Keep on Painting

On another story titled “Discovering the Arts” I told about how I had started to paint landscapes. But my restless spirit pushed me on to try painting scenes that included people. This seemed to me to be much harder than landscapes. And so I painted two that I call “Suffering” and “Faith”. They illustrate the life of the folks that came to this part of Utah before us, back in the early 1800’s. What they went through just to get here.

Suffering

 

Hope

 

Yosemite in a TR3

Shortly after getting married in 1966, my wife and I bought a second car. It was a used British Triumph TR3 sports car. I don’t remember how many miles it had on it. I don’t think I cared. Back then I didn’t pay much attention to unimportant things like that. I just thought it was cool to have a “top down” sports car. It came with a tool kit in the “boot”, which should have told me something.
That summer we were living in Bellflower, CA and we decided it would be cool to go in the TR3 to Yosemite National Park in the High Sierra mountains. My wife had never been there and I had fond memories of trips there with my family.   Reservations? Gas, enough oil, water in the radiator? These never crossed my mind. So on a long 4th of July weekend we went.
I did have to buy and install a luggage rack though. We were taking a full sized tent (they were pretty bulky in those days). It fit in a box that was 6 inches wider than the TR3 on either side, also one double sleeping bag (hey, we had only been married 6 months…) Coleman stove and fuel, Coleman lantern, fishing tackle, food, and clothes.
I have no idea how we got there and back without losing it all. But we got there, then rushed through a long week end, saw some sights including bears, then started home.
Yosemite is located some 300 + miles north of the Los Angeles basin, and at the north end of LA, there is an infamous stretch of road called “The Grapevine”. It goes up from approximately sea level on both ends, up to over 4000 thousand feet at The Tejon Pass. The Grapevine has stretches of incline that in the summertime become “problematic” to older cars that do not have robust cooling systems, like any used British sports car that was designed for lite driving in the ever cool UK. And you better have good brakes for the decline. You can probably see where this is going …

As usual, that July was very hot on the Grapevine, and shortly after we started up the grade heading home, we heard a terrible racket from the engine, and I could feel vibration in the shift lever. I had no choice but to immediately pull over and then … and then … I wasn’t sure what to do then. Where this happened there was at least at a little place where I had a few feet of room on the right shoulder to keep from getting obliterated by the semi trucks barreling past. The only course of action seemed to be to crawl under the car to see what I could see. The air temperature was about 110 degrees, and under the car it was much hotter. I was sure I could fry bacon on any metal parts I was looking at.

After crawling under the car on the hot gravel and asphalt, I saw what I took to be the transmission and drive shaft assembly. There was a large round assembly attached at the left end of a metal case, and a smaller round assembly attached to the right end. I noticed that the right, smaller end was missing most of the bolts that should have been holding the assembly together, and the whole right round part was rotated slightly down. My recent college engineering degree seemed to be telling me … “that ain’t right”. What to do … I noticed that the left hand larger round assembly had a whole bunch of bolts (maybe twice as many as the smaller round thing) that all looked snugly attached and they seemed to be the same size as the missing ones on the right. … You don’t suppose … So I removed a couple of the bolts on the left and somehow got the right hand assembly pushed back up where it looked like it belonged and replaced the 2 bolts I stole from the front, cinched it down to hold it it place, … son-of-a-gun, it worked … I am convinced that some of Gods angels are mechanics. We drove home with no problems.

I am ashamed to say I never replaced any of the “stolen” bolts. I drove the TR3 around that way for a year with no trouble at all and later sold it to a guy I worked with, and he never had any trouble either. And I still can’t believe how naive I was.

A Connection

While I can’t really relate to the decades that proceeded me (before 1969) , this site does provide interesting reading. I’m sure the “70ish” people will relate and hopefully contribute stories of their experiences. But I can think about my experiences in the 80’s, 90’s & 00’s as it relates to the boomer generation. Obviously my experiences and point of view will be very different as a teen, twenty-something & thirty-something in those decades than someone in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s at the same time. As it is and has always been, our parents and their friends just seemed old and “out of touch”. We knew everything and didn’t need to hear what our elders had to say. I’m sure ancient Roman children felt the same way about their parents.

I’m curious what is was like to be a father of small children in the 70’s, or teen kids in the 80’s. Things were so different. It was a simpler and more innocent time, at least in this country.

Also, how has technology shaped the world from the POV of a 70ish person? I feel like things have changed so much just in my lifetime and the rate of innovation just keeps speeding up. Modern technology is a double edged sword. The benefits are obvious- it offers new comforts and conveniences, instant access to limitless information, and advances in medicine that help us live longer. Unfortunately the price we are paying for these rewards is still unclear. It seems to me that part of this toll is the loss of innocence, wonder and fascination. My kids could never be satisfied by putting metal skate wheels on a wooden box as long as tablet computers and smartphones exist. This is sad to me but not to them. From their POV this is progress, just the way things are. They are doomed to wax sentimental about the days when they were happy to play with their ancient iPad and video games. I like to blow my kids minds by telling them about the days when I was their age and phones were connected to the wall…with cords!

Darn, now I feel old!

I am Dog

I am Dog , and I am a good deal older than 70ish. My recent memories go back to 1933. I was originally placed on a wooden plank in a small carnival. Our carnival traveled all through the midwest, usually stopping just outside of small towns in Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas.

On this occasion we had set up in Calome, South Dakota. On my right was a small shooting gallery and to my left was a ferris wheel. There were just fields beyond that. I didn’t have any friends; I was an ugly lonely plaster dog. The people who came to my booth tossed small balls at some cans (three for a nickel.) Sometimes a ball would land in a can, and a jubilant thrower got to select a dog as their prize. It’s natural that all the pretty dogs were selected first. I had been there a long time. I had seen a lot.

Then came the day that everything changed …. I saw a little girl, probably about 8 years old, and her big brother, probably about 12, both very excited, pointing this way and that. Obviously the little girl had never seen a carnival before. Family chores at that time placed demands on everyone. Music was playing and they wandered my way. The little girl pulled her brother’s head down and whispered in his ear while pointing at my booth. Big brother began searching in all of his pockets, finally found a nickel, walked up to the booth, slapped down his nickel, picked up three balls…. The third ball landed in a can, and he held his head up like there was nothing to it, pretending that it was all a simple task. While I prepared to say good-bye to one of my handsome companions, the little girl pointed at me, obviously the ugliest, but most loving dog on the shelf. Now she had me – (She had very little else.)

Ultimately that little boy would go on to survive the WWII Island Hopping Campaign as an Army Ranger, wounded three times and still standing on Okinawa when the bomb was dropped that shook the world.

The little girl’s story continued. Her family’s crops failed, the depression lingered and they slowly traveled to California. Never once did the little girl forget me or where we came from. She never set me aside when things became confused; we were together for her lifetime.

She grew up and raised a fine family, who are 70ish now with children and grandchildren of their own. They have (I hope) inherited and passed on her simple, honest values.

That is how I eventually achieved the honored spot on your desk: chipped, faded and broken.

I sit here proudly.

Dog

Ageism

Are you 70ish, or 60ish, even 50ish, and unemployed?

There are older adults in today’s work place who, by choice or otherwise, aren’t ready to stop working. Some need to work to live, and if they find themselves unemployed, they face a problem that they probably didn’t know existed, “ageism”. Ageism is a real “internet” word, google it.

images-dilbert“Ageism” looks at workplace experience in the opposite direction of how it was before the internet. If you have 20+ years experience in anything you can be viewed as too old and not considered for the job that you may have become an expert in. And heaven help you if you have 30+ years. College degree? No help, it was probably in some subject that is no longer relevant, like “Electrical Engineering”.

It is humbling to not even be considered for a job that you may have been a long time successful executive at.

Older Workers Are Being Left Behind

Unemployment is presently fairly low overall, but older workers are being left behind in the job market, according to a survey conducted by AARP.

ageism (1)Half of workers, ages 45-70, unemployed in the last five years are still not working, the survey finds, with 38 percent reporting they are unemployed and 12 percent that they have dropped out of the labor force.

Of those who did find employment, nearly half (48 percent) said they are earning less on their current job than the one they had before they most recently became jobless. Among these reemployed, half were earning less than before because the new position paid less, while 10 percent were working less hours. Nearly four-in-ten cited both as reasons, AARP reports.

older-man-thinkingOf those who have experienced long-term unemployment, four-in-ten are working in part-time jobs, according to AARP. Fifty-three percent are working in an occupation different from the one they had prior to becoming unemployed. Older workers were less likely to be working in a different occupation if they had only been employed for a short time (46 percent vs. 63 percent).

“Almost half (48 percent) of the reemployed report earning less on their current jobs. They were also more likely to report having poorer retirement and health benefits.

It Takes a Long Time To Find a Quality job

TJ-The-Undying-Prejudice-Ageism-resized“Many Americans want to work as long as possible, but our survey confirms that, once unemployed, it can take a long time for older workers to find a quality job,” Debra Whitman, AARP chief public policy officer, said in a statement.

What job search steps have been most effective for the reemployed? Three-in-ten said that networking and asking relatives and friends about jobs was “very effective,” followed by contacting employers directly and using a headhunter (24 percent each. Twenty percent found consulting professional associations very effective.

Among the barriers to finding a job, respondents were most likely to say that there were no jobs available (36 percent), while 30 percent said they had ties to their area. Almost three-in-ten (26 percent) cited “ageism” among employers who think the job applicant is too old, while 18 percent said they themselves feel too old for available jobs.

Then and Now

This website certainly brings back the memories from my early years. I’m 70ish now and have a little different take on revisiting the 50s and 60s. I see this as an opportunity for comparison of then and now.  The 50s and 60s presented many unique choices for young people growing up in America. Life was simple and genuine; even our toys were mostly made of metal and wood (not much plastic like now.) If we had a “skateboard,” it was an old clackety roller skate nailed to a 2’ x 4’, maybe with a soapbox, but we used, shared, fixed and enjoyed them.  Even with the conflict in Korea the people in America were pretty much content and worked well together. Less violence against each other made for better times.

Looking back from today at my experiences in those years, I can see a lot of things have changed. I was an Eagle Scout and truly believed that this country belonged to us, and we had the responsibility to take care of it. So, what happened??  How did we fail so miserably??

Time passed and I vividly remember the President of the United States of America (Bill Clinton, after being caught dirty) stood before our nation, stating, “Anything that isn’t against the law is okay to do.” I tried that argument with my father (a respected WWII veteran.) He told me, “You’re an Eagle Scout and should know better than that.”

The next American President to foster this new attitude was George Bush #2, accused of defrauding investors in an oil well scam during his presidential debates by manipulating investors’ money into his own personal account. While the court case was pending our heroic President stood before America and stated, “Sometimes you just have to test the law to find out what it means.” LESSON HERE: An Eagle Scout knows better, but the President of the United States doesn’t.

I have more of these examples to think about now that I am in my 70s and watch America’s morals deteriorate. American college students who have never earned a paycheck or witnessed government deductions from hard-earned income are out demonstrating because they want more Socialism. I’m just not convinced that computer games and flat screen TV has done them much good.

In court rooms today judges instruct juries to leave the interpretation of our laws to them. I know the judges understand these laws better than we do, but do they know and practice the difference between right and wrong?

It could be that I have no business leaving a contribution on this website, but let’s see to it that we do not leave a diminished hope for future American youth. These statements may be too strong for some, but it’s not as if there isn’t anyone who doesn’t care.

Yes sir, the 1950s and 60s were a rare and golden time in America.

Discovering The Arts

I have always felt that I would like to paint landscapes. I am well into being “70ish” but earlier this year I took a class from Janet Williams, a Bob Ross instructor from Farmville, Virginia. One of the things she explained was how the Bob Ross oil paints were mixed, blended, and applied to the canvas with the various brushes. I loved how the brush strokes flowed and have not stopped painting since that day. My family encouraged me to enter my first oil painting in the County Fair and was I shocked when I won second place.

As my enthusiasm increased, the wall space decreased, and I began giving them away to the older ladies in my church. (They think I’m a better artist than I feel that I am.).

The greatest joy I have derived from my new talent is the expression on their faces when they receive a painting from Jack Hanham. That makes it all worthwhile and at 78 years old I’m just starting out.

My latest effort is shown below, it’s called “Resting Buck”.

I have also taken up poetry by writing a poem that I was more or less “ordered” to do by a Federal Judge in the Salt Lake City Courthouse who I know and have worked with. I told him I had never written a poem, and didn’t think I knew how. He said that I could and told me, “Just do it.” I did, and was surprised again when there was a  request from our great Senator Orrin Hatch for a signed copy for his wall. Below is that poem:

THE MASTER OF STORY

O’FLARITY, O’TOOLE THOUGHT THEY WERE SO COOL,
IN THE ART OF TELLING TALL TALES.
FROM THE TOWN OF KLARNEY CAME MOST OF THEIR BLARNEY,
WITH A LITTLE HOT AIR FROM WALES.
TO BE A MASTER OF JEST WAS THEIR SINGULAR QUEST,
THROUGHOUT THE OL’ EMERALD ISLE.
THEY COULD SPIN A GREAT YARN,
TO SURPASS THOSE OF JAKE GARN,
WITHOUT CRACKING A SMILE.
SO THEY CAME OUT WEST TO COMPETE WITH THE BEST,
AND PLAY WITH THE AMERICAN GLORY.
BUT LITTLE DID THEY KNOW, THAT WE INVENTED THE SHOW,
THE ART OF TELLING A STORY.
BUT HERE IN SALT LAKE, OUR CHAMP IS NO FAKE,
FOR HIS SKILL IS ONE OF A KIND.
SOFT SPOKEN, POLITE, A MAGNIFICENT SIGHT,
BUT HIS STORIES COULD BOGGLE YOUR MIND.
SO EVERYONE MET, AND THE CONTEST WAS SET,
RIGHT HERE IN THESE BEAUTIFUL HILLS.
THE STORIES WERE TOLD, WITH SOME THAT WERE BOLD,
AND SOME THAT COULD GIVE YOU THE CHILLS.
BUT WHEN IT WAS OVER, THERE’D BE NO GREEN CLOVER,
FOR THE GREAT O’FLARITY AND O’TOOLE.
FOR THEY WERE NO MATCH FOR ONE SENATOR HATCH,
FOR IT WAS HE THAT WAS DESTINED TO RULE.
THEY WERE HUMBLE AND CONTRITE,
AFTER ONE HECK OF A FIGHT,
FOR HATCH HAD PUT THEM THROUGH SCHOOL.
THEY WERE NEVER AGAIN SEEN,
IN THAT BEAUTIFUL LAND O’GREEN,
THE ONCE GREAT O’FLARITY AND O’TOOLE.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM WOULD SURE MAKE YA WONDER,
CAUSE I HERD SOMEONE SAY THEY HAD GONE FAR AWAY,
TO A STRANGE PLACE CALLED, DOWNUNDER.

__________________________________________________

For the other adventurers who discover this web site, I will admit that my spinal column is worn out and the back pain is excruciating – sometimes I hold up my painting arm with my other arm to steady my paint brush. Still these activities are the best pain relievers yet.

I’d like to encourage others not to put off doing the things they’ve wanted to do during their earlier years. Make a plan to begin, then do it.

Keep trying and never give up,

Jackie

A Deal with China

1b1b3344c6d024e133dfe7b487f8ec52
Richard Nixon became president in 1968. One of the big things he did was to re-establish relations with Communist China. This allowed people and companies in the US, for the first time in awhile, to sell products into China. At this time, the mid 1970’s, I was working as the international sales manager of an early micro-computer systems company. I had established a sales partner in Hong Kong, which at the time was separate from the communist Peoples Republic of China (the PRC). My Hong Kong partner had received a Request For Proposal (RFP) from the Peoples Republic of China for a number of computer systems to go into universities in China. My Hong Kong partner had forwarded the RFP to me. The RFP stated that the PRC wanted us to submit our “Best and Final” price for 30+ computer systems. This contract would be worth several hundred thousand dollars, a big deal for me at the time. I responded to the RFP as requested, and returned my proposal to my Hong Kong partner.

f521a0ced2e927208a048fb4d84710d2fc7be8ef_tiananmen_square_beijing_china_1988_1To my great surprise, a short time later my Hong Kong partner notified me that we won the bid! And that I was to fly to Beijing to receive the contract, the “Golden Number”!! This was a large contract for me, and it was exciting because before Nixon’s trip “westerners” had not been welcome in the PRC in awhile.

beijing-zoo-3It took more than 16 hours to fly from LAX to Beijing with a stop in Tokyo. Once there I was surprised at the freedom that we had. We were assigned a car and driver and it seemed like we could go where ever we wanted, within reason. We went to the Beijing Zoo which had the largest, and scariest tiger I have ever seen, and it looked like his eyes followed me where ever I would go, it was creepy.

115257-004-f0f10feaWe went to the Great Wall where we seemed to be a real novelty. All the civilians were very friendly, and everyone wanted their picture taken with us with their cameras, an earlier version of “selfies”.

 

 

The next day we met with the government representatives (there were about 10 of them) and my Hong Kong partner as interpreter. After some polite small talk, they said that their government had one final stipulation. Our competitors had offered a “final discount”, and what final discount would we offer? Uh-oh, naive me, I wasn’t expecting that.

This presented a big problem.  At this time in history, it was still very difficult to communicate back to the US, and I couldn’t cut the price without talking to the owners of my company which I couldn’t do while inside the PRC (at least I didn’t know how to do it). I had to think fast…

Finally I remembered that their original RFP had said to offer our “…best and final price…”. So I said through my interpreter that my proposal had followed those instructions exactly, and I had offered my “best and final price”. If my competitors did not follow their instructions, well I couldn’t control that… I paused for a minute or two for effect (sweating bullets), then said … but I would throw in an extra set of documentation (they had originally asked for one set, but I knew that they wanted more). I knew this would be no big deal back home, if need be I would sit at a copier for hours and make the copies myself.

The Chinese all looked at each other kind of puzzled and taking to each other, then finally the leader, you could always tell the leader man or woman, they looked the most “rumpled”, smiled and said that they agreed.

Then they gave me the “Golden Number”, the Purchase Order. At the celebration dinner that night, I had the best Chinese food I have ever had to this day.

Jewels

17290I am a “newbie” at being a 70ish woman. But to most of the world that makes me very old indeed.
I have been fortunate to have made many dear women friends, including my own sister and sisters-in-law, over the years. These friends are mostly centered around the two locations that I have lived in, Downey CA, and Placentia/Yorba Linda CA. And most of us are still friends after more than 50 years!
women-friendsI started out feeling as if I would always be young. I would guess most women do, even more than men do. And during the flurry of life’s many “big moments”; getting married, having and raising kids, then (hopefully) grand kids, I didn’t reflect on aging. Who wanted to? Who had time?
article-2310435-1958521e000005dc-924_638x455My friends and I had babies to grow, husbands to train, kids then teenagers to worry about … it makes me tired to think about it.
young-familyAnd as our families grew, my friends and I shared a lot of it.
But now…? Now I am aware of that most of this activity is now going on outside of my immediate sphere of influence. Oh I am often involved, just not as directly as I once was. As I have joined the 70ish club, I have realized that this is a good thing, this is the way life was meant to be!
One of the things this new time allows is reflection. Reflection on, among other things, what a wonderful gift my friends have been, and still are!
Each one of my many friends are precious to me, and one way I think of them is as Jewels. A Treasure that lasts during my life and beyond. And like real jewels, they seem to be many colors sizes and shapes. Diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphire, each one different but all precious.
My Jewels were acquired during the major times of my adult life. Early marriage, growing children, older children, empty nest, and beyond.

Happy Days

happy-days1One of the most popular TV series back in the 1970’s was Happy Days, about a group of High School kids in Milwaukee in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Happy Days fed the “nostalgia” craze about the era when we 70ish people were dealing with puberty, becoming a teenager, relationships outside our family, self awareness and self worth, and oh yeah … sex.

greaseThe movie Grease in 1978 was another cultural icon about the High School culture in the late 1950’s. Grease, was partially filmed at Excelsior High School in Norwalk California. I attended Excelsior in my freshman and sophomore years in the late 1950’s, and Grease had a really familiar feel to me. Before Excelsior, for 7th and 8th grade, I went to Centennial Junior High School, not far away.

 

fight1My memories of Excelsior, and especially Centennial Junior High, felt to me as much like “Blackboard Jungle” as “Happy Days”. I was skinny and little for my age, and because I never attended any one school more than 2 years (we kept moving) I was always the “new kid”. I seemed to get bullied a lot, especially in Junior High (7th and 8th grades). I remember one tough “kid” in 8th grade who had a tattoo on his arm (yes it was real) that said “Duke”. I tried to not cross “Duke”. There was “Jr High Vegas” stuff (“lagging” coins, “odd/even” coin flipping…) that seemed to go on every day in 8th grade. I have to admit that this was one of the vices I sometimes participated in, I remember winning a quarter once, but usually lost many pennies, nickles and dimes. There were gangs, and just plain mean people.  This time is when I developed my life long passion (obsession?) to “grow large and strong (quickly please…), play football, pump iron (where were steroids when I needed them?), be good at something cool…”.

But I also remember little acts of kindness, like one cold winters day in 8th grade, one of my classmates who was a pretty big guy who didn’t get messed with, saw me shivering in the playground. I didn’t have a jacket and being as skinny as I was, I would literally “turn blue”. He looked at me and said, “here wear my jacket until class starts”. I’ll never forget how warm and comfortable that jacket felt. I probably mumbled “thanks” or something, but I was grateful and remember this little thing to this day. Wish I remembered that guys name…

downey-fb1Fortunately for me after I turned 15 I seemed to grow fast, so football became a reality, and it wasn’t any too soon for me… Kind of silly for a 70ish guy to still remember these “inconsequential” things, deep down inside.

During those early times in the mid 50’s, I remember many different powerful, sometimes directly opposite, emotions. Like obsessing with sex, but also feeling like for some reason that it must be somehow “dealt with correctly” or else…. In conversations with my buddies the first obsessing part was always topic number one, and we never spent much time on the second one.

1950s-greasers-09As time passed we became wise old teenagers with the “status” and freedom that driving usually gave us. Obsessing with sex never seemed to diminish, and driving just added fuel to ignore the “dealt with correctly” part.

dbfc-1956My parents were devout Christians that took their family to a local Baptist Church in Downey California, seemingly every time the doors were open. In 1959 we moved back to Downey and I went to Downey High for my Junior and Senior years in high school, and all through college. That Baptist Church had a very active and large youth group in my age bracket, and it was especially well stocked with lots of good looking girls from the two Downey high schools. This seemed to ensure that there was also a good supply of guys there. The two fed off each other. I am sure the church elders understood this dynamic.

summer-camp-60-sm

I, and many of my Downey buddies, seemed to gravitate to dating from this pool of good looking church girls, even during our college years.  For one thing it was easier to get our parents to let us have the car … “…yeah I’m just going over to the church, be back around 11”.

tr3-whiteThis didn’t eliminate the “obsessing” … when siting in the drivers seat parked on one of our “make out hills”, with one of the beautiful girls from the church, it seemed to be there in full force. But somehow it all worked out.

reunion-2008our-weddingTo this day there is a good sized group of these 70ish people from the church, still in friendly contact with each other. And many of them, including me, found our life partners there (she is one of those “beautiful girls from the church”). Lately there have been a spate of Golden Wedding Anniversaries with this group of people, including my wife and me.

Looking back, I must admit that after all, these were Happy Days indeed!