Blast From The Past – part 2

Aug 12, 2017


One of the items that Made its way down to AZ after our Summer trip was a 1963 Edition of a Reader published by Houghton Mifflin. It was first published in 1949. Reading it again brought back so many memories from my early years in school.
Back in the day, our little three room school used the Dick and Jane readers by Scott Foresman. It is also true that I was not always the compliant, model student. Because of that wayward gene in my DNA, I was often banished to the janitor’s room in an effort to gain my complacency.

These episodes sometimes lasted for an hour or so. But fear not, my teacher was never cruel… he just wanted me out of his sight until he could regain self control. To me it was a blessing, for in that 6’ x 8’ room with shelves to the ceiling, I discovered all the Teacher’s Editions. Of course my favorites were the reading books. Not just for the readers currently in use, but those that were not used.

One of the things that irked me in the upper grades was the fact that about one fourth of our reading books had been physically cut out. No one seemed to know what was taken out…. but after so many hours in that storeroom, I, little scrawny, Donnybud, knew what was missing! It was a world of make believe. Fairy Tales, Myths and all sorts of forbidden knowledge was missing. I lapped up these stories like a kitten who is all over a saucer of warm milk.

Jack and Janet _cover.JPG


You see, in our little church related school, if it wasn’t “true,” then we had no business reading it, no matter how moral the stories were. Which didn’t make a lot of sense to me… then or now. After all, were the stories of Dick and Jane, or as with the Primer in my hands, Jack and Janet, any more “true” than the Fairy Tales that we couldn’t read in the upper grades?

Anyway, putting that aside, it strikes me now rather oddly why none of the books were titled Janet and Jack or Jane and Dick. Why were the boys listed first in BOTH book titles?

Another observation. It seems that air-headed blonds are portrayed that way from a very young age, as in the little sister of Jack and Janet. The book opens with Mother looking for Janet to send to the store for some milk. She sees Penny first and asks her to find Janet and give her the short grocery list of milk.

Penny can’t find her sister, so she decides to go to the store on her own. Handing the list to the store clerk in a store the likes of which you’ve never seen, he gets the milk for her. The family must have an account at the store for there is no exchange of money.

On the way home she gets distracted, typical blonde, lays down the milk and her doll to console her kitten named Mitten. They set off for home with Penny forgetting to pick up her doll and the milk. Then on page 17 we find Mother, dressed with her petticoat on the outside of her dress, meeting Penny at the door and asking, Where is the milk?”

Jack and Janet - 17 1.jpeg


At this point, Penny, who is wondering where on earth the milk could have left her possession, looks around and spots Janet, her raven-haired smart sister coming up the sidewalk carrying her doll and the missing milk.

On page 79 begins a strange story of make-believe wherein Penny tries to convince the rest of her family that she is a rabbit. She manages to get out of doing some simple chores. She even refuses to help Daddy bring the groceries in out of the car.

Jack and Janet - 79 1.jpeg


So, Daddy gets a big wooden box to make her a bed outside on the porch while Mother brings her a carrot for supper. On page 95 we learn the truth. It’s not really much fun to be a pretend rabbit.

Jack and Janet - 95 1.jpeg

One day Mother makes a batch off cookies, but they start disappearing before Penny gets hers. They argue in that stilted, limited, Primer vocabulary about who might be taking the cookies. So, without using the actual words, they set a trap to find out if it was Tip or Mitten the kitten who is the thief. On page 112 we find that it was NOT Tip!

Jack and Janet - 112 1.jpeg


When it is time for Jack’s birthday celebration, we find the sexual stereotypes of the 1940’s and 50’s. We learned that there are toys that are just for boys and toys just for girls. Twenty-eight pages are devoted to finding just the right gift… one that is for a boy, not one that the girls would like. Then Jack and his male friends end up loosing the box kite that Janet has purchased for him. It was found by Janet and her friend, Dot. They succeed in launching the kite with just the short broken string that is attached… without using those words.

Daddy, who is WALKING home from work, catches them with the kite. The girls explain that the kite string is broken, but they would like to try flying it. Daddy, being the good guy that he is, despite the fact that he is wearing a fedora, gets some string for the girls.

Daddy, on page 162, removes his fedora in shame, wondering just what kind of girls he is raising when they insist on showing the boys how to successfully fly a boys kite.

Jack and Janet - 162 1.jpeg


The girls explain to the guys that, since the box kite got away from them and the girls got it flying, it is now theirs to keep.

Come on girls!

Come on authors!

It’s REALLY OK to take back a gift that you’ve given someone just because they lost it? And why is it OK to be playing with a boy’s toy when just a few pages before you were teaching us that there are toys just for boys and toys just for girls?

When my grand children were small there were books like Ted Has Two Mommies, and people complained that the schools were changing the mores of the next generation. They most certainly were and are, but was instilling the myth that mothers stayed at home cleaning, baking and wearing an apron, while father walked to and from work carrying a newspaper and wearing a suit and fedora any better?

The play and toys of boys and girls were so well defined back then! It wasn’t that many years later that women were astronauts, scientists, doctors and mathematicians. Hardly any mothers today do only housework. Most work outside the home and still find time to bear children and pay someone else to raise them.

I don’t know, maybe the Primers back-in-the-day, were more a snippet of how it was, rather than teaching what life should be like. Has life changed so dramatically because of what we read as a child? Or did we change, so our reading evolved with us?

Were we really not that good at learning the things that were so subtlety taught while we were learning to navigate the printed word?

I will soon publish a link to the entire book so that you can review 151 new words of your very own Primer vocabulary and enjoy the trip down Memory Lane in its entirety.

What do you think? Comment below.


Are You Ready? Or Not?

“God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything….more than just ready to do what He wants done.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 The Message

Express your neediness, He gives Grace with reckless abandon.

How can I top this?

A Blast From The Past

For the last week or so I’ve been gathering and sifting through stuff that has been left behind on our last couple of moves. You may be acquainted with the “stuff” I’m talking about… old files and boxes of stuff that you didn’t have the heart to throw away, so you just box it up and find a convenient place to store it. Usually with a sibling, child or parent. That stuff that you don’t have time to deal with or make a definitive decision on. So it just lives a life of its own in a different space.

In my case it is stuff that I left with our youngest daughter in Yacolt, WA. But now she is on the verge of moving, so my stuff needed to be taken away or thrown away.

Well, the hoarder within whispered, “Throw away all the known junk and take all the “good” stuff back to Arizona.” So I did… and encountered the unexpected…the monsoon season shortly after entering AZ. All my precious “stuff” was riding in plastic crates in the back of our open pickup would soon be junk!

CAUTION! Never be disillusioned by the waterproofness of plastic crates. The crate holding correspondence containing photos, genealogy information from relatives long dead, were floating in 3″ of water.

I have spent some long hours since arriving home, doing what I should have done years ago… scanning them to disk.

My office smells older and mustier than I as the old wet paper slowly dries enough to be scanned. Some of the old photos seem to have survived enough that Photo Shop can repair them.

Evelyn’s three documents for which I am most proud are still in pretty good shape. Society of Mayflower Descendants (in the line of John Alden), Daughters of the American Revolution (in the line of Paul Revere), and our Marriage Certificate.

Early in our marriage we began corresponding with our parents via reel-to-reel tapes. Then as technology increased it was via cassette tapes. Somewhere in these crates are some surviving cassettes.

Another way of communicating was a yearly newsletter that went out to siblings, children and cousins. For years it was a joint effort of both Evelyn and me, but by the 1980’s it became more of her burden. I wish that I still had some of the letters from the 60’s and 70’s. They were pretty “Artsy.”

So I thought that I would share the oldest one that I have, just for human interest.

This will also illustrate the problems that we had using “older technology.” Her typewriter (what’s that?) was laying down only half of the “e.” Sometime none at all, but the Christmas letter went out “as is,” because by the time it was finished, it was well into January. This is the scanned version that survived the thunder and rain of AZ.

STRAWN NewYear Letter-1_1985STRAWN NewYear Letter-2_1985

Home At Last!

29 July 2017


Aw-w-w-w! Nothing beats stretching out in your own crib!
That is NOT to say that we didn’t have a good time this Summer, but it still involved living in the home of someone else.

Upon our arrival in Flagstaff Wednesday, we found a camping place in the Coconino National Forest about 4 miles from the Orthopedic surgery Center to park the RV. We were no more than barely set up when it began to sprinkle, then shower, then a full-blown thunderstorm. Jolie got her “Merry Meds” to calm her anxiety and promptly went to sleep.

Thursday, mid-morning, Evelyn met with the doctor for the pre-surgical interview for removing some hardware bracing that was left in her leg during an ankle replacement about a year ago. Friday morning the deed was done.

My Honey’s Hardware

Honey Hardware



While in WA I attempted to interest some of my grand kids in Geocaching, but they never really got into it even though we made several successful finds.

Stops along the way yielded three Geocaching finds to add to the ones that I located while in Washington.


One was a “virtual cache,”

Geocache 1





Geocache 2

one was in a stump










Geocache 3

and one was dangling from a tree.







At our camp near Flagstaff I tried to befriend a family of chipmunks, but they mostly just took my proffered crackers and ran.




In one of my previous blogs I showed several examples of Nursery Logs, those rotting logs that provide nutrients for other plant life.

NurseryTree 1Here is one example from Oakridge, Oregon.


At our camp in Flagstaff I found a rather unique example of a Nursery Log, and I couldn’t resist showing it.

Someone had dumped several pounds of dry Pinto beans onto a rotting log where the Monsoon rains soaked them to life and they are growing and taking root.

Our 100 lb. baby (Jolie) had a good time with her brothers, but even she was happy to be home. As we approached the city limits of Holbrook, Jolie began to take serious notice of her surroundings. When we got to the place where she takes her daily run, she REALLY got excited and we could hardly keep her in the truck. As soon as we got tho the house she was ready to make her rounds of the yard checking, it seems, to see if everything in her kingdom was still there.

Tomorrow is unpacking day. Wish me luck and sustained strength.

Loaded Truck





Waiting on the Lord

Psalm 2017:27

July 27, 2017

I will arise with the break of day
Wipe the sleep from my eyes
And begin to pray.

Thank you, Lord, for life it’s self,
For your everlasting mercy.
Your eternal love, given without measure
To sinful mankind is a thing of wonder,
Staggering my comprehension.

Teach me your ways, o Lord!
Put a right spirit within me.
That I may reflect your will
To those around me.

Give me strength to guard my thoughts
That they may turn to you all my days.
Let my life be a channel of your love
Flowing out to those around me.

Thank you for undeserved grace.
Your daily forgiveness brings tears of joy
And dancing to my feet.
Songs of praise arise from my heart.

You are my salvation,
Deliverance from the wretched man that I am.
I will bless your name forever, my One God.
The One for me! Forever and ever. Amen!

Almost Home

July 26, 2017

After spending a relaxing evening in Las Vegas yesterday, we awoke this morning to the curious taste of a new granola. This one contains no grains! …. mostly just nuts and honey.

However for a guy that is hooked on HoneyNut Cheerios and Honey Bunches of Oats, I didn’t think that the makers of this granola were standing close enough to the honey pot! One half of a peach sliced over it helped with the flavor. Be warned, it takes a lot of chewing to get it down.


Check it out at your own risk.AlmostHome 1a.jpeg




AlmostHome 2b.jpeg








Finding a nice place to set up camp in the Coconino National Forest, about 4 miles out of Flagstaff, we got ready to kiss this Wednesday goodbye.





AlmostHome 3b.jpeg



We discovered a little trail and set off to see what we could see. Both Jolie and Evelyn were eager the stretch their limbs after nearly 6 hours on the road.







AlmostHome 4b.jpeg





Found these two hikers tagging along in the sunbeams keeping us company.






AlmostHome 5b.jpeg




Couldn’t resist bringing home this towering thunderhead in a blue sky.







Tomorrow a doctor’s appointment followed on Friday by a minor surgery on Evelyn’s ankle. Saturday, a day of rest so she can recuperate and the final 90 miles will get us home to Holbrook and a “normal” life at








Happy Trails

What an awesome trip from Oakridge, OR to Fallon, NV yesterday. At one point were went from 92F and light clouds, down to 62F and rain so heavy I could barely see the road.  Coming into and out of storms punctuated with lightening and thunder. There were at least two fires burning the hills in the distance.

We spent a peaceful night in the Fallon Walmart Rest Area.