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Opinions

Riverview Park

Going to Riverview was a big deal.
In the late 1800s, the area was used as a shooting range by a group of German immigrants who fought in the Austro-Prussian War, AKA the Seven Weeks’ War. Germans fought on either side of that quick but brutal conflict over real estate. By the early 1900s, however, the old guard died off and the new guard decided to turn it into a park, and then an amusement park.

Strange gifts indeed

Food For Thought

You hear the expression quite often, in regard to just about anything; “I have a God-given right to...”
To drive a car. To own a gun. To carry a gun. To shoot anybody who annoys me beyond endurance? Mankind has been interpreting, and sometimes attempting to dictate, what God does, wants, grants us, since we first suspected there might be some greater power than ourselves, and we still haven’t any clear evidence that we’re right. At best, we can only suppose that bad results from our actions are signs that we probably acted unwisely.

Global golfing

Food For Thought

Sabra and I got in one last round of golf this past week.
I don’t believe in man-made global warming because of the weather we’ve had in Iowa lately, but it’s tempting. I mean, two 1,000-year-floods in a little over a decade, winters without ice thick enough to fish from and golfing weather on Nov. 5: sure tempting to think something’s happening.

Music and math

Food For Thought

I’ve been told that music is a mathematical skill, people who are good at math are also good at music, and composing music is a matter of patterns and equations similar to those found in numbers. You’ll have to take somebody else’s word for it because, although I was a whiz at math up through high school, it failed to spill over into the piano and guitar lessons thrust upon me for seven or eight years before my parents gave up hope.

Room for disagreement

Walkin'

Following is part of a Facebook conversation I had with a friend, Todd, after he posted he was in favor of shutting off funding to Planned Parenthood (PP).

Ghosts of Halloween Past

Food For Thought

When I was in grade school, we had a different spelling list each week. The list consisted of 10 new words we were to learn to spell, and five review words from past lists. During October, the list was sure to include Halloween, which, at that time, was officially spelled with an apostrophe between the double E because, it was pointed out to us, the word was a contraction for “All Hallows Eve.” I’m afraid I didn’t notice just when that apostrophe was dropped, I just know it’s been missing it for quite some time.

Blasts from the past

Okay, so this isn’t the year for the Cubs to win it all as predicted by the movie “Back to the Future,” which was revived on Facebook and other media for all to see recently.

How much is too much?

Food For Thought

It was just a movie after all, but it brought back memories of a long-ago television program called “The Millionaire.” Every week on that half-hour program, an anonymous multimillionaire gave away a million dollars to a working class person, then sat back and observed how the windfall changed that person’s life. There always seemed to be some problem that accompanied the gift and made us, the viewers, wonder if having so much money was a blessing or not. Apparently many of us didn’t have the self control or good judgment to deal with sudden riches.

This is the year

Walkin'

I woke up with a sore arm the other morning.
It was probably just another dull unexplained ache of age 63, but then again, the pain was sharp and in the elbow, making me think I strained it the night before.

Richard H. Ahrendsen

Richard Henry Ahrendsen, 81, of Olin, passed away on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, at the Jones Regional Medical Center in Anamosa following a long illness. He was a resident of the Anamosa Care Center for nine months until suffering a stroke on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Funeral services were held on Monday, Oct. 12, at Lahey Funeral Home in Olin. Burial followed in Oakland Cemetery at Solon. Visitation was held on Sunday, Oct. 11, at the funeral home.

Two-way traffic

Food For Thought

At least three mornings every month, I have 9 a.m. meetings in Iowa City and I head in that direction during the same time many people are trying to get to their jobs on time. Some days I wonder if everybody in Iowa City has a job in Cedar Rapids and everybody in Cedar Rapids works in Iowa City, for there is a steady stream of traffic going in both directions on Highway 1 during that half hour, or so, each weekday morning. I sometimes have to wait 10 minutes or more before I can turn off my road and join the parade into town.

Saying goodbye to my old best friend

Ger Wood was my best, and closest, friend for three years starting in 1976. We were assigned to the Warner Kaserne, a U.S. military community of 10,000 in Bamberg, Germany. I was in charge of the post’s newspaper and Ger was the coordinator for Kontakt, a German/American friendship club sponsored by the military to promote better relations between Americans and Germans. It was the perfect job for Ger. Besides being charismatic and gregarious, he was fluent in five languages: English, Spanish, German, French and Turkish. And I mean fluent: when he talked with people in their native tongue, they assumed he was from their native country. Beside those five, he was also partially fluent in several other languages. Everyone loved Ger because his personality and ability to speak their language made them feel at home. As the editor of the post’s newspaper, we worked together many times. At the time, video recording equipment was just coming online and we talked the post’s commander into authorizing us to make a welcome video to be shown to new personnel assigned to the post. Ger and I schlepped all over the place with a couple of hundred pounds of video equipment in the back of a sedan. We wanted to get some good footage of Bamberg’s impressive ancient city center. To get a good vantage point for filming, Ger talked the foreman of a construction crew, working on a thousand-year-old cathedral, into letting us climb a half dozen stories up the scaffolding set up beside the church. Another time, we were having a beer and we struck up a conversation with an elderly German man who was impressed with Ger’s German. He invited us to his club room which turned out to be a fraternity of German soldiers that dated back centuries. On the walls were souvenirs and medals from battles dating back into antiquity. There were maces, battle axes, Luger pistols, Iron Crosses and even Swastikas. We were also together after work. Ger and his spouse Rosa lived on the first floor of a three-level flat of apartments about a mile from post. Rosa was from Turkey. The third floor of the building Ger and Rosa lived in was rented by Memmet and Iten and their two sons. They were also Turk, part of the immigrant population in Germany at the time that performed the low-skill labor jobs, much like how Mexicans work in our country today. When the middle level apartment opened, Ger helped my spouse and I rent it. We all lived together, for the next two years, in a setting much like a commune. We shared child-rearing chores and ate many meals together. He had my back, more than a few times, and I his. At the end of Ramadan one year, the Turks brought home a lamb which they kept in the basement for the traditional feast held at the end of the holiday. The Turkish men butchered the lamb in the basement and used my Weber grill to cook it. At the end of the feast, they put the skull of the lamb on the grill for slow roasting, the cooking of a delicacy: lamb brains. An image I’ll take to my grave is the children, my 3-year-old daughter included, taking great delight in sticking their fingers through the eye sockets and scooping out brains for tasting. There was a small courtyard outside the building where we spent many a night staying up late, drinking beer and enjoying each other’s company. Ger and I also shared a love of beer and The Beatles. We’d often meet outside, after the wives and kids were asleep, and polish off a case of beer while listening to the radio. While this pastime was so much fun, I’m afraid it didn’t do either of us much good. Besides being a good friend and translator, Ger was an excellent storyteller and he could keep me, and company, enthralled for hours. Like all great story tellers, he managed to weave truth with fiction to come up with the most fantastic tales. His father was an intelligence agent with the British army, who was dropped behind German lines during WWII. His mother was in the French Resistance. Ger was born a multi-national with citizenship nowhere and everywhere. Once, he disappeared, after a late night bout of drinking, and reappeared a day later, hung over, and telling a tale of being kidnapped by Russian intelligence agents out to settle some old score with his parents. The story almost convinced me, but it didn’t fly with Rosa and he spent the next week in the dog house. It was hard to stay mad at Ger long, and Rosa, a good-hearted woman in love with a good timing man, eventually forgave him. I transferred from Bamber to Fort Knox in 1979. Ger stayed on in Germany for many more years, first as a soldier and later as a DA civilian. We met up again in the mid-1980s when the National Guard unit I was serving in was sent to Graffenwoehr for the annual war games called Reforger. I had only 72 hours, but we spent the three days pretty much without sleeping, visiting the friends and places we knew from earlier days. He visited me once in Solon during Beef Days. Sabra and I stopped and visited him in his home near Cincinnati once but all in all we sort of drifted apart. While my health stayed good (knock on wood), Ger’s declined as he suffered a stroke and heart ailments. On Oct. 6, he suffered one last massive and fatal heart attack. In the morning I’ll drive to Ohio to participate in a celebration of life. If you happen to be having a glass of beer sometime, please offer a toast to my old Army buddy, Ger.

Ger Wood was my best, and closest, friend for three years starting in 1976.
We were assigned to the Warner Kaserne, a U.S. military community of 10,000 in Bamberg, Germany.
I was in charge of the post’s newspaper and Ger was the coordinator for Kontakt, a German/American friendship club sponsored by the military to promote better relations between Americans and Germans.