Posts Tagged With: tragedy


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Clark (left) is my youngest brother at age 60. My son moved just up the road from him 3 years ago and instead of an uncle/nephew relationship, they became fast friends. Both Clark and Ken are members of the Klinkerbrick Winery in Lodi. Klinkerbrick puts on a party every year for its members and friends of members. IMG_0365 (Copy)This year’s  theme was creole food with a Dixieland Band. The trombonist in the middle sings just like Satchmo. The deep voice comes as a surprise.

IMG_0362 (Copy)The wives, Laurie and Theresa have become good friends. Both women like to cook, enjoy trading recipes and just socializing. Bad news has a way of tainting the day, as Laurie told them a coyote entered the backyard of their new home in Reno, Nevada, and killed Bix and Coco their two mini-dachshunds, leaving a bloody patio, windows, rocks, walls-evidencing the violence of their deaths. It is hard to come to terms with such an end to your fur children. Healing takes a long time.

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I’ve learned that there is therapy in discussing it, and talking it through. Stewart Matzek, in the background, toasted the dogs along with all of us. He represents good news to balance the bad. Next week he goes through orientation, a three day process, before he flies to Japan with several other applicants to teach English as a second language. He will be placed in a high-school in Komatsu, Japan, a coastal city of about 100,000 people. To say we are excited about that turn of events is an understatement. He already has a small apartment and bought the furniture and appliances from its former owner.

IMG_0366 (Copy)The band was a hoot. Some people danced on the grass or played a balancing game with sticks.

IMG_0367 (Copy)Doncha just love a banjo and a tuba? And the Old Ghost wine was a smooth, delightful concoction. Everyone’s fave.

IMG_0369 (Copy)Surrounded by juicy, bursting-with-flavor-grapes, and green, green grass. Tin Roof Catering supplied the food. A delectable pork stew among the choices,  with ice cream stirred in wine for dessert.

IMG_0375 (Copy)All too soon, it was time to part.

IMG_0379 (Copy)Laurie and Stewart, back to Nevada in her new Mini-Cooper, with all-wheel drive since snow is a factor in the winter.

IMG_0378 (Copy)And Ken, back to his residence, though temporary, in Santa Clara. He’ll be taking over his new job in Reno two months from now. Meanwhile, they live apart for a while longer. Both are counting the days.

As my mom got up in years, looking at the downside, she would say, Life is good. And, it is.





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172423f0f94d123df79375b647e66b94-540-0-width540embedTypetwitterThe front page of the New York Daily News called it right.  The NRA is beginning to lose some of its power as they continually sell fear and gun deaths have risen as gun ownership hits the roof. The Republicans refuse to put forth a reasonable gun control law. No one could ever strip Americans of the guns, there are too many out there.  But reasonable control of loopholes could prevent the needless deaths of assault rifle killings. I’ve heard it said that as soon as you ban assault rifles that can kill 50 people in less than 50 seconds, the NRA, the main gun manufacturer, by the way, will find a way around it. Plastic guns. Do it yourself kits, convertible guns. Then it is time to regulate the manufacturer or put them out of business. Their business is profit from killing people. If every bullet made for assault rifles had a 1000% tax, it would reduce the number of bullets some individuals could buy. If bullet making supplies surge, they too must be taxed to match the damage. Make it against the law to buy bullets or guns with a credit card. They must have a check that is held until they are cleared for ownership and until the check clears the bank before the gun is turned over. The same goes for gunshow and on-line purchases. It is always about money.

DSC08252 (Copy)And what about people like Jennifer Longdon, shot in the spine in a drive-by shooting, 5 months in the hospital, and a T-4 paraplegic. She can move her head, talk and breath. Her care costs $5 million. Why isn’t the NRA responsible for her around the clock, permanent care? They produced and profit from an unsafe product that has no practical use outside of war .

In ten years, 750,000 Americans have been injured by gunshots. And, 320,000 have been killed. Not counting the most recent mass shootings. Twenty thousand commit suicide with a gun each year and 11,000 people are murdered with a firearm each year.

It is insane. I personally know of a young paper-boy who accidentally injured his sister playing with his father’s gun. Life for him, and his family, will never be the same. His guilt was so deep, though his parents and even his sister who has to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair, were forgiving and understanding. Counseling didn’t help. He continually does self-destructive things, like stealing, getting into accidents, looking for punishment. Tragic.

We all vote. Let’s make reasonable gun control happen.




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Yesterday, with the pall of the Peshtigo fire in my brain, I forgot to post we had found  my maternal grandmother’s house in Marinette. A frustrating search.  Again, one we made easily in 2006 and failed to record. (That was before I was a blogger and had a digital camera.) The house front had changed. I spoke to several neighbors but these old houses are now mostly cheap rentals for young people with kids. My grandmother, who had 12  children, moved here after my grandfather died. She bought the house with money she won from suing the company over his death. My mother was born in Marinette but never lived in this house. As the oldest, she and three sisters were married and gone by that time. I particularly cherish one family wedding at this house  when I was about 10 years old. My uncles pushed the couch and lamps against the wall and taught me how to polka and waltz on the smooth hardwood floor so I could dance at the wedding. My grandma carried her money in a pouch around her neck and when we were little, she would send us to the grocer for something and allow us to spend a penny of the change.

img314Rose Dionne and daughter Marietta Rhinehardt

All those children.  It still boggles my mind. My grandmother was only 4 feet 9 and a half inches tall  with a tiny waist my dad would demonstrate by encircling her waist  with his  hands. My grandmother on the left with her daughter, my aunt Marietta on the right about 1950.

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Our journey took us through farmland,  from Marinette & Menominee to Bark River, to visit a childhood friend. Marinette & Menominee are twin cities perched on opposite banks of the  Menominee River from each other. During the war, we had to color our margarine because the state of Wisconsin, a strong dairy state, refused to allow “colored” margarine to look like butter.  U.S. highway 41 is dotted with small towns  the names of which brought back more memories. Auggie Schultz’s bar in Shaefer where I tasted pop and potato chips for the first time. Stephenson, where an aunt and Uncle once lived. Powers, Wells, Ingolls, Wallace where once stood Lime Kilns my great grandfather buiilt.  Dagget, Carney, Spalding, all remind me of someone my dad bought piglets from or hunted with or peeled pulp with.  Nadeau where my paternal great-grandparents settled in the “Belgiantown” after coming here from Leige, Belgium  through Ellis Island.

img444-Inspecting the lime kilns near Shafer, Mi.

My brothers Bill, Dan, Norman and myself in front of one of the lime kilns my great-grandfather built. He came as a specialist in this type of kiln. My great-grandmother, who was pregnant made the trip alone after the baby was born.(It died.)  She traveled with trunks of household goods with four children, one of them blind. She spoke not a word of English, but she carried a sign that said Nadeau, Wisconsin on it. I would have been terrified to make such a journey.

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We arrived at my friend Bernice Patrick’s farm in late afternoon. Bernice was widowed 7 years ago and her son runs the farm. She works at a local casino and we got there before she got off work.

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This interesting old house, a log house with chinking, was lathed over at one time. It stands on her property. Double click it for a better view.

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The weather wimp checks the thermometer. One of the hottest days of the year, it turned out. And, the humidity made it pretty miserable. We sat outside playing with the cat and eating apples from her orchard and watching the bulls in one pasture.

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When Bernice got home from her job at the Island Indian Casino, about seven miles up the road, she likes to take off her shoes and relax. We took off our shoes and cooled off in the house and looked at pictures before dinner.

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Bernice’s graduation photo.

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Her sister, Marie, who was my sister’s age. The Cousineau family were our neighbors and school chums when we burned out in 1948 or 1949. The bus dropped us off from school and this is what was left of or house:

img553Rubble of Hardwood house fire.


img552Hardwood fire rubble. Everything burned, 1949 Spring thaw, March or April


img551Ruins of the fire from earlier in the year, during spring thaw, 1949. (Copy)

It was because of this fire that Bernice, Marie  and I met again at my home in Murphys, over 60 years later. More on that tomorrow.

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An accident like the one we survived is a horrific event. I chose to take pictures of it and I hesitated for fear of appearing ghoulish.  But after the bicycle accident last October, (my blog entitled Black Monday) where I took three  pictures and felt guilty about it and stopped, I found out through the long process , when the Highway Patrol needed my pictures, and after becoming friendly with the victims Essya Nabballi  and Martha Wright, that it was the right thing to do. So, I hope  these photos offend no one.

This photo shows the long drop we took.

The driver, front, radioed the office  several times for help, telling them we need paramedics, NOW!  There is no signal in the canyon for cell phones for those who tried dialing 911. And, when you accept the remote location, when you accept the beauty and adventure you are about to enjoy,  you also surrender those conveniences we’ve come to know, including immediate emergency services.

Jim and I were seated right behind the driver. The road is bumpy, rutted, rock strewn and I watched as he navigated the half day journey to our lunch spot through the many twists and turns, around downed trees and through heavy sands and mud. I can only say, Deschennes Davidson is an excellent, driver, a strong man who knows this road.  When we left our lunch spot and began the ascent, I saw him go over a berm,  he turned his wheel frantically to the right, but the vehicle continued to the left. Jim yelled, we are going over. And I dove for the floor as others who heard him did the same.

There were only about five of us who were mobile, to help the others. In this tragedy, there was good luck in that the incident happened so close to the lunch stop, that the tour that pulled in behind us for their lunch, heard the screams and the shouts and the noise and came to see. They were our rescuers and, they came running to help. Though I know none of them, I saw them all working their hearts out, and we are ever grateful to them. Bill, Anita, Jim, Davidson, and  myself were unable to do much. Jean and Chris, a couple from Wisconsin were unhurt and did most of the heavy hauling in our group and continued when the other tour members pitched in.

For my own situation, Jim and I were protected somewhat by the cab. Thus our injuries were not as severe as others. I was trapped and pinned painfully under a collapsed bench with the woman above, Deby, sitting on top of it. She struggled to lift her weight up so that I could remove my painful breast, ribs and back out. My hand was still trapped under the back of the bench seat,  now with her full weight turning my hand numb. I was able to dig in the dirt and free my hand. Deby struggled to get out and became the first to get out. She was worried because  her husband was struggling to breathe. I went out behind her. Then they got her husband, Richard,  out.

Jim was helped out behind Richard and others worked getting the most injured out of the wreck. They were closer to the ground  at the back of the truck and  took the brunt of the crash.  Jim was mobile for awhile. He laid in the shade to rest and was never able to really navigate on his own well after that.

Remembering black Monday, I took pictures of the undercarriage of the truck.  A gentleman from the other tour was a mechanic and he held up the tie rod, showing that it was missing the nut and cotter pin, thus the driver had no control of his steering.

My favorite canon camera was scraped and crushed under the truck, but I used my alternate camera and just kept taking pictures and documenting everything I could. I had also brought a half-gallon jug of water and became the official water person, moving from group to group and trying to keep water in the small bottles. We luckily had a former medic from Viet Nam, his name is Beau, from Virginia,  who knew what to do and he kept order. Moving from place to place making sure everyone could wiggle their toes, move their hands, and talk. He instructed helpers to keep them talking, keep them hydrated, keep the sun off them so they wouldn’t burn.  He was indispensable and Beau, where ever you are, we are so very grateful. He worked extensively with Richard, clearing his breathing passages, talking to him, begging him to keep breathing, giving him CPR.  Richard went into shock and died at the scene.  Beau  went off to himself and cried a bit, and then came back to pitch in. The driver, too, was much affected by Richard’s death and got sick in the bushes. None of us were left untouched.

This woman and her husband were  determined by the first medics on the scene to be the most severely injured. He kept demanding to be by his wife. She could hear him and said tell him it is his fault I won’t be able to make my class on Monday, because he wanted to take this dam tour. With her sense of humor intact, he was then calm enough to quit trying to get up and move about.

It took over an hour to get everyone out from under the truck. It was three hours before the helicopter arrived to take people out. The first plan was to fly them out of the canyon to ambulances waiting above on the overlook. But, the injured were severe and were taken directly to a trauma center and a second helicopter dispatched.

Again, without all the helping hands of the second tour group, the job of making it up to the copter would have been much more difficult and timely. Circumstances, not birth, make people heroes.

Bill, with his jacket over his head, sheltered and kept his injured wife’s spirits up as best he could through the entire three hours. He, too was injured and needed stitches in his head. She was in the most pain and her screams of pain is what brought the group to help us.

Margaret and her friend Anita sat next to the truck, both complaining of being in pain, but feeling okay. But, when they tried to get up, Margaret could not walk and had to be carried out on a back board as well.

As the last helicopter left, with the sight of the ancient ruins behind it, I couldn’t help but think, what a different world we live in compared to the ancients. We will never know them,  but we all experienced  the beauty of this special place.

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I get “fun” emails about the differences in today and yesteryear. Yesteryear is always portrayed as the idyllic life compared to today. To be sure, the past has much good stuff to remember, but check out these punishments for school kids. The graphics are marvelous, the punishments suggest kids were to be seen not heard. Obviously no one taught them much about socializing properly. It doesn’t say what they used as a lash. Not that it matters, they probably got treated more harshly at home.

Teachers were also expected to toe the line by rigid societal standards. Marriage for female teachers was unseemly conduct but not for men, of course. If you married, you had to quit your job. Not so long ago, either. I interviewed an “old maid” school teacher from Angels Camp, Bessie McGuiness,  in the 1980’s. She affirmed that it was so, you could not marry, nor even be caught courting if you were a school teacher. The phrase “old maid school teacher” was the rule of the day.

And, a man’s honesty could be questioned if he got shaved in a barber shop. Must be where all the  politicians hung out. You wouldn’t want your teacher to be tainted. And people are against unions?  A 25 cent raise after five years of employment? Could any of us have made economic progress under such authoritarian rules?

And a hundred years ago animal control in Oakland, California, was pretty simple. Boys (not girls) got 25 cents for each cat skin, and 50 cents for each dog skin, they brought in to the back door of the city hall. Gross!

One hundred and thirty-five years ago, came this report from a local newspaper:  “We have just learned that one of our mountaineers last winter, while fishing through a hole in the ice, caught a trout so large it could not be brought through the orifice. The fisherman gently played with his fish and with one hand, took out his Bowie knife and chopped ice with the other and enlarged the hole. Then, with a skillful jerk, he brought out a dead cat with a brick tied to its neck.” 

It was meant to be humorous and it was.  Just another common form of animal control.

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.”   Horace Walpole,  (1717-1797)  A truer reflection of the past than the nostalgic emails I get.  History is fascinating, and often a brutal read.



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