God’s Waiting Room is Empty

by Bob Sparrow

God’s Waiting Room

‘God’s Waiting Room’ is the euphemistic phrase for where people 65 and over used to go to live while they were waiting to die. But the ‘Baby Boomers’ have done it again! They’ve changed everything. They’ve emptied the waiting room.   Now 65 year olds are summiting mountains, jumping out of airplanes and running marathons. From the time the 78 million ‘Boomers’ were born (1946 -1964) they’ve had it their way. They were the first generation to be raised in the presence of television, which gave marketers easy access to millions of people who were now no longer just compared to the people around them, they were exposed and compared, to the entire world. So what did the Boomers do? They raised their game, they wanted it all, they demanded the best. They couldn’t always afford the best, so, unlike their parents who always saved before they purchased an expensive item, they popularized the credit card. Now, as the first of the ‘Boomers’ turned 70 last year, they are changing the ‘Golden Years’.

Previous generations looked forward to finishing their 30-year career with the same company, retiring at 65 with a gold watch and living maybe another 8-10 years before cashing in their chips. Today at 65, we find Boomers starting their own companies, buying their own Apple watch and heading to the cashier’s window to buy more chips. They have literally changed the way to do almost everything; certainly they’ve changed how we think about aging.

Boomers are ‘all in’

But to be fair, and just to help keep the Boomers humble, there have been some pretty successful ‘senior citizens’ throughout history. The following accomplishments are true, the parenthetical comments that follow are mine and subject to not being true.

  • Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence when he was 70 (He actually thought he was picking up the lunch tab for a few of his cronies)
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt didn’t buy his first railroad until he was 70 (He then gave it to his son for Christmas along with a track that circled Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree)
  • Omkali Singh is the oldest woman to give birth at 70 (Her baby was 46 when he was born)
  • Clothing designer Calvin Klein, cast Lauren Hutton in an underwear ad when she was 73 (They actually cast her when she was 70, but it took her three years to get the underwear on).
  • At 77 John Glenn became the oldest person in space (He was the one that left his right-hand turn signal blinker on as he orbited the earth)
  • 80 year old Yuichiro Miura is the older person to summit Mt. Everest (I had to use oxygen just to type that!)
  • At 92 Paul Spangler finished his 14th marathon (He finished both first and last in his age group)
  • When George Burns was 94, he performed on the New York stage where he first began his career (He told the same jokes at both performances without the risk of anyone having heard them before)
  • Nola Ochs became the oldest person to receive a college degree – she was 94 (She’s currently looking for a job)
  • Retired Lt. Col. James C. Warren is a former navigator of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military aviator in the U. S. armed forces. At the age of 87, he became the oldest person in the world to receive his pilot’s license  (However, Harrison Ford, 74, holds the record for oldest pilot to crash 3 times and still keep his license)
  • At 91 and 103 respectively, Doreen Luckie and George Kirby became the oldest newly weds (Rumors were unfounded that they had to get married)

Makes you want to quit reading this and get out of that easy chair and go do something, doesn’t it?  (But don’t have a baby!)

Still not Wastin’ Away

There have clearly been some outstanding accomplishments by those supposedly ‘past their prime’, but with Jimmy Buffett, who turned 70 last December, as their Pied Piper, I’m certain the Boomers will continue to show us a whole new way to ‘play the back nine’.

Post Script: If you find errors in this post, please blame it on my sister’s arthritis remedy – who knew gin was health food?!

 

Speaking of Elephants

by Bob Sparrow

An American tradition that has lasted more than 146 years comes to a close next month. On Sunday, May 21 at Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus ‘Big Top’ will come down for the very last time. And with it goes the threat that any of your children or grand children will run off and join the circus.

It was called The Greatest Show on Earth, of course that was before Tiny Tim or Charo created their shows, but it was indeed a great show. I can attest to that personally, but first a little history. The circus as we know it today started in 1875 when Phineas Taylor Barnum (‘P.T.’ to his friends) was convinced to lend his name and his money to an existing circus that soon combined efforts with James Bailey’s circus and purchased the first elephant born in the United States and later purchased ‘Jumbo’ which was advertised as the ‘world’s largest elephant’ – a fact they couldn’t prove, but no one could disprove it either. That’s sort of the way old P.T worked. You may remember P.T. Barnum as the person that said, “There’s a sucker born every minute”. Actually it was never confirmed that he said that and in fact, he was known to be very courteous to his suckers . . . er, customers.

‘Jumbo’

P.T. died in1891 and Bailey purchased the circus from his widow and continued to tour the east coast, until 1897 when he decided to take the act to Europe. A few years before that, five of the seven Ringling brothers had started a small circus in Wisconsin and when they heard that Bailey was taking his circus to Europe, they decided to head east, which apparently was circus-crazy. When Bailey returned from Europe he discovered that the Ringling Brothers were dominating the east coast, so he moved his circus out west in 1905. The next year Bailey died and a year later the circus was sold to the two remaining Ringling brothers.

As the circus gained in popularity and size, a train was needed to move the circus from city to city and it became a popular spectacle to see the train pull into town and watch the workers set up the tents and work with the animals.

In 1950 the train pulled into San Francisco when the circus was no longer performing in tents, but rather large permanent structure, so it set up shop in ‘the City’s’ Civic Auditorium. Our Dad and his Mom took brother Jack and me to the circus. I suspect that our Mom stayed home because she was pregnant with my co-writer. I remember a lot about that day and when I called Jack, who has the memory of an elephant, to ask him about his recollections, he happily filled in some of the details. We started recalling the things that we saw, the high wire act, the clowns (Emmett Kelly, the famous hobo clown was among them), a lion tamer, the ring leader in his top hat and of course, the ‘dancing’ elephants. We were amazed. To us, it was indeed the Greatest Show on Earth. You have to keep in mind that we didn’t have a television until a few years later.

The 5 Ringling Brothers

Through world wars, the Depression and various other wars and recessions, the circus endured and became part of our culture, part of Americana. But it’s easy to see why they are closing their doors, or tent flaps, now, what with their rising costs and dwindling attendance. With all the entertainment literally at the fingertips of today’s kids, the circus is too mundane, doesn’t move fast enough, too analogue in a digital world. I get it, but it’s still sad to see it go.

To Mr. Barnum, Mr. Bailey and to the five Ringling Brothers, you had an amazing run. Thank you for a great childhood memory.

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That Day in Dallas

by Bob Sparrow

kennedy-in-carI had the pleasure a couple of weeks ago of attending the wedding of Reid Hendrix in Dallas, Texas; Reid is the son of good friends and former ‘hood residents, Cap & Sharon Hendrix, but no relation to Jimmy Hendrix. It is hard to mention the city of Dallas to people of my generation and not have them think of the Kennedy assassination. It was 53 years ago this week when we all not only remember the date of November 22, 1963, but we all know exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news – “President Kennedy has been shot”. Our generation saw Kennedy as a young, energetic, charismatic leader; who we were less concerned about his politics and policies than we were about the goings-on of Jack and Jackie in ‘Camelot’.

That day in Dallas was an historic day in many ways. To me ‘the 50s’ started in 1954 when Bill Haley and the Comets released Rock Around the Clock and ended with the Kennedy assassination. The age of innocence was gone as it was less than three months later when the Beatles made their first appearance in the United States and the psychedelic 60’s were underway.

book-depository

6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

Although I have traveled to Dallas many times on business, I have never visited the site of the Kennedy assassination, the Texas School Book Depository, or as my colleagues called it, the Book Suppository (Ouch!), maybe that’s part of the reason it’s been renamed the Six Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Regardless of the name, they’ve done a great job of telling the complete, albeit controversial, story of the assassination and the strange series of events that followed. The self-guided tour through the museum exposes you to historic films, photographs, artifacts and interpretive displays that document the events surrounding the assassination. The museum presents the background of Lee Harvey Oswald and what might have been his motivation to shoot Kennedy, the story of Jack Ruby, who shot Oswald two days after Oswald shot Kennedy, and the Warren Commission’s report that unconvincingly concluded that Oswald acted alone.  It is a conspiracy theorist’s paradise.

The highlight of the tour for me was standing by the window on the 6th floor next to the site from where the gunshots came (one can not stand exactly where Oswald was as it is surrounded with Plexiglas). While standing there, one can see a video simulation of the Kennedy convertible turning the corner and coming right toward Oswald (presenting him with what seemed to be a much better target than the car later offered), then taking a left turn on Elm Street (Elm Street?!) where after Kennedy’s convertible moved laterally away from Oswald’s perch until it was about 100 yards away, at which time the shots were fired from the rear.

grassyknoll

 Me searching the ‘grassy knoll’

What about the ‘second gunman behind the grassy knoll’ you say? As you can see by the photo, I examined it quite thoroughly and came away more confused than I was back in the 60s. There’s a lot of stuff that just doesn’t add up. To wit:

  • Oswald was not a particularly good marksman
  • The alleged weapon was an average quality bolt-action rifle, meaning one would have to manually discharge the spent shell and move a live shell into the firing chamber, which makes firing 3 or 4 bullets (they’re not exactly sure) accurately in just a few seconds very difficult
  • Critical documents were withheld from the Warren Commission and they ignored some of the testimony and some of the evidence was tampered with
  • Certain film and photographs of the assassination were confiscated

And to me the most interesting controversy revolved around the ‘Magic Bullet Theory’, which goes as follows: Allegedly one bullet passed through President Kennedy’s neck and Governor Connally’s chest and wrist and embedded itself in the Governor’s thigh. If so, this bullet traversed 15 layers of clothing, 7 layers of skin, and approximately 15 inches of tissue, struck a necktie knot, removed 4 inches of rib, and shattered a radius bone. A magic bullet indeed!

While the tour told an interesting and detailed story, I came away disturbed, disturbed that we still don’t know all thewho-killed facts of what really happened that day, and why. Viable cases have been made for various murder suspects, including Vice President Lyndon Johnson, the CIA, the KGB, Fidel Castro, a Secret Service agent and the mafia, just to name a few!

A lot stuff just doesn’t add up.  So if our government didn’t give us the real scoop on this, I’m going to look into that so-called moon landing we did back in 1969 and perhaps start searching for Elvis, who may still be alive.

 

 

 

 

Make Room Mt. Rushmore?

by Bob Sparrow

rushmore

“My lips are sealed”

This week we will, or already have, decided who will be our next president, or perhaps more accurately, decided who we want to keep from being our next president. In a desperate move to help us all to feel better about our new president-elect, I thought I would look at the ‘character’ of some of our past presidents, who had the huge advantage of not living in this era of ‘social media’ where everyone carries a camera and bad news travels at the warp speed of the Internet.

  • As it turns out our founding fathers weren’t without their flaws, both Washington and Jefferson owned slaves, in fact Jefferson was more than a groper, he fathered six children with slave, Sally Hemings – that would have been a little difficult to keep off the TMZ network today!
  • Lincoln, who is often revered as our best president, seemed to think of himself above the law as he single-handedly suspended habeas corpus (the principle that someone under arrest can’t be held for long without being brought before a judge), shut down opposition newspapers and jailed their editors, conspired to establish a
    tr

    Teddy the Elephant Killer

    military government in Washington DC and used military force to keep the Maryland legislature from meeting so that it couldn’t vote on secession.  I suspect that WikiLeaks would have had a field day with old ‘Honest Abe’.

  • Teddy Roosevelt’s lust was of a different sort, he lusted for war. His imperialism and racism can be summed up with the following quote from him, “All the great masterful races have been fighting races,” he claimed. To fellow Anglo-Saxons, he said, “It is wholly impossible to avoid conflicts with the weaker races,” and added, “The most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages.” I’m guessing that Hitler was a big fan of Teddy.

OK, that takes care of Mt. Rushmore, but there is plenty more . . .

  • Benjamin Franklin was careless with secretive documents that ended up in the hands of the enemy – a British
    fdr

    Lying Franklin

    secret agent. But he swore that those documents only contained information about how he was going to fly a kite to invent electricity and Chelsea’s wedding.

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt was known to lie a lot (What? A politician lying!!!) He was in terrible health, which he kept from the public, he was said to have liked Stalin too much and he had Soviet spies in his cabinet and didn’t really care, family members enriched themselves by his being in office, the New Deal actually slowed the recovery from the Great Depression and, among other things, he was accused of trying to seize control of the Supreme Court. Gosh, he could easily get elected today!
  • The list of sleazy presidents is too long for this blog, but here’s a few of the all-stars:
    • John Tyler – fathered 15 children with two different wives and had several more with his slaves; in November 1836 he became the Whig’s party president ‘erect’.
    • Andrew Jackson invited prostitutes to the White House Christmas party – I’m sure he just wanted to make sure that there were plenty of Ho Ho Hos to go around!
    • clintonlewinski

      Bill & Monica

      While Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton are considered modern history’s best-know presidential horn-dogs, Lyndon Johnson,  who called his naughty bits ‘Jumbo’, was worse than either of them.  Both Grover Cleveland and Warren Harding were also known to have a number of dalliances while in the ‘oval orifice’.

      kennedy

      Marilyn & Jack

    • It is well known that FDR and Eisenhower (at least while a general in the army if not while president) had mistresses while serving in ‘pubic’ life.

There’s more, lots more, but I think you get the point. So while you may think that we’ve reached new lows with this year’s two candidates, it’s actually just politics as usual, so we’ll be just fine. There now, don’t you feel better? Yeah, me neither!

Even if this didn’t make you feel better, why not SHARE it, maybe it will help a friend with pre or post-election blues.

On THIS Day in History

by Bob Sparrow

This week I was reminded, more than once, that it was still April not May. I’ve come to grips with that now and have decided that I owed it to you readers to let you know that I am now back from the future with some more little know facts about what happened in history this week.

Monday, April 25

I have chosen Miss Rhode Island as my April spokesperson this week, as I think she sums up this date like no one else could. Have a look . . .

Tuesday, April 26,

1933 – The Gestopo becomes the official secret police force of Nazi Germany and create a killer soup recipe that is made of raw vegetables and served cold . . . oh, that’s Gazpacho, never mind.

1934Donald Sterling, previous owner of the L.A. Clippers basketball team, is born. You’ll remember the magnanimous Mr. Sterling for telling his mistress, Stiviano: “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. You can sleep with them, bring them in, you can do whatever you want, but the little I ask you is … not to bring them to my games”.  Shortly after the statement was made public the NAACP cancelled its plans for the following month to award Sterling for a second time with its lifetime achievement award. I’m not making that up!

Wednesday, April 27

1882 – As a follow up to the whereabouts of Ralph Waldo Emerson, he died on this day and was found on the remote island of Tierra del Fuego dressed in a red and white stripped nightcap and pajamas

1938 – A colored baseball was used for the first time in any baseball game. The ball was yellow and was used between Columbia and Fordham Universities in New York City.  A colored baseball player was not used until nine years later.

1983 – And speaking of baseball, strike out artist, Nolan Ryan broke a 55-year-old major league record when he was refused for a date by Cindy Stapleton; it was his 3,509th career strike out.

Thursday, April 28

1962 – In the Sahara Desert of Algeria, a team led by Red Adair used explosives to put out the well fire known as the Devil’s Cigarette Lighter. It was later determined that the fire was actually caused by Red when he was attempting to light one of his farts.

1967Muhammad Ali refused induction into the U. S. Army on religious grounds as a consciences objector who loathed violence. Ali went on to turn numerous opponent’s faces into hamburger, caused many concussions and ruptured spleens, all in the name of peace.

Friday, April 29

1997U.S. Astronaut Jerry Linenger and U.S.S.R. Cosmonaut Vasily Tsibliyev wentspace walkers on the first U.S.-Russian space walk. The couple was chosen as both of their profiles indicated that liked Barry Manilow music, rainy days and long walks in space.

Hope your weekend is less confusing now.

On This Day in History

by Bob Sparrow

I’m starting a new feature here at From A Bird’s Eye View, which will occur whenever we haven’t traveled anywhere or we temporarily run out of other things to write about. This feature will recount some historical events that actually took place on the days of this week, along with my illuminating comments of little know facts.

Monday, May 25th

1803 – Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American poet and philosopher was born and lived in Massachusetts, but later in life, health issues caused him to move to South Carolina, then he moved to Florida, then he moved to . . . well, they don’t exactly know where, and thus the game ‘Where’s Waldo?’ was born.

1925 – In the ‘Monkey Trial’, John T. Scopes was indicted for teaching the theory of evolution in a Tennessee classroom. Within the state the event was more commonly referred to as the ‘If-I-Divorce-My-Wife-Is-She-Still-My-Sister Trial’.

oprah1997 – At age 100, Senator Strom Thurmond retires as the oldest serving senator in U.S. history; he had actually passed away three years earlier, but the first ‘Do Nothing Congress’ thought he was just sleeping at this desk again.

2011 – After 25 years, Oprah Winfrey, weighing in at 223 pounds, aired her last TV show as she finally ran out of fad diets to promote.

Tuesday, May 26

1936 – The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its first session of searching for subversives in the U.S. and had to go no further than their own congressional chambers to find some.jackson

1946 – A patent was filed in the United States for the H-bomb.  Later, when ‘Hell’ was more readily accepted into the American lexicon, it was replaced by the ‘F-bomb’.

1994 – In what turned out to be a ‘Bad’ ‘Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love’, Michael Jackson weds Elvis’ daughter, Lisa Marie Presley.

Wednesday, May 27

1927 – After 15 million cars, the Ford Motor Company ceases manufacture of the ‘Model T’ and begins to retool plants to make way for the car that will change Ford’s history, the Edsel.

1941 – U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt declared an “unlimited national emergency”. Yes, in May not on Dec 7th. Conspiracy theorists say that when no one really paid attention to Roosevelt’s declaration, he staged Pearl Harbor.

jones1997 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Paula Jones can pursue her sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton while he is in office. Unfortunately she had to get into a line that stretched for a half a mile down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Thursday, May 28

1952 – The women of Greece are granted the right to vote. Yes, in 1952!!!  Sixty-four years later in 2016 Saudi Arabia put the ‘woman’s vote’ up for consideration, but it was voted down – BY AN ALL MALE ELECTORATE!

The ‘all male’ voting rule also exists today in Vatican City, which only allows cardinals under the age of 80 to vote and since canon law does not allow women to be ordained as priests, there are no women cardinals and thus they have been able to both age and gender discriminate with one simple law.

Quayle1972 – White house ‘plumbers’ break into the Democratic National HQ at the Watergate Hotel and while searching through George McGovern’s room, find a poster of Bernie Sanders above his bed.

1987 60th National Spelling Bee: Stephanie Petit wins spelling ‘staphylococci’ – she beat out future Vice President Dan Quayle, who just barely missed the spelling of ‘potato’.

Friday, May 29

1916 – To get a pre-season ‘patsy’ game win under its belt and warm up before entering World War I, the U.S. invades the Dominican Republic

1919Einstein’s theory of relativity (the light-bending prediction part, my personal favorite) in 1916 is confirmed by Arthur Eddington; I’m sure you’re more-than-familiar with this simple formula below.einstein

1942Bing Crosby records Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and it becomes the best-selling single in history. Today he would have to also record  Black Christmas, Brown Christmas and Rainbow Coalition Christmas.  In a separate, but related story, in an effort not to slight the Smurfs, Elvis records Blue Christmas.

1953Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay become the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest where they find the world’s first Starbucks.

I hope these events will help you feel a little more connected to this week and get you through it with a smile.