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This Is A Beautiful Woman, V

thumbnailThis is a picture taken at a tea honoring the women in the back row who were graduating from college in 1953 despite having started the process at a later date than usual. Sunny is second from the right. Her daughter and her best friend, recruited to serve as kitchen help, sit on either end of the sofa. Sunny’s mother is second from left. The gracious hostess and Sunny’s favorite college professor is seated on the sofa at the far right.

The Tough Summer of 1954

Although grateful and inspired by the many kindnesses extended to her family during the bout with hepatitis, Sunny was delighted to began earning a living again. The only problem was that she could bring home just about six weeks of pay before the schools closed for the summer. Still, she and her children were eager to work at any job available because it felt so good to be independent again. 

Sunny took classes so she could sell insurance door to door during the summer and planned to add weekends during the school year. However, that was not a good career move for her particular talents. She doggedly put in the time and foot work, but never did quite well enough to consider herself a success or to become comfortable in that venue. 

The older son, who  had graduated from the elite, preppy Capitol Page School in May, came back to Dallas and found work as a hod carrier on one of the big buildings going up down town. He earned enough at that to save some for college in the fall and to help fill in a few of the gaps for the rest of  the family.

The daughter, still in high school, kept up her baby sitting career in the neighborhood.  She earned a few shekles for spending money and frequently helped purchase gas at twenty-five cents a gallon for the family car. 

Sunny’s mother continued to live with them for awhile and cheerfully contributed portions of her social security check to help out as she could. 

Despite the joy of beginning to recover from total financial devastation, the Tough Summer of 1954 was the hardest period financially that Sunny and her family had to face.  For example, many times they drove to town well after dark to put a house or utility  payment  in the night depository box so they could avoid the late penalties which would start at the beginning of the next business day. 

Another frequent trial was buying gas. At a time when all service stations were full service, they frequently purchased two or three gallons at a time because that was all the money they had. Even so, they didn’t always make it back to the house or station before car ran out of gas again. Then they would have to ease the car to park it in front of the nearest stranger’s house, and walk to a nearby gas station to buy enough to start the car again, if anyone had any money. If everyone in the car was flat broke, they just walked home until they could afford to rescue the car.

Fortunately, the big bad city was much safer and friendlier in 1954 than it is today. No one worried about the car being stolen or tires slashed before they could return with a gas can to begin a new trip. The strangers in the house near where they parked never complained. The police never gave Sunny a ticket or had the car towed.  And when they did get the car back home, they always left it in plain sight in the drive with the keys in the ignition —- for fear of ever losing the keys. They continued doing this at least until the early 1970’s without any anxiety or loss. 

Also, they never locked their doors – even when going away for the weekend. Actually, Sunny never was quire sure just where the door key was and didn’t find it until she packed up to move to another town, years later. The term, home invasion, had not been invented yet and no one would have known what it meant, should someone use the term.  If burglar alarm systems were available at the time, only the ultra rich knew about them. 

A big sacrifice for the daughter was to reluctantly give the family dog to the neighbors three doors down because there just was not enough left over scraps to keep him alive, even with the bacon grease gravy she had learned to make for him. And buying dog food was totally out of the question. Many days, a half piece of bacon a day for each family member was all the meat they could afford. 

Although it was a tough summer, everyone pitched in to help any way possible. No one gave  up hope,  grew depressed, or became angry with either God or society. Yes, life was more onerous than they had expected, but never impossible. They still laughed at each other’s jokes; still listened to classical music on vinyl records; still reminisced over escapades from New Mexico; and they still teased about how hard they all worked to get a college degree for Sunny. College life for a whole family had also started a new tradition that they continued – keeping  the Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary near the dining table.  That made it easy to reseach new words that came up during dinner conversation.  Any time that any of the family heard a new word, they talked about it. Often one word would lead to another and then, another. While the practice improved vocabulary without the kids catching on, it also cultivated their social skills. Times were tough, but Sunny and her family were tougher and just as much fun to be around as ever. 

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This is a picture proof of Sunny’s three children taken during her freshman year in college.

 

The next chapters will show the welcome changes in fortune that began shortly after The Tough Summer of 1954.  If you missed the earlier episodes, it’s easy to catch up by using the following links:  

This Is A Beautiful Woman – https://wp.me/p3AOt2-uh

This Is A Beautiful Woman, II – https://wp.me/p3AOt2-um

This Is A Beautiful Woman, III – https://wp.me/p3AOt2-ux

This Is A Beautiful Woman, IV – https://wp.me/p3AOt2-uL

Homecomings Are Beautiful, Even at Three O’Clock in The Morning

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“Life takes you to unexpected places; love brings you home.”  Author unknown

We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the people of the United States for bringing us home. We thank God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return. God Bless America, the greatest nation in the world.”  (link)

Statement by Kim Dong Chul, Kim Sang Duk (Tony Kim), and Kim Hak Song

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The Desirable Beauty of Virtue in Plato’s Republic

In light of the above quote, it is interesting to note that Plato begins the Republic with the premise that living a virtuous life, however difficult it may be at times, brings happiness to the individual and to the community. (An idea foreign or even repugnant to many who live in the 21st Century.)  In fact, he equates what we might translate as justice, virtue, and/or excellence in English from one Greek term.

But over five thousand years later, in today’s United States, the usual understanding of  “justice” is ever evolving toward the latest group to be awarded victim status and their demands for reparations of some sort as social justice. I doubt that such an idea ever occurred to Plato.

Today, virtue signaling carries much more weight than virtue lived out. Actually, the lived out version has almost been forgotten. If mentioned in secular society, “virtue” is regarded with the same the same red faced tittering usually saved for stories about one’s aging maiden aunt who never quite fit in with the real world of fun, games, and good times.  Perhaps, elderly women drinking tea together in the afternoon might mention virtue without blushing, but both cool kids and adults  “know for a fact” that it’s a poisonous term that’s totally incompatible with happiness.  

Interestingly enough our word “virtue” came to the English speaking world from the Latin word, vir, for men.  Today, however, most men would cringe at being called virtuous even though it originally referred to manly valor. Virile is probably the most common English word derived from vir, although virago is reserved for a woman who acts bravely – like a man. It used to refer to women like Judith or Joan of Arc, but now is associated with a difficult woman, full of anger, who adopts masculine actions.             

In this century, many reserve the word “excellence” for either athletic or musical performances; it would never occur to  most writers, readers, or speakers to associate it with virtuous actions or decisions. 

Only to the extent that we’re virtuous, are we able 

to thrive in our human relationships.”  

*Dr. John Cuddeback

Fortunately, for us sceptics who silently seethe as we watch dishonest people thrive, grow rich, and become famous even though they proudly show no interest in living a virtuous life, **Plato  also thoroughly defends his premise in later chapters.  He does so, not only on the personal level, but on the level of the city-state. Thus, the great effort required to live virtuously benefits both the person and society as a whole. In fact, Plato posits that not only does living a life of virtue bring happiness; it is happiness. 

One after another Plato records the objections and examples from those ancient Greeks who questioned his premise. Their challenges resemble similar arguments that come to our minds as we read Plato. The conversations are presented as a debate, not a series of  ***ad hominem attacks. Plato is both thorough and eloquent as he elaborates and explains his ideas. 

My favorite part is where he refutes those who think that if they are clever enough to disguise their self serving ways in order to have the reputation for being virtuous while still lying, cheating, and stealing, can find the same level of happiness as the man who actually does act justly. It almost sounds like Plato had been watching the shenanigans of some of the current denizens of our nation’s capital. 

Plato ices his cake with his explanation that not only does the self-serving man not enjoy true happiness, even his supposed pleasure of living out wrong desires does not provide the satisfaction he seeks. It’s easy to see his point if one has ever watched a friend or family member descend from pursuing the escape of pain to addiction to the depths of despair and loss that often end in suicide. Or, if one observes the beautiful desire for sexual fulfillment being used selfishly until it degrades the whole culture.  As time goes by, practices that were once perversions become accepted. Then applauded. And finally defended legally to the extent that those who abstain must keep their beliefs private to avoid litigation, fines, and possible imprisonment. Meanwhile, the perpetrators walk around still somewhat dissatisfied and disappointed.

Frankly his book inspired me more than many lectures and homilies about ethicial behavior from Christian or Jewish leaders. These two Greeks  who lived and wrote centuries before the coming of Christ figured out logically the practical aspects of living happily even without the Jewish and Christian concepts and books that are generally considered inspired. I am amazed.

When asked how he values justice in Book II, Socrates replies: 

I myself put it among the finest good, 

as something to be valued 

by anyone who is going to be blessed with happiness, 

both because of itself and because of what comes from it.

 

 

* Dr. John Cuddeback is a Professor of Philosophy at Christendom College and author of True Friendship: Where Virtue Becomes Happiness. Some of these ideas came from two of his lectures: Plato’s Republic and The Discovery of Virtue.

**Plato wrote the book, but most of the dialogue and ideas come directly from Socrates, his mentor. So one could easily attribute this work to either philosopher since Socrates did not leave any written record.

***”When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.” Socrates

The Delight of Unexpected Beauty

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Although I have never been a particular fan of Victorian architecture, I am entranced by  this example of art in a mundane setting. And after spending a lifetime of seeing and using only the cheap, banal door knobs, roses, and faceplates of post WWII home building, even a glimpse of this beautiful cast brass faceplate gladdens the heart. (Sorry to see ill chosen replacement screws.) A closer look reveals decorative door knobs. Probably cast brass hinges are visible on the other side of the door and frame. I relish the care involved in creating beauty for every aspect of life.

I apologize for not knowing who took the picture or where it was taken. I would gladly give attribution if only I knew.

Copyright 2018 by Kaye Fairweather

This Is A Beautiful Woman

This is a picture of a beautiful woman that everyone calls Sunny, because that describes her perfectly. She celebrated her one hundredth birthday this week on  Christmas Day. No matter how feeble she’s become in the last two years, those who know her best still see only the smiling, gracious woman we’ve known all these years.  Although time has certainly taken its toll on her face and body after 100 years of living on this often unpleasant planet, her personality still shines though with the cheerful sweater and stole she chooses to wear. No little old lady looks for her!

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Sunny at Christmas/Birthday party in the Nineteen-nineties.

Growing up on a sheep ranch on the Llano Estacado, sometimes called the Staked Plain area of Texas and New Mexico, taught her that softies do not win in this life. Winning, or sometimes maybe just surviving, is only for those who work hard for what they want and need.

Being the oldest of three girls, she always did the “boys” chores while growing up. After she married her high school sweetheart and moved into town, she had to learn the “girls” chores like housekeeping and cooking. But she approached the new challenges with such determination and  aplomb that she soon conquered  unusual delicacies like  home made doughnuts.

Her blissful life of keeping house and mothering her three children  came crashing down around her about two weeks after they had celebrated the baby’s first birthday. Her beloved husband was killed in a plane crash, leaving her without insurance, but with debt from starting a new small business. At that time, she had never even written a check, much less balanced a check book. There was no time to grieve; she had to learn to provide sustenance immediately.

After an intense eight weeks of tutoring in typing and shorthand by a kindly Catholic neighbor (in an area so Protestant that there was only one Catholic church in the whole county), this twenty-eight year old began her new career. She became the secretary of one of the more successful businessmen in the area. Determined to make the best of every situation she faced, she absorbed the nuances and information of the new world of deals and legal transactions like a dry sponge placed under a running faucet.

But after a few years, she began to feel the need for a formal education and started searching her options.  Her acceptance at a small college in Central Texas became the omen that the world agreed with her plan. With her usual grit and determination, she moved with her three children  just in time to unpack before classes started.

Never one to tip toe in, unobtrusively, she jumped into the college life in the Fall of 1949 with all of the fervor of a small terrier that just found himself in possession of a meaty bone. On registration day, she eagerly signed up for 24 credit hours of work (8 classes) because she wanted to be sure to get her money’s worth out of school and she’d only saved up enough for one year.

After the white haired Registrar recovered from her fainting spell, she did manage to talk this ex-sheepherder into dropping one class. Still concerned about the 21 hour load for someone who had been out of school for fourteen years, she secretly contacted all the professors to look out for this crazy woman with three kids who expected college to be easy. The only problem with that tactic for the jaded professors was that each one of them was absolutely entranced by any student who was truly eager to learn, as opposed to just getting a diploma. And learning is easy when you’re excited about it. It was so easy for this beautiful woman that she graduated within four years with both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major and double minor. And at the same time, she provided for and reared her three children.

Stay tuned for the rest of “This Is A Beautiful Woman;” we have 64 more years to go.

Copyright 2017 by Kaye Fairweather

One Beautiful Car, Many Beautiful People

 

 

 

First Lt. Jonathan Rozier loved his wife, Jessica, his baby son, Justin, and his new  convertible, a 1999 Toyota Celicia GT, but he left them all behind to serve his country in Iraq. Sadly he never returned.

Jessica ended up selling his car when times got tough for the young widow trying to make ends meet. Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet and make hard decisions.

That was in 2003.

In 2017, the baby son begin driving, and she started to daydream about finding his father’s old convertible and buying it for him. Somehow she traced its whereabouts to Pleasant Grove, Utah and posted a picture of the car and its first owner on the town’s FaceBook page along with the car’s history.

Pleasant Grove’s leader of the patriotic group, Follow The Flag, saw the posting and began reporting the story among his wide circle of acquaintances. Sure enough, one of Kyle Fox’s friends happened to see the car, the one day it was parked on the neighborhood street instead of in the owner’s garage.

The fairly new owner of the Celicia GT, Jorge Cruz, had dreamed about owning that very model since he was a teenager himself. But when he heard about Justin, he readily agreed to sell.

“I believe nothing happens for just chance. Something has a purpose in life, and if you can make somebody happy, do it,” Cruz said. “It’s bittersweet for me, but that’s a good feeling somebody is going to be happy out of this.”

Seeing the Facebook post about buying his father’s car for Justin convinced Cruz to sell it.

Meanwhile, Kyle Fox began a Go Fund Me page to fix up the car before returning it to Justin and his mother in Texas. He said that it was his way of saying “thanks” to Lt. Jonathon Rozier for his sacrifice for our freedom.

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Lt. Jonathan Rozier with his son, Justin, before deployment to Iraq.