Monday, March 19, 2018

Some Wandering Thoughts on Guns

Just some brief wandering thoughts of mine on the matter of gun control. Sorry, I used the wrong phrase. "Gun Safety" is now the buzz word and is preferred over "gun control". Of course, the latter phrase promptly runs into trouble with NRA supporters. So, clever politicians have shifted the vocabulary to cover their true motive. They did the same thing years ago when they changed "abortion" to "pro-choice" in an effort to cover the slaughter of the unborn.

To those gun safety advocates out there, I ask one question: what gun safety training did the Florida school shooter lack? He knew how to load the gun. He certainly (and regrettably) knew how to fire the gun. I guess he missed that part of the gun safety class where he would have learned you don't shoot innocent people with your gun. By the way, if you are so keen on "gun safety", you should be a supporter of the NRA because that's who they are!

The situation in Florida had nothing to do with gun safety. It had to do with an evil, deranged individual, and a failure by those in authority. Since then, the cry is for more gun control (oops, I meant safety!). We need new laws to protect our students. So, Florida rushes to judgment and passes a law prohibiting the purchase of AR-15s by anyone younger than 21. Newsflash, politicians: those 18-21 have a far greater weapon than an AR-15. They have the right to vote. If they are too young to own a gun, they are too young to vote.

But, we all know such a law will not prevent a deranged eighteen-year old from getting his hands on a weapon if he intends to harm others. Those who wish to commit the crime of murder have no problem first committing the crime of theft.

So, for full gun safety, we need to eliminate the firearms. Yes, I know, the left will immediately scream, "No, that's not what we want." Well, maybe you won't say so out loud or maybe you haven't pursued your logic to its proper end.

Deranged eighteen-year olds can no longer buy an AR-15. But, they might steal one. So, why don't we pass a law forbidding the manufacturing of a weapon which, supposedly, has no use other than to kill humans? Ok, law passed. AR-15s are no longer manufactured and, in fact, are removed from society. So, the deranged eighteen-year old steals a .357 Magnum instead and shoots several students. Solution: get rid of .357 Magnums! And, so on and so forth. Logic dictates true gun safety will occur only when all guns are out of the hands of private citizens. Of course, this assumes no soldier or security personnel ever becomes deranged!

The left always shouts their support for the second Amendment and then adds the "but" caveat. Well, in Illinois, there is an effort to actually begin gun confiscation. You may read one article on that matter here (Illinois gun confiscation).

Finally, if one could eliminate all guns from our country, why wouldn't a deranged individual use a bomb or knife or truck or car or train or plane?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Illinois 2018

I am not a resident of Illinois, but, having been born there, still have an interest in the state. My entire lifetime has witnessed the dominance of politics in that state by Chicago and Cook County. Over the past couple of decades, the influence of Democratic Congressmen have resulted in an incredible tax burden upon it's citizens. Residents of that great state need to sit up and take notice of what has been going on in the State House under Mike Madigan's "leadership".

Now, almost nightly, ads appear on St. Louis local television promoting the candidacy of J. B. Pritzker for the Democratic nomination for Illinois Governor. J. B. has big plans and big promises, the same ones espoused by the left-wing for many years. The promises appeal to the ears of the public: equal wages, government-provided health care, free college tuition, etc., etc., etc. Of course, to bring all of these promises to fruition, more money is required. And exactly where is that money going to come from, Illinois resident? You, yes, you.

Now J. B. says he has a way to pay for all of his promises and I quote:

“You’ve got to ask yourself this question: How are we going to pay for the things that we really want?” Pritzker told reporters at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church. “And if you ask me, we’ve got to start by saying, before we ever get to raising taxes on the middle class, we’ve got to ask millionaires and billionaires, people who can afford to pay it, and that includes corporations, to step up to the plate.”

In other words, by raising taxes. This is the same mantra that has placed the state (as well as the country) in such a hole. If I lived in Illinois, I would never qualify as a millionaire. But, how long will it be until J. B. needs more money than he's getting from the so-called upper class for his programs? How long before some of those upper class individuals take their money to other states? Come on, J. B., more taxes is NOT the solution.

Illiniois needs to cut their taxes as does every state as well as the Federal government. It is not the government's responsibility to fully provide for the needs of their citizens. As our Federal Constitution reads, the government is "to provide for the common defense, promote (note: "promote", not "provide") the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty".

In fact, I want J. B. or any politician to explain to me why one citizen should pay a higher percentage of their income than another? The government provides for the common defense of all citizens equally. No millionaire is given extra protection through their extra taxes. No millionaire has more votes than other citizens. The government, effectively, does nothing extra for those who pay a higher percentage of their income. The reason government taxes them at a higher percentage is because they have MORE MONEY than others. J. B. says we must "ask" such people to pay more. No, what he means is the government must DEMAND they pay more.

I have no issue with an American citizen contributing to our government more than their required share. But I disagree that any American should be COMPELLED to pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than other Americans.

Hey J.B. (and others like you), why not pass a flat tax rate for all citizens? Even better, why not eliminate income taxes all together?

No, I am not an Illinois citizen, so how you run your state is up to you. But I must confess I believe you are either naïve or foolish to believe any politician who promises to give you "the moon" simply by increasing the taxes on the wealthy. If they want more money from their people, they really are not for their people.

That's my opinion.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Eliminating the Electoral College: A Bad Idea

Let us remember, we are the United STATES of America.  The founders wanted most of our government handled at the state level, not the Federal.  This is why the Constitution enumerates what powers are granted to the Federal government.  All other power is left with the states.

The election of a representative to lead the Executive branch (i.e., the President) must be someone selected by the united STATES, not simply by the majority of Americans.  If the majority of voters selects the President then it is very possible for an individual to win the highly metropolitan areas but not the majority of the STATES.  Our leader would not even have the support of the majority of states.  That is not what a representative government should desire.

The Electoral College imbeds the population of the entire country with the assurance of smaller states having a say in electing the leader of ALL STATES.  Yes, sometimes that leader will not win the most votes.  But we are a REPUBLIC, not a democracy.

Keep the college!

Monday, November 7, 2016

November 8, 2016

I'm ready to vote!  And, in case anyone is interested, here is my stance on the candidates and issues:

President/Vice-President:  Donald J. Trump and Michael R. Pence (please, no more Clintons!)

U. S. Senator:  Roy Blunt

Governor:  Eric Greitens

Lieutenant Governor:  Mike Parson  (please, no more Carnahans!)

Secretary of State:  Jay Ashcroft

State Treasurer:  Eric Schmitt

Attorney General:  Josh Hawley

U. S. Representative for District 3:  Blaine Luetkemeyer

State Senator for District 23:  Bill Eigel

State Representative for District 65:  Tom Hannegan

Circuit Judge Circuit 11 Division 2:  Deborah Alessi

Associate Circuit Judge Circuit 11 Division 13:  Rebeca McKelvey

County Council District #6:  Mike Klinghammer

Missouri Supreme Court Judge Richard B. Teitelman:  NO

Missouri Court of Appears Judges, Eastern District Philip M. Hess:  NO

Eastern District Court of Appeals Judge James M. Dowd:  NO

Constitutional Amendment No. 1:  NO

Constitutional Amendment No. 2:  NO

Constitutional Amendment No. 3:  NO

Constitutional Amendment No. 4:  NO

Constitutional Amendment No. 5:  YES

Statutory Measure Proposition A:  NO

County of St. Charles Proposition S:  NO

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hillary supporters

I want to ask those of you who support Hillary Clinton one question:  WHY?

Can you truly believe anything this woman says?  Do you really believe she is going to do all that she has promised to do?  If you answered "Yes" then I ask again, "Why do you believe her?"

Actually, HOW can you believe her?  She has lied and lied and lied some more.  As the letters continue to surface, her entire campaign, her entire life is a lie.

Those of you are support Hillary and are followers of Christ, remember who the father of lies is.  One who is a liar by nature has learned that skill from their "father".

Enough said.  Save our country and vote for someone other than Hillary Clinton.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Evaluation of the President's Policies Flowchart

I have no idea who came up with this and perhaps it has been around for a while. But I saw it today for the first time and it gave me a chuckle.

Increasing taxes to pay for pre-k education

The ads are running frequently on television promoting a massive increase in the cigarette tax to pay for pre-k education.  These promotions even use children to sway the hearts of those watching.  The announcement proclaims this tax to be a "hands off" tax by the politicians meaning the money may only be used to fund pre-k education.

20 years ago the promotion was that the tax on casino gambling would take care of our education system.  That money would all go to public education.  That was a lie.  Here we go again.

I do not promote smoking and have never smoked.  Such smoke bothers me so I avoid it at all costs.  I understand its addictive nature and feel badly for those who cannot shake the habit.  But increasing their tax is not going to help education.

Suppose the tax passes.  Suppose the money does go completely to education.  Suppose the higher prices result in a reduction in cigarette smokers.  What happens, then, to education costs?  Who is going to pick up the slack when the funds begin to run low?  The government will never permit this new bucket of money to disappear and soon a new tax will be proposed to help our kids.  I suspect kids will be in that ad as well.

We pay more and more every year for public education.  More money is not solving the problems with our school systems.  While we have many very good teachers, we also have "slackers".  The children are, for the most part, not learning as they should.  I have taught in various colleges in the area and I see what the public school systems are producing:  young men and women who cannot do math (especially if you take away their calculators!), who cannot write a paper, who know little of our country's history, and so on and so forth.  Something is amiss and it is not funding!

I urge people NOT to support this tax increase.  In fact I urge voters not to vote for ANY TAX INCREASE, PERIOD!  

It's time our government takes a good, hard look at their budget and makes appropriate cuts.  They do not need more of OUR money.

PROVIDE for the common defense (not merely promote)
PROMOTE the general welfare (not provide)
SECURE the blessings of liberty (not remove)

Friday, October 28, 2016


Yesterday I received a photograph on my cell phone of my two twin granddaughters who are 21 months now.  It is one of many grandchildren pictures I receive every week since I do have 17 such little people!  I love it when each new picture arrives.

One of the reasons I so enjoy these pictures (and it is a somewhat selfish reason!) is because when I see my grandkids I see an impact I have made on history!  I may never be remembered by anyone outside of my family and, in fact, will likely not be remembered by them in a few generations.  But the world will be impacted by those grandkids and their grandkids and so on.  

I am grateful to God that He can and has used me even in this small way.  What an honor and privilege it is to serve Him.  May my grandchildren each know my Lord personally and each serve Him diligently!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

More Election Fodder

One of the clear messages sent by the American public in the election of Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for President and the overwhelming support for Bernie Sanders during the Democrat primaries is they want new blood in government.  Trump talks about "draining the swamp" and, I agree, much of it needs draining.  Let's start with the Clintons, the Obamas, and the McCaskills of the world!

But we must also exercise caution.

In Missouri, there are two races of special interest.  First is the race for Governor between Eric Greitens and Chris Koster.  While Greitens is the true outsider in the race, Koster has been leading the polls for weeks, coming across as a level-headed politician, interested in helping the people.  Yet Coster has been in politics for quite some time.  Furthermore, he supports big government, he supports Obamacare, and he supports the legalization of illegal aliens in our country.  None of those items will help our state or people.  I am not a Greitens fan, but Greitens has a better plan for Missouri than Koster.

Even more interesting is the Roy Blunt/Jason Kander race for U. S. Senate.  Blunt has been in Washington for many years and, so, he is naturally one of those "in the swamp" that needs to be drained.  OR SO IT SEEMS.  But Kander has been a government official (Secretary of State) since 2012.  More than one election in our state was poorly run while he served in this position, a position in charge of elections.  Kander, like Coster, is a big government, "I love taxes" politician who supports Obamacare.  Furthermore, much of what he has said in his campaign ads against Senator Blunt is untrue.  I like Roy Blunt.  Perhaps he has been in Washington a bit long.  But at least I sense he is fighting for me and my family.  Blunt-yes; Kander-no.

Now some might argue that I simply support Republicans.  Well, that is not true.  Over my many years of voting, I have voted for people from both parties as well as for an independent here and there.  But, in all honesty, I don't see any Democrat these days who has anything to offer us but the same, old, left-wing, big government, tax increase policies of the past 40 years!  The party has continued to drift farther and farther left towards socialism and even communism.  Democrats always talk as though the government has the solution to our problems, that they know what is best for us.  But, in my 60+ years on this planet, I can count on one hand the number of programs the government has run which are truly successful.

Our Founders knew better.  They made our Federal government a LIMITED government.  It was designed to PROVIDE for the common defense (not merely promote it!), PROMOTE the general welfare (not to provide it!), and to SECURE the blessings of liberty (not take them away!).  That's why the Constitution contains the powers given to the Federal government.  They are limited to those powers so enumerated.  Yet the bigger our government gets, the fewer our freedoms become, and the more power they usurp.

I know of no Democrat who has any answer to any problem unless it is MORE GOVERNMENT.  Personally, I want the government off my back and out of my wallet.

The Presidential Election 2016

The Presidential election is nearly upon us.  I will admit at the outset I am not a fan of any of the candidates nor did I vote for any of them in the primary elections.  I have read and listened to policy statements from the 3rd party candidates and, to be perfectly honest, much of what most of them say makes little sense.  There is no doubt that NONE of them have any chance of winning this election.  The next President will be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton whether I like it or not.

I have voted for the Republican candidate for over 30 years because they most closely align with my political beliefs.  Many of them have been decent men (no one is perfect).  Some of the things Mr. Trump has said do not set well with me in terms of his character.  Of course, much of what the media has said about him is not true since the Clinton server e-mails prove the media, for the most part, is "in the tank" for Secretary Clinton.  

My other possible choice is Secretary Clinton.  Mr. Trump has character flaws but this women IS a character flaw!  She is a constant liar and a liar on a grand scale.  She has spent her entire adult life with one goal:  to be the first woman President.  That has not been Donald Trump's lifelong goal, I know that much.  In a battle over character, I will take Donald Trump any day over Hillary Clinton. 

What will each of them do if elected?  Go read their web site statements.  Listen to their press conferences.  Replay the debates.  We can only rely on what Mr. Trump has said he will do since he has not served in a political office before.  I do know Donald Trump can handle money and jobs so I put much more confidence in him to turn around our economy than Mrs. Clinton who intends to keep President Obama's course of action.

But, with Mrs. Clinton, I have not only her words but also her works.  She has been involved in government for over 30 years as wife of the Arkansas governor, First Lady, New York Senator, and Secretary of State.  What positive contributions has she made in any of those positions?  ABSOLUTELY NONE!  Our present world situation (ISIS, return of Russia) has occurred under President Obama while Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State.  Can anyone objectively say she has made a positive contribution in that position?

Mrs. Clinton has treated secure data loosely with her server.  She has repeatedly lied to the American people about the server and her e-mails.  She stood next to grieving relatives of those killed in Benghazi as their caskets arrived and lied to their faces concerning their deaths.  Can you really believe anything she says?  

She intends to "keep the course" and maintain President Obama's legacy.  Are you REALLY better off today than you were 8 years ago?  Our national debt has DOUBLED in 8 years and Mrs. Clinton wants to spend more money.  Our nation cannot handle it.  She wants to raise taxes again on those who create jobs.  That only discourages job creation (as well as results in jobs going overseas).  She supports Obamacare.  In fact, if she had her way, we would move to a single payer insurance system where the government is that single system.  Obamacare is presently falling on its face.  

These are only a few of my issues with her policies.  I believe she is the MOST dangerous candidate who has ever run for the office of President.  If elected, she will nominate anywhere from 2-4 Supreme Court justices who do not support the original intent of the Constitution, resulting in a more radical turn in our courts.  Kiss many of your freedoms goodbye (as her about your 2nd Amendment rights!).

While I have problems with Donald Trump, I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton.  Some of you might argue that I should vote for a 3rd party candidate.  But I am a mathematician and such a vote from me actually supports Mrs. Clinton by reducing Mr. Trump's vote by 1.   Any vote that is NOT for Donald Trump is, in effect, a vote for Hillary Clinton no matter how you try to convince yourself otherwise.

This election is too important!  I will vote for Trump, character flaws or not. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2013 Christmas Letter

December 2013

We wish all of our friends a joyous Merry Christmas and very Happy New Year.  The Lord continues to bless our family and we are forever grateful to Him for His mercy and His grace!

Two more grandsons made their arrival this year.  Daughter Jessi and her husband Mike are the parents of a 4th child, Barrett Padraic, born on February 22.  Also, son Jeremy and his wife Lisa are the parents of a 3rd child, Marshall David, born exactly one month later, March 22.  Both boys are so cute and growing very rapidly.  They bring our total to 7 granddaughters and 7 grandsons.  We are truly blessed!

It has been a challenging year as well.  IBM decided they no longer needed the position held by Bruce and he was laid off in July.  Once laid off, he retired from both IBM and McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) and began receiving his pensions.  He still teaches one night a week at Missouri Baptist and pastors Bethesda Baptist Church.  For the present, we are doing fine financially and have insurance as an IBM retiree.  Unfortunately, our needs still require Bruce to work full time so he has been looking for a new job since July.

Debbie has also had a difficult year.  She had surgery on her left foot back in April (she had surgery on the right one last year) but the bone has not healed.  Recently she got a second opinion and that doctor is going to try some other things to help her.  She will have another surgery on that foot in early 2014.  She keeps busy with our ladies ministry at church and loving on her grandkids!

Briefly, here is a summary on our children and their families:

§         Tim & Sonja’s family is changing as well.  Mandie graduated with both a high school diploma and an Associate of Arts from the Missouri Academy at Maryville University in May.  The twins each have a boyfriend (no, the boys are not also twins!).  Jacob is recently engaged to Allison and they are planning a May 31 wedding in our church with Grandpa officiating.

§         Jeremy & Lisa’s daughters, Lydia & Lainey, are in preschool at a local Lutheran church.  Lydia, just completed her first soccer season.  Their home just escaped the May tornado which hit our area.

§         Jessi & Mike are kept busy with baseball being played by Brody and Bryson.  Their daughter Cora turns 2 just before Christmas and is getting bigger (and cuter) every day. 

§         Sarah & Matt moved from Wright City to St. Charles in May, completing the move the day before the tornado hit.  Fortunately, they also escaped any damage.

§         Emily & Tyler are still in the Springfield area.  Both of their older children are now in school.  Gracie is in 2nd grade and Levi in Kindergarten, each of them enjoying their school.  One year old Wesley is keeping his mom busy at home.

§         Becky, Elise, Beth, and Tina still live at home with us.  Each of them drive and work nearby.  They all keep busy with various activities ranging from computer gaming, CosPlay and violin to movie watching and shopping!

We sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and pray the Lord grants you a great 2014!

The Walkers  (Bruce, Debbie, Rebekah, Elise, Bethany, Christina)                           

Christmas Past

As far back as I can remember Christmas has always been an exciting time for me.  Both my mom and dad loved the holiday, always decorated, and purchased far more gifts than they could afford.  Christmas was my favorite holiday long before I came to know the Lord.

My earliest childhood memories of Christmas reach back to our home on Van Buren Street, when I was 4 or 5.  While the configurations of that house changed frequently, I do believe I recall the Christmas arrangement back then.

First, my dad always put lights on the home.  It was a two story, white wood frame house with a front door facing the street and a back door opening into our yard.  The entrance from the street was up a couple of concrete steps to a large concrete porch which, in the summer, we often used as a fort or a place from which to sell Kool-Ade.  Above this porch was a very large window which permitted the occupants of that second floor room a view of the highway.  While my sister remembers living in that room for some time, my memories of my time in that house place my brother and me in that room.

Concerning decorations, my father would outline the house with large blue lights.  It always looked great.  Dad also had a large painted display which featured Santa, his sleigh full of toys, and some reindeer, especially Rudolph.  Rudolph is pictured licking a candy cane but the highlight of the display was Rudolph’s nose.  It was actually a red light which would flash.  I seem to recall him saying once that it was painted by some high school student of his but I am not certain of that.  This display ultimately ended up on the garage door of the house on Hanft.  While on Van Buren, though, dad would attach this display outside the second floor window making it impossible to see out of our bedroom during the month of December.  I never cared since I knew the presence of that display meant Christmas was near!

I do not recall if dad had his “Christmas Card” display when we lived in this house.  There are times when I think it was in the front yard to the left of the house.  However, there are other times when I don’t remember it being there at all.  If the Card was there, it and the Rudolph display were the only outdoor decorations I remember.

On the inside, though, there were many decorations.  We may have had some flashing red bells in some of the windows and I am pretty certain we had some wreaths on the doors.  In our living room (the room you entered from the porch), was our Christmas tree.  Mom and dad always had a real tree until some time after we moved to the Hanft home.  I remember going with dad to a tree lot at least once to get one.  My dad would string the lights on it and my mom would do the rest.  She would cover it with ornaments and then put on the icicles!  She would lay them on the branches very carefully and, by the time she completed this effort, you could barely see the green of the tree at all!

Under our Christmas tree was always a fun place to be.  My dad would set up his “O” gauge model train so it would travel around and around the tree.  I remember sitting for hours on the floor on many December days running that train.

The tree itself was fastened to the ceiling of the living room by wire and hooks.  Those hooks remained up all year.  I never asked why they wired the tree that way but my sister says it was because (1) we always had a dog running around and (2) my brother and I were always under the tree messing with the train (or presents!).  Maybe the dog (or we) knocked it over once and once was enough for my dad!

Also in the living room, sitting straight across from the tree, was a cardboard fireplace.  The home did not have a real fireplace so my dad sat up one of those fake ones.  I’m pretty certain we had more than one though the years.  Those things even came with a fake log display which, when plugged in, would light up and give the impression of a real fire burning (not a very good impression, though).  We would hang our stockings on this fake thing, at least for some of our Christmases.  Having dealt with some of these contraptions over the years as a father, I’m sure my dad fastened it down in some way or added some type of weight to offset the stuff which went into the stockings on Christmas Eve.

We moved to the house on Hanft Street when I was 10.  Dad and mom had that home built as they wanted it.  There was a real fireplace in this one which included a mantle!  The old cardboard fireplace made the trek to that house and I seem to recall it being in the hallway for a couple of years.

Of course, decorating the Hanft house was much more involved than the Van Buren house.  My dad changed his lighting scheme from all blue to multi-color lights (though, at first, they were large bulbs).  He ultimately installed permanent hooks for the light strands to make it easier every year.  Lights around the windows were also part of the display.

It seemed to me dad would add an outside decoration almost annually.  Most of these he made in his workshop located in our basement.  I doubt I remember all the things he put up outside at this season.  It was customary not to put up anything until the day after Thanksgiving.  But, on that day, rain or shine, we put up virtually everything!  It made for a long day. 

If you stood at the corner of Hanft and Lela Drive and look at the house, the huge nativity set was to the left of the house.  Some of the figures were almost as tall as me.  Dad built everything in this display and had to repair some of it from time to time.  You always hoped there was no wind when you were setting up the nativity.  Dad usually completed the display by throwing around some straw though I do not know from whom he bought it.

Moving to the right, you would see the Christmas Card and then a single display of some Christmas Carolers.  Near the top of the chimney was hung a sign reading “Noel”.  The Rudolph display occupied the outside of the garage door.  Some lights were strung up the flagpole so that it gave the impression of being a tree.  Continuing to the right were the Snowmen family with papa snowman moving his lantern up and down.  There was also a display of three train cars carrying gifts.  To the right of the house was a Santa display in which Santa and his reindeer giving the impression of them taking off into the night.  On the right side of the garage were the elves in working poses, fastened directly to the garage.  I’m certain I have forgotten some.

Mom’s tree, as we called it, was in the double window corner of the living room facing Hanft Street.  This enabled everyone coming down the street (or at school) to see the tree.  This tree began as a real one but, at some point, became artificial.  Mom decorated it as she did the ones on Van Buren.

The mantle was transformed into a Christmas scene with lighted houses and other figurines.  Dad built a board which would set on the mantle for this display.  The board also contained hooks on which the stockings were hung.  A musical bell was hung from the ceiling above the washer and dryer.  Lighted Christmas trees and other displays were in every room of the house.  I believe there were lighted bells hanging on the inside windows as well.  On top of the TV was a small candy dish in the shape of a stocking.  Mom later put gumdrops into this dish which Jeremy discovered one year when we were there.  I wish I could remember all the decorations on the inside.

One of the special things we did each Christmas season was to make an evening trip to downtown St. Louis.  Back in the 50s, St. Louis had such stores as Famous-Barr and Stix, Baer, and Fuller, stores which put Christmas displays in the first floor windows.  We would stand in front of those windows for many minutes, along with most of Missouri, it seemed, and watch all the action in those displays.  Then we would head for the department stores to see Santa and to shop. 

It was in Famous-Barr where we actually visited “The Claus”.  Usually he was located in one of the upper levels.  So our family would ride the escalators, which my brother and I loved, to that floor.  Next you had to walk through the “Winter Wonderland” display on that floor until, finally, you were face to face with the man in the red suit!  I sat on that poor man’s lap for far too many years.  When I was real young, I wanted to do so as does every child.  But, when I was older, I did so only because that’s what mom wanted.  It was a bit embarrassing when kid was bigger than Kringle!

My parents would then turn my brother and me free to roam the store.  They would go off to shop and we would head for the escalators.  We would ride them all the way to the top and then all the way back to the bottom.  I think there were times we even played “Hide and Seek” on those things.  I must admit I never enjoyed going shopping with my parents EXCEPT on the Christmas trip to St. Louis.  It was always fun.

Our Christmas celebrations were ALWAYS on Christmas morning.  My parents would put us in the car on Christmas Eve and we would drive around the town looking at Christmas lights.  Most of that ride, though, I was thinking of all the excitement awaiting us the next morning! Once we returned home, we would go upstairs to our room and try to go to sleep.  That was next to impossible.  There were Christmas Eve evenings which were spent by my brother and me in lengthy discussions about what Santa would bring.  There would be moments during these discussions when we thought we heard Santa on our roof! 

I believe both my brother and I would ultimately fall asleep.  But we would also awaken very early (5 a.m. or so).  We did not go downstairs without mom and dad.  But when the signal was finally given, we would race downstairs to enjoy all that Santa had left.  I don’t remember much organization involved when it came to the gifts.  Those gifts which came from Santa were already open and on display when we arrived on the scene.  We could begin playing with those immediately.  We would also get into our stockings at any time.  Furthermore, Santa would leave an abundance of candy canes on our tree and I remember enjoying one of those before breakfast on some Christmas mornings.  Sometime later we would have the gift hand out and the paper would fly.  I could be wrong but I do not recall anyone waiting to watch one of us open a gift.  I think it was a “free for all” once the gifts were distributed.

We would play with our toys all Christmas day.  I never wanted to stop and eat which was unusual for me to say the least.  There were times when I remember falling asleep on the floor for a while but, once awake, the playing would resume.

At some point during the day, our cousins, the Pitchfords, would arrive.  While we enjoyed having other kids to play with, we learned early on to “put away” some of our special Christmas gifts before they arrived.  If one failed to do so, one might find that gift somewhat destroyed by the end of the day!

As I said earlier, my parents always gave me far too much.  I would usually get almost everything I asked for plus some items I never expected.  Over the years, though, there were certain Christmas gifts which stood out.  To be honest, I don’t recall receiving ANY books on Christmas until I was 14.  Anyway, here are some of the ones I still remember:

1.  My table hockey game which used the rods to control players and shoot.  The year I got that gift (it was at the Hanft house), we played it all day.  I played it with Keith.  I played it with my cousins.  I played it with my uncle.  Without question, it was the greatest gift I ever received as a child.

2.  My Disneyland play set (also a Hanft gift).  I am pretty sure I received this gift for Christmas 1961.  The summer before was our first summer spent in California.  As part of that trip, we made our first visit to Disneyland (which, at the time, was only 6 years or so old).  It was so much fun.  Some company marketed a Disneyland play set that year.  It consisted of plastic models of some of the sites at the park, some of the major rides, and some of the Disney characters.  I believe it contained the Castle, the Matterhorn, the jungle cruise, a space ride, and so on.  It was fun setting it up, moving things around, and creating your own park.

3.  The Alamo.  This play set featured a medal building with a drawing resembling the front of the Alamo.  There were plastic walls you could build around it plus many plastic soldiers fighting for Texas as well as Mexicans.  If I recall correctly, there were also some small cannons which would launch small plastic balls.

4.  My Roy Rogers cowboy outfit.  I was only 4 ½ on the Christmas that I received this gift, but I do remember getting it.  At that time I was a big fan of Roy Rogers who had his own television show.  I was also quite interested in cowboys.  Needless to say, getting a hat, boots, guns (with holster), and other items for Christmas was terrific!

5.  A Drive-In Theater.  This small plastic toy was arranged in the form of a drive-in movie theater.  It had a removable screen at one end and a “concession stand” at the other.  Between the two were “parking stalls” with “speaker poles”.  A couple of toy cars were included.  There was also a board announcing the double feature (you had a pair of double features from which to select) was playing that day.  What was fun about this was each of those listed “films” were actually a 6-8 frame film slide which you place through the concession stand and projected on the movie screen.

6.  Bell’s telephone.  This was a model of Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone which required assembly.  However, once you got it together, it would actually work.

7.  Chess Books.  I joined the high school chess club my senior year and was absolutely horrible.  I knew how to move my pieces but nothing about chess strategy.  My father bought me some books on chess openings and gave those to me on Christmas 1964.  I devoured those books over Christmas break and they radically changed my play.  By the end of my freshman year, I was #2 in school and ultimately was the school chess champion for 3 years. 

8.  Radium.  Yes, radium.  I liked this gift only because of its uniqueness.  It was actually some type of experiment in radioactivity which I think dad bought from some science company.  As far as I remember, I never actually performed an experiment because I could never quite figure it out.  But part of the package was this small container (was it lead lined?).   Attached to the underside of the lid was a needle like object.  At the tip of that needle was a small amount of radium.  I loved looking at that radium and showing it to  friends when they came over.  I wonder if I poisoned myself or others doing so?  I wonder what ever happened to that kit?  I use to keep it under the basement steps in the house on Hanft Street.

I know there were many other gifts I enjoyed receiving but those are the ones that come to my mind when I think back on my childhood Christmases.      

1960's Disneyland Playset by Sears and Roebuck









Remco Movieland Drive-in Theater

Chess Books by I. A. Horowitz



Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Purity of Baseball

Let me say at the outset that I am a Cardinals fan and have been for years.  Baseball once occupied more time and interest in my life than it does now but I still follow the sport.  I am excited the Cards are in the playoffs and I am rooting for them to win the World Championship.

That said, though, I want to be honest about the game today:  it has lost the purity it once held.  Among major sports, baseball was unique.  It has never been governed by the clock but by outs and innings.  It is a team sport yet highlights both offensive and defensive skills of individuals.  Every player in the game must pick up the bat as well as put on the glove.  It is a game where the winners must prove themselves over a LONG season (not 16 or 18 games, not 80 games, but over 150 games).  It is a sport where the teams playing for the championship do not meet during the season until the championship series.  Well, that's the way it used to be.

In all honesty, the Cardinals do not deserve to be playing for the title this year any more than they did last year.  The Baltimore Orioles should be home watching games on television rather than trying to upset the Yankees.  These teams are "wild card" teams, which you might find in other major sports but would never have found in baseball in years gone by.

When I was young, pitchers always batted.  But, baseball decided years ago to implement the "designated hitter" rule which takes the bat out of pitchers' hands (praise the National League for not caving on this issue!).

When I was young, players did not use performance enhancing drugs as best we know.  If betting for or against teams in baseball is enough to get you banned for life, so should using drugs which enhance your abilities. 

When I was young, doubleheaders were somewhat common.  Often Sundays featured 2 games.  Sometimes there would be "twi-night" games where teams would play an afternoon game and then play again in the evening.  The only doubleheaders scheduled these days are for making up rain outs.

When I was young, teams played a 154 game (then a 162 game) season among the teams IN ITS LEAGUE.  There were no games between opposing league teams except an occasional exhibition game.  Teams played a consistent schedule with their rivals (154 game season:  play each league opponent 22 times, 11 in each park; 162 game season:  play each league opponent 18 times, 9 in each park).  Check out the schedules today. 

When I was young, the only way your team played for the championship was to WIN the long season and the league championship.  But no longer.  Now, if you have the first or second best record of any team NOT winning the division title, you get to play for the championship?!  This is like giving a trophy to ever kid who plays on a team even if your team did not win a game and the kid really wasn't very good.

Next season will feature at least one game a DAY between opposing league teams.  The 16 team National League is surrendering the lowly Houston Astros to the 14 team American League giving each league 15 teams.  That forces inter-league play on a daily basis.  Schedule inconsistency gets even worse.

I really wish the major leagues went back to the purity it had when I was young.  Ditch the designated hitter and make that pitcher play both sides "of the ball."  Award only the winning teams in the game and not the runners-up.  Separate the leagues as they were originally designed.  Of course, none of this will happen primarily because of financial reasons.


1.  End the designated hitter.
2.  Divide major league baseball into 4, 8 team leagues (that requires adding 2 teams).  Each league plays only the teams within its league in a 154 game schedule, 22 against their opponents, 11 at each park.  You can always watch the other teams on television.
3.  To play for the championship, a team MUST win its league.  No wild cards are permitted.
4.  Allow the 4 winning teams to play either a playoff system like we have today (4 out of 7 to get to the Series, then 4 out of 7 to win the Series).  Or, perhaps some sort of round robin system could be employed.
5.  Ban from the game for life any user of performance enhancing drugs.  NO WARNINGS.  And there are none who are "too big to fail."

I suspect there are many out there who are glad I am not the dictator of baseball!  :)

Go Cards!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What Future America Do I Want?

I saw a post this morning which noted the different worldviews being expressed by the two political parties.  This election will decide the future direction of our nation since these two parties how completely opposite worldviews.  The question was asked what type of America do you want in the future? 

I decided to answer the question briefly.  Opening a new text file, I jotted down the following thoughts as they came to my mind.  I haven't edited anything so don't expect anything profound.  The order in which they are listed are the order in which they popped into my head.  I'm sure there are many others and, perhaps, some would like to add them via comments.  Anyway, here we go.

What Future America Do I Want?

I want the America of the future to be:

  • An America which fears God, not ignores Him.
  • An America which cherishes the unborn, not silences them.
  • An America which thrives on capitalism, not fails with socialism.
  • An America which supports Israel, not ignores her.
  • An America which guards our freedoms, not removes them.
  • An America which stands with our allies, not bows before our enemies.
  • An America which lives within its means, not spends whenever and whatever it pleases.
  • An Americh which protects a citizen's right to arm themself, not attempts to take that right away.
  • An America which has a small and limited Federal government, not a large and unlimited one.
  • An America which provides for the common defense and promotes the general welfare rather than promoting the common defense and providing the general welfare.
  • An America which honors the Biblical and traditional view of marriage, not the man-made definitions.
  • An America which lets us keep the money we earn, not take more and more of what we earn.
  • An America which utilizes its own natural resources, not restrict their use.
  • An America which depends more on itself, not more on foreign nations.
  • An America which leads the world, not follows.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Another letter from my Congressman

I received the following letter, dated April 10, 2012, from my representative in the United States House and wanted to share it with those who might follow this blog.  Rep. Akin is a good man and running for the Republican nomination to replace Claire McCaskill in the United States Senate.  We certainly need her replaced!

Dear Bruce:

This year's budget battle outlines a stark difference in ideologies that are fighting to win the hearts and minds of the American public.  My colleagues and I on the House Budget Committee have produced a sound budget that will direct our nation toward a sustainable path that effectively sustains our mission as a country and is efficient in maintaining its obligations.

As you may be aware, the President's budget results in the fourth consecutive annual deficit exceeding $1 trillion.  In contrast, the House Republican budget saves $5 trillion relative to the Administration's proposal and charts a sustainable path in an effort to save our children and grandchildren from paying for our generation's reckless spending.  Under the plan, we will reduce our deficits to below 3 percent of GDP and reduce the burgeoning size of the federal government to 20 percent of the economy by 2015.

Our responsible budget makes the hard choices that some politicians have chosen to ignore.  The Republican budget prevents the President's $1.9 trillion in tax increases while reforming the tax code to make it more fair and competitive and eliminates special interest tax loopholes.  Our budget simplifies the current Tax Code by creating two tax rates of 10 and 25 percent, repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), and broadens the tax base.  Furthermore, it reduces the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, allowing our companies to remain competitive in a growing global marketplace.

The House-passed 2013 budget also repeals the President's health care law, advances bipartisan solutions that take power away from government bureaucrats and put patients in control.  Furthermore, it ensures that there are no disruptions under Medicare for those in or near retirement while ensuring a strengthened Medicare program for future generations.

While the Senate has not passed a budget in over 1,000 days, the House has made good on its obligations to the American people, and on Thursday, March 29, 2012, passed our second consecutive budget (H.Con.Res 112), by a vote of 228-191.  I was proud to vote for this legislation and look forward to the months ahead as we begin this new phase in getting our country back on a sound fiscal path.

Please visit to see our budget plan in complete detail.  I hope that you will not hesitate to contact me regarding any matter where I might be of assistance.  You may visit to find more information in issues or to subscribe to my e-newsletter.


W. Todd Akin