Inspired by the recent thread on wingnut darling Ben Carson, MD — Welfare Wasn’t Welfare Back in My Day — valued commenter eric forwarded an account of a recent school outing and asked me to share it with y’all, so here goes:
Yesterday, my daughter was part of the the Chicago’s Children Chorus presentation at Millennium Park in Chicago. The gathering had the highly selective singers on stage and the hundreds of school kids singing with them in the audience.
The Choir celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, Nelson Mandela, and civil rights generally with a great musical selection. The singers were extraordinary.
While standing there taking it all in, I was moved to tears a number of times over the hope, joy, and vibrancy of the young faces of all sorts of races and ethnicities. I am poorly capturing the essence, I know, but the joy was immeasurable. (Missing a day of school to be outside did not hurt, I am sure.)
But the moment that stood out for me was when the special guest came on stage. Herself a former singer in the Children’s Choir, she is now playing Diana Ross in the touring production of Motown. She brought it and was spectacular. But what I noticed, and why I write, was the rapt attention from the young black girls in the audience. To my eye, it was more than just watching and singing along, they were seeing something else up close — a successful black woman that had the whole event in the palm of her hand. (I am not assuming that many don’t see the same thing in their own home, but that in the larger popular culture it is much less frequent to see a black woman in charge of the room.)
All of what i saw reinforced that we, as a people, need to make sure that young people of every type see people like them succeed. Sometimes to get that success we need to reach out and give a helping hand, be it for nutrition, education, or employment. Success is a positive feedback loop.
All of this is to say that Ben Carson’s remarks are toxic, for in the world he would create there will be fewer success stories to inspire the next generation. To my mind, Ben Carson and Clarence Thomas are ashamed that they can’t say that their success was one-hundred percent their own because they see that as a slight. Success is NEVER one-hundred percent your own because you owe someone, somewhere who did something for you.
I know this because I am a father to a wonderful daughter and my success is measured by who and what she becomes not by who and what I am. If Carson and Thomas, and their ilk, saw the true measure of their success as providing a model to the boys and girls of the Children’s Choir to make it a step farther than they might make it on their own, perhaps they would no longer create a sense of shame in themselves that lead them to so abandon what is best about us — our future generations.
I had a good early role model in my mom, who was tough as hell and mostly fearless. Professionally, I’ve been mentored by strong, opinionated women — and men — who encouraged me to find my voice and never lose sight of what is truly important.
Who are your role models, and why? Please feel free to discuss other topics as well — open thread.
I have to admit, now that I think about it, I don’t have any role models. There are people I respect, and people I don’t, and the difference can mostly be measured by their relationship with the truth (honesty).
That said, was just reading this about José Mujica, a man I have much admired for some time.
Egotism is a tremendously powerful motivating force. People will, and do, act against their self-interest all the time for the rush of feeling better than someone else. It’s endemic in the MBA culture. Mitt Romney was a fine example, running his campaign into the ground because he was rich and thus knew he was better than any so-called-experts who might tell him he was wrong. I could see it with Carson and Thomas. I always thought their eagerness to perpetrate racism they must have faced themselves was weird, but ‘Other people who faced my challenges and didn’t succeed just aren’t as awesome as I am’ makes sense.
As for role models… Peter S. Beagle, maybe. Maybe. I’ve mostly wanted to be a success, not be like someone who succeeded.
The Other Bob
I don’t know about my role models – some weren’t so good.
As a white man raising two children of African descent, I seek out role models that look like them, not me. I am fortunate to have moved away from the all white community I was raised, so my kids have lots of role models of different backgrounds.
What is interesting is the difference between the people my dad worked for his whole life, and my bosses. He only worked for white men, I have mostly worked for women, two of which were African American. I make sure my daughter has got to know them.
One of the reason I was so choked up on election night 2008 was I could honestly tell my daughter that she could be anything she wanted. Before that, I wasn’t so sure.
My father was a role model for me while he was alive, smart, inquisitive, and fearless (he was a homicide detective in the 70s in Chicago). Despite his job, he raised all of us to understand that most people are good; he loved people, was a gregarious guy; and at his wake over 600 people showed up, many of them unknown to us.
My mother was his dream girl, she used to invite in the neighborhood outcasts for coffee and would be the first to reach out to help someone in distress. She’s 84 now and her cognitive abilities are becoming impaired, she is an avid Fox watcher and has slowly become a much less nice person. But every now and then I catch a glimpse of the old spirit, and know that my mom is still in there.
I’m lucky enough to have had other mentors in my work life, but my parents were my primary ones.
But Oprah is rich! So affirmative action is oppression of white males! QED, libtards!
/every FreeRepublic thread ever
I don’t think it is appropriate to have any single role model. For myself, my role models were an amalgam of diffferent people I knew personally, or knew about.
I do agree 100% that any success is shared, while failure should be owned personally. I almost find it funny [almost] that conservatives have completely turned this around and without hesitation claim any success, no matter how small or large to a single person’s influence, idea, drive, leadership, etc. while failures by these same people is due to the system our other forces; ie government, society, incompetent subordinates, whatever.
Funny how that goes completely opposite to their mantra of personal responsibility and accountability.
I can think of no special role model (parents always have certain properties), but I can also think of no one who ever said “You can’t do that”. Sometimes a role model is someone who just lets you be you and helps that along.
The point of having a role model is to learn by example how to succeed in a way you find meaningful, not to copy someone else’s personal characteristics. At least, that’s my understanding of the phrase.
Agree. This failure by conservatives to recognize that everything you do is and has been supported by society at large (the “yes, I built this” backlash to Obama’s comments, for example) is one of the more serious problems in the nation. If you think you don’t need society, then it’s ok to destroy it and make sure no one else has it.
And this is one of the roots of conservative “thought.”
Never had any.
Not to say there aren’t folks – living, deceased and fictional – whose behavior or accomplishments or ethos or actions have found admirable or respectable or laudable or awe-inspiring.
Would much rather aspire to being a role model (for those who seek such things).
@Thoughtful David: Conservatives have no sense of society. It is all about owning and the individual. They tend to be concerned about their family, which they believe they “own”, but have no empathy or, more importantly, responsibility, for anyone else. Even charity is all about them (and maybe tax avoidance). I filter conservative dogma through that lens and am seldom disappointed.
Most (but my no means all) people have treated me like crap. So no role models, per se. My mom is a tough lady, so there’s that.
Yes, agreed. It all ties in with Going Galt as well: “We don’t need society; society needs us!”
The failure of this line of thinking actually shows clearly though: Despite talking about it constantly, how many conservatives have you ever seen actually Go Galt?
I’d have to say, my role model, in law and in life, is the lawyer who employed me as a Clerk for two summers while I was in law school and who later became my partner for a few years. To hear him talk, you’d think he was some kind of country bumpkin who just fell off the turnip truck, but he’d been a Morehead scholar at UNC Chapel Hill, can talk philosophy and literature with perfect assurance, and possesses, I suspect, an honest to god genius IQ. A recovering alcoholic who once laughingly described himself as “the least anonymous alcoholic in town,” he had, and still has, a humility and compassion that’s rare in the profession. When I’d get frustrated at the sheer blockheaded stupidity of some of the people we were trying to serve, he’d chuckle and say “Buddy, if they had any damn sense, they wouldn’t need us.” He always taught me that a lawyer should always strive to be a problem solver, not just a hired gun, and that the highest and best solution in a case was the one that repaired or at least helped heal the scars of the rift it created. He’s getting on in years and he’s had some pretty major health problems (damn I wish he’d quit smoking), but, even though he’s officially retired, he still goes to his old office every day to get the mail and confer with his partners.
Here’s to you, David. You are one of a kind.
That was a nice tribute.
There’s a long running meme of “conservatives are more charitable”, usually related to vanity/hobby philanthropy and donations to megachurches that also happen to be social centers, gyms and something akin to a club or lodge.
Take away deductibility, and that changes.
@J.D. Rhoades: Sounds like a hell of a guy.
It just occurred to me that Going Galt is the conservative version of the GBCW diaries I used to see at GOS.
And equally lame.
I am just watching the CNN video of the parent, who’s son was killed in CA. The poor man starts off calm saying he doesn’t know why the media focuses on the killer and not his son or the others that were killed. Then he just freaking breaks down and losses it. Yelling where is the leadership in this nation. Our kids are being killed. I normally am not that emotional but I’ve watched it like five times in a row and and honestly I can’t stop crying. That darn video ought to be playing on a loop on every TV in this darn nation.
@J.D. Rhoades: He sounds like a great man. For all the vile creeps and rotten behavior on display everywhere, it’s important to remember that there are guys like David out there doing the right thing in an unassuming way, every day.
That’s one of the things I love about President Obama and Michelle Obama as well. And I think that’s exactly what the wingnuts hate about them. We always say that you can be anything you want in America but rarely has that been true. But here comes a mixed-race kid who actually proves it and they just can’t stand it. Instead of trying to delegitimize him and treat him with such disrespect they could have at least honored the fulfillment of the American Dream that the current First Family represents. But no. That was too much for them.
With that in mind: email FWD electric boogaloo, or: another wingnut meme FAIL.
My role model du jour is John Kerry, who just said this about himself:
Well done, John.
@J.D. Rhoades: my lawyer, who is also my CPA (nice combo BTW). He comes off as a country bumpkin as well. I am pretty sure it is on purpose. Last year a copyright troll got my ISP records and tried to say I was illegally downloading porn. Told me to pay them thousands of dollars or they’d file suit. Everybody would know I download porn. Well (1) I didn’t do what they said and (2) I have a lawyer.
The NYC firm treated him like he was a country bumpkin and well, long story short, I am pretty sure they wish they had not done that. He destroyed them.
BTW: Also happy to hear you had a good mentor. I was lucky to have a few myself and I am thankful for it everyday.
Elizabeth Warren is my personal hero.
Caligula. Because … obviously.
@libarbarian: Well my mom. I’ve also really come to like Jimmy Carter. I was just a kid when he was president, but I go back and look at videos and read what he tried to do, and it is all pretty amazing. Plus, he could have just retired and made millions, but the man seems to work harder then anybody I know. And finally, I am not sure I’ve ever heard him say a single mean spirited thing. Not once. I admire that.
The other people nobody here would know. I always worked for small companies. Al the owners liberal. They were real job creators. Always paid me well. Gave me wonderful benefits. Were always there for me both professionally and in my personal life. IMHO they are the best part of our nation.
@Tommy: No thanx. I don’t want, or need, to see that kind of pain. When my wife’s father died, it was almost more than I could bear to listen to her wails of pure agony. I have lost plenty of people, too many of them sudden and without warning, and I already know how it feels.
Fwck that sh!t.
I’ve been blessed with an African American mentor who employed me right out of graduate school and we speak at least once a week although she’s retired now. Love her to pieces. And I have no problem saying loudly that I couldn’t have gone as far as I have with my career without her. To be honest, when I was in a bad place, I contacted my mentor and she walked me through what I should do. She’s the calmest and most rational person I know.
I am positive that Dr. Carson and Judge Thomas have had plenty of mentors who have helped them to achieve their goals. Not sure why they view assisting those who need help with such suspicion and disdain. It’s okay to need help and it’s okay to give help to those who need it.
@libarbarian: Thanx. I needed that. Time to go, play nice kiddies.
@OzarkHillbilly: Yeah there is a part of me that almost wishes I could unsee it. That poor man and his pain is going to haunt my dreams for a long time.
@Patricia Kayden: they see the need for help as the weakness of character that “infects” african-americans in the eyes of the Right….for the Right, communitarian values are antithetical to the imagined American rugged individualist they all imagine themselves to be….that is part of the fascination with guns (really it is some ideation) — guns seemingly empower the individual to need no one, not even the police.
@Patricia Kayden: One of my best bosses gave me advice that may sound simple, but it changed my life. She told me I always seem to have a sword in each hand fighting some battle. Almost every time I was right, but that still doesn’t mean I have to fight. Sometime you win by letting somebody else win. You’ll live longer. You’ll be happier. People might like you a little more. She was very right.
Let me be blunt. Wrigley Field is more important than the Cubs. Wrigley Field makes the Cubs.
Ain’t nobody gonna travel to wherever to see a team that fucking loses all the time. The Cubs ain’t got it like that.
Wrigley plan includes blocking rooftop views — or threat of ‘moving?’
CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs released a revised plan for Wrigley Field’s renovation Tuesday that calls for new signs, including some that would block the view from nearby rooftop venues, and warns that the team’s management would consider moving to another site if they are not allowed to “control our ballpark.”
The updated plans for Wrigley Field and developing the land around it come days after the team announced it would no longer seek the approval of the plans from the rooftop owners, who charge fans to sit in bleachers atop their buildings.
”If we don’t control our ballpark, then we have to look at other options, and we would work with the city on that,” Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said. ”We would first look in the city.”
@rikyrah: I laugh everytime i read that threat. enjoy the Naperville Cubs you greedy fucks! You aint going anywhere and everyone knows that.
@Tommy: Saw him on MSNBC last night. He was pretty calm by then as I assume it was his last interview for the day. Unfortunately, I don’t anticipate that the death of his son (and the others in CA) will lead to any gun control legislation. The NRA is too much in control of Congress. If Sandy Hook didn’t lead to gun control laws, then it appears that nothing will.
@rikyrah: I am die hard Cardinals fan so I got no love for the Cubs. But Wrigley Field rocks. I wish the Cardinals had a stadium with half the history and style of that place. But this is what owners do. The Cardinals, to get huge tax breaks and hundreds of millions from the city, threatened to move to IL. I don’t think anybody thought they’ve move to East St. Louis, but the city officials did, cause they got their taxpayer money. Heck the Rams are doing it as well, cause their 12 year old stadium is not “new” enough and want the city to pay for massive changes.
I have shared the reason for the depth of my contempt for the likes of Carson and Thomas and will do so again.
Everything Ben Carson ever got in his fucking life was gotten FROM THE GUVMINT.
He got a free superior education THROUGH MEDICAL SCHOOL FREE.
If you don’t know about Carson’s background, a child with his ‘youthful indiscretions’ would be solidly in the SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE.
So, if I’m pissed that a mofo who got EVERYTHING through the Guvmint, and whose ass would have already been in Juvy if he lived in these ‘ no tolerance’ policy days, then turns around and pretends that he didn’t get it all from the Guvmint, and that other kids in his situation…no, wait, let me take that back, kids who are promising and poor, but unlike Carson, have no ‘ youthful indiscretions’ and know already how to be positive members of society – that THOSE KIDS – don’t deserve to get what he got?
FUCK him and his Slave Catching Counterpart on the Supreme Court.
I don’t care that Clarence Thomas is a self-hating Black man. The problem that I have with Unca Clarence is that he takes out his self-hatred on the rest of us Black folk from that perch on the Supreme Court.
A man whose only talent was ass kissing racist White people and assuring them that he would jump however high they told him to.
@Patricia Kayden: I don’t know what Carson’s deal is, but Thomas’s hatred of affirmative action despite benefiting from it himself apparently stems from enduring taunts about it in college and he wants to spare other African-Americans the “pain” he was subjected to.
Sounds petty and ridiculous, yes, but that’s the kind of man Thomas is.
@Patricia Kayden: He referenced Sandy Hook several times. It was one of the most painful parts. Saying they were just kids. 6 and 7. At least he had 20 years with he son before he was senselessly taken away.
Maybe they’re terrified that if they help other folks of color to succeed in a white world like they have, there will be more non-whites like them in high and prominent positions like them, and then they wouldn’t be as special as they are.
@gf120581: I can’t put myself into their minds, but honestly it doesn’t make any sense to me. I am as white as you can get. I think affirmative action is important for a number of reasons. One that I think is important and doesn’t get talked about much is just for diversity. I am going to my 5 year old nieces graduation today from pre-preschool (how is that even a “thing” BTW). I think 20 students. Not a single one isn’t white, Anglo-Saxon. I find that kind of sad.
Not nearly enough.
Good morning. I hear you re the NRA, but I think we could have another “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment. We have to.
Richard Martinez is asking the right questions. He lost his son, yes, but it could have been anyone’s college kid, or primary schooler, or co-worker or family member lost to the next shooting.
The crazy (with gun) comes to us all, now.
I hope his video and interviews are widely aired, but not necessarily wall to wall because that might desensitize some viewers.
Mr. Martinez breaks through the cable clutter because he’s got a powerful message and he is authentic.
LATimes: ‘Not one more!’ father tells students at UCSB rampage memorial
I’d be interested to know why anyone thinks this will make a difference if Newtown didn’t?
@raven: It wouldn’t change a darn thing. I wouldn’t call myself a Second Amendment guy, but maybe a little more then many liberals. But folks smarter then myself need to figure out something, cause what stuns me about all these mass shootings is the thing buried at the end of almost every story. The guns were bought legally.
It’s good to start the day with Eric’s essay. Thank you.
This part stands out for me:
That is the essence of what conservative “thought” has been boiled down to, in a lab of craziness and selfishness and spite, for decades.
It’s Ronald Reagan’s “government is the problem” spun from fib to fantasy theme park.
The Obamas eclipse the Carsons and Thomases of the world, because they’re more honest and inclusive and — very honestly — grateful.
While there is no one I would call a role model, there have been several people who had characteristics I try to emulate.
My father, a very difficult man with whom I had a troubled relationship, was smart, hard-working, and took on any project his engineering mind thought up.
My maternal grandfather was wonderful to his grandchildren, more lenient than he had been to his own children. He was a farmer, and when I retire (soon,) I’m going to be a farmer too.
My maternal grandmother was crafty, that is, she made things, and she had a greenhouse. I make things. I have a greenhouse. It’s partially genetic, but she also passed on knowledge…and plant cuttings.
A retired high school math teacher, Isham Byrom. In his late 70s, Isham took on the editorship of our hobbyists’ club’s newsletter which until that time had been typed and Xeroxed. Well, he said, if he was going to edit, he would need a word processor. (For you kiddies out there, a “word processor” at that time was a sort of computerized typewriter dedicated to text.) Around 80 he said, might as well get a computer. Then, might as well get some programs besides word processing. Might as well learn to trade stocks on line. Isham never stopped learning, and that has inspired me and I hope will continue to inspire me for years to come.
Years ago I read somewhere that young women who graduate from womens’ colleges accomplish more after graduation than young women who attend co-ed schools. I took a job as a secretary at Spelman College in Atlanta to see what, if anything, was behind that data.
What I saw explained the difference and then some. I worked for the department of math and sciences. The women on the faculty could have tripled their salaries by working corporate jobs, of which they could certainly have had their pick. Instead they chose to teach at Spelman and be there to usher bright young women into lives of achievement.
When the women on the faculty spotted students with decided ability, they did far more than just give them good grades and nice letters of recommendation upon graduation. They actively used their considerable connections in the academic and business worlds to open doors for those young women.
I went to a co-ed college myself, so the difference between the care the Spelman faculty lavished on their students and what I got at my co-ed school was easy to see.
In fact, I am now a secretary for the state environmental protection group and one of the young professional women I work for, who is now an environmental engineer working at this job site, recognized me from Spelman. She just returned from the leave she took to have her first child and she is a lovely young lady with a bright future.
I think drip, drip, drip. We’ve had murdered high schoolers (Columbine), elementary schoolers (Newtown), now college kids — yet again — not free to walk around on a beautiful Friday night. We’ve had the DC sniper, killing people in shopping center parking lots and at gas stations.
I think that the shooter this time bought his guns legally despite being crazy and having disturbing videos online is a shocking detail.
We are awash in guns, and there is no safe place anymore.
(Although your average Republican congresscretin is pretty well protected, as long as they’re walking around in the US capitol complex. Citizens go through strict security to see our representatives. You cannot just walk in on them, weapon at the ready.)
@Elizabelle: I don’t know what you do. I had a co-worker. I really liked the guy. He’d give you the shirt off his back. We could talk for hours and hours about any number of things, well not politics. Before Obama took office he really thought the government was coming to take away his guns or at least stop the sales. So he took his families life savings and bought truck loads of ammo and guns. To the point his wife left him. I don’t think she was fearful he’d go on a rampage, just why waste their lives savings on freaking guns?
I had a sixth grade teacher who loved teaching and made me love learning. She tried all kinds of crazy things to get us to engage.
She was enormous (well over 300 lbs) and by most standards she was ugly (facial warts, teeth set too far apart, dense dark eyes and jet black straight hair cut in a really unattractive style). She honestly did not care about appearances.
She had learned her craft in American Samoa, spoke several languages, could explain basic algebra and geometry to fumbling 6th graders, taught us the science was an on-going adventure, insisted we learn World History in context (by having us learn about multiple cultural developments as new worlds were “discovered” by Europeans), used an overhead projector to create giant murals of art history that we traced then “painted” in pairs–and your partner had to be someone you didn’t “know” (which it took me years to realize was based on simple playground observation), and made us all go to the gym and learn folk dances. Twelve-year-old white kids in southern Ohio dancing the hava nagila, hula, and Virginia Reel with the partner you met across from you without getting to choose. It was a sight.
When I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes mid-year, she had a talk with me on my return that amounted to “you’ve got a medical condition that you will be responsible for the rest of your life. If you need me, tell me. Otherwise, it is up to you.’
As a teacher, she was amazing. As a human, she was a model of how to approach a world filled with amazing things to learn. And share.
She made me want to be a teacher. And I’m proud to say I’m a good one according to my students.
Loved the stories of your mentors. Thank you.
Suspect you guys are paying it forward, too.
The good news is that the number of gun owners continues to fall.
The bad news is that the number of guns per owner continues to rise.
He was effective in a lengthy segment on Last Word on Tuesday.
Have to give him a pass on the near-constant reliance on “y’know” in his conversation during that segment, as he’s been through a traumatic time plus is likely beyond exhausted from making the media rounds.
Every Congressperson who accepts donations from the current-day NRA is taking blood money.
Period. Full stop.
Wonder what changed Carson? As the quotes from his book that were posted in an earlier thread indicate, at the time he wrote Gifted Hands, he didn’t treat having grown up on welfare as something to be ashamed of, but rather as something that was necessary and helpful. Furthermore, Ta Nehisi Coates has shared about how, for black kids like him growing up in Baltimore, Carson was revered and was a frequent inspirational speaker at schools.
What made him suddenly want to jump on the wingnut crazy train?
Agreed. I wish that TBogg’s marvelous essay, I was the NRA, could be common knowledge.
This isn’t your father’s or grandfather’s NRA, and NRA money is blood money.
I’d like to see a massive reconsideration of the Second Amendment. Once we have a more stable Supreme Court. No can do in a Roberts Court world.
Follow the money.
@NotMax: Perhaps, but wasn’t he already rich? I assume that brain surgeons at Johns Hopkins are well paid. Money is probably part of it, but doesn’t seem to be a sufficient reason for him to take this turn.
Gifted Hands, Greedy Pocket?
Avarice has (and respects) no boundaries.
It’s always hard to say what the tipping point will be. I don’t necessarily think that this will be it, but quite often the tipping point is the “small” event, not the big one.
Most likely, yes. Conservatives are well known here in Vegas as the WORST tippers.
Not only does the President prove it, but also Michelle Obama.
She grew up in the attic of a Chicago Style Bungalow. I lived in a bungalow. I know how small that attic was.
Michelle Obama, daughter of high school graduates, went from that attic to the White House in one generation.
Barack and Michelle Obama are the epitome of the American Dream. And the right’s inability to concede that not-so-small point is part of the major side eye that the Black Community, hell, I believe every non-White who isn’t a sellout sees it the same way.
Barack and Michelle Obama succeeded in the ways that we tell our children how they can succeed. That the right refuses to admit this, is why they are dismissed by the non-White communities of this country.
as someone who also rode an old motorscooter across the country I have to say I liked that beagle had a similar story.
I read an article on TPM about Joe Scarborough being mocked by Megyn Kelly on Fox.
Fictional role models are the best. Lots and lots of book characters from the early days. And from the teen days, Buffy and Willow from BVS, Spock and Captain Picard from the Star Treks, and Hawkeye from MASH. Very retro role models for me, apparently (Buffy and Willow being the exceptions).
Fascinating story here:
Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism
Ugh. I had an octogenarian try to corner me to tell me about this wonderful man named Ben Carson just before a yoga class last week.
Bob In Portland
Reports of Ukrainian troops dropping mortar shells on a kindergarten in Slavyansk, and indiscriminately shelling a village where no there are no federalist forces. Also, Chechen irregulars are fighting on the side of federalists.
How long until it’s time to negotiate?
One dynamic I observe a lot is “I had to eat dirt, so you have to eat dirt.” They’re either jealous that others might have it easier than they did, or feel guilty about advantages they enjoyed, so they want to make sure others suffer through as many difficulties as possible. Crabs in a bucket.
Oh I forgot Bob in Portland… My other role model, how silly of me to forget…
James Wilder (Almanzo’s father)
Harth rem ir Estraven
My ma lost her father in her early teens, her mother was clearly mentally ill and AWOL for the rest of her life (being rich meant mentally ill was simply “eccentric”) and her brother was her strength.They grew up in Melbourne AUS, Francis went to England to Oxford, ma simply moved in with her best friend, and in 1940 sailed to England through the U-boats in the Atlantic, her ship was torpedoed, she was rescued, and landed in Bristol England where she became an ambulance driver in a port city which was bombed every night. She was adopted by her brother’s mother-in-law, who became our Cornish Granny.
She had the misfortune to marry my father, a rich closeted gay man in the 1940’s who was mentally and sexually abusive to 3 of his four children. In those days you didn’t get a divorce, you gritted your teeth, which is what my mother did. My second sister never recovered from the abuse and became an alcoholic and drug addict and died at 55. My younger brother is slightly developmentally disabled and still bears the scars of the abuse. My eldest sister and I have miraculously come through this simply because of the determination, strength of character, curiosity, love of learning, appreciation for the arts in whatever form they came around, and sheer grit that my ma imparted to us.
What my mother’s generation in England went through during the war is something no one in the US can even begin to imagine. Some of them became stronger, some collapsed and never became whole again. She died of Parky in 1986 but she still hovers over my left shoulder and her spirit never leaves me. I was blessed.
I guess you could call her a role model, I call her one of my heroes, the girl I went to school with 12 of the 13 yrs K-12. She has polio. I haven’t seen her in 37 yrs but during that 12 yrs and our 10 yr HS reunion she never once gave up or let the BS that some kids are brutal with seemingly get to her. She struggled with the physical problems of polio and she kicked it’s ass, walking into that reunion with no braces, no crutches or cane. Walked in like she owned the place. I’ve tried to find her a couple of times with no luck, I hope that the polio didn’t take her early, which it sometimes does.
Football coaches. Mine came in 3 flavors… my highschool jayvee coaches, my highschool varsity coaches, and my college coaches. Learned valuable lessons from all three:
Jayvee: these guys were hetero-fabulous. They ran a landscaping business, worked outta their trucks from sunup till 2pm, so that they could coach ball the rest of the day at whatever nearby HS would have them. Besides football (incidental, really, though they knew their stuff) I learned from these men that you could build a life around doing what you love. They loved football, and kids, and won a lot more than they lost. Free agents, free spirits, good men.
Varsity: These coaches taught me to bust ass, on season and off, but to know what you’re doing and have a philosophy that it’s all based on. Our offense was weird and a bit boring (we threw the ball about twice/game, there were no WR’s in the offense!). Winning by 40-50 points without throwing the ball is fun, though, and as an offensive lineman meant you were hammering people on every play and pushing them around, rather than run around backwards protecting some prima donna QB. Football is generally an authoritarian world, but these coaches drew their authority simply from having a system that worked and playtime went to the kids that could play in the system, which took patience and hard work. We won 2 championships with that head coach, who later became famous for having the most alums in the NFL of any coach in the US. He was a Jew, so he never let us pray in huddles, he enforced racial integration at team meals, and he was generally awesome to play for if you worked hard. Lessons learned: bust ass, be smart about it, and ‘football is just a street fight with rules, you need to impose your will to win on your opponent to win.’
College: the opposite side of authoritarianism. Lots of traditions, fancy warmup routines, extensive nonsensical pep-talks, seniority rules for constructing the depth chart, and an offensive ‘system’ based on… God knows what. Our coach once told us, early-on ‘if the season goes bad, I’m the athletic director, AND I have tenure, so there won’t be any coaching changes.’ Uhh, yeah that’s inspirational, pops. Basically taught me everything NOT to do, from a management and preparation perspective. Thanks for the what-not-to-do lessons, Coach, but it would have been nice to win a game at some point in there.
Oh yeah, and my Mom. Widow, never remarried, raised me after my Dad died so I was always looking for male role models. Note: I am not a football coach. I do what my Mom did for a living- public college professor for not-privileged kids. Maybe all that coach stuff is macho bullshit, and she was the real deal.