Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Lego Christmas

It does not seem that long ago (of course it is), that Mattel Toy Company ruled Christmas. The Sears & Roebucks' catalogue arrived sometime after Labor Day, and you spent weeks going through the toy section trying to find that perfect Santa request. Mattel this, and Mattel that, even Ken and Barbie got into the action. Having just read my first book about John Paul Jones, "...I have not yet begun to fight...", I had decided that joining the Navy was the next adventure, and the Mattel Toy Company had just the thing...a three foot long Navy destroyer! It had a large single, gun at the bow (that's the front for those who don't have their Navy lingo), and could be rotated electronically 180 degrees from the bridge controls. (The bridge is the place where the captain of the ship gave all his commands.) It then had anti-aircraft guns on the sides, plus depth charge launchers ready for any of those submarines unlucky enough to get too close. In the stern (back) there was a landing craft which hung over the water ready to rescue any sailor who had fallen overboard. To sail the seven seas, yes sir...all seven were located on the living room carpet that Christmas, and for many months to come.

This past Christmas, I watched my six year old grandson open his presents. Lego's seemed to be the toy of choice. Out of a box less than 8 x 10 inches came a sack of very small pieces which seemed to multiply before your very eyes. What in the world, I thought. It would take a rocket scientist to put this together! A twelve page booklet accompanied the pile of pieces. Block one, to block two, to block three, to block one thousand six hundred and fifty four! [You get the picture.] An "alien" space ship it was to become. Star Wars seemed to be the theme. The deep blue sea had been exchange for the darkness of space. At least I could take my Mattel toy out of its large box and begin to become John Paul Jones, "the second"! [That is, after you figured out how to get those D-sized batteries in place.]

At any rate, my second daughter, who has a degree in mathematics, helped assemble the space ship, while my grandson ran around her playing with the pieces. A true Lego Christmas it was!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Later Days

Ten days shy of her 95th birthday, Granny Ewen (Stella Morton Ewen) died March 1, 1994. At my present age of 60 years, that means she lived longer than my childhood, high school, college years, medical school years, residency, 2 year fellowship, and a few years faculty, as if I were just now starting them! Wow, that is a long time.

"Granny", as we usually called her, lived in a log cabin as a child. She grew up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, and saw the world change as we never knew it. I once asked her what she thought was the most amazing change she had experienced during her life time. "The light bulb", she said. Who would have thought?

She birthed 12 children, mostly all at home. She lived in Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Indiana, and moved the family roughly 35 times. She loved flowers, cooking, and making fruit cakes for Christmas. She was a Kentucky Colonel!

The picture to the right shows Granny at my Mom's home during the last years of her life. She was very hard of hearing, and refused to wear one of those ear gadgets. My Mom, and her Mom shared these later days. At my very last visit to Granny's bedside, she did not really recognize me, and thought I was a minister. I held her hand, and we prayed, thanking God for these later days.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Adolescence provides a great many opportunities to grow and change the perception of the world around us. About 2 years before maturation, the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis kicks in, and away we go! [How do you like that doctor talk.] We would call this puberty to adulthood. Linear growth, increased muscle mass, voice changes, facial hair (and all those other places), acne, and a host of emotional changes are all taking place. We suddenly discover that our parents don't know anything about anything! Who am I is often the question of the day.

The picture to the right shows such a group of guys, going though this process. Peer influence and conformity would certainly seem to be at the highest levels. All dressed up the same. All standing with arms to the side, and all with some sort of smile. Eight Boy Scouts from Winchester, Troop 84. Together, they were receiving the "God and Country" award. Each worked a minimum of 100 hours over a two-year period to earn the award. What a thought it is. Two years of your adolescence with over 100 hours thinking about "God and Country". Who would have thought of such a thing?

The magnitude of change that has taken place in our society since this picture would want to question the value of this activity. Computer games would certainly challenge the priorities! Besides, it would probably just be called the "Country" award today.

For those interest, from right to left in the picture starting the back row: Henry Jones (my older brother), Ray Scott, Jr., Gary Taylor, George Brooks, and John Farmer...from right to left on front row: Steve Gillaspie, Van Graham, and me. Rev. Allen Garner is the one all dressed up in the robe. Close friendships, a goal of late adolescence to young adulthood.