admin on February 15th, 2011

After a long dormancy I’m set to revive this blog.  In the interim I walked across the country along the American Discovery Trail, speaking about the abundance of kindness, virtues of community and issues of humanity.  I also observed and reported on kindness, community and humanity.  I continued to do so on a separate blog called Kindness, Community, Humanity.

Formally called the Middle Class Forum, I’m renaming this blog A Second Thought.  My concerns are for western society in general and not for one limited class.  Those concerns are founded on a different view, a second thought, about civilized v. natural humanity than what has dominated western civilization since the time of the Enlightenment.  My first series of posts on this blog revival will cover a few fundamental misconceptions in our society, fueled by “civilized” misinformation.  Often times these will be documents I prepared for my scribd account.

I’ll also work on bringing the features of this blog up to date as well, but it will take time.  Comments that wish to present an opposing view must not be anonymous.  State your name, your town and your vocation.  Anonymity is one of the many social problems pertaining to civilized, mass societies.  If you want to passionately oppose a view than own up to it, you won’t find me sympathetic to the cowardly practice of hiding behind the Internet.  Under no circumstances are comments to be personal, rude or condescending.  The spam filter generally does a good job of isolating that type of post, but I will keep an additional watch as well.

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admin on August 6th, 2010

This site will start building off of the “Pop’s Letters” series to portray other middle class lives in personal accounts and poetry.  Please contact me at kirk(dot)sinclair(at)middleclassforum(dot)com if you would like to share your own middle class experiences or if, like me, you have material from a relative and you want to use this forum as a means of honoring them.

Other Main Features On This Site

Annotated Quotes, Unbalanced Trends, and An Author’s Learning Curve (ALC)

Use the search bar or refer to the subcategories for other topics of interest.

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admin on May 15th, 2011

A recent headline in the New York Times, “Health Insurers Making Record Profits as Many Postpone Care,” reveals the failings of a corporate capitalist economy.  Let me first add the caveats that what we have in this country would be more accurately dubbed corporate socialism than corporate capitalism, and as with anything “failing” depends on one’s perspective.  For stockholders and investors we have a terrific economic system!

Of course, stockholders reap the benefits of the record profits being made from an industry that does not really produce anything.  Health care produces something of immense value, but not health insurance.  Kind of fitting in a sense: stockholders who do not produce benefiting from corporations who do not produce.  What a great system!

This reveals a failing at the deepest level of how our economic system is structured.  Pick up an economic textbook and you will note three grand questions for the distribution of resources:  who, how and how much.  You will see no question of “Why?” because that is automatically inferred in western economics to be the maximization of wealth through trade.  There can be no alternative to “trade is wealth” if you refer to an economic textbook produced in the west.

There indeed are alternatives to “trade is wealth” if you don’t have the myopic view of a laissez faire economist.  In the earliest of times “self-sufficiency was wealth.”  It’s fair to say that for some empires “consumption was wealth,” where consumption/wealth was maximized through conquest in addition to trade.  Yet another possibility, one that admittedly gets little attention in a corporate capitalist system, is “production is wealth.”

“Production is wealth” is really the premise behind a free market.  Freedom for humans means freedom to specialize given our diverse natures and abilities; freedom to specialize means freedom to produce different things of value that we distribute through different means, including but not exclusively trade.

Just so, capitalism could have been tailored to support free markets and production.  Capitalism is the creation of profits through private production.  If “production is wealth” then those profits are used to stimulate future, enhanced production by the same business that created the profits in the first place.  If “trade is wealth,” which is the answer you’ll get from economists lacking critical thinking skills, then profits primarily serve investors/stockholders rather than producers.

Now you can make the argument that investors/stockholders are stimulating production through spending their hard, er, invested cash, but there are two problems with this stimulant.  First, stockholders seldom spend their net dividends to stimulate the business that produced them.  Second, when capital gets diverted from production to investment it gets concentrated.  Wealth disparity is a problem for many reasons, one of them being something known as spending cascades.  Wealthy people pay more for stuff because they can and the inflation of value cascades through the economy.  Hey!  This cascading inflation is no problemo for a “trade is wealth” economy!

So in the health insurance industry we now have a situation where the production of health care has been depressed by an industry that, rather than produce anything of value themselves, essentially serves as bookies for wagers people want to lose.  Meanwhile health insurers, already profiting quite well, seek to raise premiums in order to guard against an anticipated “uptick” of demand in health care.

Think about that.  The first priority of the corporate capitalist model is to maximize a flow of profits to investors, rather than use profits as a cushion to maintain a steady flow of production.  Even if we are to assume like good little sheep that “trade is wealth” that model is heading for failure.  If we want wealth through our production then our corporate capitalist economy already has been failing.

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admin on May 1st, 2011

Pop writes about fishing and watching clouds as a kid growing up in Maine.

Mr. Harold Lufkin, V.P.

Newton Mfg. Co.                                                                                         March 29, 1967

Newton, Iowa.

Dear Mr. Lufkin:

Enjoyed your little piece by Jim Murray as do I all the little notes and letters you send my way.

There are no Robins in Norfolk! In fact there are still about ten inches of snow on my front lawn, but that is much better than the thirty inches a week ago and it will go fast now. I am home today with a very bad cold so thought I would catch up on my writing. Wish though that I could catch up on my sales. Don’t think I am too far behind as to volume but sure am with orders.

Spring IS the time “when hope springs eternal” I suppose, but as the man said how different it is than it used to be. He (Mr. Murray) must have been brought up in a good deal the same atmosphere as myself. Even to the Baseball Glove, except that I bought my own and STILL have it.

Each day on my way to school I had to pass Freddy Scotts newspaper and notion store. Displayed in the window was a most wonderous baseball glove. I always stopped and spent several minutes looking at it. One day Mr. Scott came out and said “Leon, would you like to have that glove?” and I told him I most certainly would but did not have the money. He asked me if I could give him ten cents a week (the glove cost five dollars) and I gave him ten cents a week for almost a year until the glove was mine. If you grant us the pleasure of your company in Norfolk I will show it to you sometime along with the “razor strap” that my Dad used on me when he felt it necessary. I have kept the both of them all these years.

Did you ever hang Maybaskets in your day? We used to and how well I remember the beautifully trimmed little boxes that my Mother used to make me all trimmed up with crepe paper of pinks and blues and violets and covered with ribbons and filled with home made Divinity fudge and chocolate fudge. We used to go hang them after dark on the door of the gals we liked and knock on the door and then they would have to come out and find us and give us a kiss. A most admirable pastime I thought!

After that season of Spring came the smelting, those delicious little fish about the size of a sardine. They came up the Brooks that ran into the sea and you caught them with the incoming and outgoing tides. You sat on the bank of the brook with your lanterns until the tide began to turn and then each of us rushed into the brook with our nets, crocus bags, or our hands whichever we had to use. Fried in rolled cornmeal and bacon fat I think they are the most tasty fish that there are.

After that came the Brook Trout season. In Maine that was as soon as the ice went out of the brooks and the fish were of course plentiful. My kid Cousin and myself had twelve miles of a brook called “Springy Brook” all to ourselves. There were no posted lands and we followed the brook from its narrow start in some springs to its ending in Frenchmans Bay right across from Bar Harbor, Maine. Wide, clear and deep holes with clear clay and sandy bottoms and there would be as many as twenty or thirty nice trout in each hole. Then we would sit down and eat our Gingerbread, sandwiches and banana and drink from the Brook and start the long weary trudge home, only I don’t remember that I was EVER weary when I was a child. Life and Nature was just one wonderous show after another to me.

After that came the Mayflowers or trailing Arbutus which is probably the sweetest smelling flower in the World and you could smell a patch of it when you were half a mile away it seemed. I used to climb an old Pine tree and crawl out on a branch and just lie on my back with the scent of the pine and a light breeze blowing and just watch the clouds in the sky, and watch them change from ships to houses to animals and to the shapes of different countries and States and you could use your imagination just about all day, interrupted occasionally of course by a chattering squirrel who was peeved when he leaped from the next tree onto your limb and discovered it was occupied.

The Apple blossoms, the Mayflowers, the sweet smell of clover and above all of course there was no such a thing as air pollution, and of course as did Mr. Murray we played Marbles in the road for hours, which would be broken maybe twice during the day by a horse and buggy coming by, and sometimes even then the driver would get out and join in to show us some of the finer points of the game that he had learned as a child. After years of hunting I finally found one small patch of Trailing Arbutus here in Conn last summer when I was fishing.

What a reversal! Instead of giving some of the beautiful May baskets filled with delicious homemade candy, the trend today is on begging. At Halloween Janet has to buy about five dollars worth of candy and the kids trudge in from all over not only this Town but even teenagers in their cars come from Winsted and Canaan begging and also stopping the little ones on the streets and taking their candy away from them. Not here anymore though. Last Halloween we organized the Constables and sent every out of Town kid right back where he came from with a warning not to appear in Norfolk until Halloween was over. We enjoy the little ones but the big kids began to spoil it.

Enterprise was rewarded also in those days. I never had any trouble picking up any kind of a job because everyone knew I was willing to work. Now I see the Government is going to try and tax our Incomes %6 more and there is talk of the Social Security going as high as %20. Where DO they think the money is coming from? Our own Senator Dodd here in CT is being investigated by Congress. He has taken about $200,000 from Testimonial dinners and used it from everything to fixing up his house, to giving his son $4900 and Heavens knows what else and he claims that is his right as it was given to him to do what he wished with and was supposed to be Tax Free, yet they talk of letting you and I deduct $1.00 from our income tax for a Political contribution. A strange Country indeed that we live in these days, but they will no doubt “whitewash” both him and Powell. I have put four Sons through 14 years of college on for the most of the times a Net income of $6000 a year and they can’t live and operate on their $30,000 salary plus expenses plus $200,000 gathered up from testimonial dinners!

………My regards to all at Newton and I hope that Mr. Peck is progressing from his cold. I have a beaut!

Sincerely,

Leon

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admin on April 29th, 2011

Sure, I’m a UConn fan because I’m an alumnus.  Sure, I’m a fan because they’ve become a dynasty.  Beyond that, I’m a fan because of how they’ve become a dynasty.  I took the following excerpt of a speech given by associate coach Chris Dailey at the 8th Annual Sterling House Celebrity Breakfast, where she was presented an award, as reported by Rich Elliott in his blog for the Connecticut Post.  GE they are not.

“Like when we started we were so bad you guys could’ve helped us. Now, 26 years later, there’s a smaller pool of kids out there that can physically help us. And then out of that group there’s even a smaller group that fit Connecticut. And by that I mean kids that want to be part of something bigger than themselves. We’re living in a society where it’s all about me, me, me, me, me. And that’s how kids are raised and that’s what they think about. Me, me, me, me. And it’s really difficult to go out and find those young people who want to be part of something bigger and they don’t care about `me.’ That they care about the group. That they care about other things. That the care about the people in the community. That they care about doing well in school. And that’s probably the toughest part is to find those players that fit that are good enough to help us, that fit our style of play and that want to be part of something as opposed to be the something and have all the attention. When you think back we’ve had players on our team that could’ve gone anywhere in the country. Whether it was Maya Moore, Diana (Taurasi), Tina, Renee, and they would’ve been `it.’ Allaboutme.com. That’s what it would’ve been. And they chose something different. They chose to be part of something that in the end provided them with everything they wanted to begin with … the success, the championships, the awards. All those things. But they did it in a way that I think is healthier. It’s a better way that you’re a part of something and you understand that you need your teammates and you need other people in order to be successful.’’

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admin on April 17th, 2011

The first page of this letter was missing but it was probably written in early autumn of 1966.  I got teary-eyed when I first read this.  The awe that mountains inspired in my sea-loving Dad is the same awe they inspire in me.  He’s also got an amusing take on airlines.

We had a very nice Vacation, the highlight of which of course was seeing Pete and his beautiful wife and two children. The fly in the ointment was the air Lines which stranded us in Denver overnight on the way out (which is the reason I did not stop at Newton on the way back) and on the way back in Chicago they just were not going to let us on the plane even though the reservations were confirmed from Jackson the day before. I had a terrific battle to get home.

Mama thought they did the best they could. I didn’t! And I told them so in no uncertain terms or we would have been in Chicago yet! On the way out the landing gear doors opened about one half hour out of Chicago and we had to drop from 40,000 ft to 25,000 ft and fly at 250 miles per hour instead of 550. That of course made us miss our connections to Jackson. They did put us up at a second rate Motel but we had to buy six meals extra ourselves. At Jackson when I made arrangements to come back on Tuesday, the girl said they know nothing about my reservations and that Chicago would not even put me on their waiting list. The next day I got the “head man” at Frontier lines in Jackson and he said don’t worry about it. Your reservations are all in order all the way through. Mind you I HAD my round trip tickets and they had been paid for for a month, but the catch was they were family plan. Anyway when we got to Denver on the way back, a Hertz car had to pick up all the passengers who were catching the Chicago plane by Hertz car and hustle us over to the plane for Chicago or we would have been left in Denver again. We got to Chicago and with only half an hour to call home for someone to meet me at the Airport at Bradley and get straitened out the guy at the desk said “you can’t go on this plane as you are a Tourist with Tourist reservation and this is a first class plane.” I said my reservations which are right here with my tickets call for this flight not only from the Travel Bureau in Torrington but from Jackson made only yesterday to this Office. Not only that but as far as I can see there is only two differences between First Class and Tourist and that is two seats instead of three divided by a blue curtain and a glass of whiskey and (or) Champagne served to the snobs who want to be separated. Anyway I have paid my money made my reservations a month ago and I AM GOING ON THIS PLANE OR ELSE I AM GOING TO RAISE ALL KINDS OF HELL WITH SOMEONE. He called someone from another office and the guy came down and tried to stare me down but did not succeed, so he stamped the tickets and said “go ahead” and I said “thanks for nothing” and we boarded the plane. That’s that!

What a bunch of snobs we have in this Country. Actually the appointments in the little Frontier Plane down from Jackson were nearly as good as United and the Hostesses just as good. As for their Food (Uniteds) I think it is much overrated. Mama can cook a much better steak than theirs which is kept in a warming oven and all dried out, and if I could drink whiskey I would bring myself a fifth for $7 instead of paying $150 extra for the privilege of being called first class and divided by a blue curtain. “On the way out Kirk wandered up into the two seat part of the plane divided by a blue curtain and they sent him back. He was quite upset and wanted to know if we were too poor to be in that part. I said partly that, and partly because we are not such damned fools and snobs as to WANT to pay it for nothing but a curtain and the privilege of not being contaminated by the rest of the people. Nuff?

The West is simply wonderful and if I were 30 years younger I would have stayed and sold my pencils and pens and ash trays in Jackson and Wyoming the rest of my life. The water and air are pure. You can drink right out of any brook (Creek) or river and the water is pure and ice cold. The air is clear and pure and dry and you can sleep nights. The forests and the animals are the way God made them thousands, yes millions of years ago. The only drawback to the place is that they have over 2 million guys like myself wandering around there in the summer and ARE they glad when they leave, although I DID tell them that without us they would not make much of a living but they allowed they would manage, and I believe they WOULD.

A friend of Pete’s took us up twice right on top of the Grand Tetons in a small plane and I could reach right out and touch The Grand.  The streams and lakes were fantastic. The wildlife was plentiful and always about. We saw Trumpeter Swans, Moose, Elk, Bear, Coyote, Capri, Eagle and everything except the Bison which had escaped their place they kept them and were roaming all over the Park but nobody knew where.  I hiked, climbed, fished with Pete’s children, had a power boat at my disposal, and cruised all over Jenny Lake (400 ft deep in places and ice cold) and had a real reunion with the Universe and THE men that made it.

Looking down The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is an awe inspiring spectacle and makes a human being feel very small indeed. Everyone was just fantastic, and none of Pete’s friends would take a nickel for anything. There are no such words as “rich and poor” out there, and nobody ever dresses up.

“And I wait for the men who will win me- and I will not be won in a day;

And I will not be won by weaklings, subtle, suave, and mild,

But by men with the hearts of Vikings, and the simple faith of a child;

Desperate, strong, and resistless, unthrottled by fear or defeat.

Them I will gild with my treasure, them I will glut with my meat.

This is the Law of the Yukon, that only the Strong shall thrive,

That surely the Weak shall perish, and only the fit survive.”

Ever read that piece of poetry by Robert Service? Well that is what The Grand Tetons and my Son Pete reminds me of. It is the most awe inspiring and fantastic Country I ever had the privilege of looking at.

Even little Connie (Pete’s beautiful wife who can’t weigh over 100 lbs) takes her sleeping bag and climbs to the top of The Grand Land spends the night on it with Pete quite often. WHAT a bunch of paltry sissies we are here in the East. What a tremendous part of Life we are missing!

In a way I am sorry that I went as I shall never be happy again in the East and I am too damned old to start all over again, or else to be honest I don’t have the “pure guts that my son has.”

The Grand Tetons shall always run a close second in my heart to The old man of the Sea. Both of them are so tremendous and we are so puny. If I could only turn back the clock and SEE this great big beautiful World as God made it to be seen instead of through they eyes of “The Wall Street boys,” BUT it’s too late now I guess.

Anyway, as you can judge by now I thoroughly enjoyed my trip. It was 32 years coming and was all too short, but at least I had a week of “Gods Country” anyway, so now “back in the saddle again.”

This is also a fine boost for Newton, not that I am anything particular to hold, but nobody except such fine people as yourself could over hold me in line for a minute. I should hate every minute away from the Sea and the Mountains if I did not have such fine people to work with, so I will try to put it all in the back of my mind for awhile and get to work again.

It simply doesn’t pay for me to get in the open and free.

Sincerely,

Leon.

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admin on April 3rd, 2011

Pop writes about his early Maine days again.

John McConegy,

Newton Mfg. Co.                                        August 20, 1966

Newton, Iowa.

Dear John:

Thanks for the letter, and the enclosure about Maine. August just isn’t my month anyway I guess, so I am glad to be getting out of here Tuesday headed for Wyoming with the bare possibility that I might take you up on that Johnny and Kay business around the 30th or 31st. I can eat a little steak now, a few mashed potatoes and soft vegetables, but can’t drink anything but milk and water, not even a cup of coffee or a glass of Ginger Ale.

Can’t say I am too keen about flying but it IS the quickest and least expensive way to go. In fact I just talked to a friend of mine while getting my mail. He is a Pilot for Pratt & Whitney makes United’s planes and he said “I sure would not want to get in one of the damned things for at least two weeks until the rust is blown out of them.” I said you are a big help as I don’t like the cussed things anyway. So there you are! Maybe we won’t make Wyoming let alone Iowa. Huh?

Well if so I have lived nine lives like a cat anyway but would hate to see my “pride and joy” Kirk not live to enjoy his. Mama and I have had a pretty full life all things considered. I will never get over my fear of planes and snakes. How the sea and your mention of the book “Wind and Water” does not faze me a bit and the rougher the Typhoon or what have you the better I like it. Am perfectly at home on it anywhere in the World under any circumstances, War or Peace.

The Jonesport boats mentioned in the clipping are probably the sturdiest little workhorse of a boat that is built. They are used extensively in the Main Lobster business. That is the one man industry that is going by the board.

Some Sound of course I am very familiar with. They used to tell us kids that it had no bottom. I know the water is some 600 Fathom or better, and I still remember the tales my Great Grandmother used to tell me about the Sea Serpents that came up out of it and crawl up to die on Cadillac Mt.

I don’t know what nice things he said about us State of Mainers. Probably most of them not exactly true, but one thing IS true, we are the most independent breed of cats” on the face of the Earth. Also it was a struggle to survive when I was a kid, but for all that we did not get “ulcers” about it all, but just took it as a matter of course that it was our destiny.

I ate more fish and potatoes in those days then I ever did steak “that’s for sure,” and the winters were really something fierce. The roads were not open for days sometimes and it got as cold once that I remember as 60 below zero. It was so cold that Frenchman’s Bay (salt water) was frozen over.

The roads were opened by heavy draft horses and oxen. Oxen preferred as they could get through the big drifts better than the horses as the horses would cut their legs with their shoes. As I remember it they hauled a big flatboat behind them and also heavy logging chains in a half circle. We used snowshoes sometimes to go to school of course, but generally when the storms were that bad there was no school.

We went in a kind of covered wagon on sled runners that were filled with straw and hot bricks to keep our feet warm. That was in Grammar School of course. When I went to High School I walked four miles each day most of the time, until Dad got rich enough to buy me a bike which I could not drive in the winter. Sometimes also if my schedule corresponded with the Trains I could get home on the Train. Some different than today, if a few snow flakes start to fall here in Norfolk the School Board calls the Hartford Radio Station and announces NO School at which Kirk cheers of course and his Ma does not as he is underfoot all day with nothing to do. That is the chronic complaint today with the youngsters. “Nothing to do” and they have everything under the Sun to do, whereas all I had was the birds and squirrels and the drifting clouds to watch.

Well thanks again John. Hope we can drop down at Desmoines around the 30th or 31st. That between wind and water was the type of book I was thinking of writing someday but the guy beat me to it evidently so I won’t have to work at it now.

Sincerely,

Leon R. Sinclair

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admin on March 31st, 2011

In this part Pop reminisces about a Navy buddy.

I hope that when we both have had our fill of this (as you say) “old ball of mud” that the Good Lord will find a peaceful corner somewhere in Heaven or wherever it is that He sends us salesmen and that we can reminisce about Life, people and The Seacoast of Maine.  Huh?

Nope!  I don’t even know anyone in Seattle except my Son, and have been there only once on liberty, when the Carrier Lexington brought me back from the Pacific and up beautiful San Juan De Fuca Strait with its deep, green water and its wooded sides.  It is among quite a few other ones that forever sticks in my memory.  My last glimpse of Seattle was when “Tiny” (a fellow B’son mate) about six foot four, shouldered my Sea bag and carried it to the Navy yard Gate in Bremerton for me.  It is tradition in the Navy that when you are saying Goodbye that your best Buddy carries your Sea bag to the Gate for you.  At least it was in the Old Navy.  I hear they even serve the boys “breakfast in bed now” but of course I wouldn’t know about that.  Anyway Tiny DuPre was from Corpus Christi, Texas and we rode out the War together and came back together.  I was as you know 40 years old, and Tiny must have been 60 even then as he had been called back from retirement.  We roamed the deck of the Lexington on our way “home” and the crew called us “Mutt and Jeff”.  I have never considered myself that short but I was beside him, that’s for sure!  For several years we wrote each other and then I did not hear anymore and I think he probably went to his reward.

I know he struck terror into the heart of a liquor store operator in King St. in Honolulu once.  We had been sitting in a Bar having a few Rum and cokes, or which 99% was water and ice and 1% was rum.  Tiny said “you know Boats this paying nearly a buck a drink for ice water gets my nanny, I am going to buy myself a quart of good old Bourbon.”  I told him that sailors could not buy liquor in the stores only civilians and Navy Yard workers.  He said “wal now Boats, we will have to see about that.”

Anyway to shorten the story.  We went into the liquor store.  Tiny threw down a five dollar bill (the price of the quart) on the counter and told the guy to give him the quart.  The fellow was one of those little “Japanese Hawaiians” and he explained that “he no could sell,” so Tiny just grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and said “hand it over or I will throw you and your entire stock of liquor out into King St.”  The fellow took one good quick look at Tinys height and breadth and complied.  We then retired to Waikiki Beach and drank it under the palms.  The Submariners took over the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the Beach during the War you know, and all Sailors were allowed there if they behaved themselves.

Of course the most of them stayed on King St. as they were looking for girls.  Tiny and I were just looking for “peace and quiet” and thanks to his huge frame and determination we had both along with a quart of Bourbon and a view of the most magnificent scenery in the World.  God Bless you Tiny wherever you are!  Whenever I have a drink of Bourbon I say a silent prayer for Tiny!

He was also instrumental in getting me home a little quicker.  An AlNav (Navy Bulletin) came out saying that older men could apply to go back home.  That was about two months before the War actually ended.  I had “had nuff”, but did not think I had a chance.  Tiny said “I aint been in this Damned Navy all these years Boats without knowing my way around.  You and I are going home ‘and see the baby’s mama’ (that was his expression for his wife).”  Sure enough through some quirk of Navy knowledge and Navy Regs. he cornered the Chief Yeomen and we came home “to see the baby’s Mama.”  His babies were grown up and as I remember it two of his daughters were Powers models.  Anyway their picture sure looked it!  And boy did he hate Civilians and Draft Dodgers!  He was a REAL Navy man, I was just an imitation tagging along for the ride.  And I don’t mind telling you that with Tiny along it was a “safe” ride.  I believe he could have cleaned out a “bar room” in nothing flat singlehanded.  Even the Marines took a second look, believe me!

Well I guess this is enough of this “gobbledook” don’t you?

The very best of luck on your operation.  Just relax in your beautiful home, with its trees and flowers and get back on your feet fast, and don’t let any “rabbits run up the drain pipe.”

Sincerely

Leon

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admin on March 27th, 2011

This is one of Pop’s letters.  I’ve edited out some of it and am breaking it into two parts once again.

……. I am afraid that for all I pretend that I am a Christian, I am not too familiar with the World’s greatest book The Bible. It was interesting indeed to hear that one of our old Sailor sayings came originally from The Bible. Ho! I do not take The Down Easter. Wish I could, but I am magazine poor now. All the school kids these days pester you for subscriptions so that they can win prizes for themselves and their School, and while I applaud their industry in getting out and selling, still to an old salesman I rather deplore the methods. There is a little too much corporation involved for my taste. All the same between Janet and myself we subscribe to really more magazines than we can afford. On the other hand what better way to spend ones time than in educating ones self.

……… Now he (Bob) is getting married one day and going into the Army practically the next day AND I don’t know but what before, as he got his Draft notice day before yesterday. Well he WOULD NOT listen. ……….  He has great faith in what the Army tells him. They told him that he would not be called until June the 28th. I told him they would damned well call him when they felt like it. They told him they would send him to San Francisco to School for a year, that he would have a fine job and be a non combatant. I told him that if and when they needed men, they would send him where and when they choose.

…….. Then of course “ole Daddy Bird” also keeps me in a constant state of agitation. I guess I don’t belong in “the World of today.” I was thinking just last night while reading some New England History how improvident people are today. You know Mr. Lufkin, when I was a kid it was my job to cut the Winters wood and anyone who did NOT have it cut and filed in the woodshed when Winter came was in sad shame indeed.

Believe it or not a mans character was judged by the kind of a “woodpile” he had stacked up in his shed or yard in the Fall.  Many a lazy and improvident family that I knew when I was a kid damned near froze to death at times because of lack of preparation for the winter.

It was not only the heat that you must have but the food also.  Mother and I were busy from Spring until Fall.  In the Spring we dug Dandelion Greens and salted them down in large stone crocks.  The we got our Garden started on of course stored everything that could be kept in the cellar or “root cellar”.  Then when the different berries cam along in their season it was preserves and Jellies and Crabapples, Etc.  When the Mackerel were running I caught those and they also were salted down in wooden kegs for the Winter.  Then of course there was the Pork and the Deer shot around Thanksgiving and the rabbits and whatever else was around for food.  The fact is that even the poorer of us never went hungry or cold, unless through fault of our own.  Today “its let Pop do it”.  No matter that he is old enough to remember the times I am describing and would like a little surcease from it all.  The Kids are the “boss” today, and in the Matriacle Society that we live in Mama bosses Papa also.  Well the Hell with it I say!

By the way your short note with regard to some Mr. L. Burke of Seattle just came in (and thanks for the fine rec.)  Now I don’t know what this is all about but think perhaps it is Pete.  HIS name is also Leon R. Sinclair (Jr.) and he of course lives in Seattle and teaches at The University of Washington.  Perhaps he gave my name and where I work and they are checking on ME as well as him.  Huh?  Anyway we are going to call him tonight and will try and find out what it is all about.  I think he is probably looking for a Summer job in Seattle.  He generally goes to The National Park in Jackson Hole you know, but last time we talked to him he said he could get his PhD quicker by a year if he worked in Seattle in the Summer instead of Wyoming, but his wife of course if from Wyoming and she gets homesick so up to now anyway he has gone along with her wishes and spent the Summer time working as head of the Rescue Squad in the Grand Tetons.  Since his teaching Fellowship only pays $2500 a year and they have two children they have quite a struggle (another reason I get so mad at Bob, I would rather help the more deserving).  Whatever Pete does he will do well you may be sure.  He has absolutely the finest mind of any person I know, and his character is the same.

For all that he has been a MAN since he was six years old, he is very shy about talking about himself.  Heavens knows I don’t think there is anyone in the Country who could come up with better recommendations than he, but I suppose he hates to brag.  WE never even knew he was President of his Class, or elected to The National Honor Society or any of those things until we read it in the Torrington Register.  He hates self praise.  Not me!  I believe “the wheel that does the squeaking is the one that gets the grease” as my Grandpop used to say.

Anyway the person who hires him for anything will be getting more than their fair share of both quality and character believe me!  Many (if not most) of the proudest moments of my Life have been the result of some of his fine accomplishments.

He is of course like his “ole man” in one respect and that is that he is fiercely independent, and resents any and all injustices and has no patience with ignorance.  That of course led to a few arguments with me in his youth for lets face it.  I AM ignorant!  He set me strait on many a subject that I went “wandering around the Mulberry bush” on and I am grateful to him for it.  Although I am intolerant of many things I should not be, I am much less so for having a Son like him.

We miss him terribly as we have not seen him for five years!  We have never seen his lovely family and we know that they ARE lovely because Janet’s Brother has been here from Seattle or nearby and Bob was out there.  We did not need their references of course as Pete is the kind of a boy who would marry a fine person and a fine mind like himself.

……… I would not be at all mad if you sent the page about Pete along to him.  Will type his address at the end of this letter, or if you are ever in Seattle to read it to him over the phone.  I can’t always express myself to him, even though I can to you, and as I said many thanks again for MY fine reference.

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admin on March 20th, 2011

The second part of Pop’s “chatty” November letter.

I am writing you a nice long letter because for two weeks I have got up at 3 and 4 A.M. and I am trying to stay up long enough tonight to make me good and sleepy.  I got off the track as usual.  Started to talk about books.  I just finished a real nice one.  The name of it is “The Silver Spoon” by Edwin Gilbert.  The plot is laid here in Conn, evidently but it sounds very much like the Rockerfellers to me, except that they are not quite as bad as this family was.  It is about the supreme effort to keep a name and a huge fortune intact, and the various means of doing it (not always the nicest ones either).  If you should happen to read it, on page 444 a Whitney Brooks is mentioned.  He is the President of the Conn. Historical Society.  His father also owns the Brooks Bank & Trust Co., which is one of my customers.  I sold the Bank an order this morning and I mentioned to Whitney that I was reading about him at 4 A.M. this morning.  He was real pleased that I read the book that his name was even mentioned in it, and very, very pleased that I mentioned it to him.  This is one of the things that I tell Mr. Lufkin is SO essential in selling.  ANY little thing that you know about a customer, that will please him should be stored away for future reference.  Of course Whitney does not do the buying.  Mr. Hogan does BUT Whitney will OWN the Bank someday, and if Mr. Hogan isn’t around and I still am, I am quite sure I would get preferred treatment at that Bank.

Ruth Moore writes a lot of nice books, mostly about Maine.  Do you ever read any of her books.  I read them, as I read just about everything, but my preference runs to Edna Ferber, John O’Hara, and in the main I like Historical novels, about the beginning of our Country, different periods and of course especially anything pertaining to the Sea, such as The Caine Mutiny and lots and lots of others.  Am just starting tonight, The Man, by Irving Wallace.  Some of these (that being one) I read to try and get over some of my narrow minded ideas and my intolerance, of which us State of Mainers are endowed with more that our share I think.  I don’t have too much of it as I left home very young and have worked since I was 16 all over the World with all kinds of people.  One of the finest chaps I ever knew was a Phillipino that I roomed with in New York way back in “The Roarin Twenties”.  My poor dear Mother (God rest her soul) was just horrified, but before she died in 1955 I had gotten her over a great deal of her intolerance.

I worked in New York City, in the good old days for a good many years, off and on.  I always went to Sea or went home to Maine in the Summer but spent most of my Winters in New York City, and I used to tell Mother “well now Mother if you took all of what you and I call Americans (Down Easters) out of New York City, there just wouldn’t BE any New York because of their 5 million (then) population I doubt if you could find a hundred thousand of us “ole Down Easters”, and also Mother when you get to know them, they are just people, like us.

I can see her now Bless her misguided heart when she came “puffing home” one day, and between gasps, informed me that they were building a Catholic Church at such and such a place.  She really thought that “the Devil was going to get us all.”  Time and Tide changes all things.  Two of her dearly beloved Grandchildren were married in the Catholic Church, and the roof did not fall in, and so far “the Devil hasn’t gotten any of us.”  As for me although a Congregationalist, I have been to Church in St. Patricks Cathedral and several other churches in New York many more times than I have been to my own.  When I visit my Daughter-in-laws, I go to Church with them, and when they visit us they “go to Church with Pop” and how “POP” loves to show them off.  They are “pretty as a picture” the both of them.  Which reminds me, I have a new Grandson.  Dave and Angela were blessed with a baby boy the other morning, so now thy have one of each.  Some people have all the Luck.  I always wanted a Daughter so bad honestly, but of course now I am so used to Sons that I would not know what to do with a Daughter, and anyway these two are just the same, and perhaps better.  I have all the pleasure of them and none of the responsibility.

Also Mama says if I had one that I would be sitting on the back porch with a shotgun in my hands all night, that is she says if their boy friends were anything like me.  Now I don’t thank that is a compliment do you?  Anyway, bad or no, she has put up with me for 32 years in May, so “I done guess I aint Too bad.”

Well it’s a cool, cool night and I’m going right upstairs and warm my tootsies on her nice warm pajamas so there!  She is reading in bed, so I will take my book along and keep her company I guess.  By the way that story about Cal was not much of a one as since the advent of Johnson I just can’t seem to get in a writing mood.  I could tell you some REAL yarns about Uncle Cal, but will have to wait until all the Johnson Birds are out of Office.  Nope!  I didn’t pull the switch, and believe it or not we were just about the only Town in Conn. that HAD power.  By the way also that ship that sunk and burned.  The Brother of one of my old Gal friends used to be First Mate on it, when it was new and THAT was a long time ago.  The Govt. ought not to allow those old ships to be used to carry passengers!

Sincerely and regards

To all the Guys and Dolls at Newton.

Leon

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