And that’s the way it was, June 10 1947

She turned twenty-one that day, and married her high school sweetheart. He was about to turn twenty-two, and had already returned from the war, smoking cigarettes and telling tales of the motorcycle he had learned to ride. She thought that he seemed pretty full of himself since his return, but she married him anyway at the small country church in the town in which she was raised. A 9:00 mass was followed by a giant buffet lunch which was followed by an afternoon of drinking and dancing and then a lavish dinner with more dancing and drinking after that.

It’s a wonder marriages got consummated after such a day, but they did. She was a farm girl, and astounded to discover that the male human had parts quite similar to all the male animals for which she cared. That possibility had never occurred to her. She and her husband would laugh about that for years.

On June 10, 1957 she wore pink costume jewelry and put her black hair in a Liz Taylor style coiffure. She dressed her little daughters in pink frills too as the family celebrated the tenth anniversary of the big day. Then she and her husband had highballs, and went out for steaks. They were living the good life.

On June 10, 1972 they went to Hawaii to celebrate their 25th anniversary. When they returned they hosted a luau for all their friends, wearing shiny silver clothes and passing out leis make from real flowers. Most people thought that there had never been a party quite like it before in all of Western Kansas.

On June 10, 1987 they had a ruby-themed celebration of their 40th anniversary. Their daughters, partners and grand kids all dressed in bright red and the parish priest graciously allowed the crimson festivities to flow into an anniversary mass with family members performing special songs and readings. He did remark quietly that his church had never seen anything quite like it before.

On June 10, 1997 her children and grandchildren consoled her as best they could. A small birthday cake, and giving her the time and space to cry, seemed the best they could do. She kept a photo of him next to her cake.

On June 10, 2006 her family took her on a cruise for her eightieth birthday. She was recovering from pneumonia and could barely make the trip, but she tried to have fun. She would never fully regain her strength after that.

And today, on June 10, 2017, several people will raise a glass and drink to what began seventy years ago. Every day has its events, they always cause some ripples. Many of those last a century or more.

But only a few days have the power, seven decades later, to bring a smile to the lips of those weren’t even there, and who owe their very world to what happened on that day.

(For more segments about June days from long ago, see That’s the Way It Was June 15, 1984, June 18, 1972, June 28, 1888, and June 30, 1940.)

 

Wise words spoken

torch3For all the tales of hatred and abuse that one can find throughout human history, there are times when humans rise above. Sometimes, in those moments, they speak out and their words leave a bit of glowing light. Those embers now shimmer at us from the past. On a good day, a fellow human will look up and point to one of those faint beacons to remind us of it.

Two such sets of hopeful words crossed my trajectory this past week, and I’m thankful for it. One came from a fellow blogger who posted this speech delivered by Charlie Chaplin in a 1940 movie called The Great Dictator. Made before World War II began, it made fun of Hitler and Fascism and was intended to both amuse and support the cause of democracy. Once the real horrors of Nazi Germany became better known, much of the movie seemed a poor choice for satire. None-the-less, the speech at the end was moving then and its moving now. The modern photos and videos that have been spliced into this version give it an extra punch. Thanks to the fascinating blog Ha! Tea ‘n’ Danger for this post.

The other bit of shiny light has to do with the Gettysburg address, delivered by President Abraham Lincoln exactly 150 years ago today. It has been receiving a lot of press, of course, and part of the appeal of the speech is its eloquent humility in assuming that the words themselves will pass away and only the men who died will be remembered. We all know how that really worked out.

A recent video put together by filmmaker Ken Burns splices together famous people reciting the address, including all five living presidents, who are joined by politicians and popular media personalities that cover the political spectrum. One of the things that I did not like about about the Charlie Chaplin remix is that there was a sort of faint demonizing of all recent U.S. presidents, implying that each had lost his way. This second video hints to us that there is another side to each of them, whether we agree with their politics or not.

Tonight I say thank you for two shiny bits of light from the past that, when put together, leave me feeling that there is hope for the future.