Monday, August 22, 2011

What Will They Remember?

My grandchildren after a day in the dirt
Top step, Left to Right:  Jocelyn, Michael, Kaitlyn
Bottom Step, Left to Right, Joey, Ella, Haley
This past weekend we had a family event (missionary farewell for my daughter who will be serving an LDS mission in Brazil), and my kids and grand kids were here.  As these six darling little grandchildren played together as cousins, it brought back memories of my own cousins, and visits with my grandparents.

I remember visiting Nana and Pa in Carson City, Nevada.  There was a clothesline in the back yard.  It was a square clothesline on a rotating pole.  We had a great time hanging from a rope as one of the cousins twirled the clothesline around like a merry-go-round.  In the front yard, there were bushes that had hard little gray berries that were great for throwing at each other.  Inside was a staircase with a long banister to slide down.  One of the upstairs bedrooms had a slanting ceiling that always fascinated me.  I loved to lay on the bed and look at the ceiling.  I remember sitting with Pa at the kitchen table and discussing very important stuff that little kids talk to their grandparents about.  Pa had a cookie jar that he would fill and wait for us to steal his cookies.  He introduced me to gingersnaps.

Visiting Nana Janes in Portola, California was fun too.  I remember looking at the patterns in the carpet in her living room.  All the cousins looked for money that my father apparently hid in a secret place in his old room when he was a kid, but to my knowledge, nobody ever struck gold.  I startled Nana Janes one time when she was getting dressed in the morning, and her facial expression is forever etched in my memory.  I remember Nana Janes organizing family reunions in Portola park.

I remember making mud pies and picking berries with cousin Valerie.  I remember swimming in Portola Municipal swimming pool with cousins Debbie, Dennis, and Paula.  I had nightmares for years after Debbie, Dennis, and Paula let me watch the movie "The Tingler" with them.  I remember cousin Jim at the family cabin playing (and cheating) at cards with us -- and I remember him laughing.  I rode cousin Lana's horse.

I watched my grandchildren play together this weekend and wondered what they will remember about these visits together.  Will they remember playing in the dirt?  Will they remember swinging in the old swing hanging from the end of the clothesline?  Will they remember asking Granny how to "glue" bricks together?  Will they remember Granny explaining mortar and cement?  Will they remember taking spoons to the yard and Granny making them count how many they took out and how many they brought back in?  What about Haley's imaginary apple tree?  Will she remember gathering Grandpa's gently placed apple at the bottom of the stick she stuck in the ground every time she came to Grandpa's house?  Will they remember how much fun they had with their cousins running from monsters in the back yard?  Will Jocelyn remember taking ice from the ice chest in the kitchen when we weren't looking and making a lake in the kitchen floor?  Will they remember sitting on Granny's lap for a story?  Or will they remember things that I haven't even thought about?

Whatever the memories of tomorrow are, I hope they are good ones.  I've certainly enjoyed watching them make their memories!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Civil Disobedience or Mob Rule?

Yesterday I was conversing on-line with a couple of people who are British citizens, but who live in the United States.  We were discussing the rioting and violence that is happening in Britain.  One of the gentlemen commented that this was a day of shame for Britain.  In an effort to make him feel better, I told him that this is more than Britain's problem, it is a world wide problem.  It's mob rule.  I told him that the United States has also had "days of shame."  He asked me to point to a time in the United States where there had been rioting.  I told him that I hadn't seen it to the extent that I'm seeing it now in Britain, but that I remembered the Rodney King riots in Southern California, and that I also remembered the race riots of the 1960s and 1970s.  He conceded that he did remember the Rodney King riots, but told me that he put the riots of the 1960s and 1970s in a "different class" because they were for a "purpose."  It was at that point that I extracted myself from the conversation.

So is rioting ever justified?  Is mob rule okay, because it's for a cause?  Who determines whether the cause warrants the violence?  Is there a visible line in the sand between "civil disobedience" and "mob rule?"  Merriam Webster on-line gives this definition for civil disobedience:  "Refusal to obey governmental demands or commands especially as a nonviolent and usually collective means of forcing concessions from the government."  That does not sound like the race riots of the 1960s and 1970s to me, and it certainly is not the rioting and burning of London and other British cities.

I have always been a big proponent of civil rights, and as a teenager tested the limits at home because I did not want my parents to apply for a variance from the high school that the district wanted me to attend for desegregation reasons.  I lost that battle, but it was a battle worth fighting.

I watched in horror the police brutality during the 1968 Democratic National Convention after a year of over a hundred riots in cities across the nation.  I also remember with disgust the Kent State Massacre in 1970 after a student protest of the American invasion of Cambodia.  Both these incidents prove to me that there is also potential for wrong doing within our own government agencies--even mob rule.

I've always treated people as I would want to be treated, regardless of the color of skin, nationality, or what religion they are (or aren't).  Things are still not perfect for all segments of society, but I'm glad that we've had a great deal of success in my lifetime.  However, I would never set fire to a city, beat people with sticks, kick a person's head in with cowboy boots (an incident I remember from my childhood), throw rocks through windows, and terrorize my neighbors "for the cause."  There is a right way and a wrong way to bring about change.

My Dad used to say that mob rule is ugly, and "when you find yourself in a crowd, be on the 'outside looking in,' not on the 'inside looking out.'"  That's an incredibly vivid picture for me that I've always remembered.  I've been in the middle of crowds, and I've watched things begin to turn sour.  At some point, you have to remove yourself from the crowd and then take a look at what is happening around you.  If it smells foul, back away.  That foul smell is mob rule.

I don't live in Great Britain, and I won't pretend to understand what is happening, or the reasons behind what is happening.  I do agree with my on-line friend that it is a very sad day in British history.  I don't agree with him that it would have somehow been justified "for cause."  Civility is paramount to the survival of society.  How we treat our fellow human beings and their property shouldn't be based on some "theory" of who is right or wrong.  There is a line in the sand that I will not cross, no matter how justified the cause.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Memory Lane

Memories have been floating around Facebook today about growing up in Reno, Nevada during the 1960s and 1970s.  It has been fun to share good times with others who remember those days with fondness.

Every summer the fire department would open up the fire hydrants to clean the sediment out, and they would let the neighborhood kids play in the water which came out with great force.  It was always the high point of the summer.  They don't do that anymore--probably their liability insurance won't cover it.  I remember talking with the fire fighters and thinking they were the best!

We lived on Ives Avenue, the last street before Peavine Mountain.  There was a dam on the mountain to prevent flash floods from taking out the neighborhood.  (They have now built homes above the dam--go figure.)  Dad took me up on the dam to give me driving practice.

Rancho San Raphael had fences that were not repaired often enough.  Frequently, we discovered cattle stomping down the grass in the neighborhood.  Dad was able to train the neighborhood dogs to cross the street when they came to our house to avoid his BB gun through the front window, but he never was able to train the cattle and the jack rabbits from playing in his rock garden.

In the summertime, it was necessary to always look carefully before sitting on the chaise lounge on the patio, because you never knew when a rattlesnake would be curled up in it sunbathing.

Snow storms and icicles were lovely to watch.  I used to hope for snow on my birthday, December 16th.  I was never very good at sledding.  Ives Avenue was quite a hill, almost straight up and down, and the fence at the bottom was barbed wire (the only part of Rancho San Raphael's fence that ever stayed in tact).  I don't know how many times I put a sled into that barbed wire fence, but every year it was the same old thing!

Near my elementary school was a neighborhood park with a pond.  It was called Lake Park.  People who owned the homes around Lake Park would always decorate their homes with lots of Christmas lights that would reflect on the pond.  There was one home that played Christmas music outside.  It was magical to a kid.

Driving in downtown Reno was far worse than driving in San Francisco.  In Reno, you had to dodge drunks from the clubs.  Driving down Virginia Street was a real experience for a teenager.

Reno High School has a study hall in the basement (Room 4, the dungeon).  It had the old school desks with the ink wells (which we didn't use since the ball point pen had been invented).  If you so much as dropped a piece of paper, it echoed like a Mack truck had hit the ground.

Tony's Deli on First Street and Virginia Street was the best!  Roast beef or turkey on sour dough bread, with a big pickle right out of the pickle barrel.  At noon people would line up for two blocks to get into Tony's.  When I was 18, I worked at Breuner's Furniture, which was very near Tony's, so I spent a good deal of time standing in that line--but it was always worth it!

Since we lived at the base of Peavine Mountain, evenings were filled with cricket chirps, and mornings with meadow lark song.  If I close my eyes in a quiet room, I can still hear it in my mind.  It blows me away that the Reno LDS Temple now stands on Peavine where we used to play.

Those were such wonderful days in a much simpler time.