It was one very hot day, and my granddaughter and I were watching some horses. One-by-one they made their way to the little pond to take in some more water. Now, this big old grey horse decided drinking wasn't enough. He didn't just get a little of the pond in him, he got into the pond and lay down in the water. He splashed around a little, stayed there for a while and finally pulled his big old body out of the water. Relating what she saw to her world, my granddaughter said, "He's taking a bath!" If that was his intention, I had bad news for that horse. He got out of that murky water with his light gray coat covered with dirt! So much for getting clean!
I guess I'm sort of an Energizer driver. I mean on a trip, if I have to, I can just keep going, and going and going. Of course, I need some help staying alert every once in a while: music, air, food, especially food. I must confess, though, that carrots and celery are not my idea of an exciting snack to keep you going. Now, you know, when we've stopped for gas over the years, one mile from empty of course, I've gone into the little food store and picked up a pack of those donuts or cupcakes or fruit pies. Nourishing stuff - health food, you know. I'm speaking in the past tense now. I have joined the "think about what you're putting into your body" movement that a lot of folks are in these days. Food manufacturers have to put this little label on their products now that tells you what's in those tempting little snacks. Now I check that before I buy it. I cannot believe the fat grams, the calories, the sodium and the cholesterol. Hello artery clog, hello high blood pressure, hello cholesterol, triple bypass surgery. A lot of food companies have figured out that trend, and that's why you see more and more products that are low-fat, no-fat, low-cholesterol, no taste. Actually, that contents list is a great thing for all of us. A lot of us aren't making our food decisions based on just how good it tastes or our appetite. We care about what's in the things that are about to be in us!
I'm kind of a strange tourist. When I was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I asked to be taken to a graveyard that overlooks the ocean. There, I walked through rows of these grave markers that have no name but the same date - April 15, 1912. That's the night the Titanic sank, and those are some of its unidentified victims. Not too long ago, the Titanic showed up again on the evening news. Lillian Asplund, the last American survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, died at age 99. It's believed that there might have been just two survivors left at that point, both in England. Those names and the name of every passenger are listed on a big wall at the end of an exhibit I attended called the Titanic Artifacts Exhibit. I got to experience that exhibit as it toured America's great museums years ago. The list indicated whether the person was a first, second, or third class passenger, or a crewman. But no matter what their class, every one of those 2,200 people appeared on one of two lists.
Of course, I'm too young to remember World War II, right? But there was this restaurant back in New Jersey I could go to. It was a theme restaurant to get a little of the feel. Yeah, it actually was designed to create a feeling of WWII. It even had the tail of a plane sticking out of its roof! The walls were covered with WWII newspapers, posters, and buttons. There was this one poster that always stuck in my mind. There is this desperate GI in the ocean, just about to go under for the last time. And four words that don't mean a lot to us now but meant life-or-death for our troops back then, "Loose lips sink ships." Translation? When American GIs were in port, preparing to board a ship for their next mission, they were constantly reminded to talk to no one about where they were headed. Why? There were enemy spies in every port, trying to find out those destinations. If they did, the information was given to the enemy who used it to target that American ship for sinking. If a soldier talked too much, it could literally cost him his life and the lives of his comrades, because loose lips sink ships.
You know, it's kind of a dangerous thing being in organized crime. (Not that I know personally.) But they have this federal government's witness program, it's called the Witness Protection Program. It used to be very hard to get people to testify in organized crime cases for a very good reason. They knew it could cost them their lives. Today they know that the government will, through the Witness Protection Program, set them up for a whole new identity, in a whole new location, and they can live out the rest of their lives safely if they play by the rules.
The youth broadcast I did for many years, we decided to take it out of the studio one day and use an amusement park as our backdrop for the program. The park people suggested a super rollercoaster called Thunder Road as one of the venues. Now, roller coaster and I have never gotten along real well since my dad sort of made me go on one when I was little. And this one - well, it had two lines for you to choose from. One said, "Forward," and the other said, "Backward." You could ride Thunder Road in the conventional way, looking forward with at least a little chance to prepare yourself for what was coming. But the backward bunch - they rode backwards! Which means, of course, they had no idea what was about to happen to their body. What? They call this a choice?
Gary was a summer lifeguard on a beach in Southern California, which is kind of a nice job. During his training, he heard some information that seemed so bizarre to him he just didn't believe it. The trainers told him that most people they tried to rescue would resent and even resist their assistance. Clearly, that just didn't make sense. Anyone who was in trouble - like life-or-death trouble - would surely welcome help, right? No. Then we got to Gary's first rescue. The man who was in trouble cursed at the man who was trying to save him. He kicked, he clawed, and he did everything in his power to fight off his rescuer.
I was doing a little reading about the unusual man that was President when my mom was a little girl, Calvin Coolidge. Now he was a classic Vermonter, but not a classic politician. He was a man of very few words, great common sense, and very strong character. Even after his presidency he remained very popular with the American people. Now, Calvin Coolidge was remarkably cool under pressure, even that day when a letter was handed to him in Los Angeles that warned him of a plot to assassinate him. Coolidge blandly handed the note to his guard with just five simple words, "Guess this belongs to you."
He first showed up in the 1930s. And I do not remember that firsthand! Then they made movies about him in the 21st Century. One of America's most enduring superheroes. Here's a clue from the '50s TV show about him, "Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...Superman!" The Superman story begins with the meltdown of the planet Krypton and the decision by one of its leaders to save his son by launching him in this small rocket he has built. Destination: Earth. In one of the movies about the guy in the red cape and the blue suit with the big letter "S," his father sees that the people of earth need some help, and he says these words: "I'm sending them my only son."
When our family got ready to leave for a trip, I usually had some pretty good help loading the car, because everybody was eager to leave. Now, when we pulled into the driveway at the end of the trip, it was a little different. All of a sudden I noticed I was carrying a lot of things and I didn't have much company. Five members in our family, but invariably when it was time to unload, I ran in the house and found... let's see, there's one on the phone, one in the bathroom, one opening the mail, one in their room, and one carrying the load. That was me. I'd be in the kitchen yelling, "Help!" as I staggered in with things hanging from both shoulders - doing my impersonation of a mule, things in my arms, my hands, my mouth, my teeth. Listen, it is frustrating to have a load to carry and nobody is there to help.