Monday, September 27, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
We haven't hit bottom yet.....
By BOB HERBERT
Published: September 24, 2010
Marcus Vogt is 20 years old and homeless. Or, as he puts it, “I’m going through a couch-surfing phase.”
Mr. Vogt is a Wal-Mart employee but he was injured in a car accident and was unable to work for a couple of months. With no income and no health insurance, he quickly found himself unable to pay the rent. Even meals were hard to come by.
(His situation is quite a statement about real life in the United States in the 21st century. On the same day that I spoke with Mr. Vogt, Forbes magazine came out with its list of the 400 most outrageously rich Americans.)
I met Mr. Vogt at Master’s Manna, a food pantry and soup kitchen here that also offers a variety of other services to individuals and families that have fallen on hard times. He told me that his cellphone service has been cut off and he has more than $3,000 in medical bills outstanding. But he was cheerful and happy to report that he’s back at work, although it will take at least a few more paychecks before he’ll have enough money to rent a room.
Other folks who make their way to Master’s Manna are not so upbeat. The Great Recession has long since ended, according to the data zealots in their windowless rooms. But it is still very real to the millions of men and women who wake up each morning to the grim reality of empty pockets and empty cupboards.
Wallingford is nobody’s definition of a depressed community. It’s a middle-class town on the Quinnipiac River. But the number of people seeking help at Master’s Manna is rising, not falling. And when I asked Cheryl Bedore, who runs the program, if she was seeing more clients from the middle class, she said: “Oh, absolutely. We have people who were donors in the past coming to our doors now in search of help.”
The political upheaval going on in the United States right now is being driven by the economic upheaval. It’s sometimes hard to see this clearly amid the craziness and ugliness stirred up by the professional exploiters. But the essential issue is still the economy — the rising tide of poor people and the decline of the middle class. The true extent of the pain has not been widely chronicled.
“The minute you open the doors, it’s like a wave of desperation that’s hitting you,” said Ms. Bedore. “People are depressed, despondent. They’re on the edge, especially those who have never had to ask for help before.”
In recent weeks, a few homeless people with cars have been showing up at Master’s Manna. Ms. Bedore has gotten permission from the local police department for them to park behind her building and sleep in their cars overnight. “We’ve been recognized as a safe haven,” she said.
In two of the cars, she said, were families with children.
It’s not just joblessness that’s driving people to the brink, although that’s a big factor. It’s underemployment, as well. “For many of our families,” said Ms. Bedore, “the 40-hour workweek is over, a thing of the past. They may still have a job, but they’re trying to survive on reduced hours — with no benefits. Some are on forced furloughs.
“Once you start losing the income and you’ve run through your savings, then your car is up for repossession, or you’re looking at foreclosure or eviction. We’re a food pantry, but hunger is only the tip of the iceberg. Life becomes a constant juggling act when the money starts running out. Are you going to pay for your medication? Or are you going to put gas in the car so you can go to work?
“Kids are going back to school now, so they need clothes and school supplies. Where is the money for that to come from? The people we’re seeing never expected things to turn out like this — not at this stage of their lives. Not in the United States. The middle class is quickly slipping into a lower class.”
Similar stories — and worse — are unfolding throughout the country. There are more people in poverty now — 43.6 million — than at any time since the government began keeping accurate records. Nearly 15 million Americans are out of work and home foreclosures are expected to surpass one million this year. The Times had a chilling front-page article this week about the increasing fear among jobless workers over 50 that they will never be employed again.
The politicians seem unable to grasp the immensity of the problem, which is why the policy solutions are so woefully inadequate. During my conversations with Ms. Bedore, she dismissed the very thought that the recession might be over. “Whoever said that was sadly mistaken,” she said. “We haven’t even bottomed-out yet.”
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Waukesha water was considered laden with health properties. Even the city seal to this day shows a figure dipping a gourdful of spring water.
There was even a beer brewed here called a 'health' beer. But now, there is a water war going on among city officials and others over whether to pipe Lake Michigan water to serve the formerly blessed community, in order to meet current radium safety levels. And Lake Michigan is not the same as the clear, bubbling water that used to flow so freely from mysterious but-taken-for-granted springs, all over town......we carried wagon loads of it home from a nearby spring in Silurian Park, where it ran continuously, 24 hours a day, and was free of charge...... and radium.
So many changes and expirations have been witnessed by the SRN, born in 1936.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
"Last fall, Forbes magazine was all atwitter as Tiger Woods closed in on becoming 'the first athlete to earn over $1 billion' in the course of his career. Presumably his fortunes will now start to droop, but Forbes missed the mark-taking the long view, Tiger was never all that well paid to begin with when compared with the charioteers of ancient Rome.
[DELANCEYPLACE Editor's note: Comparisons of monetary value over significant spans of time are notoriously difficult, and other methodologies would yield different results than that shown above.]
Monday, September 20, 2010
Ruth is named after the SRN editor's mother, Ruth, left. The name, of course, is biblical, as is Isaiah. It reminds me that I wanted to name my second son with the middle name of Zark, first name, Noah. Fortunately, probably, the mother, Dee, would not agree to that.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
The masonry for this complex was laid in 1882. Ancient fossil-laden limestone, seemingly randomly set, but obviously sturdy, is destined to stand another 100 years or more.
An interesting truth is that this grandiloquent outside entrance was formerly a mere service alley. Enterprising kinged renovators captured the building on the checkerboard of commerce, and revamped The Putney thoroughly. The News resides on the top floor in a former Odd Fellows Hall. A bright skylight above our desk admits the blinding illumination requisite for our sometimes in need of greater light thoughts. So too do the other rooftop domes here in our unmarked and - from the outside - inauspicious unit.
After fame that became unbearable in later years, we purposefully sought anonymity, and we have found it here.
The only addition we've added to the sedate and stony facade is Brian the Russian doorman. He is not allowed to tell anyone that we live (and work) here. For that he is tipped generously. And he spends a lot of time off.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
The woodcutter changes his mind
by David Budbill
When I was young, I cut the bigger, older trees for firewood, the ones
"The Woodcutter Changes His Mind" by David Budbill, from While We've Still Got Feet: New Poems. © Copper Canyon Press, 2005
Monday, September 13, 2010
Now, the late.
He would insist on riding around on his mistress's back
and as she was nothing if not an accomodating mother
she logged so many hours traversing the house
that she developed a serious crick.
So much did she love the often surly beast
as we all did.
Well, no, not Leland.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Be prepared to use your enlargment percentages and full screen adjustments to view it to the max. The birthday boy - 23 on Sept 9 - obviously waxes happy, which was my first observation as I listened to his mother watching the posting immediately on her arising. Over the loft ledge I called, "He sounds like he's happy!" If you want to send him a greeting, he's at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, September 6, 2010
A great start for a holiday when we had no plans for outside activities anyway. I sat in my recliner and watched a show better than any July 4th man-made skyrocketage. It seemed to go on forever. The sky churned from grays to light streaks and back to gray, Zeus's bolts ramming downward steadily. Distant thunder-clap time said it was far away, maybe over Hubertus.
Then when the rain began at our latitude it bfiefly contained hail, which gave us our first chance to hear the clattering sounds on our skylights. Much, much noise, and the hailstones were small. Imagine what is in store for us as the season advances!
The lights from Dave's Restaurant across the street reflected on the wet pavement. The hail brought down some small leafy twigs from the trees that were planted for pleasure in dolled-up historic downtown Waukesha.
Thanks to the forces that are.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Word reaches us that Terry's last child has been sent off to college, and now she's rattling around like a marble in a 5 lb coffee can. Our Emails to her lately have begun with the greeting Dear Your Obsolescence.
Yet there is still a useful function for you regarding absent Joe.
Thus Dee fulfills a vestigial act for her son.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Note Erin's listing in the credits above. This was a 'for pay' task, her first work as a graduate library science archivist. Her words in an accompanying Email:
I finally got the slideshow uploaded and published today, in case you are interested in seeing it. This was an extremely technical and complicated process (not the production of the slideshow as much as the process of getting it online), so I am quite proud of myself :)The higher-quality version with captions is here: http://archives.library.wisc.edu/oral-history/sterlinghallwebpage.html There is also a version, sans captions, on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSrrUO6uywk
Erin takes first leap off the high diving board
Buchner Park pool, Waukesha WI
ONWARD, UPWARD, EXCELSIOR
Friday, September 3, 2010
During the broadcast a man from Bayfield WI called in to tell of the award-winning Edge House near him, which caused us to look up this little dwelling.
we tinkered with burying St. Joseph statues in the yards of houses we were trying to sell. At first we thought it was superstition. Then it started to work. We would bury a statue after a period of no sales and shortly thereafter we would get an offer.
Successful closings followed. It made a believer out of us. The gift store at Holy Hill began to recognize us as a serious collector of St Joseph statues.
We figured if a single statue of St. Joseph would work, maybe a whole nativity set would provide ever more selling power.
But sometimes folly can lead to excess.
We began to feel funny about what we were doing. Eventually we were hospitalized. Then we lost our own house.
Be careful what you pray for.
Sign on utility pole at St Paul's church, Hubertus WI
not far from the Holy Hill gift store.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
The hay rake
One evening I stopped by the field
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
taken from Waukesha Freeman newspaper 10-1-10
Waukesha Police Department