There’s Something Happening Here


I have just copied to here a comment I made on Facebook. But before printing it, I want to say that I am watching Rachel Maddow’s Town Hall meeting on MSNBC over the tragedy in Flint, MI. Listening to these folks, I see plainly that the people of Flint, and probably all of Michigan, are being ignored by their Governor Rick Snyder, and possibly by a lot of people in their state government, and the wealthy folks who have benefited financially from the shortcuts made because of providing water, a right for every single person in the state. These people need to be tried for murder for the deaths of children that have died from the lead in the water in Flint, MI.

I see similar things happening in other states, state governments who are not interested in their citizens, but only in their own pocketbooks. I live in Texas, and the horrible things going on here are not for my benefit. Children and minorities in particular are being targeted. My own generation of people are obviously wanting to get rid of the following generations because they fear the feelings of people from my own grandchildrens’ generations. They care not what they are going to leave their own grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren and down the lines, as long as they get theirs now.

I wish I could be an avenging angel, or goddess, and come down on them. Yet while I am not a christian, I definitely believe that vengeance is the business of the God/desses, and not mine. I have been given the right for only my own soul and character.

But as I said in the paragraph below, I am a so-called “privileged” white person, but I have lost many of my own freedoms, and am quite frankly fearful of those whiter, and wealthier, and more powerful than I am. I have only one vote, but I used it every time I get the chance, and will do as long as I live.

Carol Stepp
Austin, TX

The following is a paragraph I copied over from my Facebook page, which brought about this blog.

I am not so often heard because I have lived through too many political incidents over the 75 years of my life, and I have to deal with both clinical depression and PTSD. So I stay away from things that make me angry, or overly upset. I do not understand why there is so much hostility between people who are supposed to be on the same side. So I go my way, and have already decided who I am going to vote for in the primary. I want no arguments or debates with anyone. What so many people are not understanding right now is that people like me, of a certain age, and who have seen so, much, is that I remember – I was 22 when Kennedy was killed, I watched the civil rights movement and its aftermath, I remember MKL Jr. and Bobby Kennedy so well, and I have heard from too many resources that what is happening today is that specific people are trying to get even with us, the liberals, for the 60s. I see hopes lost, and peace between blacks and whites being eroded on a daily basis; I see the black people where I live (I am white) not understanding, or maybe n
ot caring, about what is going on in the world. I see them afraid of white men with guns. I am a white woman and I’m afraid of white men with guns. So many of my own liberties have been run over during these last several years. I will be doing a great deal of talking and making a little oratory next month, Black History Month. But my age, and my knees, and just plain tiredness over having to fight battles I fought 50 years ago having to be fought again, and not as many younger people fighting those battles. I am sorry that things I see are in history books now, and not being learned. But never will I quit talking about it, and thinking about it, as long as I am still alive. And I think I am going to put this in a blog, so you will see it again since my blog is attached to Facebook.

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Christmas for the Elderly


I wrote this in 2014, sending it out again for 2015.

carolstepp

I still think it is too early to really think about Christmas, but since most folks around me don’t think so, I’ll go ahead and write this blog.

I am among the elderly. I will be 74 in about three weeks, so I have an idea about what we want. Most of us don’t need any more talcum powder, or perfume, or nighties or bath robes. Most of us have homes full of things because we have collected things over the years. I have gotten rid of things through garage sales, taking clothes to places like Goodwill or Salvation Army or in my case, since I worked so many years, I donated my working clothes, nice dresses and suits, to organizations who provide that sort of thing to women who are looking for work, and need something nice to go to interviews with. The economy of the past few years…

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Three-quarters of a century


Tomorrow, December 4, 2015, at about 5:07 p.m., I will have been on this earth 75 years, or three-quarters of a century. This blog has no rants or raves or anger: it is simply a thought or two about what I have seen in three-quarters of a century. I plan to live until 100, or longer, if that is my fate. And I do hope it is.

Music: Frank Sinatra (who I still love) and big band music was on the radio for the first 13 years of my life. Then in 1954, along came Bill Haley and the Comets with Rock Around The Clock, Elvis Presley and his swivel hips, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and The Royal Teens (where I first knew about Bob Gaudio). In the years 1958-1963 there was pure pop, with the likes of Bobby Rydel, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Vinton, The Lettermen, The Four Seasons (and Bob Gaudio again), and many more. Then we got the British Invasion and Motown. Besides the Beatles, the Stones, the Animals, and the Supremes, we got the Bee Gees. Rock, Psychedelic, Protest Songs. After the end of the 60s, we got Disco. I remember the Bee Gees going Disco, and it was good, but I liked them best during the British Invasion and the Rock Music. How Can You Mend a Broken Heart and Words. Sexy Donna Summer, and what girl alive today, and then, could ever resist KC and the Sunshine Band. He was a sexy man, still around today. And ABBA, all of whom’s recordings I still own.

Then we got into heavy metal – not to my taste, but there were exceptions. Like Nazareth with Love Hurts. After the metal, we got grunge and garage bands. And I was not into that. Jon Bon Jovi with his guitar? Him I still love, but mostly these days it is because of his generosity for people who don’t have a lot. But I ended up mostly with my Celtic music, including having a Celtic Music show on local public radio for a couple of years in the 90s. Through all those years, the underlying foundation of all the music I loved, and still do, was classical. I have always loved the classics. I was in band in junior high and high school; I sang with a very local country western band for a time in the early 60s. I went on to sing Handel’s Messiah and other classics and pop music in the Austin Civic Chorus in the late 70s-early 80s. I played my flute in the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble during that same time, with classical and pop music.

These days I have a cabinet with about 150 CDs that includes a little bit of every single one of those styles of music, but I rarely play them on my CD player any longer. I’m more tuned in to television these days – at the moment Hallmark with all its Christmas shows. I just don’t want to listen to or watch the news these days, and I really do hate reality shows.

Dancing: I was a ball-room dance teacher in the early 60s with Arthur Murray Studios. I think I can still dance those beautiful waltzes, two-step, cha-cha, rumba, and the lovely (but not Argentinian) tango. I also danced every twist, watusi, shake, I’ve forgotten all the names of the 60s stuff. I still know how to do some of the Motown styles I knew then. Unfortunately, I have the knees of a constant dancer, and can’t really do much dancing at all any longer. The gristle that separates our upper leg bones from our lower leg bones has disappeared, and it is rather painful to walk bone-on-bone. I will not ever get fake knees, so I’ll happily live with what I have, knowing I earned them and had a great time.

Electronics: Oh lord, how I could rant about them. But I’ll just talk about them. We got our first TV when I was around 15 or 16. Black and white pictures, tubes, no remotes. If we wanted to change the channels (and there were only three, as I remember), we had to get up, walk up to the TV, and turn a knob. Radios were tubed, and big, like in large cases. Transistor radios came along so we could carry them around. We could buy 8-track tapes, which soon were replaced by cassette tapes for them by the early 60s. I still have some cassettes, and wish I could find a good tape deck to play them that didn’t need earphones to hear them. TVs started being available in colour. Then there were transistors, resistors, integrated circuits. Maybe those are still around. I don’t know. DVDs – I got my first player in the late 80s or early 90s. Now there is Blu-Ray, but I won’t spend the money for the latest incarnation of those.

Telephones: I grew up with a simple black dial phone. I loved them. Then push-button came along; then cell phones which were huge, and few people wanted to carry one. Then we got the small cell phones, and every year some corporations compete to see who can come up with the fanciest, and most expensive, by the way. Now one cannot walk down the street or sit in a lobby somewhere without seeing someone’s ear attached to a phone, or playing games, or twittering. I’ve seen people run into poles or fall into ponds, or any number of things because they are so stuck on them – and I laugh a lot when that happens.

Play: I remember bicycles, roller skates with keys to attach to our shoes, building forts in the vacant lot across the street. I was all grown up before Barbie came along, much less dolls that I don’t even recognize as dolls. I played jacks, with real metal jacks, and hopscotch, and jump-rope, and tinker-toys. I made my own paper dolls. I loved, and still love, board games. So don’t even try to talk to me about video games; I have no clue what you are talking about, and wonder who all those fat little pasty-skinned (meaning no sun) kids are about.

Home appliances: Stoves, refrigerators, toasters, washing machines. That is about my best memory of what used to be. Today, I own a microwave and a blender. I have even bought an electric can-opener for when I don’t have the strength to use a regular non-electric one. Mostly it is for when my wrist gets too weak for the person-power I need. I cannot imagine owning a house-cleaning robot.

Schools: I got a great education. I don’t know what is going on now, but I know writing with fountain pins and pencils is going away, except for the very youngest, I guess. I remember when a box of 64 Crayolas was a happy surprise. I know how to spell properly, and how to write a sentence with a noun, a verb, and a direct subject. I know what an adjective and an adverb are. I know how to parse a sentence. These, I fear, are lost arts, and with this thing called Twitter, spelling is going by the wayside. I won’t even talk about math.

Yes, I have a laptop computer, and used computers from about 1984 in my jobs. I love computers and computer nerds, but I have no need to buy every new one that comes about. I have a Facebook page, I do my banking on-line, I have an email account, and I write these occasional blogs. No complaint here, but I still don’t know how to move pictures around.

I am a courteous, civil, civil-minded, soft-talking woman, polite to everyone – at least until they treat me unkindly – at which time I put them behind me, and ignore them, and keep my optimistic outlook, at least in my own life and manners. You don’t see a lot of that today. Sad.

Politics: I got involved in politics in 1952, when I was 11, and liked Ike Eisenhower. I was not old enough in 1960 to vote, but I was a Nixon fan who soon fell in love with John F. Kennedy. I was eligible to vote for the first time in 1964, but I didn’t – I couldn’t vote for Goldwater, and wouldn’t vote for LBJ. I would have voted for Bobby Kennedy, but I didn’t get the chance. I liked the elder George H. W. Bush, and backed him in all of his running for office through Reagan – my first, in my mind, bad choice. I even went for GHWB the first time, but was through with that party in 1991. I voted for Clinton, and have been a Democrat since Howard Dean, who was defeated by John Kerry, who was defeated by GWB. I loved Obama, still do. Today I am an ultra-liberal, Socialist Democrat, and I weep for my country.

Wars: I was born when London was being blitzed by the Germans. I was a year old when Pearl Harbor came along. I saw uncles go to war, but not my dad – who wanted to, but was not allowed in the service. No matter, like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, my dad did everything he could for that last, great, war. I have little memory of Korea, though I was once married to a man who was in Korea. Then, one after the other, Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq again – none of which were worth the price paid by our men, and now men and women. I saw almost a whole generation lost in Vietnam – people my age and younger. What can I say? Republicans will keep us in war. I don’t want to see more young men and women losing limbs, brains, and lives to the war machine, and the costs. And that is all I’ll say.

I don’t know what I’ve left out. I have just seen so much, and worked many years, and been through hard times and good times. I have had to remain independent, and to care for myself. I gave up children during the 60s, but today I am friends with one daughter and several grand-children, several nieces and a couple of nephews, and even one great-grandchild. I have had to learn to not be selfish and to love my life as it is today – and to appreciate what I have. And I have a lot, including my health. I know my generation needs to die out, possibly the one behind me, but I have hope that grandchildren and younger will learn how to bring good life and tolerance back to this crazy world I live in. No matter what comes, I will adapt, but I will never lose my optimism and my love for friends, family, and country through whatever of my life is left.

I believe the next 25 years of my life, or whatever I have left, will remain good or me. I have great hopes that civility will return, and that will make this world a decent place to live again.

Carol Stepp
Austin, TX

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Gone With the Wind


Well, I’m back sooner than I thought.  I just finished reading the book Gone With The Wind last night, a book I hadn’t read in probably 60 years.

Obviously, like everyone else of my generation, I have seen the movie at least once a year ever since I first knew enough to know to watch it.  It is a good movie, of course, but I had a slight memory of Scarlett having other children than just Bonnie Blue Butler.  So I got the library to reserve a copy for me to read.  I got it a little over a week ago, and got so engrossed in it that I managed to read all 959 pages of it in five days and nights (not steadily, but in bits and pieces of time).

It is a magnificent book, but I had no memory of all the politics in it.  I knew there were a lot of people in the South who never got over losing the Civil War, but I did not realize how very much it had been passed down through the years.  Margaret Mitchell wrote the book in 1936, it was copyrighted in 1938, and the movie came out in 1939.  But I am totally shocked at how true the story is today, down in the Deep South, among those Conservatives.  I understand a little more why they act the way they do today.  They still don’t seem to have gotten over losing the Civil War.

This book is, of course, about the Georgians.  The young men of that time were so gung-ho about going to war with the Union, and they were all about States’ Rights, and seceding from the Union.  The war was about the land, and about slavery.  While I hear often from people who have never really studied that period of time in US history that it was about economics, I think Margaret Mitchell got it right.  It really was about the way of life of the plantations, and slavery.  The Northern states had their own Negro populations, but they were free blacks, no slavery.  One learns a great deal about that simply by watching the movie Glory, or reading any of the many books written about that event – Lay This Laurel is one of the best.  As well, the underground railroad that existed at the time to save runaway slaves lay out the stories told by the Negroes who ran away from evil slave owners – those that did not treat their slaves well, or who sold individuals away from their own families.  They were treated like animals, with no feelings.  The Northerners did not believe life in the South was any other way.

Mitchell’s fictional families, like the O’Haras and the Wilkes’s and the families in Atlanta we meet after the war starts, were good to their slaves, and therefore, were more sympathetic to the readers.  As I, in these more modern times, do not approve of owning people, or treating people like animals, I would have been against the Civil War then.  But what if I had been born into one of those wealthy plantation owner families.  Those genteel folk were just as confused as what was happening as anyone who went from riches to rags.  But the real horrors of the aftermath of the Civil War were those Negroes who were freed, and then were turned loose to fend for themselves after the war.  Many of them chose to stay with their white owners.

The aftermath of the Civil War gave the South the Carpetbaggers and the Scalawags – the Freed Men Association who made promises to the Negroes, but who did not give them instruction on how to live free.  Far too many of those northerners made promises, but gave no jobs; told them they had right to what the plantations had, which seemed to give the ex-slaves rights to the white women and the luxuries, including burning down the mansions and stealing the land.  This is why the Ku Klux Klan came about – as a protection for the people whose land was being taken, and who women were under attack.  The organization originated in Tennessee.  Of course, over time, the KKK was proven to be a terrorist organization, and within a few years, was outlawed.  Today’s KKK is made up of men who want to return the KKK to the way it was then, without the same reasons it was originally established.

Reconstruction is what happened to the states until they took the oaths.  Tennessee was readmitted in 1866; Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and the two Carolinas were readmitted in 1868; Texas, Virginia, and Mississippi were not readmitted until 1870.

Reconstruction disenfranchised the Southern plantation owners and the men who fought for the Confederacy; they took the label of Democrats, and were forbidden to vote in their state elections.  Those people of the North who put the Confederacy under military rule were called Republicans, and they would take the Negroes from precinct to precinct to vote in every election numerous times.  This went on for years until the states were able to have governing bodies who could come up with a majority, but this still was not possible until Loyalty Oaths were taken, and Amendments adopted.

The book covers the years from 1861 until 1873.  Scarlett went from age 16 to 28, and young women who were not married by the time they were 25 were considered spinsters.  Of course, the flower of male youth was pretty much killed off during those years.  And the genteel manners of the Old South kept most of those plantation families from changing their ways.

I found it quite educational to realize how we got from that time to modern times, and why the Old South now calls itself Republican, why they still hate the Negro, why the Civil Rights Act did not work as it should have (this is why government offices all over the South have so many black employees – the private white companies still would not hire them).  I don’t know why they keep changing what we should call them to be politically correct.  I think African American came about because the word Negro is the Spanish word for black – but while black is beautiful, I’m not sure many of them today like being called black.  Or why so many of them call one another the n-word, but get infuriated and insulted if a white person uses the same word.

All in all, re-reading this book 60 years later, under the influence of what politics is doing now, especially in the Deep South, was very enlightening, and helps me understand a little more why the Conservatives are acting the way they are now.  They just don’t accept that they lost the Civil War.

PS:  There was another book I read about the Civil War all those long years ago called Taproots which,  if I remember correctly, told the same basic story, but from a Mississippian’s point of view, but I do not remember the name of the author, and have never found the book listed under it’s name on the computer.  It probably went out of print long ago.

PPS:  One other fictional story about the Old South is the movie Raintree County.  I don’t even know if it was a book, or just a screen story.

Carol Stepp, Austin, TX

 

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Hey there, ya’ll


I know I haven’t written a blog for a couple of months – not much to say these days.  However, I’ve had to convert to a newer, better (?) blog page, and I plan to write a log blog on my 75th birthday, on December 4, musing about what I have seen in three-quarters of a century.

I’ll be back, ya’ll.

Carol Stepp, Austin, TX

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I’m Running for President


I watched the Republican debates last night – three hours I’ll never get back. Only one of the debaters between both shows said anything I agreed with 100%. In the midst of all the men (and woman) who were yelling “boots on the ground”, Rand Paul at least recognized that what these idiots were calling for was more and more of our young men and women being harmed, maimed, and killed. I got angrier by the second. Build up our military? How are you going to sell that? Maybe if you set up a new draft, we will have young people marching and protesting again. I cannot think of any other way to build up our military. I hope our youth are not going to run to the recruiting offices knowing what Afghanistan and then Iraq have done to so many of their generation. And how many of these debaters calling for boots on the ground are going to send their own children and grandchildren into the massacres. At least Rand Paul suggested we train the Middle Eastern folks to fight their own battles. But they probably are not interested since they know the US will step in and take care of it. They better be sure they are ready for our invading and then staying in their countries.

So I’m going to run for president. My platform will be: free health care and free education for every person who is a citizen of this country. Equal rights for each and every citizen of this country. Jobs available for work on the infrastructure for every road, bridge, and dam in the US. All foreign military bases closed and every military member brought to fight against any aggression against the United States of America. Yes, even if we have to fight on this land – perhaps if we had the damage done here that has been done in every other country we have fought in, our warmongers might learn that war is not pretty if you have to look at it. National Guard immediately kept for damage control brought by disasters. A straight-across, with no exceptions or loopholes, 15% income tax rate for providing the money for all these things. These tax rates will also be charged on the real property of all religious institutions.

No official religion for the United States, no official language for the United States. The United States was established as a nation where everyone had equal freedoms, and the Statue of Liberty which stands so tall in New York Bay will go back to its “bring us your poor and your oppressed” motto. We have room. All jobs sent to other countries will be returned to the United States, and manufacturing will be brought back to this country. Everything will be made “in America by Americans”. Wages will be living wages for every person who is capable of working. Welfare will be for those who honestly need it, with proof that a person really is not capable of working. Everyone will pull their own weight who are able. I put 47 years in the workforce, and I did it while fighting clinical depression for at least half of those years.

Federal laws will supercede any states rights, and every state will pull together as a part of the United States of America. Any state who does not want to work together for a common cause will be allowed to leave the Union, understanding they cannot be allowed back in. They will also lose all Federal monies for infrastructure and disaster.

Any hidden monies by any corporate types will be, if found, confiscated. The rich are allowed to be rich, but not off the backs of the middle class. There will be no lower class of have-nots, unless they choose to be a have-not. But the US will not step in to “give” them freebies.

Marijuana will be made legal. It will be taxed at the going sales tax rates set forward by each state, and the monies left in the state(s) for use in its own infrastructure and wage rates

It is understood that not everyone will like these rules and pledges. Why not?

Carol Stepp
Austin, TX

Please note: I did not say anything about the environment and global climate change. That is because everyone needs to adopt common sense and start doing their best to stop pollution and trashing of your environment. It may already be too late to actually save our planet. So our space exploration mavens should already be getting ready for a general exodus from the planet Terra (Earth). There does not seem to be much hope for change unless everyone stops and thinks about it NOW, and starts trying to reverse the damage already done.

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Politics and Reel Life


I watched a very thought-provoking movie last night. It is at least a year old, and probably most of you have seen it. Ironically, it seems to have been made before its time, and is now so true it is downright scary. It is called White House Down. Now, it came out the same time as Olympus Has Fallen, and I think maybe Olympus stole some of its thunder. So now is the time that whoever chose one over the other to catch the other.
Olympus Has Fallen is good – it is about a Korean man who wants to take over all of Korea, and wants the US out of Korea completely. It stars Gerard Butler and Aaron (short memory loss, I can see his face, but can’t bring the name up), and is a very exciting movie, with lots of bangs and explosions. I enjoyed it, but it is pure fiction.
On the other hand, White House Down, which stars Channing Tatum, with Jamie Foxx as the president (and a very good actress who played daughter Emily) were present and there were lots of bangs and explosions and bells and whistles. More than Olympus.
But here is the thing – it is about a black president who works through diplomatic measures to bring peace to the Middle East – and shockingly, Iran is the country most involved. The president misses getting kidnapped at the beginning, and works with Channing’s character to try to stop the takeover (the character was just turned down for the Secret Service), which is done by Americans, led by the man who was the Speaker of the House who just retired. Through a lot of events, the president is presumed unable to serve, so Posse Comitatus makes the VP president. Then our American bad guys sent a missile to shoot down the new President, which leaves the man who took over as Speaker of the House President. I’ll call him John Boehner.
After all that, we find out that this new Speaker/new President …………well, I don’t want to give it away. Just watch it.
And if you already have, watch it again.
And then I’ll play it on the big television in our community room.

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