Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happy 99th birthday, Dad


Today would have been my father’s 99th birthday.
My dad, Oswald Ferdinand Ranzenberger, was born Oct. 10, 1913, in the house on Hill Street in Saginaw where he grew up. It was the same house where I grew up.
Dad was hard man to get to know. He was dedicated to his family, to God, to his country and to his duty to all of them. Dad didn’t talk much about these things. He just saw that approaching life this way was obviously the right way to do things.
Dad and I never really saw eye to eye. I admired him very greatly, but admiring Dad was not something he really allowed.
He was an accountant, and that was something he was made to be. I’m a writer, photographer, one-time disc jockey, sometime video guy, and doing that is what I was made to do. He never got that.
I’m outgoing, think-on-the-outside. I’ll put myself out there. Dad thought that was dangerous.
“The nail that’s sticking up,” he once told me, “is the one that gets hammered down.”
Yet I have to put it all into perspective. I’m now 57 years old. When Dad celebrated his 57th birthday on Oct. 10, 1970, he had a long-haired, rebellious son in 10th grade, just a year past Woodstock.
His world of family, God and country was coming apart. An era of questioning, challenging and defying the conventional wisdom was well under way. His own son was one of those hell-raising, dope-smoking rebels ripping apart everything Dad valued.
But I was his son, and a strong sense of family and duty kept him from completely cutting me off. He seldom missed an opportunity to let me know, subtly, often without words, how much I disappointed him. Even now, 27 years after he died, I’m still disappointed that I disappointed him, but I shouldn’t be surprised.
Still, I’ve never forgotten what he said to me more than once: An education is not to teach a person what to think, but teach them how to think. My education, as did his, came from everywhere, from all of our experiences. Mine was so much different from his, and it’s taken me a very long time to appreciate, or even understand, his experiences.
If I could say one thing to my father, I'd say that I’m honestly pleased with where my life went. His grandchildren – and he only got to meet one of them, very briefly – are amazing people. Yes, I did a lot of stupid things, but I survived. That taught me so much. I won’t call myself wise, but there’s some wisdom in there that I learned the hard way.
I don't know if Dad would understand this – but I learned that wisdom is judgment distilled, good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from not having good judgment.
I didn’t understand Dad's wisdom, and he didn’t understand me, either. One more thing I'd say to Dad: I’m sorry I disappointed you.
And yeah, there is just one more thing, Dad. You know that crummy little teachers college I chose over your Maize and Blue school? I think it’s worked out OK.
Happy birthday, Dad.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The end of the Oiler-eating pothole

Big equipment is in the driveway that leads from Mt. Pleasant High School to Preston Street, and I couldn't be happier.
I first began using this driveway about 2004, when Andrew was a high school freshman. That was a while ago.
The area right by the dugout featured a massive, car-eating pothole. Potholes like this come from a disintegration of the underlying roadbed. Sometimes something washes it out. Sometimes the roadbed just wasn't built properly. In any case, this giant pothole collected water, ice and the occasional student's car year after year.
Fixing this driveway wasn't the top priority of the school district. They had much more important things to spend money on, and I can't disagree with any of those decisions.
Now, however, Mt. Pleasant Schools has managed to scrape together the money to fix this. Repairing a problem of this sort isn't a case of just slapping more asphalt into the hole. That wouldn't last. Like any roadway that's been allowed to deteriorate to this point, the entire thing has to be reconstructed.
That's what's under way off Preston Street, with new sand and a solid roadbed going in. The asphalt we'll see at the end of it is just the obvious part, but the real work is in the roadbed.
I can't say I'll miss the car-eating pothole.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Applefest: Celebrating 25 years

This adorable guy was in the pumpkin patch.
I'm a Zonta boy. That means I'm married to one of the members of the Mt. Pleasant Zonta Club, which put on its 25th annual Zonta Applefest. 
There's a lot of behind the scenes stuff involved in Applefest, and I get to do some of it. The results: another successful Applefest. 

Even though there's an apple shortage in Michigan, Papa's Pumpkin Patch had plenty of Honeycrisp apples available.

John Martinez of Bridgeport laughs as he carves images into pumpkins.

Fiber artist Linda Ritz of Clare spins alpaca fleece into wool using a traveling spinning wheel.
The baked goods, as always, were a hit.

Different ... is good.

Hayrides are really, really popular at Applefest.

This guy is discovering the joy of pumpkins and Halloween - and Applefest.

Here's one maze is hard to get lost in.

A volunteer, a face, a pumpkin - it's Applefest.