"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." ~~Thomas Jefferson

"Who will protect us from those who protect us?"

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. ~ Thomas Jefferson

"None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free." ~~Goethe

02 December 2016

Places lost...


Forgive me if I jump around a little bit...

This is my old school.  Thomas A. Edison School.  It was a K-9 school.  My mother went here as a child.  I went here for 1st through 6th grade.  Some of my younger brothers and sisters went here.  My 3 sons went here.  This is where my Cub Scout Pack met and where my first Boy Scout Troop met.  I learned to square dance here and this is where, after much consternation and many sleepless nights, I finally summoned the courage of a 4th Grader to ask Lee Ann Dinwiddie if I could carry her books home from school for her.  This playground is where I failed to make the Optimist team for summer ball as a 4th grader.  I still remember the devastation I felt that day.  I won a white ribbon on field day for running a hundred yards 3rd fastest.  Only 4 places received ribbons.  Everyone after 4th left a little disappointed.

The city currently has no plans for the property that the school stood on.  I suspect it will become a subsidized housing area.  One never knows, but hey, tax dollars have maintained this property for ninety years, why not continue, right? 

Rath Packing Company and John Deere were the two biggest employers in town.  Between them they probably employed half of my little town's workers.  Rath is long gone, unable to compete in the 80s with the IBPs and the Tysons of the world.  IBP and Tyson had a different business model...  Employ anyone who will work for bottom dollar.  That had a devastating effect on the local meat packing industry.  The old guys who worked at Rath for many years and made good wages and benefits no longer had a place to ply their trade.  IBP and Tyson employed Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Mexicans because they would work hard for next to nothing.  The story of the demise of Rath is a sad one.  The meat packing industry is corrupt, in my opinion.

 Deere is still around but not the big employer they use to be here.  They farm a lot of their work out to small local companies that have sprung up to do things like chipping and grinding castings and machining small batches of parts, or repair tractors that come off the assembly line with a defect.  These companies pay lower wages than Deere does, and have less lucrative benefits.  Heck, Deere doesn't pay like they use to...  

John Deere wanted to build a new electric foundry way back when, on the ground that my neighborhood was standing on.  It was a good location, they said.

In our neighborhood were homes, families, shops, a restaurant, a small grocery store, a barber shop and two gas stations.  There was a lumberyard and a printer, the church where my parents were married and a pattern company.  A small foundry that made manhole covers, a manufacturer of farm equipment such as hog and cattle feeders and a couple old buildings that were being used as warehouses.   There were Christmases and Thanksgivings and all the other holidays.  There were amazing adventures with the neighborhood kids...  There was life in 1950s and 1960s America here.

People and business owners weren't real keen on selling.  That is no problem, the city will just condemn your property and pay you what they think it's worth.   They have ways of changing your mind.  Ways of motivating you to do as they wish.

It started to disappear, that old neighborhood.

My family moved in with my grandfather after my grandmother died in 1962.  Prior to that we were living a couple of blocks away in a house behind Lobeck's Grocery, and had recently moved out of town to a farm where my dad raised chickens.  When grandma passed we moved back, seemingly without any interruption.   Chicken farming wasn't meant to be...

My grandfather was an employee of Deere, a union guy, but he wasn't pleased about losing his home of many years and he wasn't happy with the amount of money they were offering him for the house on two lots with the garage and the chicken coop and rabbit hutches.  He held out until we were nearly the very last people living in a once thriving blue collar neighborhood.  We may have been the last...

The river was a block away, at the end of our street.  We used to fish there.  We ran through the woods partaking in many, many adventures.   We were soldiers.  We were cowboys.  We were explorers on the river.

Houses and buildings were being torn down around us.  The once beautiful neighborhood looked like a war zone.  The local Fire Department would come in about once a month and burn a house for "practice".

It was an incredible, scary time.

Grandpa finally sold the house and my dad built a new one a couple of miles so away.  I remember talking with my dad later in life and him telling me how scared he was to build a brand new $15,000 house.  It had 4 bedrooms for the 9 of us.  An attached double garage came a year later at a cost of $1500.  He was scared to death that he wouldn't be able to make the $135 per month mortgage payments.

We ended up in the neighboring town's school district.  Our new house was right on the edge of town.  The streets were gravel and the woods and a quarry were only a block away.  Somehow, we made new friends and we somehow all survived.   The woods and quarry are gone now, replaced with a (n all electric) housing area (so cutting edge at the time) and a Middle School that was originally built as a High School.  The powers that be finally concluded that this town couldn't support 3 High Schools, so the newest HS became a Middle School.  It was all about keeping East High mostly black, West High almost completely white, and making the government happy by integrating the new Central High School, which was really on the south side of town.  (They use buses for their integration requirements today :) )  And then they sold the printing presses and eliminated most of the "career path training" tools and equipment.  We have a Community College that can teach that stuff, ya know...   Now they think that teaching serious career path courses in High School might be a good idea.  Our world is circular, ya know.  It's all been done before.

The population of my little town has been stagnant since the late 60s.  Actually declining by a hundred or two people every year.  Dependent on Deere and the farm market, ya know.  Deere use to employ about 12,000 workers here.  It's about 4,000 now, total, including white collar.  Union wages and benefits forced automation and efficiencies.  It's progress.  It's evolution.  It's the way it is. Deere continues to show record profits each quarter. 

We lived through the 60s and the 70s with shopping malls and rock and roll.  The Viet Nam war was on Television every night.  It was in the papers every day.  The protests.  The "massacre" at Kent State.  My Lai with  Lieutenant William Calley and Captain Ernest Medina.  It was hard to understand why Calley was the only soldier who was really punished.  My cousin Tony being killed in Viet Nam 2 weeks after he arrived in country.  Infantry.  The Brotherhood of the Blue Cord.  It was a heady time to be alive.

I joined the Army in April of 1972.  Left for basic at Fort Leonard Wood in June.  I felt like I had only two choices at the time, the Army or Deere.  No way was I going to work at Deere.  I saw what it did to people.  I ended up in Germany for Thanksgiving of 1972.  Had dinner with General Hoeffling, the 3rd Armored Division Commander, in Frankfurt that year.  Rode the bus to my first permanent duty station just north of Frankfurt on that cold, bright Saturday morning following Thanksgiving.

This old school had students from about 4 or 5 neighborhoods.  All of those neighborhoods, except the one I grew up in, still exist today.  The actual neighborhood that this school sat in is becoming a run down place where immigrants and folks too old to move live.  A victim of "concentric devolution", I guess.    Parts of it are well kept, like when I was a child.  Parts of it are run down dumps.  The whole neighborhood is maybe 6 blocks by six.  8 blocks by 4?  The new highway took a bit of it, too...

Back then we had a teacher who taught our class of 30 or so students by herself.  There was no teaching assistant.  There was no teacher's aide.  Just the teacher.  If we got out of line we knew we would end up in Mr. Trebon's office, where we would receive a stern talking to.  That would happen once.  The second time it was a crack on the ass with his paddle.  The other part of that equation was that our parents would be notified and we would be punished again when we got home.  ADHD hadn't been invented yet.  There were about 3 kids in the entire school who were "discipline problems".  They had a special class with a special ed. teacher. 

It amazes me that we are unwilling to spend a few million dollars to upgrade these schools and keep them operating but we are willing to spend 10s of millions of dollars to build new ones.  Even with our declining population we are constantly looking for more classroom space.  Because teaching 30 students is impossible now.  No one can teach more than 18 to 20 now days, and only then with aides and assistants.  One of you teachers out there, please feel free to sound off.  What has changed?    Smaller classes, more classrooms, more teachers and staff, more expense...  Is it really necessary?  Legitimate question, not snark.  

The rest is history...

So many memories.  Most of them tolerable with the passage of time.  Sometimes melancholy.  Sometimes nostalgic.  Always in the past, not quite graspable.

The Germans are currently demolishing the kaserne where I was stationed the second time I was there.  1976-1979.  A German friend sends pictures occasionally.  He works there and is taking it hard.

We did and saw so many things in our 5 years living in Germany but the memory that is most poignant in my mind is the smell of woodsmoke in the air once the weather got cold...

Time goes on.

Have a great day!


Anonymous said...

the old world has vanished into a nightmare of wasted spaces and a mindless population

seen that with Sue Keslo's home and neighborhood


Blue said...

Help me out, please... Sue Keslo. I know that name.

Ken said...

...thanx for sharing brother, times have changed huh ?...

Blue said...

Ken... yes, times have definitely changed. But, life goes on ;)

xtron said...

what's wrong with education today??
1) the administration monster. when you and I went to school, there were teachers and there was a principal, a superintendant, a couple of secretaries, and a couple of janitors. an in many schools the principal taught a couplke of classes a day.
today there are more "administrators" than teachers...and they all make more $$$ than teachers.
2)parents. parents today do not parent. they send their kids to school and expect the teachers to do all the teaching. the parents do not read to the kids, they do not help with homework, they do not discipline, and they refuse the schools the ability to discipline their special snowflakes. parents today, especially those on welfare, spend the kids lunch money, supply money, clothes money, shoe money, and activity money on cigaretts, booze, and drugs, then demand the schools feed their poor, malnourished,underprivileged babies.
3)the NEA, and teachers unions. they ate only interested in increasing the union coffers thru more union dues. and they don't care if there are more teachers paying dues, the teachers are making more, so paying more dues, and preferably both. so smaller class size means more teachers. teachers aids means more dues. and of course, every time a contract is due, there is a strike so the union leaders can get richer, and our kids get dumber.
4)main streaming. there are a lot of kids with learning disabilities who should not be in the classroom. all they are doing is taking up resourses that could be better used elsewhere, and disrupting the classroom to the detriment of all the other students. not all kids with learning disabilities, just the ones who will never ever be able to learn to even the first grade level, who will never be able to talk, will never be able to use the bathroom by themselves, and will always require constant assistance and supervision. yet some well meaning judge has ordered these unfortunate kids to be included in every class, whether it will benefit them or will disrupt the rest of the class.
5) the federal government hostage taking administration. befor the feds took over the education system via the department of "education", the states educated their children just fine, by many standards, better than today. but if you say the department of education should be abolished, all you will hear is that "we cannot educate the kids without federal money" yep, the feds have brainwashed most of the graduates of their schools.

there's more, but i'm too riled up to continue.

Anonymous said...

Sue Keslo lived with her stone mason husband in a two story house in Fort Trumbull area of New London, Ct.

the city bozos gave the power of eminent domain to a private group to condem the whole neighborhood to build a fancy resort style zone with a new marina, condos, health clubs and whatever else

Keslo was one successful holdout that the city paid out to move her home elsewhere along with a heafty settlement

after most structures were destroyed the property that once was filled with homes, stores, shops, and a metal scrap yards now sits empty to this very day

Sue and twenty plus more were friends of mine

me live less than two thousand yards south

ever wonder why have a sarcastic humor?


Blue said...

xtron... Thank you for your comments. Times have certainly changed. Government employee unions are, in my opinion, a bad thing. Government agencies always seem to take on a life of their own and quite often forget their original mission. I believe that often times government agencies are created simply to five people jobs, regardless of whether the agency is needed or not. Crazy.

Wildflower... Thank you for sharing that. It never works out well when cities invoke eminent domain proceedings on behalf of a private developer. In my grandfather's case the city actually ended up buying all of the properties under the threat of condemnation proceedings and then sold the property to Deere at a profit. IBP came to town back in the 80s when Rath was going under. They demanded a lot of concessions from the city in order to locate here (I never understood that...). 2 of the concessions were free water and sewer for 10 years. A 3rd requirement was property tax abatement for 10 years. Remember, this is a huge corporation that has shit tons of money. Anyway, the city gave in to their demands on the condition that IBP hire XX number of people over the next 2 years. No problem... They got their concessions then hired newly arrived Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees. Very few locals were hired. It is like that all over in the meat packing industry. Of course IBP is long gone. They sold out to Tyson. After the original 10 year sewer and water deal was up the went back to the city and worked a deal for 10 more years of free water and sewer. They are the biggest sewer user in the city and are responsible for causing the need for many millions of dollars of upgrades and repairs to our treatment facility. The taxpayers pick that bill up. Fuck corporations that demand concessions from governments and fuck the governments that give in to those demands.

Blue said...

Wildflower... Good quality sarcasm is always welcome... ;)

RHT447 said...

Memories indeed. I joined in '74, wound up at Pinder Barracks in Zirndorf---156 Maint. Co., Small Arm Repair Shop. The Kasserne is gone now, converted to a commercial park, but they did keep two of the original buildings at the entry.

Veeshir said...

Now they think that teaching serious career path courses in High School might be a good idea. Our world is circular, ya know. It's all been done before.

We've had 40 or so years of educrats who knew so much more than the people of the previous 1000 years so they instituted their pet theories and screwed up 40 years of education. I'm still furious they don't require memorizing the multiplication tables anymore.

We're relearning lessons we'd learned hundreds of years ago.

Faugh. I'm still hoping for an asteroid.

Blue said...

RHT447... There is still an American presence in Germany, but nothing compared to what it was when we were there. I'd do it again...

Veeshir... Though I think the asteroid is a bit extreme, perhaps it is the answer ;)

harp1034 said...

If new unneeded schools were not built, then who could get a kickback?

Anonymous said...

I used to haul meat into & out of Rath in the 70's & 80's. See those semi trailers backed up to the fence? Directly across from the gate was that little bar that's still in that picture. Used to eat lunch there. Washed our trailers out at Russ's truck wash. Hauled beer into Waterloo & Oelwein & Mason City. Good union driving job. Paid by the hour.

benerval7 said...

I felt the same way when I saw Pinder Barracks in zirndorf, Germany being destroyed. it was a wonderful kasseren in a wonderful town outside of Nurnburg. (was there 88-90, and then in Baumholder 99-02). To add salt to the wound, a few months ago Zirndorf was one of the towns that terrorists planted bombs.