Category Archives: Food

Perfect Pitch – A blessing and a curse – Part 2

Carl’s hopes for a music career and playing his violin were altered June 23, 1998, when his Camry was struck by a delivery truck early one morning as he delivered newspapers–his summer job between semesters at Hillsdale College.  cbk

He describes his recovery.

“Broken bones?” I asked.

Unknown-1   “Many, many, many. If you want me to go from top to bottom,” he pointed to his head: “Traumatic brain injury. My skull was never fractured, so that was a mercy of God right there. What they said, the right side of my brain twisted on the stem and rubbed up against the right side of my skull. That is what put me in a coma. Major gash on the left side of my skull. The scalp was open, so I had stitches there. Going down, my left collar bone was broken.”

I couldn’t resist, “You had your seat belt on, right?” Hey, I’m a mom.  Unknown-2

“That’s what saved my life. I wore my seat belt and the air bag deployed. Both my arms and both my legs were fine, but everything else in my torso was messed up, except for my back. All my ribs were broken, resulting in both lungs being punctured. My pelvis, that’s the big bone, got broken in five places. While I was in a coma, they weren’t able to move my legs until my pelvis healed. Calcium deposits started forming under my kneecaps, completely shifting my kneecaps out of their normal spot. When I emerged from the coma, I didn’t have knees. I had lumps and wasn’t able to walk.”

After more than five months of rehab, Carl was able to go home.

“I came home the day before Thanksgiving. I was so thankful to God that I was alive, so thankful to be coming home, though my emotions were a little dampened. I just didn’t seem…my emotions were pretty numbed.  Unknown-3

“I did start trying to play the violin. I wanted to play for carol sing, like I had done in the past. I tried. I really did. It was frustrating. My left hand doesn’t work. I did play, but I wasn’t at the level I wanted.”

Carl put his violin down after that.

Unknown-5 “It’s neurological damage. Something is messed up between my brain and my hand.”

“What do you think about that,” I asked.

“All right, God. What do you want me to do now?”

He had wanted to be a music teacher.

“And, now I can’t do anything musical, really. I think God was saying, ‘Trust Me, I will lead you.’ It ended up being an experience, gradually learning to trust God. There is still hope that I could play the violin, That has never left.”

Carl took community college classes that fall, then returned to Hillsdale. “I was thrilled to be back, but things weren’t as I remembered.

I wasn’t quite so…I’m a lot sadder, more sedate than I was used to being.”  Unknown-4

He struggled to explain the (neurological) loss of emotion. He did graduate from Hillsdale, a degree in music pedagogy.”

“Music pedagogy was kind of a major they made for me. I have head knowledge, but I can’t do the physical expression.”

Our lunch at Appleby’s had had several distractions. Just then Carl saw a young woman he knew. They bantered about winter break and school being superior to employment.

“Reality,” I said.

“Reality sucks,” he responded.

“Stay in school as long as you can.”

He was sheepish, realizing this was a more candid, present, than the narrative we had been focusing on.

By 2004 Carl was weighing his options.

“Is music still a hope?” I asked.   Unknown

“A very distant hope,” he said. “If I were able to play again, I think I would get back the emotion.”

“The music itself could bring it back?”  Unknown-7

“I think so.”

He’s currently (2005) studying counseling at a seminary in St. Louis.

“What’s happening inside Carl,” I asked.

“I’m really not sure. To a certain extent, I feel a little loss of direction.”

“Do you see purpose in all of this?”

“I know there is. I don’t know. I know there is one. I’ve never had a normal life, even pre-DAO (Divinely Appointed Occurrence). That’s what I call my wreck. God does not cause sin, but he has a purpose through it, and that is a mystery which, this side of heaven, we will never be able to fathom.”

“Are you OK with that?”

“I am more than OK with that.” He paused.

Unknown-8    “I should be honest. There are other things that come into play.” He described social struggles.

He’s 25. It’s a difficult young adulthood.

“What you want back is your passion for life?”

“Yes.” “I think we’re still talking about perfect pitch,” I said.

“Emotional perfect pitch., knowing what you’re missing. It hurts.”

He reflected. I had hit a chord. His friends were IM-ing him again.  images

“Do you mind if I check my phone?” he asked.

Burning bushes, burning faith – Part 2

Unknown-2In 1995, Jane Logsdon and her husband Bean felt called to become missionaries in Israel. Jane’s initial resistance, and statement that it would take a burning bush to get her there, evolved into quite an experience.   Jerusalem-old-streets-Desktop-Wallpaper

I asked her to recap.

“You didn’t hear God say anything, right?”

“It wasn’t that God spoke to both of us thing. I did, for two seconds, think of leaving him. I mean just two seconds. It started on one side of my brain, and that’s how long it took to go from one side to the other,” she laughed, blue eyes sparkling.

“Then I thought, I’m not raising three kids by myself.”

“That’s how much you didn’t want to go to Israel.”

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Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon, Ill.

“Marjorie, my mom and dad had just moved to Dixon. Grandma and Grandpa in the same town with us! Our friends were there. I had no inclination to go to a foreign mission field. People prepare for that for years.”

Friends suggested they go to Israel to seek answers.

“We bought airfare, told the kids we were going on a summer vacation. Prime Minister Levine was assassinated November of that year. There were bombings.”

The Logsdons arrived August 5.

“You were looking for your burning bush.”   0511-1010-0813-1341_Moses_in_the_Desert_with_the_Burning_Bush_clipart_image-1.jpg

“I was looking under every rock. The Lord wasn’t speaking. I was thinking, maybe it is an Abraham and Isaac thing. Once I give up my will Or maybe when the kids are grown up. Maybe this is a preview.

Unknown    Israel is the sixth most expensive country in the world. Milk is $6 a gallon. Gas is more than $5 a gallon.”

They toured for two weeks.

oldcity3

“We stayed inside the Old City walls. We hired, oh, rented a car. Day trips, mostly around the Dead Sea. Sunday, we went to Church of All Nations, outside of the Garden of Gethsemane, the rock where Jesus knelt and prayed. Where He said, ‘Take this cup from me, and not my will but yours, Lord.’ Finally I knelt at that rock, sobbing. I gave my will over to the Lord. It was so hard. I was 40 years old. I knew I was holding out from the Lord.   Unknown-1

That night, I remember this as if it were yesterday, we had a plan to get some falafels and bring them to the secret garden grassy area in the guesthouse. The church was on the compound. I said, ‘Why don’t we go to church?’

Bean said, ‘Okay.’.

“We looked at the bookstore, and Bean walked up to somebody–the principal of the school connected to the church. Bean had read about the Anglican school and had seen a picture of the principal. He had inquired about David Jeffrey when we had arrived on August 5. David was on vacation.

“He walks up to this guy, with throngs of people, and gives him the story of our calling. David must have thought we were two of thousands of Jerusalem-syndrome nuts. There are a lot of crazy people who go over and say they are John the Baptist, or whatever. It’s (actually got a name) called Jerusalem Syndrome.   jerusalem-syndrome-tours

”David listened to Bean politely, as the British do, and then asked Bean, ‘What do you teach?’

“Then David looked incredulous and walked over to me. After introductions, I said, ‘I am the director and head teacher of a pre-school. They’re waiting for me to get back home.”

David and the Logsdons headed for the church service.

‘Let’s talk after church,’ he said.

The pastor asked David to make an announcement. “David looked right at me and asked for prayer for a family on vacation in England. They had had a bad car accident on August 5.

David said, ‘You know these are two of our teachers. We’re kind of in a crisis. Nigel was our science teacher. Alison was our 3-year old pre-school teacher.’”   Unknown

Jane’s story was spellbinding.

“It’s like when you get a shock. Your insides do a melt,”she recalled.

“We had to go through the whole rest of the church service. That was my burning bush. Bean said I turned to him and had tears running down my cheeks. I don’t remember.”

Within ten minutes, they had housing, schooling for three kids, and jobs.

“The way the Lord prepared for us–it was amazing. We were going to a country we knew nothing about. It’s walking on faith. We were so much in the center of God’s will that we could have walked through fire.”   Unknown-2

Unknown-1They returned home and flew back to Israel eight days later. (I was talking to Jane on one of their furloughs back in Illinois.)

“We know the Lord told us we should come back (once in a while), but not to stay.

“Do you miss (Israel)?” I asked.

“I’m grieving it. Every year has a chapter.”

“Does it take the same call to come back?”

“Missionary work. Your whole mentality changes. It’s how you live your life–relationship building. I’d like to go back. Those are precious relationships.”

Burning bushes, burning faith – Part 1

thWriting about Jane Logsdon is emotional. It’s difficult to find focus because there is so much to tell.

We were dining at Roma’s Pizza in Roscoe, Ill., turning this take out place into a dine-in one. I ordered baked tortellini; Jane tried the stuffed shells with cheese and spinach.

Our friendship over five years had been mostly emailing, so I hadn’t really learned about her background.

th-3   “I’m from a southwest suburb of Chicago,” she began. Her family moved to Dixon, Ill. when Jane was an adult.

“Did you go to college to be a teacher?” I asked, knowing she is a pre-school teacher.

“No, no. Didn’t want anything to do with kids. Now I love it,” she smiles, her blue eyes intense, her smile captivating.

What she studied was French and art.    th-2

“I wanted to be a designer, but didn’t get a job doing that right out of college.” It is easy to imagine this vivacious, trim blonde being in the art world. But she went in another direction.tour-buses-parked-rustic-location-e1366139506980

“I became a tour escort for Senior Citizen Bus Tours, and traveled. You have your fall foliage up the East Coast, Florida in February, New Orleans in February and March,th-1 Door County fish boils in season. You narrate, take care of the seniors, make sure their needs are met, and tell jokes. You probably can’t picture yourself standing up for an hour and telling jokes,” she said.

“Actually I can,” I defended. “I’ve been to Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise.”

Roma’s owner served us our baked pastas.

“Parmesan? he asked, maitre’d style in this humble take-out place. He was creating ambiance for us. And the food was great, even using plastic utensils.

Jane continued, “You cover a lot of miles on a bus. Picture me, and the bus driver, the only ones under 30, uh, under 60. They were good people. They appreciated it. To sit and cover miles with them talking about their life stories…senior citizens have a lot of wisdom and experience. They’re just wonderful, they really are.”

“That’s great,” I said.

“I didn’t know when I should quit. What did it was a New Orleans trip. Feburary, coming up by Champaign, Ill. on Route 55, our bus hit three semis. I remember talking to the lady that did die, she lying in the aisle. The bus hit ice, swerved and swung.”

I listened, rapt

“The thing that saved me, the bars in the front seat.”

“Did you see it?” I asked.

“I don’t remember, the impact was so…I mean you slide then, bam, bam, bam, you’re just hanging on. It happened in a second.”

“I’m always surprised buses don’t have seat belts,” I mused. (They do now.)

th-2“The bus was totaled. What I remember is I always took my shoes off traveling on the bus. It was a long travel day.

“So…I said, I gotta get my shoes out. All of the sudden, these big arms just picked me up and carried me. It was a truck driver. I was in shock. I had walked through the bus, and talked to the lady who was in the aisle, dripping in blood…then I got off because I knew I couldn’t help anybody in the ice storm without my proper shoes. But, this guy just sat me in the cab of his own truck.”   th-3

Jane did one more trip, and then married Bean, in June, 1978.

“Bean (his nickname for Larry) and I went right into campus life, Youth for Christ.”

They did that for 18 years until 1995, when their lives dramatically changed.

“The underlying factor is that God is good,” she said, “under all of the journeys He takes us on, which can be a lot of stress and emotional trauma.I was comfortable doing professional ministry. I had my Bible studies, helped with fund-raisers. Bean had been restless for about two years. He knew God was leading him to something else, but God hadn’t made it clear yet.

“Then Bean heard God’s still small voice, booming: Take your family and move to Israel.”Jerusalem-old-streets-Desktop-Wallpaper

Bean waited two weeks to tell Jane, to see if this thought would re-occur in his mind.

“Marjorie, I directed my own pre-school. I had been a stay-at-home mom for eight years. The pre-school was my baby. I didn’t want to go to Israel, I thought. I didn’t think it would help me to see a rock that Jesus walked on. I even asked Bean, ‘Do they have highways and grocery stores?’ My image of Israel, I’m so non-political. I didn’t watch international news. It was Sunday school picture.”

After two weeks, Bean did tell Jane.

“I was looking up at the bottom of the barrel. My whole world was crashed. I told Bean it would take a burning bush to get me there. That’s where the real testimony comes into power,” she said.

Note: This story originally appeared in Lunch with Marjorie, in The Rock River Times, in the late 1990s.

Beanie Babies, Coins and Memories – Part 2

Young Don’s dreamed of building his father’s local grocery store into a business empire. But in his first semester of college, his father sold the store.  Unknown-5

 

Unknown    Don moved to his next best dream: “Every little boy wants to be a fire or policeman,” Don said, as we lunched on baked mostaccioli from Anna Maria’s.

“My dad spent three hours trying to talk me out of it, but i wasn’t finding a job, so he told me they were hiring down at the police department.

I was the only guy out of 800 to pass the test the first time, and the first to go into the Rockford Police Department at 21.”

Don was quickly promoted from patrol to traffic, then to detective in that division.  images

“Anybody died, suicide, medical, we handled that in the white car,” he said.

“High stress? Police have a high divorce rate,” I commented.

“There’s a problem with some officers. These gals wait on you in the store–flirt like crazy. No thanks!” he emphatically stated about his own response to these flirtations.  Unknown-1

“It’s about who you are,” I said.

“That’s right.”

“How tall are you?” I asked.

“I’m 5-foot-9,” he said.

“The minimum to be a policeman.”

“Are you telling your age?” I teased.

“No.”

Unknown-2   “You didn’t have your goatee in the force,” I said.

“They don’t allow that.” Don said.

“I couldn’t wait…it (the goatee) just had to be there. Couldn’t have it for 30 years…now…nobody can tell me I can’t have it.”

Before the police force, Don spent a short time in the Air Force, but couldn’t go back after a surgery. He didn’t want to.   Unknown-3

“They were sending me…to become a paymaster,” he said.

“I’d have gone into banking, paying other airmen.”

“You were meant for business,” I said.

“Since I was 11 years old,” He affirmed.

Even as a policeman, Don was moonlighting: head of security at a local grocery store, and also traffic instructor for three counties of police departments.

“I loved to get in there and get things done,” he told me.

“Was your family supportive?” I asked.

“All the way through,” he affirmed. “Married 33 years. Not a problem.”

“They say happily married men remarry quickly,” I said.   Unknown-5

“Well, Regina died, and one year later, I was dating the girl I’m going to be marrying now,” he said.

“What’s the worst thing you saw in your 30 years of police work?” He described a murder scene so gruesome, I can’t write the details.

“Down on Harlem Boulevard,” he said.

“My partner and I were the first there…found a window open and crawled inside. He said, ‘You do upstairs, and I’ll check down here.’ Went upstairs and…looked in the door…a little girl…if I close my eyes, I can still see it. And a little dog…a hunting knife…killed it.”

“How do you live with those images?” I asked.

“You put it off and try not to think about it,” he replied.

Unknown-4    “The most rewarding experience?” I asked, eager to move on.

“Something simple,” he said.

“A football player broke his neck playing practice football; I managed to doggone stabilize the neck and everything, and get him to the hospital, and he’s up and around, walking today.”

“You saved him from being a paraplegic,” I gasped.

“Yes. There were a number of those,” Don said.

“Or, a car caught on fire, and you had to get the dang door open.”

“Do we educate people to see police as friends?” I asked.

“If they’ve got their minds made up, I don’t think you can change their minds,” he answered.

“Some people just plain hate police officers.”

“Are you a religious man?” I asked.

“No,” he said.

“Not brought up with it?” I pressed.  Unknown-6

“That’s the reason…Sunday. Not positive. You were sick and still had to get up, get dressed and go to church.”

“Strict parents?”

Unknown-7   “Yes. Trouble is, it wasn’t my parents taking me (to church). It was the neighbor. I don’t think it has anything to do with how I feel about God. I just don’t like church, period. There’s a bunch of hypocrites in that doggone church. And, I don’t believe in volunteering. I am not a person who volunteers their time. When I had a day off, I wanted to be working in my garden–that’s where I can talk to Him.”

Don moved to 6 acres out of the city as soon as the department allowed it.

“I was running fast a I could to get out of Rockford,” he said. “I just don’t like the city of Rockford.”

Beanie Babies, coins and memories

It’s Donald. He prefers Don. “I don’t like my middle name either,” Don informed me over our carryout baked mostaccioli from Roscoe, Ill.’s Anna Maria’s.   Unknown-1

He wouldn’t leave his shop, Don’s Coins and Collectibles, long enough to talk with me over lunch.

“What’s your middle name,” I goaded.

“Denton.” After his grandfather’s middle name.

Unknown     I had lots of questions about his trend-sensitive business, especially since I have quite a collection of Beanies myself.

Don reflected on how his late wife, Regina, had inspired his love for collectibles.

“She worked with the newborns at Rockford Hospital, and was known as the Beanie lady. She’d sit in a chair, rock the babies and the girls, the nurses, couldn’t get downstairs to the gift shop where the Beanies were. So she’d go get the Beanies for them.

“Pretty soon,” Don remembered, “we’d end up driving around, picking up Beanies from different Ty wholesalers.”

Unknown-2 “Did you anticipate their future value, or were you just helping your wife?” I asked.

“Just helping,” he said, matter-of-factly

“Then your entrepreneurial wheels started turning?”

“Yeah–there’s money to be made in this,” he recalled, punctuating the memory jog with his distinctive belly laugh.

“I would buy the meal to get the Teeny Beanie, then threw the food out,” I confessed.  Unknown-3

“Yep. I did that too,” he told me.

“Are Teenie’s still valuable?” I asked.

“No. You can’t get even 50 cents for them. They gave millions of them things out. I couldn’t drink that much coffee, so I’d go throw that in the dumpster.”

Don recalled seeing lines around the block to stores in Beanie’s heydays.

“The people running these stores were selling out in about two hours; they wouldn’t have to sell another Beanie for the rest of the month. They paid the rent, the lights, the gas bills.”

That was before he opened his own store. At first they sold the collectibles from their own home’s front yard.  images-1

“We’d put up a tent, Saturday and Sunday. We’d make anywhere from $2000 to maybe $4000 on a weekend, at about a 60 percent profit. Back then we were paying $5 and selling them for $15. A dealer pays $2.50. Some sold for $50, $60, $70. Now they’re selling for less than $5.

“But you were always into collectibles,” I said.

“I was working for my dad’s grocery store in Rockford. My dad told me I had goofed up enough at 11, so I became a butcher.”

“Aren’t there child labor laws?” I half-kidded.

“Not when you’re working for your dad,” he explained. But it was at the store that Don began to appreciate collectible coins. There was nothing better than exchanging coins out of the cash register, a penny for a penny, a nickel for a nickel, to fill all those books up,” he said, pointing to the coin books in his shop.   513HNN1AGIL._AA160_

“I had those too,” I told him.

“This bis good mostaccioli” I remarked.

“It sure is,” he agreed. “Lots of mozzarella on the top,” he added.

“When I was 16, I found out my brother was taking me.” he told me.

Unknown-4    “He collected Indian pennies that came through the store. Problem was, I would put a penny in the cash register, take it home to him, he’d give me a penny for it, and he’d run to the coin shop and get a quarter apiece for ‘em.”

“How much older was he than you?” “He was younger,” Don said.

“Let me get this straight, your younger brother was taking you for a ride?”

“Yep. Probably looked through one of my books that I never bothered to look at, the red book with the prices inside.”

“The price of ignorance,” I echoed.

“Yep, he didn’t get no more pennies.”

“Did you end up in the grocery business?”   Unknown-5

“I loved it. There was only one little problem. I went to college. I was going to be another (big name) grocer.”

“You wanted a chain?”

“Umm-hmm. I was going to move that store into a big store, then a bigger store, and then more stores.      Unknown-6

Then after one semester away, my father sold the damn store.

 

“Right under your feet! Did he tell you?”

“No. He also decided to clean out the basement while I was gone. He got rid of all the 5- and 10-cent comic books, which are expensive now. I had boxes of those.”   Unknown-7

“That would make you a little bitter,” I said.

“Yep.” Don’s stereotypic John Wayne style said much in a few words. …to be continued

No rock will out-praise this miracle child – Part 1

Lennox has the buttery voice for which Jamaicans are known. His singing voice is even smoother. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, he arrived in Rockford, Ill. at the age of 16. But that is his story:

“Was food an adjustment?” I asked. We were at Garrett’s in Rockford, where my amazing puff pastry of apricots and brie   4cb55219-3805-46b2-bc0c-c3325de15c89was served with diced tomatoes and watercress. Lennox enjoyed his small chicken Caesar salad.

“I remember my first weeks here,” he said. “I was not able to eat. I just never had an appetite. I was afraid I was not going to keep it down. It was so bad the doctors put me on Ensure.”

Unknown-2    His diet in Jamaica was mostly rice and flour dumplings.

“Lots of fruits and vegetables?” I asked, imagining Caribbean bounty.

Unknown-3   “You just pick it off the tree–mangoes, plantains, whatever you want, pick it fresh.” he said.

Lennox and his family also ate fried plantains and dumplings for breakfast and salted codfish with ackee.

“They take dried, salted codfish,” explained, “and boil out as much salt as they can, then cut it and fry it with ackee. It looks like scrambled eggs. There is nothing like that here. It is Jamaica’s national fruit.”  images-1

Lennox grew up with his mother, two siblings and a stepfather. They lived in a one-room house of boards, with an outhouse bathroom and a shack at the back for a kitchen.

“What is your earliest memory of music?” I asked, know music is his passion.

“My grandma always sang.” His house was next to hers. “If I lay on my grandma’s roof, I could stretch across to my mom’s roof,” he pictured.

“I’m five feet, five inches tall. I remember my grandma, a dynamic woman of God, would get up on Sunday mornings and warm her voice to lead the singing for church.”

Unknown-5   Jamaican Christians believe God’s gift of music is for praise, and they don’t sing secular songs.

“My mom sang a little bit; so did my aunt,” he said.   Unknown-6

“They would get together and sing beautiful three-part harmonies. I was blind, so I would listen. Listening was my way of seeing the world. I always wanted to copy what I heard. There is no hymn in the book that I don’t know.”

Unknown-7   Lennox’s mother contracted measles during a hospital stay when she was seven months pregnant with him. In 1978, Jamaican law required abortion if the pregnancy was endangered in a manner where the baby could be deformed or brain-damaged. But, the doctors didn’t find out about her case. His grandmother instructed her daughter not to tell or complain. “‘I’ll go home and talk to God,’” he related what his grandmother said.

“My grandma prayed…with the neighbors.”

Born December 24, 1978, it was soon clear that Lennox was blind and had glaucoma. When he was six, the doctors at Kingston’s university hospital wanted to explore to see if there was anything they could learn. His mother was apprehensive.

“My grandma said, ‘What worse could they do? He’s already blind. You let them go. We’ll talk to God about it. God’s not through with him yet.’ A few months later, I started to see. To this day, with all the modern technology and medicine, there is no cure for glaucoma. I know it was the prayers.”

His sight returned gradually.

“It was interesting. I was behind with my eyes connecting images to my brain. I had to re-learn to look at something instead of feeling for it…going to a door, knowing I should turn the handle, I would still feel for the handle…trying to teach my mind how to see, recognize and respond.”

Doctors recommended enrollment at the Salvation Army School for the Blind. They expected his blindness to return in a few years. At the boarding school, he was away from family and friends. But during chapel, he heard the piano each day.  Unknown-8

“The auditorium for chapel is very sacred,” Lennox said.

“Ladies don’t go in there without their heads covered. When there was no chapel, it was off limits for children. But, in the evening, I would go to the chapel, break in, find my way to the stage and punch out notes that I had heard. The piano was covered by a big tarp. I had really bad asthma, but I would go under the tarp, play a few notes, come out and breathe, get under, play a few notes, come out, until I started to put a song together, playing what I had heard.”

The principal heard him, pulled him out, gave him a spanking, but told Lennox he was to play in the Sunday service the next week. Lennox was 13.

“He sort of encouraged you,” I laughed.

“Reprimanded, then encouraged,” he corrected.

“I learned Braille, how to use a cane, to be an independent blind individual. My mom and I were best friends. She felt bad that I was blind, so she overprotected me. Being at the school was difficult for her and for me. But she knew it was best. If I was blind at 12, there would be no future if I wasn’t learning the skills I needed.”

But at 12, 13, 14, 15, Lennox was seeing better than before, beating the odds.

“My grandmother would say I was a miracle and that to whom much is given, much is expected.

“There was a church in my yard. They were always inviting me to do this and that. I wanted to do my own thing.”

images-2   One summer, his mother insisted he go to Bible camp. Lennox refused. He explained, “I had a hard time…I loved Jamaican reggae music, forbidden music.”

His mother washed and ironed, and packed his things the night before camp. She said, “I know God is in control. You’re going to go,” he recalled.

“It was probably 400 Jamaican dollars for the week. She only had 200.” That morning a knock on the door brought her answer.

“A lady with an envelope said, ‘Please give this to your mother.’” Sister Brown felt God leading her to give them $500.

“I was kicking and screaming, and got on the bus,” he said.

“It was horrible. But when I got there, I realized for the first time in my life that to whom much given, much is expected. god has given me a lot. I heard about the greatness and goodness of God, how He is intimately acquainted with our ways, and has a plan for us…that we go through circumstances to experience the best life possible. We have to yield…follow whatever it costs us.”

01b094854f8342f362b22012dda26c90   Music spoke to Lennox, one lyric in particular: I’m born again to win, the work has been completed, the Devil is defeated, no more will I be cheated, ‘cause I’m born again to win.

“Because I am a miracle child,” he said.

“You felt victory in that song,” I echoed.

“Oh, yes!”

(This story originally appeared in my May, 2007, in my Lunch with Marjorie column in The Rock River Times.)

Career change, gumbo and Cordon Bleu

Choices. Choosing Tim Scholten for my first Lunch with Marjorie (first published in 2002) was simple. He is the most naturally funny guy I know. My husband agreed. He’s funny.

But when talking with Tim about his decision to switch from a dream career in broadcasting to selling radio advertising, Tim turned serious.

We paused to tackle the Rockton Inn lunch menu, a clear dilemma for Tim.   Unknown

“It’s a dead heat between navy bean and seafood gumbo in my world today,” Tim’s blue eyes sough help from me.

“Gumbo? Good? Bad?”

“The gumbo’s great, very New Orleans,” I assured.

“I’m on it. Sold!” he proclaimed.

“Sandwich?” I asked.

“Man oh man, a lot of good things to eat. The chicken Cordon bleu special, and yet the barbecue sandwich is also tempting.”

He opted for the Cordon Bleu; I had the Oriental chicken salad.

Growing up in Beloit, Wis,, Tim’s teens were filled with sports, cello and plays. He loved performing. “Unknown-1

I was at Startlight (Theatre) in the mid-‘7os. I did Music Man with Jodi Benson, who went on to be The Little Mermaid.

Unknown-2   Jodi Benson! I was impressed.

Tim wasn’t.

“She was in the chorus. She was nothing, and I was nothing. We were nothing together, and it was fun.”

The year Elvis died, 1977, Tim went off to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, to major in radio and television.

“I had a fantastic advisor there,” he remembered.

“A guy named Jim Duncan, and he sold it for me. All those years, he was the voice of the Drake Relays, America’s athletic classic.” Unknown-3

Des Moines broadcasting began for Tim with weekly co-hosting stints at KRNT, reporting campus news. Then he became head statistician for The Drake Sports Network.

“That was wonderful, he said. “I would copy down all the statistics during all home Drake men’s basketball and football games. And both sports were Division 1. And he would look at my stats, and he would check with me, and I wouldn’t really say anything at all, but we became a linked unit, and a guy named Larry Morgan, who is now the voice of the Iowa Hawkeyes on television.”

Tim had the sports bug, the news bug.

Post college, his career began at Beloit’s radio station, 1380 WBEL, on air as The Jock. He left to co-anchor the now defunct Beloit Cable News.

“Then my friend, Jerry Huffman, made it possible for me to work for WREX-TV,” Tim explained. Tim became the first Rock County reporter in 1983.

“I was kind of an experimental guinea pig there,” he said.

“They sent me out with my inferior equipment, but I did have my own station vehicle. And, I would take it back to my apartment every night, wake up early in the morning and they’d say: ‘OK, you need to go out, cover it, take pictures.’

images    We worked till 6:30pm most nights, editing what I had shot, writing what I had shot, and producing the stories. That’s the hardest I’ve ever worked in the media.”

A few bumps and station changes moved Tim to news reporter for WIFR-TV.

Spring 1987, Tim married Lisa Johnson, and made a dramatic career change. I realized his gumbo-navy bean struggle was somewhat thornier than the decision to leave broadcasting.

“Was it an emotional decision?” I asked.

“Yes, but Marjorie, I can tell you that reason in five words: Fourteen thousand dollars a year.”

He couldn’t support his family on that salary. Lisa was a dental assistant. She was the breadwinner in the soon-to-be-family.

“She was out-earning me,” he said.

“A little bruising to the ego? Hard to give up celebrity status?”

“A little bit. But that doesn’t put food on the table. I doubled my income with the stroke of a pen.”

“Regrets?”

Cordon Bleu. He liked it.   Unknown-5

“Gumbo?” “It’s a spicy, hard-hitting gumbo. I’ll make it through,” he said.

“It’s all part of the culinary experience.”

“Career choice? Are you satisfied with your accomplishments?”

“So many people answer that question the wrong way: It’s my Beamer, my Lexus, my yacht, my getaway place,” Tim explained.

“Wro-o-ng! It’s your kids!” He added, “I’ve seen it backfiring for others. The guys on the second, third, fourth marriages, scrambling to find out what it is when all the while, it’s right in front of them.”

Tim’s choices clearly had brought him joy. He gets animated talking about coaching youth baseball in his hometown, and spending time with his sons, who both also have the sports bug.  Unknown-4

Tim still does some creative commercials, voice-overs. But he is primarily a father, a people-person.

“I don’t live to work,” he shared. “I work to live. You reap what you sow. That’s the total philosophy. Life’s a trade-out.”

A modern man in an ancient city – Part 2

As we talked more about modern and ancient Rome, the birds in the hotel courtyard were chirping so loudly that conversation was a bit difficult.

“I don’t sense a lot of crime in Rome,” I said, even though I had noticed that the hotel neighborhood had a lot of graffiti on the buildings.  th

“No, thank God,” Carlo said. “The crime we have is only the pickpockets, the Gypsies.”

“We had a man aggressively trying to put flowers in our hands at the Trevi Fountain,” I told him. “He wanted to sell you flowers.”

“Do you have some thoughts on Pope John Paul II,” I asked, switching to a more serious subject.    th-1

“This pope was very loved. He was very long in power, and also he was a pope that historically lived in a very important period of time.”

“What about the new pope?” I asked, referring to Pope Benedict, the one we had seen early in his papacy at the Vatican on this 2005 trip.

th-2

“It’s too early to tell. Really we had hoped that after a Polish pope, they were going to elect an Italian one.”

“I was surprised to see they elected a German pope,” I agreed.

“Being in Rome, living in Rome, we have a lot of advantage, because the church is bringing a lot of people to the city. But the Catholic Church is influencing the Italian politics. the previous pope was a person. adorable, but he wasn’t open to the changes in the life in the world. One of the reasons why they elected this German, is because he was a person who was (continuing) the policy of the previous pope. It’s a regressive situation in my opinion. We are going back to the medieval.”

“Is that oppressive?”

“Oppressive, correct. When the church is interfering with Italian politicians, it is…”

“Medieval,” I understand.  Pope Benedict XVI Names Six New Saints In Canonisation Ceremony At St. Peter's Square

“OK you understand,” he said. “The last thing I want to tell you: Do you know how powerful the Catholic Church is? Do you think they have a lot of money? Do you think they are rich? Do you know that money is power? It happens everywhere. Money can make a war to start or finish the same year. The Catholic Church is powerful because they have money, and so they guide the choice of the governor. I have opinions about politicians in Italy that I don’t like to repeat. I feel that we do not live in a democracy in this country. How can it be a democracy with 27 parties? It cannot be a democracy with 1200 delegates. It cannot be a democracy,” he said. “I want to say, our country could be more progressive. Because progress is life, is freedom.”    th-4

“What would that mean for you?” I asked.

“That I consider myself to be a free person. As i am now, I’m not, because there are a lot of rules and regulations that keep the Italian industry and people like me down.”

“So the decisions you have to make are controlled?”

“Yes, too much control, too much control. When they have 27 parties, each one has a little bit of power. Before you get the final decision, you’ve got to have him, him, and him and that. Before they give the permit, you can die.”

“That is frustrating,” I said.

“Oh, yes, I am sure that if I were in America, I could have done a lot more.” “Did you ever consider that?”

“I’m Italian, you see. My heart is here. When I was abroad, I was dying to come back to my city.”

“You have been to America?”   Unknown

“I’ve been to New York and to Orlando.”

“What were your impressions?”

“New York is like Rome 2000 years ago. Because of the technology and art that is there.”

“Ancient Rome was very sophisticated,” I affirmed.

“If you compare the time when old Rome was in power, you can see that the majority of the people lived in houses made with wood, but in Rome (itself) people lived in houses made of marble.”

“Is Rome still very cultural?”

“Not like it was before. It is a place where people should come, because everybody should see how clever and how important the Romans were. If you want to see tracks of history, you must come here. If you want to look at the inventive architecture, you should go see the Pantheon with the round ceiling built 2000 years ago, without technology that you have today. That is why it is important for everyone to come to see our country. We have a little bit remaining (but) not too much from the Roman Empire…the ruins…the Coliseum, the Forum and other things. To me now, America is like the Roman Empire 2000 years ago. All roads should lead you there.”  th-5

“Do you like Americans to come here?”

“Oh yes, I like American people.”

 

(Published first in The Rock River Times column, Lunch with Marjorie, in August, 2005). Since then, after Pope Benedict resigned in 2013, Pope Francis, an Argentinian, was elected to the Roman office.   th-3

This miss won’t miss life

I met Tabitha because she was a fellow thespian with my daughter at their high school. They became fast friends and soon Tab was spending a lot of time at our house.

So I know things about her: she loves steak but not vegetables. She is quiet, responsible, respectful and determined for her life to make a difference. We were in Loves Park, IL.

We wanted a sandwich place, but the one we chose was closed, so we went across the street to the Basil Cafe, a favorite of mine for Mediterranean food. I wasn’t sure how Tab would like it.

Soft jazz greeted us with white tablecloths even for lunch, and a friendly greeting by our hostess. Perfect, I thought. I ordered spanakopita, goat cheese and spinach stuffed filo pastry.

“You’re not a goat cheese person, Tab, huh!”

“Nooooo,” she giggled.

I sighed, knowing this meat and potatoes girl would always be the slender beauty she is now.

“You’re studying to be a social worker?” I asked, launching our chat as we waited for our food.

“I decided on community college for two years. It would save a lot of money, and I don’t have a lot saved up. I knew Tab works many hours at a local restaurant as a server, just to afford the community college tuition.

“Are people good tippers?”

“No, not really. Some are. As a server you expect 20 percent if you give good service and you refill drinks, and the food comes out with nothing wrong in the order. If you give them everything they need. I don’t think people should tip less than 15 percent. ‘Cause if someone gives me less than 10 percent, it’s like an insult, like I did something to offend them, or didn’t give them good service.”

“Do you like the school?”

“They have really, really good teachers, and good programs, and get you ready for a four-year, so, yes, I like it.”

“Sounds like this is a lot about finances.”

“Yes.”

“Does social work pay well?”

“Not so good. But I wouldn’t give up this career for anything.”

Challenges are nothing new for Tab. Besides working full time while going to school, she had to take a year off for medical reasons.

“I had really bad headaches. There was a whole time when we were trying to figure out what it was. They misdiagnosed me a couple of times…then found I had torn something in my spinal column–a tiny, tiny tear that caused me to have headaches. They stopped the leaking. Spinal headaches are just horrible.”

“Hopefully that is behind you,” I said admiring her courage.

“I’m probably always going to have migraines.”

“Are you feeling like you are behind?”

“So many people are switching majors, still in their sophomore year at my age. More people just aren’t sure what they want to do.”

Tab is not ambivalent.

“I really want to work with kids up to the time they are teenagers. Kids that have dealt with domestic violence, and also with battered women. I want to support and understand them, not judging. I want to teach them how to be strong, how to make it, that’s it’s okay, and that what happened to them it doesn’t make them less of a person.”

“Is your pizza good?” I interrupted.

“The crust is a little tough,” she said. “But it’s homemade sauce–very, very good.”

“Has studying for social work made you see things you didn’t see before? At your restaurant? Abusers?” I was curious.

“When you see a guy and girl sit down at the table, you’re like, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ and she just looks down at her plate. I’ll say, ‘Can I bring you something to drink?’ and try to make eye contact. She won’t look at me, and he’ll order everything for her. You can tell she’s hesitant to say anything, scared. I just want to pull her aside. You can’t do that, because if you say anything, he’s going to get irate and she’s the one who’s going to have to deal with it when she gets home, and not you.”

“What motivates you to help?”

“‘Cause I’ve been through bad situations, and I’ve come out and survived them. And, it made me a better, stronger person. You just have to get through it day by day. Forget regret, your life is yours to miss.”

“That’s from the musical Rent?”

She nods and smiles that I knew her favorite show.

“If I think I’m going to regret something, I’m going to do something about it. I don’t like to live in regrets, because then you dwell on them so long that you’re missing out on a lot of things.”

“Are you thinking dessert?” I knew she was.

Turtle cheesecake won. Tab had a big slice. I tasted a corner of hers. “Yum, lots of caramel,” she enjoyed.