(This is not a political statement advocating abortions. Instead, it’s a heads up about what could happen if abortions become illegal.) Back in the 1950s and early ‘60s abortions were illegal and most people agreed that they were wrong. Only desperate women would have them. I knew of someone planning to flee from an abusive spouse who wouldn’t be able to get a job and support herself if she was pregnant, and another with a hereditary disease and didn’t want a child who would probably have it, who decided to have abortions. And many women had abortions back then because a pregnancy would show they’d had extra-marital affairs, which were frowned on by society. But medical professionals didn’t perform abortions, so there were only two ways to have them. Someone could use a wire clothes hangar to hook and drag the fetus out of the womb, which was very dangerous. Or the woman could take some kind of medication known to cause miscarriages. But that second method didn’t always work, and people who had tried it often had babies with neurological damage. I worked with kids who had special needs for many years and in some cases knew, and in others strongly suspected their mothers had tried to abort them. If abortions become illegal again we’ll need to be prepared for lots of kids with Special Needs entering our schools in a few years.
Back in the 1940s there was an epidemic of polio.My father caught it and was sent to the Shriners Hospital for Women and Children in San Francisco. That was the only place the disease was treated because polio was called Infantile Paralysis.I was mildly sick for a day or two while he was in the hospital, but it was nothing to worry about.My father died from the polio and our family was quarantined for the next two weeks.I remember seeing the women from our church climbing the steep path to our house bringing food and leaving it inside the basement door since they couldn’t come near us.A few years later the Cutter Laboratory developed a vaccine for polio and our family doctor told us my brother and I could be the first ones in the county to get it. That Saturday morning in his office my brother and I simultaneously swallowed sugar cubes. Each cube had with an orange spot of vaccine on it.But there had been a terrible mistake at the lab and the vaccine contained the live virus!My brother got sick, but I didn’t. Apparently I’d had a mild case of polio while my father was in the hospital. Fortunately, his case wasn’t very bad and he had no lasting effects.I’m glad scientific procedures have improved a lot since the 1940s and plan to get the Covid vaccination when it becomes available. I’m sure it will be safe.
In spite of all the problems in our world today, there’s one thing we can be grateful for: modern technology. Yes, a lot of problems come with it, but just imagine being back in the early 1900s. They had telephones, but you had to go through an operator to make a call and it cost a fortune to call long distance. They had radios and newspapers, but those were only local. The internet can be frustrating, but just imagine what someone from those times would think of being able to contact other people all over the planet in a matter of seconds! I’m grateful to be living now.
Back during the Spanish influenza epidemic (they didn’t call it flu back then) my father was sent to live with his grandparents in the Appalachian Mountains because it was safer to be away from the crowded city.At the end of the school year he was able to return home.His grandparents gave him the kerosine lamp that had been on his bedside table (they didn’t have electricity yet.)His aunt was the teacher at the one-room schoolhouse he had attended, and she gave him the hand-held school bell. I don’t know how she would have been able to do without that, but perhaps they were getting a bell installed on the roof.I still have both of those things.The chimney on the lamp is cracked so it can’t be used, but the bell is still fine and rings loudly.When I was a kid my brother and I were only allowed to ring that bell at midnight on New Years Eve and I still do that if I’m home that night.This year, because we’ve had our own epidemic, etc., that bell will inspire me to hope that everything will be back to normal by the end of the school year when I ring it at midnight on New Years Eve.
This is a poem I wrote years ago and just found in my files: The familiar odor of strawIn the feed boxWhere I layGave meager comfortThrough that lengthy nightOf labor.Waiting to beholdThe joy within me grown,I feared I would be dazzled by His light.Such painful entry to a pain filled world.At last I saw my own beloved son.My God,A baby!A red and wrinkled, mewing little thing,Mine to teach manhood,Ours to find divine.How could the sky not crack and fallThat He, Almighty, should have entered thusThis aching world? I smiled and held him close,Stilling his tiny wails with my own giftOf motherhood,Blessed among women that I knewMy child would surely live to bring us life.
Once, while at a friend’s yard, my neighbor kids and I discovered a door under their front steps that opened to a tiny area. Inside there was no floor and only a single shelf.On that shelf was a big jar, that had probably held about five gallons. It still contained some liquid and a gigantic pickle covered with fuzzy mold.It was disgusting!So we decided to pretend that it was a sacred pickle and, every day, we would spend a few minutes pretending to worship it.But one day a girl who lived about a block away happened to be with us and she got upset at that game. She was Catholic and said it was wrong to worship anything but God. Even though we told her we were only pretending, she still refused to do it.Somehow that took all the fun out of the game, so we never went near the pickle again.My friend moved away a few years later and I never found out what happened to the sacred pickle.Maybe it’s in pickle heaven.
Anyone who knows me has probably heard me say this before.Money is a strange thing.You can’t eat it, cook with it, build houses out of it, or wear it.Even in America the gold standard no longer works since the government doesn’t have nearly as much gold as the currency implies.The only reason money has value is because everyone agrees that it has.At least there’s one thing everyone on the planet, Earth, agrees about.If only we could all agree on more things.
Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving, and I hope we all have a lot to be thankful for. Usually by this time of year I’m saying to myself, “I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by.” Instead, this year I’m saying, “I can’t believe how long this year has been.” It has certainly been a difficult year for everyone on our planet, but we still have a lot to be thankful for. Vaccines and effective medications to treat the covid virus are being developed, and the nasty politics should be finished soon. Even though many of us can’t gather with family for the holidays, we can keep in touch with each other through the internet. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day even if you can’t be with loved ones physically. And may next year be shorter than 2020.