Of NASCAR and Windmills

October 31, 2014

So, in the past 5 days I have been in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, back to West Virginia and home to Pennsylvania, only to leave the next morning for West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and finally Omaha, Nebraska. I am currently sitting in my daughter Alissa’s office at St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Omaha. Can I tell you a little bit of what I have seen and been up to?

In Virginia I went to see my first NASCAR race. Are there really that many rednecks on the planet? Seriously, when they talk about “loud” well… I had no idea. Imagine sitting one foot from the person beside you, yelling as loud as you can to them and have them hear NOTHING of what you have said. Did I mention… NOTHING?! Thankfully there are protective hearing devices that can be rented lest I would be reading lips for the rest of my life. Oh and in case anyone cares – and I’m told some people do – Dale Jr. won.

From Eastern Ohio to the western boundaries of Nebraska is rather, shall I say… FLAT. If you were to build a carpenter’s level that was 10 miles in length and place it anywhere in the area just mentioned (with the possible exception of a few bumps in the ground in western Iowa), well, let me just say that the “bubble would be in the center.” I drove across Iowa with little need to place my hands on the steering wheel.

Did you know that there are literally thousands if not tens of thousands of wind mills dotting the landscape in Illinois and Iowa? At one point Ellen and I drove for 10-15 miles with a steady stream of wind gulping giants filling the farm land beside us. I know that some think they are monstrosities that destroy the serenity and beauty of the countryside. Honestly, I sort of like them. They are plodding, slow moving and majestic. I was also told that they occupy land that had previous been less valuable to farmers because of its location on the top of “hills”… a somewhat inexact use of the term. One thing is sure, they don’t use irreplaceable, invaluable resources (for the most part).

So, here’s my question of the day. What do The Hollies (a British Rock band from the 1960’s and early 70’s), Mickey Rooney, and Omaha Nebraska have in common? Wait for it… wait for it… They all have Boys Town in common. Do you know of Boys Town? It is an orphanage or reform school (of sorts) in Omaha that was started in 1917 by a Catholic Priest named Father Flanagan. A movie by the same title was done in 1938 starring Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracey. It was a fictitious accounting of the early days of Boys Town. The motto for the orphanage: “He’s not heavy mister, he’s my brother.” In case you didn’t know it, a song by an altered title (He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother) was inspired by Boys Town and became a hit record for the Hollies in 1969… and for Neil Diamond in 1970.

It is almost exactly 1000 miles from my driveway to Alissa’s house… or two fairly long days in the car. She has been here for a year now. If I had known how hard it was going to be to have my children move away, I would have never had… uh… well… okay, maybe not. But it’s hard. When they first shoot out of the womb and are covered in gook and slime… well no one’s thoughts turn to what will come in 20+ years. But it does come. For those of you with little ones, seriously… treasure the time because it will pass all too quickly. I know… you just read that sentence and didn’t pay any attention! Please hear me… it will pass WAY TOO FAST! Do not take the time or the opportunities for granted.

Well, enough of that…

So, where is the “religious” stuff you ask? Where are the brilliantly inspired words that normally come from the keyboard of this author? Hey, I’m on vacation. Do I have to be “religious” all the time?!

Have a blessed week.


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