One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, 'How was the trip?''It was great, Dad.' 'Did you see how poor people live?' the father asked. 'Oh yeah,' said the son. 'So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?' asked the father.The son answered: 'I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.' The boy's father was speechless.. Then his son added, 'Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.' Isn't perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don't have.
An elderly Italian man lay dying in his bed. While suffering the agonies of impending death, he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite ravioli wafting up the stairs.He gathered his remaining strength, and lifted himself from the bed. Gripping the railing with both hands, he crawled downstairs.When he reached the bottom of the stairs, he leaned against the door frame, gazing into the kitchen, where if not for death's agony, he would have thought himself already in heaven, for there, spread out upon waxed paper on the kitchen table were hundreds of his favorite ravioli.
Was it heaven? Or was it one final act of love from his wife of sixty years, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man?He threw himself towards the table, landing on his knees in a crumpled posture. His parched lips parted, the wondrous taste of the ravioli was already in his mouth. With a trembling hand he reached up to the edge of the table, when suddenly he was smacked with a wooden spoon by his wife who said:
"Questi sono per il funerale." (Translation - Go away! - these are for the funeral).
There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles Of paved roads.
The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!
The average wage in 1909 was 22 cents per hour.
The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year ..
A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, A dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME .
Ninety percent of all doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!
Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which Were condemned in the press AND the government as 'substandard. '
Sugar cost four cents a pound.
Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from Entering into their country for any reason.
Five leading causes of death were: 1. Pneumonia and influenza
4. Heart disease
The American flag had 45 stars.
The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30!!!!
Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented yet.
There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.
Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write and Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school..
Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, 'Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind,regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health'
Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help..
There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE ! U.S.A.!
Plus one more sad thought; 95 percent of the taxes we have now did not exist in 1909
Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years.
Fredric Arnold is among many things an artist, author, pilot, inventor, poet and dedicated family man. (He happens also to be the father of one of my dearest college friends Dana.) I met Fred and his lovely wife Natalie during my years in Graduate school at UCLA when Dana and I were housemates.
Fred is a true Renaissance man with a wide range of interests and talents. His charm and his good looks from youth are as evident today as they were when I first met him. When you talk with Fred he fills the room with his presence, not in a big and boastful way but in a charismatic magnetic way. People are drawn to his conversations. He has so many interesting stories and he tells them with great humour, intelligence and a sense of compassion.
Because I am very aware of Fred's war experiences as a Pilot I thought of him this past Veteran's day when my friend Sandi posted the poem on her blog about flight. I sent it to Fred with a thank you for his service to our country. He then sent me a poem that he too had written about flight. I wanted to share that here and have asked his permission to do so. He kindly agreed and also sent some photos which I had asked for.
So "Thank You Fred " for allowing me to share these great photos of a Renaissance man that I am very proud to call my friend.
Fred on the left, his father in the middle, and his brother, Bob. Fred shipped out two days later. His dad had advanced Parkinson disease. Fred supported his fathers back, while his dad held on to Bob for the photo.
Of this photo Fred writes: "Next to me is Sgt. Chad Jessup. He and his mechanics kept the engines and armament of my plane in perfect condition. I owe them my life. I wore those coveralls during combat. Note their condition and how skinny I was. Not knowing why I survived during a time of heavy losses I thought maybe they were lucky coveralls, you know, like a rabbit's foot. During 50 missions they never got laundered; didn't want to lose their magic, so they got pretty raunchy, stained with oil, coolant, grease, and for a lot of other reasons also! Ha, ha."
Fred describes this photo, " I named my plane after my father. Although he was a pacifist, he believed in self-defense and our responsibility to defend ourselves if our country was under attack, unlike these immoral "wars" we are shamelessly engaged in. He never knew I was in combat until the day I returned."
In this last photo he says, "Here I am back in the States wearing a summer uniform. Notice how loose it was. I was down to 120 pounds."
*Note: Of his original group of 14 fighter pilots, only Fred and another survived. The story of how he memorialized his 12 lost comrades is detailed in a DVD documentary, "Between Two Worlds."
Here is the poem by John Gillespie McGee, Jr.
"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirthOf sun-split clouds,
— and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence.
Hov'ring there,I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —And, while with silent, lifting mind
for posting the lovely poem by J.G. Magee, as a tribute to her father and all other Veterans this past Veteran's Day. Reading it prompted me to share it with Fred. He then sent me the following:
"Thanks for your kind letter and the poem, High Flight, by John Gillespie MaGee, treasured by aviators the world over. It speaks so well to the emotions experienced by those who fly, capturing the awe of flight, and why his words touch the hearts of us all. I felt a kinship with that young man, born the same year (1922), both fighter pilots, he a poet, I an artist, and both having faced death. Sadly he was killed in a midair collision while I barely escaped.
No claim to being a poet, this is what I wrote after my first solo flight at night:
A blast of fury and off in the night, Enveloped in darkness, suspended in flight Out of a world governed by might Into a world of exciting delight.
It may explain the kinship I felt for MaGee.
A bit of trivia, not generally known, the last line of his poem was borrowed, first written a few years earlier by, Cuthbert Hicks, another poet. I can understand how Magee, coming from a religious family, his father a minister, it may have seemed to be the perfect ending to his masterpiece. And for the world it was. But his words and mine weren't about the horror of war, where surely no God resides. It was about the beauty of flight.
"one of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. one knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands alone and throws one's head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one's heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun- which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. one knows it then for a moment or so... "
"Right in the middle of an ordinary life, Love gives us a fairy tale."
"Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You
dwell in your own enchatment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery. Even if you lose, or are defeated by things, your
triumph will always be exemplary. And if no one knows it, then there are places that do. People like you enrich the dreams of the worlds, and it is dreams that create history. People like you are unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love."
-Ben Okri (Nigerian author who uses magic realism to convey the social and political chaos in his country, 1959)
The Riga and Simonetti families were all friends in Italy. Though both families immigrated to America, miles and time separated the two. The Riga's had a daughter named Jeanette and the Simonetti's had a son named Albert. When Albert (Al as he is known) visited California, the Riga's invited him to dinner. That evening he met the love of his life, Jeanette (known as Jean).
As the story goes it was not love at first sight for Jean. But Al did not give up and a few years later they began to date and eventually he won her heart. They were married on April 23rd, 1950 at St. Barnabas church in Long Beach. This setting for the marriage was especially significant for the Riga family as Jean's parents, Frank & Elizabeth were founding members of the church. As their family grew the church continued to be a significant place for Jean and Al. Four of their children and two grandsons went to school and graduated from St. Barnabas and their daughter Nancy took her wedding vows in the same sanctuary as Al and Jean had done years earlier.
Jean and Al's love for each other was priceless. Every look, every gesture, every little gleam in their eyes was for one another. Theirs was the perfect role model for a good marriage...58 years together was an inspiration to all who knew them. In the years prior to her passing she gave fully of her services to her family, friends and to her beloved church. Among the many hats she wore was that of planner for the Seniors activities. This included field trips to plays, museums, various places of interest and to Laughlin Nevada.
Last February, St. Barnabas school created the "Jean Simonetti Education Foundation" in her honor for her life long dedication to fund raising for the church, school and religious education program.
Now there was something that Al wanted to do for his beloved wife. Something that would honor her memory. Since both Jean and her mother were devoted to Mary an idea was born to build a "Grotto for Mary" in the garden of the church. The groundwork was started last October. Al received help from family members and started to sketch out ideas and model the structure out of styrofoam. Of course all of this planning came with blessings from the church but Al had to make many trips to the city planners to get permits. Months passed, Al drove back and forth many many times to the city building refining the design. He contacted family members to help him build the grotto.
The garden area was chosen.
Al was ever present and working to make this grotto perfect.
After a year of planning the grotto was finally started.
The Lady of Lourdes grotto was built in loving memory of Jeanette Simonetti. It was completed and dedicated on the grounds of St. Barnabas church on Sunday October 11, 2009.
Note: I did not have the good fortune of knowing Jean Simonetti. I attended her memorial service at St. Barnabas because she is the mother of my friend Nancy. But I felt like I had known her through stories Nancy had shared about her warm and loving Italian mother. At the service for Jean I was in awe of all that was told about Jean's life. She was a very loving wife, mother and grandmother. Her grandchildren stood before the congregation telling heartwarming stories about their beloved "nonna" . I felt as though I had known Jeanette as they eulogized her and gave reflections on her life. She was "so italian" in her warmth, and generosity. She gave of her self to the family, to friends and to the church which she dearly loved. The church overflowed with people mourning her passing. So many heartfelt stories of Jeanette's wonderful ways, opening her home for big italian parties with lots of homecooked food and donating time, week upon week to volunteer for church functions. And then there were the most tender and endearing stories of the love between Jean and her dear husband Al, who adored her. I think this grotto is a fitting and beautiful tribute to a loving and generous woman who never stopped giving through out her entire life.
It is a sweet and enduring love story of Al and Jean Simonetti.
If you're looking for a family friendly beach to visit, vacation, to shop, enjoy a beach, dine, watch a classic movie, fish on the pier, kitesurf or just hang out, by all means go to Seal Beach.
Old Town Seal Beach features shady, tree-lined Main Street, a beautiful beach and pier reminiscent of small town America during the mid-1900's.
This beach close to our home has a long pier where families can walk, fisherman can fish and everyone can enjoy views of the sand and surf as they stroll along the pier.
When our girls were little we used to bring them to the playground on the sand just to the side of the pier. On the last day of school in June it became a tradition for us to meet at this beach with all their friends and families for a "beginning of summer beach party." This is a place we often come to on summer nights to enjoy an ice cream and to feel the cool summer evening sea breeze.
Here's a photo of the far end of the beach near the jetty. At the end of the beach is a great little restaurant called "The River's End". It' fun to go there for breakfast or at sunset or just about any time. If you go try their fish tacos...mmmm they're delicious.
The weather is nice in southern California mostly all year long. These pictures were taken this past Sunday, the first day of November!
Here's my daughter Athena, the original water baby. On most weekends throughout the year you can find her at the local beach, surfing.
She has always loved living by the ocean.
Wonder what these fisherman caught?
Seal Beach provides access for boats and yachts entering the Pacific Ocean from Huntington Harbor. It is known as a great location for windsurfing and even has a kitesurfing launch area near the River's End Cafe.
I believe in love and kindness, family first, deep meaningful friendships, counting one's blessings and giving to others what you yourself need. I strive to see life as a glass half full. I am very grateful for the life I have and all the wonderful people that make this grand adventure so worthwhile.