Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Baker's Dozen

A Baker’s Dozen

Book Review

By Eve Paludan http://www.evepaludan.com/

[Eve Paludan is a writer and editor. Eve Paludan is an editor of scholarly works by day and a novelist by night, occasionally doing freelance fiction editing on weekends. She is currently attending Arizona State University (online) and is working on earning a Web Developer Certificate from Northern Arizona University. She is also writing another romance novel. Eve has been married for 2.1 decades to a software developer/publisher, Ron Paludan, who is also a 3D (Poser and Google Sketch-Up) artist, as well as a webmaster of commercial sites.]

"A Baker's Dozen" Short Stories by Richard Noble is not only a treat, it is a feast for the mind, with some of the stories reminiscent of the O. Henry type of plot twists that have captivated readers for generations. Like the proverbial box of fancy chocolates, each story in this collection gives the reader a satisfying taste of a different flavor, and yet a cohesive theme of American blue-collar nostalgia makes a pretty box to contain these 13 delectable story treats.

A consummate storyteller, Richard Noble brings to life both civilized life -- with themes like marriage and running a business and adventures with drinking buddies and unions and such -- and uncivilized life, such as my favorite story in the collection: In "I'm Going Home," an itinerant fruit picker and pot dealer named Jon enjoys the freedom and economy of living in a national park but ponders the suspicious death of an alcoholic Jesus freak known as Pea-Coat. The trouble starts when Jon starts his own investigation of the assumed suicide. Wow, this story grabbed me and didn't let go, nor did it disappoint. Well done.

In "Cain & Bernard's," the author takes the long way to getting his own specialty butcher shop ready to open, which will require a plumber. His hilarious first-person retelling of his guy-centric path to his goals keeps getting diverted to a local bar where he has to drink with a plumber, seemingly for days, before they get down to business. Apparently, all of the regulars have long ago dated many of his aunts and his mom, which causes him some consternation and embarrassment. Oh, and existing on bar food -- mostly pickled eggs -- and alcohol is not a proper diet for a working man.

In "Love is Blind," Diane is a thirty-something spinster with a lovely apartment. She hasn't had a date for years. One night she gets a call from a war vet whose memories of them dancing at Arthur Murray as youngsters sustained him through the worst of times. What happens next left me with a lump in my throat. So poignant and romantic. A what-if that we all think about. Could someone from our past re-surface and...?

In "Gluckman's Poultry," the author goes wholesale meat-shopping on what are possibly the wrong side of the tracks and has a small adventure and a lesson in managing people at the bottom of the blue-collar totem pole.

In "Mussels in Marinara," more adventures in the butchery business ensue in South Miami with the author's friend, Lenny, after their meatpackers' union ditched them. This story is about crackers and beer, and Lenny's wife, who is simultaneously a princess and a shrew. There's something of an urban, blue-collar Shakespeare feel to this short story. Very enjoyable.

In "A Government Job," an ad for a nondescript job for a "coordinator" sends Richard, our hero, into unexplored territory as he bluffs his way through the job interview in some of the funniest b-s-ing I've ever read, as both interviewer and interviewee muddle through in a battle of wits!

"A Corny Christmas Story" presents the author as a little boy possessed of charm and surprising wit as he peddles his mother's hand-crocheted hats door to door, so that the family can buy a Christmas tree while Dad is off fighting a war on the other side of the world. I loved this! It should be a short film for a Christmas special. It's wistful, hopeful and amusing.

There are other great stories in this collection, and each has a sense of place and characters that are unforgettable. The author wrote some stories in first person, others are in third person with protagonists who are likely veiled characters of people he seemed to know well.

If you're looking for an entertaining short story collection with a sense of the past, Noble nails it with 13 gems that will make you laugh, cry, and swear at the adventures of a vivid and down-to-earth Americana.

Five stars for an entertaining short story collection of man stories that even a girl can love. -- Eve Paludan, author of Letters from David, a romance novel.

Monday, November 22, 2010

For more information or to purchase this book click on cover at right on this page. "Just Hangin' Out Ma"

John Fitzgerald Kennedy and My Mom

A Memoir

By Richard E. Noble

The phone rang in our little kitchen. We lived in a tiny apartment in Lawrence, Massachusetts. I spent the first twenty seven years of my life there. It was a mill town with layer after layer of blue collar tenement houses. My mother rarely answered the phone. It was usually never for her but someone calling for one of us kids. We all rushed to her side, ready to grab the phone when she said for whom the call was actually intended. But we were all stopped short, as she hung onto the receiver and began to speak;

“Yes, I know who you are, Bobby. Yes, I know that it is your brother, John, who is running for president.”

“What the ...? Who are you talking to Ma?”

“She’s talking to Bobby; you know Johnny’s brother.” We all laughed, as she went on as if she were talking to one of our school chums.

“Yes, I realize that tomorrow is Election Day ... Oh yes, I certainly intend to vote for your brother. I understand ... Yes, I certainly will ... I will ... I will! I’m going to be there the first thing in the morning. I wish you and your brother the best of luck ... Oh, don’t you worry Bobby; you have my vote.”

Bobby Kennedy had called our house the night before his brother was elected President of the United States.

J.F.K was one of us.

An Irish Catholic, Massachusetts boy, was going for the presidency. This was as close to home as it could get; our little State, our maligned faith, our dumpy neighborhood, our blue collar apartment in the inner-city slum, and our telephone. It was unbelievable. My mother was talking to Bobby about the election; my mother who was probably the least political person that I have ever known. But, that next morning she donned her winter coat and hat and went prancing off with her pocketbook hanging on her arm. I ran out on the porch. I didn’t know whether to cheer, applaud or what. She looked like a miniature Eleanor Roosevelt parading down Chelmsford St. to the corner where they were all lined up at the voting station.

She had received her orders and was marching to her destiny which was to personally elect John F. Kennedy president. And she did it. It was the closest election of the twentieth century thus far.

Johnny won by slightly more than 100,000 votes. He was the youngest man yet to be elected president - the first Catholic president. And though I was just slightly too young to vote for him myself, he was my president also.

He was the president of all the young people. He was as sharp as a tack. He knew his ABC’s. He had all the answers. The press was no match for him. He was smarter than they were. He smiled, had a huge grin and told jokes about his dad and his wife and brothers and sisters. He was a big tease, just like an older brother, or your own dad. He was a hero during the war. I went to see the movie PT-109 at the local movie theater. I bought his book, Profiles in Courage. I still have a copy. It was a real book.

Profiles in Courage was no political biography book about how I was born in a log cabin. It was not about himself. It was about men in history who had acted courageously, even if it meant their political careers. John F. Kennedy was more than another pretty face.

Profiles in Courage was a book about ideals, about principles. It became a TV series. I can remember lying on the parlor floor with my head up against a hassock watching this week’s excerpt with the whole family. At the end of each episode there was somebody crediting John F. Kennedy, and some bit of his personal idealistic inspiration. If I’m not mistaken, he introduced the show, or signed it off – or something.

John F. Kennedy, the war hero, who had saved his buddies; the intellectual and Harvard graduate, the journalist, the TV show writer, the first Catholic president, the youngest elected president, the family man with a picture book wife and regular kids hiding under his desk at the White House, the little rich boy who had a feeling for the working stiff. John F. Kennedy, the man who was going to bring peace to the world at last.

By the time I got to Merrimack College everybody was enrolling in the Kennedy Army for Peace. They called it the Peace Corps. They say that it was really Hubert Humphrey’s idea, but it was Kennedy who pushed and promoted it. Every student that I talked to was joining the Peace Corps. They were all making me feel guilty and hypocritical. Finally we had a president who stopped the tradition of talking about peace while making war; a president who was going to turn it all upside-down. He was going to actively make peace and try to keep the war mongers talking. The whole world got his message and everybody was cheering – except the Russians and Fidel Castro.

Then suddenly it was eyeball to eyeball. The end of the world was on the horizon. But this was O.K. It was all for one and one for all. It was no pull-a-name-out-of-a-hat deal. If we were going to die, we were all going to die at once - BOOM! And who gives a damn. It was a relief. No more hiding under the desks, or looking for a designated bomb shelter, or storing up supplies in the cellar, or contemplating a slow death by some kind of horrid radiation poisoning. If the world really couldn’t be saved, then let’s end it, once and for all. We would prove T. S. Eliot wrong. The world wouldn’t end with a whimper but a BANG! We finally got this chicken-chicken stuff over with. Khrushchev pushed, and Kennedy pushed back – the Cuban Missile Crisis.

When it was over Khrushchev had blinked. Russian ships were on the TV loading up their ships and heading home with their bombs and missiles. Kennedy had stood up to the bullies and they were tucking their missiles between their legs and heading back to their own school yard. If there was anybody who doubted Kennedy’s policy at that time, I don’t remember that they had time to voice their opinion. The missiles were there; we were on the brink of destruction, and then it was over. It was scary, but we all went through it together – holding our breath.

I have heard many say that Kennedy did it all wrong, we should have invaded Cuba and put Castro to rest. But information from the Russian Archives has since proved that Mr. Kennedy and his brother were more than correct. The Russians had tactical nuclear weapons on Cuban soil and submarines off the East Coast of the U.S. with orders to fire if the U.S. had attacked. And due to problems in the Russian communications system the order to retaliate had been given by Khrushchev and couldn’t have been changed in time to stay a holocaust. The East Coast of the United States from Washington D.C. to Tampa Florida would have been gone – along with a heck of a lot more. The incident scared the heck out of both Kennedy and Khrushchev and they consequently had the infamous hot lines installed.

But, Kennedy was a president to whom the presidency wasn’t the culmination of his life and career. He was too young. He was just starting. He was going to really be something special. He would write history or be a movie star, or teach at Harvard. The presidency was just a stop on his way to bigger and better things and everybody knew it.

I was in my college History class at Northern Essex Community College. It was a renovated Haverhill grammar school. It cost me one hundred and fifty bucks a semester. I had a 1946 Desoto, fluid drive that had to be jump-started every day. I parked it on a hill outside the school and everybody watched and laughed each day as, my buddies and I, all pushed it down the hill to get it rolling and then jumped in when I popped it to a start. It was bright yellow, and we called it the Banana Boat. A phrase made popular a few years earlier by Harry Belafonte. This new junior college and the state-wide junior college program was one of Kennedy’s new ideas. A kid of my social class, and my finances, and my academic background had very little hope of getting a college education.

A young office worker stepped into our classroom, unannounced, walked up to the teacher’s desk and handed him a piece of paper. The teacher read the note, silently. Then he looked up at the class, and spoke:

“The president of the United States has just been shot in Dallas, Texas. The class is dismissed.”

A boy in the back of the class jumped up and started mumbling something about his tuition and that he was paying that teacher’s salary and he wanted the class to continue. The teacher repeated; “Class dismissed.” Then he turned and started gathering things up from his desk. The mouthy boy kept grumbling. He grumbled all the way down the corridor and out into the school yard. In a matter of seconds he had a crowd around him and was in a fist fight.

In the cellar of the grammar school we had a small make-shift cafeteria. It was just vending machines, a small bookstore and a couple of TV’s. We were glued to the TV’s. The girls were all in tears and sobbing. Their eyes were all wet and raw and their noses red from the constant use of tissues and table napkins.

My father had died suddenly and without warning a few years earlier. This assassination was the exact same experience all over again. Once again I was waiting for the doctors to announce that everything would be all right and that he would live, but just as with my dad, this wasn’t to be the case.

I was stunned in the same way as I had been with my dad when they announced that the president was dead. But, I was steeled to the concept of death now. I had no tears. I had no “whys.” Death has no explanation. The Nation would go on as it did after Lincoln, after Garrison, after McKinley. It would go on as it has after all the different presidents who had been killed or who had died in office. We had a system, and the system would go on; just as my life had gone on after my father’s death. Just as everyone’s life continues and goes on after the death of any loved one. You have no choice.

But a lot of dreams would now die and be forgotten.

At my father’s funeral, they kept saying that he was so young. And I thought, silently, does death have an age limit? Is anyone too young or not old enough to die? Hardly. Here was the hope of the world and he had just had his head blown off in Dallas, Texas.

Watching the funeral on the TV was tragic. Little John-John being prodded forward by his mother and saluting the coffin; the horse with no rider; the hauntingly slow, and penetrating cadence of the drums – a whole nation in mourning. The memories of those days never seem to die.

Maybe they’re not supposed to.

John F. Kennedy holds the unique distinction of being the only president to be assassinated more than once.

He was first assassinated on November 22, 1963 when he had his head blown off in Dallas, Texas. Since that initial assassination, John F. Kennedy has been slowly assassinated, day by day, by the written word in newspapers, periodicals, books, and documentary films in what seems to me to be an attempt to prove to us, the American people, that John F. Kennedy was such a terrible man that he really deserved to be killed in the first place.

I view this with the same attitude that I have learned to view rape. It doesn’t matter if she looks like a whore, acts like a whore, or even if she is a whore, no man has the right to take her without her voluntary consent.

John F. Kennedy, no matter what his character faults, did not deserve to be murdered. He may have been an S.O.B., but, as someone has said before me, he was our S.O.B. And if our government knows and has more information on what happened, it is time that we were informed and the information, at least, made available to our historians. I feel that I have a right to know the truth before I die. The time is here.

The suspects in the murder of J.F.K. include nearly everyone. The only prominent person or group not yet accused of the crime, I think, is the Pope.

Things we know: The Warren Commission Report was a blatant cover-up. The autopsy was fudged. There was more than one gunman. It now seems that there were so many bullets fired, one wonders how innocent by-standers weren’t hit – Oswald’s nest, the grassy knoll on the right; the grassy knoll on the left; somewhere from the front;
somewhere from the back; from the sewers. Assassins seem to have been all over the place. Shoplifters got better police protection than Oswald received walking up that ramp to his death at the hands of Jack Ruby. Who are they kidding! They had better security at the Lawrence police station, for god sakes.

To me, one thing does seem to be certain here. A whole bunch of prominent people have been lying on this matter. Why?

Americans have the right to know their own history. Open up all this secret stuff and, at least, let the academics in. Most everybody involved is probably dead by now. It won’t change anything, but it should be important to a people who keep making claim to be living in – the land of the free and the home of the brave.


The Hobo Philosopher


By Richard E. Noble

This is really something that I am almost ashamed to admit. Being an active participant and member of the “male” community, I have always been a vociferous and outspoken supporter of “cleavage.” I mean I was weaned into puberty by a Playboy Bunny - although I don’t remember her name ... or her face for that matter.

I mean please, before anyone gets the wrong idea, I drink beer and whiskey, watch all types of sporting events, and have never been one not to laugh at a demeaning, insensitive joke about any type of naked woman. But, all that aside, I’m all cleavaged out.

There was a lady doing the local weather report flashing me cleavage the other night and another on the early morning “Fishing with Bubba” show.

I have seen more cleavage in the last few years than I have ever been privileged to seeing in all of my previous life. And cleavage isn’t just cleavage anymore. I’ve seen young cleavage, old cleavage, golf ball size cleavage, softball size cleavage, upright cleavage, drooping cleavage, wrinkled cleavage, both king and queen sized cleavage and even semi-nippled cleavage. There is top cleavage, bottom cleavage, diamond cleavage, lower cleavage, side cleavage, and last but not least - butt cleavage. That’s right, butt-cleavage. Girls, who have no real cleavage in the traditional area of cleavage responsibility, have turned to exposing their better side. I can hardly believe it. There are seventy year old women not only showing the world, willing and unwilling, their cleavage but presenting themselves nude on grain and automotive calendars. And Diane Sawyer and Barbara Wa-wa are both screaming “you go girl!” Which is feminist for “I think you are a damn fool, but if it makes you happy to embarrass all of us females and womanhood in general, what the hell can I do about it - hee hee hee.”

At first I said, “Oh well, should cute young girls who are obviously proud of their burgeoning womanhood be deprived of their fleeting opportunity to exhibit their cleavage, front, rear or whatever? Gee wizz! What kind of old fuddy-duddy are you?”
Okay so we all get to enjoy “Bouncy’s” cleavage and Jennifer whats-her-name’s cleavage. I even enjoy the interviews where all these little girls with the budding cleavage express their embarrassment of their personal virginity. It is truly inspiring to see on the Tube a partially naked, pre-adult female, in a skintight, shear, flesh colored wrap, with extraordinary cleavage expressing a religious and spiritual desire to maintain her virginity. Is this meant to be a statement or a dare?

I have no doubt that in the opinion, minds and imaginations of a good many of their young, male, religious admirers, this fact of virginity must take a Kierkegaardian “great leap of faith” over the infinite cleavage of both time and space to find a true eternal resting place in the abstract phenomenological void between what really is and what definitely isn’t and what is OMG (“oh my God”) possible.

You know, I realize that there was once a time when even belly buttons had a modest pubertic fascination. You know, is it an inny, an outy, an uppy or a downy. But really, enough is enough!

Young, beautiful “virgin” females now dance regularly in public and without embarrassment in a manner that in previous years I could only be privy to at a five dollar cover charge at the Boom-Boom Room on Common Street or in Boston at Scully Square. Gypsy Rose Lee would be Gypsy Rose “Who” if she were starting out today.
I would say that this is all a matter of male chauvinism except the guy this young girl is dancing with is bouncing up and down wearing a pair of trousers that are so tight that the outline of what was once considered personal and private is purely visible to the plain and un-enhanced naked eye. One could almost hazard a guess as to whether or not this male dancer is Jewish or gentile!

If I were a pornographic film maker, I would make a movie where all the characters are fully clothed and all the scenes of encounter are shot in silhouette and shadows. I’ll bet it would sell a million copies. It would be soooo hot!
If this were a letter to the editor or Dear Abby, I would sign it - Overexposed!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If you liked this review you might find the books pictured above equally interesting. Click on book covers to the right on this blog for more information. Thanks.

William Greider

One World Ready or Not

by Richard E. Noble

I read a book by a Mr. William Greider, “One World Ready or Not.” On the back cover of his book it states that he is the National Editor of the Rolling Stone. I thought that was a magazine about Mick Jagger and other horribly disfigured people who have made a success of promoting the concept of noise around the world.

I consider this book an economics book - but it is not a compilation of difficult theories. It is a vivid and insightful description of what is going on around the world, with chapter after chapter of everyday life descriptions. It is about the New Global Capitalism - the privatization of the world.

Mr. Greider’s book is a primer on getting up to speed on what is presently happening in the world economy. I consider it to be very intelligent and well thought; especially for a man who I presume spent the early part of his life following the Grateful Dead - the Rolling Stone Magazine, you will remember.

When I reflect on Mr. Greider’s book one of the many things that comes to my mind is a problem that he pointed out in the conclusion.

In a world of, more or less, dedicated Capitalism where supply and demand and profit-making are the sole motivation for investment and action, how does necessary but non-profitable “good” happen?

For example, you are a Capitalist Doctor in a Capitalist world. You are riding along the highway and you stumble upon an accident. Many people are sprawled along side the road bleeding and injured. You quickly discover that these people have no insurance and no money to pay for the necessary supplies, never mind your expertise, training and college loan. With Capitalism and supply and demand as your guide, how do you devise a profitable system or a method for their care?

Charity is not a system or method of Capitalism, it is a band aid. Charity is a notion that drains off the goodwill of Capitalism. It stands out as a flaw in the Capitalistic dogma, not as a positive attribute. Charity only becomes necessary because Capitalism has failed. Charity doesn’t make a profit. It is not a business. We can’t depend on Charity as a Capitalist economic tool.

The notion that people should all be pursuing their own personal good does not help our good Samaritan dogmatic Capitalistic Doctor.

As a Capitalist he must devise some sort of rationale whereby he can gain a profit from the suffering and tragedy he has encountered.

How does Capitalism feed the hungry who have no money to buy food, even if the Capitalist can produce sufficient quantities; how does Capitalism provide Aids medication to those with no money to pay even for its manufacture? How does Capitalism provide a profitable avenue for environmental safety when clearly polluting pays? How can profit-making provide living wages to workers when providing living wages means less profit and higher prices? The list where Capitalism has traditionally provided no answers goes on and on.

In the past, governmental socialism has been the safety valve of the Capitalist World. When the going gets tough the taxpayer takes over - that’s socialism, not Capitalism.

In the United States, back in the Wilson days, when the banks kept collapsing, the government and the taxpayer stepped in with the Federal Reserve System (Banker Socialism). When the Depression struck, it was Government Socialist spending that stepped in to save the day. Even if you say it was World War II that saved the economy, it was not the killing and the destruction that saved the world from the Depression; it was the government spending on the war effort that produced the jobs, that supplied the wages, that turned around the spending, that stimulated the investment, that paid the soldiers, that built the middle class, that saved the house that George (Washington - not Bush) built.

We didn’t need a World War II to save us from the Depression; we needed unlimited Government spending on a project that satisfied the moral work ethos of the people of the world. Any project would have done the trick, a pyramid or two, an aqueduct, an interstate highway system, a man on the moon.

Why can’t the project to save the world, and stimulate Capitalistic spending be something morally sound; as opposed to something architectural, or industrial or totally destructive, - as War?

When Europe had no money to buy products from the Capitalist world, we gave them the money.

We said that the Marshall Plan was a loan but most of the Marshall Plan money was never paid back. So, in effect, we made TVs and refrigerators - financed Europe’s reconstruction - for people and governments who could not afford to buy these products or materials.

We gave them the money to buy them; we gave them the money to manufacture their own TVs and refrigerators; pretty soon their economies were flourishing and they were selling us TVs and refrigerators. We had to start producing other things here at home to employ our own people to fill new markets from a more demanding world. I even hear Republicans today bragging on this world wide socialistic welfare project called - the Marshall Plan.

Why could this same technique not be used in curing the world of hunger or disease?
If people in Slumbovia need food, we loan (lend/lease) them the money, then sell them the food (deferred loan payback option - lOUs). Once they start eating more regularly, we loan (lend/lease) them some more money and start selling them some tractors. Pretty soon they are growing their own food and manufacturing their own tractors and we are selling them fertilizers, tractor parts and engineering expertise, and they are standing in line to buy tickets to Disney World. And all the while we are paying Henry Ford the II, 3rd. or 4th to manufacture this stuff.

Henry then gives everybody a raise at the factory and takes on more employees - just like we did in World War II. The only difference is we don’t have all the dead bodies and all the bombed out building to rebuild. Instead we start housing developments in Slumbovia. Pretty soon everybody is doing so well, we simply cancel all their debt obligations (call it a tax rebate to stimulate the trade balance, encourage consumption and new investment). The Donald moves to Slumbovia to find a new apprentice and he takes Martha Stewart with him. How can we lose?

There is a lot of world out there to be made prosperous and a lot of money to be made supplying the initial investments, the knowledge and the know how. If it works for war, and the Military Industrial Complex, why can’t it work for peace and refrigerators?

If this concept can work for refrigerators, TVs and even hula-hoops and Pacman, then why can’t it work for healthcare, the environment, science and the betterment of mankind in general?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf

This is a small compliation from my up-coming book on Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.

Adolf Killing ideas:

“...Thus, summing up, one can say the following: Every attempt at fighting a view of life by means of force will finally fail, unless the fight against it represents the form of an attack for the sake of a new spiritual direction. Only in the struggle of two views of life with each other can the weapon of brute force, used continuously and ruthlessly, bring about the decision in favor of the side it supports. It was on this account that the fight against Marxism had failed so far. This was also the reason why Bismarck’s anti-socialist laws finally failed and were bound to fail, despite all efforts. The platform of a new view of life was lacking for the rise of which the fight could have been fought ...”

Adolf on the destruction of an idea

“...the following fundamental realization is the result; Conceptions and ideas, as well as movements with a certain spiritual foundation, may these be right or wrong, can be broken at a certain point of their development with technical means of power only if these physical weapons are at the same time the supporters of a new kindling thought, an idea, or view of life. Use of force alone, without the driving forces of a spiritual basic idea as presupposition, can never lead to the destruction of an idea and its spreading, except in the form of a thorough eradication of even the last representative and the destruction of the last tradition.”

Noble on Killing ideas

And this is exactly what Adolf proceeded to do. He fought the notion of peace with the militarist glory of war.

He fought fear of death with the inevitable notion of the Social Darwinist that death is for the weak and sickly.

He preached immortality through the preservation of the race and nation to which he belonged; your death is of little significance when put aside the advancement of ‘your kind’.

He challenged democracy with the practicality and efficiency of dictatorship.
He challenged the principle of kindness and charity with the obvious unkindness and lack of charity provided by the everyday example of the All Mighty and exhibited through the vision of his pitiless disciple, Mother Nature.

He combated socialism with elitism, and appeals to the glory of the individual.
He combated the growing spirit of internationalism, with the more personal and less humanitarian notion of nationalism and patriotism.

He likened debate and thoughtful argumentation to a lack of resolve and an inability to make a decision and thus a lack of leadership.

For every thesis out there in the world about him, he provided an antithesis. He provided the practicality of Hegel with the fanaticism of Nietzsche.

Without doubt, Adolf was the spokesman for a faith. The preacher and the defender of the principles of the barbarian, the warlord, the defender of the sword; a preacher for the righteousness and glory of destruction; the gallant, fearless, defender of the dominant, the unsympathetic, and the right of might; a true defender of the principle of selfishness, and cruelty, all for the sake of the survival of ‘culture’ and the true chosen people. The modern day Ayn Rand political ideals and much of our conservative notions of today, Glenn Beck for example, are a spin-off from the above fundamentals of Hitler-ism in my opinion.

So Adolf provided along with terrorists tactics, a new faith, a new religion, a new philosophy – the principles of this new religion being Race, Country, Might.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Hobo Philosopher

A Noble Prediction for 2012

The extremely mild, moderate course that has been pointed to as the direction of the future by the Democrats and Obama seems to have been rejected by American voters as radical and leftist. The voters “common sense” has encouraged them into the belief that the National economy should be managed as they manage their household economy - times ahead are tough and therefore spending should be curtailed and cuts are even better. In consequence, they have reestablished the party with the worst spending record in all of American history - the Republicans - to do the job.

Ronald Reagan spent more of the taxpayer’s money than all previous American presidents combined. He tripled the National Debt in eight short years.

George Herbert Walker Bush, challenging Reagan’s supply side economics (give money to the rich and watch them help the poor and middle class) as Voodoo economics then doubled his predecessor’s negative achievement. He doubled the National Debt that Reagan handed him in just four short years.

George W. Bush then proceeded to outspend both his Uncle Ronny and his dad.

So now they are back to cure our spending “problems” and just when the majority of economists agree that government spending is, for the first time in thirty years, the advisable course.

Republicans have promised to cut taxes to the rich and the middle class, balance the budget - with no cuts in military and pentagon spending - and create jobs.

Creating jobs requires spending (investment/expansion) on somebody’s part. We are in a “deflationary” period. That is in real speak a depression/recession.

Because of the economic outlook the private sector is not spending, banks are not loaning, and businesses are laying off workers. Despite talk to the contrary, in such times, BOTH parties believe in government spending.

Republicans, sighting World War II as their prime example, claim to this day, that wartime government spending is what saved the American economy from the “Great Depression” of the 1920-30’s. Both Republicans and Democrats go on to claim government spending on the Marshall Plan followed by government wartime-like spending during the Cold War as the prime reason for America’s post war recovery and prosperity.

What Republicans don’t believe in is social or domestic government spending. Domestic spending in America and on the American people is claimed to be “Socialism” by Republicans. Military government spending is not considered “Socialism” but “Capitalism” by Republicans.

Democrats unlike Republicans believe that all government spending, social or military, is “Capitalistic” so long as it is filtered through private sector outlets, managers or expeditors. Republicans believe that this is only true of government military spending.

Accepting these dogmatic stances, we should be able to predict America’s future.

Since the Republicans are not in full control of the government at this moment, their objectives will be limited. They will have to be content in halting government domestic spending.

In the next two years they will attempt to stifle government spending, return taxpayers dollars to the Republican base, (the wealthy, super-wealthy, and national and international corporate interests) and reduce the expanding “Democrat” government in any way possible.

This is the modern day rebirth of the failed depression creating policies of Herbert Hoover. Enacting these policies, to the delight of American voters, should bring predictable results. A double dip recession should be on the horizon if Democrats and the president are not able to override these Republican intentions.

The president’s past behavior indicates a submissive positioning. The Democrats with the help of redneck Republican Dixiecrats watered down and undermined any serious liberal accomplishments thus far. So now with the cat out of the bag the “pussyfooting” should be over and the Democrats can claim that their hands are tied while the Republicans slash and burn and move us to the right and more militarism. The Democrats will continue to wallow in the delusion that the American people will eventually “see the light” and realize that Republicanism is truly anti-Americanism. It doesn’t seem to be happening. In fact, the reverse has been the norm.

Presuming that the Democrats and the president will cooperate with the Republican demands for political reasons we can then presume that the scene will be set in 2012 for a Republican take over of the entire government.

The economy and jobs will remain the problem in 2012 and the depression will be worse. The Republicans will see to it and the American people will blame the Democrats. I don’t see why the American people will not blame the Democrats. They have blamed the Democrats for these recent Republican obstructions and heaped past Republican failures onto present Democrats to boot. So why should we assume that the attitude of the American people will be any different in 2012?

With the Republicans in command in 2012 there is only one option for prosperity on the home front.

Since Republicans do not believe in government domestic spending as “Capitalistic” and since government spending is the only way out of a depression (depression = lack of private sector investment and spending) the Republicans will be required to create a bigger and more inclusive war.
The only other Republican alternative to war is to wait out the depression. I doubt that the American people in all their conformity will tolerate that alternative. There is also the fact that there is no economic evidence that a depression will bottom out and that businesses will return to spending and investment on and of their own accord. There is no evidence of any such thing ever happening. As long as jobs continue to decrease, consumption will decrease. Consumption drives investment. Nobody buying … no reason to increase production.
The American people "should" demand some type of action. Any domestic investment being considered “Socialism,” welfare-ism, wasteful, communistic and debt creating in nature, some type of war will be mandatory - war being interpreted as legitimate Capitalistic government spending by Republicans.
Bush had his sights on Iran when he left office. Already other Republicans are picking up the chant.
North Korea is a good possibility too. We could hit them both. China would be an insane selection but for Republicans and the threatened western capitalistic world, I wouldn’t take it off the table. It could be a big one with lots of money and jobs created.
Like it or not for Republicans war is synonymous with prosperity and economic growth. Peace is stagnant and deflationary. It can not be encouraged monetarily or economically. And if government domestic spending, investment and incentive are off the table in times of peace and defined as Socialistic, then their reasoning is logical.
As far as the American people go it does seem plain that they would rather sacrifice the arms, legs and lives of their children - or maybe their neighbor’s children - than put their dollars in jeopardy investing in health care and improvements at home for other Americans. Better to pave a road to war than an interstate in Mississippi or Ohio.
For corroboration of this analysis and prediction I suggest a study of the Roman Empire followed by economic analysis of the rise and fall of Nazi Germany’s military expansion - I suppose a study of the expansion of any military empire would be adequate.
I do hope these predictions are proven wrong in the future but my skepticism reigns at this moment. Not so much because of the actions of the American government but because of the actions of the American people - which is even more disappointing.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

This is a story from my most recent publication "Just Hangin' out, Ma." If this book interests you, click on the cover of this book at the right of this page for additional information and directions for purchasing a copy. Thanks!

Father Kelly

My wife constantly accuses me of having a moral conscience. She has learned over the years about all my friends, my family, relatives and whatever. She has come to the conclusion that none of the above contributed much to the development of my “moral conscience.” She suggests that the only influence in my life that could be responsible for this moral conscience that she thinks I have, must be the Roman Catholic Church.
For the longest time me and my street corner buddies went to Confession every Friday night. If St. Mary’s Church had two hundred people inside on a Friday night waiting to tell their confessions to a priest, 90% of them would be lined up at Father Kelly’s confessional. Father Kelly was a very kind and forgiving man and in his role as a priest he was equally generous with God’s graces. No matter how grievous a transgression you may have confessed, Father Kelly would say:
“Are you truly sorry that you have committed such a deed?”
“Yes Father, I am.”
“As your penance say three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys. Go in peace, my son.”
This, of course, was the reason for the long line at Father Kelly’s confessional every week.
On this one particular Friday night a priest who was waiting alone and lonely inside his little cubicle on the empty side of the church, stepped out of his anonymity and gave a speech to all us reluctant confessors.
He accused us of cowardice. Certainly we all couldn’t have committed such outrageous sins that we were afraid of an objective consequence or penance. He advised us to remember that all our penance and suffering here on earth would be to our credit once we arrived in heaven. He also insinuated that all priests were forgiving and compassionate by nature. No one should be fearful of having his confession heard by any priest.
Several older people rose from their pews but instead of walking over to our admonisher’s side of the church, they walked out the side door. They could come back later after things cooled down a little and reposition themselves at Father Kelly’s station.
The chastising priest shook his head in disgust and returned to his stall.
I sat there thinking about what the priest had said and I concluded that certainly with my little, dinky sins I should not be afraid to kneel before any Roman Catholic priest.
After about fifteen or twenty minutes of analysis and soul searching, I left the safety and security of my pew at Father Kelly’s station and meandered over to the other side of the church.
Naturally there was still no one there, so I stepped right up to the plate.
As a part of my confession, I admitted to this priest that I had been stealing penny candy from Dube’s Variety store which was on the corner of Chelmsford and Center Streets. He was shocked. He wanted to know why I did that. I stuttered and stammered. This had never happened at father Kelly’s station. He never said boo. He never asked “why” I did anything. He would say, “Three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys” and that was the end of it. Now this new guy was asking “why?” What was this? Is that a fair question for a priest to ask in a confessional? Was this a pop quiz or what?
“I don’t know why I took the penny candy Father. I guess I just wanted it.”
“Well son, as your penance I want you to go back to Dube’s Variety store. I want you to apologies to Mrs. Dube and I want you to pay her back for all the candy that you stole.”
OH MY GOD! What had I done? I was certainly heartily sorry for leaving father Kelly’s station. And certainly, I will never do that again! But now what do I do?
Would it count if I went back over to Father Kelly and told him the same sins over and got three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys - like I knew he would give me? Would I have to tell Father Kelly that I had been across the way to this other priest?
I went back to Father Kelly and he did just as I suspected he would, but yet the whole situation plagued me. Finally one day I gathered up all my pennies and went up to Dube’s Variety. I was trembling as I entered through her screen door. As usual it took her five minutes to get to the counter. I could have stolen a pocket full of candy by then – but I didn’t.
When she got to the counter, I laid down all my pennies and confessed. Mrs. Dube stared at me like I was a kid who had just landed on the planet earth from outer space. She scooped up the pennies and eventually sputtered, “You are an admirable young man.”
All the way back to my house I questioned if it was better to be a known thief and an “admirable young man” or to have remained anonymous and said three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys.
From that day forward I took my errands to Walter’s Variety on the corner down the hill on Center St. How could I ever face Mrs. Dube again, the little thief from down the block on Chelmsford St? I never stole anything at Walter’s. I wasn’t about to go through that again.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother

This is the first chapter to my novel "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother." For more information about this book and how to purchace a copy click on the link (Picture of book cover) at the right of this page.

1 The Goodbye Kiss


He heard his mother calling. He looked and saw her standing there on the wooden porch. She was all dressed up. She had makeup on, and a hat. It was midday. He ran towards her. He flipped the latch on the gate to the chainlink fence with a stick that he had been playing with. He ran and leaped up the four wooden steps that led to the porch. His mother was worried. She was very worried.

He was a little preschooler with blond hair and big blue, Tweety Bird eyes. He was one of those kids who always looked worried and lost. One look at the wonder and confusion in his eyes always made his grandmother laugh and want to hug him and pinch his cheeks. He never resisted.

His mother squatted down in her high heels and fancy dress. She looked like a new person to him, with her lips bright and red, and her cheeks an artificial rose. She embraced the cheeks of his face with the palms of her hands. She stared into his confusion - her eyes misty with the fogginess of possible tears.
“Now you’ll be a good boy, won’t you?”

He nodded his head as he trembled inside. What was happening? Where? Where was she going? Why was she so nervous, so frightened? She was staring into his eyes, but she wasn’t seeing him. She was talking, but not to him.

“Mommy has to go to work, now. Daddy can’t make enough money. So Mommy has to go to work too.” Her lips trembled. This was very serious, he thought to himself. He had never seen his mother in this state before. She had never before been so tender. She never looked helpless. Never, ever before did she look as though she needed his help. She had never, ever touched his face so softly. Now suddenly she was hugging him to her body. She was squeezing him strongly. This was a new experience. He didn’t know what to do with his arms. He didn’t know how he was expected to react. So he didn’t react. He stood with his arms dangling at his sides and his body limp.

She smelled of a strong perfume - lilacs or flowers. This was all very strange. She never wore perfume. She never dressed up in high heels. She never hugged him, or touched his face tenderly with her hand. What did she want from him?

“I can’t be here with you like a good mother should because now I have to go to work. This is not what I want to do, but we don’t have enough money, so I have to.” She pushed him from her embrace by grasping his shoulders with her strong hands. She peered intently into his eyes, which were now moist with their own tears. “You know, if I could, I would stay here taking care of you, don’t you?” she sobbed with her voice cracking. He nodded his head. “But I can’t. I have to go to work. I can’t keep begging from my brothers and sisters just because my husband can’t provide for his family.”

She was still peering into his eyes, but yet not talking to him. But who was she talking to? “But I am going to do it. Just like when I was fourteen and I took care of my brothers and sisters. They’ve forgotten it all now, but it was me who paid for their school clothes. It was me who quit school and went to work and paid for their little shoes and their little dresses. No! They have forgotten all of that. They don’t remember now, but I haven’t forgotten. You are going to have to be good.” Now, she was speaking to him. “Stay around the house. I don’t want no trouble. Do you understand?” She was not asking a question, but he answered yes anyway. “I’ll be back. I’ll be home for supper.” Then suddenly, she kissed him and on the LIPS. She leaned her head back and took a good look at his confused face, and struggled a smile. She hugged him again quickly, and then pulled away. She stood up, straightened her dress, took a deep breath and started down the porch steps. As she flipped the latch on the gate, she admonished him once again. “You’ll be good now won’t you?”

“Yes, I’ll be good. You won’t have to worry.”

“Okay? You promised. I’m off. Bye, bye.”


He watched his mother walk away. He went down the steps and out the gate. He watched her walk all of the way to the end of the street. Then she turned to the right, and was gone.

He sat down on the curb. With his stick, he swished around the dirt and a paper gum wrapper in the gutter. His mother’s worried face lingered in his mind’s eye. She was truly worried about him. He would have to be very good. This would be very important. She had called him over just to kiss him and say goodbye. It felt funny to be kissed. Her lips were moist and sticky from the paste she had on them. They were cold. Her hands were cold also. His mother didn’t kiss often, and never on the lips. She didn’t hug often either. His grandmother always hugged him and kissed him, and that’s why he often went up to her apartment. He would lie on his grandmother’s carpet and listen to her old, floor radio play Polish polkas. His grandmother spoke no English and he no Polish, but he knew that she loved him. They would sit in the same room without a word, and feel comfortable together.

He went to his grandmother’s often. She always had soup cooking on the back of her old-fashioned stove. She sometimes had chocolate pudding with milk on it for him. He really didn’t care for the milk but the chocolate pudding made it worthwhile.

His grandmother lived in the tenement house with him and his family. Some of his aunts and uncles lived there also. It was an old building in a blue-collar, New England mill town. His grandmother had always been old. She had gray hair and hobbled about with one weary, wrinkled hand bracing a hip. She looked old, tired and worn. But whenever little Richard appeared, her tender eyes would sparkle with joy and her grooved and wrinkled face would beam and blossom. She would smile. She would tweak his cheeks. She would laugh and make funny, little, sing-song noises. Sometimes it would hurt when she would tweak his cheeks, but he liked to be touched by his grandmother. His mother’s touching was another story.

Why all of this touching today? Why a kiss; and a kiss on his lips? What was this all about?

The next day it was the same treatment.


He came running. He flipped the latch and ran up the stairs. She hugged him. She admonished him to be good. She smelled once again of lilacs. She had tears in her eyes. She smiled. To see his mother smiling was not wonderment; it was a miracle.

“Be good,” she said.

“No trouble?”

“No trouble.”


A final hug and then another kiss.

There was something important going on here. He didn’t know why, but it was important. It was very, very important.

As the days went by, it seemed to get more and more important. Certainly it became more and more important to Richard. For some unexplained mystery, at a particular time each day, his mother needed him. She had never needed him before. In the past he was always in the way, under her feet, in her hair. Now, suddenly she needed him. She needed him very, very badly. She needed him so badly, that it made her cry. She cried each day, every time. She was frightened. He understood being frightened. It was very important that he be there so she could kiss him goodbye. That kiss was giving her strength. It was giving her courage. It was very, very important that she kissed him goodbye. It made her smile. When she smiled, her eyes sparkled. For that moment, somehow, things were better. When she kissed him and then smiled, somehow a great burden was lifted. A cloud had just been removed from the sky; there was a new star in the heavens above; the sun had gained one extra ray of warmth. This kissing and hugging business was important. Oh my, yes! It was very, very important.

Wherever Richard was in the morning, he was sure to be there at the appointed time when his mother would make her appearance on that porch. And each time the experience got better and better. Sometimes she would even smile just to see him running towards her from the street. Her lips were always cold and paste-like. Her hug was nervous and frightened; her eyes always moist and watery; her cheeks red and rouged; her odor floral and overpowering. The smile was fleeting, but yet a peek at his mother’s soul. That look was a startling flash, a ray of light, a moment of sunshine, a bit of truth. What was it? He didn’t know. But it was important. It was very, very important. It was more important than anything that he had ever imagined. It was something between him and his mother. At a certain time, Monday through Friday, his mother needed him. Out of some unknown, unspoken necessity, his mother must hold him at this time. This act meant something to her. It was important for her to kiss him. As the weeks went by, he just knew that as long as he was there for her at that precise time, available for her hug and her kiss, everything would be all right. It was very easy to do; be there, on time; let her hold you; let her kiss you. Then she would be protected, and all would be right with the world.

One day, he was playing on the next block in woods on the corner. He was in the clubhouse that he and his little buddies had made from discarded wooden crates. He and his friends were trying to build a second story on their clubhouse. It was fun. They were trying to build a tenement, just like their real house. The time had passed, and somehow he had forgotten about his mother and their new ritual. A picture of her worried face flashed before him. The appointed time had passed and he knew it.
He leaped to the ground and went running up through the woods, then through the alleyway between the white-shingled house and the yellow wooden house. He then squeezed through the yellow-slatted, wooden fence that guarded the big yellow tenement and the pole of the adjoining chainlink fence of the white-shingled house. From his position there on that sidewalk he could see his front porch.

His mother was not standing there waiting for him. He was already out of breath. He ran between the parked cars and crossed the street. From that sidewalk he could see to the far corner. He saw a woman rounding that corner, and to the right. It was her! It had to be her.

He would catch her. He would run up behind her and catch her. He would pull on her skirt. She would turn and look down at him with that worried look in her eye. She would see him standing there and then everything would be safe.

He ran. He spanked his side as he ran. The spanking was for his horse - that invisible horse that all children his age rode so well. He had a fast horse. He would catch his mother. But by the time he had gotten to the corner, she was gone.

The view from this corner was much greater. He had never been all the way to this corner by himself. He had only been this way once, and he had his mother’s hand to hold at that time. They had turned at the very next corner. But, there in the distance, far ahead - wasn’t that a figure walking up there? Yes ... yes ... it had to be! That must be his mother.

He cupped his hands to the sides of his mouth and yelled, “Maaaaaahhhhh! Maaaaahhhhhhh!” But she was too far off into the distance. She could not hear him. He screamed once more, but the figure in the distance just kept walking. There was only one thing to do. He would have to catch up to her. He would put his head down and speed as fast as he could. He would catch her. There would be no doubt about it. Richard and his faithful horse with no name could run like the wind when they wanted to.

As he ran, he kept his eye fixed on the figure in the distance. He had never, ever been this far from his house by himself. He had never been all the way to the end of this street. There were more cars on this street than on his home street.

He could see the red-brick wall of a big mill at the far end of this road. He could see his mother. She had stopped and was waiting to cross the street that passed before the great, red-brick mill. There were lots of cars passing in both directions before her. He was worried for her safety. His eyes were tearing up from the wind and the speed of his running, and the terrible anxiety that was swelling inside of him. What horrors could befall his mother if she were not to be protected on this day by the mystery of his hug and the comfort from his kiss? She would be so worried and filled with fear from his absence that something horrible would happen. It would be all his fault, for he would have let her down. He would have failed in his duty. The protective shield that blanketed her and brought her to smile and gave her courage would not be with her on this day. It would be all his fault. It was inevitable. Now something terrible would happen. His eyes were now so filled with tears that all the buildings and all the cars were distorted and blurred. The buildings moved and swayed as though viewed through a fishbowl. The sidewalk began to roll in front of him. He began falling and stumbling, and when he looked up and into the distance, his mother was gone. Her black dress had completely disappeared.

He rose and rubbed his eyes with his sleeves. Miracle of miracles, she was there once again. He would not even blink now for fear that she might once again disappear. He screamed to her for a third time. She was still waiting there in the distance, but she didn’t turn. He would stare at her back and send soundless, invisible messages that would act like rays. She would feel them poking at her back. She would then turn and see him coming to save her.

She didn’t turn. The light changed and she crossed to the other side of the street. He screamed, “Mother!” over and over again. It was to no avail. Why couldn’t she hear him? He could see her now. She wasn’t all that far away. There were lots of cars and lots of noises and lots of reasons.

Finally he was at that distant corner. He was on the sidewalk before the whizzing traffic. She was right there across the street. She was entering into the mill by way of a huge, green door, which was a tiny part of an even greater, wooden, green wall. The huge, green wall was made of slats. They were like the slats on a picket fence. The green wall was a gate in itself - a giant, wooden gate that separated the red-brick walls of this grand castle. It was a castle just like in the story books. It had peaks and towers and walls and pathways and gangplanks that stretched between the buildings and floated in the air. Crowds of women were walking on the pathways going from one building to another.

The buildings were massive structures. They stretched in both directions as far as the eye could see. They were six and seven stories high. They had long, huge windows but the windows were covered with dirt. You could see nothing that might exist on the inside of them. Suddenly all of the cars stopped racing in front of him. People began to pass from one side of the street to the other. He grabbed onto a woman’s coat, quietly, and ran behind her to get to the opposite sidewalk. She didn’t even notice. He ran to the fence and peeked through the slats. He saw his mother turn and enter through a door and into the red-brick building to the left. He pulled on the door that had been cut into the huge, green gate but he could not get it to open. He returned to the slatted, green wall, stuck his face between two of the slats and stared at the door through which his mother had entered into the red-brick building.

He tried to crawl under the fence but the bottoms of the slats were just slightly too close to the ground. He could get his arm under the fence, and his leg, but his chest and his head would just not make the squeeze. But he tried.

This was the worst thing that had happened to him in his entire life. He had abandoned his mother and now, undoubtedly, something terrible would happen to her. And it would all be because she was not protected by his small hug and mysterious kiss.

He began to cry as he rose once again and pushed his face between the slats of the big green wall. He stared at the space in the wall through which his mother had disappeared. His tears were now beyond his control. He crumbled to the ground. He sat with his elbows braced on his legs which were crossed beneath him. He buried his face into the palms of his hands and cried as he rocked back and forth there on the sidewalk before the giant, imposing, and impenetrable green monster that separated him from his mother.

“Hey, hey, what is a big boy like you doing here crying?” A strange man was squatting down next to him and rubbing him on the back with his huge hand. “It can’t be that bad, can it?” Richard didn’t know what to do, so he just kept rocking and crying. He wouldn’t remove his face from his hands. He was ashamed to be crying. “You’re not hurt, are you? Did you fall down?” The man explored the boy’s legs and ankles for broken bones or tender places. “I don’t feel anything broken. Come on now. Can you stand up?”

Richard stood, but he kept his face in his hands and continued to sob. “It is all right to cry. Everybody cries. It is all right to cry, as long as a man has a reason. I am sure that a big boy like you has a reason to cry, and I’ll bet that it is a good one, isn’t it?” Richard nodded his head up and down with his face still wrapped in his hands. “Okay,” the man proclaimed as he pried a hand free from Richard’s face. “Let’s go inside and see what we can do about this situation.”

The man led Richard over to the green door that was cut into the huge, green fence wall. He pushed the door open, then lifted Richard up into one of his arms and carried the boy inside. He took a bright, red handkerchief from his back pocket and proceeded to wipe the tears from Richard’s eyes. “Okay now, tell the old man here what the problem is?” Richard tried to explain, but gulps of tears and gasps for breath kept getting in the way. Yet he told the story as best he could under the circumstances. The man laughed. “Oh really?” he said. “That’s exactly what I thought. I knew that it had to be something very, very serious. Well, I’m going to tell you something. This is a problem that I can handle. I can’t handle too many problems, and to tell you the truth, sometimes I would just like to sit down and cry too. But, nevertheless, I’ve got you covered with this here problem of yours, buck-y-boy. We are going to go over here and we are going to talk to the big boss about this whole situation.”

They entered a little building just beyond the gate. There was a man inside sitting behind a desk. When the man saw his buddy come through the door with Richard sitting on one arm, he leaned back in his swivel chair and smiled.

“Well, well?” he said, looking at Richard’s tear drenched cheeks and raw eyes. “This looks very serious ... very serious indeed. What’s the problem here, Jack?”

“Well, I’ll tell you boss, we got a big problem. As I understand the complaint, this young man’s mother has run off without kissing him goodbye. If he doesn’t find her and give her his goodbye kiss, as he does everyday, there is going to be a very serious catastrophic consequence. So, did I tell that right, son?” the man asked, while searching Richard’s eyes with a face gravely serious.

Richard nodded, positively. Both men laughed. Richard suddenly felt foolish and he buried his face into his hands and began once more to cry.

“No, no, no. Hold on here, son. We’re not laughing at you. Are we, Jack?”

“No sir!”

“No sir is right! I’ll tell you what I’m laughing at. I’m laughing because it wasn’t too long ago that the very same thing happened to me.”

Richard uncovered his face and stared at the man who was now up and out of his swivel chair and sitting on the edge of his desk. “That’s right,” he said, appealing to the child and winking to Jack with a grin. “But it wasn’t my mother who left me with not so much as a kiss, but my once lovely and dear bride.” Richard was interested. “Yes indeed, one day she just walked out the door. I thought that she was going grocery shopping. She didn’t go grocery shopping. Do you know where she went?” Richard, sitting high in Jack’s muscular arm, shook his head negatively. “She went to the damn bank and drew out all of my money.” Jack laughed. “And when I went down to the bank a week later and found out how much money she had taken, I sat down on the carpet, right in front of the teller’s window, and bawled my eyes out.” Both men laughed. Richard looked into Jack’s eyes for corroboration.

“That’s right! That’s the truth. I saw him, myself. Look at the size of him, will you? Can you imagine a grown man like him, sitting on the floor of the bank, crying his eyes out?” Richard looked, dubiously, from Jack to the boss.

“Darn right and I was embarrassed. It’s one thing for a little tyke like you to cry, but can you imagine a big lug like me sitting in the middle of a bank lobby, crying his eyes out?”

Richard examined the boss. He was a large man, with stubble on his face. He had workman-like muscular arms. He would look strange sitting on a floor crying. He smiled at the thought. The men laughed.

“Did she ever come back with your money?” Richard asked.

“No, she didn’t, but your mother is coming back, and we are going to find her. What’s your mother’s name?”


“Right, mama, I should have known that. Did you ever call her anything else besides mama?"


“Anything else?”


“Do you know your mother’s last name?” The boy stared, blankly.

“What did your mother call you?”


“Okay Richard, and what is your last name? Richard what? My first name is Bob and my last name is Ross. Your first name is Richard, and your last name is what?” Richard was perplexed. He had no idea that he had any other name. If his mother had a last name he had never heard it mentioned. “What does your father call your mother?”


“Mary, ah ha! Do you know any Marys, Jack?”

“Oh maybe a couple of hundred; this is Roman Catholic country. Marys are everywhere. My little girl is Mary. My sister is Mary.”

“Well, let me go over to the office and check with Marilyn, anyway.”

Jack put Richard over in a corner in a big chair. “Don’t worry son. The boss will find your mother.”

Richard wasn’t worried. He felt safe with Jack and “Boss.” He was in their hands. They had told him not to worry. They were grownup men, like his dad.

He kicked his heels on the rungs of the chair and looked around the room. Everything was old and dark-brown. The room was smoky. The desk was covered with papers.

It was scary not to know your “last” name. What was a last name? If you don’t know your last name people don’t know who you are or who you belong to. What if these men are unable to find his mother? What if that image that he had chased all the way over here wasn’t even his mother? What if she had gone in another direction? How would he get back home? How had he gotten here? What would these men do with him, if they couldn’t find his mother?

“I want my mother?” Richard cried out from his large chair. “I want my mother.”
“Hey, hey, hey, don’t get rambunctious over there. Your mother is going to be here in two minutes. Don’t you worry. Do I look like the kind of a guy who would lie?”


“Well then, just take it easy. Let us worry about everything from now on, okay?”

Jack ruffled the boy’s hair as he walked away and returned to what he had been doing. Richard’s Uncle Ray used to ruffle his hair like that all the time. His Uncle Joe did too. His Uncle Joe had a gold tooth. He liked it when Uncle Joe smiled.

Jack and the boss brought Richard a soda and some potato chips. They asked him questions. His answers often made them laugh. Richard liked the two men. They were like his father. His father was always “away”. He worked on a ship.

A large clock on the wall was the biggest clock that Richard had ever seen. Richard waited in the room with Jack and the boss for a long, long time. Jack and the boss were tracking down “Marys” all morning, but never the right one. They decided to just baby-sit until the shift ended. At that time the big gate would be opened and they could stand out in the forefront and petition all of the mothers.

Both men liked Richard. He was a cute, little guy. He spoke only when spoken to and he did whatever he was told. He had those big eyes of wonderment. Whenever either of them looked at the boy, he was looking at them. He was a “people” kid. His eyes soaked in everything. They could look into those intense eyes and see the wheels turning. He was very busy thinking and figuring. He was not the type of kid who would just sit there counting the fingers on his own hands or playing with his shoelaces.

The room was a wonderment and these men were a curiosity to him. They explained to him whatever they were doing. The boy wasn’t a bother. He was attentive, obedient and quiet.

Five o’clock was the change of shift. A minute or so before the shift buzzer went off, they went out and opened the big gate. They brought Richard out with them. As the ladies piled out of the redbrick buildings, the two men began shouting.

“Look here ladies! Look here ladies! We’ve got something here that belongs to one of you! Look here ladies!” they yelled.

Richard’s big eyes leaped from one woman’s face to another. The men continued screaming, but most of the women were chatting and talking. They didn’t seem to notice. Jack then placed Richard up onto his shoulder, and both men began pulling randomly women’s sleeves and pointing up to the boy. There were hundreds and hundreds of women exiting the building. Finally a woman emerged from out of the crowd. The blur of faces was suddenly just one. It was his mother. Jack placed Richard onto the ground and he immediately ran over and wrapped himself about his mother’s leg.

“That little tyke has been here all day,” they informed the lady, cheerfully. The woman wasn’t smiling. She wasn’t smiling at all. Her face just seemed to get redder and redder by the instant. “Ahh, don’t get me wrong,” Jack interjected in a sort of defense. “He wasn’t any trouble.”

“No, no,” Bob joined in the chorus. “He’s a heck of a good kid. It was fun having him around for awhile. He was absolutely no trouble at all.” The woman was not hearing a word. Her face was crimson with embarrassment and outrage.

“Yes, yes, thank-you, I’ll take care of everything. I’m very sorry. It will never happen again; I assure you.”

She was not about to discuss this situation with strangers. She was embarrassed. What did these men think of her? What kind of mother did they think that she was? Why wasn’t a boy his age being kept somewhere, maybe with a relative or something? What was he doing out and wandering the streets of Lawrence by himself? She didn’t know what to say, or how to defend herself. What possible excuse could she offer? There was no excuse. She wanted to just disappear. She could die. She wanted to cover her face and hide.

It was too late. The damage had been done. Now she just wanted to escape, to get away from these men and their inquiring eyes as quickly as possible. She couldn’t even look them in the eye. She hung her head, and began busying herself with the task of untangling the frightened boy from her side. He didn’t want to let her go, but she un-peeled him.

“Hold my hand,” she directed the boy. “Thank-you, thank-you very much, this will never, ever happen again,” she told the two men.

“Oh, that’s okay. No problem. He was very well-behaved.”

“Yes ma’am, he is a fine little boy.” They were both well aware of the mother’s anger and nervousness. They could see that junior was in trouble and they were prompting for a reprieve. “He did everything that he was told to do. I wish my two at home had a little of Richard’s temperament.”

“Don’t be too rough on him, ma’am. He was well intentioned and everything worked out just fine.”

“Yes, yes, thank-you.” And Mary scurried off dragging Richard by the arm. She was rushing so fast and holding Richard’s arm up so high, that the boy’s feet were barely hitting the ground. He kept losing his step and falling to his knees, but she would snatch him up quickly to a standing position. He tried running to keep up with her, but she was going too fast. They crossed the highway with him half flying through the air and half dragging on the ground.

Richard was excited. He kept waving to his new friends, Jack and Boss, over his shoulder as he bounced along his way. He wanted to tell his mother everything about his day. It had all been so exciting. But the traffic was so loud, and there were hundreds of women talking and laughing. He was so happy to have found his mother. It was a miracle that nothing had befallen her. She was safe and she hadn’t even received his goodbye kiss. It was probably his presence so nearby that had saved her from any disaster. He had done the right thing. Everything had turned out fine. They had found one another, and his mother was safe.

For some strange reason his mother was nearly yanking his arm out of its socket. It hurt. She was in such a rush that she just didn’t realize what she was doing, he thought. He tried to tell her that she was hurting him. She paid no attention. He tried pulling his hand from hers but it was not possible.

When they finally got across the street, his mother quickly ducked into an alley dragging him behind.

“You’re hurting my arm Mama. You’re hurting me.”

“What do you think you are up to?” she yelled.

“I … I ...”

“Are you trying to make a damn fool out of me?”

“No ... I ... I ...”

“What were you doing over there?” she screamed. Her scream was so intense, it startled Richard.

He looked up into her enraged face. He didn’t understand. Why was she so angry? Jack and Boss had told her how good he had been. He wanted to tell her that she had left without kissing him goodbye and that he was worried about her.

Before he had a chance to explain adequately, her right hand cracked against the side of his head. It was a hard blow and it made the boy stagger to one side. He was quickly straightened up when her left hand caught him forcefully on his opposite cheek. He was stunned and wobbling. What had he done? His ears were ringing. He covered his ears with his hands and began to cry. This is what he had always done at these times. She was yelling and he was staring into her horrid, screaming, hellish face. Her face was so ugly and filled with hate. He had thought that something had changed with all this kissing and hugging business. She began to strike him harder and more ferociously. He covered his head with his arms and fell to his knees and screamed pleadingly as she continued to beat him.

The blows stopped momentarily. He peeked up and into his mother’s eyes. A number of women were standing at the edge of the alley. They were yelling things at his mother. His ears were still ringing and he couldn’t understand what they were screaming. His mother yelled back at them. She told them that it was none of their business. She grabbed onto his hand and yanked him from the ground. She pushed and shoved her way through the crowd of women bundling at the alley’s edge.

She dragged him home, sometimes just yanking him through the air. He had stumbled several times and had ripped holes in the knees of his pants from banging onto the sidewalk. He had cuts on his knees and he could feel blood running down his legs. He didn’t speak. He was much too frightened. His mother had lost her mind again! Was this horrid person still his real mother, he questioned? Her face had changed completely. It was now hateful and ugly. It was full of meanness. He dare not speak. He dare not cry. What would she do once they were home? What would this strange, ugly person do to him? How would he protect himself? He was too small. He could run, but where could he run to?

Once home, she flung him into his room and slammed the door shut. He scurried under the bed and into the farthest corner. He hugged his knees up to his chin and rocked back and forth while he cried. His mother was pacing up and down the kitchen ranting and raving. She had lost her mind. She was acting crazy! She was another person.

“Trying to make a fool out of me, I should break every bone in your body! You little fool! What in hell do you think I am? Everybody looking at me! What kind of mother do they think I am?” She was pacing back and forth in the kitchen and screaming to the heavens. The bedroom door would open momentarily and he would shiver and shake with fear. His heart would jump. “What kind of mother do they all think that I am now!” He cringed at the thought that she would come for him under the bed to beat him once again. When the door would shut, he would feel safe for a moment. Finally there was quiet. He would nevertheless remain under the bed.

His older sister arrived home from her day at school. His mother then screamed the whole day’s events to her in detail. She screamed and screamed and screamed! Richard feared that at any moment she would send herself off into another rage and bust into his bedroom. The door flung open.

“And if you ever do that again I’ll knock your damn teeth out! Let me tell you buster, I will knock some sense into that dumb skull of yours! You can bet on that, little man! If you forget this time, you can be sure that you will not forget the next time!”

And so the little boy had truly learned his lesson. He would never do that again. He would never, ever do that again.

He would not make the same mistake twice.

He would never again feel sorry for his mother.

He would never, ever again worry about her.

He would not be so foolish as to be swayed by her apparent need for his kiss, or his hug.

No no no ... never again ... never, ever again would he hug his mother.
No no no ... never again ... never, ever again would he kiss his mother.
No, not under any circumstance would he be so foolish again ... not EVER.

Monday, November 01, 2010

This is a chapter from my book "America on Strike." If you are interested you can click on the link at the right of this page for more information and instructions for purchasing this unique volume. If you don't know the history of the American labor movement, you don't know American history. Thanks.

Haymarket Riot of 1886

What happened in Haymarket Square in Chicago in 1886 and the eighteen month controversy that followed, should be as commonly known to the general American public as the witch trials in Salem and the McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s.

August Spies, Albert Parsons, Sam Fielden, Adolf Fischer, George Engel, Michael Schwab, Louis Lingg, and Oscar Neebe were all arrested and charged with murder. The prosecution charged them with being involved in a conspiracy to incite a riot which culminated in the death of seven policemen and several citizens. On November 11, 1887 Spies, Engel, Fischer and Parsons were hung. Governor Oglesby had commuted the sentences of Schwab and Fielden to life imprisonment via their personal request and public apology. Those who were executed said that they were innocent of all charges and would not accept less than liberty and exoneration.

Louis Lingg committed suicide. Oscar Neebe was given fifteen years. The men were all found guilty, based not on any direct evidence but on previous writings and public statements and comments. In effect, seven men were sentenced to death for speaking and writing their opinions and ideas in and unpleasant and admittedly aggressive and belligerent manner. They were avowed and admitted anarchists. An anarchist believed in the organized overthrow of what they considered to be a “classist” society and world. Like our Revolutionary forefathers before them, they did not eliminate violence as one of the possible tools which could be used in this theoretical revolution.

It has been accepted and confirmed in all the history books that I have read thus far, that the trial of these men was a farce. It was totally corrupted and illegal. The jury was hand picked, summoned by a special bailiff instead of by random selection. Witnesses for the prosecution were bribed, bought or willingly lied under oath. Witnesses for the defense were intimidated, threatened, offered bribes, even kidnapped and hidden away until the completion of the trial. Police officers falsified their testimony. Only three of the defendants could even be proved to have been at the assembly. Furthermore, the riot was not a riot until 180 trained, riot squad, armed policemen disobeyed direct orders from the mayor and proceeded to inflame and incite the crowd.

Chicago had been a “hot” town for labor riots and social discontent for over a decade. Before the Haymarket Square Riot at the McCormick Harvester Company, there had been a lockout. McCormick had called in the police, brought in Pinks (Pinkertons), hired scabs, strike breakers and agitators.

Discharged workers and locked out union members gathered outside of the plant a few days later for a protest rally. Mr. McCormick decided to call the local police under Captain John Bonfield, a substantiated and demonstrated violent union opponent, to come out and supervise the affair. At the same time McCormick decided to close down his plant for the afternoon, and announce a new, shorter, eight hour day to his recently hired scab employees. The men outside were fired and replaced by these scabs because they had petitioned Mr. McCormick for just such an eight hour day a few days before. When the scabs, the pinks, and McCormick’s hired thugs exited the gates to the plant, violence erupted. A half dozen, unarmed strikers were killed and several others were injured and maimed in the melee. It is interesting to note that Mr. McCormick was not arrested at this point for being a part of a conspiracy to incite a riot which ended in the death of several human beings - which was the traditional practice for union leaders involved in similar social disasters.

In response to this provocation and slaughter, the union wrote up and dispensed pamphlets calling for another rally - this time at Haymarket Square. Its members were advised to come prepared for violence.

Mayor Carter H. Harrison attended the meeting to monitor any problems. Later that evening as rain began to fall, and anticipating no trouble, he left. At the trial, he subsequently testified that everything was peaceful. Even the radical speakers he felt to be non-threatening - their speeches “tame.” The speakers were concerned with union recruitment and potential future benefits. No one was being encouraged to riot or engage in violence. He stopped by the police station and told Captain Bonfield to dismiss the riot squad, no action was necessary. Bonfield disregarded the mayor’s orders and sent 180 riot squad policemen over to the area with orders to dismiss the crowd of trouble makers.

The relatively small crowd was already dissipating due to the weather and the late hour. The riot squad proceeded to the speaker’s podium and began their unwarranted, unnecessary and un-called for dismissing tactics when a bomb was exploded within their ranks. A Sergeant M. J. Degan was killed instantly and six other officers were seriously injured and died later in the hospital. The Union was, of course, blamed for this act of individual violence - even though it was well known that management had a long record of sabotage, violence, and even tossing bombs. Management violence, since substantiated historically, was a common tool used to discredit and turn public opinion against union activism. But, in this instance, though unproved, and unsubstantiated, the Union was advanced as the culprit. None of the indicted defendants could be traced to the bombing. The actual bomber was never discovered. The trial garnered publicity from all over the country and around the world. America was divided. Teddy Roosevelt expressed in a personal letter that he wished that he and some of his boys with their rifles could get to these radical troublemakers. Samuel Gompers, not a supporter of union violence, condemned the strike but asked for the release of the accused. All over the world advocates for both sides were speaking out on the controversy.

No one doubted that a meeting had taken place. But the right to engage in lawful assembly was guaranteed by the Constitution, as the right of a free people. No one doubted that a bomb had been thrown. No one doubted that seven policemen were now dead because of it. But a good many doubted that the men currently under indictment were responsible. Nearly everyone who knew the facts agreed that there was no evidence to convict these particular men of any crime. Any nut cake could have thrown the bomb, non union or pro-union; management, strike breaker, hired thug or Pinkerton. But the business community and an outraged general public wanted somebody hung. They wanted somebody hung as an example that this type of behavior could not be condoned in the United States of America. This was not Mother Russia, violent land of the Czars. This was not Paris or Berlin. This was America, the land of opportunity, the nation of immigrants. This was the land of the free and the home of the brave. This was the country that people escaped to, not escaped from. The German, Polish, ungrateful, new-comer, immigrant bomb-throwing radicals needed to be taught a lesson. Not here ... not in this country could such behavior be tolerated.

The convicted men were inspirational and courageous at their trial and the subsequent hanging. Spies gave a speech at the trial that would have made Patrick Henry, Tom Paine and John Adams sit up and take notice. In it, he invoked the spirits of Socrates, Jesus Christ, Giordano Bruno, Huss and Galileo. He quoted Venetian Doge Faberi ... “My defense is your accusation; the cause of my alleged crime your history.”¹ He condemned the State’s contemplated murder of eight men whose only crime had been to speak the truth. He named names; he accused his accusers. He exposed their lies, their bribes and their misrepresentations.

Albert Parsons had initially escaped, but nevertheless turned himself in, knowing that he would be murdered, or executed. He did so because he would not let his courageous and falsely accused friends stand alone. Oscar Neebe, who was only sentenced to fifteen years, requested the court to hang him also. He would rather be a dead martyr than an innocent man condemned to prison. Fischer said; “I was tried in this room for murder and convicted of anarchy ... this verdict is a death-blow against free speech, free press and free thought ...”²

A new petition for clemency was brought to Governor John Peter Altgeld in
1893. On June 26, 1893 Samuel Fielden, Oscar Neebe and Michael Schwab were given an absolute pardon. The Governor explained his reasons in writing.

He stated that the jury had been selected inappropriately. Instead of the names being drawn from a hat, across class structures, a special bailiff had been appointed, Henry L. Ryce. Mr. Ryce had stated his prejudices against the defendants openly. Ryce boasted that these men would be hung. Otis S. Favor, a potential juror and friend to Mr. Ryce, filed a voluntary, unsolicited affidavit stating the truth and fact of Mr. Ryce’s unabashed and vocal prejudices against the defendants. Ryce had told potential jurors that it was his intention to provide a continuous supply of prejudiced jurors to use up the defense’s challenges and guarantee a panel of jurors prone to convict. The defence appealed to the court when they realized that all the potential jurors were hand picked for their prejudice and non-labor status in the community. The judge denied the appeal. The jurors own answers to pretrial questioning provided witness to the fact that they were incompetent due to their personal prejudice.

Next, Governor Altgeld pointed out that the defendants had not been proven guilty of the crime charged in the indictment. They had been charged with the murder of patrolman Mathias Degan. Many of the defendants were not even present at the scene of the murder. No evidence was brought against the defendants proving any involvement in the crime. The defendants were convicted on their previous published anarchist’s literature. In some of this literature revolution and or violence was approved or advocated. Governor Altgeld further stated that if violence was the cause of Patrolman Degan’s death it was the uncalled for violence of Captain Bonfield who had his men attack a group of peaceful citizens who had assembled in a vacant lot to discuss their options. Captain Bonfield attacked this group on May 1. The union men not only dispersed as requested; they began running for their lives. Bonfield’s men shot a number of these men in the back as they ran. Four were killed and several were injured. If men could be convicted of murder for writing about violence, certainly men who created violence and openly precipitated hatred and revenge in the hearts of the innocent, could be convicted with much greater justification.

Captain Ebersold, Chicago chief of police at the time of the Haymarket Riot, further condemned the actions of others in the police establishment of inciting the riot and seeking to cause more and additional trouble even after the bomb had been thrown on the fourth of May. A Captain Schaak, Ebersold claimed, wanted to plant more bombs and stimulate more violence. His motivation being notoriety, personal ambition and fame.

Neebe, Altgeld charged, shouldn’t have been put in jail in the first place. The prosecution admitted, at the trial and in front of the jury, that they had insufficient evidence to convict Neebe. And on top of all of this, Altgeld stated, the judge himself, was prejudiced. He allowed inadmissible evidence and testimony for the prosecution while denying necessary and pertinent information from the defense. Even the judge’s remarks were picked up on by the prosecution and used to sway the jury.³

The story of these men is a story of heroic proportions. In a time of flagrant social, injustice, they stood up with their lives. These men were true American heroes fighting for the rights and the dignity of their fellow men within the American structure. These are the men that have earned their fellow workingmen much of what every workingman thinks, today, to be his birthright. The hanging of these men stands as a dishonor to our system. Of course, it was not the first such dishonor and it would not be the last.4

1- The Annals of America, Vol. 11, page 117, August Spies: Address at the Haymarket Trial.
2- The Rise of Industrial America, Page Smith.
3- The Annals of America Vol. 11, pages 438-444. John Peter Altgeld: Reasons for pardoning the Haymarket Rioters.
4- Works used in this essay include: Roughneck, Peter Carlson; The History of American Labor, Joseph G. Rayback; The Annals of America Vol. 11, 1884-1894; Recent American History, Lester Shippee; The Rise of Industrial America, Page Smith.