HERE ARE some musings from this editor who has experienced a hard winter, so take that into consideration when you read them.
• WHY IS IT that, when you fall down on the ice, the first thing you do is look to see if anybody saw you fall?
• SOMEONE sent our newspaper an out-of-state obituary the other day and a note with it that stated: “If there is a charge for running this obituary, run it free.” What?
• I SAW A stoplight on a pole stretched out on the ground near an intersection on Southside Drive last week. A driver had apparently hit it with his/her vehicle and knocked it over. I don’t know if anyone was hurt, but the stoplight certainly had no “signal” of life. (tee-hee) • I’VE COME to the conclusion that supermarkets are in cohoots with television weather forecasters. Every time a weatherman warns of a big snow headed our way, people turn up in droves to buy enough groceries to last a month! Maybe it is just Mother Nature’s “stimulus plan” to help the economy.
• LAST WEEKEND’S weather forecast was for up to ten inches of snow for Decatur. Was that prediction in vertical or horizontal inches?
• I THINK some drivers believe, if they act like they don’t see a pedestrian, they won’t be charged if they run over him.
• NO MATTER how many times people see the word “subscription”, some still call or come in to the newspaper office to order a one-year “prescription” to the Tribune. That’s okay. Maybe they think a Decatur Tribune “prescription” is good “medicine” for what ails them.
• I WONDER if pharmacies have people come in to pick up their “subscriptions”? • IF A car owner is going to use the word “JESUS” on his license plate, he should drive like the Lord and not like the devil!
• WHEN people write “Letters to the Editor” about the danger of judging other people and indicate that only hypocrites judge other people -- aren’t they also judging other people when they call them hypocrites?
• HOW CAN I trust the word of someone when they say, in defense of President Obama, “everybody lies”? If that’s true, maybe they are lying about everybody lying. • SOME shoppers think they get a better deal with “1/2 Price” instead of “50% OFF”!
• THE OLDER I get, the more I appreciate seeing people who knew me when I was a kid. That’s because they are getting harder to find.
• IF THE Wounded Warriors television commercials don’t touch your heart, you don’t have a heart. • I WONDER how many people go crazy trying to open “child proof” bottles of medicine -- especially if it is nerve medicine?
• REMEMBER when bread was baked fresh in Decatur and the slices were so soft? When the bread we buy today is called fresh, it feels as hard as the loaves used to feel stale!
• I REALLY like Campbell’s Chunky soup in a bowl. The part I don’t like is getting the flat round metal covering torn off so I can micro-wave it. That’s messy and a little dangerous. I have a cut thumb as evidence. Hmmm. Hmmm. Ouch!
• PEOPLE WHO call this newspaper and angrily start the conversation with, “I’m a good Christian...”, usually don’t act like it.
• HOW do you know when Parmesan cheese goes bad? Does it begin to smell better?
• WITH Spring, sanity returns -- at least that’s what I’ve told myself.
* * * * Heading For Shore On The Other Side
As publisher of this newspaper and a small businessman in Decatur for nearly a half-century, I’ve had the priviledge of having my life touched by so many people, in so many ways. I suppose it is bound to happen as I get older, but it seems that, whenever I look over the obituaries each week, I find familiar names and think about how I came to know them. It seems that has been especially true recently. Life is often referred to as a voyage on the sea of life, ending when our life lands on the “other shore”. The voyage is filled with calm seas, raging storms and plenty of danger. Everyone, who lives for many years, will find life’s sea both beautiful and terrifying and will feel, at times, life is about to be dashed to pieces. I Won't begin to comment on all of the people I know who ended their voyage recently, but each played a role, both small and large, as our ships sailed together on the sea of life. Most of the time, it wasn’t something that they thought much about at the time, but some of what I saw in their lives made me think of them in positive ways -- in some cases decades after they sailed on over the horizon and out of view.
LAST WEEK, B. J. Baum called to tell me that his wife, Jean, had just passed away. I’ve known both of them most of my life and they were best friends with my brother and his wife when they lived in Decatur years ago. Their son, Michael, was killed in Vietnam in 1970 and Michael E. Baum Elementary School in Decatur was named in his honor. Needless to point out the death of one of your children is the worst storm you can encounter in life, yet they remained positive about life. I can’t think of Jean without remembering all of the times she would come up to me before church started and ask how my family and I were doing. She never complained about anything that was happening or had happened to her. It seemed like such a small thing at the time, but we often remember with fondness the “small things” that people say and do to show us they care. COMMUNITY leader Nick Striglos died recently. I was not a close friend of Nick’s, but I remember when he was getting started in business in the little storefront in the 200 block of West Prairie in the early 1960s and I entered his new business to buy my first electric typewriter as part of getting my business started. I used that typewriter for at least 25 years and only quit using it when we switched to computers here at the newspaper. It seems like only yesterday, but my first encounter with him over 50 years ago, and his youthful enthusiasm for his business and Decatur, is what first entered my mind when I heard he had passed away. Our paths crossed countless times over the years through his business interests and city council service. The last time I saw him was in the elevator of our building about a year ago. I couldn’t help but think of all that happened in both of our lives since we met for the first time in that storefront.
WHEN I read of Robert Browning’s death recently, I thought of the time, when I was very young, and he was one of my bosses at Illinois Power Co. Some of the graphic ideas that I use in this newspaper today, I know because Bob took the time to show me. I hadn’t seen Bob since I left IP, which was over a half century ago, but, when I read he had died, I immediately remembered his kindness to me. I could fill many pages of this newspaper with what I immediately remember about people when I read or hear they’ve passed away -- and it usually revolves around their “small acts” of kindness or pleasant interaction. EVEN if contact has been lost over the years I can still honor them by remembering how and why they impacted my life -- and that my life is richer from having known them. I believe, we should mean more than “ships that pass in the night” because all of us are headed for another shore. When I read that a life I know has ended on earth, I feel that person has reached his or her destination. I don’t know when my voyage will end. It may be many years from now or much sooner, but I have great assurance that the Captain I have chosen will get me where I want to go safely regardless of the storms I encounter. That’s why I confidently sail on, like so many before me, heading towards that other shore.
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We've Gone From 'Cabin Fever' To SAD
This winter has been especially brutal for Central Illinois and most of the nation. We’ve had snow and ice and sub-zero temperatures. Retailers and restaurants have experienced tremendous losses in business because of winter storms. It’s been one of the most difficult winters in publishing and distributing this newspaper in a long time. It seems like every Wednesday has been a headache in getting it from the press to you. A lot of people I’ve talked with during the past few months are grouchy, depressed and fed up in coping with winter’s blast. A few have the same disposition both summer and winter! For those of you who headed to Florida before all of the bad weather hit, it’s probably not the best idea to call family and friends in Decatur and tell them you are heading for the beach in a few minutes under sunny skies and warm temperatures. That’s just a suggestion. It seems like kids have been out of school so much this winter they may have to attend school until the middle of July to make up the days. (Okay, kids, I’m joking.) Meetings have been cancelled, people can’t get out to perform routine tasks and a high percentage of the people I know have fallen on the ice at least once this winter. (Make that twice for me.) It’s little wonder that some people walking and sliding around appear to be stressed, on edge, depressed and ready to maul someone! FOR MOST of my life that condition was called “cabin fever” as in “that’s what happens to people when they are cooped up in the winter” because of snowstorms and freezing temperatures. I never lived in a cabin (honest) but I can see how some people could have experienced “cabin fever” back in the old days since they were trapped inside during the winter along with the rest of the family (which usually had quite-a-few members in those days). People today get depressed being trapped inside their house with all kinds of electronic entertainment and plenty of snacks to eat. For those of us living today, we have the good fortune of having depression and a degree of incoherence being called something other than “cabin fever”. That should cheer us up! It’s no longer called “cabin fever” but Seasonal Affective Disorder, or (SAD). Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is considered a mood disorder that occurs at a specific time of the year and then fully remits. (I think the treatment is called “spring”.) SAD was formally described and named in 1984 by Norman E. Rosenthal and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health, but we’re just hearing more about it this year. Apparently, people who have “normal mental health” throughout most of the year experience SAD symptoms during this time of year. I’m not sure what “normal mental health” status means, especially in 2014. The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that "some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up." I’m not a doctor, but that could also be a definition of what happens to most of us during an election year. Abraham Lincoln spent one winter in a cabin (west of Decatur) and that was the “Winter of the Big Snow”. As soon as he could get out, he left the cabin and Macon County and didn’t spend another winter here. True, it was a terrible winter Lincoln experienced, but we’ve experienced a bad winter and a political campaign at the same time this year. As you know, there really isn’t much difference between the winter of the “Big Snow” and the winter of a political campaign with its “Big Snow Job” on the voters. That’s why a shovel is needed for both! Sorry, I know that last sentence was harsh but it must have been SAD that caused me to write it.
America Changed A Lot In The 1960s
This week’s “Scrapbook” (Pages 4, 5 in print edition) is about “The Day The Music Died” -- Feb. 3, 1959. The phrase comes from singer/songwriter Don McLean who recorded and released his “American Pie” album in 1971. The single was a number-one US hit for four weeks in 1972. Although there’s been controversy over the years about the true meaning of the song, it has become clear "The Day The Music Died" (a term taken from the song) is about the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.) and what happened in the decade following. As I mentioned in the “Scrapbook” article I was a teenager in high school “The Day The Music Died” and had 45 r.p.m. records of Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. I remember seeing a newspaper story, along with a photo of the wreckage, about the plane crash and the deaths of the three stars and their pilot. While I was shocked at reading of their deaths, I don’t remember ever thinking about that day as “The Day The Music Died”. Apparently, no one else thought to describe Feb. 3, 1959, as “The Day” until Don McLean coined the phrase a dozen years later in his song. I find it interesting that, exactly five years and six days later, “The Beatles” made their historic appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. A lot of coverage has been given in about all of the media about the 50th anniversary of “Beatlemania” during the past week -- and that is understandable. Sunday night, CBS aired a Beatles special commemorating the 50th anniversary of their appearance on the Sullivan show. CBS called it “The Night That Changed America”. I don’t believe that Feb. 3, 1959 was actually “The Day The Music Died” or that Feb. 9, 1964 was “The Night That Changed America. I do believe that between those two dates America changed a lot, but what caused the ch
change had a lot more to do with our life and times in the late 50s and early 60s and music was its reflection. Those of us in high school in 1959 were small children when World War II ended and were still too young to be a part of the Korean War. Although there was the “Cold War” we enjoyed a war-free time as teenagers. Dwight Eisenhower was the President of the United States and most of what was written about him seemed to be about his golf game, not war.It was a time of tranquility, as far as we were concerned. We had the privilege to grow up in the “Happy Days” era of America.If we wanted to hear the latest hits we played them on our own record players, listened to AM stations like WLS in Chicago, or went to Kintner Gym where the teen music stars would perform as part of packaged tours to sell their records. (That’s what Holly, Vallen and Richardson were doing in Iowa, when their plane crashed taking them to another one-night performance.) Although a few students would drink beer, drug abuse was something that happened in big cities, not Central Illinois. Then came the 1960s with national highs and unthinkable lows. It started with a young, dynamic John F. Kennedy being elected President of the United States, but he would be assassinated in 1963. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy were also assassinated in the 1960s. The 1960s brought the Vietnam War, the battle for civil rights, with its own casualties, rioting and a new level of violence on our streets and in our neighborhoods. Drugs became a serious problem, filtering down to our schools. By the time the Beatles hit the Ed Sullivan Show, I was no longer a teenager. I had finished my education, married and moved on with my life. America had changed and so had the teenagers of 1959. We had moved into young adulthood in that five year period and became a generation that brought out the best -- and the worst of a significant era. Between Feb. 3, 1959, and the Beatles on Ed Sullivan on Feb. 9, 1964, our nation lost its innocence but we also looked deeper into our national soul to what were as Americans -- and what we wanted to be as a nation. For many of us from that era, the work to build a better community and nation continues 50 years later.
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The ‘Unthinkable’ Can Happen To Any Of Us
Last Wednesday morning, Linda K. Pultz, 70, left her home in Jasper Mobile Home Park a little before 7:00 and started walking to Jasper Street to catch a morning bus. She never dreamed when she closed the door behind her that morning that she wouldn’t be coming home. Suddenly, she was struck and passed over by a garbage truck traveling its routine pickup route! She suffered massive destructive head trauma along with severe extremity injury -- and was pronounced dead. I did not know Linda Pultz, but from all I’ve heard about her, she was a good person and brought sunshine into the lives of others. The tragedy of her death has been on my mind since I received the notification informing this newspaper the accident had happened. Usually, such notifications that I receive, either from Coroner Mike Day’s office or the Decatur Police Department, do not contain a name because family members need to be contacted before members of the news media release the victim’s identity. The name comes a little later. Over the decades I’ve been editor I’ve received a lot of notifications regarding fatal accidents. It’s always somewhat of a relief when I don’t recognize the name -- but I also feel sympathy for the victim and her, or his, family and friends. Maybe, it was because of the circumstances of this woman’s death that I’ve thought more about what happened to her than I usually do when names of people I don’t know are contained in follow-up police or coroner’s reports. I’ve tried to imagine what her thoughts were as she left her home that morning and walked towards Jasper Street to catch a bus. I’m sure the thought never crossed her mind that she was taking her last steps. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends -- and also to the person driving the garbage truck. I cannot imagine how that person feels. I think the older I get the more I’m aware of the uncertainty of life. Our bodies are so durable in many ways -- yet so fragile. We can live for many decades, yet die in the space of a few seconds. I don’t dwell on death because I don’t think that’s healthy, but there are plenty of reminders that death is a reality of life. It can snatch any one of us away from our loved ones, or take any loved one away from us. People have the free will to believe, or not believe, in God and Jesus, and if there is life after death. That’s a choice each person makes in his or her life. For me, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in God. I’ve found great strength and comfort over the years through knowing that God loves me and cares about what happens to me -- and to others. The “unthinkable” can happen to any of us at any time. I could not deal with that without faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ. Many years ago, when our young daughter, Kimberly Kay died, I sat down with our oldest son, Kevin, who was seven at the time, and tried as best I could to explain what had happened. Her sudden death was “unthinkable” and overwhelming but I never blamed God for what happened. I explained to Kevin that Kim had gone to be with Jesus, but we could be thankful that God sent her to us so we could have some time with her. Kevin nodded his head, and replied: “I just wish she could have stayed longer.” I’ve often thought about Kevin’s response when the “unthinkable” happens to family members and friends that we miss so much -- and how we should be thankful for the time we had to spend with them. That’s why the sudden death of someone, whether I know that person or not, is a reminder that when I open the door to leave in the morning, I may not be returning in the evening. I can assure you that, as I step into the unknown that each day brings, it is “unthinkable” for me to do so without God in my life.
Childhood Chicken Pox Virus ‘Shingled’ Me Out
A reader of Dr. Donohue’s column, printed in last week’s edition, asked about shingles, and he didn’t mean the kind a homeowner puts on the roof of his house. “I have gone through 12 weeks of the nastiest, worst illness possible,” wrote the reader and indicated that he wanted more information about the disease. Dr. Donohue wrote (in part): “Shingles is the work of the reawakened chickenpox virus that has been asleep in nerve cells ever since a person was infected, usually in childhood. It’s a safe bet to say you were infected even if you don’t recall it; more than 95 percent of adults were. “The rash of shingles usually disappears in two to four weeks. Pain, however, can stay with you. The pain is now called postherpetic neuralgia. In making the trip to the skin, the virus damaged the nerve roots that it crawled down to reach the skin. Pain is a consequence of the nerve injury.”
I can sympathize with the reader because, last fall, I started experiencing some pain at about belt level and in my lower back. Then, suddenly, I broke out in a rash in those two areas! Maybe I should have paid more attention to those shingles commercials on television where people express the severe pain they experienced when they had a case of the shingles. I wasn’t sure what the rash was, but I headed to the doctor’s office the next day. He took one look at the rash and said, “You have shingles.” I almost responded, “On the roof of my house?” but quickly decided that his diagnosis was no laughing matter.
Fortunately, I had gone to the doctor within 48 hours (that’s the window of treatment opportunity) from the time I discovered the shingles and he was able to prescribe some medicine to treat the problem before the pain and rash escalated. Although shingles is not very contagious, unlike chicken pox which I had when I was a kid, I isolated myself from everybody else until the rash disappeared. Also, members of the office staff had already had chicken pox, so there was very little danger of infecting them since there has to be direct contact with the blistering substance to pass it along. I didn’t miss a day of work (the owner of this newspaper doesn’t allow me to miss work, except in the case of my death) but I did become a hermit in my office so that I wouldn’t have any contact with the public.
I was also fortunate that the shingles broke out where they did, instead of on my face, or in my eyes or other places on my head -- as some shingle sufferers have experienced. (That would have been harder to endure.) My case of shingles was always covered by my shirt so only a few people even knew I had the rash. I think the fact that I went to the doctor so quickly and was able to take a drug for them, caused the rash not to be as severe. Although there was some blistering, that part of having the shingles disappeared after several days.
Even though the early treatment dealt effectively with the rash, the pain was quite severe -- and it continued after all of the rash had disappeared. As Dr. Donahue indicated in his column, “pain is a consequence of the nerve injury,” and some of the pain (although greatly diminished) is still with me four months later. I guess it could be said that shingles can really get on your nerves! I’m not sure what caused the shingles to suddenly break out. Some people believe a case of the shingles is caused by stress. I’m a little skeptical of that belief because, if stress causes shingles, I would have broken out from head to toe during the years that I was mayor and chaired all of those council meetings. Just joking! (See, I haven’t lost my sense of humor.)
I don’t know if I will ever have another case of shingles but I would just as soon pass and mark that experience off the bucket list -- not that it was ever on my list of fun things to do. Maybe I will be okay for the rest of my life when it comes to not having another case of shingles. After all, once they are put down most shingles come with a guarantee to not need replacing for 25 years -- at least that’s what I heard in a commercial for a roofing company.
Editor & Publisher
Columns Are Printed With The Most Recent Displayed First
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The photo across the top of the page shows the northeast corner of downtown's Lincoln Square and the statue of Abraham Lincoln marks where he gave his first political speech.