Archive | October, 2015

The Day Aunt Georgia Was Born

25 Oct

The Day Aunt Georgia Was Born[1]

July 5, 1918, would be a typical hot July day in Ohio.  The temperature would crest somewhere in the mid-90s which would be about fifteen degrees hotter than the average (Midwestern Regional Climate Center, 1918).  Although there was no rain in the forecast, the humidity would make the air hang heavy. (I imagine a truly uncomfortable day.  No electric fans.  No air-conditioning.)

The Federal Census indicates that Grandfather was a farmer (1910).  It must have been getting time for wheat harvest.  I don’t know whether Grandfather harvested alone, had hired help, or whether harvest was a community effort.  I don’t know whether Grandfather had access to a thresher that would cut the wheat and separate the grain from the straw or whether he still had to cut the wheat either by hand and form it into shocks or mechanically with something like a McCormick Deering binder (Flegel, n.d.) that would do the cutting and shocking in one operation.

However, on this particular day Grandfather had other things on his mind; his 35-year-old wife was in labor with his fifth child.

Grandfather decided to get the other four children out from under foot.  Dorothy, my mother, was the eldest; she was 13.  Alta was seven.  Lillian was five.  And Willis was three.

He loaded the children into “the machine”[2] or what we would call an automobile.  I don’t know what kind of “machine” that he had.  However, it didn’t have an electric starter; it had to be cranked.  He plopped Dorothy behind the steering wheel. Cranked “the machine” to get it started and told Dorothy to take the children swimming in Deshler which was about nine miles away.  Perhaps he gave her a picnic lunch to take along.  He told her that someone in Deshler would start “the machine” for her when it was time to come home.  It was after six in the evening when Dorothy returned home with her entourage to discover a new baby sister — Georgia.

Here’s the Smith Clan: back row from left to right – Alta, Dorothy, Lillian, and Georgia; front row – Estella, Willis, C. Earl.  (I don’t know the date of this photograph.)

Smith Clan 3


Flegel, A. E. (n.d.). Binding, Shocking, Heading and Threshing Wheat in Kansas. Retrieved from Germans from Russia Heritaage Collection:

Midwestern Regional Climate Center. (1918, July 5). The weather on the day Georgia Smith was born. Retrieved from What was the weather like on the day you were born?:

The United States Federal Census. (1910). United States Federal Census. Retrieved from

[1] Mother told me this story when she was in the nursing home.  I don’t know whether all of this is true or not.  I’d like to think that there is a kernel of truth in this story.

[2] “The machine” was Grandfather’s term for the automobile.  I remember that they had a black and white Mercury Monterey or Custom in the 1950s.  Grandfather always spoke about taking “the machine” and going somewhere.

Income Redistribution and College Sports

20 Oct

I keep hearing about income redistribution.  I’m trying to decide whether it’s “fair.”  The basic plan, as I understand it, is to take money from those that have it and distribute it to those that don’t; thereby, the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” will be smaller.

My first thought is that this is too important a question to be left to politicians.  Look at them!  Politicians require the general citizenry to participate in government sponsored programs like Social Security and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act but exclude themselves since they have their own plans.  For a long while, the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disability Act did not apply to them either.  With this history, I wouldn’t be surprised if politicians exempted themselves from income redistribution, i.e., a politician loop-hole.

Perhaps the feasibility of this income redistribution should be explored before being imposed on the population.

According to the Census Bureau, 14.8 percent of the population were at or below the poverty level (2015). This represents 46.7 million people in poverty (United States Census Bureau, 2015).  Apparently it is this 14.8 percent of the population that income redistribution is designed to help.

Contrariwise, there are 128 colleges and universities in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision of the NCAA (Wikipedia, 2015).  Only sixteen percent of those colleges or universities reported revenues exceeding expenses for all athletic programs (Burnsed, 2014).  When looking at the revenue and expenses of these athletic programs, the revenue includes not only institutional support but also revenue generated by the athletic department (Burnsed, 2014).  The median net revenue for the athletic programs showing a profit was $8.45 million (Burnsed, 2014).

One hundred and twenty-eight colleges and universities is a reasonable number with which to explore this idea of income redistribution.[1]  It doesn’t require amendments the tax code.  It doesn’t start the United States down the path towards yet another “entitlement” program.

It will be interesting to see if redistribution of athletic income levels the playing field, closes the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots,” and encourages income parity across the 128 colleges and universities of the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision of the NCAA.  Maybe it would be “fair.”  Perhaps if it works here, it could work for the 14.8 percent of the population below the poverty level.  What do you think?


Burnsed, B. (2014, August 20). Growth in Division I athletic expenses outpaces revenue increases. Retrieved from NCAA Research:

United States Census Bureau. (2015, September 10). Poverty. Retrieved from U.S. Census Bureau Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division: Poverty:

Wikipedia. (2015, October 17). List of NCAA Division I FBS football programs. Retrieved from Wikipedia:

[1] This should be distribution across the 128 colleges and universities in the Football Bowl Subdivision and not simply within the conference or league like ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-12, SEC, etc.

Cornmeal Pancakes and Southern Comfort

14 Oct


Frank-Lucille Funk   Grandpa’s ancestors going back five generations had an average life expectancy of 61 years.  When he was 78, he got seriously ill – some sort of stomach or intestinal problem (inverted stomach?) — and went to the doctor.  This was remarkable for two reasons:

  1. It was during fall grain harvest, and my Father and Uncle couldn’t harvest the corn and soybeans correctly without adult supervision, and
  2. He didn’t run to the doctor for every sniffle but self-medicated with salves, ointments, balms, liniments, herbs, distilled spirits, and a variety of natural remedies. For example, he’d treat a cold with a hot toddy of boiling water, honey, lemon juice, and whiskey that was to be consumed as hot as possible; then he’d bury himself in blankets and sweat it out.

Given that he agreed to visit the doctor, the family knew this was serious.  The intensity ratcheted up when the doctor had him admitted to the hospital.  Grandpa spent about two weeks in the hospital.  Two weeks filled with tests, x-rays, scans, pokes, probes, and whatever that were completed, analyzed, and repeated in a couple of days.  The doctors wanted to perform an exploratory surgery, but Grandpa adamantly refused.  The doctors had a couple of guesses of Grandpa’s problem, but only one thing was certain – he was going to die.

Grandpa left from the hospital … probably over the objections of his doctors.  Father brought him home and asked about dietary restrictions.  The doctors let him have anything he wanted; after all, they expected that he would be dead and buried before spring work began in April.  Grandpa demanded only two things: cornmeal pancakes[1] and Southern Comfort.

From November through April, Grandpa stayed at our house.  Mother made cornmeal pancakes every day.  Father kept Southern Comfort on hand for Grandpa’s consumption.  Grandpa needed assistance getting out of the chair, walking, dressing, washing, everything.  However, when April arrived and the time for spring work was at hand, without help he got out of the chair; gathered his belongings; managed the three steps out of the house; walked to the Uncle Jake’s car; and went home to drive tractor, fit ground, and plant corn and soybeans.

He lived 15 years after this episode.  He survived a major collision between his John Deere tractor and an automobile[2] as well as the hazards of working around hazardous machinery.  He helped on the farm until Alzheimer’s sent him to a nursing home when he was 90.

Grandpa’s 93 years exceeded his ancestors’ average lifespan by 32 years, his six brothers and sisters’ average lifespan by 17 years, and his three children’s average lifespan by seven.  Cornmeal pancakes and Southern Comfort must have been Grandpa’s elixir of life; I’m keeping both close at hand.

[1] Mother’s recipe for the cornmeal pancakes has disappeared.  I suspect it was something passed down from Grandmother Smith or appropriated from either the Grange or Church of God Cookbooks.

[2] Grandpa ran the stop sign.

Look Beyond the Rainbow

9 Oct

I just finished 25 years at Marion Tech.  That’s only 20 years more than what I had intended.  The reason for those additional 20 years was the students.

Marion Tech is a public, two-year technical college.  Programs in arts and science, information, public service, health, engineering, and business technology are available as well as courses that can be transferred to four-year colleges and universities through Ohio’s Transfer Module, Transfer Assurance Guide, and Career-Technical Assurance Guide.  Enrollment has been constant in the neighbor of two thousand four hundred students per term which means small classes and the potential for individualized attention.

I taught Legal Environment of Business in the business technology division; however, I was recruited to start up and coordinate the paralegal studies program[1] which exhibited some successes:

  • Fraud investigator for a large state agency
  • Quality assurance for a large state agency
  • Bankruptcy specialists in the Southern District of Ohio and the Northern District of Illinois
  • International banking professional
  • International trade specialist
  • Title researcher for oil and gas leases
  • Attorney
  • Legislative and policy analyst for a large state agency
  • Bank managers
  • Court administrators
  • Office administrators
  • Law librarians
  • Law office paralegals
  • Corporate legal assistants and managers
  • Caseworkers
  • Advocates for victims of domestic violence

The success of many these graduates can be attributed to their willingness to look beyond Marion.  Good grief, there have even been instances of graduates doubling or tripling their income simply by moving beyond Marion.  Recently I heard that an international corporation was recruiting a Marion Tech graduate for a paralegal position in Abu Dhabi.

These are the folks that kept me at Marion Tech for those 25 years.  These are the folks that stoked the fire and challenged me to become a better teacher.  These are the folks who are active learners.  These are the folks that are problem-solvers.  These are the folks who are thinkers.  These are the folks who never give up.  These are the folks who want to apply what is talked about in class.  These are the folks who looked beyond the rainbow for opportunities.  These are the folks that made those 25 years worthwhile.  I am so thankful for each and every one of them.

[1] Sadly, the paralegal studies program died.  Opportunities within Marion dried up.  (The last paralegal placed in Marion was making the same hourly rate without benefits as the first paralegal placed nearly twenty years previously.)  As job placement fell so also did enrollment.