Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Household Words

William Shakespeare
ED: How many times did you quote Shakespeare today?
Two, three, four?
My guess is...at least three times.

READER: "Well, Ed, your time for the HOME has finally arrived. You've obviously forgotten that we're all plain old down home folks, like you, and have never gone around trying to impress anybody by quoting Shakespeare. We just speak in plain common household words. Now, all of a sudden, you start talking nonsense....for no rhyme nor reason you claim we go around quoting Shakespeare?  What a sorry sight to observe the sea change in your mental processes. It's high time to get you some help!"

ED: You have just quoted Shakespeare SIX TIMES.

READER:  OK, OK..... Something is rotten in the State of Denmark. The game is up.  What the Hell are you talking about?

ED:  You just did it again. Twice.
I came across a site on the Internet that listed all of the common sayings and cliches that we use in our every day conversations that originated (or were popularized by) with William Shakespeare. It's amazing.

Take a look:

Shakespeare's phrases grouped by play:

Full list of Shakesperian phrases:

Woe is me

What a piece of work this man was!


Saturday, June 27, 2015


New Horizons probe
Even as the mysteries of the dwarf planet CERES have yet to be explained, here comes another space probe that may turn out to be even more mysterious than CERES!

The mission was launched in 2006 and is called NEW HORIZONS and in about two weeks, for about a half hour,  it will take close up pictures of PLUTO!

That is, if they can find it.

Say what?

"If they can find it."

You mean after spending all that money (265 million dollars) and time (it was launched on January 19, 2006) and goes all that way (4.7 Billion miles) when they finally get "there"....they might not be able to FIND Pluto?

Yep, that's true.

According to an article in Nature magazine,

“Everything is pushed to the extreme,” says Bobby Williams, an engineer at KinetX Aerospace in Simi Valley, California, who heads the mission’s navigation team.  New Horizons must slip by just 12,500 kilometres above Pluto, a distance dictated by the spacecraft’s speed — nearly 14 kilometres per second — and how quickly it can rotate its instruments to look at the surface below. It must accomplish this manoeuvre even as Pluto dances a complex shimmy through space, pulled by the gravitational tug of its largest moon, Charon. After that closest approach, New Horizons must continue on a precise path into the shadows of both Pluto and Charon, for its sole chance to look back and explore atmospheres on those worlds.There is only one shot. “It’s not like an orbiter, where if you miss a day’s science you can make it up later,” says Williams.

If the probe does find PLUTO, NASA says we should expect

 to see Images sharp enough to resolve surface features

 as small as 200 feet across.  "If there is a football stadium on


 will spot it."

Back here on Earth, I'm still trying to solve a mystery that has

 puzzled me since the early 1940's.

What's the difference between PLUTO

and GOOFY?



Friday, June 26, 2015

Akela, Tom Mix and...

I read somewhere that at our age, "getting lucky" means walking into a room and remembering why you went in there.

There's a lot of truth to that.

But I'm working on a solution to that almost universal problem for people over 70.

Logic tells me that our memory banks have gotten too full.

Nature in all its wisdom automatically deletes, or greatly reduces the intensity of bad memories. So that's not what is clogging up our brains.  It's those left over "bits and pieces" of the good times that are the problem.

"Artifacts" is the computer word for them. Little tiny memory "shavings' floating around in our brains that were simply left over from the deleting process. They serve absolutely no practical purpose.  All they do is take up space in the brain.

I know that's the case with me.

So, I'm working on a plan to find a way to totally delete these little buggers...in order to have more room for today's activities and events.

I don't see any reason whatsoever for my mind to be cluttered with such memories as:

Jake Barnhart told us once at a Cub Scout meeting that his great, great grandfather was Samuel Morse, the author of the Morse Code.
Cub Scout Law

Or, according to the Cub Scout Law:

The Cub follows Akela
The Cub helps the Pack Go
The Pack helps the Cub grow
The Cub gives good will

(I lied. I copied that off a Cub Scout plaque that somehow followed me all these years. My poor old mind is not the only thing that is cluttered up.)

But, as I was saying, my mind is filled with flashes of useless memories and scenes of the past that serve no purpose whatsoever.

Such as:

Birthdays of old girl friends....and their phone numbers

....all with either the ED or FR prefixes.

Rememberng everything about the day Bonson Hobson and I rode our bicycles on a street that was in the process of being paved and literally got covered with black tar.

Remembering exactly when and where I was when I first tasted what later became my favorite foods.

Remembering the day Wilson Snell and I spent all day drawing a "reasonable facsimile" of a Ralston Cereal "box top" to send in for a Tom Mix secret decoder ring. We spent half the day trying to find out what a "facsimile" was.

The name of Tom Mix's horse was "Tony."
Remembering chasing Martha Ann Caldwell and Judy Anderson around the Elizabeth School playground in the fifth grade.

Remembering how pretty those girls at Piedmont Jr. High had become....

Remembering how beautiful and exciting the girls at Central High were....and how wonderful their hair smelled!  I think the shampoo many of them used back then was called "Aqua Marine."

Remembering.....holding hands.....

and...that first kiss.....


Oh, forget it.

I'm going to hold on to my useless memory fragments.. What's so bad about forgetting why you walked into a room.....anyway.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

But Wait, There's More...

Sounds like a commercial on late night television, but it's not....it's my translation of the latest NASA update on our friend, the dwarf planet CERES.

The Dawn probe is  in its second orbit now and is only 2,900 miles from the surface of CERES....and the latest photographs show not only more strange "lights," but a PYR AMID.

Well, not the kind the Egyptions built, but a PYRAMID shaped object...like a mountain popping out of a flat surface.  Three miles or so high.  Plus more lights.

"Ceres’ story is only going to get more interesting. Dawn will continue to orbit 2,700 miles above the dwarf planet’s surface until June 30. Then, it will edge even closer, entering orbit at an altitude of 900 miles sometime in August.
When that time comes, it’s safe to say another strange chapter will be added to the book of Ceres."
The SCIENCE DEPT here at CHS54 will continue to keep you up to date on CERES.

CHS 55

Whatever happened to the CHS55 website?

Well, the late Len Phillips was handling it (and what a professional site it was!) but when he passed away a few months ago, he apparently didn't leave the "keys"...so the site was lost.

Frank Clontz has been carrying on by writting, and mailing his very "newsy" letter to his fellow "Fifty Five ers"

I thought we could help out a bit by adding a "link" to his newsletter to our site.

Besides, we all remember a large number of those "young whippersnappers" of the class of 55.

Here's the link



On the go...

I hadn't heard from our my old friend Don Nance lately, so I emailed him a note asking, "What's new?"

As Jack Benny used to say...."Well.........."  (It's impossible to write it.....like Benny used to say it.....but we "cronologically gifted" know.)

Don's reply:

"We have been on the go. On Memorial Day I sang at Lincoln Center in New

York. I was a part of a choir of 269 members. We sang "Requiem" by  Mark
Hays. Hays was the director the concert. 

Lincoln Center Concert  Memorial Day 2015

On June 13th., I did the wedding
for my oldest grandson Nathan. After the wedding Letty and I went to the beach for a few days. This past week-end we went to a baby show
for Charlotte . She will have our seventh grandson on July third.   His name is
Tristan. Jackson named him.

Tomorrow  night the Wytheville Community Choir
will sing at Chautauqua in the park. I will be singing a solo, "He Touched

On July 18th I will be performing the wedding for my great niece in
Fredrick, MD.  After the wedding I am plan to come by and have lunch the you
and Linda. I have made strawberry jam and I am now making blueberry jam. I
am planning to bring you a sample.

  With all that we have been doing, I am ready for August and all the great
memories of the past.

Don "

What Don is alluding to is our annual 2 man "Cotton Mouth" olympics...during which Don and I compete (preferably in 95 degree heat)..the thrills of the 1951-53 August morning and afternoon football practices, such as wind sprints, running around a quarter mile track several times and numerous "push ups" between events. 

The winner is determined by which one of us is the last one to be picked up by the Rescue Squad.


Monday, June 22, 2015


From the Internet:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Still Going Strong

Report on LDLs

By Jerry Gaudet

"LDLs" continue to be moderately well attended and all seem to enjoy gathering once a month to again live in the past as well as catch up on how life has been treating us.

Attending the June'15 edition were Marie Beatty Robinson, Vic and Sylvia Brawley, John Culp, Robert Dodge, Jerry and Pat Gaudet, Barney Lisk, Mitzi Minor Roper, Ronnie Rallis Pourlos and husband Jimmie, Willis Ruth Rimmer, Al Selby, Anna Lynn Smith-Petersen Kearse, Frank Stack (MP'54) and son Jeff, Jo Anne Stone King and husband Joe (CHS'54), Charlie and Jean Willis

Jimmie Pourlos
Of special note was a birthday celebration for Jimmie Pourlos. Son, Chris, the current propriortor of Jimmies brought a cake that all of us enjoyed. Happy Birthday, Jimmie!

Keep us in mind when the second Tuesday of each month rolls around. We think you'll enjoy being with classmates for conversation, lunch...and celebrations!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015


I was sad to learn of the death of Blaze Starr last Monday morning.  She was perhaps the most famous "stripper" in the world in the late 1950's and early 60's.
At 15, Ms. Starr began performing at a club near the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va. In 1950, after moving to Baltimore, she stepped onto the runway of the 2 O’Clock Club on the Block, that city’s famous strip of adult entertainment shops and stages. 
Blaze Starr

She gained national recognition when she was featured in Esquire magazine in 1954, hailed as the successor to Lili St. Cyr on the burlesque circuit. Unlike Ms. St. Cyr, however, she made many of her own costumes, part of a stage wardrobe, including three mink coats, that was valued in 1967 at $20,000 (about $142,000 in today’s money).

You may remember the story I wrote on this site  5 years ago about that night shortly before my wife and I were to be married:

Washington, DC  September 1963

Linda and I had gone together for a little over 2 years, and I knew
she was a very bright and sophisticated lady......with a great sense of humor, and we were both in love, but........she didn’t have any idea how certifiable one of my best friends was.

Paul Niven at Kennedy Nixon Debate

His name was Paul Niven, who very few people remember now, but at the time was part of Ed Murrow’s team of reporters at CBS. He was moderating Face the Nation in the early 60’s and I was the announcer on that show as well as a number of Paul’s radio newscasts throughout the week.

Broadcasting was his job.

But practical jokes...the more outrageous the better...were his life!

Paul Niven, Pat Peyser, Lee Shephard
Both of us were bachelors during that time....and since our work schedules were more or less the same.......we ran around together a lot doing things bachelors do....going to bars....acting stupid...and a few times wandering 40 miles up the road to see the sights in Baltimore’s notorious Burlesque district known as “The Block.”

Paul was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known.....and one of the funniest.....and kindest.

But I knew that like all of Paul’s friends, I had a target on my back. And an up coming wedding was just too good an opportunity to pass up.

I was convinced that the “terror attack” would come right after the wedding or perhaps during the honeymoon.

So, a couple of weeks before the wedding,  I didn’t think twice when Paul asked us to meet him and his date at a very exclusive restaurant (The Rive Gauche) in Georgetown.

Blaze Starr
I spotted Paul right away when we entered and as Linda and I were being led to his table........Suddenly, I began to realize who his “date” was. I recognized her even without her “boa.” It was the “Queen of the Block” and probably the best known xcydiast in the country, Blaze Star.

This was ground zero....and the attack was about to begin.

Blaze performed her part well.....telling Linda that she had been sent by the city of Baltimore to plead with her not to marry me....because the entire economy of the “block” would collapse without my many trips to the bars....."have pity on the strippers’ hungry children," she pleaded......Paul had also paid a couple of waitresses to come by our table with picket signs...with similar "unfair to Baltimore's working girls".....messages.

I was dying.

Linda thought it was hilarious.


I figured after that, the next 50 years would be a breeze.

They were.


(After the initial shock....the rest of the evening was great. Blaze told us about beginning her career when she was 15.........and how she had been supporting her Mom and sisters in West Virginia ever since..and talked about her long-term romance with then-governor Earl Long.
It was, to say the least, an unforgettable evening.

Paul Niven died in a tragic house fire in 1979. Linda was pregnant with our third child at the time......and since our other two children were boys, we were confident the new one would be too...so we decided to name him Paul, after our friend.

But, our third child turned out to be a girl, so we named her Kendall, which was Paul's middle name.

At Paul’s funeral Daniel Patrick Moynihan gave the eulogy. Among other things he said,

“A journalist’s life revolves around stories. And stories of Paul will be heard as long as any who worked with him or knew him gather in those barrooms around the world where the day’s brutality is somehow surmounted with laughter and a comradeship of equality and honor.”

Rest in Peace, Paul.  -Ed)

Blaze Starr

Blaze Starr

Blaze Starr was a classy lady!  So was her "act."
Remember, this was the early 60's, before this country went insane.

Everyone who knew Blaze, knew her as a loving, generous, kind, and very savvy business person.

With a great sense of humor.

The Baltimore Sun newspaper reported that shortly before her death, she had been very worried about her pet dog, who died shortly before she did.

I have no doubt that contributed to her passing.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"I think, therefore I am."

Rene Descartes
The "father of modern philosophy," The French philosopher Rene Descartes said that sometime around 1625.

But that's "sooooo  yesterday."

Todays enlightened philosophy might as well be "I am what I think I am."

Back in the 1940's there was a popular childrens radio show called "Lets Pretend."

That could be what this period in American Cultural history will eventually be titled.

Although "Alice in Wonderland" will come in a close second.

I want to share this photo collection that's going around the internet with you.

My thanks to my old friend from Piedmont Junior High, Dick Ratcliffe for passing it on to me.


-Alice in  Wonderland

Sunday, June 14, 2015


(Autodidactism = self education)

My two oldest grandchildren (the twins) started college last Fall.

Although I kept my big mouth shut, I was really conflicted about it.   The education racket today, particularly at the University level,  is very little more than anti-American indoctrination.

However, they've got us between a rock and a hard place.  A liberal Art degree from most colleges isn't worth the paper it's
written on (as far as true knowledge is concerned), but without it, very few companies will hire you.  They use that piece of paper as an invitation to be interviewed by prospective employers.  It's simply a "shortcut." 

It's a Hell of a price to pay for an "admission" ticket.

Some of the smartest people I've ever known were those with the least “schooling.”

I'm not talking about the “least educated.”

The ones I'm talking about are those who are “self educated” going way beyond what any “formal institution can offer. There's a big difference.

The solution is "self education."

But realistically, that won't work, because it goes against "human nature."  It takes a very special person to discipline himself enough to become truly "educated."  

Besides, you still won't have that paper ticket.

I've heard it said that all we ever “learn” is what we teach ourselves. I think that's true. Even with the help of “professors and instructors” it's up to each one of us to “hit the save button” in our brain.

One of the best examples of the modern “self educated” man is perhaps Eric Hoffer,
Hoffer at "work break"
the “Longshoreman Philosopher.”Before he burst onto the National Screen with his first book, “The True Believer,” Hoffer had worked as a migrant laborer in the California fields and after being turned down by the Army because of his eyesight in 1942, he became a Longshoreman in San Francisco.He lived by himself in a single room, owned next to nothing except his work clothes, some writing supplies and a library card.

Eric Hoffer
No one is sure of Hoffer's early life.  His own tale of his mother falling while holding him as a child resulting in his being blind for his first 15 years for example doesn't pass the "smell" test.  It would, however, explain the absence of any school records. Most other records of his early years are also missing.

I think the best guess is that he was an illegal Jewish immigrant from Germany and was hiding that fact since back then he could have been deported at any time.

Whatever...we are richer for having had his wisdom.


"To grow old is to grow common. Old age equalizes...we are aware that what is happening to us has happened to untold numbers from the beginning of time. When we are young, we act as if we were the first young people in the world."

Dock Workers
"The greatest weariness comes from work not done.

"An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head.”

"In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.”

"You can never get enough of what you don't need to make you happy.”
 Eric Hoffer 

"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.” 
 Eric Hoffer

“Anger is the prelude to courage.”

It has often been said that power corrupts, but it is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness too corrupts.  Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance and suspicion are the faults of weakness.  The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them, but from their sense of inadequacy and impotence. We cannot win the weak by sharing our wealth with them.  They feel our generosity as oppression."

"Disappointment is a sort of bankruptcy...the bankruptcy of a soul that expends too much in hope and expectation."

"Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength."

Finally,  Hoffer on education itself:

"The central task of education is to implant a will and a 

facility for learning; it should produce not learned, but

learning people. The truly human society is a learning 


where grandparents, parents, and children are students


In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the 


The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a

 world that no longer exists."

Mr. Hoffer's first book, ''The True Believer,'' was published in 1951. He continued working along the docks as a member of the International Longshoreman's and Warehouseman's Union and wrote between work assignments.
He left the docks in 1967. In 1970 he withdrew from public life, saying: ''I'm going to crawl back into my hole where I started. 
“There is no greater threat to sanity than the taking of one’s life too seriously. No one will miss us long when we are gone. No one will lose his appetite because we are no more.”

Eric Hoffer left this world in 1983.


Other famous autodidacts:
  • Playwright George Bernard Shaw left formal education while still in his mid-teens to become a clerk at an estate firm. He compared schools to prison and said that "I did not learn anything at school."[8]
  • Ernest Hemingway, the American novelist and short story writer, was primarily self-educated after high school. "... he read for hours at a time in bed", recounted his sister Marcelline. "He read everything around the house—all the books, all the magazines, even the AMAJournals from Dad's office downstairs. Ernie also took out great numbers of books from the public library."[9] His father wanted him to go to Oberlin for college, but Hemingway decided to become a reporter for the Kansas City Star.[10]
  • Louis L'Amour, an author who left his home at the age of 15 to expand his horizons and worked many jobs while educating himself.
  • Ray Bradbury, author of fantasyhorror, science fiction, and mystery novels, graduated from high school but did not attend college. In regard to his education, Bradbury was quoted as saying:
      • Rudolph Dirks, one of the earliest and most noted comic strip artists, was an autodidact.[12] He sold his first cartoon to a local newspaper when he was 13. For a while, he mainly designed ads. 17 years old, he sold cartoons to magazines like Life und Judge. With jobs like cover images for pulp novels he made his living until the New York Journal hired him, where he earned fame as creator ofThe Katzenjammer Kids.
      • William Shakespeare He did not attend university, but read widely and had a broad knowledge of politics, history, literature, law, and many other subjects as evidenced by his plays.
      • etc. etc. etc...