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The Holidays 2010

Has anyone else been keeping track of when the Christmas season begins? I hear crotchety old curmudgeons complain about the commercialization of Christmas and how the stores have seemingly moved Christmas to November in order to entice the wiley American shopper to buy more and buy more often – their intent being of course to extend the gift giving season for as long as possible. Before this past year, I never really gave it much thought myself. When folks started revving up for the Holidays, I was always still in the “plenty of time” mode, and I stayed in that mode sometimes until Christmas Eve when I realized that I needed to finally do some revving up myself.

Well this year, in addition to becoming “old enough” for Social Security, I must have also unknowingly joined the ranks of the Christmas season’s Crotchety Old Curmudgeons Geezer Club. Did anyone else notice that the Christmas “buying season” started before Halloween this year? I think it started in September, but I may even be late in that estimate. It could have even started before Labor Day. As I wandered around the stores or watched commercials on television, in addition to typical Halloween and Thanksgiving displays, I noticed that Santa was even coming town!!

I may be one of the shrinking majority of folks that still considers Christmas to be a time for religious celebration and not just a time for buying and for lists and for hustling products. I’m not what folks would call observant. The world has a fairly free hand from my perspective. I am corrected quite often for “not noticing” something I should have. So when I did notice this past year all the busy hustle and bustle of Christmas starting so early, my new membership in the Christmas season’s crotchety old geezer club started to bubble-up to the surface. And I discovered that I’m not much of a fan of being a member in that Club. You know, when it comes right down to it, I really like “noticing” when the Christmas season starts to rev up, and I could give a hang how early that season begins.

Noticing Christmas was a bit of an eye opener for me this year. I noticed all of the stress, all of the noise, all of the commercialization, and all of the busy hustle and bustle. But you know what else I noticed? I noticed that folks were taking just that extra bit of time to wish a merry Christmas to people that they may not have taken the time to talk to before. A Christmas smile, a note on a card, and maybe just a bit of extra “Christmas warmth” was being passed around to most everyone you met. And you know what? With results like that – To my way of thinking Christmas can start in July!! I think I’ll turn in my membership to the Crotchety Old Curmudgeon Geezer Club. I think those sad folks don’t know what their missing!

Here are a few snapshots of a “busy” Christmas. It seems there was plenty of time for frosting Christmas cut-out cookies…

Hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa…

Eating…

Making extra time for family…

Decorating….

Playing in the snow….

And of course – GIFTS!!

Merry Christmas everyone!!

I wish everyone a wonderful and happy holiday season – however early you would like to begin!!

An October Scrap Book

It was a pretty busy October!

Sam’s school has a really neat program for the new Kindergartners. It’s called Guardian Angels.

So I thought this would be just an opportune time to introduce you to Sam’s friend Jack. Sam’s school asks the sixth graders to help the new kindergarters get used to their new school, show them around, and basically just be their first new friend.

And then Sam was chosen by St. Mary School as one of two students’ of the month. WhooHoo!! Of course I knew he was exceptional all along, and now the entire town does too!

And what could be more special for Sam than a day out with Thomas the Tank Engine!

And then Boo!! It’s Trick or Treat Time!!
Checkout it out. Madi as the dark spooky Good Witch? Hmm. And Sponge Bob Sam. Ready to hit the streets.


Thanks guys. Great pictures. For more great pictures of a fun October, check out the “2010 An October Visit” page. Grandma J went to Sam’s for a visit and took some cool decorating pics.

A Tie Dyed Celebration

Every year or two our family tries to get together. It’s tough going some years. Geographically, we are a bit dispersed. Not bad like some families, but we all don’t live in the same town or even the same state for that matter. From Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and now Missouri, we try to gather together in order to celebrate Great Grandma Bev’s birthday. Eight-four years young and going strong!

Well this year the gathering was in Peru, IL. The “committee” tries to locate the event in some sort of central location. We’ve gathered across the street from the John Deere museum. We’ve taken a paddle boat ride on the Mississippi, and this year we were to BBQ under a Starving Rock in Peru, IL.

The bulk of the event was to take place at Starved Rock State Park – A gorgeous park with a good bit of history. The committee had planned park like events. There were games to be played, trails to be hiked, a BBQ to be cooked, and a Starving Rock to be explored. The weather did not cooperate. It was cold, but Aunt Gayle came to my rescue. Whew – thanks Gayle for a great Hawkeye sweatshirt!! It was raining!! Lisi didn’t mind at all. She had an umbrella and water puddles to stomp in. Rain or no rain a large quantity of T-Shirts were Tie Dyed under the roof of a convenient park shelter. You will see the picture of some of the art work on the “2010 Peru” family picture page. Young ones and older ones all participated in the Tie Dying. Maybe Uncle Jim and I did more supervising than Tie Dying, but we were there giving moral support. Even though Uncle Jim did text me while I was sitting in the car during a torrential downpour and said, “Get over here you coward!”

A great time was had by almost everyone – everyone but poor little Cali who was suffering a delayed reaction to a vaccination. She was just miserable for the bulk of the weekend, and if she was miserable, you know that Natalie and Jerry were not always having the best time either.

Even though Iowa lost, it doesn’t get much better than adult beverages, football, and 15 people on a king size hotel bed!

Thanks to the “committee” (Gayle and Linda) for struggling through the logistics and pulling it all together. We grumble, but mostly it’s just to give you guys a hard time. Thanks for all you did – it was a great time!

The Committee with Great Grandma Bev

And Yet Another Milestone

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Thank you, Sam! What a great birthday present.

See you Friday, Big Guy!!

Grandpa J

Madi’s In 4th Grade!!

Madi’s in 4th Grade

Can you believe it? Madi’s an upper classman! She’s the big dog, the head cheese, the top brass, the boss, and the brains. She’s the veteran. She’s the one all those little 1st graders look up to and idolize.

The last grade at Madi’s school is the 4th grade. So being in 4th is almost like being a senior in high school. She’s got the prestige, the juice, the steam, the edge. She’s got the goods and the clout. And she’s also undoubtedly the best look’n 4th grader at her school (good genes you know). Check out these pics.

Next year Madi will be off to intermediate school. But this year… Well this year is to be relished in and savored.

And while she was out of the house and away at school for the day, what do you suppose Mom and Dad did? Well… They changed the front door!! Hmmm. Timing is everything!


It IS a great look’n door though guys.

Have a terrific new year at school, Madi. Love you!!

Grandpa J

My Buddy

A friend of mine called me last night. Just to chat, but more specifically to tell me about how his day had gone. He was pretty excited. He called me right from the car on his way home. It had been such a huge day for him.

I knew he would call sometime last night, or at least I figured he would. Over the last few years we’ve become really close friends. We talk about a lot of different things. Sometimes on the phone and sometimes, when I’m in town, we get to have one of those guy conversations that help to fill in all the times when we’re not together. I think he and I have one of those rare sort of friendships because in the beginning it actually started out as love.

I met Sam a little over 6 years ago. He was going through some difficult health challenges at the time, but he was a tough guy even then. One particular day really stands out for me – it was May 29th 2004.

Two months earlier, on March 25th, I met Sam for the first time, and that’s when I fell in love with him. But that’s not at all the same thing as being best friends. You have to spend time with someone and get to know them. Best friends can tell each other anything, and not worry about being judged. They just know that no matter what, their best friend will always be there for him. That’s Sam and me.

Well, May 29th, 2004 was the beginning – the starting point – of Sam and my friendship. That was the very first time I was able to hold my new grandson. So how does a grandpa hold his 3 pound 12 oz baby grandson for the first time? Fearfully, I think, but Sam and I worked through that part together. He took hold of my hand (thumb actually), and we just loved each other. And in that moment Sam and I became best friends. Sam is an amazing young man.

And yesterday was an amazing day!

Yesterday – August 19, 2010 – was Sam’s first day of school. Now this was big boy school folks – Kindergarten! The kind you get up early for. The kind that is, in the language of my 6 year old grandson when describing his first day of school, “…awesome – cool …”.

I am so proud of you Sam! Have another great day today, Buddy. Love ya Big Guy!!

Grandpa J

The Summer of 1966…

I just snatched this “1966” photo from my sister’s blog. Thanks Lu. Should we call this –

The Ravages of Time?

1966 was really a period of turmoil in the United States. The Houston Astrodome was built. The Black Panthers were formed. The Vietnam War was hot with over 500,000 troops in country. You could purchase a new home for $14,200. The average price of a gallon of gasoline was $0.32, and this was the year I graduated from Washington high school.

Prior to graduation I had been working at Quinn’s gas station. Quinn’s was the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night in Cherokee. Cruising Main Street and stopping at Quinn’s for $2.00 worth of gas was the way to see and to be seen. My job at Quinn’s had been sort of part time. Pump gas, wash windshields, and clean the restrooms – that sort of thing. But it didn’t take the Quinn brothers long to recognize that automotive service was probably not going to be prominent in my future. For now though, here it was – the summer of 1966.

As summer approached, the Quinn brothers finally broke down and explained to me that I would be happier if I pursued other interests. Additionally, my father had been working at the newspaper in Cherokee for decades. The money wasn’t great, but he’d been able to support his family, buy a house, and a new(ish) car every now and then. But he’d wanted a raise. The Daily Times explained to him that more money would only be possible working somewhere else. So he quit, and now we were both unemployed!!

Dad did find a job in South Sioux City but that was over 50 miles away. He commuted for a short time, but traveling that sort of distance in those days was considered a bit arduous. We decided to move and be closer to his work. So a new house was purchased, the old house sold, the furniture was packed, a moving truck was rented, and then… I broke-up with my girl friend of two years……[more to come]

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June 29, 2010

Linda and I had been “going out” for over two years when we graduated from high school. She was my best friend. You hardly saw one of us without seeing the other.

Her family had moved to Cherokee from Sioux City when she was in seventh grade. Her step father was a cattle buyer, and when an opportunity came up to buy into the Cherokee Sale Barn they decided to go for it. I had seen Linda around in Junior High, but we never talked or got to know each other. After Junior High School, I just lost track of her for over two years – that is until April 1964.

April 11, 1964 was the date of the Rainbow girl’s formal dance. We were both sophomores at the time, but Linda had been seeing an older guy. He must have been a senior, because her parents were determined that she couldn’t ask anyone to escort her to the dance that was not in her own class at school. What a dilemma. For sure Linda was not going to miss the spring formal. She would find a way to go to that dance.

At the time, I was “in between” girl friends. Anyway… I’m sitting at home on a Saturday afternoon feeling extremely sorry for myself and the telephone rings……[more to come]

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July 2, 2010

A girl was on the other end.  She just had the sweetest voice.  I wasn’t listening at all to what she was saying… something about a dance… but I really wasn’t catching everything she was saying.  I was just enjoying her voice.  I’m sure I made her repeat the whole thing all over again. If you know Linda, getting up the nerve to call and ask me out once was bad enough, but needing to go through it all over again must have pushed her to the very edge.

Apparently she had been in a quandary about who she could get to take her to this Rainbow dance, and she had been going on about it to one of her girl friends at school.  Debbie Hanson to the rescue!  Without Debbie’s match-making, who knows how the future may have turned out?  We’ll never know, because forty-six years later Linda and I are still one of Debbie’s success stories.

Anyway….Linda popped the question, I stammered something like  “… it sounds fun” and we hung up.  Obviously the details had not been worked out.  I was still enthralled with her voice, but had no idea who she was, or where she lived, or when this soiree was to be!!  As I continued to think about what had just happened, and what I had gotten myself into, I realized one extremely important and overlooked aspect of my current social life… I was still only fifteen years old.  No driver’s license!!  Urrrr!! [more to come]

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July 10, 2010

I must have been a real pain when I was four years old, because my parents were more than willing to send me off to Kindergarten just to get me out of the house.  Actually I was probably bugging them to death about going to school just so I could hang out with my big sister a bit.  We lived in the country so we had to ride a school bus for an hour.  Once on the bus, Lu tried her hardest to disavow any relationship to me, but I would have none of it.  Her friends were always way cooler than mine.  Anyway… in the Fall of 1953 at the ripe old age of 4 years 11 months, off to school I go.

Age was no big deal in elementary school or even Junior High school.  But it was a huge deal for a High School sophomore when friends and classmates were getting driver’s licenses and my turn would not come until AFTER the summer was over!

Well I had just accepted an invitation to escort a young lady to a formal Spring dance.  That meant a suit and tie.  Linda would no doubt be wearing some sort of frilly gown thing.  We couldn’t walk to the dance, and bicycles were just not going to be appropriate.  Well… this was enough to make a fifteen year old panic!

Mike Jobe – to the rescue!  Mike was a good friend.  His Dad had been the coach of the local VFW Little League baseball team for years.  We had gone to school together, played ball together, and he had a driver’s license – but most importantly he also had a date to the Rainbow Girls Spring formal.  It would be a double date!  My panic was lessening. [more to come]

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July 15, 2010

So a call to Jobe had solved the how problem – whew! But I still needed to solve the who, what, when, and where issues. All of these were laid to rest at school Monday morning where I met Linda for the first time, and with a somewhat clearer head we were able to work out the details.

I have to apologize for the picture folks. This picture kicks off Linda and my Junior Prom. Apparently my loving bride didn’t keep any pictures of our first date in her scrap book (although she does tell me that she has one somewhere – hmmm). I’m thinking she wasn’t all that confident in the permanence of this over the phone relationship. Her crystal ball may have been sending out vibes, because that first date led to two more years of almost inseparability until – the Summer of 1966. [more to come]

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August 3, 2010

I had never been to a formal dance before. Well, I had never been to any kind of dance before. When I thought about it, I sort of liked the idea of dancing with a girl, but how the heck was I supposed to hold on to one?

I knew how to grab a baseball bat. I knew about boxing out, fouling, and penalties in a basketball game, and I knew that in football I had been penalized for grabbing and holding. But I didn’t really know squat about girls, and for sure nothing about hanging on to one during a dance. I was sure there could be penalties involved.

Debbie Hanson had done some match making for Linda. Jobe had leaped to my rescue with transportation, but how was I going to learn to dance?

Dick Clark to the rescue! [more to come]

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August 15, 2010


I’m not sure how other fifteen year old boys learn to dance. Maybe they had sisters at home that took pity on them. I’m not sure. I can remember when I was little my sister and her girl friends would dance to the radio or record player (remember those things?) in our kitchen. But my sister had long since moved out of the house, and I was all alone practicing with a broom.

I was thinking dancing could be a good thing to do, but learning how by pretending to dance with a broom was just not getting me anywhere at all. Do you remember the movie with Tom Cruise – Risky Business? He did some pretty impressive dance moves and floor slides with a microphone while wearing just underwear and a dress shirt.

Well, just so you know… Tom Cruise I am not. And impressive dance moves with my broom were just not going to get it done. I needed some help and I needed it pretty quick.

It’s amazing how girls can get together and help each other out with this sort of thing. They even dance together when the boys are too bashful or, like in my case, too ignorant. I think they must start dancing together years before boys even think that dancing is publicly acceptable. It would NEVER have even crossed a fifteen year old boy’s mind to learn to dance with another boy. In the first place, you would have to admit to a good friend, while walking back from the ball field, that you don’t actually know how to dance. That would be hard enough, but then to ask that same sweaty grimy guy to dance with you so you could learn … Well that would be just beyond imagination.

I don’t know how other fifteen year old boys learned to dance in the 60’s, but I would just have to guess that Dick Clark’s American Bandstand television show provided a lot of us with at least a clue. At a minimum, it at least provided the music. Hey I had a ball glove, a couple of basketballs, a football – but when my sister moved out so did all the records as well as the machine to play them on. Music wasn’t a very big deal in my life, but if I was going to learn to dance something more than the radio was needed. When the house was empty, I’d grab my broom, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand would provide the music, and a whole bunch of kids dancing on television provided the moves.

By the time the Rainbow Formal came around, I almost felt like I could dance… but… It’s really different when you’re dancing with a real girl… [more to come]