Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Precious Family Reflections on a By-Gone Era

Well, on this, the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's assassination, it is fun and interesting to reflect on the fact that our family was and is connected, as were most southern and northern families who were in America at that difficult time, to the Civil War and events surrounding it.  Below is a brief family reflection.

This is a response to a question put to me by my son on this day:  "Dad, didn't MawMaw used to say she had a family member who could remember and would tell them about when President Lincoln was assassinated?"

Dear Rob:

My Mother's dear grandmother, Nancy Ann Poythress, Mama Lois' and Aunt Annie's Mother, was born April 14, 1863 (I have the family Bible for documentation), two months after the Battle of Gettysburg and two years, exactly, BEFORE President Lincoln's assassination, which, as you know, occurred 150 years ago today, April 15, 1865.

Mother loved her Grandmother Poythress dearly (Grandmother Bass, not so much :)) and talked about her so very often as an adult, and my guess, was constantly at her knee as a child.  Mother loved her so much that, as a three-year old in 1921, she absolutely refused to move with her family to Toccoa Ga., where Warren was born in 1922, unless Grandmother Poythress came along with them as well. (And she did, and lived with them in Toccoa.  Before this, Mother and Grandmother Poythress were staying with Aunt Annie Poythress Webster and her husband Rudolph 'Rude' Webster in Richmond, as you know, the national Confederate capital during the Civil War, the place Lee and Grant met in 1865 to draw up the conditions of surrender before executing them at Appomattox Courthouse, halfway between Richmond and Roanoke).

So it is very likely that Mother heard many stories and reflections of Lincoln's assassination at the knee of her dear Grandmother Poythress, from what Grandmother Poythress recalled as 2-year old, as well as from what she heard from others.  (We definitely have memories from when we were age two;  I recall clearly the day of Graham Murphy's death, when I was age two, and his body being transported from my Grandmother's house, 628 Summit Ave. ; I lived two houses away). 

Rob, thank you for prompting this important history and these precious memories, on this, the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's death, the 152th anniversary of my Great Grandmother Poythress' birth year, the 115th anniversary of my Grandmother Lois Poythress Bass Murphy's birth year, and the 97th anniversary of my dear, dear Mother Zenobah Bass Godfrey's birth year.  "Bless be the tie that binds.......'

Peace be with you, Daddy.

PS  Above are two pictures of Grandmother Poythress and the obituary for my Great Great Grandfather, T. P. Bradshaw.  He was my Great Grandmother Nancy Ann Poythress' (who we have been discussing) father.  As you see, further supporting our speculation of discussion of Lincoln's assassination, he was a proud veteran of the Civil War.  Also, as you see, Nancy Ann Poythress' residence in the obit is listed as Toccoa Ga. further supporting the wonderful story of Mother's refusal to move to Toccoa unless her grandmother came along.  As you see also, the final paragraph indicates my Great Great Grandfather was a "highly respected citizen" and his death brought regrets to the entire community.  Thankfully! Emoji  (Grandmother Nancy Ann Poythress, according to Warren, died in 1956 at age 93.  She was long divorced from her husband, Thomas Poythress, who was a piano tuner by profession).
 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Life@Elon............Still

Sometimes I feel as though I am age 18 again on the Elon campus, especially on beautiful North Carolina Spring days like today.  I actually was age 18 as a student on the Elon campus, almost 50 years ago.  Now I am there participating in a wonderful Life@Elon learning community for adults over age 50.

Today, as on many days, I took a long walk on the picturesque campus before class.  Sometimes I have coffee and read my Nook at the Elon Coffee Shop on main street. Often I browse through books and look for sales in the Barnes and Noble campus shop just off campus. I can be caught catching a glimpse at baseball practice, where I spent many days those many years ago.

Today our Life@Elon class was about gaining a better understanding of current events in the Middle East. The class was conducted by campus minister Rev. Dr. Jan Fuller, a Yale Divinity graduate and long-time resident of the Lebanon, and Rev. Dr. Ron Shive, Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Burlington. Their concise and clear outline of the foundation and history of the Israeli / Palestinian conflict, along with a brief history of Islam, was outstanding and informative.  They ended by proposing ways Americans might become engaged to become helpful. I feel much more informed about an area critical to world peace, understanding, and coexistence.

This Thursday members of our learning community will be provided the opportunity to see and hear the famous and popular Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.  He currently hosts a popular science television program, in addition to being a great spokesman and proponent of climate change and it's impact, which is an area of great concern and interest to me. 

I am fortunate to be part of this a great Elon University adult learning community. Elon has been important in my life, and as I approach age 67, it continues to be.  How wonderful.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Last Man Standing

I had a good day Friday.  I attended the memorial service for friend Fred Williams, a pillar of the community and the church, who was born in 1915, 100 years ago.  The service was conducted by my wonderful pastor, Rev. Alan Sherouse, a 30-something, born in the 1980s.  Alan nailed it, knocked it out of the park. It was a wonderful worship service, a celebration of a fascinating 20th century entrepreneurial journey underpinned by devote Christian faith. It was topped off for me by having lunch with another wonderful friend who was born in 1925, 90 years ago (I had taken him to the service).

The best part of the day was seeing my Uncle Warren Bass, Fred's best friend, born in 1921, 94 years ago.  In my family (among his generation), and among most of his friends, Warren is the last man standing.  He has been a rock of the family. Such an example. My day caused for such reflection, such introspection, such feelings of blessing and gratitude.

These guys grew up in difficult times, the Great Depression, World War Two, the beginnings of America's ascension.  They did so well. They did what they had to do. To be around them, to listen to them, to observe their humility, is a such blessing.  Due to 'father time', such experiences will be, at this point, short-lived. They are leaving us, literally, daily.

The friend I had lunch with, Ray Anderson, is a 1949 Georgia Tech graduate who grew up on a 25,000 acre plantation outside of Memphis.  He married a New Orleans girl 65 years ago.  He is a devote Christian, his son a pastor in Macon, he's an avid Braves and Georgia Tech fan, an industrial engineer by trade, overseer of the Triad Montenyard community for 40 years, an overall wonderful, interesting guy.

But then, there is Uncle Warren.  The last man standing.  In my family, there was, to say the least,  maverick, interesting characters in that generation, all unique, leaving mark and impression on the world and on all of us. 

But then, Warren, the last man standing. Thankfully, I'll see him and I'll visit with him Sunday, at the First Baptist Church of Greensboro.

If you have occasion to be around any pre-1925 born soul in the coming weeks, listen, observe, be grateful.  It'll make your day.

Yeap, I had a good day.



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The 2015 APIC Dixie Chapter Meeting and Show

Saturday, March 7, is the date for the 2015 Dixie Chapter Meeting and Show of the American Political Items Collectors (APIC). It will be held in Greensboro at the Holiday Inn Airport on Burnt Poplar Rd. (I-40 and Hwy. 68)  There will be collectors and dealers in from all over the country. APIC is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of material relating to political campaigns.

The show is from 8:30 to 2:00 on Saturday, March 7 (Friday evening there will be room hopping and a hospitality suite; all are invited). Admission Saturday is $3.00. Above is some of my collection which will be on display. 

Like many others, I will be set-up and will be showing, trading, buying, and selling. Please come out if you have interest. It is a blast. Bring any items you may wish to have appraised by the nation's top dealers at no charge.

Monday, August 11, 2014

We Are So Polarized........Why?

As Americans, we have always been a people of different points of view.  It is who we are.  It goes back even to colonial times.  Traditionally, over the years, through social interaction, by sitting down with people of opposing views, on a front porch, over a bale of hay, at a town meeting, in a bar, across a kitchen table, around a conference table, in a classroom, we resolved them, we worked through our differing positions together.  In the past couple of decades, we have gotten away from that.

Today we hunker down, surround ourselves with like-minded people, read, watch, and listen to information and material which reinforces our views. We demonize the opposing position and the opposing people.  In fact, often (research has shown) the more facts people are presented which oppose the validity of their position, the more adamant they get about their position.

Prior to this phenomenon, in prior decades, as we met with and sat down with people of different attitudes, values, opinions, beliefs, and positions, we grew stronger as a result, not more contentious. We built on one another's views. We arrived at consensus. We moved though differences. We built and moved communities forward as a result of the process.  We resolved differences, came out stronger, wiser, more effective, with collective ideas and strategies.

Think about Illinois' Lincoln and Tennessee's Johnson (running mates in 1864), of social liberal FDR and business conservative Joe Kennedy working so effectively. Think of a competitive Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in a garage.  Consider Illinois Republican Everett Dirksen and Texas Democrat Lyndon Johnson crafting civil rights legislation, a Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neil,  Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, a George HW Bush and a Bill Clinton. Opposing ideologies and competitors, but common and collective vision and hope. Collaboration, cooperation, compromise, respect.

We stopped doing that.  We are at each other's throats in the public square.  Why?  What happened to us? We best consider.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Douglas MacArthur Assures That World War II Ends on An Honorable, Solemn Note

What a complex, contradictory, egotistical, stubborn, paradoxical, courageous, brave, great 20th century military strategist and leader Douglas MacArthur was.  I finished a great book, “The Most Dangerous Man in America - The Making of Douglas MacArthur.”  I learned much about WWII and leadership.  I learned much about his complicated relationship with President Roosevelt, who considered he and Huey Long the two most dangerous men in America, and how competitive relationships among military leaders can sometimes achieve great, high-level results.   
 
I have a friend who values great, historic speeches and addresses.  He carries them in his briefcase.  The MacArthur speech I will end this blog with is short, but the setting is dramatic and the words are wise, honorable and visionary. 
 
General Douglas MacArthur arrived, with his entourage, in Yokohama, Japan after word of the Japanese surrender.  There was no assurance his arrival would not be met with gunfire.  No surrender documents had been signed.  He and his staff piled in a Japanese-organized motorcade for the twenty-mile trip into downtown Yokohama.  MacArthur’s staff insisted he be accompanied by armed guards and vehicles.  MacArthur waived it off.  He wanted the Japanese to know that he was coming as their friend. Winston Churchill would later call this decision one of the bravest acts of World War II. 
 
It took MacArthur two hours to travel through the rubble of Yokohama.  On both sides of the road, Japanese soldiers and citizens turned their backs to him……a sign of respect accorded only to the emperor.  As MacArthur assumed his position in his suite at The New Grand Hotel in Yokohama, five hundred troops of the 11th Airborne fanned out around the hotel for protection. 
 
On the morning of Sunday, September 2, MacArthur drove from The New Grand Hotel to Yokohama Naval Base, where he was put aboard a launch for the USS Missouri which lay anchored in Tokyo Bay.  He had spent the previous day mapping out the surrender ceremonies, including a diagram designating where each of his fellow commanders would stand.  A short time after his arrival, a delegation of eleven Japanese officials, all dressed in formal attire, with top hats, arrived, led by the Foreign Minister Shigemitusu.
 
There was no cheering; the sailors of the Missouri, including 1st Shipmate Ervin A. Godfrey, a very proud uncle of mine from North Carolina, watched in silent awe.  As MacArthur stepped to the microphone, he began:  
 
“We are gathered here, representatives of the major warring powers, to conclude a solemn agreement whereby peace may be restored.  The issues, involving divergent ideals and ideologies, have been determined on the battlefields of the world and hence are not for our discussion or debate.” 
 
The Japanese watched him closely, with one of them later noting that his hands trembled, if only slightly.  MacArthur, his voice steady, went on:
 
“It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind, that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past…..a world founded upon faith and understanding…….a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfilment of his most cherished wish…….for freedom, tolerance and justice.” 
 
MacArthur had written the words himself, without help from his staff, and without reviewing them with anyone.  He wanted to set a calm tone with simple sentences shorn of triumph.  It was, without question, biographer Mark Perry believes, Douglas MacArthur's finest speech and his finest moment.  After the signing of the surrender documents, MacArthur returned to the microphone:  
 
“Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.  These proceedings are now closed.” 
 
And with those words, World War Two ended.

(Source: Mark Perry’s, “The Most Dangerous Man In America - The Making of Douglas MacArthur.”)  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

PRESIDENT KENNEDY AND CIGARS

I ENJOY A GOOD CIGAR.

HERE, PRESIDENT KENNEDY LIGHTS UP CIGAR - WITH HIS CLOSE FRIEND SENATOR GEORGE SMATHERS OF FLORIDA - IN THEIR BACHELOR DAYS JFK AND SMATHERS SHARED A TOWNHOUSE IN UPSCALE GEORGETOWN (WASHINGTON D.C.).

IF YOU DO NOT KNOW THE STORY, AS TOLD BY PIERRE SALINGER, OF JFK 'S CUBAN EMBARGO DELAY DUE TO HIS LOVE OF CIGARS, CLICK HERE FOR A GREAT VIDEO AND STORY. 
 

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