Saturday, January 30, 2010

Three Poems

Grissom Street

i walked the length of Grissom Street,
never met a soul:
too early in the morning,
too late, too dark, too cold.

i found some solace in my walk;
i cannot tell you why;
perhaps the darkness and the cold
felt better than to cry.

dawn’s first light was lurking near;
i walked back to my flat,
not much more than empty rooms;
i require no more than that.

my days are spent in cheerless grind
to make a buck or so
before returning to my flat,
and the sleepless nights i know.

i’ll walk on Grissom Street again,
breathe in the dark, the cold;
i might balk at a startled cat
for i am not too bold.

the cold night air on Grissom Street
allows me to think quite clearly,
accepting things that have to be;
wondering what i hold too dearly.

there are no signs on Grissom Street;
those who walk here know the way;
it’s not a place to dawdle;
nor a place to stay and play.

Some late, cold walks on Grissom Street
i sometimes give in to dreams,
as dark as my realm of Grissom Street:
they are as bleak as the dark street seems.

i’ve grown older during these cold, dark walks;
though no strangers did i greet,
i’ve heard some voices telling me
I’ll remain on Grissom Street.

– Bonita, California
- April 3, 2005

To Maureen and Sarah on Discovering a Photograph of Maureen on Dictionary Hill

Silhouette in eighty-five,
a dream she let me share;
the silhouette and dream
remain today.
Even better,
there are now two silhouettes to
frame in my memory.

- Bonita, California
- November 2007

Land of Yeats

They, like us, are not getting it,
Thirty years or so, by my count,
later than us:
Land of Yeats,
first edition and autographed,
even the literary rebel Wilde collected in
musty shelves of the bookstore,
next to “Duke’s” pub;
both of which would be
plastic clean franchised –
courtesy of Mr. Kroc, et al –
by us
by now.
we digest the mustiness of the old books,
the dark brew of Guinness with Irish stew,
gusts of seawind and racing clouds outside.
Thirty years ago or so, by my count,
we had hootenanny folk,
free love – which is never really free –
which we packaged, marketed, promoted:
sales, sales, sales.
Now we gather in the land of Yeats,
next to the North Sea
for a sales promotion
to experience what?
These folks of this land of Yeats are
thirty years or so, by my count, from
plastic and sales
have been around
a thousand or more years, by my count,
longer than us;
so perhaps
they will not succumb to plastic packaging too fast,
the musty books,
the dark brew
will remain
part of the land of Yeats
seawind swept landscape for
another thousand years or so,
by my count.

– Dublin, Ireland
- March 17, 2005

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Goofing Off

SAN DIEGO – The Southwest corner is normally great goofing off, but when growing up back home, I found there to be just as suitable.

I should get a lifetime reward for goofing off, both indoor and outside.

Right now, the Southwest corner is suitable only for indoor goofing off. The storms raged last week leaving floods and mudslides in their wake. Many trees are down from the 60-knot winds – the predominant eucalypti have shallow roots, grow tall and majestic, and are prone to falling over in stiff winds.

Streets are flooded. Worse, outdoor goofing off is off. Golf courses have bunkers, fairways, and even some greens under water.

* * *

An aside: an unpleasant aspect of the Southwest corner is folks either never learned or have forgotten how to drive in rain. Visitors are not aware of the second worst driving hazard out here during rain. After local drivers, the worst driving hazard is oil.

We normally see very little rain. Last week, some areas received more than five inches, more than half of the annual total. Consequently, roads are soaked with oil, which goes below the top surface. Then with rain, the oil rises to the surface, the roads are slicker than ice, and spinouts are frequent.

If you are out this here and driving in a rainstorm, first watch out for the crazy California drivers (rain or no rain), and then be wary of oil-slick roads.

* * *

I am not sure where I got the talent of goofing off. I don’t recall any of my relatives, especially my parents, goofing off. My father went fishing, but he was not goofing off.

He fished at every opportunity. He particularly enjoyed fishing for striped bass on Center Hill Lake. After supper, he would drive up to Sligo Boat Dock with a fishing buddy, sometimes allowing his son to come along. There they would find a good fishing spot – I always wondered how they knew it was a good place – hang a Coleman lantern over the side and fish just below the shad which were attracted by the light.

He caught an amazing number of stripes this way, sometimes more than 60, with at least two or three lines over the side simultaneously. He could be catching many while his son, a.k.a. me, would sit on the bow and catch…nothing.

The darkest nights were the best. So when the full moon came up or dawn approached, he would come home, arriving for maybe an hour or less of sleep. Then he would go to work for the day. Sometimes, to take advantage of the moon’s phases of darker nights, he would go two or three evenings in a row, getting by with what sleep he could get before work and a 45-minute nap at lunch.

My father is not a big fish-eater. When he came home, regardless of the size of the haul, he would clean and dress his catch in the back yard then give to friends.

That is work. That is not goofing off.

* * *

I developed my goofing off trait early. Sometime around nine, I started mowing J. Bill Frame’s and Fred Cowan’s yard across the street. I used our old rotary blade power mower. I would mow for an hour and then take a break, going back to our home. The break could turn into an hour itself.

I don’t know what I did. Television was either not on during the day or the single program was for women (although I did like to watch “Queen for a Day,” hosted by Jack Bailey). I believe this was the origination of goofing off.

The old mower was balky, requiring a deft touch with the choke and a strong, swift pull on the starter cord. Frequently, I would flood the carburetor, and try as I might, I could not start that stubborn mower. Eventually, sore armed and frustrated,

I would call my father at Hankins and Smith, informing him the mower was “broke.”

My father would stop work, drive across town, and pull into the driveway where I usually “worked” on the mower. He would step up to the mower, make one flick on the choke, pull the cord once, and the mower would start.

I believe he thought I had been goofing off.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fiddlersburg and Billie Potts Resurrected: A Note to My Brother

i don't usually publish posts more than twice a week even though i keep promising to publish more. Tonight, i was trying to clean up this office which resembles my daughter's room so i can't give her a hard time about cleaning up and i found this poem. i remembered it and edited it again, and here it is. i hope you like it as much as i do. In fact, i hope you enjoy all of my writing as much as i do.

Fiddlersburg and Billie Potts Resurrected: A Note to My Brother

the little star over the left tit.
they buried Little Billie and
no one knew in that patch of land between the rivers which was
Fiddlersburg, revisited and drowned
under the auspices of TVA,
the government men.

i would like to resurrect Little Billie and Fiddlersburg,
but there is no more South,
only a filmy, flimsy image of what used to be
or a caricature of used-to-be South.

and Robert Penn would insert some Italian here:
i would ponder the depth of what he wrote,
but what you see is what you get with this old sailor;
the point is (without Italian)
we strive for balance, and it never is balanced, especially in Italy, especially in Southern Italy; In our South, balance ain't
Southern lonesome;
it ain 't passion;
it ain't.

i may be there again,
i may be suffering enough,
touching depths of my Southern,
unbalanced male soul,
not brooking balance but
yearning for tragic,
yearning for lonesomeness.
we are the last of a breed i fear;
i wonder how many still exist,
i even wonder about you, my brother;
but we can't tell even the most intimate soul mate,
even brothers perhaps;
for to reveal the awful truth,
even to write it,
which it what it is all about, will alter it;
will take it inextricably, permanently away.
we can no longer be the tragic figure
we wish to be,
even though we've never
really figured out the tragedy.

there is a sadness in joy
because of all forgotten.
there is a joy in sadness
because of realization.

the schooner, sails hauled down,
motors into the narrow pier
in the mist of twilight.

- Bonita, California
- October, 1996

Two poems

Walker Hicks and i continue to work on the web site, hopefully making it better and easier to use. You can now comment on my "blog" entries. Currently, if you do not have a google account or another in the drop down menu, you can send your comment by selecting "anonymous." i am looking forward to hearing from you.

who i am

i am a time traveler in my mind.

Crystal illusions on the waterfront,
Sail and red checkered table cloths.

The problem is i do not know
who i am at what time i am whomever i am.

Spackle of grey clouds allows the sun
to dart between, glare at the sea gulls flapping.

i keep these secrets with me,
not knowing who i am, when, and mostly why.
I cannot tell any one,
especially those who have come to know:
no political correctness here,
just concern for all of those, even her,
just not i.

Old world harbor town gasping hard against
the new world up and coming.

Responsible resistance to secret revelation,
a yearning emptiness of sweetness.

Lovely young smile and quick mind
Sharing a moment which cannot be more.

It is a secret
Which i wrestle with like a bear
With no resolve as to how much, when or how
i should tell to whom;
…and the world goes round
While people do foolish things,
i among them.

old man nodding, smiling at the beauty,
the symmetry of it all
while the city structures loom
silhouettes of the times:
those which are,
those which never will be.

Smile Mr. Fitzgerald;
Another day for Gatsby has arrived.

- Bonita, California
- October 12, 2006

Waiting Grace

the old folks sit in the room too warm,
television images blink randomly,
the mute button silences the room
although they do not know as the hearing aids
lie on their respective tables with
paraphernalia required for the elderly;
they sit knowing the time will come soon:
waiting grace.
All is right with the world.
They and the remaining few of their generation
know how to demonstrate
waiting grace.
No threat, no fret, no fear
shows in their continence:
they do what they can and
what they can decreases perceptively almost daily,
faculties fade and with the fading,
the joys of their industry escaping slowly:
waiting grace.
They have endured the test of time when
times were harder and
simpler and
they hold to those codes of right and
simplicity and
goodness to the neighbor, friend and
to service:
waiting grace.

- Bonita, California
- October 22, 2006

Friday, January 22, 2010

Misadventures and Connections to Home

SAN DIEGO – Many years ago, I had a part in a bizarre incident in a year of bizarre incidents, both large and small.

Last week, I recalled this particular incident amidst a business meeting in the Southwest corner. Small arms ranges were in discussion when someone asked if a 50-caliber machine gun or sniper rifle could be used in an indoor range. The answer was yes, once. That generated my memory.

In 1970, a couple of 50-caliber machine guns and I got to know each other better than I would have preferred.

I was executive officer of an 18-man Navy unit aboard Merchant Marine transport ships of the Military Sealift Command, which carried Republic of Korea (ROK) troops to Vietnam and back to Pusan, Korea. We would pick up 1500 troops and sail to Nha Trang and Qui Nhon, swapping incoming and outgoing Tiger division (Korean marines) personnel in Nha Trang and repeat the process for the Palm (supply) Division in Qui Nhon.

Beautiful Resort

Nha Trang was a beautiful location. Then, it was undeveloped. We would snorkel in the crystal clear waters in view of the president’s summer palace. Pictures of Nha Trang today suggest it has become a tourist mecca, as I predicted then.
Qui Nhon is also a tourist resort today, something I did not predict.

The sea entry to Qui Nhon is a narrow channel surrounded by densely forested, steep peaks. The “USNS Geiger (T-AP 197)” would stand in to the harbor dropping percussion grenades over the side to discourage Viet Cong sappers from sabotage while ROK troops in resident would water ski past us, a bizarre sight.

In 1970, the small habitable areas except for the seaport on the south side of the bay were fishing villages. Directly across the bay from the port was “Market Time,” including a guard post atop a peak. “Market Time was the Navy’s anti-interdiction force.

A small Army officers club stood on a point west of the pier near the end of the U.S. base. Our five officers, including me, found it quickly. It was about half the size of Rose’s Diner, the eatery on South Cumberland Street from the late 1950s until its demise sometime after I left Lebanon.

Our little officer’s club was on a point directly between the Army’s guard post and the Market Time guard post. The officers club was a rudimentary bar, but it met our needs.


Late, one evening as we departed the club after some serious imbibing, a fisherman in his small boat was returning from a coastal fishing venture. The army perimeter post somehow decided the fisherman was a security threat and opened fire.

Their aim was off.

When the Army’s 50-caliber machine gun opened fire, the sentinels at Market Time apparently thought the fire was directed at them, or also spotted the poor fisherman with a similar conclusion to the Army guards. Regardless, they returned fire. The fisherman and our group were caught in the crossfire.

We dove for cover beside a pile of wood railings conveniently left after some construction project. The firing continued, a brilliant fireworks display to exceed any Fourth of July extravaganza, if for no other reason than this one was for real.

As we lay huddled with tracers and sincere 50-caliber bullets whizzing over our heads, we watched the fisherman slowly move down the bay, past the Army tower and calmly tie up to a small wooden pier at his village. He chucked his string of fish over his shoulder and disappeared quietly into the village.

Shortly afterward, the fireworks display on both sides ceased. I still do not know why. But I am glad it did.

Jim Harding

Toward the end of spring, I connected with Jim (Beetle) Harding in Qui Nhon. Jim, then an Army captain, was running a medevac operation for the 101st, one of the more dangerous operations in the conflict. Growing up, Beetle and I had spent many hours water skiing on Old Hickory Lake with his father and mother, George and Virginia, and his brother and my best friend Henry.

It was a wonderful morale booster to see someone from Lebanon, especially an old friend. I suspect it was just as good for him.

I did not ask him if he ever thought of water skiing or fishing in the bay at Qui Nhon.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thoughts to My Daughter for Her Eighteenth Birthday

Thoughts to My Daughter for Her Eighteenth Birthday
(and something i wish i had said to my other daughter much earlier and hope she passes to her son when it is time)

When people fill the world with noise,
With gestures, spittle, and venom,
They likely will not hear what you say:
Speak softly; they will listen.

For those who still do not hear your voice,
Don’t worry about what they are missing;
They are not worth fretting about;
They wouldn’t hear, even if they listened.

In this world, time is finite;
Time with good folks a precious treasure;
Speak softly and run with those good folks
Who stop, pause and listen.

Remember what goes around will come around again;
Refrain from your own shouting;
Listen to those who hear what you say
They will have something for you to learn.

Bonita, California
December 1, 2007

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Change of Command: A Story with Some Teeth

SAN DIEGO – I was going to brag about the weather in the Southwest corner when I sat down to write this column.

But it seemed familiar, and I found an earlier column where I had bragged more than enough. I think I have ridden that horse into the ground. Besides the Pacific is likely brewing some first class storm clouds to the west, which will roll in for a dreary month or so of rain, clouds, and dampness in February or March.

Then a friend from my first ship, the “U.S.S. Hawkins,” emailed me some old photographs, asking me to help identify a couple of officers from that wardroom long, long ago.

1968 Ship Photos

The photos were from 1968. Sailors were still a rough and rowdy bunch with most ship evolutions requiring brawn more than skill or knowledge. When a task was looming, many officers and chief petty officers were looking for “warm bodies,” not expertise in some specialized skill.

It was a beautiful August in Newport, RI, when my first change of command occurred. I had been aboard for about four months.

The change of command is a high point of ceremony on a destroyer. This one was to be even more of an extravaganza than most. The commander of the Cruiser, Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, a three-star admiral was the guest speaker. The ship was rehearsed and inspected to death in preparation for the grand event.

As the first lieutenant (in charge of deck operations and boatswain mates), I discovered I was the officer in charge of the honor guard by virtue of my position. We rehearsed even more than the rest of the crew. For the ceremony, the admiral would be “piped” aboard and then inspect the honor guard, presented by me.

The ceremony was on a Saturday morning. The previous Monday evening, I was driving back from liberty when a car pulled out in front of me. Unavoidably, I smashed into the side of his car and totaled mine.

Lost Teeth Again

My rider, another ensign, went through the windshield and was hospitalized for about a week with many cuts and various bruises. The steering wheel stopped me from a similar fate, but it also knocked out my front teeth (again) and pretty well bashed up my face.

The “hail and farewell” wardroom party was held in the officer’s club, the “destroyer-submarine” club, four days later, the night before the ceremony. The admiral attended, and I had almost a private audience with him when he noticed my injuries. I explained the incident. He seemed to be most understanding. The other officers were envious I had so much time with the brass.

The next morning, the crew assembled in dress whites. I was resplendent in my white choker collar, white shoes, and Naval officer’s sword, if no one noticed the scars scabbing over and my puffed lips.

I assembled the honor guard, mostly second class petty officers, inspected their spotless uniforms, and had them fall into ranks under the awning on the fantail, rigged just for the occasion. The rest of the crew was assembled at quarters; the side boys were posted at the end of the brow leading up to the quarterdeck.

Admiral’s Remark

The sun was shining brightly. Red, white, and blue bunting decorated the life lines. Precisely at 1000, ten a.m., the admiral strode down the pier with a gazillion ribbons on his chest and bristling with “scrambled eggs,” the interlaced braid on the bill of his cap.

He came aboard to the band’s rendition of “Ruffles and Flourishes” while the side boys saluted him as he passed through their cordon and the boatswainmate of the watch “piped” him aboard.

He made a sharp turn and approached me. I commanded to the troops, “Hand salute” and flourished my sword in salute as well.

“Honor guard ready for your inspection, admiral,” I snapped as he returned my salute.

“Ready, to,” I ordered for the crew to end their salute as I briskly brought my sword back to my shoulder.

The admiral looked at me for a second and then asked, “How are your teeth this morning, Ensign?”

I then knew I was going to like the new captain. He was following the procession and began silently but visibly laughing behind the admiral’s back.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ode to Three Sisters and Their Mother

The old lady came busting out of the old century;
where she had been
an exquisite china doll of immeasurable beauty;
young men chased her
to allowable limits in the Victorian South
after we turned from reconstruction
while Teddy was roustabouting with Spain
in that little skirmish we often forget.
Remember the Maine.

But Granny came busting out;
fire in her belly, grit in her craw, pluck in her spirit, gleam in her eye;
with the handsome man who won the chase,
taking her and his bloodhounds
to the retired circuit rider’s farm out on the pike
where Granny’s circuit rider father would
preach occasionally without the horse or mule
in the hamlet of Lebanon,
smack dab in the middle of Tennessee,
Where some bright folks built the square
over a cold water spring
they discovered in “Town Creek”
in yet an earlier century.

…and the children would come around wartime,
dropping among the years of the first big one
we resisted until the Luisitania
took its hit and sank like a rock;
…and the children came,
five in all until one died
as young family members often did
in those pre-antibiotic days.
The handsome blood hound man who chased
criminals through the woods
took his own hit,
a decade after the war.
So the little maelstrom with grit in her craw
packed up the chillun’s and the belongings
making the trek to the groves
of central Florida
for a couple of years to
escape the sinking of the hound man
and the attendant feelings thereof.

In thirty-two, they came back home,
each with some grit in their craw.
Granny, the queen of grit,
went to work,
taking care of those who needed care
outside the family in order
to take care of her own.

…and the children grew up early,
cooking the meals, washing the clothes, cleaning the house,
gathering eggs, milking the cows, pulling the weeds;
before playing ball,
earning money until
they went to college in the little town,
or went to work,
or both.

The second big war came, again
in a wave of terror,
This time in an atoll’s pristine harbor,
taking hits, sinking to the shallow harbor depths.
Remember the Arizona.
The brother went off to war after marrying
a woman of another religion from down the road,
west a bit, in the big city.
He flew a plane named after his lady Colleen,
returning to the Tennessee hamlet, still
with fire in his belly, grit in his craw, pluck in spirit, gleam in his eye
before leaving for the orange groved paradise
he found on the southern trek several years before.

The preacher man was gone;
The hound man was gone;
The brother was gone;
The three sisters and their mother,
fire in their bellies, grit in their craw, pluck in their spirit, gleam in their eyes,
with their three new men
stared at the world,
staring it down straight in the eye,
wearing it down with their labor
until the world cried “uncle,”
admiring their fire and grit and pluck.

There were circles entwined with circles of family;
the circles orbited around the threes sisters and their mother:
all was well.

…and the world rolled on;
Granny finally gave up her pluckish ghost with grit in her craw;
no longer would she braid the waist long hair,
tying the braids atop her head
as she had done for so many years;
the three sisters rallied with
fire in their bellies, grit in their craw, pluck in their spirit, gleam in their eyes.

The grandchildren of the matriarch
spread with the four winds, remembering.

When the circles got together,
the three sisters remained the constant,
demanding the world stay in their orbit,
and the world was warm with laughter and love and
a sense the world was safe
as long as they all inherited
fire in their bellies, grit in their craw, pluck in their spirit; gleam in their eyes.

The world is older;
Granny is gone;
the youngest sister recently joining her,
the oldest failing fast:
The three sisters leaving us slowly with
the fire waning to embers, but still there is
grit in their craw, pluck in their spirit, gleam in their eyes;
staring down the world.

Such a lovely world they have shown us.

Bonita, California
March 10, 2007

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Living Room

The below column appeared this past Monday in The Lebanon Democrat. i intend to publish my Monday Democrat column's on this site on Wednesday or Thursday of the week to not compete with the newspaper. i also intend to write at least one article or "blog" a week with thoughts not quite copacetic with a hometown/memory op-ed column. In addition, i plan to put at least one poem or free verse piece on the blog/website each week. As in the past, these will be archived in the appropriate sections of this website.

i remain not exactly sure where i am going with this. It is certainly not the traditional major publishing house process to get published; nor is it the current variations of co-op or self-publishing. In fact, i'm not even sure why i am compelled to write.

But compelled i am. It is not for fame or notoriety. i'm long past that -- nor do i have any desire to be seen on national television at a sports event or "The Today Show" making a fool of myself for a very truncated Warhol-fifteen-minutes-of-fame moment. Perhaps i wish to give back something, thoughts or words which will induce laughter, pleasure, or a new idea.

i shall not ponder this long. My brother is a much better and deeper philosopher than i.

i will soon send out an email with the gist of the above thoughts to get those on my email mailing to visit the site and hopefully become habitual returnees.
i am working to actually have the mechanism for comments, replies, etc. like my much more web savvy daughter Blythe can do on her site. But that is a while off.

This seems crazy in that i am taking on the responsibility of making more income so Maureen can have life-style change options. This means while trying to increase my writing productivity and more frequent inputs here, i am pursuing income producing work in about four, completely unrelated directions.

It's fun, but i am old, and i am not too sure how long i can keep it up. But i have vowed writing will remain a top priority and this site is where it will be exhibited.

i hope you enjoy. Let me know what you think by emailing me at
Now, on to living in the living room:

SAN DIEGO – When we returned to the Southwest corner last week, we departed my parent’s home through the back door.

Even a few blocks north on Castle Heights Avenue, departures had been made through the back and side door since the late 1950s.

My parent’s current living room rarely sees a lot of action. Our Christmas tree, freshly cut from a small copse on Eddie and Brenda Callis’ acreage, prominently occupied a corner there. Occasionally, I snuck in after lunch and obliged myself a nap. Our daughter walked through from her bedroom in the upstairs loft. We welcomed callers at the front door and escorted them through to the family room.

Most living rooms I know today, including ours in the Southwest corner, rarely do more than display nice furniture, gather dust, and serve as a pathway. Many homes now are built with “great rooms,” but even these often don’t see much living.

Living in the Living Room

Our original family living room on Castle Heights Avenue saw a lot of living. My parents moved into this home, one of the first two on the block, in 1942. There was a bedroom, bathroom, short hall, unfinished upstairs, kitchen, breakfast nook, back porch, basement, dining room, and…ta da, the living room.

Later, my father turned the upstairs into two bedrooms, bath, and storage area. I suspect my presence in the single bedroom configuration had quickly become a nuisance after my father returned from the war.

Even with the first remodel, sleeping happened in the bedrooms, food was consumed in the breakfast nook or the dining room depending on the number of eaters, bathing was done in the bathroom, and living was done in the living room.

What a concept. Such accurate descriptions were long before Madison Avenue boomed with its glut of clever, catch misnomers.

Living occurred in the living room constantly during waking hours. I crawled there. I created havoc there. My father wrestled with me and tickled me on the coarse wool fiber of the patterned rug there.

Living Room Radio

The radio occupied a corner and my attention. I sat cross-legged or lay on my stomach propped on my elbows listening to “The Lone Ranger,” “Gangbusters,” “Tom Mix,” “Amos and Andy,” “Fibber McGee and Molly,” “The Great Gildersleeve,” “Fred Allen,” “Jack Benny,” and “Baby Snooks.”

The focus of living was toward the front. Before air conditioning, the arched doorway provided circulation through the screen door. Everyone entered there except my father when he returned from work, parked in the one-car detached garage, and walked through the back porch, through the kitchen into, you guessed it, the living room.

We played in the front yard. My mother and grandmother could keep an eye on us while living in the living room. We climbed the three peach trees on the south border of the lawn, laid blankets for playing under the tall Chinese maple on the lawn’s north side. We rode tricycles monotonously up and down the straight arrow sidewalk. Dressed in chaps, vest, and mini-version of a ten-gallon hat back, I pulled a small, wooden red wagon laden with a football, baseball, glove, and bat back and forth between the cinder driveway and those peach trees.

Television Takeover

Dismantling of the living room began surreptitiously in 1954. The old radio was replaced by a 14-inch black and white RCA cathode ray tube with accoutrements, our first television.

“Milton Berle,” “Red Skeleton,” “Martha Raye,” “Dragnet,” became the night time focus in the living room while “Kate Smith” led the afternoon lineup, followed by “Howdy Doody,” and concluding with Van Dyke adorned “Ruffin Ready” who introduced the gamut of cowboy stars to young whippersnappers.

But television presaged the end of living in the living room. The growing family and financial stability led to expansion. The pine paneled den was added with an enlarged breakfast room in the back. The back porch was gobbled up. The down stairs bedroom became the guest room when the master bedroom was added above the new den.

The television sat squarely in the middle of the den’s north wall. Living still occurred, but it was diluted with almost constant TV watching.

The living room was relegated to furniture, dust, passing through, a few formal gatherings, and Christmas.

Of course, we keep on living, but I sure miss living in the living room.