The Boys in the Boat – Book Review 2/2/15

The story of ordinary men doing extraordinary deeds is always enjoyable, but this one is exceptional. From the inclusion of historic events and social values of the times to the details of rowing, the story is so well written you are there with them for every beat of the oars.Boys in the Boat Cover

What spoke to me most was the “swing”. If you’ve ever had the opportunity/priviledge to be involved with a group and have a “swing” moment, it gives you a senes of belonging like none other. In High School, our award winning marching band competed for awards and placement in the Annual Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, Calif. Hours of marching, learning music, polishing shoes, and instruments – no detail was too small.

The drum major practiced throwing his mace by the hour. Rain or shine, we marched; we played; we cleaned; we marched some more. Perfect diagonals – perfect rows – perfect music – perfect uniforms; and the ultimate challenge was 125 students stepping off the competition line as one. All in step, same length, same style, same beat, as one – it was our “swing” and we did it. – Jjst like the boys of the boat.

What a wonderful opportunity to share in their triumph and remember our own after almost 50 years. Great job Daniel James!!!

Escalante, Utah – No Change is Change!

In the 11 years I worked for a member of Congress a majority of my tasks was to assist constituents with problems related to public agencies – city, county, state, federal and special districts.  I traveled the district meeting with folks and listening to their problems with these agencies and we tried to forge some type of resolution.  Mostly, it was educating folks on what agencies did, how they worked and what could they expect from them.  Since we don’t teach civics anymore most people have no idea how it works and the rest would just as soon not know.
But sticking your head in the sand doesn’t make a problem go away nor does it educate the populace on how things are done in one or another community (and yes, they are all different).  Take where I live today, Escalante, Utah.  About 65% of the city is LDS and descendants of the pioneer families that first moved here in the 1880’s.  They have a sense of pride in their town that dates back to those humble beginnings and highly resent new move-ins trying to change things.
On the other side of that debate are the newer move-ins that don’t have a sense of ownership (other than their land deed) and have very different life experiences and attitudes.  Neither of these two groups are right or wrong, but they do have different outlooks and expectations.  What’s missing, usually, are two things that need development in every small town on an ongoing basis.
First, is Respect for those that are heritage families and respect for those moving here to be part of that heritage over time.  The town has a fabulous heritage and the preservation of that in the view of historic buildings is one of the reasons Escalante was just named a National Historic District.  A high percentage of the homes have been preserved in their original state or only minor modifications have been made.  Truly, brick and mortar are one of its many attributes and is one of the aspects of the towns new move-ins adore.  All you have to do is look at the two most recent business move-ins to see the adoration for brick in their buildings.
Second, a little over half the town are active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (LDS) and are busy with their families, church and various callings.  They communicate with each other on all issues on a regular basis and if there’s a water crisis they know about it.  If they have a project they want they’ve talked about it and come up with what they want to do.  Unfortunately, the rest of us are not there and not in on those conversations.  Thus we hear about it at City Council meetings,  Planning and zoning meetings, or from the newspaper if it’s included in the local column.  And now you see postings from folks on Facebook about these issues.  The bottom line is the lack of communication only increases the frustration between groups and makes for hard feelings.
How to fix this?  One town uses their local newspaper to get answers through an anonymous “I Want To Know?” column.  They answer one question a week and provide “just the facts” so that folks can form their own opinions.  Another town has a Mayor that holds “office hours” once a week where citizens can walk in and chat about issues – limit 15 minutes per constituent (strictly enforced).  Another town has formed a citizens advisory committee and constituents are encouraged to meet with them monthly to bring forward their issues.  Education is a key component of every approach and has to be done on an ongoing basis as every town tends to get new folks about every two years.  So you repeat yourself constantly – but it keeps things from escalating to name calling and hurt feelings.
And the key – heritage families stop taking offense at every question from newer move-ins and new move-ins ask better questions.  It’s a partnership that grows cities, friends, and families.

Paul Bowmar – He Made A Difference

In 2006 I started attending Escalante City Council meetings because of our need to get permits to modify our commercial building we had purchased.  In March there was a public meeting about the Escalante Health Clinic and its unusable condition because of a fire the previous August.  I offered to help Mayor Porter get the funding for the Clinic and a new Firehouse.  Not too long after that I started writing for the local newspaper about the council meetings.  That’s how I met Paul Bowmar.

Paul was obsessed over issues with the Escalante Municipal Airport, owned and operated by Escalante City.  He was a pilot, owned several planes and was very frustrated with his treatment by City Council members and others.  His passion and persistence led him to Tracy and I that summer.  He wanted revenge instead of progress and it took a long time for him to get beyond where he was.  He couldn’t get the City to give him help with another Pilot and let him rent part of the City’s hangar.  Eventually, Glen Caudill came to Escalante, bought land, leased lots at the Airport from the City and had 4 hangars constructed.  Paul purchased one of those and proceeded to enjoy his passion for flying.

With Tracy’s help, two of the local scouts adopted the airport for their Eagle Scout projects, replacing the power room and building steps to the Pilot’s Lounge.  The City helped with some heavy equipment and operator time.  Then in 2010 Tracy coordinated the necessary materials and labor to crack-seal the runway.  Paul was so determined to make a difference and have Escalante Municipal Airport an asset for the community, he not only helped Tracy with his own hours of labor crack sealing – he paid his own employees to come out and help.  Without his efforts the resulting runway replacement project from FAA would never have happened.

I hadn’t seen Paul in many months, but had the opportunity to visit with him at the Post Office in late December.  We chatted about life, family, and business and he told me he was at peace with the whole issue and delighted the runway had been replaced.  With pet Parrot on his shoulder, he crawled back into the old white truck and made his way back to his manufacturing plant with a smile and a wave.

He worked tirelessly in making sure the airport was considered an asset, including hosting several fly-ins at his own expense.  He continued to operate his small manufacturing operation providing jobs for many in the Escalante community.  His partner, Linda, was always by his side and spending the last 5+ years together in a most remarkable relationship – until his last flight, Saturday, January 19, 2013.

Thanks for letting us help you make a difference, Paul.  I know you’ll be missed by your loved ones and friends, and I hope everyone will remember Paul and that he made a difference.

Today in Writing History

My goodness!  Today, December 19th, is quite the day in History.  Julia says to “Be young at heart and fall back in love with life.”   After the events in Ct. I know we can all use a little love in our lives.  Writers everywhere can be happy about these events:

1732 – Benjamin Franklin began publishing “Poor Richard’s Almanac.”

1776 – Thomas Paine published his first “American Crisis” essay.

1843 – Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” was first published in England.

1918 – Robert Ripley began his “Believe It or Not” column in “The New York Globe”.

1957 – Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” opened at the Majestic Theatre in New York City. It ran for 1,375 shows.

1984 – Ted Hughes was appointed England’s poet laureate.


Read something wonderful today, write something profound, be young at heart.  We can all use some “tidings of comfort and joy”.  Merry Christmas.


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The end of the Lunar calendar and the start of something new.  What will you start new?
For me it’s starting my book.  Learning to use Scrivener and working my way through Greart Grandmothers story.  I’d like to  better my communication with my Grandchildren, and continuine to work on  moving on.  I’ve been doing retail work for 53 years (next June) and I’d like to be done with that part of my career by June of 2013.  It’s been a wonderful experience but standing around the store is really beginning to take it’s toll physically.  I’m grateful the floors are not concrete or it would be worse.
In the meantime, I’m busy making new jewelry for the coming tourist season.  Petrified Wood, gemstones, sandstone, Fossils, and whatever else I can find that might appeal to buyers.  But my passion remains in bead weaving.  Taking little seed beads and weaving them together to make a pattern, spell out a name, or create a piece of jewelry that looks and feels like fabric.  I like to find old shoe buckles and make them into bracelets.  I also like to create small pictures with the beads.  It’s not as easy as counted cross stitch because there aren’t as many colors available.  Sometimes you have to modify the color scheme but it’s still a fun challenge.  You can see some of the weavings at
As for the writing, well it’ll probably appear here slowly.  We have to travel in January for the trade show run to buy product for the store so I think I’ll do some travel writing and post some pictures.  It will keep me writing.
Have a safe and loving holiday and a prosperous New Year.