many warm memories.
84 Less Miserable What could sooth my jangled nerves during a frenzy of problems at holiday time?
60 Saving Walmart or Saving America
Should we believe the hype?
64 Coalition for a
He splashed orange in the sunrise and cast the sky in blue. And if you love to see geese as they gather, chances are you’ll see that too. Did he have to make the squirrel’s tail furry? Was he obliged to make the birds sings? And the funny way that chickens scurry or the majesty of thunder when it rings? Why give a flower fragrance? Why give food its taste? Could it be he loves to see that look upon your face? If we give gifts to show our love, how much more would he? If we–speckled with foibles and greed– love to give gifts, how much more does God, pure and perfect God, enjoy giving gifts to us. ~Max Lucado Excerpted from the devotional Safe in the Shepherd’s Arms
58 Celebrate Made
A Gift For You
An alliance of manufacrturing, agriculture and labor working to engage Americans.
66 Dryhootch A Milwaukee coffee shop where Vets help Vets survive, at home.
70 Our USA Magazine
Rememberance of New Yearâ€™s Past By Sally Edelstein
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Playboy Magazine, December 1959
Back to the Future It was a freezing finish to the fifties, that last day in December of 1959, and the exciting “World of Tomorrow” 1960 was less than twentyfour hours away. The far-off world that had captivated my parents at the New York World’s Fair in 1939—the very year they had been magically transported to, courtesy of General Motor’s Futurama ride—was now almost here. Yesterday’s tomorrow was right around the bend. Unlike my parents, who had to endure long lines at the Fair, inching their way to the future in order to catch a glimpse of this new world, all that was required of me to greet “this new world, this greater world, this better world, this America of 1960,” was a long afternoon nap.
For one night only, I too would be a part of “those who know life’s more sophisticated pleasures.” It seemed only fitting to usher in 1960 with Guy Lombardo on television. Along with his Royal Canadian Orchestra, it was Guy Lombardo who, on opening day of the 1939 NY World’s Fair, played a tune composed especially for the event by George Gershwin called “Dawn of Tomorrow.” All Eyes to the Future
Like Cinderella I was going to be permitted to stay up to the stroke of midnight and watch, along with millions of other TV viewers, as Guy Lombardo rang in the New Year. The epitome of high bred good taste, the show was telecast live from the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel located on fashionable Park Avenue, where New York’s glamorous high society would bid a farewell to 1959 and a noisy welcome to 1960.
Not to be outdone by Mr. New Year’s Eve himself, my parents intended on celebrating it in style, with their own New Year’s Eve Party. On the very cusp of the Space Age, they wanted a party that would send them soaring into The World of Tomorrow—the future they had seen twenty years earlier. Set your Telechron electric clock kids, it was back to the future! Adults Only
My parents, like most suburban
couples, enjoyed entertaining. But this was company unlike my standard family get-togethers, which had more to do with genealogy than congeniality. Neither relative nor neighbor, they were my parents’ friends, not mine. Here was a constellation of adults mysteriously visible only at night, making appearances at certain times of the year and certain days of the week. Not withstanding the funny hats and loud noisemakers, this gathering was for mature audiences only. This was no pin the tail on the donkey, ring around the rosy, Simon says kind of affair. Strictly adults, it was a party strictly off-limits to me. Along with my brother Andy, I was excluded. After a brief walk-on, long enough for cheeks to be pinched and hair tousled, we were vanquished to our bedrooms. The show would go on without us; we were to wait in the wings until we got our cue, to reappear for the third act, the big countdown to the New Year. Our USA Magazine
Layering for the day took a few extra minutes. My one-piece snowsuit covered me up to my neck and a long knitted scarf was wrapped several times around bundling me tightly. On came the Wonder Bread wrappers over my oxford shoes before slipping on the high rubber boots. Mittens. Hood up. I was ready to trudge through the snow. It was tough going. One big step. Stop. Another big step trying to keep my balance staying in dad’s footprints. Dad inched along with his shovel paving the way. The wind was blowing and the air was biting giving a sting to what little was exposed of my face. Hardly a car passed us on the street. Off in the distance I could hear a snowplow on the main road. Later on, the horse drawn sidewalk plow would come through with a jingle of sleigh bells. I could see the grim determination on dad’s furrowed brow with his head peering forward. I stuffed my gloved hand inside his thick overcoat pocket. We pushed on.
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I had a big canvas sack clutched close to me that had my Christmas cards for all my classmates. Each card had been handmade and cut out with a note written in my newly
I would have turned back so many times if dad hadn’t persisted. He explained to me that when he was a little boy he had walked for miles to get to school, and he felt that a good education was to be taken seriously. And I was learning another lesson, too, but its wisdom wasn’t to sink in until later. Now, I get where I am supposed to be on time if at all possible, and complete my obligations. When we arrived at school my third grade teacher was so surprised to see me. Not one single student had ventured out. I was embarrassed to be the only kid coming to school, and I never did tell a single friend. I watched while she marked me “present” in the attendance register with her black ink pen, and she told me to go back home. She smiled at my father and thanked him for making the extra effort to get me there.
acquired cursive handwriting. The whole grade school would all gather on the center stairs to sing carols together looking down upon the huge tree all decorated in the main foyer.
Today, when there is a snow day at school, I laugh over this one particular morning where I faced the weather conditions head on. My father didn’t cave in, declaring it a difficult day, and let me turn over and go back to sleep. I took on the challenge. Thanks, dad. Photo ~ Randy from A Christmas Story
Photo by Robert Oswald
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5 Ways to Get Inspired When You’re Feeling Broken, Beaten or Blah
factory outputs identical pieces of plastic merchandise, no matter what. But you are “operationally challenged”—for you are made of conscious bold choices, moods, and miracles. A mechanical life requires output, form, and results measured down to the chin hair of the decimal point. An organic life is natural. It’s blemished and mythic. You will not endlessly “produce” without having awakening times of getting to know yourself again and again—and working with riotous forces. As an author, coach, and motivational speaker, I make my living “being inspired” and helping others discover their wild, true fountain of infinite good. That means I’ve had to learn how to take scrap metal and turn it into gold. And sometimes I’ve had to learn how to take VPs of Craziness, broken artists, and midlife menopausal hopelessness, exhaustion, cynicism and spontaneous-hatred-of-humanity and turn that into passion and bliss. I can boil this down. Don’t seek to be inspired. Seek to be present and kind. When you’re not feeling purposeful or creative—love yourself more. It’s love that opens the gates. Take exquisite care of yourself and spontaneous strategies and opportunities will match your inner abundance. This is no piece of cake. It’s
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By Tama J. Kieves a piece of cake and a nap—without belittling, self-judgment. Believe me, this is not your father’s “productivity.” But then you’re not trying to produce widgets. You’re daring to serve miraculous forces. Please don’t make being a human being wrong. Don’t make being a human being who is growing, transforming, and facing bewilderment wrong. This is the recipe of discovery. Vulnerability is where your next leap begins. I get it. You’re not having any fun right now. Your “vibration” is a cesspool. You’re as flat as a hospital gurney and as pent up as a cheetah in a cage. Trust me, this isn’t your life. It’s part of a process, like one of the screens that comes up on your computer before it’s fully booted up. And it means you’ve outgrown one level of good and you’re restless for the next. Sometimes, you’re so uninspired, that the word “inspired” sounds like shooting for the moon. So shoot for Toledo instead. Good news. I’ve got 5 “tickets to Ohio” for you. Shoot lower, rise higher. Don’t Dam Your Own River Ditch the stoic, the intellectual, and Ms. Rosy Pants. Sometimes you
need to cry or kick something. Can you allow yourself to simply feel how you feel at this moment in your life? Let your feeling self or inner child “speak” to your Wise Self in a meditation. Share your feelings with your therapist, coach, shaman, or favorite raccoon—anyone who will not seek to change you. Honesty is a healer. A feeling is a feeling. It is not reality. It is not a decree. Bang the drums. Draw loneliness. Write in your journal. I know this to be true: underneath every dark feeling, a deep knowing abides; you know you will be all right. It’s inexplicable, yet undeniable. And only feeling really, really weak will get you to this strength. Beckon Emptiness If you want to be creatively alive, emptiness is required. But most of what we call empty, isn’t empty. It’s toxic with disappointment, fear and judgment. True emptiness is being and beckoning. It’s an invitation. Creative emptiness is a feeling of anticipation. I can begin anywhere. I can do anything. What do I want to play with today? Your Muse will not come into a room if you’ve brought in expectations. She will not enter a room secretly crowded with surveyors, actuaries, accountants, and salesmen. Believe me, she smells a calculator in the room and will have nothing to do with you. You have to come alone. You have to come with curiosity and bare feet.
Escape Velocity by Jeanie Tomanek Our USA Magazine
his article is dedicated to all of you past, present and future farm kids out there. There may not be very many of us, but we truly are one-of-a-kind. In all honesty, I don’t know of a better way to grow up. Yes, we worked hard. Yes, we can tell stories all day long about our experiences both good and bad. Most importantly, yes we are proud to be farmers’ sons and farmers’ daughters. We are proud to be born and raised farm kids. We are proud to be future farmers. For all you farm kids out there, you know we had a very special upbringing that many do not understand. With this in mind, I decided to come up with 25 truths that most farm kids could relate to in some way. To me (and I think many will agree), being raised on a farm is a gift and something we should definitely treasure. We learn things that will be with us the rest of our lives. I could literally go on and on about how lucky farm kids really are. Whether you were raised on a farm or are just simply curious about the farm kid life, I hope you enjoy this list I have come up with. Don’t be afraid to smile, laugh and take a trip down memory lane! I know I did.
The author, right, with sister, Sara 1. When you were first asked what you want to be when you grow up, you could not think of anything other than a farmer. Duh! 2. Yeah, those Hot Wheels, Barbie Dolls, Nintendo’s were all oh so cool. BUT nothing compared to your farm toys and figurines. Those John Deere tractors, plastic hay bales, plastic cows, horses, trucks, etc. They were your favorites that you played with ALL the time. 3. No Christmas list was complete without those farming toys. Ertl farm sets, more toy tractors, more farm animals…you needed to make your “farm” bigger. 10
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Growing Up on a Farm By Alison Bos
From the Prairie Project by David Mills
4. No matter how hard your mom tried for you to have “good clothes” and “chore clothes,” and/or “good shoes” and “chore shoes,” everything you had turned into clothes you got dirty outside. Your excuse? “Sorry mom, I forgot…” 5. You learned some of the most random things…most of the time, the hard way. Examples?? You learned that if you got stuck in the mud while wearing your muck boots, you better just stay put and wait for help. You learned that your parents weren’t kidding when they said the fence was “hot.” You learned to avoid crawling through or over barbed wire fences. You learned that no matter how “cute” little mice looked or how tempting it was to pick one up to tease your sibling(s) with, those suckers would bite if you messed with them. You learned where not to hold a bottle when bottle feeding a baby calf. This list could go on and on. 6. Here are some of the rules you were given when you went and played outside. Don’t go to the road, don’t go near the bull, if you open a gate then you better shut it, do not turn on/operate any piece of equipment, DON’T GO TOO FAR, don’t hurt your brother/sister, blah blah blah. We all heard it. 7. You learned at a very young age that you needed to pray every day. Granted, yes, we need to do that every single day. However, you prayed for things most kids would not even think about. You prayed for rain during a drought. You prayed for a good harvest. You prayed for sunshine when hay needed to be made. You prayed for your animals. You understood just how important faith in farming is.
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How TV Has Made Us Stupid About Farming
By Forrest Pritchard
Photo - Robert Oswald 12
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rom parachuting cows to learning-disabled farmers, commercials have effectively dumbed down agriculture. As a full-time farmer, I don’t have much time to watch television. Despite my best intentions, I’ve never seen an episode of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, or Game of Thrones. I’m usually game for a lunchtime episode of Pawn Stars, but farming requires me to be outside most of the day, and my schedule demands an early-to-bed type of lifestyle. Suffice to say, my remote control could use a good dusting.
to pseudo-reality, a pop-culture kaleidoscope through which the act of farming becomes obfuscated and whisked into the realm of afterthought. As a farmer, it doesn’t especially bother me that the cows in these
Whenever football season rolls around, however, I gloriously plunk myself on the couch each Monday night, put up my feet, and watch grown men in day-glo pants tackle each other at high speed. And as always, wedged between timeouts and two minute warnings, there they are: the farming commercials making us all a little more callow, distancing us from our inescapable connection to the land, and how farming actually works. You’ve seen the ads. Parachuting cows imploring us to eat chicken sandwiches. Farmers who can’t spell. Kids who garden with dinosaurs and chickens without bones. We’re not talking about restaurant spokesclowns any more, or your grandma’s ‘Where’s the beef?!’ ads. Over the decades, commercials seem to have transitioned from pure fantasy
ads are holsteins, a dairy breed and not beef. More confounding is that while these cows can spell, they can only spell very badly -- tacitly perpetuating a stereotype of agricultural illiteracy. And it’s not even that irksome to see Old McDonald,
our country’s de facto agricultural mascot, portrayed as a lovable imbecile. The commercial itself is funny, and most farmers don’t mind a little self-deprecating humor from time to time. But what is worrisome is these commercials are the only glimpse into farming that millions of people will ever see. For a generation that’s never raised a flock of chickens or planted a row of potatoes, much less visited a working farm, how much of a stretch is it to assume that birds are now raised without bones, or that farmers flunked first grade? Now, before I’m accused of being a (stereotypically) curmudgeony farmer, I fully realize that commercials exist to sell product; this is the nature of businesses. But with less than one percent of the country currently employed in farming, an overwhelming majority of Americans are fully disconnected from agricultural production practices. As a nation, how much do these ads influence the way we perceive agriculture? Intentionally or not, corporate America has filled an important cultural void, playing high definition surrogate to our rural education. “Lil’ Cowboy ~ Photo by Bob Oswald Our USA Magazine 13
“All Roads Lead Home for the Holidays” by Jack Sorenson © Jack Sorenson Fine Art, Inc. 14
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A Long, Long Time By Ken Sharp
Linda Ronstadt Looks Back on Four Decades of Music
This article was reprinted with permission from our friends at Rock Cellar Magazine.
ver delicate acoustic guitar finger-picking and a lush orchestral score, Linda Ronstadt sings, “’cause I’ve done everything I know to try and make you mine, and I think I’m gonna love you for a long long time.” It’s a line from her 1970 single, “Long, Long Time,” her first hit as a solo artist. For this writer, had she only recorded this exquisitely beautiful and haunting song Linda Ronstadt’s place in music history would be assured. But to the delight of music fans worldwide, this was only just the beginning of a storied and wondrous musical journey. Sales of over 100 million records…winning collaborations with the likes of Neil Young, Randy Newman, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Aaron Neville, Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra… shelves groaning with every prestigious music award imaginable…. Over four decades of music making, Linda Ronstadt is a consummate song stylist who remains one of popular music’s greatest and most beloved artists. Blessed with one of the most extraordinary voices in popular music, Ronstadt drew from a deep well of influences ranging from Mexican folk music to Hank Williams, opera to the Everly Brothers. From the sun-kissed country rock splendor of 1974’s “Heart like a Wheel” to the punchy new wave sass of 1980’s “Mad Love”, the elegant Great American Songbook craftsmanship of 1983’s “What’s New” to her all-Spanish album, 1987’s Grammy Award winning “Canciones de mi Padre,” Ronstadt’s wide-screen musical education played a significant role in helping to inspire, shape and inform her career choices. By the turn of the ’70s she was the most popular female artist of the decade. Multi-platinum albums, a raft of hit singles, sold out concerts—she graced the covers of both Time and Rolling Stone magazine—Ronstadt literally wrote her own ticket, essaying a wide swath of musical styles and genres numbering country, pop, rock, R&B, jazz, new wave, American songbook standards and mariachi. 16
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And the one common thread through all of her music? Her peerless interpretative skills, fearless versatility and hard fought integrity.
Rock Cellar Magazine: Was there anything you learned about yourself during the process of writing the book?
Now retired from recording and touring as a result of being recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which has tragically robbed her of her singing voice, she released her last album in 2006 and performed her last show in 2009. At age 67, Ronstadt is content in her life, reveling in the joy of parenthood and raising her two children.
Linda Ronstadt: Well, I learned not to procrastinate. I used to be a procrastinator and this changed all that. (laughs) I wrote every word, for better or for worse. (laughs)
She might have vanished from the public eye but that spectacular, rich and robust voice is never far from the airwaves. Her new autobiography, “Simple Dreams,” chronicles her remarkable life, revealing how the fledgling singer was transformed into one of the most popular and enduring artists of her time. Ronstadt wrote the book herself without the aid of a ghost writer, and strewn throughout its pages resounds the strong, powerful and authentic voice of a woman who bravely forged her own artistic path. In the book, she writes, “Someone once asked me why people sing. I answered that they sing for many of the same reasons the birds sing. They sing for a mate, to claim their territory, or simply to give voice to the delight of being alive in the midst of a beautiful day.” Ronstadt was kind enough to speak with Rock Cellar Magazine for a feature interview. We are pleased to reprint this interview courtesy of the good folks at Rock Cellar Magazine.
upon…like when you’re struggling and then you have to describe how you came to succeed. I remember clearly somebody showing me that “You’re No Good” was number one on the Billboard pop chart, the Billboard country chart, and the Billboard rhythm and blues chart. It turned out it didn’t happen and I’ve corrected it in the book. I remembered it so clearly and now I think it probably happened but I don’t think it was Billboard magazine; it might have been a local chart. But I also remember thinking “what good does this do having this kind of major success?” because I didn’t care for the way I sang ”You’re No Good.” I didn’t think the vocal was any good. The success of “You’re No Good” was not something I was proud about but rather it was something I was so disappointed in.
I don’t know what I learned about myself doing the book. Thinking about it, I guess I learned that I have a terrible memory and that I often remember things where events are condensed and dates are very fuzzy to me. I’d remember someone dying five years before she did. They say they have been able to create false memories in mice. I’m not inclined to brag, as you may have noticed after reading the book. I know certain things are important to readers that you need to touch
RCM: That’s surprising to hear. Why didn’t you think the vocal on that song passed muster? Linda Ronstadt: I was tired and we’d been working on “You’re No Good” for a long time. I was also a little tired of the song anyway because we’d been doing it on stage. I sang it all day and my voice was all worn out and my rhythm was a little off. I just didn’t like it and didn’t like my phrasing on it.
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Celebrate Made in America
ecember is by far the most important month for retailers in the entire year, and it has never ceased to amaze me that President Ronald Reagan, back in 1985, proclaimed December as “National Made in America Month.” Every year I take this time to reflect on the significance of this action and its relevance in our current economy, as I believe that Reagan saw the writing on the wall for America as he served as our 40th President of the United States from 1981-1989.
During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, he and his administration set out to reinvigorate the national economy, reduce taxes, balance the federal budget, and reduce the size and scope of the federal government. At the end of his presidency, the United States was experiencing the longest recorded period of peacetime prosperity without a recession or depression. Reagan was an advocate for free markets and laissezfaire economics, and summed this up in his inauguration speech that he wrote himself saying, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” But, what many may recall is that during this period of our American history, our American automobile industry had gone through a little more than a decade (the 1970s and 1980s) where imported automobiles had aggressively increased their share of the U.S. auto market, with their new compact, fuel-efficient cars, modern design and reliability. The “Big Three” American automobile manufacturers (Ford, GM, and Chrysler) were struggling to compete, while consumer perception of American automobiles had declined due to a flurry of design and manufacturing problems and the oil embargo in 1973, which created a high demand for smaller, more fuel efficient, imported cars. President Reagan saw that the American automobile industry was being brought to its knees, and the flood of imported cars and electronics caused many to worry that these industries would not survive. Under Reagan’s presidency, he felt that it was important to come to the aid of the American automobile market, and that government had a role in regulating the flood of imports to create more of a balance of trade. In 1981, Japanese automakers entered into a “Voluntary Restraint Agreement” limiting the number of autos that flooded the American market. But despite government 18
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By Julie Reiser
intervention – swinging the pendulum back toward American manufacturing was a steep feat even back then, and President Reagan knew that the most powerful economic agent in change is the massive consumer power of the American public. If Americans could realize the importance their purchases played in reinvigorating American industries, the tides would shift. So, on December 23 (the day before Christmas Eve) in 1985, President Reagan proclaimed December as National Made in America Month. The proclamation was filed with the Office of the Federal Register at 10:40 a.m. on December 24 (Christmas Eve), 1985. I invite all Americans to read the proclamation from start to finish, reflecting both back on what was happening to our manufacturing sector back in the 1970s and 1980s. But, the most critical piece of all this is that President Reagan, the day before Christmas Eve – sent a message to the nation that would forever reverberate into the future. The message was simply for Americans to observe the month of December with “the appropriate programs and activities to recognize and celebrate the excellence of American products.”
So, this December as we shop, gather with family and friends, and celebrate – let’s not forget the role we all have in our national economic strength and independence – each of us has the power with our purchases of Buying American to turn the tides, shift the axis, and cause the pendulum to swing back in the favor of “Made in USA.” This holiday season, let us all put forth the effort to read the labels of the products we purchase and look for those products that are proudly labeled “Made in USA.” Julie Reiser is Co-Founder and President of Made in USA Certified
Photo - Carol M. Highsmith, Americaâ€™s Photographer
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This is Winston (Joseph) Sharp from Warrenton, Virginia. He is visiting his grandparents, Joe and Brenda Bish, in Langville, PA. â€œJoeyâ€? is very proud to be an American. He is standing in their driveway beside an eagle which I hand- painted for them. Photo courtesy Janet R. Sady
Charming Stories & Photos Created by Remarkable Americans Just Like You!