Monday, August 31, 2009
What wonders will our future hold?
From the Fulton Telegraph, April 24, 1874
A marvelous century. A hundred years ago there were no railroads, steamboats, telegraph lines, gas-burners, furnaces, sewing machines, photographs, friction matches, revolvers, percussion caps, india-rubber shoes, and above all, no free schools.
I found this "marvelous century" quote while doing research for my book on the history of Fulton. It was basically a "filler", used by Editor John Williams to fill leftover space at the end of a column. Imagine what Mr. Williams would think of all the wonders of this marvelous century! He would not believe how much the world has changed since he wrote those lines 135 years ago. What do we take for granted today that was undreamed of in 1874? I tried to make a list, but soon realized it would be much too long to be used as a filler.
It's almost easier to turn the idea around and ask what has not changed. What would Mr. Williams recognize as familiar and relatively unchanged? I picture him walking through the streets of Fulton, looking around at our town. Perhaps only the natural world would reassure him. Grass is still green and growing, trees still shade the streets, an occasional squirrel still chatters from an overhead limb. People on the street would still be basically the same human creatures, although he might be startled by our clothing and speech.
But if he looked overhead at the wide blue sky he would see long vapor trails of jets passing through the heavens.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Saturday, August 01, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
I knew having other writers examine my work would give me fresh insight, marketing ideas and help on the manuscript before sending it out to an editor. But I didn't realize how much this extra polish would improve my writing.
The critique group is an excellent atmosphere to exchange ideas with other writers. I get the benefit of receiving their input, experience and encouragement. Showing your manuscript to another person involves risk. What if they don't like it? Better to hear that from a fellow writer and polish it some more, than send the article all over the country, receive rejections slips, and never know why.
But all that still doesn't quite explain my critique group "high". I think that may be explained on a more elemental level: the value of female friendship.
I believe friendships, our social connections are vital to emotional health. Friends provide a unique support that we cannot receive from families or children. Friends care about us as individuals and they care about our opinions and our feelings. They also enhance how we feel about ourselves.
Sometimes, women get so caught up in caring for families, spouses, children, jobs and a million other responsibilities that girlfriends may be the only people who can reach out to us and let us slow down. They share our experiences. They tell us jokes. They listen to our stories. We need girlfriends.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
When did we stop making our own stuff?
Boone Hospital Center – Room 3029
3:00 a.m. Sunday, January 18, 2009
This is my tenth night in the hospital. Six nights since the triple bypass. It must be time to go home, because here I am journaling/blogging in the middle of the night.
For some reason, I’ve been noticing ‘made in’ tags here at the hospital. Like they’ve been telling us, it’s a world economy. This composition book I’m scribbling in was made in India. The white woven blanket on my bed was made in Pakistan. Although the front of the tag proclaims it to be from the Phoenix Textile Corporation. In the bathroom I found baby wipes from the Allegiance Company, made in Israel. I picture hundreds of huge shipping containers each tightly packed with thousands of wet baby wipes. Israel always looks like a dry country when I see it on the news. A place where water is a precious commodity. And yet, all over America people are wiping their bottoms with water from Israel. What’s wrong with this picture? How can it be more profitable to make and ship baby wipes from Israel instead of putting them together in the Cheeseborough-Pond’s factory over in Jeff City? The one that laid everybody off and closed down years ago.
I can’t criticize the hospital or anybody else. The nightgown I have on is soft and warm, well-made, and made in China. I bought it last week at Wal-Mart for $5.00.
I just had to switch pens. The one I was using, made in China, was getting scratchy. This one, also made in China, is much smoother. The telephone on my little rolling bedside table was also made in China. But I found the facial tissues sitting here were made in the USA. Hurray! Nice to know if we can’t make the fancy wet wipes, we still have at least one plant producing the dry kind. I could go on and on. Maybe I already did… This room is full of stuff: complicated electronic medical equipment, sheets, towels, chairs, TV, etc. – stuff brought here from all over the world.
When did it happen? When did we quit making our own stuff? When I was young, back in the early sixties, owning something foreign made meant that it was either cheap and junky OR very expensive and well-made. But not ordinary. The ordinary stuff came from a plant in the next town over, or maybe from New Jersey or Michigan.
‘Made in Japan’ was the tip-off for cheap. The stuff you picked up at the dime store, like little ceramic figurines to sit on an end table or plastic toys the kids would tear up the first week.
‘Made in Germany’, Switzerland, or England meant you were buying the best hand crafted items: knives, watches, clocks, fine china. Do the best, most expensive luxury goods still come from Europe? I don’t know. I was never in the market for luxury goods, and Lord knows, that has not changed.
Today, Obama rolled through Philadelphia, Delaware, Baltimore, and into Washington making speeches and promises about a new beginning for America. If he is successful in all he hopes to accomplish – maybe more of our ordinary stuff will be made by ordinary Americans.