Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

September 7, Towery column Something ‘good’ in the state of Denmark Forgive my word-play on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where Marcellus says to Horatio: “Something is rotten in Denmark.” This is about something very good from Denmark. Let me back up. The way countries do ‘government,’ has never been one of my concerns. But getting a taste of Denmark’s parliamentary system through a television series upped my interest. This came while watching episodes of the award-winning television series from Denmark. It’s title “Borgen” is the Danish word for government. Having been to Copenhagen once and knowing some very fine Danish families, I began watching this series as ardently as my mother used to listen to radio’s “Stella Dallas.” When I realized there are more parliamentary forms of government in the world than the American style, I wanted to learn more. Our USA has a constitutional system where powers are vested (by the U.S. Constitution) in the Congress by three distinct branches: legislative, executive and judicial. Whereas a parliamentary government system gives the executive power to a cabinet composed of members of the legislature. These elected citizens are individually and collectively responsible to the legislature. (My ninth grade civics class had no access to Wikipedia.) The “Borgen” series from Denmark has been called: “The Best TV Show You’ve Never Seen.” This award-winning Danish drama series is about the fight for political power, along with the personal consequences of the characters involved. Not knowing Danish (except the words for ‘thanks’ and ‘good morning’), I had to depend on the finest subtitles ever seen on the screen. The acting is exceptional, headed by Sidse Babett Knudsen as Denmark’s first female Prime Minister Brigitte Nyborg. The series came from a novel and is fictional with very real-time problems, in home and office. It is evident that political power cannot be won without sacrifice. Newsweek Magazine calls it “The Best Political Show Ever.” Since political parties in Denmark need only 2% of the vote to get a seat, several parties win seats, making it all but impossible for one party to win the 90 seats required for a majority. No party has won an outright majority in either house since 1901. All Danish governments since then have been coalitions or one-party minority governments. Earlier shows can be seen on the idiot box. It would be great if our local cable channel providers would carry LINKTV where this series will begin it’s third season in September. Or go to and see episodes from the first two years. The third season begins in September and can be seen on DishTV and DirectTV. (I stumbled across “Borgen” by way of DishTV on LinkTV, the channel without borders, channel number 9410.) I thought HBO’s series “Newsroom” set a high standard for television drama, but it does not hold a candle to “Brogen.” This is an excellent political show without the Hollywood stuff we are used to. “Borgen is smart entertaining television,” writes Andrew Romano of Newsweek. “It pains me to report that the Danes, of all people, have recently overcome America’s home-field advantage. The Best Political Show Ever no longer hails from Hollywood, birthplace of The West Wing. It comes, instead, from Copenhagen, and it is called Borgen.” Rumor has it that an American version of “Borgen” is in the works. I hope if this is true that it will retain the honesty and openness of the American political scene. Shakespeare has Hamlet saying Denmark, -- “’tis an unweeded garden.” But for me it has the best television around. --30--

Sunday, May 27, 2012


For those readers who missed or have forgotten last week’s column, “Freedom of thought too precious to be ignored,” go to your newspaper recycling pile and dig out last Friday’s paper. It will help you gain some insight on the freedom of religion that is little recognized today. The life and times of Roger Williams (1603-1683) and his contributions to the American ideals of the freedom of thought and faith needs to be told for every American generation. Freedom of thought and religion did not originate with him, but he gave the idea a great kick-start. History is littered with the sacrifice of many who envisioned the basic importance of individual freedom of thought and freedom of religious or non-religious practice. Roger Williams was anything but a nobody. He was born in England, graduate of Cambridge, and mentored by the famous jurist Sir Edward Coke. Later he gave the poet John Milton lessons in Dutch in exchange for refresher lessons in Hebrew. Williams knew Oliver Cromwell, the military and political leader whose revolt lead to the English Civil War (1642-1651). Williams was becoming a Separatist even before he left England for the Massachusetts colony in 1631. He wrote that the Church of England (Anglican/Episcopal) was irredeemably corrupt. He also found Congregationalists and later the Baptists short of his ideals of freedom of thought and practice. Such a stand was beyond comprehension to his generation. In October, 1635, Williams was tried by the Massachusetts General Court and convicted of sedition and heresy. The Court declared that he was spreading diverse, new, and dangerous opinions. The court ordered that he be banished. Williams was convinced nothing to be more precious than soul liberty and freedom of conscience. Foe him true religious freedom demanded that church and state be separated; everyone had the natural right to freedom of religion. He did not attempt to change the civil government to suit his whims. He did not necessarily agree with other’s theology or church practices, but he was not in a holy war with secularists. What we have today, over 350 years later, is the essence of freedom of religion, but not a lot of actual adherents. Take the example of the Amish faith. While society changes (some would say advances) the Amish stay with their horses and carriages, lack of many modern necessities, and simple faith. They are not threatened by the world around them. The Amish may not agree with President Barack Obama’s tolerance of same-sex marriage but it does not affect their daily chores or worship. They see Christians as living in an unfriendly world but are not shocked nor threatened by it. The rest of us are “fighting the good fight of faith” against a sinful and secular world that threatens our faith. “If we could only get God back in government,” say some insecure Christians. Those wanting to revamp the world to their interpretation of religion would make poor Amish believers. The Amish would go along with Roger Williams much more than many American Christians. Making America “Christian” is not the Eleventh Commandment. Living in this world does not mean we become a part of it. It would help if Christians learned to enjoy their faith more and spend less time trying to tear down the wall between church and state. --30--


Freedom of Thought too precious to ignore Providence, Rhode Island, had a unique beginning. Roger Williams’ 1630s “colony” was the first organized community that did not base its formation on a call from God. In addition, Providence Town was under no command from European kings or popes to bring the original inhabitants to Christianity. It was a time when the vast majority of Protestant and Catholic clergy were paid by governments for their services to God and country. The old saying, “He who calls the tune pays the piper,” was true in this case and still is. In New England, there were unnecessary burdens foisted on the believers by the clergy. For example: those who missed religious services were fined by the combined church-state system. Ministers were told where to preach in the early Puritan days. If a follower was excommunicated he or she could not even have conversation with town folks. Black-balled in the extreme. Roger Williams’ practical opinions on freedom of thought and speech caused him to be forced from his Salem church. The Puritans’ law was a combined church-state authority. The church elders kicked Williams out of church and the legal authorities banished him from living in Massachusetts. He was forced in the dead of winter to flee his home and family. He had learned the Indian’s language and was their friend. They saved him and he lived with the tribe before finally founding what is now Providence, Rhode Island. His colony in Providence (on land he purchased from the local Indians) provided not mere toleration, but an individual’s freedom from religious/state control and freedom of thought and speech. (For more, see the new book “Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul” by John M. Barry.) Williams’ freedom of thought, speech and religion was a long-time in coming. He knew that such ideas had often led to torture and even death. Few clergy agreed with him, and certainly not Devine Rights kings. The Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Connecticut Christian leaders saw Williams’ ideas far too radical and definitely unscriptural; at odds with the Bible. The Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors resembled a tenth century Christian crusade to save Jerusalem and the Holy Land. European Catholic missionaries were in the front lines in the conquistadors campaigns. They were not like today’ military chaplains; often ranked with commanding officers as they claimed innocent tribes for their faith and king. Popes even had the nerve to divide the South American peoples between Portugal and Spain. It was like a religious Olympics as Jesuits and Franciscans and lesser Catholic orders fought for the souls of the savages. (The 1986 movie, “The Mission,” with Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons is about 18th century Spanish Jesuits protecting a South American Indian tribe from falling under the rule of pro-slavery Portugal.) In 1644 Roger Williams wrote on the seriousness of freedom of the church from man-made government: “When they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wilderness of the world, God hath ever broken down the wall itself …” (“The Complete Writings of Roger Williams,” New York: Russell and Russell, 1963.) The third president of the United States, and his contemporaries evidently had read Roger Williams’ books. Here is a quote from Thomas Jefferson’s “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia:” “We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities ...” The freedom of thought, speech and religion was won for us by scores of men with convictions like Roger Williams. It is too precious to ignore. These freedoms are threatened today, not by politicians, atheists, or Muslims, but by those seeking to revive the old Puritan spirit. Britt Towery writes a weekly column every Friday. His e-mail: His latest book “Strangers in a Strange Land” is about Texans in China, 1912-1950

Monday, April 16, 2012

Political-Religious Radio's King

BRYAN FISCHER: The preacher who desires to be king of politicaly-loaded Ultra Conservative Christian radio rides again.

In January 2011, Newsweek Magazine called Bryan Fischer "the media's new poster boy for right-wing extremism." On his radio talk show he has had a stream of notable conservative guests: Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Haley Barbour and Newt Gingrich.

The Stanford University and Dallas Seminary graduate began to gain fame finding ways to denigrate the lesbian-gay-bi-sexual-transvestite (LGBT) community. He admired the Holocaust revisionist writings of Scott Lively. Lively’s infamous claim to fame is that Hitler and his whole Nazi Party were gay.

Because of the “savage nature” of gay men, Lively says the Nazis were able to carry out the Holocaust. (It should be noted: Lively's work has been roundly and fully discredited by reputable historians, but facts never seem to bother Fischer.)

Just a tad of research reveals how utterly out of touch with the real world preacher Fischer really is. An example of his absurd thinking: In a November 2010 blog post at the American Family Association site, Fischer groused that the Medal of Honor, like American culture in general, was being "feminized" because it was awarded to soldiers who saved their comrades rather than soldiers who "killed people." Fischer demanded to know when it would be awarded again to "soldiers who kill people and break things so our families can sleep safely at night."

If that does not make you want to throw-up Rick Santorium-style read on. Fischer called for "open season" on grizzly bears because two people were killed by bears in 2010 and "God makes it clear in Scripture that deaths of people and livestock at the hands of savage beasts is a sign that the land is under a curse." (Fischer has a neat sense of humor or he was absent from seminary on biblical interpretation day.)

At the end of Fischer’s two-hour call-in show on American Family Radio there is always a disclaimer that “the opinions expressed are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio." The disclaimer now follows all AFR programs. Cuts down on possibility of being sued.

He argues that Muslims should be banned from serving in the U.S. military. He is actively waging a culture war and any publicity is good for his cause. There has been plenty of it from mainline media.
He claims he is spreading a muscular Christianity and being criticized makes him a hero to his followers. He calls his work “that of enriching social conservatives,” and bringing America back to it’s pilgrim glory.

Over 30 years ago AFA started out with a focus on the family values of abortion, same-sex marriage, and pornography. Now the main theme is if Barack Obama wins re-election, it will be the end of America for sure.

Bryan Fischer is asking us to boycott the national chain Home Depot for donating to gay-pride parades; he is sure the Tea Party ended slavery in America; Bill Clinton was responsible for the rise in oral cancer. The man is utterly clueless.

Repeatedly Fischer says "people on the Left never check their facts and simply repeat false information ...” which is something he would never do.

Finally, he is proclaiming that President Obama does not believe that the Constitution has any "moral authority and therefore it does not need to be obeyed." For his belief the cultural war is “a winnable war,” I nominate Bro. Fischer for the PRRA (Polito-Religo-Radio Award) for 2012. while making American Christian again. Just note the small print: be sure it’s his brand of Christianity.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Making Movies in 1945

The Making of “Don’t Try Anything”

The making of the 8mm TSG film on the tank-training grounds of old Camp Bowie, Brown County, Texas, in 1945 was an event that went unnoticed by the public. It was not not expected to have a wide release. Using black and white film was a major decision. Who with TSG could afford color? TSG name comes from the major share-holders, actors and writers: Towery, Swan and Graves.

Work on the picture could only be done when school was out and some sunshine left. The three of us (Britt Towery’s comparades Joe Swan and Bob Graves have since passed away) created the story idea from our second floor office in the old Southern Building on Center Ave., in downtown Brownwood, county seat of Brown County, Central Texas.

Before the Southern Building was made into an office building it was the Southern Hotel. The three of us were employed now and again by the Lyric Theater, catty-cornered from the Southern Building. The Lyric, revived at the close of the last century, is now a community theater with all sorts of good entertainment. But no films, not ever the kind TSG once produced.

It was a very different world back in the first half of the 20th century. Not so many people and families owned most of the farms and neighborhood grocery stores. The county was dry, meaning that spirits could not be bought or sold. Unless you went into a frowned upon profession something like what Al Capone involved himself much earlier.

Bootlegging took talent, but our firm did not feel it wise to do a film or stories on them because it was just too risky.

Getting back to the film and major point of all this historic era of Texas westerns review there is not much to tell. It was not long until 8mm film was moving into Super-8 and with that an increase in film-making.

As far as known, the photo still from the movie is all that has survived. Audio was being put on a wire recorder which today’s media and public probably do not recall. It was a great invention that was later replaced by the reel to reel tape invention. No wire remains. If it did what could you play it on?

The film would without doubt been a trail-blazing success had it not been misplaced once our years as ushers and popcorn poppers at the Lyric ended and we all had to go to work for real

Bob Graves, whose sister-in-law Harrette Graves of New York City wrote for the Brownwood Bulletin forever, lived and died in John Steinbeck country. Wrote one magazine story that sold, had lot of wonderful kids and lovely wife.

Joe Swan was professor Photo-Journalism at San Jose State University, a little north of Steinbeck country, nearer home area of writer of “Call of the North.” He too had fine kids and wife. Laura was from Dallas and they met at Howard Payne College (now a university).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Benefits of Early Language Study

Texans best hurry and learn Spanish.

The Chinese People’s Consultative Conference closed in Beijing with a proposal that surprised both the locals and foreigners.

It was proposed that lessons in the study of English should no longer be give in Chinese kindergartens.

Ling Zi, a respected deputy chair of the Chinese Confucius Academy, believes that English and other foreign languages should only be studied beginning in high school. The idea is to make sure students are given enough time to develop their Chinese skills.

The Confucius Institute offers cultural and Chinese language courses in 105 countries and regions, covering 86 percent of the world’s population. And 160 universities in 62 countries are working with the Institute to advance the language study. (Sweden plans to offer Mandarin in all primary schools and Pakistani education authorities are making Mandarin compulsory for primary schools.)

China’s culture needs to be known and understood by the Han (94 percent of the population) and the other 50-plus ethnic groups. The traditional forms need bolstering, in historic buildings, language and ancient skills.

It is important to retain the old and traditional. But it is also a proven fact that the earlier a child studies a foreign language the greater will be the success.

By delaying foreign language study until their teens is not the road to take. Next to adults starting a second language the teenage years are the most difficult.

It is also unfortunate there are those who think learning a second language early is harmful to the child. Studies in all cultures have shown that learning a second language speeds up learning in other subjects, especially critical thinking and history-cultural studies.

China’s continued economic development benefits as more of the people learn English. In the tourist industry China needs thousands of interpreters in many languages.

In learning a foreign language the individual also learns about foreign culture; understanding more clearly why foreigners act the way they do.

There would be fewer wars if we got to know each other better.

The most effective way to teach children a second language is like the idiom “thrown them in at the shallow end” like a youngster learning to swim.

I did not learn to swim until I was in my late 20s. By then my fear of water was greater than when I was a child. So it is with language study. Start learning before the fear of the study gains the upper hand.

It is in the majority of American high schools that the student first encounters foreign languages. This is more than unfortunate, it is tragic. It is a lost cause to begin so late.

According to the Confucius Institute in Beijing the United Kingdom offers Mandarin language study in 5,200 schools.

All this about what others are doing should wake up Texians to study their neighbor’s language. San Angelo schools should begin the study of Spanish in kindergarten and carry it through all 12 grades of study. To do less is not fair to the student and certainly not good for the future of our city, state or nation.

China schools have made great strides in teaching English. But beginning a foreign language in the teen years is not a good decision and may yet be reversed.

Our schools have done and are doing a terrible job teaching foreign languages. With Texas soon to have a Hispanic majority, it is unwise to continue to ignore the study of Spanish.


Credit Cards: America's Tragic End

A Major Reason For America’s Economic Dilemma

To those who say America is in the dump, I ask who then is at fault? Who or what has caused there to be so many homeless; so many people out of work; so much national debt; so many empty houses; sky-high food bill; record gasoline prices and the no-longer-stretchable dollar bill?

Some are blaming it on the out-of-touch Washington crowd we voted to serve our country. Blame it on the millions who could vote but don’t.

President Barack Obama has yet to close, as he promised, the U.S. prison on Guantanamo Bay – where torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners continues. He also said he would not be hiring lobbyists -- he did that and brought into his administration many who had caused the Wall Street and bankers crimes.

But don’t lay all the blame on the White House resident. The incredibly stubborn and uncooperative, can’t-care-less congress refuses to work for what is good for the country. When was last time our obscenely wealthy congress West Texas representative did something for the good of the people he swore to represent?

There is lots of blame for America’s mess. Being lied into one war (Iraq) and going after Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan turned into an even longer war. Now Senator John McCain and some of his comrades want to begin a war against Iran.

We are in a fix not because of the war mentality or all the s0-called “patriots” of the Pentagon and the Halliburton-types.

One major reason for America’s disarray is not a secret, but a seldom acknowledged one. It all began with a small piece of cardboard that soon became plastic money.

It is easy to trace most of our people’s quandary to the once well-meaning and now toxic innovation: the development and promotion of THE CREDIT CARD.

About sixty years ago the curse of plastic charge plates began eating its way through the life and blood of this country.

In 1946 John Biggins, a Brooklyn banker, introduced a “Charg-it” card. Then Frank McNamara and Ralph Schneider came along in 1950 with the Diners Club Card.
The American Express (formed in 1850) saw the success of the Diners Club Card and in 1958 issued its first “never leave home without it” purple charge card. Theirs was the first card to be made of plastic.

Then Visa, MasterCard and a few others turned a very good thing into a monster. It has become a plague for people who cannot or will not pay off their balance each month.

It is a proven psychological fact that when using a credit card the buyer purchases more than when using cash. These companies know this fundamental shortcoming of our human nature, and use it with all their ads.

Credit card companies go beyond simple interest on their use. Ever tired to make sense of the requirements for payment on one of the demonic plastic plates? Usury is the word that comes most to mind. Usury is the archaic word for lending money at exorbitant interest rates.

No longer is a simple profit for credit card companies (and others in the retail business) but profit that that becomes greed: compound usury.

Before you think I have gone completely bonkers, remember that we ordinary folks are the laughing stock of these corporations. Every week one of these big banks or slimy plastic perverts sends me a letter “to solve all problems” with their card.

They provide plastic guaranteed to make us all paupers. American people average $10,000 worth of plastic debt. This is a greater danger than the National Debt.

"The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender" -- Proverbs 22:7. (Bible verses are common in a column about avarice.)

Benjamin Franklin is always good for a closing word. Here is one of his typical remarks: "Who goeth a borrowing goeth a sorrowing.”


The Khan Academy

The Kahn Academy is the future!

The CBS 60 Minutes television program recently had a segment that blew me away. It was about a teaching program with videos in digestible chunks, approximately 10 minutes long, and especially purposed for viewing on a computer.

Sal Khan (MIT and Harvard) is the creator of this education tool. Khan is a math, science, and history teacher to millions of students around the world. Now that the program is backed by Bill Gates, Google and others. Sal Khan wants to make learning more accessible while putting fun and intellect on a higher level.

Sal Khan writes on the web site Khan Academy "I teach the way that I wish I was taught. The lectures are coming from me, an actual human being who is fascinated by the world around him."

It is a free world-class education for anyone. As soon as the 60 Minutes segment ended I looked up the web site. I fell in love with it immediately. I even scrolled down the thousands of videos and spent seven minutes of the history of algebra, with maps, markers and explanation of the earliest stuff on the subject.

Had I had such a learning opportunity in the 1940s I may have gotten interested in all kinds of math and science. I might have even made a passing grade.

The not-for-profit Academy is apparently an organization on a mission. Their goal of changing education for the better via a free world-class education for anyone anywhere is off to a good start.
The videos on world history caught my eye also. I enjoyed the short lesson and unique way it was presented. I wanted to stay at the computer all night. You might say I was impressed.

All of the site's resources are available to anyone. It doesn't matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. The Khan Academy's materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.

Students can make use of the 3,000 –plus video library, practice exercises, and assessments from any computer with access to the web.

There is more, like helping coaches, parents, and teachers have unprecedented visibility into what their students are learning and doing on the Khan Academy.

In the 60 Minutes piece Sanjay Gupta, the interviewer, watching Khan record a 10-minute economics lesson. “It's so simple - all you hear is his voice and all you see is his colorful sketches on a digital blackboard,” say Gupta.

“When Khan finishes the lecture, he uploads it to his website - where it joins the more than 3,000 other lessons he's done. In just a couple of years he's gone from having a few hundred pupils to more than four million every month,” continues the interviewer.Khan and his now expanded team has amassed a library of math lectures that starts with basic addition and builds all the way through advanced calculus. The courses are from kindergarten to college and beyond. I may get an education yet!

Sal Khan has tackled so many subjects that if you watched just one of his lectures a day it would take over eight years to cover it all. No excuse for the world’s peoples (who have the Internet) to reap the tremendous blessings of an education.

The Khan Academy office has the intense vibe of a Silicon Valley startup. The team is working to create software they hope will transform how math is taught in American classrooms. It is not the final answer to educating folks, but it is going in the right direction.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Doonsbury Confronts Texas Governor with humor and insight

G.B. Trudeau Does It Again. Hits The Target. Reveals Truth with an artist's brush.

Like it or not: press freedom requires the exchange of ideas

If you ever wonder if America’s press was free -- just take a look at last week’s Doonsbury funny pages strip. (It can be found on many Internet web sites.)

Newspapers in this country are free to censor what they do not like or are unwilling to discuss and talk about. G. B. Trudeau, the brains behind this long-running progressive strip, is used to this kind of treatment.

If you are among those who do not know of which I speak, here is what’s going on in the comics. A number of newspapers did not run this week’s Doonesbury strip that skewers Texas Republican politicians for the law they passed requiring women to undergo a sonogram before they can have an abortion.

There is comedy (sad to say) in the reaction to this week’s strip. Right here in Texas, under our very noses, the wanta-be U.S. president, who sits in the governor’s mansion in Austin, signs a bill to be invasive of pregnant women by making them law-breakers if they do not submit to sonograms and worse.

Our middle-aged state legislators created the bill and the governor signed it some time ago. The governor of Virginia got in the same hot water and is struggling for his political life.

Our governor may not be in as much trouble because of the huge numbers of right-leaning Christians and non-believers who want to ensure we do not forget women are second-class citizens.

A mother from Seattle wrote the following on the Doonsbury pages of “I am a mother of five with three grown daughters and two daughters-in-law all of child bearing age. Thank you for trying to protect their right to choose when and how and if they start a family by bringing this issue to light for so many. You have a way of explaining things to even the stupid people.”

Another brave soul from Philadelphia submitted this wisdom born out of experience:

“Thank you so much for addressing this farcical legislation in the manner it deserves. I had a good chuckle. As a victim of childhood sexual abuse, it makes me sick that many Republican politicians believe sticking probes into women's bodies for no medical purpose and against their will is anything other than a traumatic and unconscionable violation.”

Then there were those of a different opinion as this e-mail from Illinois: “Your comic strip appears to be liberal tripe masquerading as entertainment. Much like Bill "the Muppet" Maher.”

A guy in Oregon wrote: “Your "cartoon" is disgusting and way out of line. You should switch to commentary and get out of the "cartoon" business. Go to church.”

So we are free to express our impartially, our views, biases, hate or love without danger of going to jail or being run out of town. Our daily paper does not run the 40-years running strip on a daily basis, depriving (in my weird view) our readers of a minority opinion in this Texas town.

Government invasion into the private lives of “We the people…” has gone to extremes the last 20 years. It is the very political party (especially the Tea Party element) that wants to reduce government intervention into our lives, pushing this. That is the amazing part. They appear to be all for this invasion of women claiming it will prevent abortions. They are for “life.” I respect the free exchange of ideas.

It has been said that there is a reason that God gave us two ears and only one mouth. Listening is such a crucial activity yet we devote so little time to it. Listen twice as much as talking or think twice before opening the mouth, or writing a piece like this.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Former Senator Rick Santorum Does Not Have a Clue What "Church and State" means to the whole world.

Former Senator Santorum sick and tired of hearing JFK’s remarks (660 words)
As the American presidential nomination race continues to romp through our living room television sets, we learn more about the thought processes of the candidates.

Former Senator Rick Santorum, who wants to replace President Barack Obama, is “sick to my stomach” every time he is reminded of the 1960s remarks of then candidate John F. Kennedy to a bunch of Houston, Texas, pastors. JFK’s talk that day makes Rick Santorum want to throw up.
Strong language. Apparently what upset the former senator from Pennsylvania was this comment of JFK:
“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.”

Rick Santorum saw JFK’s words as implying that “people of faith have no role in the public square.” He told a crowd later: “ You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case?"

Santorum: "I don't believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,"

Kennedy, the first Catholic president, was merely informing a group of Protestant ministers in order to put to rest concerns about his faith.

Candidate Santorum, who is also Catholic, said the Kennedy speech was part of an effort to begin to "force God out of the public square." KENNEDY DID NOT SAY THAT!!!

"To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case?"

The issue of the church or the state having the final say in matters of religion began in England during the first half of the 1600s. King James of Scotland (the one the 1611 Bible is name for) and his son Charles II were brought to their demise due in large part to their demands to be “Head of the Church.”

Roger Williams, founder of Providence, Rhode Island, learned first-hand the unfortunate results when civil magistrates imposed their will in church affairs. That was the reason tens of thousands left England for the American colonies in the 1630s.

The magistrates of New England did not learn from history. Roger Williams, a learned graduate of Cambridge, knew the dangers of the Crown making decisions for the Church. This attitude of not conforming to civil authorities being the final “church authority,” got him expelled from Massachusetts. Conformity was central to John Winthrop’s city upon a hill. Its purpose was to advance God’s interests on earth. “Conformity was to be the perceived will of God.”

One plantation minister said: “endeavor after a Theocracy as might be to [that] which was the glory of Israel.” (Quoted in James Ernst’s “Roger Williams: New England Firebrand.”)

If not a theocracy, Massachusetts was theocentric. The week was filled with church services, including two on Sunday, each of which lasted roughly three hours. The Puritans passionate view of the Bible told them they were to build the New Jerusalem. “And those who controlled both church and state worked in unison to build that perfect society” (“Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State and the Birth of Liberty” by John M. Barry. A great new book, not just a biography.)

President Thomas Jefferson, 150 years later, read the many writings of Roger Williams stressing importance of a society having a strong wall separating Church and State.

If Rick Santorum became ill when hearing the words of John F. Kennedy on church and State, Roger Williams’ writings would have given him a stroke.


Britt Towery’s E-mail:

Conservatives thrive on low intelligence


A study in the January issue of the Canadian journal, Psychological Science, expressed the idea “that people with conservative beliefs are likely to be of low intelligence.”

Firm, unyielding conservatives may be set in their thinking and programs but this study is the first I have seen that suggested they were lacking in intelligence. The right-leaning conservative religious friends of mine are an inflexible sort, strict, even severe and stern in following their faith, but not lacking intelligence. It has been interesting noting how rigid personalities are always bumping into unforeseen problems and difficulties.

But, there it was in a medical journal that conservatism thrives on low intelligence. This study went on to say that conservatives also thrive on poor information.

Brian Nosek, a social and cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia, notes that such social and political science research shows those who hold right-wing agendas are more resistant to change than those of other political persuasions. The lower the level of education, the higher the levels of prejudice.

Intelligence is the first thing to be left behind when it comes to presidential campaigns. That is true of both major parties. It is embarrassing that the United States calls itself a Democracy or a Republic and is run by only two political parties, usually in cahoots with each other. Making it impossible for anyone else to contend.

What do these democrat and republican politicians do as they run for the office of president? They spend untold millions of dollars pointing out the foolishness of the other side. They solve absolutely nothing and in the process reveal their own prejudice and ignorance of human nature, society and religious biases. With all that stupidity and sham they expect us to respect them and vote for them. That is first class low intelligence.

In spite of the findings of conservative’s lack of intelligence, it is not true of all conservatives. There are also too many stupid progressives and/or liberals among us. We could all use the infusion into our brains of some ‘flexible’ juice; some milk of human kindness, and a smidgen of that uncommon commodity: common sense.

The low intelligence study is backed up with actual events. Just one example: from the moment Barack Obama took over the ship of state every kind of lie and innuendo has been shot across his bow.

Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, doubts our president is a Christian but is sure the disgraced, unethical former Speaker of the House and thrice-married Newt Gingrich is. If nothing else Franklin Graham disproves the adage, “the proverbial acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Franklin must have been adopted.

The zealous religious crowd know President Barack Obama was not born in the USA, is a closet Muslim, hates Christianity and is out to destroy American freedoms. Brian Fischer, of American Family Radio, loves it when former Senator Rick Santorum calls the president’s Christianity a “phony theology.”

Santorum denies it now but back in 2008 he said there really is no such thing as a "liberal Christian." Anyone who doesn't share his right-wing views doesn't really have any right to claim to be a Christian.

Also on American Family Radio is faux historian David Barton who has a tendency to completely misrepresent early American history in order to bolster his ultra-right-wing agenda.

But as a paragon of low intelligence Bryan Fischer has few peers. He accused President Obama of “behaving like a dictatorial tyrant.” Fischer has also likened Obama to Adolf Hitler.

No political party or individual has a corner on ignorance, but advocates like radio preacher Fischer are the nearest thing to a real monopoly on ignorance, twisted Bible ethics and just plain intelligence.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Look Back At the Years 1911-1912

What a hundred years hath wrought

One hundred years ago America was a vastly different world than the one we have today. Let’s take a glancing look over our shoulder and wonder at the extreme changes wrought (borrowing a well-used Bible word) since 1910-1911.

One thing is for sure: the good old days were different. It was a world unknown to most of us living in the 21st century.

In 1910 Texas had a population of 3.8 million. Today we are well over the 25 million mark. Old Glory had only 44 stars and Las Vegas Nevada’s population was all of 30.

When checking out the differences it will boggle your mind. It was the childhood days of my mother, then six years old, and my dad, going into his teens.

For starters we are reminded that in 1911, the average life expectancy for men was 47 years. The average U.S. blue collar worker averaged 22 cents an hour. The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

One hundred years ago a dentist could expect to earn $2,500 a year. Now a dentist can make five times that amount in a week or two. (That figure is from personal experience.)

Jimmy Carter was the first president to be born in a hospital. He was born a dozen years after 1911 but in 1911 more than 95 percent of all births took place at home.

Ninety percent of all medical doctors had not been to college. Sub-standard medical schools were the norm.

In 1911 automobiles were still an oddity but not exactly a new invention. Numerous railroad car manufacturing companies began making autos in the 1880s, such as Ensign of Huntington, West Virginia and Gilbert Car Company of Troy, New York.

By 1910-11 only 8,000 automobiles were on American roads (only 144 miles of them paved). In cities that had automobiles the maximum speed limit was 10 mph.

Though bathtubs were known in antiquity, only 14 percent of American homes had a bathtub. I tried, but failed, to find what the percentage of West Texans with bathtubs was back then. Lots of men could bath in the back of the barbershop or saloon. I guess most folks washed off in a number ten washtub in the kitchen on Saturday night. My wife’s family used one, but she lived in northeast Texas, a more advanced people than here on the desert-plains.

Eating out places, other than the boarding house near the train station, were few and far between. Home cooking was what most people enjoyed. Sugar cost four cents a pound; eggs were fourteen cents a dozen. coffee was fifteen cents a pound. Iced tea had yet to be invented as well as canned beer.

Not counting courthouses, drug stores were favorite meeting places and not just because you could purchase marijuana, heroin and morphine over the counter without a prescription.

Pharmacists were known to say things like “heroin clears the complexion, give buoyancy to the mind, regulates the bowels and is a perfect guardian of health.”

Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write and only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school. But what would be impossible for today’s youth to believe: ONLY 8 PERCENT OF HOMES HAD A TELEPHONE.

Amid all this, little Miss Christine French, six years old, was entering R. J. Looney Elementary School (joke of the times: looney kids) and teenager Britt Edward Towery was a marble carver apprentice. It was truly “a ‘nuther world.”

Trivia: M*AS*H Film - TV Series

M*A*S*H trivia questions

For a break from the world’s wars; the political primaries and confusion of a dysfunctional Washington, let’s put all that out of our minds and escape to the lighter side of life.

Once upon a time a 1970s television series, set in the 1950s Korean War, spoofed the futility of war as American got more and more bogged down in Vietnam. Few programs since have begun to touch the humor, pathos, satire and near-reality as did this TV series based on the novel by Richard Hooker and Ring Lardner, Jr.’s 1970 dark comedy screenplay, “M*A*S*H.”

The television series (“M*A*S*H” is short for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) ran from 1972 to 1983. Alan Alda, son of actor Robert Alda (who appeared in two episodes), For thsplayed Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce, better known as ‘Hawkeye,’ an anti-war surgeon there against his will but making the most of it. He was famous for refusing to carry a sidearm of any king. He also wrote and directed a number of episodes.

For those who enjoy trivia, and have been addicted to M*A*S*H as I have, here are ten questions dredged from the archives of the TV series.

Answers will be following this piece.

1. For a time, Hawkeye and Captain ‘Trapper’ John McIntyre (Wayne Rogers) had a houseboy. What was his name?

2. What outfit did Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger (Jamie Farr) wear when General Douglass MacArthur drove through camp?

3. At a goodbye dinner, what did Hawkeye, Trapper and Radar give Lt. Colonel Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) for a farewell gift?

4. Where was Major Frank Burns (Larry Linville) transferred after leaving the 4077th?

5. What was name of Hawkeye’s hometown?

6. Who replaced Trapper John when he left the series?

7. When a new shipment of Bibles arrived, Father Francis Mulcahy (William Christopher) discovers a glaring typographical error. What is it?

8. What was unique about Gary Burghoff, who played Corporal Walter Eugene ‘Radar’ O’Reilly?

9. Major Charles Winchester (David Ogden) falls for a Frenchwoman who is on tour with the Red Cross. What changes his mind about their future together?

10. What inspired Hawkeye to give up booze?

Enjoy. See you back here, same time, same station next week with the answers to the M*A*S*H TV trivia quiz.


M*A*S*H Trivia Answers

Answers to M*A*S*H trivia Piece Just before this one

Last week we took a break from the world’s wars; the political primaries and confusion of a dysfunctional Washington, in an effort to settle our nerves and visit the lighter side of life.

Once upon a time a 1970s television series, set in the 1950s Korean War, spoofed the futility of war as American got more and more bogged down in Vietnam. Few programs since have begun to touch the humor, pathos, satire and near-reality as did this TV series based on the novel by Richard Hooker and Ring Lardner, Jr.’s 1970 dark comedy screenplay, “M*A*S*H.”

The television series (“M*A*S*H” is short for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) ran from 1972 to 1983. Alan Alda, son of actor Robert Alda (who appeared in two episodes), For thsplayed Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce, better known as ‘Hawkeye,’ an anti-war surgeon there against his will but making the most of it. He was famous for refusing to carry a sidearm of any king. He also wrote and directed a number of episodes.

For those who enjoy trivia, and have been addicted to M*A*S*H as I have, I offered ten trivia questions last week about that television series.

F0r the long-suffering faithful the time has come to reveal the answers. Here are the questions followed by the answers in bold type:

1. For a time, Hawkeye and Captain ‘Trapper’ John McIntyre (Wayne Rogers) had a houseboy. What was his name?
Ho Jan.

2. What outfit did Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger (Jamie Farr) wear when General Douglass MacArthur drove through camp?
Statue of Liberty costume.

3. At a goodbye dinner, what did Hawkeye, Trapper and Radar give Lt. Colonel Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) for a farewell gift?
A new suit.

4. Where was Major Frank Burns (Larry Linville) transferred after leaving the 4077th?
Veterans Hospital in Indiana.

5. What was name of Hawkeye’s hometown?
Crabapple Cove.

6. Who replaced Trapper John when he left the series?
Captain B. J. Hunnicut (Mike Farrell).

7. When a new shipment of Bibles arrived, Father Francis Mulcahy (William Christopher) discovers a glaring typographical error. What is it?
“Thou shalt commit adultery.”

8. What was unique about Gary Burghoff, who played Corporal Walter Eugene ‘Radar’ O’Reilly?
He was the only actor to play same character in both the film and the television series.

9. Major Charles Winchester (David Ogden) falls for a Frenchwoman who is on tour with the Red Cross. What changes his mind about their future together?
He discovers she used to have a live-in lover.

10. What inspired Hawkeye to give up booze?
High bar tab.

Sorry, there are no prizes.

Let's Stand and Cheer Ye Olde Postal Service

U.S. Postal Service Review

Today, Feb. 24, 2012, is the anniversary of the first perforated U.S. postage stamp. The year was 1857. No celebrations have been planned.

The U.S. Postal Service is expecting to lose $18.2 billion a year by 2015 unless it can cut Saturday delivery and raise stamp prices. At the post office not so long ago I asked for a three-cent stamp. I was not being funny nor being a smart aleck. I think the clerk could see that for a moment I was still in the mid-20th century. At least I did not ask for a penny postcard.

Those of us who pay bills using envelopes affixed with U.S. postage stamps and still write friends using ink and paper are facing the very real possibility of a first-class stamp costing fifty cents.

In early colonial times, messages depended on any “going my way” friends or merchants. In 1639, the first official notice of a postal service in the colonies appeared. A good place to pick up your mail was at a local pub, tavern or coffee shop.

(For history buffs: William Penn established Pennsylvania's first post office in 1683. In the Southern colonies slaves or private messengers carried the mail from plantations to towns and settlements.)

In 1760, Benjamin Franklin reported a surplus to the British Postmaster General. Note that this historic first of making a profit, was twenty years before the U.S. Federal government began carrying the mail.

In the nineteenth century, Congress authorized the Postmaster General to release a 5 cent stamp which would carry a half-ounce letter 300 miles. At that rate said letter would not make it from San Angelo to El Paso.

For those with far-away friends a 10 cent stamp would take a half-ounce letter for distances greater than 300 miles, making it possible to get the letter out of the state sometimes.

William Penn established Pennsylvania's first post office in 1683. In the Southern colonies slaves or private messengers carried the mail from plantations to towns and settlements.

Suppose (or what-if?) back in the 1970s, a man named Frederick W. Smith had gone to work for the U.S. Postal Service? While an undergraduate at Yale University he wrote a research paper on how companies could make more money by being more efficient.

Mr. Smith went into business, making a profit where others were just getting by. He learned that most airfreight shippers were sadly inadequate, inefficient and economically not making the profit they could. What a difference it would have made had Frederick W. Smith, like Jimmy Stewart in the movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” took such findings to the national Postal Services in Washington, D.C. instead of going into business.

All Mr. Smith did was develop the efficient distribution system known today as FedEx.

Federal Express not only completely revolutionized global business practices, but defined speed and reliability while making a good profit.

Another money-maker is United Parcel Service (UPS) is older than FedEx. So old in fact their first delivery car was a Model T Ford.

Our Founding Father Benjamin Franklin probably had such ideas and dreams of an efficient and profit-making mail service. Who knows? Many have tried and many still hold out hope for a profit-making postal service.

Fredrick Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, wrote in last week’s USA Today: “Almost 90 percent of the red ink stems from a 2006 congregational mandate that the Postal Service pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years and do so within a decade. This burden, borne by no other public agency or private firm, cost the Postal Service $5.5 billion annually.”

Before beating up on the Postal Service remember they are just doing what Congress has demanded. Happy First Perforated U.S. Postage Stamp Day.


The Mess Called Political Conventions

This year of 1012 is a Sticky Wicket of a political year

Who has not noted the idiocy of the television “news” channels as they traipse around the country reporting and speculating on the Republican Party primaries.

There was a time when these events were noted locally but not as if viewers were sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the latest count; the latest flub; latest gossip and latest guess by the talking heads.

That was back in the days when the two major political parties held meaningful summer conventions to select a nominee for president. It was a suspenseful occasion as nomination speeches were both oratorical and sometimes even interesting. There would often be a ‘favorite son” emerged from the floor.

People like Chicago Mayor Daily and his fellow Democrat cohorts would scrounge through the delegates for votes for their favorite. Or make deals that would enhance their agenda. Ballots were taken until it was narrowed down to one person.

Today’s ever-present primaries and caucuses, including the big political conventions, were not always the way these things were done.

Going back even before my time, in the early days presidential candidates were chosen or nominated by members of Congress. But this early system of picking nominees became less popular when a fellow named Andrew Jackson launched his ‘appeal to the common man.’

After Jackson's election in 1828, party structures strengthened, and the idea of national political conventions began to make sense. At that time there had been party conventions held at the state level, but no national conventions.

The first nation-wide political convention gathering was by a now defunct party – the Anti-Masonic Party in 1831. As the name suggests, the Masonic Order was thought to have too much influence in the capital.

They were successful only in starting the ball rolling for national party conventions. Jackson’s administration (1829-1837) was considered one of the most corrupt in history. It was not really all that different from many White House administrations before or since. In one form or another power of position has always brought out the worst in leaders.

Wanting to rid the country of Jackson, the Republican Party called for a national convention in the city of Baltimore in 1831. They became an anti-Jackson party much like today’s anti-Obama party. Henry Clay was the Republican nominee.
The Democratic Convention held their first-ever such meeting, also in Baltimore, in 1832. Jackson was running for a second term so they only nominated a candidate for vice president, Martin Van Buren.

Other parties came on the scene in the 19th and 20th centuries but soon fell by the wayside leaving the race for power with just the Democratic and Republican parties.

There was the Nullifier Party (against everything), the Liberty Party, the Free Soil Party (farmers ?), the American Party, the Opposition Party (opposed to new states having slavery), the Constitutional Union Party, the Readjuster Party (following Civil War they aspired to break the power of wealth and established privilege. Hasn’t worked yet.).

Then the Vegetarian Party, the American Nazi Party (not too popular, 1959-1967), Looking Back Party (not much future), and the Christian Freedom Party (a spoiler for the John Kerry and George W. Bush campaigns.)

The Prohibition Party was the oldest third party to have a life in the United States. They were an outgrowth of the temperance movement. The Prohibition Party was an important force during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 they have advocated numerous socially conservative causes.

The year 2012 is one ‘sticky wicket’ of a year and not just on the cricket pitch.

Therefore between now and November here are my suggestions: turn off the TV set (except for March Madness, the World Series, some football, cricket and soccer); even better, join a book club, visit the city library or buy a Kindle; get a bicycle or take a hike.


Call me Colonel

In remembrance of the Confederate Air Force

According to the certificate I found deep in the bowels of a rusty old steamer trunk, that has crossed the Pacific at least twice, I was made a Colonel in the Confederate Air Corps on July 5, 1959.
The hallowed and yellowed document was signed by the Honorable Secretary of the Corps, Thadeus P. --- (the last name was not legible after half a century in my trunk).
I immediately wanted to have the document framed to hang on my study wall.

There being nothing in my diary for July 5,1959 I had no way of finding out just how this honor came my way. I was living in Taiwan’s southern most city, Pingtung, and had a number of Chinese Air Force officers and American military advisor (MAAG) friends. It was probably a joint allied decision to make me a Colonel. (Until then I was only a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.)

After all these years without a record of a discharge from the Confederate Air Corps I felt it my duty to check in with them. That is where the Internet came in handy.

On the Brian Dunaway Archive web pages I found a thumbnail history of the outfit. In the Dunaway account (I suppose he is a CAF officer. His web site of 2004 says he is a chemical engineer and a native Texan.)

Back in 1951 Lloyd Nolen (spelled with an ‘e’ and so not the famous actor Lloyd Nolan) purchased a surplus Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. Nolen was a World War II Army Air Corps flight instructor.
Dunaway writes: “In 1957, Nolen and four friends purchased a P-51 Mustang, each sharing in the $2,500 cost of the aircraft. With the purchase of the Mustang, known as Red Nose, the group was unofficially founded.”

The history continues: “… In 1961, the CAF was chartered as a nonprofit Texas corporation in order to restore and preserve World War II-era combat aircraft. In 1965, the first museum building consisting of 26,000 square feet was completed at old Rebel Field, Mercedes, Texas. The CAF created a new Rebel Field at Harlingen, Texas, when they moved there in 1968, occupying three large buildings. The CAF fleet continued to grow and included medium and heavy bombers such as the B-29, B-25, B-17 and B-24.”

The CAF is comprised of over 11,000 members, several hundred of whom serve as pilots and flight or maintenance crew members committed to preserving World War II American aviation heritage. The CAF is responsible for operating a fleet of more than 140 airplanes known as the Ghost Squadron.
Not long after September 11, 2001, the name of the CAF was changed. It was changed to the “Confederate Commemorative Air Force.” The word “Confederate” was offensive to some and the change made it politically correct. It was a change that was not welcomed by chemical engineer Brian Dunaway.

Mr. Dunaway is not the only Confederate flyer to dislike the “Commemorative” name. Ronald Khol of “Machine Design” is one of those dissidents. “Political correctness has run amok.”
Ronald Khol writes that of the thousands of Boeing B-29 Superfortresses built during World War II only one of them remains in flyable condition. It is owned by the Confederate Air Force. He refuses to call the organization by the new name.

(This an aside I found interesting: The B-29 with its four massive engines and wingspan of 141 feet was discarded after the war. Some went to museums, and others to a Navy gunnery range as targets. Most were chopped to pieces and sold for scrap.)

After learning all this I am much more proud of my Confederate Air Corps document. I still may frame it and hang it on the front porch for all to see I refuse to be politically correct when it comes to being a Colonel in such a grand old outfit.

Monday, January 30, 2012

All Hat and No Cattle

The picture attached to this Along The Way viewpoint column is really me, but it is also really old (the photo, not me -- photo missing from this web edition).

Since I make every effort to write a column as truthfully as possible, I have to be truthful also about the tiny photo that appears here weekly. I try to stay up to date with my comments, but photos can become dated.

For several years I wore a hat for the column photo. It turned out that it only made me look like cowboy actor Buck Jones without a horse. (Remember him? His real name was Charles Frederick Gebhart. While in the U.S. Army he was wounded in the Philippines and died in the 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston.)

In a hat I looked like the fellow who was said to be “all hat and no cattle.” I may have grown up in Brownwood but I did not live on a ranch and rode a horse only once. So that classic pose with an LBJ hat had to be removed for honesty in photo-press journalism.

One reader commenting on the hat said it reminded him of an old goat-roping rancher he knew. Another just wrote, “get rid of it!” I think he meant the hat, but could have meant me.

I still remember the good reader who wrote me he cut my column, including photo, from the newspaper –- nice to have someone do that --- until he told me he had placed it face-up on the bottom of his bird cage!

I have never roped a goat, but I have been to a calf-branding event where the calves were, without consent, turned into steers. This was done entirely without the consent of the calves. It was not far from Atoka, Oklahoma. Jody and I were having lunch with the rancher and I had no idea I had watched the major part of our lunch being harvested right there in the corral.

So I retired the hat photo. The day when it was said ‘a hat makes the man’ is gone. No one wears a hat anymore. There are still pick-up truck driver with a cowboy hat or a baseball cap. The only place you see anyone wearing a hat is in the bleachers of old movies or maybe in the line at Underwood’s Barbeque.

You only see men in hats in old black and white movies. In those films the men even kept their hats on indoors. They were usually a bunch of newspaper men gathered around a bunch of desks with Underwood typewriters pounding out a story. They didn’t type, they pounded out the story.

Roy Rogers, Ken Maynard and all the cowboy film heroes never lost their hats in a fight. I think that was to keep us from the fact that the hero had a stand-in.

The “good old days” of men’s hats were not all that good. But it is better to remember them as good days than 1930s depression days or 1940s war years.

Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is a promise, but we do have today and that is something to be grateful for. So I plan to begin this second full day of my 82nd year proudly wearing and enjoying the LBJ hat a dear friend gave me years ago.

Britt Towery’s column appears every Friday in Brownwood Bulletin and San Angelo Standard-Times