Saturday, July 31, 2010

Blessed are the peacemakers

I've moved another letter up here to the front page because I found it to be interesting and of some merit to be seen by all.
Olmanriver has left a new comment on your post "Nightfish, and surf-fish.":

Link to first people where many of these photos came from.
"In describing a trip along the coast north of San Francisco in 1861, J. Ross Browne remarked that near the mouth of Ten Mile River 'Along the beach, and at intervals of every few hundred yards, groups of Indians were engaged in catching and packing away in baskets a small species of fish resembling the sardine, which at particular periods during the summer, abound in vast numbers on this part of the coast. The Indians catch them by means of a small hand-net, which they use in a peculiar and very dexterous manner. Holding the pole of the net in both hands, they watch the breakers as they roll in, and when they see one of suitable force and magnitude coming, they plunge in the surf and turn their backs upon the incoming wave. The moment it breaks they set their nets down firmly in the sand, and the fish are forced into it by the velocity of the receding current. I have seen them take out at a single catch an ordinary-sized bucket full.

The old women of the different tribes take away the fish in large baskets to the rancherias, where they are dried in the sun or used as neccessity requires. The coast Indians carry on a small trade with those of the mountains and interior valleys, in fish, dried abalone, mussels, shells, and various marine productions, in exchange for which they receive dried berries, acorns, and different kinds of nuts and roots. Of late years, however, they have been harshly dealt with by the settlers that it is with great difficulty they can procure a scanty subsistence. They are in constant dread of being murdered, and even in the vicinity of the reservations have a startled and distrustful look whenever they are approached by white men.' Harper's Monthly Magazine, 315, August 1861"

This commentary speaks for itself, I can only imagine the fear that the Indian people suffered while trying to appease the evermore difficult to please white man. The early 1860's were the period where it was being decided whether to kill all of the Indian people, or just the renegade bands that were still killing livestock and declaring themselves at war with the white interloper. Fortunately there were "good white people" that were screaming for the Indian people's protection. I made the comment that I was going to "do a post about why we have so many Indians here today." So this is it.

I have a friend who is black, Hoy Kersh, she just wrote a book about her experiences growing up in the south. She made the comment that, if it weren't for "the good white people" in the south, she would have never survived. I was a little shocked, and a little surprised that a black person, from the south, would make a statement like that. My thoughts were that any black person would be filled with distain for the "white person" because of all of the hate and prejudiced that was sent the way of any black person in the south. I made the question: "There were good white people in the south"? Her answer was "Oh yes, there were many good white people." I knew that she was right, people are people, no matter where they are from. But, I found it surprising that she would describe the south as having "many good white people". I think that there are "good people” in any society, black, white, Indian, or whatever dividing line that we choose to observe.

I recently read an article by Bruce Brady, a school teacher from Laytonville, that skipped over the struggles of the early settlement period of Laytonville with the flippant remark about some the people of Long Valley being “the old Indian-killer families”. I thought that the comment was rather careless and thoughtless, especially in view of the fact that the “old Indian killer families" always spoke well of him. My thought was that this fellow wrote an article that was basically ego masturbation, about how he was able to make the students really “care” for a short time. “What remains today is an empty space where care eked out a life for a couple of years.” He did it with a state grant that came, in part, from the profits of the loggers that he roundly criticized for their "clear cuts." I don’t agree with clear cuts either, but the point is, the logging is one of the sources of the one-half million dollars, that he helped piss away in hardly any time at all. These are the people, Mr. Brady and some like him, that are teaching our children to hate our “old Indian killer family” ancestors, with comments like, "Bucks – so-called – especially were prized as targets out on what, decades later, would become the football field.” What’s wrong with making the children ponder, WHY, history happened the way it did, rather than just imply that evil was afoot? Too often the old “Indian Killer families” just remain silent, and realize that some people know not what they say, and never will know unless they educate themselves. Mr. Brady has a wonderful talent as a writer, he evoked the names of some of the most tedious writers in all of history to make his point. To bad he didn’t just talk to a few people in the valley that know some of the local history, instead of insulting them. Most people reading his essay don't know that the people like "Beva" are totally fictitious characters, but there are people that he could have talked to, that would have been willing to share the real stories with him. That way he could have quoted real people that are important to the school and the education of the Laytonville people.

Discrimination is a natural instinct. Those that failed to discriminate in history, failed to survive. If your people are being killed by lions, you soon learn to discriminate against lions. You stop trusting lions because it isn’t healthy to try to be friends with them. Same with many other predatory critters. You soon learn that some critters can’t be trusted, and you either kill them or stay away from them. When discrimination goes awry, when it is misplaced, it becomes prejudice. We discriminate against lions because they kill us. Dogs can be different, some kill us, but some befriend and protect us. Wise people can make the judgment that some dogs are friendly, and they can be trusted, but some people, that have had a bad experience with dogs, can never get past that fear and distrust. I feel that some prejudice comes from a persons experiences. Based on their experiences, wise people can know who to trust, and who may not be trusted.

The early white people, that came across the great plains and through the mountain passes, faced many Indian predations on their trip to California. The white people never knew what to expect from the Native Americans. Some tribes were friendly and some weren’t. Many of the pioneer whites were killed on their way to California. Many had family members killed by Indians. They were killed for reasons that some white people couldn’t understand. It was hard to accept that the Indian people may have had good reasons to kill the whites. It was especially hard for the white people to understand when the Indians had just killed your brother, wife, child, or other family member. Some whites arrived in California with a deep and abiding hate for the Indian people, and they did not care which was a “good Indian” and which was a “bad Indian”. The saying, by many whites of the day, was “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

Some, like the Kelsey’s, who were preyed upon by the Indians on their whole trip to California, hated the Indian people so intensely that they say "they would shoot an Indian just to watch him jump”. The Kelsey and Bidwell party was a small party and very temping prey for the Indians. The Kelseys claimed that the only reason that they were able to survive the Indians attacks, is that they had packed more than ample ammunition, and they were all deadly accurate with a rifle. They said that they passed many sites of past Indian massacres of white emigrants on their trip. Few people understand where the hate came from. I think that to be on the trip to California with the Kelsey’s would have, at least opened a few eyes, as to why they hated Indians.

Conversely, my Great, Great Grandparents John and Suzanna Middleton left Illinois in 1853. They made their trip to California in a covered wagon. They were Quakers and were peaceful people by nature. The family stories passed down to me, is that they made friends with the Indians along their way to California, and they hired many Indians as guides. Suzanna was pregnant on the trip to Salt Lake City, as ALL married women seemed to be back then. It is said that their daughter Mary was the first non-Mormon white child born in Salt Lake City. I don’t know how they made that distinction, but it is one of my family’s twice-told-tales.

The Middletons came through the Donner Pass and settled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s at a little mining town near Grass Valley by the name of “Timbuctoo”. My Great Grandfather Lafayette was born there. They soon discovered that the gold-fields were not for them, because of disease and violence. They moved to Mud Springs 13 miles west of Laytonville In the 1860’s, where they remained for the rest of their lives on the Mud Springs ranch. She died at 75 years, and he died at 81. They had 8 children.

During their whole lives the Middletons were friends of the Indian people. They protected and defended them from the people trying to kill them as much as they could. They survived a few Indian attacks, and still persisted in protecting the Indians. My grandfather Lafayette (Lafe) married Laura Lockhart, from another 1850’s family.

My great, great grandparents, the Lockharts came to California by sailing ship. Mary (Cull) Lockhart came to California from New York by train to the Mississippi River, down the river by riverboat, across the Gulf of Mexico by sailing ship, across Panama by mule, and finally into San Francisco by sailing ship. She came to California to seek her lost father and brother, who had disappeared in their trip overland to the California Gold fields.

My 3G grandfather, Captain Jonathon Alexander Lockhart, was the master of the sailing ship “The Hungarian” that shipped goods and emigrants around the Horn of South America and into San Francisco. His son knew Mary Cull in New York. They were surprised to find each other in a boarding house in San Francisco. They married and continued her quest to find her lost father and brother in the gold fields. Their search ended in the frustration that her father and brother had probably been killed by Indians on their way to California. The other theory was that they had lots of money with them, and they were killed for the money. At any rate, it was determined that they never made it to California. The Lockharts lived in Sacramento. My great Grandmother Laura (Lockhart) Middleton was born there. 2G Grandfather Lockhart got one of the diseases that was rampant in Sacramento at the time, and the family moved to the upper South Fork of the Eel River, just downstream of what is now known as the town of “Branscomb. Other than the remarkable exception that Mary (cull) Lockhart's father and brother were probably killed by Indians, neither of my great grandparents, the Lockharts, had any direct confrontations with the Indians, and they had no real fear or loathing of them, like did some of the overland pioneers. So, they were strong advocates for the protection of the Indian people.

The reason that I took the time to mention the Middletons and the Lockharts is because Lafe Middleton and Laura Lockhart were the parents of my Grandmother Ruby Branscomb, who was also good to the Indian people. Ruby worked hard her whole life, and freely shared her abundance with the people of the valley, including the Indian people. Not because they were Indians, but because they were friends. She shared her abundant vegetable garden with them, and often hauled them mill-ends for fire wood, from her son Ben's sawmill.

Ruby hauled Fox Burns his last load of wood. Fox was one of Laytonville’s most famous Indian people. A whole book could have been written about Fox Burns. Wouldn’t it have been nice if the Laytonville writing teacher, Bruce Brady, would have written a book about fox burns? Instead of using his immense talent to cast barbs at the “old Indian killer families”. One of Ruby’s twice told tales about Fox was that she had hauled him a load of wood and pronounced the she would bring more. Fox said, “no, when wood gone, Fox will be gone”. He was right, he died when his wood-pile was almost empty. I often listened to My grandmother Ruby tell that tale. She always had a look of nostalgia and wonder on her face when she would tell it. She genuinely missed Fox, and you could tell that she also genuinely wondered just how Fox knew when he was going to die.
Ruby married into the Branscomb family, My 2g grandfather Benjamin Franklin Branscomb was instrumental in funding and building many of the schools in The South Fork of the Eel drainage. Any school that my grandfather built was built for BOTH Indian and white, or Chinese for that matter. Their was no distinction made between those that wanted an education. I understand that was kind of unique to our little valley. All of my aunts, uncles, and both my mother and father were raised with the Indian people of Laytonville. They hunt fished and lived in the same little peaceful valley together. Many of my family is Indian. We have no quarrel with the Indian people. The only quarrel that we have is with the people that are often newcomers to our small valley, that come here and try to lay blame rather than try to understand the history and the reasons that things happened the way that they did.

Many of my family wrote letters to wherever they could to get adequate care for the Indian people. And, they stood their ground. They didn’t write a fancy letter then run like Brett Hart, who went on to become one of the more famous Indian advocates. But, he ran after it was found out that he wrote a letter about the “Indian Island Massacre” in Eureka. Also, Bret Hart was writing for notoriety and profit. He was a profession writer looking for sensation.

The Old Laytonville families have a long history of being, simply, friends with the Indian people. They hired, protected, adopted, conscripted, married, built housing, grew food, cut firewood, hunted fished, and many other things with the Indian people. They lived, for the most part, peacefully together, with a few remarkable exceptions. There will always be evil people that will cause problems, both Indian and white. It seems that if you look, just a little bit, into the history of those “evil people” you will find the reasons for their evil. Maybe not always understood by most people.

Hank Sims, a respected North Coast writer, who coincidently writes for the North Coast Journal, once said that “we shouldn’t take the credit for our ancestors, unless we are willing to also take the blame for them.” Fair enough, I’m here to take my credit. And I know full well that if it hadn’t been for the “good white people”, my family and other good people like them, there would no Indian people here today. Yes, there are good white people in Long Valley.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A thought provoking blogpost on Laytonville.

I hope Robin Shelley is still out there to give us her thoughts on the essay printed at Sohum Parlance II. Ben emailed me this morning and made notice that one Bruce Brady wrote an interesting essay on the Laytonville school in particular and the community in general. I'm not going to reprint it here. Please go to Sohum Parlance for complete context.

Click below:


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Where do you fit?

     I know that I promised that I wouldn't post until Monday, but "Off Topic", who I suspect is Olmanriver, just included the following list in a comment. I have always identified with the working class person because most of what I own came from hard labor. There are some around here that were smarter, and perhaps braver, than me, and have made small fortunes. Some have made small fortunes, lost everything when they got busted by "the man", now they don't know how to earn a legitimate living. The chance to become wealthy through honest labor has gone away.

     Many of us are in the same boat. It's darn hard to create personal opportunity nowadays. The following list only points out that we need a revolution in America. We are all faced with the same problems of, where do we start the revolution, how much blood must be shed, if any, and how do we join and work together to bring about change? And, the really big one, what do we do if we win the revolution?

     Many people that I know have just plain said to heck with it. They have retired early, they don’t vote, They are just waiting to die, and feel sorry for our kids that are going to end up with the mess that we are in. What are you going to do? Do you think we need change???


• 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.

• 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

• 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

• 36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.

• A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.

• 24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.

• Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.

• Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

• For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.

• In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.

• As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.

• The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

• Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.

• In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.

• The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

• In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.

• More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.

• or the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

• This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.

• Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.

• Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.

• The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our national income.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nothing says "Home" like tar weed...

Olmanriver, my most favorite Long Valley history researcher, just made a comment on an old post that I did about Tar Weed and other aromatic plants. He found and transcribed the poem so we can all enjoy it. I have never seen the poem before, but it rings so true to Laytonville and the Long Valley that it tugs at my heartstrings and brings back that far away feeling of being back home in Laytonville again.
This is what he placed in the comments:
olmanriver said...

"I am still not sure about which plant is tarweed. Maybe a local poet can help us with our tarweed identification...

Margaret S. Cobb Smith was a poet and painter who taught school all over northern Mendocino county. The daughter of Chilean royalty and one of the first settlers of Long Valley, William Smith, Margaret married Mr. Oliver Cobb who ranched beside the SF Eel by Sproul Creek. They married in 1904, and the property was left to her at the time of his passing in 1914.

The Cobbs hosted Jack London's 1911 visit when he toured up the coast with his wife Charmian, driving a four horse team. He wrote an account of this vacation expedition for Sunset Magazine. Andrew Genzoli wrote in the Redwood Country: "The Cobbs proved to be such good company that Charmian called them 'our people'. She tried her hand at fishing and caught up on correspondence while Jack set about writing his lasst Post story, 'The Feathers of the Sun', a rollicking comedy about a desreputable beachcomber with royal pretensions. Here was a South Seas version of Kipling's 'The Man who Would Be King,'..."

Margaret also had George Sterling as a close friend, and corresponded with Ambrose Bierce. She did get poems published, and was a good painter, but the work she is most known for was Blaxine, a story of mixed white and Indian families and a rare novelized glimpsed into what it was to be a half-breed. The poet Joaquim Miller touted the book highly. Lynette sagaciously sussed out that this was modeled on the AE Sherwood family situation of Sherwood valley, which I was able to confirm through an online reference to a teacher who had taught the Sherwood kids in Sherwood, and Margaret Smith in Long Valley. As this is Lynette's bailiwick I shant say to much here."

More after the poem.

Long Valley by Margaret S. Cobb

"We passed through Long Valley in September,
Facing its first gleam of level at Farley Creek,
Then from the little uplift at the old Talkington place,
The valley before us in a glory of browns, tans, and saffrons,
That dimmed and faded in the distance of mauves and gray.
It was late evening. the guarding prescence of old Farley Peak
Lifted itself against the sky in pale opaque blueness.
Cow Mountain and the Cahto hills lay black against the west,
Against a wash of pale green western sky, and across this sky
Floated thin lines of brilliant crimson clouds.
Yet so transient this cloud beauty that even while we watched,
And ere we reached the old Leonard place,
It had faded to a gray lavender and lay against
A paling sky.
And now the tar weed, sweet vagrant of the valley,
Useless, unloved, but offering its golden discs by millions
To waste places, filled the air with its poignant tang,
Bringing back childhood with a pang of pain--
Old dreams of childhood lived in this lovely valley.
Fences now lay as purple lines across the fields,
Straw from the threshing lay as beaten gold,
Willows become as gray and olive dreams against the low red hills, Unkempt old orchards glowed, painted with scarlet apples'
Pines lifted their delicately lined contours, oaks were purple massed,
Then came the friendly Lights of Laytonville,
And blue night settled broad and vast o'er all,
Only the tarweed, vagrant, unloved weed,
Still told of fields widespread beneath the night."

Well, the whole south end of Long Valley was named “Farley”. There was Farley Ranch, Farley Flat, Farley Peak, and the Farley School House. I guess that the newcomers decided that there were too many things named “Farley”, so they changed the name of Farley Creek to Long Valley Creek, otherwise everything is called much the same as it was a century ago.

There are two glorious times to be in Long Valley One in May, when all the grasses are just starting to dry up and turn brown, and all of the wildflowers are blooming in grand abundance, with the sweet smell of the drying grasses, and beauty of the flowers, waving in the last of winters windy grip.

And two, in September, when the gardens are ripe, the orchards are ready for the plucking, the berries are all turned into fragrant syrups and jams. The last of the grain straws are still laying in the fields, and… ah yes! The stinky little flower that most all of the Laytonville natives have learn to love.. Tarweed. The Tarweed grows in the clay soil of the valley bottom, where other plants have been grazed or mowed down. The tarweed takes over the fields after the harvest of the hay and grains. It is the sweetest, or strongest, depending on whether you like the smell or not, in the warm summer evenings about beer time.

There is nothing like eating a fried chicken dinner at Gramma’s house. With chickens fresh from the hen house, soda biscuits and gravy, and fresh corn and peas from the garden. Gramma always served the summer dinners on the back patio that was cooled by a large grape arbor built over it. One of the things that I remember about those dinners it the smell of the hot summer heated tar weed in the valley air.

My great grandmother Laura Middleton used to speak of “the Talkingtons” who she was friends with. So the name is familiar to me. My mother said that the Talkington’s place was at the south end of the valley just north and west of Jack Farley’s place.

My mother also said that she went on a plane ride with a fellow by the name of Lew Leonard in 1928 or 29. But she didn’t know if he was related to the Leonards in the poem.
Every homestead, everywhere, had a fruit orchard, with as many variety’s as possible. Albert Etter, from Ettersberg‘s, name was invoked whenever anybody wanted to speak about apples with any degree of authority.
Ah… but the tarweed… the sweet smell of home. Sweeter then the smell of all of my sweetest memories.

Okay, this is the plant below more commonly known as "Tarweed". The blue flowered plant above is "Vinegar weed". I call them both tar weeds. I know.... I'm wrong. But, I'm not the only one.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ah, sweet summertime.

97 degrees today, 98 yesterday, and 99 the day before, so it's cooling off, have you noticed?
This is twizzle, she owns this vent in the winter when its cold, and in the summer when it's hot. If the chairs are in the way she will push them aside, as you can see. Twizzle is a very sweet dog, also as you can see, but if you try to push her away from her vent, she makes noises like a Tasmamian Devil eating a wasp nest.

Twizzle is a very feminine dog, so she doesn't like to pant or slobber. She loves to play "chase the ball". If she can't get anybody to play with her she will go outside and roll her ball down the hill, then run to catch it. When she gets hot or tired she comes inside and stands over her vent until she cools off. then, BOOM, out her doggie door for more ball. In the winter, her ball hides from her under the couch, but she is always able to get it. Then she plays doggie hockey with it until, sure enough, the ball hides under the couch again. I’ve never seen a dog so willing to play all by herself. She will certainly play with you if you show the slightest interest, but if you don’t, she plays ball anyway. I’ve been thinking about getting Twizzle a computer, so she can play real games like everybody else.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

More Shelter Cove legends

Image of Shelter Cove from Google earth.

I recently had a long-time visitor / property owner of the Shelter Cove area e-mail me about the Shelter Cove Indian legends. The legend that he referred to is one that many of us have heard many times and I just wrote it off as something that probably happened, but the story went on to get better at each telling.

I'm going to print his letter here, but leave his name off, because I don't have his permission at this point to give it out. But, I love these old stories and I really like hearing all of the versions. Here is the question posed by the reader of this blog.

"Hello Ernie,

I just today tripped over your blog on the 'net and I wanted to thank you. To me, this sort of information is like a treasure chest full of priceless gems.

I live and work in Sunnyvale CA but my parents bought a lot in Shelter Cove in 1969 and we vacationed there every summer from 1969 to 1979 (I was born in '67). I have done a lot of tramping around that region myself as a young man and now middle aged adult and I can tell you it stole my heart long ago.

A lot of heavy vibes there, too, but that's a long story.

Anyway, along the way I remember hearing or reading a story about 'The Cove' being cursed by Indians who had escaped from' the res' or perpetrated some other offense, been recaptured and then buried up to their necks at low tide on the Big Black Sand beach and drowned as the tide came in. Before they died, they cursed (or their wives did) the white man and the cove, dooming it to never be a success in any way.

I heard this as a young boy and I can tell you it left quite an impression on me.

Later when I tried to find a written account of this story I could not.

I have a feeling many, many variations of this story exist and I am wondering which version your might have heard and if you have any other information about if this actually happened?

Many thanks and warm regards,"
(name not printed here)

Another Shelter Cove Legend is the one about the Spanish Galion that crashed near there. The Indians ended up with the Gold, they buried it on the slopes of Kings Peak and it was lost in a land slide. Many people have searched for the lost gold, but it has never been found. The local Indians had a few Spanish Gold coins that may have come from the Spanish presence along the Pacific coast of California....  or was it that the Indians had a treasure chest filled with Spanish Gold and they buried it.

Another Coastal Indian story with great truth and validity is the wreck of the Frolic at Point Cabrillo. Cloth and China from the wreck is found all over the north coast, also, many other items are found, traded and packed there by the Indians that swam out to the ship and salvaged what they could before it became completely destroyed in the rocks.

I know that each tale gets better at each telling, so I always welcome new stories with a healthy dose of skepticism. Do you really think that anybody would go to all the trouble to bury Indians up to their necks in sand? That sounds like a lot of work for nothing. I don't see that really happening. But, that's just me, being skeptical and practical.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

My flag, on my porch, photo by me.

I was watching the news this morning. They were predictably talking about Independence Day. One of the questions that the moderator asked the panelists was: “What does the flag mean to you?” I got lost in my own thoughts and didn’t even hear their answers. I started thinking about all of the things that are wrong in America today, and how frustrating it is to not be able change them. I finally concluded that, for me, the flag means everything that is right about America. It is the symbol of the freedom that we enjoy, the friendships that we have, and the fact that we still have freedom of speech. I also like the fact that we have the right to bear arms and protect ourselves and our families. I know that there are people out there that fear guns, but they are the ones that should insist that the gun laws, that are already on the books, be enforced. Why aren’t they?

Why don’t our borders mean anything? I have heard that people cross the borders rather routinely. To ask if a person is a legal citizen should be okay. It should be a matter of great pride to show that indeed you are a citizen of the united states, or that you have a permit to be here. I’m serious, why shouldn’t we be proud of who we are? It isn’t racist to check for criminals. Yes, it’s a crime to enter this country without permission.

I know, I haven’t mentioned the two wars that we are fighting, or the several other “problem countries” that keep tweaking America’s nose. Some people can’t talk reasonably about the reasons that we are at war, and whether we should be, or shouldn’t be. So I want this to be about the reasons that we need to join together, not argue about things that we haven’t been able to change.

Then there is the Gulf Oil spill… If this isn’t a sign of failure of our whole government, ALL of them, there never will be. Corporations don’t have consciences, government oversight is necessary. Where were the regulators? that were supposed to be watching out for us? They were having an orgy with the oil drillers! Yes! A real orgy! You could look it up. Something is wrong, when instead of protecting the environment of the whole gulf, the regulators and oil drillers were in bed (literally) with each other. This spill isn’t over yet and I keep saying: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

I graduated high school in June of 1963. The major decision back then was, what should I do with my life? What career should I pursue? The sky was the limit, all careers were open to any young man with at least modest ambition and a little bit of talent. There was little thought about whether or not you could get a job and support a family. You could.

In 1967, Dustin Hoffman’s character in the film “The Graduate” was given the advice “plastics”. What advice should we give a graduate today? Get a PHD in business administration? … then try to pay-off your student loan while working at McDonalds. Most of what I am distressed about is not that our kids aren’t ambitious, they are, it’s that their jobs have been given away by the super-rich to countries who don’t play fair. Our politicians scold us for our selfishness by saying “it’s a world economy now. Your only hope is to get an education.” Some people worked hard for an education, and most are in the ranks of the under-employed or not employed at all.

My coffee group often talks about what needs to change about America. It is often mentioned that we had a quiet revolution while nobody was paying attention, the rich simply bought America. They own the corporations, they own the news services, and they most obviously own our election system. They didn’t even use guns.

You may say that you still have control, but when was the last time you were totally happy about who you voted for? When was the last time you wrote a letter to a congressman or senator that made any change.

The flag represents the hope that I have, that America can return to it’s former prosperity, and pride in who we are.

The flag represents the America that I see as Ideal. The America where we all stand under the flag, as one people, not Democrats or Republicans, not Tea Party or any other “party” but Americans. The Flag may be the last thing that we have in common, that we feel is important.