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October 2013 | SUN LAKES SPLASH | WRITERS’ PAGE Gardens

Gail Thatcher I once started a garden. It had many

blooms and color galore. The blooms were several sizes, shaped and heights and often unique appearances. They fl ourished and grew like weeds and gave me countless hours of enjoyment. The neighbors and friends constantly complimented me on my fi ne products. I found it frustrating, when I was

preoccupied with the day to day things in my life and started to neglect that plot of potential

Old Cars

Ken Johnson The war ended along with gasoline

rationing, the 35 mile an hour speed limit, and the scarcity of new tires. We young veterans came home to lost years feeling the desire to catch up. Emotional choices especially confronted us single veterans as we toyed with purchasing a classy car and huge payments or college with the GI Bill and no mobility. In the case of one of my brothers and

myself, we made the decision a couple years earlier. The future won. But as the 1950s approached we realized an unsophisticated third choice existed; to buy an old junker and rebuild it. Hence an old four door “knee action” Chevy entered our lives late one summer. My brother purchased it and enlisted my help. The “knee action” Chevy, was produced

for one year only in 1935 or 1936. The “knee action” mechanism connected each front wheel to the frame or to a short axel which connected to the frame. The bulky mechanism’s purpose was to improve the ride and handling and act as a shock absorber. (This is, as I remember. The description may not be completely accurate). Regardless, after a few months the front

wheels would “toe in” at the top and “toe out” at the bottom. Steering required much effort and a quick stop balanced a couple times. Still, a Chevrolet did have hydraulic

brakes and could come to a quick stop. Considering demand, one year’s

production glutted the market for this model. But during the war years the lack of new car production kept the “knee action” Chevy in use. The end of the war and new car production easily “did it

in.” So the

purchase price of this 14 year old model, in 1950, didn’t come close to depleting my brother’s summer earnings. In most cases, the “knee action model either ended its useful life stored in somebody’s backyard or old garage or sold to a salvage yard. My brother parked it

in an old barn

where we disassembled the engine. In our spare time, we installed new piston rings, reseated the valves, and rebuilt, installed, and fi xed all of the engine’s needs. But the engine now refused to start. Our solution; pull it out on the road, place the shift lever in second gear, and hold the clutch in until the towing car reached a moderate speed. This brought no response for the fi rst few minutes. And then a loud blast equaling a stick of dynamite tore the muffl er apart. We had reset the timing wrong and

consequently the gasoline vapors intended for the cylinders were exhausted into the muffl er. A miss timed spark exploded them. But a new muffl er and correct timing remedied this. The motor now purred effi ciently. The Sidney rodeo, a major summer event in southwest Iowa, opened in a


Joe Schwab Many words and places come to

mine when using the word magnifi cent. Though some may disagree we live in a magnifi cent world, in a magnifi cent time, surrounded by magnifi cent things created by someone far beyond our magnifi cent brain to comprehend, defi ned, analyzed and explored by people with magnifi cent talents. Imagine if you can the primitive

awakening when fi re was discovered. Prior to that, people were dependent on weather, shelter, clothing and foods that were edible only in their natural state. Fire changed all that and enabled magnifi cent changes to occur over many thousands of years. Heat for bodily comfort, ability to work metals, cook food, communicate, and move into areas heretofore uninhabitable. In many areas fuel was inexhaustible. Not only did the people discover basic fi re techniques, they discovered coal, oil, fats from the animals they killed and the uses expanded rapidly as did the minds of the primitive people. Imagine those who were gifted with the power of analytical thinking gazing to the fl ames of a warming bonfi re, suddenly inspired with a new idea, a new process that would make living easier and more effi cient. Those must

have been magnifi cent times. But more was to come. The Stone

Age, the metal age, the age of civilizations that advanced far beyond the stars, then suddenly

disappeared from the earth,

leaving behind traces and developments that modern science still struggles to explain. Was

it possible that these

civilizations were overwhelmed by their own magnifi cent developments? Was there an advanced segment of their society they relied upon to survive that simply inbred itself into oblivion? Or were they overrun by other societies that relied upon magnifi cent strength and power rather than advanced thinking? We are surrounded by magnifi cence

in every sense of the word. Our natural world, animals, fl owers, trees, scenery and the ability to view them at our leisure. The Grand Canyon, for instance, once a faraway place, can be driven in a day and viewed from every possible angle, even on the Imax format. Giving people, unable to experience the real canyon a magnifi cent view.

for our dining pleasure, magnifi cent technology

Magnifi cent meals can be laid out operates

motor vehicles.

Beyond the ordinary things that fi t the defi nition of magnifi cent. Homes, offi ce buildings, places of entertainment and feats of performers all made possible by the advancement and inventiveness of the magnifi cent human brain.

Man can take in what is laid out in front

of him or imagined in his mind. It is said the brain capacity is 10 times the amount actually used. Thousands of years in the future, provided man does not develop the capacity to destroy everything that is magnifi cent, mankind will experience things we cannot even fathom. When the computer was fi rst developed, Univac was considered the most advanced, magnifi cent piece of electronic machinery ever. Electrical engineers envisioned home

computers that fi lled entire rooms would be in every household. Some 25 years later they were in most briefcases and operated at speeds unimaginable those short 25 years ago. It is a common belief that the last 150

years has been the most magnifi cent time in human history. For those who have lived during that time it certainly appears to be true. We all hope the best is yet to come for our children, grandchildren and their lives and fortunes. Appreciation of the world, opportunities and development that has come about will hopefully inspire the next generations to seek answers, grab solutions and work toward an even more magnifi cent world to be handed to their progeny. The human brain cannot be replaced, its

capacity is endless. Computers are limited by the information that

is fed into them. Only the brain can imagine magnifi cent! 

few days. It included some of the meanest Brahma Bulls, the buckenest horses, the bravest rodeo clowns, and of course, some of the best rodeo circuit riders. It ranked among the nation’s major rodeos. My brother and I now had the means to attend the rodeo and we asked our girlfriends to accompany us. My steady girlfriend and I usually walked

some place on our dates. Sometimes there was little to walk to. Once in a great while we hitched a ride with friends. This evening, we picked up our girlfriends

early, if not in the best of cars at least in the best tradition. We headed for Sidney, about a 40 mile drive. The old Chevy drove along seemingly without effort. Joking and spirited conversation dominated our exchange. It seemed only a short time until we were in Sidney, a town of 1300. We were less than a quarter mile from the rodeo entrance when suddenly my girlfriend started screaming. My brother stopped the car. My girlfriend jumped out and started frantically slapping her dress covered legs. A mouse had ran up a leg. The episode lasted only seconds but what a turn of events. Even so, she took it good naturedly and we enjoyed the rodeo and the carnival afterward. But after the rodeo trip she always had

other things to do rather than accept a date with me. I didn’t blame her The old knee action Chevy – to be

continued. 

brilliance. It was unsettling to see them start to shrivel and begin to lose their glow. I would become sickened at the thought of losing my little jewels. Often it seemed like an endless battle to keep the weeds out, but well worth the effort. When outside forces threatened my treasures, it took every ounce of strength I had to defend what was mine, but I never gave up. Even when I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was the right thing, I kept persevering with every ounce of strength I had. If I had a dime for each minute I spent tending my

garden, I would be a millionaire. Despite that, I often felt guilty for not spending more time nurturing my gems that were beginning to take on a new luster. Over the years my little charms, that had

grown to be precious ornaments, scattered and produced little gems of their own. That made my garden even more prolifi c. It had become a treasure trove of beauty, beyond my wildest dreams. And the best part is it just keeps growing to an unbelievable magnifi cence that is just beginning. 


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