This past Sunday was big doings for our twin grandsons as they were officially baptised.
Both sets of grandparents and all four of the godparents were there for the big event. Don even wore a tie!
The kids wore baptismal gowns that have been handed down through Jeremy's family, including one that Jeremy wore at his baptism.
Below is a small gallery of photos from the big event. Remember to click on one of the photos to see all of them full size.
The Zephyr was a totally new concept in rail travel - the result of three companies all looking to do something different and special at the same time. The Burlington Railroad wanted a special passenger train to rejuvenate business. General Motors was perfecting a diesel locomotive engine to replace steam. And the Budd Company was looking to do things with stainless-steel as well as expand past building auto bodies. They came together, and the result was a marvelous machine.
In April of 1934 the Zephyr was introduced - an all stainless-steel train with a GM diesel engine. A month later it set a speed record for travel between Denver and Chicago when it made a 1,015-mile non-stop run in 13 hours 5 minutes for an average speed of 77 mph. There was one section of the run where the train reached a speed of 112.5 mph.
To look at a Zephyr and then reflect that it was designed and built 80 years ago, gives you a great appreciation of the elegance of it. Of course being diesel it was completely different looking from everything else. Many railroads started putting sheetmetal bodywork over their passenger steam engines to try and look as good. I really believe they are the most beautiful trains ever built. I think Dad did too.
We finish our trip back to the pre-Interstate era with a special jingle. According to the Burma-Shave historians (yes, there are such people), this final sample of the famous roadside signs was created but never published.
Burma-Shave began their roadside jingles in 1926 and stopped them in 1963. We began our short series of this trip down memory lane on June 15 and finishing it 12 weeks later.
For all of you who remember these roadside icons, I hope you have enjoyed this peek back to when you were a bit younger.
It seems as though I never have a chance to take any photos of our new grandchildren as I am always holding a kid and a bottle or just a kid wanting a bottle. Sometimes I'm changing a diaper or roughhousing on the activity mat with one boy or the other. But mostly, I am holding a kid and a bottle. When I am not feeding one of the kiddos it is because I am at the campground on hosting duty.
Linda, on the other hand is doing all this - and more! She is helping just about every week day - she doesn't cop out with the "hosting" ploy. But along with baby duties, Linda is also the washerwoman, constantly up and down the basement stairs with laundry.
Anyway, we do want to share with you how great the twins are doing. Keep in mind that they were each less than 4 pounds when born. Now they are a strapping 12 pounds and growing! I know they must growing because I keep giving them bottles.
Enough of my excuses. I am just unreliable. But Jeremy can be counted on to "get 'er done." He has come to the rescue with a great photo set of each boy. I hope you enjoy these precious pictures. Remember to click on a photo to see the pictures in the set at full size.
You've heard of Paul Blart: Mall Cop?
Now there is Don Simmons: Campground Host.
With April's twins due at the end of June, Linda made plans to stay the summer nearby to their home in the St. Louis suburbs so she could be on call if needed. Of course she would be needed - twins require a minimum of four hands (and sometimes more).
She found a commercial campground for us to put the RV that was only about 12 miles away from the house. Meanwhile I started thinking that perhaps a state park would be nicer. It would be quieter with more shade and more privacy between the sites. The problem is that most public campgrounds have a two week limit on your stay.
Aha! I think I'll apply to become a campground host (there is just no off-switch on genius).
My application to host was a real shot in the dark. There are about 80 parks in Missouri and only two of them were close enough to April for us. Add in our very specific time frame and the probability of success was low. But then came a telephone call, and I was a campground host.
What Is a Campground Host?
A host is the on-site face of the campground with some light duties around the campground. In return a host receives a campsite for the length of their hosting term. In other words, no two week limit! In most state and national campgrounds the campsite is also upgraded - in Missouri this means 50 amp electrical service (necessary with 2 air-conditioning units), water, and on-site sewer.
There are two hosts in our small park, so we share the time. Half the time I check in campers, empty trash cans in the park, check the toilet paper, and police the campsites after the campers have left. When the other host is on duty, my time is free - not really as Linda has me helping with the twins on those days.
So here I am, goodwill ambassador for a small Missouri State Park, having a ball, and seeing my new grandsons often. Life is good.
As most of you know, we finally (it only took 50 years) became grandparents on May 3rd when April gave birth to twin boys, Jackson and Thomas. The boys were anxious to join the party and arrived about 2 months early. As a result, they spent 59 days in the hospital NICU before coming home at the end of June.
I haven't posted anything on the website as Jeremy created a blog that has been beautifully telling their story. You can see his blog here, and I encourage you to read it.
Now it is my turn. At the request or behest or, rather, the command of my sister, I am finally publishing some photos of these two fine boys. They are doing wonderfully well - from less than 4 pounds each at birth to over 9 pounds now. They are strong, healthy, and alert and ready to give their parents all they can handle.
Enjoy the Gallery
n.b. This is not the type of post you are accustomed to reading on Travels With Linda, but it is something I could not let go by, and I would appreciate it if you would read it through. - Don
The title of this post is a classic quote by Pogo the Possum. Pogo was the main character in a popular comic strip that ran from the 1950s through the mid-1970s. The strip - much like Doonesbury today - focused on social and political commentary and satire.
For the past six months or so we have heard a lot of ugly rhetoric in our country. Words I had hoped we were long finished hearing. This has created a distrust and intoleration that is casting a pall over our country. The past week was a very sad and bloody one for us, and yet the rhetoric continues.
Pogo's comment is no longer social satire, but social reality. The enemy is, indeed, us.
I was a teacher. I had the privilege of having kids of all backgrounds, cultures, and races in my classroom.
I have taught kids with surnames 2 letters long, some with names 20 letters long, and some with apostrophes in their names; boys with turbans and girls with hijabs; skin colors of all hues; those who are first generation Americans and those who are themselves immigrants. I have taught kids with more differences than you can imagine.
And I have learned from all of them. I have learned many things. But primarily what I have learned is that all these different kids from all these different cultures and ethnicities are really all the same. Despite all of their differences, they are all just young adults trying to learn; trying to cope with adolescence; trying to manage (or as they think of it - survive) their parents; trying to imagine their futures.
In other words there is no we or they, there is only us. Why be our own enemy?
All that has happened recently brought to mind a song - an important song, I think - from the famous musical, South Pacific, which opened on Broadway 67 years ago in 1949. I copied the lyrics below because I think they bear repeating - especially in today's climate.
All I can think is that here we are 67 years later, and we have yet to learn the lesson of this song.
You've Got to be Carefully Taught
You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!
from South Pacific by
Rogers & Hammerstein
This post is a celebration. Plain and simple. Our celebration.
We are celebrating that we - Linda, my partner, my buddy, my pal, my boon companion and I - have now been together for fifty years!
There will be no big party, no champagne, no fancy dinner - that's just not us. In fact, we plan to spend the day with April and Jeremy enjoying our new grandsons - celebrating new life. Later on we'll probably be back in the RV watching the TV.
But please don't let us stop you from raising a glass to us. You will enjoy the quaff, and we will feel your good thoughts.
How Did This All Happen?
In 1963 I met this absolutely beautiful young woman while at Ursinus College. For some strange reason she agreed to go out with me once, twice, three times! And then forever. Unbelievable!
I have no idea how this all managed to happen, but it did. Then I asked her to marry me, and she said, "Yes." Even more unbelievable.
My Own Roadside Nostalgia
In keeping with the website's Roadside Nostalgia theme for the summer, I thought I would write a few verses in the style of the old Burma-Shave jingles about my 50 years with Linda. Here are few pieces of verse that could have appeared along the roadside on Burma-Shave signs.
An Ode to Our Time Together
Please indulge me this. I have written a bit of verse for Linda. And even though she is a somewhat private person, this is where I choose to share it. It is very possible this doggerel will keep us from reaching Year 51.
OUR ROAD, OUR PARTY
Remember when we got married?
The big plans we had.
We thought life’s road,
Would be smooth and straight,
Without any bumps or twists or turns.
Who knew about the detours?
We thought life would be a party,
(Or at least a picnic with no ants).
Who knew about the baloney sandwiches?
Over the past many years,
We have had many ideas and thoughts.
Who knew we could sometimes be so wrong?
We have had our tough times - but never bad times
We could always make a baloney sandwich into a party,
And any old back road into a highway.
And we made it kid - fifty years!
But we knew all along that we could do it.
We are winding down now,
There is no doubt of that.
But we’re not done yet,
There is plenty more for us to do.
And remember this, my love,
Our road will go on forever,
And our party will never end.
Still travelin' the road...
According my internet research, the jingles started in 1926 and the signs were removed in 1963 when the company was sold to Philip Morris. Burma-Shave and its signs were victims of the times - electric razors and interstate highways.
Anyway, our road trip this summer will be spent mainly in one place as we get a chance to be grandmom and grandpop with our daughter's new twins. So, since travel photos will be less than frequent, I thought it might be fun to take a quick trip back in time and resurrect the grand old Burma-Shave jingles. I'll post a new one each week along with the weekly photo.
There will still be occasional posts, but there will definitely be a weekly photo and a new Burma-Shave verse every Monday. We'll start with the one you see at the right. This first one comes direct from my memory as it was along Highway 213 in Maryland, a few miles below Chesapeake City. We would see it every time we drove down to our summer cottage.
So close your eyes and pretend. It's the 1950s, and everyone is squeezed in the family Buick for the annual road trip. It's July and it's hot, all the windows are down, and the highhway is busy. Suddenly the familiar red signs pop up along the side of the road. Dad reads each one out loud, one-after-the-other, and the whole family gets a good chuckle just when one is needed. You could always depend on Burma-Shave. That's the way it was. Enjoy the trip!
These signs cost
So roost a while
But don't get funny
You and I have memories
Longer than the road that stretches out ahead
McCartney & Lennon
one state at a time
"On the road again,
Goin' places that we've never been,
Seein' things that we may never see again,
And we can't wait to get on the road again."
Written & Performed by