Tennis ain't just for kids!

First of all, let me introduce myself. I'm Jean aka JeaneBee, a 75 year old retiree who loves tennis and plays 2 times a week at the 3.5  (used to be 4.0) level. I live in Omaha, Nebraska, smack dab in the middle of the great Midwest where we spend half our tennis life playing in the heat and/or wind, and the other half playing on indoor courts to get out of the snow….indoors is a great place to play, no wind, no sun and no low flying birds!

Years ago, when I was young and foolish, I used to snicker at senior players, watching them put on their knee braces, elastic arm bands, sun visors and after having a swig of water went ditzing around on the court, talking, laughing and having a good ole time, then going out for coffee afterwards. Then, somehow, much to my dismay, I turned into one!

I realize that although we’re not as fast on the court and our ground strokes aren’t as hard as they used to be, we’re out there hitting the ball with the same love for the game that we always had. And yes, we do a little giggling and talking between games (SOME of us even like to sit down---bringing our own chairs if seating isn't available on the court!!)

I took up tennis as physical therapy after having a stroke at age 29…. it was termed a self-induced stroke but a stroke nevertheless. My husband I were “finishing” our basement and my job for the day was putting plaster on the ceiling and making swirls in it with a sponge. It looked pretty good and I was at it for most of the afternoon. My husband found me unconscious, blood streaming down my chin from a bitten lip and limp as a dish rag. He called the rescue squad and I spent two weeks in a stupor, getting punctured from stem to stern. The final diagnosis was stroke, but cerebral hemorrhage and epilepsy were running a close second and third.

I was a healthy 29 year old, preparing for my 10 year high school class reunion. I rode horseback, took gymnastics for years, played softball and was an all-around tomboy growing up and kept at it after marriage. I wasn’t a couch potato, overweight or a smoker, and neither my doctors nor myself could understand why I had a stoke…shouldn’t have happened. Years later, while reading the health section of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, I found out why it did.

Having my head tilted backward and looking up for hours while putting plaster on the ceiling had caused pressure on the back of my neck…reducing the blood flow to my brain….wham, bam, thank you ma’m.... and.....hello stroke.

Physical therapy after my stroke was practically non-existent. This was 1968 and physical therapy wasn't as common as it is now. A friend suggested that I take tennis lessons to improve my eye-hand my physical therapy consisted of learning to hit the ball against the YWCA wall and playing on a hardwood floor. Gradually I got better and better. I had good reflexes thanks to years of gymnastics (helps a lot when you take a fall while running after a tennis ball…you learn to “tuck and roll” gracefully and not sprawl all over the court) and my tennis improved.

Fortunately the stroke caused very little residual damage to my body and general health. I occasionally have trouble with speech, sometimes the words just aren't there and I need to "search" for the word I want......I almost have to visualize it and can then say it (many people think that my sometimes halting conversation is because I want to emphasize a point.....WRONG) Also, my short term memory comes and goes….my doubles partners know that when I ask “what’s the score?” I'm serious, its gone, I’ve forgotten it. Even if I’m serving, the memory is gone and I have to rely on my partners. Guess that tells you why I seldom play really competitive singles!

Now onto our senior tennis. My teammates are great! We are all over 60, actually most of us are over 65, grandmothers many times over and play in a Super Seniors league…its not a “hit and giggle” league.. we are as intense and play as hard as we ever did.. We all play on other leagues with players who are younger than our own children. And we do our share of winning, I might add.
But you’re only as old as you feel – (well, that's not exactly true) and we are a pretty frisky bunch. Most of us have played with and against each other in tournaments for years. We're familiar with each other's families, children and grandchildren. We care when one of us is hurt, sick or has a family member who is hurt or sick. We keep them in our prayers.

In April, 2007, our team, the SOMOS SOMOS represented Missouri Valley at the Senior Nationals Championships in Charleston, South Carolina. WOW, is the Family Circle stadium a beautiful sports facility. We met some great ladies and hope to see
them next year.

We didn't win, but fought a good fight. And, we looked great in our bright pink and black tennis clothes. Did I mention that when our group travels, the first place we look for is the nearest grocery for snacks and various drinks (soda, bottled water and WINE....we have a couple of players who really "whine" if they don't have wine with their snacks!) and the second place is shopping malls or any place where the best bargains in tennis clothes will be. We left a LOT of money at the Family Circle pro shop!

Our Super Senior team played in Oklahoma City in September again we didn’t win our Division of the tournament , (hmmmmm, I'm really getting tired of saying that! ) but did win the talent contest! I wrote the song, and the team sang….luckily the judges liked the words since our singing was awful!

Halloween of Years Gone By

I borrowed parts of this writing from Mary Maxwell, a popular speaker at events throughout Nebraska and across the country.  It reminded me so much of my childhood that I wanted to share it with you.
For those of us who grew up in the '40s, '50s, and '60s, Halloween was a fun time for children and for adults who made cookies, popcorn balls and gumdrop people for the goblins and ghosts who would come to their doors.  When our kids were young we sent them on their way on Halloween night with older kids in charge of the younger ones.  The little ones carried little sacks or plastic pumpkins and "trick or treat" and "thank you" was the norm when they came to the door and received their treats.  

There was always at least one house where they would be asked to do a trick, sing or a little dance before getting anything in their sacks.  That was part of the fun even if the older kids grumbled about it.  And, one house which was avoided by the older kids who had been there the year before.... the owner would hand out Bartlet pears, green and as hard-as-a-rock as their treat.  Unfortunately many of them did not make it very far....the kids generally pitched them away to make room in their sacks for goodies.

It was so much fun...the older kids would bring the little ones back after a tour around the block, examine  their loot (the big kids used pillow cases as bags) then would travel three or four blocks away packing more and more candy into their bags till they finally reached the house where they knew that cans of soda pop were being given (in the early 70's and 80', a can of pop was considered a REAL TREAT! )  A few houses away was the little Granny sitting on her porch giving her homemade caramel popcorn balls carefully wrapped in wax paper.  The kids wouldn't ever consider not going there, even if it was snowy and the blowing winds made them shiver.

Their pillow cases would bulge with various kinds of our house, the bags were dumped out on the kitchen table or a clean sheet laid on the floor and the kids would go through one piece of candy for another.."I'll give you 3 pieces of gum for a Tootsie pop"...."I don't like gumdrops, anyone want to trade?".  Even Dad got into the act ..if he found a piece of candy he liked, usually chocolate, it was argument from the kids, they knew when they had a good thing going.
Then years later things changed.  On Halloween night vans and cars started to arrive on our street to drop-off 4 or 5 or more kids to go trick or treating in our neighborhood.  They would race from one house to another, ring the doorbell and hold out their sacks....once they got their loot, they'd turn around and race to the next.  Once in a while one would say "thank you" or "have a nice Halloween" ....that made up for the many who didn't.
Then the next thing we knew, people became very concerned about candy being laced with dangerous and harmful stuff.  Hospitals and medical emergency rooms volunteered to x-ray the candies in case someone had inserted a pin or other dangerous item in them.  The friendly folks who once treated with homemade cookies and popcorn balls were told "mama said to only take things that are bought at the grocery store".
The old tradition of trick-or-treating has nearly been abandoned in favor of home or school parties, malls and stores giving candies and gifts for the best costumes and for just being there.  Many children will never have the fun and thrill of dressing up and being in their neighborhood long after "the street lights came on" and being almost scared by a ghost, vampire, Darth Vader or even Frankenstein himself as they went from place to place was part of the fun.
How sad that is........

Our Descendents

My husband and I have 7 grandchildren.....aging from age 6 years to age 22. Four of them live in Omaha, NE and the other three live in Naperville, IL. 

Jennifer, Austin, Rebecca and Andrew are wonderful, active kids.......we all live within a mile or so of each other so I see them often. Mason, Connor and Hayden now live in Illinois. When the kids were younger, our daughters, would occasionally call us, usually early in the morning, saying "mom, what are you doing today?" That meant that I would be babysitting for one or the other. Luckily we are retired and have no or at least not too many commitments and am available.

Several years ago, we went on a family cruise.......What a fun time! On Aruba we stopped at a small zoo and the kids played with the baby monkeys.........of course, Jenny fell in love with them and would have liked to take one home.  Its a good thing we were 1,000's of miles from home and on a cruise ship, or she would have talked her Dad into getting one for her! 

Dogs I Have Owned and Loved

The first dog that lived in our home when I was a kid was Rex, a Heinz 57 variety of cocker spaniel and traveling man. Rexie was mostly black and brown with tan eyebrows and muzzle...I see a lot of dogs with that combination so the traveling man was very popular with the ladies.

My o
wn first dog was a collie given to me by Ken, my high school sweetheart and the guy I eventually married. Danni was a purebred, an offspring of two show dogs. Danni didn't have the large white ruff around his neck so was not considered show quality and his price was affordable. He was a sweet, good natured dog but had wanderlust....when we moved to a new house in the suburbs without a fenced in yard, Danni wandered off.....we always hoped that he found a good home.

When our second daughter was about 2 years old, we decided to get another dog....prior to this, a friend had given us a pony...a little white spotted mare. Since our suburban neighborhood was rapidly filling with new homes, we no longer had space for a pony so traded her to a farmer friend for a bassett puppy. Lazee Dazee was the family playmate and followed our girls whereever they went. Dazee died when she was 8 years old.

Our family was growing so we bought a larger house and moved this time we had 3 children, 2 girls and a boy. And wanted another dog. Freckles was found at our local animal shelter...a combination of cocker spaniel and we think terrier. She was also a very prolific little dog....she had evidentally had some dealings with another traveling man because a month or so later she had a litter of 6 darling little black and white puppies. About this time we decided that 3 young children, a dog and 6 puppies was too much for me to care for, so my mom graciously volunteered to take Freckles and her brood. Freckles lived out her life in luxury .... spoiled to the max.

When our last child, Nancy, was 3, we were given a German Shorthair Pointer....a beautiful dog. His name was Argang's Dark Shadow and he lived with us until his death at age 13. Shadow was of the "traveling man" variety...if he could climb the fence, slip out the gate or get out of the door, he was GONE!. The kids would run after him yelling "Shadow, Shadow" and he'd tuck his tail between his legs and run....but he always came home. 

After Shadow passed away, I said "NO MORE DOGS" but of course no one listened. Our son was 16 and had just passed his driving test...he had a license!!.. so the first place he went was the animal shelter.
I was busily cleaning up in the kitchen when the phone rang....a lady from the shelter. She said that Jeff was there wanting to adopt a dog...since he was still under our roof, she said she couldn't let him have one without our permission. I asked "what does the dog look like, what kind is it?" She must have been very anxious for Jeff to have the dog because her description was a little vague...."well, its white with black spots and we think it is a terrier.." Yep, it was white and black alright, but about 8" taller than any terrier. We had Duke for nearly 10 years.

Finally our children married and moved into homes of their own. And, we were dogless. But not for long. Our youngest, Nancy decided that we needed a pet, so brought over a darling little cocker spaniel puppy....golden brown with a WHITE topnotch....his name was Copper Valley Flintstone. One look at those liquid brown eyes and we were hooked. Fred is 14 years old and is my husband's constant companion.

The last member of our doggy family was a Keeshound named D. B. Kuper....Kuper was one of our son's four dogs. When Jeff moved from the country to the city, he could only take three of the dogs with him. Kuper needed a home...ours. Luckily Fred and Kuper knew each other and Fred was willing to share his home and yard....not his doghouse however. Kuper knew that the doghouse was forbidden territory and never went in. They were good buddies until Kuper died of cancer.

Ole Fred is not in the best of health, he doesn't see well and is hard of hearing (so is his owner!) or has selective hearing....hears when he wants to. He has a small tumor which is being watched. We dread the day that Fred passes away, but realize that it will not be far off.  Fred will be our last dog....I cannot handle my heart being torn apart piece by piece when our sweet, beloved dogs die. Each of them lives in my heart and memories of them will be with me always.

Post script:  Fred passed away on September 1, 2011.  He had been ill for a while and one night, he curled up in his bed and went to sleep. We hope that he will be waiting for us with the rest of our beloved dogs at the Rainbow Bridge. 

I stood by your bed last night,
I came to have a peep
I could see that you were crying,
you found it hard to sleep
I whined to you softly as
you brushed away a tear,
"it's me, I haven't left,
I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here"
I was close to you at breakfast,
I watched you pour the tea
You were thinking of the many times,
your hands reached down to me
I was with you at the shops today,
your arms were getting sore
I longed to take your parcels,
I wish you could do more
I was with you at my grave today,
you tend it with such care

I want to reassure you,
that I'm not lying there
I walked with you towards the house,
as you fumbled for your key
I gently put my paw on you,
I smiled and said "it's me"
You look so very tired,
and sank into a chair
I tried so hard to let you know,
that I was standing there
It's possible for me,
to be so near you every day
To say to you with certainty,
"I never went away"
You sat there very quietly,
then smiled, I think you knew
In the stillness of that evening,
I was very close to you
The day is over,
I smile and watch you yawning
And say "goodnight, God bless,

I'll see you in the morning"
And when the time is right for you
to cross the brief divide,
I'll rush across to greet you
and we'll stand, side by side
I have so many things to show you,
there is so much for you to see
Be patient, live your journey out,
then come home to be with me.

(source: )

Did an Angel help me?

I have always believed in angels, well sort of. I've read about strangers who appear when someone is in trouble, in an accident, or just needing help.....and then when the problem is over, just disappear. Not fade away like a movie angel would, they just are no longer there.

In October of 2008, my husband and I went on a 12 day train trip, starting in Chicago and making a circle through Nebraska, Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Minnesota and ending up back in Chicago.

We met 8 of his model train club buddies in the lower level of the Chicago train depot. Some of them had taken a train from Omaha but we had driven to Naperville, IL where our daughter and family live and then took the commuter train into the Chicago depot. Most of us were retired and all were looking forward to this trip,

We met in the lower section of the depot and lined up to take the escalator to the upper level. We carried our our luggage with us, suitcases and duffle bags.....2 or 3 apiece. We should have taken the elevator. One by one we stepped onto the escalator. I was behind an elderly lady holding her suitcase and purse and behind me were other people with theirs. Suddenly about half way up to the 2nd floor, a older man who was about 8 feet ahead of me lost his balance and went down on his knees, his luggage tumbling down onto the people behind him. He couldn't get up, and the escalator kept going, taking him closer and closer to the teethlike end where the stairs disappear into the floor.

He sprawled onto the floor at the top of the escalator, still unable to get to his feet. But the escalator didn't stop. It kept going, causing the rest of us to fall on top of him. I was so afraid that someone would get their clothing or hands caught in the end of the escalator. The lady in front of me fell on top of the person in
front of her, I fell to my knees over her, and the people and luggage behind me piled up on top of us.

The escalator kept going and I yelled out "somebody help us"....there were people walking around on the upper level but no one noticed us or had made a move to come over to help. Then a young man came out of nowhere and I heard "push the red button" that time, I was at the
top of the escalator well within reach of it. I slapped it, and the escalator stopped. When I slapped the button, it was about as big as a silver dollar and bright red.

We are all so fortunate that none of us were badly hurt....bruised, scraped and scared, but not hurt. The gentleman who had fallen was so apologetic and felt so bad about causing the accident. All I could think of was that old Lucille Ball TV show where Lucy and Ethel were working at a candy factory and they couldn't package the candies fast enough and the candy on the conveyer belt kept coming and coming and coming.

The young man who had told me to hit the button was gone. Maybe he had to catch a train, maybe he had somewhere else to be, but he was gone. All I could remember about him that he was fairly young and had light hair...nothing else. And, none of our group remembered seeing him at all.  So, did I really HEAR   "push the red button" or did I mentally HEAR the words?

After the trip was over and we were back in Chicago, we took the elevator  to the upper floor.  (no more dealing with luggage and escalators)  I walked over to the escalator and looked for the red stop button.  There it was right on the top of the escalator next to the moving belt.  But, it had a plastic cover over it and it was a little push button about the size of a nickel. Not at all what I remembered.  I absolutely DID NOT have to open a plastic lid and fumble around for a nickel sized button....I was on my knees on the escalator and just reached up and slapped it.

So, did we have an encounter with an angel or just a nice guy? Personally, I think whoever it was had wings and other places to go and other people to help. gotta love 'em

If Joleen, Marte and Jean go out for lunch, they will call each other Joleen, Marte and Jean.

If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla and Four-eyes.

When the bill arrives, Mike, Dave and John will each throw in $20,even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back.  When the girls get their bill,out come the pocket calculators.

A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs. A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale.

A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste,shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel . The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items.

A woman has the last word in any argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband. A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.  A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.  A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.

A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the trash, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail.  A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.

Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed. Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams. A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

A married man should learn to forget his mistakes.  There's no use in two people remembering the same thing!

A Great Way to Start Mother's Day! (sarcasm!)

Another Mother's Day ..Well, I qualify since I have four lovely children...and even more so if you include our equally lovely grandchildren.  They are coming over to take Ken and I to a Mother's Day luncheon.  Yeaaaa, I don't have to cook!

This morning didn't start out well though....our grandson Andrew had been visiting last night, and I had forgotten how much he likes to twirl dials and punch buttons....especially in the kitchen.  I decided to eat lightly so put two slices of  raisin bread into the toaster and walked over to pour myself a cup of tea...
Phew, something was burning!  My toast was toasted to a nice dark black cinder!  Andrew had obviously been fooling around with the dial and had moved it from normal/medium to the highest setting the little toaster had.  Smoke and burnt toast....great...

I went to the kitchen cabinet grabbed the Glade air spray and started spraying the kitchen, living room and hallway. "Hmmmm the aerosol container must be nearly empty since spray is coming out, but I can't smell the fragrance"  About that time I slipped on the slate hallway.  In fact, I could have ice-skated all the way down the hallway.

I must have muttered fairly loudly, some un-motherly words because Ken came into the room and asked what was the matter.  He looked at the container of Glade in my hand....surprise, it was not Glade, it was my aerosol can of Olive Oil No-Stick Cooking Spray.

Yep, I had sprayed the kitchen, living room and hallway with greasy, oily no-stick spray.  The furniture looks okay, the overstuffed chairs and couch look to be spray-free, but the slate floor sucked up the oil like a magnet.  And WOW, is it ever shiny! was YOUR Mother's Day?

Where did our US jobs go??????

This was sent to me by a friend who lost her job in October. She had worked at the same place for 15 years....but no longer. Her company could not compete with the foreign imports...many of which were actually American companies who chose to have their items made overseas.....cheaper? I suppose so. But in a way, we, as comsumers are also to blame. We want the best bargain, i.e. cheapest, items we can find....who cares if John, Helen, Tom or Doreen, American citizens, will lose their jobs....obviously we don't.

John Q. Public started the day early having set his alarm clock (MADE IN JAPAN ) for 6 am.

While his coffeepot (MADE IN CHINA) was perking, he shaved with his electric razor (MADE IN HONG KONG ).

He put on a dress shirt (MADE IN SRILANKA ), designer jeans (MADE IN SINGAPORE ) and tennis shoes (MADE IN KOREA).

After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet (MADE IN INDIA ) he sat down with his calculator (MADE IN MEXICO ) to see how much he could spend today.

After setting his watch (MADE IN TAIWAN) turning off his radio (MADE IN INDIA ) he got in his car (MADE IN GERMANY ) filled it with gas (FROM SAUDI ARABIA) and continued his search for a good paying AMERICAN JOB.

At the end of yet another discouraging and fruitless day of checking his computer (MADE IN MALAYSIA), John decided to relax for a while. He put on his sandals (MADE IN BRAZIL ) poured himself a glass of wine (MADE IN FRANCE ) and turned on his TV (MADE IN INDONESIA ), and then wondered why he can't find a good paying job in AMERICA.

Do you see anything WRONG with this story? You should.

Our Legacy



..........................100 Years From Now.......

It will not matter what our bank account was, the sort of house we lived in or what kind of a car we drove, but the world may be different because we were important in the life of a child...

Our grandchildren:  Mason, Jennifer, Connor, Austin, Hayden, Rebecca and Andrew...

Grandpa and Grandma Boicourt

Our Summer Went to the Dogs

In late August,  our youngest daughter, Nancy, asked if we could dog-sit their basset hound, Daisy Mae for a week.  "Sure, when?....."Tomorrow? ..."dahhhhh OK"   This had been a summer of dog sitting.  Granddaughter Jennifer called in July to ask if we could take care of her little highland terrier, Oakley, then two days later came daughter Christine's call from Chicago,  "Mom, can you watch Cloe and Bella when we go to Denver?"......."sure"  Cloe is a cocker-poo and Bella is Shitz Tzu. So, Oakley, Cloe and Bella were here at the same time.  The girls got along great...once in a while Cloe, the oldest would get a little peeved with the two younger dogs..."I'm too old to play "chase around the yard!!!!".   Their food dishes had to be in different areas...Cloe eats like a horse and, if she can, she will eat whatever the other dogs left in their dishes.

We're not used to little dogs and these pint-sized girls would follow me around like three little white shadows.  If I took a step backward, I'd almost step on one of them!  Things went very well except at bedtime...Oakley was used to being kenneled at night, but not the other two.  They are Christine's, Ken and I had two bed partners.  Ken finally gave up and slept in another room...which actually caused me to have a week of peaceful sleep....Ken snores. On the other hand, Daisy Mae is a sweetheart but has not been around Ken and I as often. We'd see her when we'd go over to Nancy's house, but she doesn't know us well.  Nancy brought her over about 7:15 AM on her way to work...she and family were leaving that afternoon for a vacation in Minnesota before our granddaughter Rebecca went back to school.  

We put Daisy Mae in the back yard and I settled into a deck chair to enjoy the beautiful cool morning, have a cup of tea and watch the birds devouring the seeds in the bird feeder.  Suddenly I realized that I couldn't see Daisy Mae then caught a glimpse of her tail as she slipped through the back gate.  Yikes, she hadn't been in our care for 15 minutes and I've lost her already. I started calling "Daisy, Daisy, come're girl"...she just kept going, slowly but with determination.  So out of the yard I went, house slippers, nightgown and all.  I caught up with her two houses away as she started up the neighbor's front steps. Since I didn't have her leash I had to grab her collar and try to get her back to our yard.  She is about 15" at the shoulder and weighs about 20+ lbs so I didn't try to pick her up...I don't think I could have anyway.  And, I couldn't bend over and hold her by the collar while I shuffled her back home...I get a backache even thinking about it.  

Bassets are difficult to pick up....their bodies are long and stocky, very unbalanced. So I grabbed her by the collar, lifted up her chest and front legs and  walked her home on her hind was uncomfortable for both of us.
Luckily the neighbors weren't looking out their windows or driving down the street 
on their way to work....they would have seen a 74 year old grandmother in a nightgown and fuzzy slippers trying to get an extremely heavy and uncooperative  basset hound back to the yard.  Her  little jaunt must have  tired her out because she spent the rest of the morning curled up on our front room chair...which by the way was NEVER allowed when we had dogs.  Guess it's that ole grandma thing, grandkids and pets get by with a lot more than they used to.

Since I haven't heard from anyone.....or been pointed out at the grocery store followed by hysterical laughter, I think I pulled it off!!!!!! 

Made in America

I sell on twi online auction sites....Ebay and  Bonanza.   Many of my items are from my family, estate sales, garage sales, Thrift stores, and marked-down sales from big name stores.

I watched a news story last night that made me realize how I am contributing to the downfall of American industry....I looked at the items I have for sale, and was disappointed to see that less than 1/3 of them were made in America....made in the USA.

The ABC News reporter, Diane Sawyer said that if everyone in the United States bought ONE item made in the USA, thousands of Americans would still have their jobs. ONE item, costing less than $3.33. "ABC World News with Diane Sawyer" is launching a groundbreaking series, "Made in America," focusing on American manufacturing and our economy. 

The facts show that our nation is addicted to imports. In 1960, foreign goods made up just 8 percent of Americans' purchases. Today, nearly 60 percent of everything we buy is made overseas.

One of the results....the city I live in has a huge population of lower income families. And, our crime rate is out of sight...Why? There are no jobs and the possibility of getting one is slight. So, public assistance is a way of life and, if things get really tight, robbing or stealing is the alternative......they have families and families need food, housing and clothing.

At one time, we were known as the meat-packing center of the United States, we had the stockyards, Armour, Cudahy and other packing houses, Northwestern Bell Telephone Company, Union Pacific Railroad, public utilities, small businesses and factories where people could find jobs.....lets face it, not everyone is smart enough or wants to be a computer technician, retail sales person, teacher, doctor or design websites.

What are the young people in this area to do? Yes, there are some that will fight their way out of near poverty, but again, they are the exception....the majority have lost the desire to go to work even if work is available. And, why work when welfare checks arrive every month. In the past, one could always enlist in the armed forces.....not anymore. Their standards have gone longer can someone  "join the Army and see the world" ... in my teens, I knew several young men who were given option of "join the Army or go to jail".   They were provided an education and a purpose in life.

I have wandered away from my original idea with this article. Yes, I will keep my items listed on Ebay and  Bonanza ...and hope they will sell.  BUT, I will make it a priority to seek out items MADE IN THE USA which I will put up for sale (and list them that way on my auction sites.)

Look at items in your home or closet....are you helping America's industries by buying Made in USA? If not.....why not?????

And, to those American companies who have moved their factories out of the United States and by doing so KNOWINGLY put thousands of American workers out of jobs

....SHAME ON YOU !!!

Hey tennis friends....
effective March 5, 2009, HEAD Penn closed their Phoenix factory, and moved all remaining tennis ball production to China.

Tennis A Sport For Everyone To Enjoy

For a long time tennis has been my favorite sport....I have good  tennis friends and teammates and have many fun-filled memories of our tennis trips to tournaments throughout the Missouri Valley. Plus of course several trips to USTA National Tournaments.

I have been playing tennis for over 47 was my "physical therapy" after having a stroke at age 25.  "Physical Therapy" was not as easy to find as it is now.

Only Christine, one of our three daughters had any interest in playing tennis, but she was, and still is a very good player.  Her team photo, complete with a huge headfull of blonde hair is on the wall of Burke High School in Omaha, NE.  This was the late 70's, big hair was in style.  Two of her sons, our grandsons,  play on their college tennis team....and their younger brother plays for his high school team.  I can proudly brag that all three of them learned to play tennis on the courts in Meadow Lane Park....about a block from home... and that I was their first tennis teacher!  

Many, many years ago, about 1980, Christine and I played in and won The Equitable Family Challenge tournament held here in Omaha.  We then represented Nebraska in Kansas City, MO where we won the mother/daughter division, thus gaining the honor of representing the Midwest in the Family Challenge held in conjunction with the US Open Tennis Tournament in New York City.  All of the Family Challenge winners from around the United States were housed in the Halloran House Hotel located in the Waldorf Astoria area (where we met the other players in the large ballroom).

We were bused every morning to the National Tennis Center where we had full access to the grounds.  We were face to face with the great players of that time, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Chris Evert, Hana Mandlikova.  We were able to watch all the matches, stand along the fences at the practice courts and say "good morning" to the players. I picked up one of the practice balls that Rosie Casals had been using and Chris took it home to gave to Jill Garlock, her high school tennis coach..  Later we watched as John McEnroe defeated Bjorn Borg and Chris Evert defeated Hana Mandlikova in the finals.

We were allowed in the players locker room right along with the pros and other Family Challenge players. One of my favorite memories is seeing a sign-up sheet in the laundry room next to the locker room....Chris Evert was scheduled to do her laundry at 9:00 am and several of the other players were also in line to do theirs....yes, they do need to wash their socks, tops and undies, same as everyone else.

Since we had access to the grounds before the general public entered, we saw many of the players wandering around, practicing or just talking to each other.  I noticed a really tall female tennis player and thought to myself, "how on earth can anyone lob over her"  She was head and shoulders taller than the female players she was talking to.  Later I found that the 6' 2" player was Renee Richards.

I wish I could say that Christine and I did well in the tournament, but we lost in the first round.  We played well, but lost to a mother/daughter team from the East Coast.  

We have so many wonderful memories of that ALL EXPENSE PAID trip to New York.   

The Craftsman pliers walleye!

Our son-in-law, J. P. Jones was a semi-professional walleye fisherman, was on the TRACKER fishing team, former President of the Nebraska Walleye Association and a really good fisherman. He frequently appears at sports, boats and vacation shows in the midwest giving demonstrations, showing off the TRACKER boats, etc.

ESPN had already taken shots of John fishing and catching walleyes, but after viewing the tapes, the producers of the show wanted more footage of John casting and "setting the hook" etc. So, he and our daughter, Lisa, went to a nearby lake to tape. John, figuring this would be a quickie, put a weight and lure on the line, cast out and promptly gave the rod a good pull - setting the hook.

Unfortunately, what he set the hook into was a sunken tree limb - snap went the line and the only "lure" that John had taken onto the boat. He hadn't planned to actually fish so didn't have his tackle box on this "trip" - result--no other lures.

But our John is a resourceful young man - he took a pair of Craftsman pliers from his back pocket and attached it to the line. Ok, so far, so good. He cast the pliers out and they made a nice ker-plunk as they hit the water. Then, John had his hands full!

The pliers opened up and gave him more of a fight than most walleye's do - they dove, swerved, bent the rod, went under the boat as the opened pliers were reeled in. All this time, John is laughing like crazy, not expecting this kind of action at all. Lisa is filming this from shore and is laughing so hard she was having trouble keeping the camera level.
John managed to land his Craftsman (pliers) and they presented the tape to ESPN (but didn't tell them about the big strike...they just let ESPN assume that they released the "fish")

The end of the story is that John has some of the best fishing action he has ever had on tape. The ESPN people will cut and splice shots of him casting and "setting" the hook, "fighting" the fish (pliers), and then show him bringing in and netting a nice walleye that he had caught when the ESPN guys were with him.
If you ever see John P. Jones from Nebraska on the sports network (ESPN) and he is casting out and battling the best fighting fish you ever saw, you'll know "the rest of the story".

John made me promise not to tell this story - but you guys won't say a word will you!!!!!

My New Car "Abie" Lincoln

Ken decided that due to increasing gas prices, it was time to replace our old  pickup truck with a newish pre-owned vehicle.  His heart was set on a 2009 Lincoln...I think he reveres Lincolns from when he was a kid...only the rich drove Lincolns or Cadillacs. 

Anyway, we now own a 2009 silver Lincoln is a nice vehicle and gets 19+ mph in the city and over 30+ mph on the highway.   BTW, what is the big deal for advertising the great mph on the highway...we live in the city, I haven't driven on a highway since last year when we drove to Naperville, IL to visit our daughter and family.  We want something that gives us great mpg IN THE CITY!!!   We wanted something that didn't suck gas like it was a Pepsi cola on steroids when I drove to the grocery store, went shopping or just plain drove around town.
The Lincoln MKZ was purchased last Friday....Ken is not usually stubborn about things but getting this new vehicle was one thing he was determined to do.  I am a worry wart and didn't want to face car payments when our income (retired folks here) was teetering on income-in and income-out being pretty close together.  
The car (I call it "Abie"...after Abraham LINCOLN) is very nice and has a whole bunch of buttons that we, especially me since I am the main driver, have to acquaint ourselves with.  Case in point...driving Abie home from the dealership (me is now MY car) , Ken sitting in the passenger seat, started pushing buttons on the console. 

Suddenly, I have flashing yellow emergency lights on the dashboard.  "WHAT DID YOU DO????"....push another button and a swerving  little orange car pops up next to the flashing lights. The Lincoln then decided that English was no longer the language of choice, and my mph appeared in km (kilometers?)....push more buttons and it wants to know if we want English or French (car was assembled in Mexico...but French is it's native language).....all I wanted was to get off the highway before  Ken pushed something else....he was hoping if he pushed the right button "Abie" would recognize the touch of an English speaking person.  No such luck. About this time, Ken took the "how to" instruction manual out of the glove compartment.  I suppose that if you are a person who buys lots of NEW vehicles, or are teenagers, you understand the language of new cars.  We aren't either.  We drove home with km, flashing warning lights and swerving little orange car all doing their thing. 

On Saturday, we drove back to the dealership ... our salesman came out to the car and we went through the buttons...I still don't know how they all work...but we're in English mode now and that's a step forward.  Somewhere in the system "Abie" holds the secret of how many miles I can drive before running out of gas, how to get my seat to either warm up in winter or get cool in summer and what the buttons on both sides of the steering wheel control.
Did you ever see the commercial where a lady and her husband (Bob Newhart) are standing next to a beautiful new car and she is pushing buttons on her remote trying to open the door?  She says something like "whats wrong with this remote???".....he leans over and says, "you're trying to open this car and we drive that station wagon over there".
Duhhhh, that's exactly what happened to me. I played tennis with some friends on Tuesday  (only had the car a few days) and they wanted to see the interior.  I walked up to the shiny silver car and pushed the remote button....nothing happened.  I pressed it again...nothing happened.  Oh great, what do I do now.  
My friend Mari, said to me (after she stopped laughing"Jean, your remote button won't're trying to open my Lexus".....yep, her silver Lexus was parked next to my silver Lincoln.  

I am still not familiar with the buttons on the console, there are waaaaay too many of them.  Plus, when I need one I am actively driving the car....why are the windshield wipers, fan, and assorted buttons located in the right side of the console hidden under the radio and disk player?  To see them, I have to bend over and decide which is which.  Then I am a danger to other drivers since I have now  taken my eyes off the road.  

My thoughts were that this car was obviously designed by guys....those who have short, sturdy fingers and fingernails.   The trunk only opens 1/2" to 3/4" when I push the "open" button.  It does not have a handle, slot or anything to grasp to open the trunk.  You have to slip your fingers under the trunk lid and lift it up.  Want to guess how many fancy fingernails I have sacrificed doing this.  Plus, we live in Nebraska...we have SNOW....the little 1/2"- 3/4" crack is hard to find when fumbling through the accumulated snow..  And, since it is usually frozen down, it doesn't want to open anyway.    
I took Abie to our local dealer to see what could be done...answer..nothing!  He said that "they" found that if the trunk opens too far it could be caught by a gust of wind, blow open, hit the owner/opener in the face and cause an injury resulting in a lawsuit.  I'm not sure who would be sued...possibly the manufacturer.   He also pooh-poohed my idea of putting a little silver handle or knob on the side of the lid.....  "Over the years the necessary hole in the trunk could rust - the car's value would be depreciated"  I'm sure that "over the years"  there may be rust elsewhere on the car which would also cause it to be "depreciated"....duh...  

He suggested that I attach a piece of microfiber belting to the inside of the trunk lid and when closing the trunk leave a tail of the belting hang out.  Therefore, giving me something to open the trunk with.    

Yeah sure...I've put that suggestion on the back burner.

Here Kitty Kitty

We have a nice-sized flower garden in our yard, complete with a pond with a little fountain.  It’s Ken’s pride and joy.  Every year we stock it with goldfish and once in a while, a tadpole or two.  The fish are fun to watch, and will come to the surface if you twiddle your fingers on the edge of the water.
Unfortunately, this has been their downfall.  We start off with two dozen goldfish, the ones that survive the summer are put into our family room fish tank to grow bigger for the next summer season.  By the end of this summer, there were only about 5 or 6 goldfish left…we’ve seen a raccoon several times during the year (I even caught one in a critter trap..but released it…we were trying to catch the rabbits that have eaten our hostas and other flowers down to dirt level) I had always blamed the demise of  the goldfish on the raccoon.
However, this morning, I looked out of our kitchen window and saw a big cat on the back first glance, I thought, “oh my gosh” there’s a baby mountain lion”….four years ago a big, fully grown mountain lion, aka Puma was taking up residence in our neighborhood park.  He is now living in the Henry Doorly Zoo cat complex.
Anyway, this turned out to be a large, beautiful tan and black Siamese cat.  I could see that it was wearing a collar, so I know it was not a feral cat…it jumped off the fence and walked around the edge of the pool…ha!  Bet I know where our missing goldfish went….kitty breakfast. 
I walked onto the back deck and called, “here kitty” and up he came.  He stayed around for a while but decided to investigate the rest of the yard.  I don’t know if he was a neighborhood cat that is allowed to roam or if he had escaped from home and was exploring.  He didn’t have a name or license on his collar so there was no way to find out who he belonged to.  And, he definitely did not want to come with me into the house…I didn’t want to be scratched or bitten so didn’t force the issue.

Edward Rosewater School, Omaha, NE – Class of 1952

If you’ve ever attended a College World Series (CWS) game in Omaha, Nebraska, you’ve probably seen my grade school, Edward Rosewater.

It’s on 13th Street, just opposite the entrance to the Henry Doorly Zoo and close to the "Zesto" ice cream store that is ALWAYS talked about by CWS commentators (I think they get a discount every time they mention "Zesto" on the air!)  A big ice cream cone from Zesto was always a "must have" when we walked home from school ... $.20 bought a good-sized cone in those days.

 Edward Rosewater School, was named after an Omahan who is credited for creating the first Omaha Board of Education and was regarded as the father of Omaha (NE) public schools.

Rosewater was the editor of the Omaha Daily Bee, had a reputation for always being "aggressive and controversial" and was influential in Nebraska politics as one of the leaders of the state Republican Party. During the American Civil War, while serving at the White House telegraph office, Rosewater was responsible for sending out President Abraham Lincoln’s “ Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.

I LOVE my old school, although in 1985 it was converted to apartments. I think of the thousands of kindergarten to 8th grade student’s running (excuse me) walking through it’s halls. Whenever I drive past it, I remember the wonderful teachers I had, the great friends we all were, and the love for America and the American flag that was instilled in us. I entered kindergarten at Rosewater when I was 5 years old (1943) and graduated in 1952. My kindergarten teacher was Miss Brown (all the teachers were called “Miss” if they were single or not). We learned social skills…how to not fight over a toy (yep, we actually had toys in kindergarten), played house in the little play kitchen complete with dishes and pans and discovered that being the “mother” had a lot more responsibilities than we ever knew about.

We napped on our little rugs every afternoon and learned that the teacher was “boss” even if our mother’s thought we were special and above reproach. Miss Brown gently but firmly molded us into good kindergarten citizens. I was in school during World War II, and patriotism was strong at Edward Rosewater. We stood each morning before class, put our hand over our heart and recited, “I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all” .  "Under God" was added in 1954, two years after we graduated.

To this day, I can’t watch our Flag in a parade, hear a patriotic song or recite the “Pledge of Allegiance” without getting teary eyed. Can’t help it….this is my country.

Next time you are watching a sports program TV or are at an event where the National Anthem is sung or watching a parade when the American flag is raised or is carried ...look around you. Those people with their right hands over their hearts were taught that many years ago in school......and haven't forgotten.

Note:  United States Code, 36 U.S.C. § 301, states that during a rendition of the national anthem, when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart; Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present and not in uniform may render the military salute; men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

However, this statutory suggestion does not have any penalty associated with violations. This behavioral requirement for the national anthem is subject to the same First Amendment controversies that surround the Pledge of Allegiance.

Miss Reilly, our Principal (“always remember that the Principal is your “Pal”….well sometimes anyway), would call a school assembly every Friday afternoon and each class from kindergarten to 8th grade would sing. We learned all the verses to “The Star Spangled Banner”, “America the Beautiful”, “America"  (My Country Tis of Thee), and every patriotic song she could think of.  We sang the songs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines and probably some I can't remember....and we sang with gusto! 

My brother Bobby, was in the Navy and at every Friday assembly, Miss Reilly would ask us to think about those who are fighting for our freedom. I don’t remember if she asked us to say a prayer for them, but at that time, she probably could have.  I know my nighttime prayer always ended with “Please God, bring my brother Bobby home safe”

This is my kindergarten class…we must have been warned not to smile....I'm not in it. I don't remember why not..

Several of the kids left Rosewater after kindergarten.….the neighborhood Catholic school, St. Rose, didn’t have kindergarten so the Catholic kids started kindergarten at Rosewater and then transferred to St. Rose Catholic School which was just down 13th Street from Rosewater.

I believe this is the 2nd and 3rd grade combined class, second row, 2nd from the right.

Finally, our graduating class of 1952.

In 2012, we had a small class reunion of the Edward Rosewater graduating class of 1952.  Not all were able to attend, but those who did, had a great time seeing friends and classmates that they HAD NOT seen since 1952.  

Model Trains and Model Railroading....not just a hobby

Why is model railroading a great hobby for kids?

FAMILY/ INDEPENDENCE – a kid hears “NO” a lot.  A model railroad puts kids in charge of powerful locomotives.  Trains run when the kids want them to and the track, scenery and buildings are ones that they helped to choose. Model railroading bonds parents, grandparents and children.  The whole family will enjoy building and running the railroad thus building lasting memories.  

DECISION-MAKING/ ACCOMPLISHMENT – – many kids lack opportunities for accomplishment.  Not every child is a basketball, football or any other sports star. Model railroading gives them a chance to build something unique that impresses everyone who sees it.  A model railroad is a solid real-world achievement. Choices on the model railroad will bring immediate results.  Wrong choices cause derailments and problems.  Right choices make the trains run smoother or make the layout look more realistic. 

IMAGINATION/CREATIVITY – before one actually builds a railroad, one dreams about it.  A layout helps a kid to build a world that matches their dreams and wishes.  Learning how to make dreams real, one step at a time. 

PERSISTENCE/COORDINATION – running a model train is a hands-on activity.  It improves eye-hand coordination and building structures, scenery and operating accessories teaches small hands to be accurate.  Kids see the power of steady working.  A little effort applied at regular intervals creates noticeable and exciting progress. 

SHARING/COOPERATION – by operating the trains with family members or other kids,  a child learns how to cooperate and share.  They learn the value of teamwork. 

PHYSICAL SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS – when operating heavy trains at a fast speed, one gets a hands-on education on how things move.  Inertia, momentum and friction play their part in keeping an engine and cars on the track.  Kids get a solid grounding in how electricity works to move a train around a track.  Run the train too fast on a sharp curve and the train derails.  They learn how electricity affects them in their daily life. 

TRANSPORTATION/ECONOMICS – by running a realistic freight operation a child learns how our economy works.  Raw materials must be transported to factories, the finished goods must be carried to market.  A model railroad teaches economics by actually doing it. 

TECHNOLOGY/ARCHITECTURE – steam locomotives were once considered high tech.  By becoming aware of the changing face of America through the operations and equipment of different eras, kids learn how one high tech’s advantages replaces another. In  building houses and factories, a child learns about structures and usage . 

SAFETY- real trains are tremendously powerful and heavy.  A child who knows nothing about trains and railroad tracks has no idea how dangerous they can be.  Model railroading teaches respect for trains, train tracks, the potential danger and an understanding of the signals that warn of approaching trains.

To My Children

To Lisa, Christine, Jeff and Nancy

I've made mistakes being a Mom, more than I'd like to admit. I am not perfect at all. But I'll always be there for you, to hear you, to cheer for you, to laugh or cry with you, to protect you with my life and tell you things you don't want to hear.  
I will love you even at those times when you don't love me. No matter how old you get, no one will ever love you more than I do, because I am and always will be your Mom.

Grandpa's Hands


Bernice and Kenneth Boicourt were my husband's parents, Madeline and Leo Dobrovolny were my parents, MarieCaklova Dobrovolny was my Dad's mother, my grandmother and Julia Ann Miller was my mom's mother, my grandmother.
Sometimes, a poem or story causes me to remember and miss my parents and grandparents who have passed away. Tears begin to fall as I think of the love that filled their homes. And I cry because my own children and grandchildren never had the chance to love and be loved by them.

By Melinda Clements

Grandpa, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. He didn't move, just sat with his head down staring at his hands.

When I sat down beside him he didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat the more I wondered if he was OK. not wanting to disturb him but wanting to check on him at the same time, I asked him if he was OK.

He raised his head and looked at me and smiled. "Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking," he said in a clear strong voice.

"I didn't mean to disturb you, grandpa, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK" I explained to him.

"Have you ever looked at your hands" he asked. I mean really looked at your hands?"

I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over,
palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point he was making.

Grandpa smiled and related this story:

"Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. "

"They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler and I crashed upon the floor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots."

"They dried the tears of my children and caressed the love of my life. They held my rifle and wiped my tears when I went off to war.They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. "

"They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son."

"Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special. They wrote the letters home and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse and walked my daughter down the aisle."

"Yet, they were strong and sure when I dug my buddy out of a foxhole and lifted a plow off of my best friend's foot."

"They have held children, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand."

"They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer."

"These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of my life. But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ."

I will never look at my hands the same again.

But I remember God reached out and took my grandpa's hands and led him home.
When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and wife I think of grandpa. I know he has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God.

I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel his hands upon my face.