From the East Wing

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.

Yesterday (January 22) was St. Vincent’s Day.   This is the feast day of the patron saint of both the  winemakers and the drunkards, no vines could ever be pruned on St. Vincent’s Day, like ya’d want to prune vines when it’s 10° outside anyhow. But in other parts of the world it’s nice weather on St. Vincent’s Day.  Now ya just know this St. Vincent feller must’ve been a good talker to become the patron saint of both management as well as labor at the same time, the winemakers and the drunkards.

That sometimes  makes me wonder if St. Vincent was one of the very earliest labor organizers, after all if ya can become the patron saint of both labor and management at the same time,  I’m telling ya, you’re good, you’re really good.   When thinking of early labor organizers, names such as A. Philip Randolph, and John L Lewis come to mind. One was black, one was not. A. Philip Randolph organized the Pullman Car Porters in the early 1930’s.  His efforts in organized labor later became know as the AFL, American Federation of Labor, not the American Football League.

John L. Lewis was most active in what was to become later know as the CIO, Congress of Industrial Organization.  Which would eventually  join with the AFL to become the AFL/CIO, at one time the most influential organized labor force in the whole  world.

Among other projects , John L. Lewis organized the United Mine Workers of America, of which my father was a member, in fact, my dad was a local union president when we lived there in Weeksbury KY, back when I was a little hillbilly boy, back in the day.  In 1949 the United Mine Workers of America went out on a national strike, shutting down most all the coal mines in the United States.  Keep in mind this was when most of the homes as well as most of the electric in the country was fueled by coal.

President Truman called John L. Lewis to the White House to work out the problem of shutting down the coal mines for the whole country.  The union leader was told that he must take his people  back to the coal mines and restart production or he would personally be fined $10,00 per day, a staggering sum in 1949.  On that day John L. Lewis told the assembled news reporters  he’d respond to the President’s orders within 24 hours.

It was well past dark, that  cold winter night in 1949 as an infrequent snow fell on the mountains of Kentucky, when the knock on the door to our house, there in Weeksbury,  that yellow house high on the hill, brought a telegram, a telegram which my mother may very well have to this day.  The message was easy to understand. It was addressed to my dad, from John L. Lewis. The message was simple, it was three lines. Line one  said “ Hello Wick” Line two said “HELL NO!” Line three said “John L.”

They didn’t go back to work that next day, those coal miners in Weeksbury KY. My father told ‘em “ John L. said Hell No”. They stood as one, those coal miners, high in the mountains of southeastern KY, there in Floyd County.  Those members of local 10 of the United Mine Workers of America. All 379 of ‘em, the stood as one. Coal miners, both black and white.  They had a saying there in Weeksbury, “Ya can’t tell the color of the man’s skin inside the mine. In the mine we’re all black” and they were.  Coal dust, ya know.   the President did impose a $10,00 per day fine on John L. Lewis and the United Mine Workers of America.

In a countermove , of which I participated, the babies of the miners were put on the streets all across the nation, with cups in hand, to collect pennies to pay the $10,00.00  fine. I held a cup in Weeksbury KY.

The labor dispute was finally settled and I never knew how much money was collected by the babies of the miners, but I got some money in my cup. John L. Lewis, an early labor organizer. Saint or sinner, I’m not sure if he’d qualify for sainthood or not, perhaps not. One thing for sure, he made a President  really, really mad, and still won the battle of the $10,000.00 a day war, thanks in part to cups in the  hands of hillbilly babies.

Another interesting thing ‘bout St. Vincent is his association with weather lore over the years. As many of you know, I’ve kinda got a thing ‘bout weather lore, just think it’s kinda cool. Some of the weather lore associated with St. Vincent goes as such.

A sunny day signifies more wine than water  and it means that the sap might begin to rise in the branches. Frost on St. Vincent Day presages a delayed crop, whether for wine or rye.

Another interesting fact ‘bout St. Vincent is the association of weather proverbs with his saint day. Some of the more often quoted proverbs are “Fog in January brings a wet spring”. “If grass grows in January, it will grow badly the whole year.” “He that drops a coat on a winter day will gladly put it on in May”.

But in the old weather lore world, the one proverb most associated with St. Vincent is:

Remember on St. Vincent’s Day,

If that the Sun his beams display,

Be sure to mark the transient beam—

Which through the casement sheds a gleam;

For ’tis a token bright and clear

Of prosperous weather all the year.

This year St. Vincent’s Day being mostly a cloudy day didn’t tend to give any hint of the weather to come for the new year. Oh well, next year we’ll watch St. Vincent’s Day again to see if we get a clue to the future.

I’m sure you’ve heard ‘bout he “man in the moon” but did ya ever hear ‘bout the “Woman in the in the Moon”? It’s from Polynesia, and she’s got her kid along too. And the Selish Indians from out by the Washington, Organ region see a toad in the moon.  Ya sometimes wonder what they smoke out there in the Northwest, out by Spokane, to see a toad in the moon. What ever it is, it’s happy, to see a toad in the moon.

Other people in other parts of the world see different things in the moon, some see a man with a bundle of sticks on his back, a giant, or a hunchback. And at the same time the Japanese see a rabbit.  Wow! A rabbit, those Japanese.

But the Scandinavians are the ones who saw the boy and girl holding a water bucket. It was from just such a sighting in the moon by the Scandinavians  that a little know and seldom remembered  nursery rhyme  originated. “Jack and Jill went up the Hill”, Ya probably never heard of it, but it originated from people looking at the full moon and drawing different conclusion as to what they saw.

I don’t  see Jack and Jill when I looked thru the telescope, nor did I see the rabbit, but keep in mind, I’m not Japanese, so I tend to see things on the moon that are not there, just a figment of my imagination. It’s kinda like seeing Godzilla destroying Tokyo in 1956. I love Godzilla movies. Before he was Iron Sides, he reported the destruction of Tokyo, from his vantage point of a third story window overlooking the city, as Godzilla rained havoc,  and he did it well. Perry Mason was a news reporter back there in 1956. Maybe that was ‘bout the time those folks saw the rabbit in the moon.  Ya get scared enough you’ll see anything. And Lord knows Godzilla destroying Tokyo can scare ya enough to see a rabbit in the moon.

Did ya ever think the Star Wars Series is a Western Movie? I’m telling ya, it’s a western movie.  Think ‘bout it, the good guys win, the bad guys wear black, and at the very end the bad guys turn to the good side. And that Yoda feller, why, he’s even a better sidekick  than Pat Buttram when it comes to playing a sidekick in a western movie.

Now that’s not to say that Pay Butrtam’s not important, if it wasn’t for Pat Buttram, Gene Autry would be in same class as Roy Rogers and Trigger. And that’s not even throwing in Roy Roger’s wife, Dale Evens. I don’t know why Dale Evens wasn’t named Dale Rogers, maybe they weren’t really married, just played like they were married for the movies.

Ya gota keep in mind that Gene Autry never had a wife, real or otherwise or even a girl friend for that matter in the movies. Which kinda leads me to suspect the intentions of Pat Buttram. Damn Cowboys, ya just never know. Out there on the open range and all, ya just never know, but maybe they were…..  Cowboys, ya just never know for sure, all alone and all,,,,, miles away from everything……And them cows………… It’s really dark, out there on the open range. Ya just never know for sure…. Damn Pat Buttram.

Do ya like going to the dentist?  I sure don’t. There’s just something ‘bout going to the dentist that against nature, I don’t know if it’s the fear of pain, which they don’t  have any more, or just that ya just don’t like ‘em, but with the dental problems I’ve had over the years, I consider it a part of my overall health program to do a regular dental program, and so I do.

This last week was one of those regular dental visits. Good news, bad news from the dentist. Overall I’m good for my age, but a few issues need to be addressed in order to prevent future major problems. I’m fortunate to be in the hands of the Badell Dental Clinic at Knox IN for my dental care.  It makes a difference in the way ya smile, and the Lord knows I like to smile. Thanks to Dr. Wittig and staff I can now go about my life with one less worry in mind, that worry being is my dental health ok? I don’t normally  recommend things from the East Wing, just in case it wouldn’t work our for ya.  Dr. Wittig and the Badell Dental Clinic are an exception to that rule. You’ll not be disappointed at the Badell Dental Clinic.
Sure hope ya saw the full moon of January. It’s one of my favorite  full moons of the whole year. Almost too cold to go outside and look, but not too. I never look at the full moon of January thru the telescope. If I look at the January  full moon at all, I just use the binoculars. I’ve got a couple  of those things, and one is used only to look at the moon in the winter time. It’s kinda cool.  It’s a high power thing and don’t work well for anything else, just moon looking.  When I look at the moon in the winter months with the telescope, I look when the moon is showing ‘bout 5 to 10%, that way ya can see the moon the best and not be overpowered by the light of the sun reflecting on the surface of the moon.  But it’s sure cold in January to stargaze, and it’s fun too, cold  January fun to stargaze.

Bet ya didn’t even observe Ben Franklin’s Birthday. It was January 17th ya know.  Not only was Ben a world-renowned statesman, inventor, and scientist, but also was fascinated by agriculture. Did ya know that Benjamin Franklin is on the front cover of The Old Farmer’s Almanac? He’s believed to be the father of the modern almanac. I think they make a lot of that almanac stuff up when it comes to weather.  That’s where the word “blustery” came from, that Old Farmer’s Almanac. And we all know ‘bout blustery, and how accurate that is in weather forecasting.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s observed Birthday is also on January 17th, and that pretty much means  we’ll forget ‘bout ole Ben. Now I’m not saying that’s good or bad, I’m just saying if Ben would’ve said something more memorable than “what the hell was that?” when the lighting struck  the string, he might well have surpassed Martin Luther King Jr. in history. When Martin Luther King Jr. said “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed,  We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” It was with those lines that Martin Luther Jr. got the lead and never looked back.

Ben Franklin’s lack of memorable statement is  kinda like Sophia the Republican Cat making a serious policy statement on her point of view as a conservative spokescat and Vice President Biden saying something  stupid like “malarkey” on Meet The Press . Some times the world just dumbs down to the lowest level of the vice presidency. Malarkey, Joe Biden’s claim to fame.

On the other hand ya gota keep in mind Ben Franklin does have  a stove named after ‘em. Now how many other people do ya know that’s got a stove named after ‘em?  Not too many that’s for sure, but just so you’ll know, the Howard Heater is in the planning stage.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the East Wing, St. Vincent Day, Godzilla,  Cowboys, full Moons, Ben Franklin & Martin Luther King Jr.

I wish you well.