Sunday, June 30, 2013

Grocery Store Donations

I used to have grocery stores in my town.  Within the last three years the stores’ missions have changed. Providing groceries to customers has taken second place to collecting donations from customers.  It’s a rare day that a customer (or should I say donor?) can buy so much as a pack of gum without the clerk at the checkout asking,   “Would you like to donate to the National Society for Rattlesnake Abuse Prevention?”

Don’t think that a person will slyly avoid contributing by clicking “no” to the same soliciting question displayed on the credit card key pad.  Those questions all read something like this, “Do you want to donate to the Association for Better Bananas ?”   As soon as you click “no,” the clerk directly asks, “Do you want to donate……?”  I think the key pad must be there only to collect the fingerprints of reluctant contributors.

There is diabolical reasoning involved in this method of solicitation.  Why I should care if the person behind me in the checkout line thinks I’m a heartless cheapskate, I don’t know.  But saying, “No” within that person’s hearing is much more embarrassing than clicking “no” on a key pad.  Naturally, the peer pressure aspect never occurred to the grocery store solicitors.  This additional discomfiture is all coincidence.

In my view, the idea that the grocery store is a first-rate place to gather donations is fundamentally flawed.  After spending $100 on groceries that cost me $80 the week before, who wants to part with more cash?  I need a drink of water, a round of relaxation breathing, and a cold pack for my aching head.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, I was a raised by a woman who didn’t know the meaning of the following phrases: back down, peer pressure, go along with the crowd. Whenever I find myself in a situation laced with the faintest scent of any of those phrases, my inner thirteen-year-old revolts, “See if you can make me do it!” 

By virtue of my inner thirteen-year-old, the grocery stores no longer twist my arm. Now, my stock phrase at the checkout counter is, “My policy is that I never donate to anything over the checkout counter.”  There is something about having a personal policy that makes it much less heartless and cheap when declining to donate.

The old saying is that: turn about is fair play.  I think it fair that I should indulge in some entertaining reciprocity at the store.  My latest plan involves finding the manager and within hearing of several customers stating, “I am collecting for the orphaned song bird fund.  Would your store like to donate?”   Or maybe next time I’m solicited at the check stand I’ll ask the clerk if she will donate to the customer recovery fund.  This is a fund for individuals to recover the all funds they have donated every time they enter the grocery store.  The customers need to recover the money so that they can afford to buy groceries.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Detective Work

Hermione and I decided to take a trip to my Dad's birthplace: The once thriving metropolis of Pompey's Pillar.  First, we visited the Pompey's Pillar National Landmark itself to view Captain Clark's signature. I am speaking of Captain Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The landmark has a beautiful visitor's center with information from Clark's journey in the areas:videos, displays, pictures and a gift shop.  It was well worth seeing. Pompey's Pillar, the rock outcropping, is along the Yellowstone River where you can also view snakes and mosquitoes, so bring mosquito repellent can be handy in the morning or evening.  I loved the  views of the amazing Yellowstone.  I am going to go there again.

It so happens that the first government financed irrigation project, Huntley Project was a few miles up the road from Pompey's Pillar. Huntley Project allowed farmers to begin to make a go of it in the Pompey's Pillar/Huntley area. Before the irrigation project, many settlers tried to farm, but most of them went bust.  We visited the Huntley museum and talked with the curator, Melissa Koch.  She gave a us a platt and showed us where the homestead was located on the platt.  She also gave us information about the original town and how homesteading worked for the settlers.

In 1913 O.D. Robertson and Maude Brodock Robertson homesteaded Farm Unit I, sections 22 and 27, almost adjacent to the Pompey's Pillar monument itself and fairly close to the river, although not bordering on it.  Fly Creek and the railroad ran through their farm.

Captain Clark's signature


Years ago, I found pictures O.D. Robertson had of the Huntley project when it was being built.  The back of the pictures state, "Working on Huntley Canal Project OD Robertson."  Some say "Huntley Canal Project Contract, O.D. Robertson."   These leads me to surmise that my grandpa, who hired out himself and his horses worked on that project.
Back of this picture says, " Working on Huntley Canal Project Contract O.D. Robertson"
This is one of three pictures of Huntley Project that O.D. Robertson had.
Interestingly, some of the lands opened up to homesteading by the irrigation project was Indian Land.  The Indians usually didn't farm the land themselves, but settlers had to pay charges to them. O. D. Robertson and Maude's land title states that they had to pay Indian charges.

O.D. and Maude had a dairy farm that seems to have been successful if O.D.'s tally book tracking the amount of milk his cows produced daily is anything to go by.  Every morning he would load his milk onto the train bound for Billings.
The most impressive building in Pompey's Pillar

The most impressive girl in Pompey's Pillar

Pompeys Pillar - looks like an old livery stable
While Pompey's Pillar now has only some trailers, a few houses, a company that sells honey, and a Post Office, this was not always true.  Melissa Koch informed me that in 1916 the First National Bank of Pompey's Pillar was established.  From 1912 to 1925 the town was booming.  There were two general stores, two implement dealers, two restaurants, a meat market, a real estate office, garage, blacksmith, hotel, pool hall with barber shop, newspaper, livery stable, two lumber yards, a school, two churches, an elevator, two section houses, a department with three telegraphers every 24 hours, daily passenger service both ways (I assume this means the train) and a town policeman. There was also a steamboat that ferried people and supplies up and down the Yellowstone. This post includes pictures of all the buildings in the "downtown" now.
Pompey's Pillar Post Office

Sadly, after losing their son, Teddy to a mysterious and lingering illness and almost losing their daughter, Winifred, and younger son, Sid, O.D. and Maude sold the farm.  They thought the water was bad and making their children sick.  Melissa Koch confirmed that the water in the area is not the best.

For their son, Teddy's funeral, Maude and O.D. rode the train from Pompey's Pillar to Great Falls, where Robert Theodore Robertson is buried in the old part of the cemetery behind the mall.  Great Falls was close to both O.D.'s father's ranch and Maude's family's ranch.  Both ranches were near Millegan, Montana.

Some things don't change.  The need to be with our family during a time of heartbreak is one of those things.

Teddy's death was published in the Billings' and Great Falls' newspapers. I found the clippings when I looked through old letters.  I also discovered a letter from a minister offering his services to conduct the funeral.  Maude and O.D. took him up on the offer.  At this time, neither Maude or O.D. had any religious leanings.  I can't imagine enduring the death of my baby without my religion to comfort me and help me with my perspective.  This must have been an awful time for both Maude and O.D.

While genealogy can be lots of paperwork with names, dates, and places, it can also involved some fascinating information brought to light by detective work.  After we've lived a few years and experienced a few things, we know the aching hearts and turmoil attached to hard experiences.  The names, dates, and personal experiences work together to lead us to empathize with those who went before us.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Expertise that Counts

I am limited in many respects, but you have to admit that I chose a great Husband and Dad for my kids.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Blogging but Uneasy

Occasionally, I look at the statistics tracking viewers of both my blogs.  I'm gratified to learn that during a week there may be three or four other people, besides my family, who slog through my thought provoking (or maybe just provoking) meanderings.  I am uneasy, though, when I see some of the web addresses that have entered my blog.

Why any site specializing in porn would enter my website is beyond me.  The idea makes me succumb to an attack of acute nausea. Often, the site names that have entered my blog clue me in to their low life purposes. I'm speculating that some of the scumbags associated with the Internet sewer must write programs that randomly enter blogs.      

Once, however, I clicked an innocuous sounding link that was a purveyor of garbage.  As the computer loaded the pictures, I noticed that the women's faces had idiotic expressions. The loading progressed and I noticed clothes did not appear on shoulders or upper chests, I crashed my computer before the upper body nudity became apparent and decided never to clink on any link that entered my blog, no matter what the name.

So the moral of the story is, never to click on link that has entered my blog, no matter how innocent sounding the name may be.  I just wish there was a way to block seedy sites from entering my blog at all.  Probably they are trying to drum up business, but they won't get mine. Self respect is hard enough to continually maintain.  Why would I sell it to predators who only goal is to take my money and wreck my life?

Sunday, June 02, 2013

My Television Education

I’m getting smarter all the time thanks to television.  Only this week I learned that aliens from space are the most likely source of Leonardo da Vinci’s genius.  For two years da Vinci didn’t write much in his journal, but he did mention a cave he visited.  So the only rational conclusion is that da Vinci held conclaves in the cave with aliens from space during those two years. The aliens showed him the future and introduced him to revolutionary ideas.  Either the aliens taught da Vinci everything he knew, or they downloaded the information into his brain.  The History Channel experts are not clear on this point.   

According to the History Channel’s sources, who propound their hypotheses with certainty as well as a straight face, the aliens imparted this information for the purpose of speeding up mankind’s technological progression.  I learn something new every day.

While da Vinci’s dealings with space aliens are interesting, they play second fiddle to present-day adventures with Sasquatch.  One day as I tried to find something worth watching on my 100 channels of satellite TV, I stumbled on a program with modern-day Sasquatch hunters – in Kansas.  Nothing is more likely than Sasquatch hiding out in Kansas. This theory explains completely why hunters can never find the elusive creature in Washington, Oregon, or British Columbia.  Sasquatch has been concealing himself in Kansas all along.

In a discussion of educational television, I would not want to overlook an enlightening program that deals with a geologist on his search for the Holy Grail in the United States.  My elementary school teachers completely misled me.  They taught me in 6th grade that the Holy Grail was a myth created during the middle ages.  To hear the geologist tell it, there is nothing more certain than the existence of a Holy Grail which the Knights Templar decided to hide in Minnesota or was it Maine?  After the Last Supper, I would have thought that the individuals providing the upper room would have washed all the dishes, making it hard to figure out who used which grail.  It just goes to show how logical thinking has no place in science or television.

After my television learning experiences, I wait with bated breath to view the next bit of television science or history.  What next will I learn?  The Eiffel Tower was in reality designed to be intergalactic starship?  Neanderthals govern a province in Upper Canada?  Atlantis is alive and well and located under an ice sheet at the North Pole?  Anything is possible in a television education.