Nothing New Under The Sun

Ethel sums up her thoughts about the current election with this look at past politics.    Dirty tricks abound but remember, we Americans are the “civilized” ones.

Nothing new to see here . . .

If you think political dirty tricks began with our time, you’re way wrong. George Washington, refused to run for his third term, partly because, “The attacks upon me have been so exaggerated and indecent they should not be directed to a convicted criminal, much less one who has given time, fortune and health to facilitate the founding of this Country.”

One of the most vicious political wars was waged between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, opponents in 1800, and now no one knows how, but a bad one was when a Baltimore newspaper received a ‘truthful’ report of the death of Jefferson at his Monticello home.

With the news traveling ‘by foot’ in those days, it was almost two months later before it was discovered that the death story was a ‘dirty trick’ to keep Jefferson from being elected. Obviously, the trick didn’t work.

Lincoln, so revered today, was maligned in a manner few other aspirants to the high office has ever been.  Some of the attacks accused him of being a coward, drunkard, and that his election would bring a deluge of rape, incest and adultery. And name calling reached its apogee (or its opposite) when, in then current publications, he was called an ape, fiend, ghoul, knave, lunatic, outlaw and a traitor.

Many presidents have been charged with drunkenness including Grover Cleveland, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant, William Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt, Warren Harding, and George W. Bush. And, with two or three of those names, it just might have been true.

One man, a certain E. P. Cramer, in later history, admitted before an Investigating Committee, that he began the whispering campaign that the later Roosevelt (FDR) was insane, and therefore incompetent. Tag ends of that ‘dirty trick’ still crop up in stories of that era, and FDR, though his, and his wife Eleanor’s  personal lives were quite outside conventional codes and standards, they were still far from being incompetent, illegal, or insane.

In the hot summer of 1928 when Al Smith was ‘running’ for President, his meetings were made unbearable, and people left in droves, because his opponents bribed men to ‘fire up the winter furnaces to full blast’ pouring heat into the crowded halls where the people were already overcome with the torrid summer weather. And all in the era before air conditioning was even dreamed of.

A century or so ago, and aimed at a more innocent, and far less educated electorate, and before there were neither radio or, tv, much guile was used as dirty tricks.  Calvin Coolidge told a favorite story which played upon that innocence of our ancestors. One man, running for high office, spread a whispering campaign that his opponent “practiced Nepotism, that his sister was a Thespian, that his brother was a Homo Sapien and that he had Matriculated in college.”

And those words, both true and very flattering, yet were unfamiliar and unknown to most voters, and proved to be the pivotal point in defeating the poor bewildered man against whom they were turned.

John Adams ordered and paid for, out of his own pocket, a billiard table along with special accessories. But, due to a book keeping error, those items. were initially, but quickly corrected, were in error, included in a statement of expenses to the While House, to be paid for by the electorate. But Adams, to his dying day, was constantly kept explaining why he had allowed ‘the people’ to pay for his Billiard table. Dirty tricks.

They are a long familiar part of the way we elect officials and as long as people are still human, the dirty tricks will roll along, too.  Here are a few we have listened to.

Did Kennedy’s father ‘buy’ his son’s election??  Was Carter an uneducated farmer??   Does Romney have Swiss (untaxable) Bank Accounts??  Did Viet Nam give LBJ huge financial gains??  Did McCain choose Palin for her celebrity appearance to offset both Obama and Hillary Clinton??  Were others paid to hide the problems that later ruined Edward’s entire life as well as his run for the Presidency??

Doesn’t much matter.  If it’s not these questions, it will be others, for as long as there are high level political goals, and big money to be made, there will be ‘dirty tricks’. And even with today’s speed in correcting such errors, such ‘tricks’ are of common usage and any corrections are usually far too little and too late.

Hello Young Lovers Part IV

Below is one of our favorites written by Ethel.  The basic idea for it started in the 1960’s when she worked for the Murray Eagle newspaper and wrote a column by the same name as this blog.  Go figure.  It has evolved over the years but remains timeless . . .

Ethel is doing quite well and we hope to see her writing again here soon.  Best wishes to all.

We’ve had a love of our own . . .

I recently turned a hallway corner and startled a young couple holding each other closely, sharing a moment of love and tenderness.

As soon as they saw me, they hurriedly stepped apart, blushing, embarrassed, and their reaction was obvious, that I, of another generation, could not in any way, understand their actions or what they were feeling.

I was momentarily tempted to pause and tell them that indeed I did understand.  That I was intensely aware of their happiness, and  could feel the emotion that passed between them, because, as the old song says, ”I had a love of my own, you see, I had a love of my own.”

We live in a world that seems programmed to think that love, and all its glory that ‘makes life worth living’, is meant only for the young.  And that if you are 50, or anywhere beyond, that love is foolish and out of the question.  That any  marriage, at those ages, must be nothing but empty, hollow arrangements and could never have the least thing to do with that most ‘tender emotion.’

How wrong they are.  Oh, heavens, how wrong they are and how much they have to learn as they are taking their first startled steps into the world that is at the heart, and the reason for every birth, book, opera, song, poem, sculpture or work of art.

They were so young, so starry eyed and they think the joys and love they are experiencing can, in no way, be understood by people their parent’s age.  But they must be excused, because every generation thinks the wonders and joys of love and sex are unique to them.

It is the wise (blessed? lucky?) ones who go through the young infatuations, and though moved, recognize them for what they are. To enjoy, learn, but carefully, oh most carefully avoid any acts or commitments that could entail a child, marriage, and so often a divorce.

I read, and still like to refer to Margaret Mead’s book, the world-wide classic, Coming of Age In Samoa written in 1925, after she lived there as an Anthropologist.  Among other aspects of their life, Mead wrote of Coming of Age, or as we say, the Teen years. In Samoa at that time, love and sex were routinely expected, accepted, and tolerated with no criticism. She compared sex as arriving to those of those early years, like  flash fires, bolts of lightning and over just as quickly.

However, if a Samoan pair conceived a child, (and here their rules were adamant and frighteningly strict), and with no censorship, they were automatically considered ‘married’ and would continue that responsibility until the child (children) reached adulthood.  And horribly harsh punishments followed if those rules were ignored.

But then, when those ‘family’ years were completed, they had done their duty to the next generation and were free to do as they pleased, and again with no criticism.  What did it matter, they said. It is the children who are important and must be nurtured.

But back from Samoa to my encounter in that hallway.  Teen-age love comes, and goes, and that young pair I interrupted  has so much to learn.  How swiftly that first wild love can fling them into a marriage they’re not ready for.  A child?  A divorce?  And leaving both disillusioned, bitter and knowing that the rest of their lives have been irrevocably changed.

But life does not stand still. We get older, hopefully wiser and no matter how badly burned or blessed with that first Bolt of Lightning, time passes, life heals, and then another love enters people’s lives.  Not the same as the first,  not taking the place of any cherished memories, and not to be criticized or explained, but entirely different. And welcome.

Yes, I passed the young couple I had surprised without seemingly giving them more than a passing glance, but they could not and can not know what thoughts and  memories they stirred, and at the same time, what hopes and fears of where their  lives, almost out of their control, would now go.

I knew they thought I would/could not understand them, but I understood so well that a smile touched my lips as I recalled  another song that tells us  “Love is wonderful, the second time around.”  And whoever penned those words knew exactly what they were talking about.

And while we’re on the subject, and not in Samoa or even in that hallway, and as if you don’t already know, I’ll tell you a secret.   If you’re lucky, the third time is nothing  to be  underestimated either.  And a fourth time?  You’re asking the wrong person, but each one, in its own way, is distinct, different, wonderful.

Oh me, and all this from a moment’s encounter in a out-of-the-way hallway.

Happiness and Life’s Changes

Ethel has certainly been going through some life changing experiences, and as she does so, she continues to teach us how to handle and accept what comes.   Back from death’s door, perhaps without as much energy as the ‘old’ Ethel, she remains sane and strong, and reads these posting carefully so i have to careful what I say . . .  : )

Here is one of Ethel’s earlier columns, and I think it speaks well of her current life and that of all of us.

Some years ago, a friend asked me to write about how ‘people like me’ survive the deaths of those close to you and then able to go on and lead happy lives. At first I pretended to be puzzled, and asked what she meant, for I eat, sleep, work, play, worship. What else is there?

But, truly, I knew what she meant. She was saying, “Ethel, in the time of only one short year, you lost your husband, your Gram, and your children grown and living their own lives, so what did you do…what do you do…to be as happy as you are?”

So I figured it was time to look back at the Ethel I was, and the Ethel I suddenly became the startling moment when I sat at my desk and received a sad phone call telling me that AW was dead. And no matter how it’s worded, there are no ‘right’ ones.

So I took time and compared ‘the two Ethels’ and Lordy, Lordy what a lot of difference there is.

At first there was absolute trauma. Paralysis. It was an event so new, so unexpected, so out of context to my life, that I lived through the immediate events as if hypnotized. The awful arrangements of cemetery, funeral, casket, what clothes for him to wear, should I take off his rings or not?  And horror of horrors, questions were very carefully asked, what about all that gold in the teeth?  Yeah, that, too. Terrible questions.

And then…there were so many people (thank heaven’s) helping and telling me what had to be done, that I had to be careful to make sure my husband’s funeral was what I wanted, and not what others wanted it to be. Hard.

But after the excitement (yes, there is excitement) was over, came the long haul. And it is a long haul, and I can speak only for myself.

I was scared. Scared as I never had been before in my life. Could I survive? Emotionally? Mentally? Financially? Spiritually? I felt utter terror, absolute isolation, and it was only the established routine of work, eat and sleep that saved my life.

Emotionally I didn’t think or feel, and almost became a robot and taking each day, hour and minute as it came. Not looking ahead. Not even for a day.

Mentally? Well, again, a demanding job kept me balanced and busy and I still thank God for it.

Financially, I did not spend one dime that I didn’t absolutely have to, until I found out that I could ‘make it’ on my own, but I must admit, there were many times of worry and fear. And over and over I asked myself, ‘Has anyone else ever, ever, ever been left as alone as I was?’

Spiritually? Oh, there is the saving grace that saw me through and remains my foundation. It saw me through the anger that came. Anger to think that I could be left alone. Anger at AW for dying (Oh yes, don’t be surprised, there is that, too.) Anger at the world that it could laugh, play, travel, visit and love, while I walked around wounded and bleeding.

It saw me through the despair of lonely days and nights and gave me the wisdom not to join clubs “guaranteed to find a companion.” It gave me courage not to cling to my sons for emotional support. You see, I’d seen young people crippled by a sorrowing parent and swore not to do likewise to mine.

It saw me through the fear of changing my life style from the one I had known into an unknown one.  What else?  My life had changed and it saw me through finding new friends who, first, did not replace those who had died; second, do not take the place of children, and third; did not become crutches for me to lean and weep upon.

No, but it brought me friends and activities that were new. But, you can’t be in a hurry, for it takes time. Took a long time for me not be feel guilty when I found myself laughing and happy  with people, and in situations that neither my husband, sons, or dear Gram had heard of or known.  I can tell you,  it’s a weird feeling, for it truly becomes a new life.

Yes, the spiritual life brought me through the guilts that clung to me as I carved out a new life filled with people I hadn’t even heard of while Brad lived. They, of course, now know my grown sons and all is well and good.

For me it is the only way. For me, that of  sorrowfully clinging to the old life, after it was irrevocably gone, would have not only crippled me but crippled all close to me.

So I chose to survive and be happy. It’s not knocking the old one bit, it’s just ultimately being able to say “That life is over. Now, Dear God, whatever comes next, bring it to me, for I’m ready.”

And that’s how ‘people like me’ again become happy and able to live a full and good life.  None of those I lost that terrible year would know those who now make up my life now, but that’s okay.

Ethel’s Creed

Ethel continues to mend, and is wishing everyone well.  She is unable to take calls or visits yet, but we hope that will change for the better soon.

Here is her “creed.”  It has hung in her kitchen for years . . .



So simple.

My Consciousness has never confused

Itself with my temporary body of Ethel Ohlin Bradford.


Before I came to earth, I was the Same.

I lived in a child’s body, but I was the Same.

I grew into womanhood,

Yet there was no change in Me. I was the Same.


When it was time for this body to marry and have children,

I joyously did so, but I remained the Same.


                                     And though this body has lived, worked and matured

I remain the Same.


And I learned

There are no Baby Spirits, but

There are Spirits in Baby Bodies.

There are no old-worn-out Spirits, but

There are Spirits in Old-Worn-out Bodies,



Throughout Eternity, though the Dance of Creation

changes around Me,

I shall ever be the Same.


The Creed

of the

One who lives in the temporary body known as

Ethel Ohlin Bradford


Written circa 1990.