If these men were alive now, wouldn’t they be amazed by today’s prosthetics?
Marietta Schirf was my dad’s youngest sister. He said he didn’t know how she snuck into the Armed Forces because he was sure she didn’t meet the minimum height requirement.
At a 1980s July 4th concert on Capitol Hill, E. G. Marshall officiating, veterans by branch were asked to stand up. When the turn came for the Air Force, she stood and whooped, to the surprise of our neighbors on the grass. I asked why Air Force, and she answered she’d been in the Army Air Corps. That’s the first I’d heard that.
Aunt Marietta died in the mid-90s. How she would have appreciated the resources of the internet. She once took me to the Library of Congress to look up articles on sugalite.
I will have to look up Front and Center. On the internet.
On the morning of Monday, February 11, a CDOT worker discovered a crack in the metal of the northbound lane of the Lake Shore Drive bridge over the Chicago River that made it impassible.
Later that day, here’s what northbound rush-hour traffic looked like south of Millennium Park.
Southbound traffic was unaffected.
Today is the 100th anniversary of my mother’s birth. I discovered this delightful clipping about a hike to a farm and a picnic with storytelling under a big tree she helped to organize. It could be straight out of Anne of Green Gables.
I love finding these blurbs. This and others are giving me new insight into my parents’ early lives pre-me.
I jest, but this does bring back memories of visits back and forth when I was young enough to be bored but old enough to appreciate any change in routine. This was a visit without us, though.
This morning I, “Dianne Schirg,” made this marvelous discovery from a simpler time when a family visit to Bellwood, Pennsylvania, was noteworthy.
Poor scans of photos taken in 1988 remind me of my dad’s move to Pennsylvania. We had visited family there at least once a year during most of my childhood. As my dad got older, my parents and their family members started to have health issues, people died, and I went to college, we stopped going. By the time I returned to the Altoona area, it seemed strange, yet familiar. What felt oddest was getting there mostly by Amtrak vs. wending our way through southern New York and Pennsylvania on Rte. 219. I felt like a stranger in a strange land, with my mother and many of her family already gone.
Since it was one of my first visits in a long time, my dad’s sister took us to several area attractions. I’d never seen Baker Mansion. The kitchen trough for fresh fish fascinated me. I also recall servants’ quarters at the top of the house. I imagined helpless cooks and maids trapped in the attic while fire raged below, the small windows useless for escape.
We also went to an overlook, but I paid little attention to the name (if it was mentioned) or the location. We didn’t have Google Maps in our pockets for reference 30 years ago. I remember only the loveliness of the view — and that when I went to look over, I slid on shale or gravel and tumbled partway down the hill, my fall slowed, then stopped by a tangle of brush. I laughed.
During my Christmas visit in December 2018, I mentioned the photo to my cousin and his wife, who agreed I must be talking about “Wopsy” (Wopsononock Mountain). It’s directly across from Pinecroft.
From the top of Wopsy, we could see the housing development that replaced the woods on their hill, the old landfill, and perhaps a corner of their house or garage. I realized that the towers I see from their road are where we were standing on Wopsy.
Where once there were wooden fence posts there’s a long, high guardrail covered with grafitti; my cousin feels the area’s not that safe. Devil’s Elbow, which we may or may not have passed, is supposedly haunted by the “White Lady of Wopsononock.” If you don’t believe in the White Lady, you can check out Mindhunter on Netflix about the murder of Betty Jean Shade, whose body was found in an informal trash dump on Wopsy.
What made the death of Betty Jean Shade so different was the violence to her body, and in an effort to determine who killed her, investigators, through the aid of former FBI Agent Dale Frye, who served the Altoona area, turned to the fledgling FBI effort at its Quantico, Va., facility, which was attempting to perfect psychological profiling.Phil Ray, Altoona Mirror
Betty Jean Shade was found in 1979, nine years before my visit. If I had known that, I don’t think I would have smiled so broadly. But the overlook is still beautiful.
It’s bad enough that terrorism has become an everyday concern everywhere, but now even Lincoln Park Zoo is breeding fighters. From a headline story today:
The baby guerilla’s gender remains unknown, as the mother is holding its offspring close to her body and may continue doing so for months, officials said.Chicago Tribune
On his former bulletin board, Bensozia, John says, “I think something about the technology [IVF] just scares people, and so they invent weird reasons to oppose it.”
Society has created technology, and technology has recreated society, a society where “no” is not an acceptable answer. Whether the question is as simple as, “Can I get that proposal by the end of the day?” or as complex as, “Is there any drug, treatment, or procedure that will stem my illness and prolong my life?,” the answer must never be in the negative. As the second Star Trek movie emphasized, “There are always alternatives.” If there are no alternatives, they must or will be invented. Treatment for cancer is simply an interim step; the demand is for a cure.
As for the proposal, once it could be sent overnight via FedEx, with harried office workers straining to meet the 9 p.m. pickup. Now they can email it, which means great pressure, especially when technological solutions tend make every decision maker even more of a procrastinator. But the answer is still never, “No.”
We cannot accept “no“ from nature, either. Everything that she throws at us that we don‘t like is a “problem“ to be “fixed,“ according to our industrial age-inspired ideology. If the human machine is broken, if it can‘t conceive, for example, and if it can‘t be repaired, then another mechanical solution must be found. Grief, loss, helplessness — these are seen as negative emotions to be avoided or subverted. But how can we feel joy without feeling grief? How can we understand the depths of love without experiencing the pain of rejection? How can anyone grasp the highs without the lows? Is a flat-line existence of comfort, complacency, and getting everything you want living?
Is that why reality TV is popular? People with carefully regimented, controlled lives seek out the avarice, bitterness, and bitchiness that lie behind reality TV. On weekends, some — seemingly a growing number — of thrill seekers pursue extreme sports like ultramarathon running in the desert or activities that are as dangerous as possible, like rock climbing, bungee jumping, or whitewater rafting. Anything to feel a rush, to feel alive.
Maybe we could feel alive if we stop treating life as a problem to be fixed and our bodies as machines to be repaired, if we could accept real pain (not the manufactured kind) and death as readily as we accept joy and life, appreciate shadow as much as light. If we could understand ourselves as living organisms. The more we aspire to some kind of unnatural perfection, the more we soil our home, the more problems we create, the more we feel thwarted, and the more we want and expect.
Obviously, most of us take advantage of medical technology, me included. Knowing where the lines should be drawn — or if the lines should be drawn at all — is a question that can’t be answered to everyone’s satisfaction.
We are like children in the universe, children whose intellect exceeds our wisdom by far, with the gap growing imperceptibly every day. As Frankenstein learned, simply because a thing can be done does not mean that it should be done.
When you can’t accept “no” as an answer, when you can’t accept that there may be limits to science and technology, even to the human mind and the prescience of its wisdom, you deny one of the things that make us human, an evolving organism. And that may be what is frightening. If we can’t let ourselves be human, what do we want to be?
On Sunday’s 60 Minutes, the last story of the hour was about the conflict between humans and grizzlies outside Yellowstone. It does sound like the bear population may be too much for the physical space and needs to be monitored and managed. I don’t believe in the idea of turning over management to the state because there are too many cowboys (literally and figuratively) itching to kill some grizzly. To avoid that, the federal government needs to do a better job.
What bothers me, however, is the woman who moved to the area from California with her children so they could be closer to nature — then whines about the danger to her children the grizzlies posed, etc., etc. Well, yes — getting close to nature can be risky. If you don’t really want to be that close to nature, I suggest you move to a place like, say, Chicago. Of course, someone like you would find something here to whine about, too, something expectable like, say, traffic.
She decided to move to suburban Cody. Please, do us all a favor and stay there.