Notes From My Refrigerator Door


I died as a rock and was born as soil,

I died as soil and was born a plant.

I died as a plant and was born an animal.

I died as an animal and was born a human.

I will die as a human

And become One with The Source.

(There are millions  (billions?) of lives at each stage, but evolution is eternal)


Courage doesn’t always roar.

Sometimes it’s the quiet voice

At the end of the day, saying

“I will try again to-morrow.”


         The Masters are returning to earth, but they are coming unannounced. One might be on a lonely farm in some far off country. Any country. Any color skin. A taxi driver. Any degree of education. Waiting upon you in a store. Maybe a leader in some small church. They are everywhere.

         Monasteries are becoming empty, but Masters and their disciples are springing up everywhere, like mushrooms in some moist field. We do not find them because they do not want to be found.


Be careful how you live.

You may be the only Bible

Someone else will ever ‘Read’.


There isn’t God and you

It is always God as you.

And you are that.  Right now.


Life is the only Reality.

Death is but a process in Infinite Life.

And it is not that the dead will live again,

Rather, that those who Live . . . . shall never die.



1. The Man (Woman)

2. The Message

3. The Movement

4. The Monument

5. The Money

6. The Museum Piece

   The further the Teaching grows away from the First   Message, the more hidden That Message becomes,  and is the reason why new Teachings are constantly being  born, as people strive to eliminate all the confusion of rules and regulations and get back to that first, sweet Message of Loving ourselves and each other.



Saddest Words of Tongue or Pen

 “It Might Have Been”

          A Cook Book is simply a cook book and unless you want to find a new recipe or check up on old one, it just sits on your shelf.

But I saw how a cook book restored an entire language to a man. A language long forgotten for it had not been spoken by or to him, since he had been a child of nine, and there he was in his 80′s.

That man was my father, Carl Ohlin, who came from Sweden with his parents, Peter and Maria as a 9 year old, and from that day forward, never heard Swedish spoken. The adult family worked hard to change their speech, and even in the  home, tried to speak nothing but English, and swiftly. Swedish  became a foreign language.

It wasn’t difficult for people coming here from other countries. because everyone, the church speakers, in stores, work places and the kids playing in the streets, all spoke English and so there was no use, time or interest, to continue with Swedish language.

To aid him, within just a year or two of his arriving here, Carl found a used, torn book in a gutter. Though he couldn’t read it, the book was obviously a discard, so he picked it up.   It was the adventure book of   “SHE”, written by Henry Rider Haggard, and with the help of an older friend, he learned to read and understand English from that book..

Dad, eventually became an avid reader of books of any and all genre, and one day, sitting at my kitchen table, enjoying the national drink of Sweden, a cuppa coffee, he told me of that book “SHE”. and how he had learned to read it.  And I laughed for that book has lasted through the years and I had read it not too long before.

Anyway, it was at this time that Dad told me that he had forgotten Swedish, the language of his childhood, and try as he might, could not remember even one word.

I was a young woman at that time, and Dad, who married late in life, was decades older than most parents, and was like a Grandfather to me.  I heard his words, but what he said seemed so remote that I couldn’t see what they really had to do with me. It took  years for me to realize of what value his words had been, and now  I would give much if I could spend a day with him at my kitchen table and a filled Coffee pot nearby.

But then, one day as I prowled the used books in Deseret Industry, I came upon, of all things, a Cook Book, written in Swedish. and bought it. thinking Dad might get a kick out of it. Which he did, and far more too, for it wasn’t more than a week or so later that he, again at my table, told me the Cook Book had given him back his native language

See, food is food and a cake cooked in Sweden, France, Italy or any other country is a cake and made in the same way,  So, if it says 1 cup of something or other, it wasn’t hard for Dad to figure it out when it meant flour, sugar or milk. And the same going on with the entire recipe.

He said it was easy to translate, oven, stove, stir, bake, the heat of the oven. Those words, in any kitchen are universal, and Dad found other words of that language coming swiftly to his mind. Once the door was open, he was able to step through and then, the way of reading and speaking Swedish came easily. Though long buried, once started, it came flooding back to him.

Yes, a cook book returned the language of Dad’s youth to him. Sadly, there was no one to speak it with, and I was too young, heedless. (stupid?) to bother. But now I wish I had asked him questions and had him respond in his first language. How I regret that I didn’t explore the miracle that happened at my own kitchen table.  And to my own father.

John Greenleaf Whittier said it best, “Of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are, ‘It might have been’ “.


Think it over . . .

The Good Book says not to lie, but I betcha there isn’t one person on this planet who can go a day without lying.

Some lies we need, and there are times when they are demanded if we want to get along in the world. They are so much a part of being civilized that not to lie can be cruel and inhuman. For good or bad, our culture is built around the lies we tell each other, and without them, this world might be better in some ways—but it could be much worse in other ways. Read on.

If we didn’t tell a few, we’d soon have no friends, and peppering a few lies here and there, is the only way to keep them, and I mean the friends. There’s no way you can tell another what you actually think of the clothes she often chooses, or what you really think of her boy friend, or worse still, her husband.

The old adage says: “White lies are the oil that keeps life’s ‘machinery’ running smoothly,” and the one who penned those words had ‘been around the block’ and knew the score.

Who could be so cruel as to tell a bride that she isn’t beautiful? Or that the new born baby isn’t a living doll, even though everyone knows that most newborns look like Winston Churchill, and he wasn’t famous for his good looks.

Wars are started when nations tell the truth about their plans, and peace comes only when the leaders start lying. Think it over, think it over.

And politicians have only one goal, i.e. to be elected. And the slogan of everyone of them, in their words is, “This world, (Country, State, City, County) is in a mess and I’m the only one who knows how to fix it.”  And every other word they speak is an outcrop of that lie.

And then they start telling us what we want to hear, and they know they’re lying, as when the first President Bush said, “Read my lips. I won’t raise your taxes. Read my lips.” Shakespeare said it best, “What fools we mortals be.”

But inasmuch as few of us will ever run for high office, let’s get down to the everyday kind of lie. Routine lies. “How are you?” we ask. the other says, “Fine,” Lies, both of them, because you were only saying “Hello” and not asking about their health,

My mother told that lie, and as a child I’d get mad because I often knew she wasn’t feeling fine, and wondered why she lied, No one criticized her, but I got punished when I lied. But now I know.

If I’m ill or there’s something wrong, I lie and tell no one. But, once I’m well, I tell everyone, but until then, I lie, and lie and lie. And silently apologize to Mom. But, getting down to just plain old everyday living, lies are not only wanted, but needed.   You meet your best friend for lunch and as she enters the cafe, you wonder what in the world happened to her hair. Doesn’t she have a mirror? Is she blind?   But as she sits down, your first words are, “Oh, you have a new hairdo.’

No,  you didn’t actually lie, but it was implied and she beams, thinks you are wonderful, and that she looks terrific.. You keep your thoughts to yourself, and everyone’s happy. And thank heaven’s you don’t know what she might be thinking about your hair.

Then, as you witness the wedding vows of some dear friend, you can almost see the divorce papers waving in the offing, but did you tell the truth, when she gushingly asked, “Oh, isn’t he just wonderful?”

No, but you actually agreed with her as you inwardly thought, “I think he’s a drip, a gambler, a cheat and before a year is over, you’ll be wondering why you married him” But you smile and lie. After all, you want to have her for a friend after the fireworks are over. Marriages, you know, can be of short stuff, while friendships are for life.

I know, and so do you, of huge sad happenings and sometimes tell a big lie (i.e.”I don’t know”) to not reveal what is past and gone. And, striving for someone else’s happiness, and basically, none of my business, my lips are sealed forever. And I know, and you too, know that there are other tales that if not covered with a silent lie, would have caused only heartache and sorrow. You be the judge.

But I’ve seen when the white lie, that sweet lie, the kind lie, the blessed lie is actually the kindest words ever spoken and as time passes, you know it was the most needed ‘truth’ ever given and was a blessing for all.

Yes, there are times when the White Lie is the most wonderful words ever spoken.. Are you still with me?

A Daily Schedule

And the value there in . . .

If you haven’t yet typed out your Daily Schedule, there can’t be a better time to do it. It’s an old, old Zen teaching, but don’t let that bother you. It’s lasted through the centuries and you won’t be the first one to take it as your own. It’s what happens to good things.

Okay, begin with the time you plan to get from your bed each a.m. and then go on from there. Prayer? Before or after your shower and breakfast? Doesn’t matter, but get it down on paper and keep going. Job? Kids off the school? No two schedules will be alike, and yours will change with the seasons and years, but put down, in ‘black and white’ how you would like to have your good, ordinary life’s days spent. .

And before you complain, let me say that you’ll never be able to follow the schedule. There will always be a phone call. Someone at the door. A crying child. But you have, there in writing, what a good day would be. So, on those days when you feel like giving up, and before you start screaming, go to your schedule. It’s magic when needed, and is why the idea has lasted ‘forever’, and is even found in the hands of today’s therapists. It simply works.

Okay. So before you really get into a moody ole “Pity Party” and allow your entire day to be spent that way, go to your schedule and see what you planned to be doing at that exact hour of the day, and do it. Yeah, it might be the last thing in the world you want to do, but give yourself a big boot in the rear, and do it.

Doesn’t matter what it tells you to do. Maybe it says to sweep the porch and sidewalks, and if it’s winter, shovel the snow instead, but when that chore is finished, go see what your perfect day would have you do next, and do that, too.    A planned schedule is a life saver for within less than an hour your day will be changed for the better.

It is good to have as a base for everyday life, but after a big life crisis, such as a new job, children leaving to go away to school, or to marry, or your job takes you to a new city. or neighborhood, or, yes, even when the sorrow of death claims a loved one and you stand by a grave site for your last goodbye, knowing life will be different from then on, go to your schedule and let the miracles begin.

I first found this magic potion in The Empty Mirror, a Zen book by Jan van Willem, about his four years spent in a Japanese Zen monastery. The schedule can seldom be followed hour by hour and is adjusted over the years, but when life is broken or interrupted in some manner, go silently back to it and all will be well.

This daily plan was conceived and taught unknown centuries ago, and perhaps is needed more today than when first spoken.   Who knows, but there is peace to be found when we tread a familiar pathway. I’ve passed the idea along many times in my classes and it’s been welcomed and used.  Simply because it works.

The familiar routine, brings calmness, serenity, and healing to a restless, weeping heart. Yes, changes come, but good days will also come, and in doing so, God lets us know that, as the old hymn says, “All is well, all is well”.

Once, filled with confusion and anxiety, I turned to my schedule and found it was time to go to my room, close the door and meditate. Laughing, I followed my own words, did just that,  and realized that even my laughter helped me know that all was well again. And so it was and still is. And so be it.

Pregnancy Pillows

Freud would have clapped his hands in glee for a chance to unravel this twist.

Yes, that’s what the ad said, and it took but a few seconds to know that they weren’t selling pillows for rest or comfort, but a pillow to be tied around the waist and worn under the woman’s regular clothing so that she looked pregnant. I kept reading.

I don’t know if it’s some new fad, an ‘in’ thing, (the ad didn’t say), but the idea is NOT to be pregnant, but definitely look that way. Or, and this is Ethel’s mind working, just maybe to give some reluctant man a heart attack. Or leave town. Or ask you to marry him.

The Pillows come in different sizes, styles and shapes. If you want to look just a bit ‘broody’?  (The ad’s words) Well, the three-to-four month Pillow is suggested, but if you want to startle people, and have a more delicate air? More fragile? Read on.

They have exactly what you need for any reaction, from surprise to terror. Any of them can be yours instantly and with none of the usual complications. Obviously I’m not up to the latest styles and habits so I kept reading. I wanted to learn more.

All you need do, the ad told, is to choose the ‘right’ size and you’ll have people helping you from your chair, telling you not to over-do, and treating you as if you’re the most delicate thing around.   The reaction will differ with the ‘size’ pillow you buy. But, the ad promised, you’ll get action.

If you’re feeling devilish and want to have ‘fun’, (the ad’s words) get the eight-monther. While you’re convulsed with secret laughter (it says), the men will quickly give you their chair, and then just as quickly move to the other side of the room. And mentally wonder why you didn’t stay home, and at the same time worried you might sneeze.

And again going back to the ad’s words, you’ll really have the laugh ot the year if you step into another room for a moment and then return, slender as a willow and not pregnant at all. Fun???? That’s what the ad promised.

A full nine-month pillow wasn’t offered. I suppose that doesn’t look like fun and no one wants the ‘look’ when the fun’s gone.   And lest you think I’m joking just begin scanning the off-center magazines. You’ll find the ads,

Women must be hard to please. First was the fight for The Pill, to assure only wanted pregnancies.   Then came legal abortions for those who made a ‘mistake’. And now what comes next? Pillows to let the ‘liberated’ woman who wouldn’t go through a pregnancy for love nor money, able to have the look of the utter female. The Pregnant one.

Or just maybe there’s something going on with today’s world that I’ve missed and which every young girl reading this will say, Well, doesn’t Ethel know about this? And they’ll be right. I don’t know and have actually wondered if they are meant for Halloween? Maybe. Maybe. But that holiday wasn’t mentioned.

Freud would have clapped his hands in glee for a chance to unravel this twist. Or, and here I wonder, if there is some other reason for the Pillows, please let me, and a lot of other people, know about it.

For, seriously, it’d have to be a big reason, for pregnancy is not a joke. It is the genesis of the next generation, Not something to be put forth as a joke, but I suppose I’m not up to date on such things, And I’m just as pleased that I’m not.

What’s In A Name?

Labels for the time and place . . .

We say we only have one name, the one we were born with, but I find we not only have many names, but each one has a different persona.

Grandpa Ohlin called me and my siblings, Svenskas, and though I didn’t know that Svenska meant Swedish, I knew it was special and nice. And, as a child, Dad called me Flicka, and it was years before I knew that I, blonde, with white straight hair, was the only ‘Swedish’ child he had, for my siblings all had dark wavy hair. It’s been a lifetime since those names were used for me, but when I see them in print, I’m a child again, and for a moment am Flicka, Svenska.

Of course, in my teens I was another ubiquitous Blondie, and later on, came the teasing name of Blizzard Head, and, though it’s utterly impossible, but if I should ever hear that name spoken, without even looking I’d know it was Jake calling out to a twenty-year-old girl with blonde, ‘permed’ hair.   Oh, the power of a name.

Then Brad entered my life and gave me the love name of Butchie. Years later an old pal, Bill Bailey, came to visit and out of the blue called me Butchie, and I was tossed back in time to another Ethel. A nice name, Butchie, nice Ethel and nice Brad. Oh, yes, those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end . . . but they did.

Then there was Mrs. Bradford and the first time someone said, “Mrs. Bradford”, meaning me, and not Gram, I nearly fell over with shock. Me???   Me? Mrs. Bradford??? Yeah, and with Gram long gone, it’s no longer a shock to know it’s me they mean.

When I first started writing for the Green Sheet Newspapers, I used the alias of Trudy, and it was good, for it was under that name that I took my first steps in becoming the Ethel whose life has been formed by writing.

And then came those glorious years when I became Mom to two sons, and that was an entirely different person than any other before or since. A most wonderful, blessed name, one I wouldn’t give up for any other in the world. That’s me and always will be, for, to me there’s no better name, than Mom.

The name of Grandmother, conjures up a different Ethel, and once I invited a guest to a family get-together, and he later said, “I saw an Ethel today that I’ve never seen before,” and when I looked surprised, he said, “I saw several Ethel’s. You were friend, Mother, Mother-in-law, and Grandmother. It was fun to watch your different responses to different names and people. All nice Ethel’s, but all different from the one you are with me.”  Oh.

Names, names, names, and the older one gets, the more names and personalities we collect. A friend Richard says he sometimes feels he’s on a pogo stick trying to be his mother’s Dickie, his father’s Richard, and Dick to high school pals. Says he’s also Mr. ‘Jones’, as well as he’s Teacher  to others. All different names and roles of the same person, and all expecting, and, instinctively getting, different responses.

And you say you don’t do this? Maybe, but step back watch yourself, and I bet you’ll see a different person with your mother, spouse, children, boss, or employees.  And yes, oh yes, how about to your Bishop? Or Minister? And what do they call you?

I caught onto this dichotomy and tried to be the same person no matter what or who called me, but it wont work. You can’t speak to your mother as you do your boss, fellow-employees, spouse or children. I’m a different person to the salesman at the door, than I am to my grandkids, and still another to the one on the phone trying to get a donation, or to the repairman I’ve called to my home.

And you still think you have but one name? And all the same personality? Well, ho ho, ho and ho. Methinks you’d better think again.

Married For Life

But not for 24 hours a day . . .

It took me a long time to understand and respect things Gram would casually (? ) say, but so many of her thoughts have stayed with me, and I wish I could tell her how much her words, like those I write of today, have helped me.

“Ethel”, she said, “for a woman (and I came to know it’s also true for men) to be happy, she must find something, in addition to her family, that will bring joy into her life. And the more “hobbies” she has, the better off she’ll be.”

I listened, but really didn’t ‘hear’ her, for I was still in that euphoric stage when I thought that after marriage you automatically lived happily ever after. Impossible to think she could really mean that I might someday need anything besides my husband, her son, to bring me happiness.

But I also knew Gram didn’t waste words and so I filed her thoughts away into my mental computer, and, when the day did come, when ‘family’ wasn’t enough, her words re-surfaced and I began to follow her advice. See, she had ‘been there’ and was doing her best to pass the wisdom on to one she loved. Me.

Others have said it, too. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is the old peasant way of saying it. Pearl Buck, and I paraphrase, said that if a women tries to confine all her energies, attention and love, into the sole outlet of husband and family, she will put a burden on the relationship that it was never meant to bear. Oh.

The husband (or wife) will retreat (escape) in self-defense to TV, behind a magazine or newspaper, golf, the neighborhood bar, or other activity. And children, if outspoken, will tell you to ‘get off their back’, will stay in their room, ‘live’ at friend’s homes, retreat into silence or rebel in any of the thousand ways a teen can devise.

When I first did something that my husband had no interest in, I felt guilty, but I went ahead and was startled to find that he liked those times when his presence or participation wasn’t needed. And slowly I saw that he had his interests. And it was good.

What Gram had learned, as we all must if we are to gain any measure of happiness, is that not one of us can (or wants) to spend 24 hours a day, with just one person. No matter how loved that one might be.

Gram knew that kids grow up and leave home. Death does come, and that jobs, life and sickness, both mental and physical, can separate people. So, for our own balance we must find outlets that absorb and bring delight to us. In addition to our families.

Women’s lives were limited at Gram’s time, but I think ‘Cooking’ was her first, (or second), and it shattered her when she could no longer be mistress of her own kitchen. Gardening was her second (or first) and I never greet Spring without recalling her delight in ‘getting outside to plant and dig’.

I have mine, and if you haven’t found yours, get busy. For there are times in everyone’s life when spouse, children, job and even life seem to fail us. Yes, these are the times when some hobby or avocation can actually be a life line to your peace and sanity.

And one of the most succinct phrases of all, as true today as when she passed it along to me, with a wry smile on her face. “We marry for life, but not for twenty-four hours a day.” Wise, wise woman, and I hope you and you and you read and remember. Might save your sanity one of these days, too. Or his.

The Bra . . .

       The Bra is about the only article of women’s clothing that wasn’t first worn by men.

Don’t believe me? Well, just wander through illustrated history books a bit and as you look you’ll agree and laugh with me. Get out your Art Pictures of older English Royalty. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Pictures found etched on ancient Egyptian walls. And don’t forget the Bible.

For beginners, women in pants of any sort were absolutely unknown until quite a while after WW2. Women formed a highly praised branch of the US Army, the WACS, but they wore skirts. Unimaginable, but true. Regiment after regiment, and all in skirts.

Panty hose were worn by male noblemen at Shakespeare’s time and I’m sure they weren’t called Panty hose, for even on the stage today, they’re called Tights. But take a good look at them, and you’ll see they were the first panty hose.

And, to top off that long expanse of leg, the men set them off with Mini Skirts. No, they weren’t called mini skirts, but even a casual glance tells what they were. It took women well into the 20th century to claim not only the mini skirts, but everyone of the items mentioned above, Women were slow, slow, slow.

Legs were fetishes ‘back then’ even as now, but it was the male’s legs that wooed for attention, not the well covered female’s. It was the attire on the men’s legs that unashamedly was meant to catch the beholder’s attention. And I’m sure the women saw and followed the bait. .

No, they weren’t made of nylon, and they must have sagged and bunched at knees and ankles, but just the same . . . panty hose.

The Scots had their Kilts (skirts), and today still wear them for their formal attire. The Greeks had their white skirts and wore them for both battle and daily wear. ruffled, starched, standing out like to-day’s Ballerina tutu. Nothing new under the sun, and while women flaunt them all today, it was men who showed the way.

Abraham, and his brothers of Biblical times, as they herded their flocks across the hot sand, wore Kaftans. And the scarves they flung around their necks and heads the same as women do today when we want to be stylish, cool and casual.

Make-up was a male prerogative and they wore it long before Cleopatra put kohl on her eyelids, and henna to her nails and palms. Different than our make up kits, but the males of those centuries ago would eagerly use every item offered today.

And then we get to fancy shoes. We woman were still wrapping our feet in cloth to keep out the cold when men were wearing leather, fur and silk.

The shoes with long pointed toes were worn by men. The toes were much longer than we women have ever worn . . and were held up by ribbons fastened from the end of the point to the wearer’s hand, and when they wanted to impress someone, the ribbons were immediately put to one side and they walked carefully to make certain the toes did not get tripped over or walked upon by others. We women may have been slow to catch on, but it’s easy to see we brought about improvements. No be-ribboned toes for us.

Long ago Egyptian males wore ear rings and wigs. And think about it, but we’ve never, never seen pictures of  Benjamin Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, and Colonists of any standing with out their wigs, and wouldn’t recognize those men without wigs. And it’s the law in Great Britain that English Judges must still wear those stylized white curled wigs we wonder over.

Yeah, we women are late bloomers, but men, in some areas of the world, still cling to the old forms.

Now hair styles are a thing apart from clothing, but just the same, men found the comfort, styling and ease of the hair cuts that many women, and I’m one of them, wear today, but, men found that comfort and ease first of all.

Men never did wear bras, physically they’ve never needed them, but they made up   for it. Don’t ever forget those little items called Cod pieces that were so popular all through the 15th, 16th, and late into the 17th centuries. They were well padded. too.  And if some of you are so innocent you don’t know what Cod pieces were, well, Ethel isn’t going to tell you, Just Google it and laugh with me.

The same as men never needing our Bras, the Cod Piece is one we women will never copy, either. Have fun.

Pioneer Day In Utah


Forget all the movies you’ve seen about it . . .

Every year, every generation gets further and further from the actual Pioneer trek that Utah celebrates each Twenty-Fourth of July. At  one time, if your ancestors didn’t either ‘cross the Plains’ or ‘come round the Horn’ (Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of South America) you were out of sync, and were even criticized if you dared join in the celebration of that Day.

My ancestors certainly didn’t come ’round the Horn’ for that was expensive, while you could Cross the Plains by just having a good wagon, oxen, food, and stamina. That’s the breed my family came from and it’s a tale of a 14 year old lad whose mother, as did many women, ‘worked her way across the Plains’, and  her son herded cattle.

The tale comes from Ada Goodall Garrity, the youngest daughter of that boy, James “Jimmie” Goodall, who told that her father solemnly said that, “From the very first day of the journey, if I could’ve found a Wagon Train, or anyone, going the other way, I’d have been the first to join them.”

Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t say he’d forsake his church, but he did say that the trip was a nightmare that he never recovered from and paid for the rest of his life. A journey to never wish upon his  worst enemy.

So, having no money, he and other young lads, paid their way by herding cows and bulls. It was an absolutely vital job, for those cows meant their future food , milk, butter, cream and cheese. Their very lives depended upon those animals, and so had to be well tended, because, where they were going, there were no towns, or stores of any sort. Live or die, it was up to those Pioneers, and to be accomplished solely upon their work and what they brought with them.

It was the formation of the Wagon Train that made herding a horror. Up front and first in line,  were  the Leaders of the Train,  the Scouts. They put up ‘signs’ of some sort, to point the way over mountain passes, marked the best place to cross rivers, and they led the Train to protected areas where the oxen, horses, cattle and people could eat, find water, and rest for the  night.

In Second place were the wagons and people. Dozens of wagons and carts pulled by man or oxen, hundreds of people walking and countless men riding back and forth on horses, seeing that the sick and dying were cared for, that women in child birth were tended, and broken wagons repaired.

Forget all the movies you’ve seen. They are a farce and the people on the real wagon trains would never dream that the movies  were ever  intended to portray the actual journey they had made.

Then, behind all the wagons, horses and people came the cattle. Hundreds of cows and bulls formed a mile-long tail  of the already strung-out migration. And bringing up the very end of the whole,  were the young boys, prodding the slow or worn-out cows, chasing and capturing any that roamed, and finally, keeping them all moving so none were lost or left behind.

In other words, they breathed and ate the dust made by every person and animal that went before them. There were no paved roads, just dry dusty land and every step created more dust. It was recorded that the ‘dust laid low like a black cloud, and could be seen for miles.’

And those kids, only a few years from childhood, breathed that dust, night and day with never a breath of clean air from the time  they left the west bank of the Mississippi until they reached the valley of the Great Salt Lake. And hard for us to realize is that there were no towns, none at all. No homes, no drive-ins for a cold drink. Nothing, but dry land and its dust.

Jimmie’s daughter remembered her father saying he never, as long as he lived, was ever free of ‘that black cloud, for he coughed up its dust the rest of his life.’ Claiming his lungs brought part of the Plains right along with him into our valley, and stayed here.

We romanticize Crossing the Plains, and movies make a plastic dream of it, picturing people working, laughing, singing, dancing and praying, but those actually doing it, saw nothing romantic about it. It was outright hell for women, cruelly demanding on men, and often deadly for children.

The train stopped for nothing. They didn’t have the time to stop for sickness, birthing, broken bones, sick, worn out children, injured oxen, or death. Many would never complete the trip, but enough did, that we have the Salt Lake Valley of today. It was the survival of the fittest. Wait till night to bury the dead, say a prayer, shed a tear and then get your sleep so you will be ready for the next day’s work.

Those people would look at our cleaned-up and romanticized versions of their trek with the parades, and rodeos, and find them so far away from the truth of the Journey that they would wonder what the connection could be.   But anyway, if you’re of Pioneer stock or not, no one cares any more, just be glad for an extra holiday, and for whatever reason, have a Happy Twenty-Fourth.

Class – Let’s Get Some

I attended a class where “What Makes People Tick” was explored and some ideas were tremendous. and so I won’t forget them, I pass them along. And, at one point, the person who, for want of a better word, has Class was discussed.

The one with Class never runs scared. He is confident in knowing that one can meet life head-on and handle anything that comes. The same set of circumstances can come to two people, and, while one will be crushed and beaten, the one with Class will take a deep breath, swallow, hold his head high and go on.

Jacob had Class, Esau didn’t. And, if we look symbolically at Jacob’s wrestling match with the angel, we realize that those with Class often wrestle with their own ‘angels’ and win victories that mark them positively for the rest of their lives.

People with Class don’t make excuses. They take their lumps, cut their losses, and learn from the experience. And as my friend Jake, used to say, “Don’t complain, don’t explain, for neither will do any good. Just square your shoulders and go on from where ever you landed”. Took me a long time to figure out how smart he was.

Those with Class are considerate of others. They know that good manners are nothing but a series of small sacrifices. A ‘thank you’ , or a ‘pardon or excuse me’ are all wonderful ‘oil’ for our complicated society and make for smooth, pleasant relationships.

Class reveals an ‘aristocracy’ that has nothing to do with ancestors or money. The most affluent person can be totally rude and inconsiderate, while generations of low-income people may show Class in every pore.

Don Blanding said it succinctly in his poem “Vagabond House” about his two beloved dogs. He wrote, “Both are thoroughbreds, right from the start. One by breeding, the other by heart.” He was speaking of Class and I shiver as I read the words.

One with Class never tries to build himself up by tearing others down. Class is always ‘up’ and does not need to try to look better by knocking others down.

As Kipling wrote, one with Class can “walk with kings and keep the common touch and talk with crowds and keep his virtue.” Everyone is comfortable with such a one because he is comfortable with himself.

I can’t help but think of Eleanor Roosevelt,  First Lady when FDR was President.  Caught on camera, (no TV at that time), she was suddenly face to face with an official from a far Eastern nation, and there was no one to ‘do’ the introductions. She quite calmly said, “I don’t know how to address you, but I am so glad to meet you.” He smiled, told her what most people called him, and then the two of them conversed.

That was real Class, from both of them.

I saw, of course on TV, when a younger Queen Elizabeth showed her Class one day, when an overweight woman was presented to her. The woman began to make the traditional curtsy, but dropped down too far, and terror filled her face for it was obvious that the poor  woman  had reached the point of no return, and, on her own,  didn’t  have the power to get upright again.

But Queen Elizabeth, saw the sad predicament,  and, without a change of expression, she put one foot backward, held out her arm and with both arm and body stiff as boards she actually levered and pulled the woman upright and balanced again. The Queen then went on to the next person without a pause. I shivered as my respect for her went straight up. That, let me tell you was real Class.

If you have that trait your whole life will be smoother. so let’s both take a class on “Class” development, beginning right now.   I would welcome the company.