Warren Dunn

Friday’s Potpouri

Carole is making masks for the family, using her “Featherweight” Singer sewing machine. If you don’t know, the Featherweight was introduced around 1940 or so and has become a favorite of people who have to haul a sewing machine around. She’s using it instead of her Bernina because it is packed for our intended move to Florida, which is taking longer than we had planned for.


I can always count on our good friend Libby Trull to send one of those clever electronic greeting cards to us on holidays that invariably brightens our day.   It used animation to show winter turning into spring.

As a child, I was taught that Easter was a time of rejoicing in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.  I didn’t challenge that until I was a sophomore (Greek for “wise fool”) in college.   It took a while for me to settle on what I really thought about Easter and Libby’s card was a welcome reminder that Easter, for me, is really all about rebirth and beginning anew.  Even the literal interpretation of the word (at least one of them) is that it means “Eastern Dawn”   If you accept that definition, then it is easy to celebrate Easter as the rebirth of hope and expectation, made obvious by Spring, the sunrise, and the return of the beauty that the Earth can provide so abundantly.  


He once said that he belonged to no organized political party; he was a Democrat.  That was Yesteryear.   Today,, I belong to a very well organized political party; the Democrats of Unity. While I am pleased that we seem to be getting our act together, I am distressed that it isn’t over something of substance.  It is disgust with Trump, probably the least substantive President we’ve ever had, that has rallied and unified the various factions of the party.   If it weren’t for the fact that our Constitution has a significant flaw, I don’t think we would be wringing our hands over the possibility that he could be reelected.    However, it’s a real possibility not just because of that flaw, but because, according to Gallup, the Republicans outnumber the Democrats by one percentage point, 30-29%, and the Independents outnumber both, at 39% of the voters identifying with them.


Joe Biden isn’t exactly exciting the young progressive types who have made it clear what they want: pretty much an overhaul of the entire system.   We’ve heard what they have to say, but unless they are seen at the polls, then all they’ve done is grab the stage and fill it with sound and fury.  The NY Times puts it more politely. Pointing out that the 18-29 year-olds trail every other voter age group, the Times goes on to say “Until that changes, young people will have a tough time getting their concerns taken as seriously as they deserve.”  To be brutally frank, in a highly diverse society with tons of special interests fighting toe and toenail to be taken seriously, unless young people want to be taken seriously and not to have to rely on septuagenarians to carry their water, then they’re going to have to turn out the vote of their peers..     


There was a startling claim in a letter to the Winston-Salem Journal recently.   It was claimed that the Democrats don’t have to be worried about being labeled Socialists anymore because we are all Socialists now.   I think the writer was referring to the “stimulus” checks going to most adult Americans.  But I think he was wrong to suggest that was “socialistic.”   If we are all really Socialists, then the bailout of the airlines would have been conditioned on the government taking an equity position, or partial ownership. 

It didn’t.

So much for socialistic ownership of the means of production and distribution.   I long for the day when those who claim the Democrats embrace Socialism finally get it straight. What they do embrace is the Social Contract of Rousseau.      


     My Oklahoma Great-Grandfather had a battery operated radio he enjoyed listening to in the evenings.  In particular, there was a radio show hosted by a politician, an elected official I knew my Great-Grandfather thought shouldn’t be in the gene pool.  I often wondered why he listened.

     There was a reason.  He enjoyed talking back to the radio, just as I enjoy talking back to cable television.  Whenever he heard something he didn’t agree with, he’d say:


      I didn’t dare interrupt his listening to ask what Bockmist meant.  I do remember thinking it sounded suspiciously like German, his ethnic background. It wasn’t until I was in my sixties that I learned it means Bullshit. When listening to that particular radio program, he used the word a lot.

     So, now, whenever I hear well-intentioned people who are about to criticize something Trump has done or said, say, “Of course, no one wants our President to fail,” I whisper to myself “Bockmist!” 

     I want Trump to fail at putting children in cages, at acerbating economic disparity through the tax code that helps the rich get richer, at enthusiastically embracing dictators set on destroying democracy, at advocating xenophobia, at ignoring climate change, at trashing the Constitution, at making the English language sound like babble, at turning briefings on a terrible pandemic into diatribes against his political opponents, and especially at turning leadership into a cult performance…the list is too long.

     This is not to say that I hope he fails at everything.  But I sure hope he fails at getting reelected.      


      Some of my readers are wonderful people who are native Oklahomans.   I thought they might be interested in Great-Grandad’s story.  I was going to include it in the commentary above, but Carole says I tend to overwrite, so I decided to separate them.  If family histories other than your own bore you, please feel free to tell me your story.  I’d be interested.

     You have to understand that my Great Grandfather was a proud descendant of a young German mercenary who fought for the English during the American revolution who was captured at the Battle of Germantown. He was incarcerated at Winchester, Va., ultimately released and settled in Marion County, Ohio, where he is buried.   His progeny, apparently never very good at farming, kept moving west until they made the Oklahoma run, where my Great-Great Grandfather homesteaded on the wrong side of the anticline.  He had three sons fourteen or older.   My Great-Grandfather was the youngest son.   Armed with shotguns, my G-G-Grandfather positioned himself and his three sons at the four corners of the plot of land marked by stakes the army had hammered into the land for the run.   You see, my Great-Great Grandfather was a “Sooner,” in that he slipped into that part of the Oklahoma territory that was up for grabs and staked out the plot he wanted before the “Boomers” make the legitimate run at the sound of the army cannons.  He then told his sons that if anyone approached the land to fire the shotguns into the air to scare them off.   At the end of the day, he and the sons tore the stakes out of the ground, gave them to my Great-Great-Grandfather, who turned them in to the registrars and claimed his land.  Apparently the army really didn’t care who got the land or how they got it.

     At least that’s the story told by Aunt Masie, one of his three daughters, who conveniently left out the part of family history relating how my Great-Great Grandfather was convicted of second-degree murder of a tenant farmer who let his dog tear up G-G-G’s vineyard.  Apparently the plea of self-defense didn’t stick because G-G-Grandfather shot the dog and he and the tenant farmer stalked each other in the vineyard, until G-G-Grandfather got the drop. The story goes on to say that he served a year or so in the new Federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas and was released on his 75th birthday.   Is all this true?   Who really knows?  

    Although there was no oil on his property, Mr. Sinclair would visit my Great-Grandfather periodically to give him a check for the mineral rights to his land just in case.  And G-Grandfather would go to Stillwater and buy a new Ford car every so often.  My association with G-Grandfather was as a pre-teen who spent some weeks of each summer “on the farm” doing odd jobs I was never very good at, but was indulged because I think they provided Great-Grandfather with some entertainment.

     As I remember him, Great-Grandfather was still German to his core, autocratic, demanding of excellence, pursued self-improvement by reading constantly and building a library he left me, served as County Commissioner as a Lincoln Republican, helped found a church called Eden Chapel,  and loved his spiritually ethereal Native American wife with a very unGerman passion.  (They had seven children, mortgaging the farm to help the “smart boy” become an army doctor who ended up being in charge of the rear echelon hospitals in France during World War II and made sure the “smart girl,” my Grandmother, was among the first graduates of Oklahoma (then) Agricultural and Mechanical College)

     I stood in awe of him.  He’s a part of the Oklahoma legend and I don’t care much if some of it isn’t absolutely true.

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