God willing, on the second Tuesday of November, 2016, I shall be voting in my fifteenth consecutive American presidential election.
Conservative folks gain character with age. Liberals gain power, arrogance, and deceit. I have been following national elections since FDR beat Tom Dewey in 1944. My dad was Republican…..My mother never talked anything close to politics. She came from a working class German immigrant family who also never talked politics. Her father was a life-long carpenter…..and a Democrat voter. Most of his five brothers did not speak English comfortably. It was not easy to be German in America during World War I times…..even in the German communities of St. Paul, Minnesota.
My father was Scotch-Irish and English in background. Stories were that his English ancestry goes back to King Alfred, and another wing came from a Lawrence on the Mayflower crossing in the 17th century.
For certain I know my grandfather…..that is my dad’s dad was born in 1858, two years before southern states secessions from the United States and the beginning of the Civil War. My grandfather, Frank Ray had left his birthplace, Cherryfield, Maine, when he was seventeen, by horseback. His family was wealthy but practiced primogeniture with Frank the youngest of five boys. This meant that the family’s wealth went to the oldest son. The rest were to fend for themselves. If they were lucky and relationships went well with the old man, some aid might find its way to the second and third son. The fifth was too far down the pole, so grandfather frank got on his horse and WENT WEST as a young man on his own.
Somewhere in the bowls of my house I have a postcard with my grandfather Frank’s picture on it sent to his mother in Cherryfield dated 1876, from Chillicothe Ohio. He wrote: “Mother, I am fine…Frank”.
He homesteaded in North Dakota the next year or so. He met my grandmother, nee Anna Williams around 1889 when her family wagon train got stuck in the mud crossing the Sheyenne River west of Fargo, North Dakota, near a town called Hope not far from where my grandfather had built his home, barns, and farmed. He and a neighbor spent a day or two freeing the group of eight and their five wagons from the river mud, I was told, and the Williams family decided to homestead nearby. Anna and Frank married within the year….and eventually had five children. Grandfather died in 1917 from a terrible throat cancer. My grandmother died in 1947 at age 80 from a stroke actively head of the expanded Ray family until a month before her death.
Both of the greater families fell apart as a unit in 1947, with the passing of my mother’s father and my dad’s mother. No longer did all of the wings of the larger family gather at holidays or old folks birthdays.
Twice a year as long as I can remember the German section and friends gathered by the hundreds at Tanner’s Lake Pavilion in West St. Paul for dancing, beer, card playing, and German….with my Mother always the queen of the shows. She adored her greater German family. They were all very close, many farmers, carpenters, and meat packing workers….overalls guys, and devoted mothers averaging four or five kids per family….all churched, all good people who loved family. I was shocked when I first heard my mother speak German at a Tanner’s Lake gathering when I was about seven….still prewar. She always had us attend these gatherings, and loved being there where she was so admired for her modern Americanness. Despite her fondness for them all, she wanted to raise her children, my sister and me, and live with my Father as 100% American. And she ran the show at home.
Dad made a down payment on a new $6,500 house in 1936, a five-room bungalow, it was called, in a very American new section of St. Paul filled with fields and empty lots and remained so until the war was over. He was only fifteen when his father, whom he worshiped, was dying. (The only person he worshiped more, was my mother. They were a great match, but rather distant parents.) When he graduated from Hope, High School at the end of the First World War, he was offered a contract to join the New York Yankees for player development. One of his older brothers, the one who was running the fatherless family, talked him into going to North Dakota Agricultural School to learn Pharmacy, instead. He usually regretted the choice. He was a talented athlete of those days….from a rural community which was devoted to men’s sports. He did represent the state of North Dakota in a national track competitions in Chicago in 1918 or 1919. He became a pharmacist, owned a drug store in St. Paul, Minnesota, and played competitive softball well into his 50s instead.
Everyone loved my dad. He died at age 86 and my Mother died at 90…..never the same after his death. Neither ever swore. Both impeccably honest. She made me Churched. They met in the twenties in ball room dancing competitions in St. Paul. I think she would have preferred stardom over family. She was very gifted in looks, charm, winsomeness, conversation, always at her best when ‘out in public’. In those days adults dressed up whenever going out in “public”.
We were poor, quite poor just like about everyone else around us….even living in a newer neighborhood. These were depression and war years. Americans even in my newer neighborhood, didn’t have any money until the mid-1950s when new cars began to stream up and down city streets.
We bought an electric Norge refrigerator in 1949 replacing our ice box….and an oil burner replacing coal for heat the next year. Dad had purchased a second hand 1941 Plymouth to replace in second hand 1936 Ford in the summer of 1941. When the war broke out in December, 1941, the Plymouth never made it out of our garage except occasionally on Sunday’s usually in Spring when he’d drive the family through the woods of Lake Minnetonka to get out of the city. Television arrived in the Twin Cities around 1947. Two years later dad bought a Philco floor model television set with a black and white eleven inch screen.
I had a paper route, first distributing the Minneapolis Times in my St. Paul neighborhood, then the Minneapolis Star Journal, then the Minneapolis Tribune and the Minneapolis Star Journal and finally the St. Paul morning Pioneer Press and the afternoon Dispatch. I had to earn my own keep…..that’s the way it was, period, the beginning to pave my way.
What delivering papers did do was provide me with some money to sneak downtown after delivering afternoon papers at age eleven, twelve, and thirteen, to explore other worlds before my Mother came home from work at my dad’s drugstore……Skid row and white slums along Wabasha from downtown nearly all the way to the state Capitol, summer sewer stench and all, was the great allure. I had seen “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”, a movie about poverty and struggle in the big city out East.
I’d always walk to and through the beautiful State Capitol building and then exit on the east side to walk through the Negro slums with the same summer stench around Mechanic Arts High School. Kids here as there along Wabasha, playing in the streets despite traffic.
Never did I feel fear. Never! Poor or no, the city was safe. Even in skid rows I’d enter a dive to buy a Coney Island for a dime….just to explore. A twelve year old kid passing drunks and whatever sitting along the long benches by the walls. I always saved a dime for that very visit….just to explore!
Each entire tour would cost me a dime plus a number of transfer slips which I maneuvered to get me home, all on the same dime. I especially loved the streetcars with the open air smoking areas at the rear of the cars. I liked the thrill and noise of being outside while the ancient streetcar screeched along the rails starting and stopping, going through the dark of Selby tunnel almost underneath the St. Paul Cathedral, and the best of all, when Mother worked all day Saturdays or during morning delivery before she woke up, upon finishing my paper deliveries I’d walk a couple blocks to the Mississippi River to climb the river side rock, watch the eagles and other birds, look for racoons, and jump, just jump from boulder to boulder over the rushing water below, or sit and watch…..being there inside such beauty, Nature’s setting, its sounds, colors, textures, shapes and sizes, lights and shadows which introduced me to love the beauty of scenery, a love that never left me to this very day.
Boys not girls, then as now, are born curious, are born to explore and discover to build, invent, expand, and defend. Boys are NOT born girls…..Girls are! Therein lies one of today’s major rubs. Feminist American universities and left wing political products are claiming humans all are the same ball of wax in today’s Marxist atheism’s, crime-filled world. Where are boys permitted to imagine, experiment, build, and explore on their own or anywhere today? Where is it taught? Where is it played? Where is it safe?
Guns don’t shoot to kill people. Human males shoot to kill people in modern American unJudeoChristian feminized and Marxified human life which now dictates the difference between good and evil is only a matter of opinion. Even the drunks in the slums of the cities knew the difference in the 1940s and 1950s…..but not today at your corner American university from coast to coast.
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