30 January 2007

Da Svedonya Liberty

Mr. Президент

Bush Institutes Soviet Style Minders

Just read the article and think about all the tour groups and gaggle of office holders that bemoaned the fact that the Soviet Union wouldn't let anyone meet with the natives without someone standing guard in the form of a "guide" to make sure no one said anything that disagreed with official policy.

So now we have another freedom down the drain courtesy of this most "patriotic" of Presidents. First it was the signing statements that said he didn't have to obey the parts of a law with which he disagreed, now this. If he keeps it up, we may have to move to Red Square to get a whiff of free speech.

An Embarassment of Riches

The American public is finally waking up to what a disaster President Bush has been for the nation. The latest poll says 58% of the people wish his presidency was over now. Unfortunately, barring Congress getting off their collective rear ends and impeaching a President who really deserves it, we will have to tolerate him and his bull headed cronies for another 600+ days. So say a few prayers that he doesn't manage to take the whole country down with him.

Fortunately there is a crowd waiting in the wings, the least of which will replace him to the applause of a grateful public. Bite my tongue, but even a couple of the Republicans look good by comparison. Public disgust with this Republican president will probably mean none of them will see the inside of the White House except on a tour, so I can be kind.

On the Democratic side we have what amounts to too much of a good thing. There is literally not one of the possibilities who would make a bad President -- some with more potential than others, but none of them bad. Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Gore, Kucinich, Obama, Richardson, Sharpton, and Vilsack are to one degree or another dipping their toes into primary pool. This is a bench that would make the New York Yankees jealous. Let us hope they will be team players for a while yet. If there is one thing we don't need for about a year is sniping in the ranks. Do the fund raising, gather the supporters, and start up the blogs, but be kind to each other for a while.

29 January 2007


Anyone who knows me well will understand why I am shedding tears right now. I have always loved both horses and horseracing. Today we lost a true champion who put up a superb fight and lost. People will talk about the dangers of horse racing and speak of the hazards in their breeding, but these magnificent animals have been bred for this purpose for centuries. They simply love to run. Barbaro raced to the end of his life. All those who respect what the people at New Bolton did and will continue to do thank them for their efforts. They did everything they could do and now we must say goodbye and remember what we loved while Barbaro was here.

28 January 2007

Pass The Peanuts

Truly happy memories from my childhood are a bit hard to come by, but one is being quite small on a glorious late spring day, sitting in the bleachers with my dad watching AAA baseball. Sorry all of you football fans, I'll take sunshine and the smack of bat on ball to a pile of behemoths crushing the ball beneath them.

It took a long time for professional baseball to reach California, but when it happened it was my beloved Brooklyn Dodgers. To this day, win or lose, the Dodgers can do no wrong. Even the recent drug scandals cannot dampen my love for baseball.

So Spring is coming on. The flowers will be blooming soon. The gentlemen in the nice baggy, comfortable uniforms will emerge from their respective dugouts for a duel in the sunshine, and I'll be there.

In a time of war, I have to echo George Carlin's positives on Baseball:

Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park!
Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
In baseball you wear a cap.
Baseball is concerned with ups. "Who's up? Are you up? I'm not up! He's up!"
In baseball you make an error.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.
Baseball has the sacrifice.
In baseball if it rains, we don't go out to play.
Baseball has the seventh-inning stretch.
Baseball has no time limit: "We don't know when it's gonna end!"
In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! "I hope I'll be safe at home!"

The clip below is from "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" - a nice bit of musical fluff starring Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Esther Williams. There are any number of movies, plays, and musicals where the central theme is baseball covering the whole range of human emotions and events from comedy to tragedy. The list would be too much to put here, but google "baseball movies" and your DVD player will be playing for a long, long time.

For more on the history of Baseball and information on its greatest players, visit the Baseball Hall of Fame which elected its first inductees on January 29, 1936.

26 January 2007

Let's Do The Cowboy Conga

In the aftermath of WWI, France and Britain competed for the Mideastern leftovers of the Ottoman Empire. The British grabbed Palestine, attempted to set up puppet monarchies in Arabia and in 1921 cobbled together hostile peoples—Kurds and Sunni and Shiite Arabs—into the artificial and unstable kingdom of Iraq. The British, drained economically by the world war, were greedy for spoils and wanted the benefits of empire on the cheap. The vastness of Iraq proved impossible to govern by a reduced garrison. Churchill conceded wryly that Britain was spending millions "for the privilege of living on an ungrateful volcano out of which we are in no circumstances to get anything worth having."

Because George Bush either doesn't read or doesn't understand what he has read, we are once more sitting on the volcano. The only difference this time: It's erupting. Because of this lack of understanding, Afghanistan is uneasy with Pakistan; Lebanon is wrestling with Syria and Iran with the uprising of Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel and Palestine trade suicide bombers for soldiers with guns. The President has almost single-handily created his own falling dominoes. All for the sake of take your pick: Glory, money, revenge, or misguided folly.

For whatever reason Vice President Cheney and the President whose ear is still tuned into that direction have taken the road of super masculinity: Obliterate property and people and then look proud of their actions like a couple of serial arsonists and rapists laying waste to the neighborhood.

Churchill spent millions and wasted lives. The United States is spending billions and wasting lives. All of this for an idea that was proven a mistake more than 80 years ago. The solution is the one that existed long before now: Assist in the division of the artificial construct and then get the hell out. Unfortunately for our country, Bush and Cheney have started a chain with Condi, Laura, and Barney bringing up the rear in some sort of unending dance. So let's do the Cowboy Conga until we all fall down in an exhaustion of personnel and treasure that could very well destroy us and the Middle East if not the world.

24 January 2007

Burns Night


There is a good chance I won't be feeling well on January 26, but there is a perfectly legitimate reason involving way too much music, poetry, food, and single malt whiskey tomorrow night. There might be an ice bag on my head, but there will be a smile on my face.

On January 25, Scotland celebrates the birth of its greatest poet, Robert Burns, who was born in Ayrshire on that date in 1759. During the celebration, Burns poems are read usually the rather bawdy (Ode to a Fornicator) or most popular (Ode to a Mouse), and the haggis is addressed by a member of the party, ceremonially, in the form of verses from Burns' poem, 'Address to a Haggis' as it is carried into the gathering to the skirl of bagpipes. A typical meal for Burns Night would follow this procedure and service of these dishes

Cock-a-Leekie Soup
Haggis with Tatties-an'-Neeps
Roastit Beef
Tipsy Laird
Dunlop Cheese.

Oh, and did I mention that whisky is also served?


Ye jovial boys who love the joys,
The blissful joys of Lovers;
Yet dare avow with dauntless brow,
When th' bony lass discovers;
I pray draw near and lend an ear,
And welcome in a Frater,
For I've lately been on quarantine,
A proven Fornicator.

Before the Congregation wide
I pass'd the muster fairly,
My handsome Betsey by my side,
We gat our ditty rarely;
But my downcast eye by chance did spy
What made my lips to water,
Those limbs so clean where I, between,
Commenc'd a Fornicataor.

With rueful face and signs of grace
I pay'd the buttock hire,
The night was dark and thro the park
I could not but convoy her;
A parting kiss, what could I less,
My vows began to scatter,
My Betsey fell ? lal de dal lal lal,
I am a Fornicator.

But for her sake this vow I make,
And solemnly I swear it,
That while I own a single crown,
She's welcome for to share it;
And my roguish boy his Mother's joy,
And the darling of his Pater,
For him I boast my pains and cost,
Although a Fornicator.

Ye wenching blades whose hireling jades
Have tipt you off blue boram,
I tell ye plain, I do disdain
To rank you in the Quorum;
But a bony lass upon the grass
To teach her esse Mater,
And no reward but for regard,
O that's a Fornicator.

Your warlike Kings and Heros bold,
Great Captains and Commanders;
Your mighty Cesars fam'd of old,
And Conquering Alexanders;
In fields they fought and laurels bought
And bulwarks strong did batter,
But still they grac'd our noble list
And ranked a Fornicator!!!


Oh, tiny timorous forlorn beast,
Oh why the panic in your breast ?
You need not dart away in haste
To some corn-rick
I'd never run and chase thee,
With murdering stick.

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
And fellow mortal.

I do not doubt you have to thieve;
What then? Poor beastie you must live;
One ear of corn that's scarcely missed
Is small enough:
I'll share with you all this year's grist,
Without rebuff.

Thy wee bit housie too in ruin,
Its fragile walls the winds have strewn,
And you've nothing new to build a new one,
Of grasses green;
And bleak December winds ensuing,
Both cold and keen.

You saw the fields laid bare and waste,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cosy there beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash; the cruel ploughman crushed
Thy little cell.

Your wee bit heap of leaves and stubble,
Had cost thee many a weary nibble.
Now you're turned out for all thy trouble
Of house and home
To bear the winter's sleety drizzle,
And hoar frost cold.

But, mousie, thou art not alane,
In proving foresight may be in vain,
The best laid schemes of mice and men,
Go oft astray,
And leave us nought but grief and pain,
To rend our day.

Still thou art blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches thee,
But, oh, I backward cast my eye
On prospects drear,
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear.

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, cheerful
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place, Above
Painch, tripe, or thairm: paunch/guts
Weel are ye worthy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill, buttocks
Your pin wad help to mend a mill skewer
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight, wipe
An' cut you up wi' ready sleight, skill
Trenching your gushing entrails bright Digging
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich! -steaming

Then, horn for horn, they strech an' strive: spoon
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve, bellies/soon
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive, burst
'Bethanket!' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow, sicken
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect sconner, disgust
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash, weak/rush
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit; fist/nut
Thro' bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade, choice
He'll make it whissle;
An' legs, an' arms, an' heads will sned, trim
Like taps o' thrissle. tops/thistle

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o'fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware watery
That jaups in luggies; splashes/porringers
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

Music To Go With Your haggis

23 January 2007

Liberal Republicans

Jessie Ann Benton Fremont
John C. Fremont

Once upon a time, Republicans were the liberal party. Long before Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the first Republican to run for the Presidency and his wife freed their slaves.

While most people know of John C. Fremont as an explorer and instigator of California statehood, he probably never would have risen to political heights without his wife. If you like historical novels, pick up a copy of "Immortal Wife" by Irving Stone, but Jessie Benton Fremont was bigger than fiction. For that you need to get a copy of "The Letters of Jessie Benton Fremont". Despite being raised in an era when most women were not well educated she was an anomoly.

Daughter of a U.S. Senator
Fluent in Spanish and French acting as translater for official Washington
Pioneer traveling extensively between Virginia and California
Political Force within the new Republican Party
Campaign for the Presidency with her husband
Following husband's death supporter of her children through her writing.

Without the pioneer work of the Fremonts and the establishment of the Bear Republic and later the State, the Gold Rush if it happened at all would have been a part of the history of Spain not the United States. Gold Discovery at Sutter's Mill.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the Fremonts, but in checking for interesting events on this date, I found out that my absolutely favorite female in history received her medical degree on this day. So just as an add on, you lucky people get an introduction to Elizabeth Blackwell. She was an abolitionist as well as n Episcopalian, then a Dissenter, then a Unitarian, Elizabeth Blackwell returned to the Episcopal church and became associated with Christian socialism.

1849 : First woman M.D.

Elizabeth Blackwell is granted a medical degree from Geneva College in New York, becoming the first female to be officially recognized as a physician in U.S. history.

Blackwell, born in Bristol, England, came to the United States in her youth and attended the medical faculty of Geneva College, now known as Hobart College. In 1849, she graduated with the highest grades in her class and was granted an M.D.

In 1857, after several years of private practice, she founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children with her sister, Emily Blackwell, also a doctor.

In 1868, the institution was expanded to include a women's college for the training of nurses and doctors, the first of its kind in America. The next year, Blackwell returned to England, where in 1875 she became professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Women, a medical discipline she had helped to establish.

22 January 2007

Time Travel

This week every one and their cousin have thrown their hats into the Presidential ring. It is a long, long time from here to November, and I shall pay attention to them in due course. All those flying hats made me think of a man who knew how to wear one while writing wonderful music, smoking a cigarette, and playing a piano.

If you are old enough to remember or young enough that you don't know. It's time to pay a visit to Hoagy Carmichael. Fred Astaire danced to his music. Louis Armstrong was one of his great friends, Ray Charles recorded one of his greatest hits, and Hoagy got nominated and/or received Oscars as if they were door prizes.

If you are a singer of jazz or ballads, you have probably sung a Hoagy Carmichael song. While you are on the bio site above, take a listen to some of the best.

20 January 2007

Seeing Stars

D. W. Griffith

Griffith Jenkins Griffith

There are times when coincidences get almost too spooky for words. In California you can see stars thanks to two men named Griffith. One was a bit of a raffish con man and a master of promotion, D. W. Griffith, who arrived in Los Angeles in 1919 to make movies in the sunshine. The other was an immigrant pillar of the community, Griffith Jenkins Griffith, whose hard working life ended with a magnificent gift to the city that became Griffith Park and a bequest that put Griffith Observatory and the Greek Theater in that park. Courtesy of these two men, there are stars on view on the screen, on the stage, and in the skies.

Just to top off the coincidences, the two gifts came together in an iconic movie: Rebel Without A Cause whose climactic scene takes place at the observatory.

18 January 2007

The House at Pooh Corner

My son, Christopher Alan, was supposed to be Christopher Robin. Unfortunately, his father objected strenuously no matter how often I told him "Robin" was a boy's name. Well it doesn't matter what the birth certificate says, Christopher Alan really thinks his name is Christopher Robin.

He got that name simply because when I was five and wanted a life somewhere near normal, books were my companions and there was a poem in my Childcraft set written by A.A. Milne. Years later there was a song by Kenny Loggins. The two items together have made me grateful to Milne for a lifetime. Today is the anniversary of Milne's January 18 birth. In honor of that I give you:

A. A. Milne

Little boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on his little hands little gold head.
Hush hush, whisper. Who dares?
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers:

"God bless Mommy, I know that's right,
And wasn't it fun in the bath tonight,
The cold's so cold and the hot's so hot.
God bless Daddy, I quite forgot.

If I open my eyes just a little bit more
I can see Nanny's dressing-gown on the door;
It's a beautiful blue but it hasn't got a hood,
God bless Nanny and make her good.

Mine has a hood and I lie in bed
And I pull the hood right over my head,
And I shut my eyes and I curl up small
And nobody knows that I'm there at all.

Thank you God, for a lovely day,
And what was the other I wanted to say?
I said, `Bless Daddy', so what could it be?
Now I remember: God bless me".

Little boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on his little hands on little gold head.
Hush hush, whisper. Who dares?
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers

17 January 2007


Presidential Portrait

Eisenhower D-Day

Eisenhower West Point Graduation

Unlike the draft dodger currently in residence, Dwight D. Eisenhower knew what war was really like and what it meant to make the decisions about the lives of the young men under his command. He also understood how to take responsibility for those decisions. When authorizing D-Day, there was no "mistakes were made". There was no "If you are looking for a scapegoat." It was the statement in his pocket that said it all: Just before D-Day, Eisenhower wrote in a letter that "if there is any blame or fault in the attempt, it is my own," and not that of the men who fought on the beaches."

It was his fame as a successful general that carried Ike into the White House. He loved his country and wanted what was best for the citizens of this nation. When it came time to say goodbye, he wasn't happy about turning the place over to a Democrat, even behaved a little petuantly, but he did care enough to leave the standard message to his replacement in the Presidential desk and he warned his fellow citizens of future problems in his own straightforward Kansas style. That warning was delivered on January 17, 1961.

"Farewell" is an interesting word. It is not only goodbye but a blessing for the future on the people you are leaving: I am going, may all be well with you ... fare thee well. President Dwight D. Eisenhower warns the American people to keep a careful eye on what he calls the "military-industrial complex" that has developed in the post-World War II years. In his last presidential address to the American people, he expressed those concerns in terms that frankly shocked some of his listeners.

Some of his supporters believed that the man who led the country to victory in Europe in World War II and guided the nation through some of the darkest moments of the Cold War was too negative toward the businesses that were the backbone of America's defense, but to many listeners it seemed clear that Eisenhower was merely stating the obvious, and that this new development could weaken or destroy the very institutions and principles it was designed to protect.

It is a shame that none of his successors really listened and still waste national treasure and lives to maintain their own power.

16 January 2007

Still Grateful

Another car bomb in Baghdad. This time it is directed at the University. So far the count is 60 dead and 110+ injured. And the count of grateful people continues: UN reports in excess of 34,000 Iraqi civilians killed in 2006


If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt,
the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori.

8 October 1917 - March, 1918

1 DULCE ET DECORUM EST - the first words of a Latin saying (taken from an ode by Horace). The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean "It is sweet and right." The full saying ends the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - it is sweet and right to die for your country.

15 January 2007


What is that definition of delusion again?

Bush on 60 minutes:

"I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them."

How insane and disconnected from his actions does this President have to get before they send him to spend time in a nice warm safe place where he can no longer injure people.

Iraqi Body Count

Coalition Deaths


Not for a second do I think Saddam was some sort of martyred saint. There are few people who deserved death more for their crimes. Did the Shiites suffer under his regime? Yes they did. Did he spend little to nothing of the vast oil income on their infrastructure and well being? Yes he did. Yet there is no way we can get around the fact that he was confined to the center of his country. There was absolutely no reason to invade. That invasion has attracted every nut case in the middle east. That invasion has caused the Iraqi middle class to flee the country thus destroying education and medicine. The sooner we get out, the sooner the Iraqis can get back to trying to pick up the pieces of their lives.

Withdraw troops to the borders to prevent the influx of any more combatants. Enter into negotiations with the surrounding countries to assist in getting control of the situation. Provide safe haven refuge areas for Sunnis and Shiites to interrupt the civil war.

Stop the Insanity, Mr. President. They still won't be grateful, but at least they will still be alive.

And from one of the few countries still in the coalition of the willingly deluded.


14 January 2007

Peace Is King

Blessed Are The Peacemakers

Sunday is the anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King, so before you dash off for the fun of a three day weekend, take a moment to think.

Martin Luther King
The Nobel Peace Prize 1964

"Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Non-violence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed."
--Mahatma Gandhi

"There is no way to peace. Peace is the way."
--A. J. Muste

"We cannot be satisfied with a situation in which the world is capable of extinction in a moment of error, or madness, or anger."
--John F. Kennedy

"We plant seeds that will flower as results in our lives, so best to remove the weeds of anger, avarice, envy and doubt, that peace and abundance may manifest for all."
--Dorothy Day

"Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world."
--Jane Addams, Nobel Peace Prize Winner 1931

"In the hearts of people today there is a deep longing for peace. ... Only when this really happens-- when the spirit of peace awakens and takes possession of men's hearts, can humanity be saved from perishing."
--Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Peace Prize Winner 1952

13 January 2007


There was a television show called Connections that showed how one thing could be connected to another across long periods of time. Almost everyone has heard of the theory of Six Degrees of Separation that says everyone on earth is connected to everyone else through a maximum of six people.

Yesterday I showed how Wyatt Earp was connected to Hugh O'Brian, to me, to my son and courtesy of his work with HOBY probably to every person on the earth. If you connect to me, then I can get you to Scotland, Eastern Europe, Australia, Africa and probably elsewhere if I check the address book.

Well, there is one more very important connection and that person's birthday is today. Dr. Albert Schweitzer was born on January 14, 1875 in Kaysersberg, Alsace, Germany.

Nobel laureate Albert Schweitzer arrived in 1913 in Lambarene, French Equatorial Africa (now Gabon), as a medical missionary. Building the hospital shown here, he treated thousands of residents before his death in 1965. His many years of humanitarian assistance made Schweitzer a model of public service for many. Today Gabon makes a national priority of maternal and infant health.

In 1958, Hugh O'Brian spent nine days with the Nobel Laureate and great humanitarian at his clinic in Africa. Dr. Schweitzer's strong belief that "the most important thing in education is to teach young people to think for themselves" was impressive. Two weeks after his return to the United States, he put Schweitzer's words into action by forming HOBY to bring groups of high school students together with a group of distinguished leaders to interact in order to teach young people "to think for themselves".

So there you have one of those strange series of relationships that extend across time, history, and geography from a lawman to an actor to a physician and humanitarian for a 150 years across three continents.

Albert Schweitzer Quotes
A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.

Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.

Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.

Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.

I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.

I have always held firmly to the thought that each one of us can do a little to bring some portion of misery to an end.

Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier.

Man can hardly even recognize the devils of his own creation.

Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.

Revenge... is like a rolling stone, which, when a man hath forced up a hill, will return upon him with a greater violence, and break those bones whose sinews gave it motion.

The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.

We cannot possibly let ourselves get frozen into regarding everyone we do not know as an absolute stranger.

Whoever is spared personal pain must feel himself called to help in diminishing the pain of others. We must all carry our share of the misery which lies upon the world.

12 January 2007

Kissing History

Hugh O'Brian as Wyatt Earp 1955

Wyatt Earp

What we consider as the "Old West" was for the most part the 30 years following the Civil War. Then civilization caught up with them and a lot of gunslingers were out of business and working at regular jobs. Wyatt Earp lived long enough to appear in a silent movie. He was a little more creative than most and had many romantic and personal adventures in his long life, some of which were probably true. Courtesy of a friendly biographer, his fame has become a bit more reel than real, but who wants to ruin a good story? On January 13, in 1929, Wyatt Earp died in Los Angeles was buried in a Jewish Cemetery in Colma which is another good story. Only a little over 25 years later, in 1955, Wyatt got to television for a seven year run in the form of actor Hugh O'Brian playing the marshall of Dodge City. O'Brian was born on April 19, 1925, overlapping the last four years of Earp's life. So much for major coincidences, and the idea that everything is connected to everything.

In 1957, I was a 13 year old who looked 16 enduring one my interminable summers in Fresno. One of the major Polio epidemics had happened in 1952. My stepsister was paralyzed from the neck down and confined to a wheel chair. As a result, I was very active in raising money for the Red Cross. The Salk vaccine had just been approved for massive distribution, but the money that had supported the research, now was helping to fund the injections for all school children. As part of a charitable campaign, Wyatt Earp came to Fresno. If you were female and had a pulse, you were in love with Hugh O'Brian.

On a dare from girlfriends, I took the money I had raised to where the local TV station was showing the telethon, but wouldn't turn it over until he kissed me. It was a rather decorous kiss, but the poor man ended up kissing virtually every woman in Fresno, including my grandmother who collected one on the cheek for each of her 12 grandchildren. He was a good sport about all of this smooching, but when I turned up in the late afternoon, O'Brian pointed at me and said, "You started this!" At which point, I got KISSED. Bent over backwards, strong hug, the works. When I came up for air and the knees were again working, I staggered off stage to an embarrassing round of applause from the audience. He would have probably been scandalized if he knew my real age at the time, if for no other reason than that this is a man who has dedicated his life to the development and encouragement of young people.

In 1957 the fans of "Wyatt Earp" stole the headstone of Wyatt Earp, so that now he has only a flat marker instead of the large monument.

Another 20 years plus later, "The Shootist", John Wayne's last film about a former gunman coming to terms with the changes in the "Old West" and his own mortality is being filmed in Malibu and Burbank. Hugh O'Brian played one of the older gunmen who take him on in his last great gunfight, and Hugh still looked like a greyer version of the TV Wyatt. My son liked to go to the studios and the crews got used to him being there to run errands, so he met Hugh O'Brian and we own a reel of film for the opening of that movie as John Wayne shoots his way through history.

Mr. O'Brian was married for the first time recently at the age of 82 to his long time ladyfriend, Virginia Barber, so he is passing the older Wyatt in age if not quite in legend, all while continuing his charitable ways with his long standing HOBY Foundation. As a symbol of his humor, the wedding "to die for" while formal and celebrated by hundreds of guests was held at Forest Lawn Cemetery. In lieu of gifts the couple requested donations to HOBY.

So there you have it. Four generations covering 128 years connected by the same character and a little story: Wyatt Earp, Hugh O'Brian, me and my son from cemetery to cemetery. Write down your memories. History not recorded is history lost. I'll close with a bit of a speech given by Hugh O'Brian.

"I do NOT believe we are all born equal. Created equal in the eyes of God, yes, but physical and emotional differences, parental guidelines, varying environments, being in the right place at the right time, all play a role in enhancing or limiting an individual's development. But I DO believe every man and woman, if given the opportunity and encouragement to recognize their potential, regardless of background, has the freedom to choose in our world. Will an individual be a taker or a giver in life? Will that person be satisfied merely to exist or seek a meaningful purpose? Will he or she dare to dream the impossible dream?"


Whether you love her, hate her, or are just totally indifferent, these days when you think of a Democrat woman senator with a connection to Arkansas, the name that pops to mind is Hillary Clinton. Within the next couple of years we may be considering the possibility of electing a woman to the Presidency. What is remarkable is that the very first woman senator was a Democrat from Arkansas.

This is the day that Ophelia Wyatt Caraway became the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate. Caraway, born near Bakerville, Tennessee, had been appointed to the Senate two months earlier to fill the vacancy in Arkansas left by her late husband, Thaddeus Horatio Caraway. With the support of Huey Long, a powerful senator from Louisiana, Caraway was elected to the seat. In 1938, she was reelected. After failing to win renomination in 1944, she was appointed to the Federal Employees Compensation Commission by President Franklin Roosevelt.

Although she was the first freely elected female senator, Caraway was preceded in the Senate by Rebecca Latimer Felton, who was appointed in 1922 to fill a vacancy but never ran for election in her own right.

Jeannette Rankin, elected to the House of Representatives as a pacifist from Montana in 1917, was the first woman to ever sit in Congress even though women outside of Montana were not allowed to vote until 1920. She is remembered as a profile in courage because as a pacifist she voted against both WWI and WWII.

Over the many years since suffrage was finally approved in the United States, there have been many women from all parties in the House and Senate, some appointed to replace husbands or sons, others who have faced the voting public in their own right. All of them have brought a viewpoint and strength that Congress did not have before their arrival.