July 23, 2021

I have voted for nine presidents

There was just too, too much at stake this time!

By John Guy LaPlante 

I have voted in many presidential elections over the years.

Every afternoon I hop on my trike and pedal around. No motor! To the supermarket, McDonald’s, the post office, the drugstore, and so on. It’s the only physical exercise I get now. For the last two months, I’ve been doing as much campaigning as possible, as you see.

This last time around I just couldn’t wait to cast my ballot on November 3rd.

I was convinced it was essential for the well-being of our country to torpedo and sink mad-man Trump’s presidential aspirations / ambitions / neuroses once and for all.

At my age of 91 going on 92, in just a few weeks, the odds were that this presidential election would be my last.

I knew that my single vote would be a drop in the bucket of millions of votes. But it was the best I could do, and I would feel better about it.

I vote Democrat.

I was pleased to vote for Joe Biden for President. Nobody’s perfect. But I believe Joe Biden is a fine man. Intelligent. Thoroughly seasoned. A straight shooter.

And I took a liking to Kamala Harris as vice president. She was an especially significant choice.

Joe Biden elected at age 77, and now 78, is considered quite old. He may run in ’24 but maybe not.

Kamala Harris could be the Democratic candidate then.

Her career achievements are impressive.

Just imagine that she, the daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, may be our first woman president! That would be historic.

I learned long ago by experience that women are as talented, capable, and reliable as men.

I would vote for her just as a matter of principle. It’s long overdue.

And imagine what huge encouragement that would give to women everywhere. Especially women of color. Even men of color.

Well, Joe and Kamala were running on a platform quite aligned with my priorities. In fact, I would have been happier if their positions were a bit further left on some matters, as pushed by Bernie Sanders.

And the Republicans’ Donald Trump, so avidly running for four more years, who is not a fine man, anything but, was doing things from the very beginning that I thought were terrible. Deplorable.

“We’ll build the Wall! Problem solved!”

“We’ll send them right back home where they came from!”

“We won’t let those ugly, greedy Chinese get away with it!”

“Hey, I’m on good terms with Chairman Kim Jong-un in North Korea!”

“That so-called Covid-19 expert Doctor Fauci is an idiot!”

On and on and on. And since the beginning of Covid-19, Trump has played down the threat, has failed to provide the essential sensible leadership that any President should, has rejected help from top experts.

Won’t even wear a mask, which is a basic preventive! Crazy!

Worst of all, he’s an out-and-out embarrassment as President, as we have seen time and again. And a scoundrel going way, way back.

Yes, in the White House, and as solidly documented for many years in his many business affairs.

And as we know, a super scoundrel in what he has done to women since he started to wear long pants. Awful! Should have gone to prison for that.

And it has common knowledge he ran for President because of the fantastic PR that competing for that fantastic and most prestigious job would give him nationally and internationally.

In fact, he did not expect to win. Really didn’t. Was astonished when he did.

With the aid of the Russians, as we eventually found out.

And now that he has failed in his bid for another four years, he rants and rages. The mere thought of losing drives him nuts. Failure is a dagger to his heart.

When he finally leaves the White House, he should go straight to the finest psychiatrist money can pay for.

“They stole the election! Yeah, the Dems stole it! They’re criminals! My lawyers will take care of them!”

He has been demanding voter recounts in state after state after state. Has launched one lawsuit after another. Has been rebuffed in one state after another. Has been told by experts that if there was cheating, it was trivial.

But he presses on, a single-minded madman.

In recent days the good news has been that numerous well-known top Republicans, in office and out of office, have been telling him it’s high time to quit. That what he has been doing has been entirely anti-American.

That his continuing to press on is ruining the good image of what Republicans stand for.

And now Trump is planning to run again in ’24! That is a fact, according to Insiders.

He wants to be known in our history books as a super winner. Being recorded as a huge one-term loser is to be avoided whatever that costs.

I believe that he will run again.

A huge worry for many of us who detest him is that so, so many Americans continue to believe in him, cheer for him, raise money for him.

Yes, multi-millions of our fellow Americans. I repeat, multi-millions of them. It’s surprising how many people turned out to vote.

The total overall vote was the largest in our history. And the votes were so close in so many places.

Why? How come? There are different opinions. For sure this will have historians and political scientists and editorial writers scratching their heads about this and writing about it for a long time.

Now let me get back to myself for a few minutes.

I am a first-generation native American. The first in my family.

Starting right now I will be telling you some very detailed information about my people and their origins and why all of them except two emigrated here.

I am doing this because it will explain how I, and in fact, my whole family, developed our political leanings as Americans.

As did many other French-speaking emigrants like us.

My father, Arthur, “came down” first and alone. More about him in a minute.

My mother, Marguerite, a young woman in her mid-twenties, and most of her whole family “came down” from Thetford Mines, Québec — a small city famous for its asbestos mines. Extremely dangerous work in very deep man-made tunnels.

“Coming down” was the way everybody in our circle thought about it back then.

The first on my mother’s side was my Uncle Emile, the oldest sibling. He came down to Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It was a favorite for many French-Canadians.

He got a job as a short-order cook in a diner. And wrote home that things were pretty good down here.

Two older siblings did not come down. Alfred, who had a good job as the manager of a department store, and Laura, who became a nun.

Now about my father, Arthur.

He came down alone at age 22 or so. He grew up on a farm in a small town called Sutton, just 25 miles north of Vermont.

He did not like farm work.

Sutton had some English-speaking people. In fact, they were the descendants of Tories who had fled up there during the American Revolution because they did not believe in revolting from England.

On the main street in Sutton was an English-speaking woman who ran a general goods store on Main Street. I never learned the details, but he got a job working for her. He learned a bit about selling and picked up some English.

Found out about opportunities below the border. Talked his Pa into lending him $100. That was a lot of cash. Wound up in Springfield, Massachusetts. That was in 1920, I believe.

The only work he could find was butchering in a slaughterhouse. Hated it. In a few months returned to his hometown. Repaid his Pa. Worked for a few months on the farm.

Heard of Hervé, a cousin of his age who had gone down to Pawtucket, Rhode Island and was doing okay selling insurance to French people settling there.

He re-borrowed that $100 from his Pa and headed south. Hervé put him up and helped him get started. This time he stayed. In a few months, he sent $100 back home. He was in Pawtucket for keeps.

Now about my mother’s side.

They came down to settle in Pawtucket around 1923 or so.

It was a train trip of about 400 miles. A two-day trip. But that was as risky and traumatic for them as for emigrants spending many weeks at sea to get here.

The first on my mother’s side to come down after my Uncle Emile was my Aunt Bernadette. A very adventurous gal.

Several families had moved down from Thetford Mines to Pawtucket. The city was famous for its textile mills. They all got jobs in the textile mills. The men and the women. They worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. It was hard work, but it was steady, and they got a paycheck every week.

They wrote about that to family and friends back in Thetford Mines and explained everything. The good news spread.

My aunt Bernadette heard about it. She knew of a couple who had been neighbors. They had settled in Pawtucket. She wrote to them and asked how things were.

And they wrote back. Said they had jobs in textile mills. Which was better than their jobs had been back in Thetford Mines. Invited her to come down. She could stay with them for a while. And they would try to get her a job at one of the mills.

It was a two-day trip. She took a train to Barre, Vermont, then a second train to Rhode Island. A very gutsy young woman. All alone. Just a few dollars in her pocket.

Her Pawtucket friends kept their word. Put her up. Got her a job in one of the mills.

In three months or so, she wrote back to her father and mother. Said it was really true. Things were better. “Please come down. We’ll be together down here.”

A huge decision. They were my grandfather Tancrède and my grandmother Eugénie. And they brought my mother, Marguerite, with them.

In fact, she was quite reluctant.

She was the only one who had a decent job up there. She was a clerk in a music store. She loved the work. Also working with her was her childhood girlfriend, Rosanna. The idea of going down did not appeal at all. But she had no choice.

Anyway, as we kids grew up, we heard about Rosanna many times. They were good at writing letters to one another.

Anyway, Bernadette found a nice tenement big enough for all of them. It was on the second floor of a three-decker at18 Coyle Avenue in Pawtucket. She moved in and prepared for them.

They came and settled in.

My grandfather and grandmother were in their upper sixties. Much too old to get a job in the mills.

Bernadette got Marguerite a job with her at the Royal Crown Textile Mill, the biggest in the city.

I was born there at 18 Coyle.

Now a special note about me.

Many of you know me as John Guy LaPlante. But the name that they gave me when I was baptized was Jean-Guy. That was my name until I was nearly 30.

I was a journalist at the Worcester Telegram and Gazette in Worcester, Massachusetts.

I had a byline. I felt that no way could it be Jean-Guy LaPlante. So I used John G. LaPlante. I hated it.

One day I went to a lawyer I heard about right next door to the paper. Told him I wanted him to change my name to John Guy. Legally. No problem, he told me. He prepared a document and made me sign it. Said it would take two weeks. It was much on my mind. In two weeks I got a call from him. “John, I’m happy to tell you that you are now officially John Guy LaPlante.”

And charged me $14. And that is what I have been ever since — John Guy LaPlante.

But sad to say, that did not go well with my father and mother. To them I remained Jean-Guy.

If I could turn back the clock, I would. And I would insist on Jean-Guy LaPlante as my byline at the newspaper.

Readers would have caught on sooner or later. If some did not, well, too bad.

This ends my special note about myself.

Now a comment about this blog. I began it as a personal commentary about the election.

Strangely it has become semi-that, plus a semi-autobiography of myself. I hope you don’t mind.

Now back to my family. My father and mother had met at a church social and had married.

My grandfather and grandmother watched me while my mother and aunt went to work at the mill every day.

I still have memories of all that.

Most of the families around us were French-Canadians like us.

But on the first floor was an English family and on the third floor a Polish one.

Nearby was a Syrian family. And at the end of the street an Irish one. They had a little boy, Tommy. We played together. I learned my first English words from him.

Life in Pawtucket for my family was so, so different from what it would have been like up in Thetford Mines.

Our tenement had a big kitchen with a nice pantry, a big dining room, and a big parlor, and three bedrooms.

My grandfather and grandmother had one bedroom, my Aunt Bernadette had another, and my father and mother had the third.

In time I found out I was born in my father and mother’s bed. That’s the way it was back then.

As I said, my grandfather and grandmother were too old to get jobs at the mill. I thought of them as being very, very old.

They watched me while everybody else went to work.

I still have so many memories some 85 years later.

My grandfather would go off walking here or there every morning. He would try to find something, do something to help out our family in some way.

One noon he came home whistling a little tune.

He had a big bag. From it he took out half a dozen big loaves of bread he had gotten from a bakery a few blocks away.

He took one loaf out and put it on the kitchen table. With a big knife he cut out the big ugly green patches of mole. He did that to all the loaves. They would keep us going for quite a while.

Doing that made him feel very, very good.

One very cold winter day my grandmother said she had an errand for me to do. I was seven, maybe eight.

She had made a big pot of stew for us.

She ladled some of it into a smaller pot, wrapped a towel around it to keep it hot, placed it in a bag, and told me to take it to Madame Bergeron’s a block away.

“She is very sick,” she told me. “She will like this very much.”

Families looked out for one another. That’s the way it was.

Three blocks away was our French Church. Our Lady of Consolation Church was its name, but by its French equivalent. A beautiful red brick church.

It took many, many Mass collections and special collections to get it built. Everyone was very proud of it.

All the services were in French, of course.

After Mass on Sundays, we’d linger on the front steps and chat with neighbors also lingering. It’s surprising how much news we’d pick up that way.

We had three priests. The pastor and one priest had come down, and the other was American-born.

Behind it was the Our Lady of Consolation Grammar School. Four stories high, also of red brick. Very imposing. Taught by French nuns. Half of them, the older ones, had come down.

They taught us catechism, our 3R’s in French and English, and a bit of history and geography.

It was only much later that I realized how beautiful was that name, Our Lady of Consolation, in French as I said.

Things were often very hard. Very difficult. People needed a lot of consolation to keep them going.

Yes, I was their first born. My mother kept her job at the factory for a while and then after a second pregnancy that went wrong became a full-time mom for me.

In time I had three sisters and two brothers.

Here was the line-up: Myself. My sister Rose-Marie. My brother André. My sister Lucie. My sister Louise. My brother Michel.

I remember when little Rose-Marie died after just two months. A bowel obstruction, it was said. I remember her in her little white casket in our parlor at 18 Coyle.

My first little brother, André, died shortly after birth.

My beautiful and talented sister Louise died after what was then experimental open-heart surgery. She was only 32.

Now think of this. Many years later, my second brother, Michel, died one day short of his 57th birthday. A diabetic, he was in the hospital, complications set in, and he had to have his right foot amputated.

Now let me ask you this question. I would love to get an answer that makes sense. Why is it that I, the firstborn, am still alive?

It seems to me that the firstborn should be the first to go. And the second to be born should be the second to go. Right?

I should be first and my sister Lucie, just a few years younger than I, should be second.

Four siblings preceded us

Lucie is doing nicely; I am pleased to tell you.

She lives in West Hartford, Connecticut. She is a happily retired high school teacher of French there. She has one son, Jean-Christophe.

She is a very successful competitive bridge player, participating in tournaments here and there.

She accompanied me more than halfway (by pre-agreement) on my trip to a dozen countries in Asia. She had to return home for an important engagement.

That trip resulted in my book, “Around Asia in 80 Days. Oops 83!”

Now back to my story about growing up.

Well, shortly before all that my father had bought a two-family house. We lived on the first floor and in the front half of the second floor. He rented the second half to an elderly couple who had come down. Sounds strange I know.

Anyway, as part of the purchase deal he got to own a nice little variety store. Yes, thriving. It was on the same house lot, barely 75 feet from the house, right on the corner of Broadway, which was a main avenue.

Pa bought it because he felt it would get Bernadette, his sister-in-law, out of the factory. And knowing her, he was sure she would be a success. He was absolutely right.

Bernadette, who had become Bernie to our neighborhood by then, was a hard worker. And she had a lively, fun-loving personality.

Slowly she attracted more customers, French, Irish, Polish, and so on. Folks loved her.

It was the neighborhood’s variety store, open seven days a week — cigarettes and cigars and pipe tobacco, newspapers and magazines, candy bars, refrigerated soda pop, odds and ends.

And always on the counter two punchboards — five cents a chance — if you know what those were. A real money-maker for her.

She met John McCarthy, an Irish lad, a shoe salesman in the city’s most fashionable clothing store.

He courted her for several years — people joked about it. She was strong-willed. Despite her father and mother’s objections that he was not French, she said yes, and they married.

She spoke broken English and he couldn’t speak a word of French. But love conquers all, or so they say.

And guess what? In time we found out that he had married Bernie despite his parents’ objection that she was a French girl. How about that?!

Anyway, next to our house was a three-decker. It came up for sale and Jack and Bernie got a mortgage and bought it.

She was very good at watching every dime and dollar.

They settled in on the first floor and rented out the second and third floors.

Buying a three-decker could be a very smart investment.

The monthly rent paid by the tenants on the second and third floors would cover the owners’ monthly mortgage payment. Might even help with ordinary living expenses.

By the time the owners retired, the mortgage had been paid off and the continuing rent payments helped to support them in their old age.

When they died, the three-decker became a very nice legacy for the children.

Of course, renting to tenants who failed to pay the rent could be disastrous.

She and Jack never had children. She became my second “mom.” They truly loved me. And I did them.

If I did not like what my mother was serving for supper, I’d run over, walk in without knocking on the door, and sit down at the table and eat with them.

As we children grew up, we all took a great liking to Uncle Jack also. We called them just Bernie and Jack.

I mentioned how good she was at budgeting. Here’s one example

While still single, she had bought a spiffy brand-new Oldsmobile. She was said to be the first woman locally to buy a new car in her own name.

Now think of this. After Thanksgiving and before the snow started, she’d put it in a nearby garage she rented, set it up on blocks, and leave it that way until spring.

When she took it out for a new season, friends would cheer her and give her a thumb’s up.

For a week before the Fourth of July she’d set up a stand and sell fireworks.

She converted a nearby two-car garage into a beautiful ice cream stand. Ran it eight months a year.

I’d work there summers, scooping ice cream for cones and sundaes. I still have a photo of me in my natty white apron and jacket and cap, ready to serve a customer.

My father and mother and she all became citizens. Jack was American-born.

I believe Bernie was the first to become “naturalized.” My father and mother followed.

Bernie often told the story of how after passing the required tests she reported for the swearing-in ceremony. They were all in their Sunday finery.

A woman wearing white gloves and holding a silver tray with tiny American flags on it came and presented a flag to each inductee, man and woman. Tiny flags on little sticks.

A judge was presiding. As men and women placed their right hand on their heart and with their left held up the tiny flags, he solemnly led them in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

They were told to take the flag home as a souvenir of that grand event.

I had that little flag of Bernie’s for many years. It was important to me. Then I lost it. Now some 80 years later, I have another quite like it. But it has more stars on it than hers did. Our country has gotten bigger.

Now that little flag is on top of one of my bookcases. An important reminder.

My grandparents had passed by then.

I am not sure when my father and mother and Bernie first voted.

It might have been the election of Herbert Hoover in 1929, which was the year I was born.

It took me quite a while to learn what Democrats stood for and what Republicans stood for.

Yes, my father was quite successful in several small businesses. All of them involved selling.

We moved from Coyle Avenue to a beautiful single-family Cape Cod-style house in a nice neighborhood. It even had an outdoor in-ground swimming pool.

He drove a Lincoln. And he bought a house in Florida for winter getaways.

One winter he bought two tickets on a cruise ship and took my mother to the Bahamas for a couple of weeks.

We were given a strong and wholesome upbringing and the opportunity for higher education through college on up — which he and my mother never got.

One thing I am proud to tell you about is how my mother and father learned to read English.

Not easy.

I remember how I had to study Russian when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine. I was such a poor Russian learner that I thought Peace Corps would send me back home.

My father slowly learned English in his selling enterprises. Every evening after supper, he would sit in his rocking chair and slowly, slowly work his way through the Pawtucket Times, our daily newspaper. Slowly and steadily he learned.

My mother did the same thing.

She loved to read French books.

But one day she discovered the Reader’s Digest. That was brand-new back then. Loved it.

And then the Saturday Evening Post. Loved it. She bought both of them every issue.

In the evening, after putting us to bed, she would curl up with one of her magazines and read and read.

When I was twelve or thirteen, she took me to the Pawtucket Public Library and got me my first public library card. I have never been without a public library card since then.

In recalling all this, I’ve wondered how many countries in the world all this would have been possible. Not that many.

After becoming naturalized, my Aunt Bernie and my father and mother voted Democrat though I am not sure which one was first to vote in a national election.

A few days ago, I was discussing this with my sister Lucie, who as you now know is a few years younger than I am.

She told me that when she was ready to vote for the first time, “Papa told me to vote Democrat and told me why that was important. Democrats try to pass laws and do things that would be helpful to ordinary people.”

And that’s how I feel about it.

Anyway, I am happy to tell you that all of us in the family are Democrats, or so I assume. We live far apart, and I have no recollection of talking politics with my family.

Certainly they recall how their mother and I voted. We were influential parents. I suspect our kids picked up their political leanings from us.

My son Arthur, who is a lawyer, lives in Florida. Their three children live in Florida, Massachusetts, and California. That’s how it is nowadays.

I am certain that my daughter Monique, who also has a law degree, and her husband David, who live here in Morro Bay, California, are Democrats. That’s why I live here, to be close to them.

The one exception is my son Mark, Ph.D., an economist by training who is a professor of finance at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

He had a problem making up his mind this time around and voted Libertarian. He told me that.

I have five grandchildren, three of voting age. They live far away. I suspect they’re Democrats, but I’m not sure.

Now back to the election.

Yes, I voted on November 3rd.

I couldn’t wait. It was very much on my mind.

Yes, as I told you, I voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Here in California neither our governor nor senators were up for election.

I voted for all the Democrats I could.

Here in Morro Bay, I did vote for a couple of Republicans. But at this level, party affiliation is much, much less significant.

I had received a mail-in ballot early. Quite a few pages. A formidable document. Many proposals for new laws. What they would provide and how much that would cost. I wasn’t sure.

I had to consult my daughter Monique and David for guidance. They’ve been here a long time and are very savvy.

But I had an extra-special reason to vote for Joe Biden. I had met him in Ukraine.

I have written about this before. Please be understanding if this is second-hand to you.

Kiev, July 2009. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine. Vice President Biden had flown in to negotiate something for President Obama. Was staying at our Embassy. I had come in to listen to him give a talk at the Hyatt Hotel a block away. I met him there briefly. An unforgettable pleasure!

I was a Volunteer in Peace Corps there. Vice President Joe Biden had been sent to Kiev, the capital, by President Obama to negotiate something with the Ukrainian government.

He was at our Embassy in Kiev.

It had been announced that he was going to give a talk to embassy personnel on a certain day and time.

We were 300 Volunteers in Ukraine spread all over that enormous country. The second largest in all of Europe, second only to Russia.

We were only five or six Volunteers in the large cities we got assigned to. Very few Ukrainians got to know us.

It was impossible for many of our Volunteers to attend. They lived too far away.

I was able to attend only because I was working in Chernihiv, a city only about 50 miles from Kiev.

I was a university-level professor of English. I had gotten to see that ambitious university students in Ukraine, male and female, were eager to learn English. Not British English. American English, the English of the largest and most important democracy in the world.

I also had several other jobs there.

Anyway, there were about 250 in Vice President Biden’s audience. That included 30 or 40 of us Volunteers.

Peace Corps had just announced that l at age 80 I was now the oldest of some 7,000 Volunteers working in 80 countries around the world.

Those were estimates. I don’t remember the exact numbers.

After his talk, Mr. Biden said he would take questions from 10 persons. Only 10.

I put up my hand and got lucky.

He invited me to come down to where he was speaking.

He shook hands, asked me my name and what I was doing there, and I told him I was a Volunteer. Yes, the oldest serving Volunteer in the world.

He asked for details of my work and I explained a bit. He was totally surprised.

He learned a lot about a federal program that it was clear to me he did not know much about, one for which we were spending millions of dollars a year to support.

He congratulated me, gave me a hug, and wished me the best. It lasted just a few minutes.

It turned out to be wonderful PR for Peace Corps.

In the next two days I received souvenir photos from five or six in the audience.

I included a key one in my book “27 months in the Peace Corps, My Story Unvarnished.”

Peace Corps is a great outfit. But nothing is perfect.

I talk about that in my book.

My meeting with Joe Biden had a big impact on me.

He wasn’t “putting on.” He was authentic.

I felt very good about him back then. I feel very good about him today. I am optimistic about his Presidency at this dire time.

I enjoy reading about our American history. I have a couple of history books.

One is conventional. “The Pocket History of the United States” by Allan Nevins and Henry Steele Commager, two prize-winning historians. More than 700 pages with a million facts and figures.

It talks about presidents and senators and governors. Democrats and Republicans and other political parties. Wars and treaties and alliances. And so much more. But published in 1992, so far out-of-date.

But I have a history book that is outstanding.

It’s “A People’s History of The United States” by Howard Zinn

Called by one reviewer: “The only one-volume story of America’s history from the point of view — and in the words of — America’s women, factory workers, African Americans, Native Americans, working poor, and immigrant laborers.”

More than 700 pages. More than 1 million copies sold. Translated into many languages.

With so many copies sold, you may be very familiar with him.

He wrote numerous books.

Howard Zinn died in 2010. An extraordinary person.

One evening recently, I began reading him at 7 p.m. and I was still reading him when I went to bed at 2 a.m.

David, my son-in-law, told me he was very familiar with Zinn. Called him “The greatest!”

Said he had listened to many of Zinn’s lectures on YouTube.

I had no idea his lectures could be listened to that way. I have listened to a couple.

What a wonderful experience to see Howard Zinn live, actually lecturing now,10 years after his passing.

I encourage you to look him up.

I assure you it will not be time wasted.

God Bless America!

Comments

  1. Hi John,
    Great to get your blog, my first time. I enjoyed learning about your family history! One thing that surprised me was that Mark is a Professor at a University, wow I had always wondered if he would follow in law. Somehow I didn’t think he would, you must be so very proud of all three of your children!
    As for the election, I am glad it is over, that’s all I can say. Hope you and all your family are staying safe from the virus. Wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!

  2. Ken Mattingly says

    Jean-Guy,

    Always great to hear from you. Yes, I received your blog via your web page. Impressive detail, as always.

    Speaking of family, my paternal grandmother was the oldest of many children, like you. She was born in December 1908. Teddy Roosevelt would have been in the White House. Like your siblings, she lost several and eventually outlived them all. She also endured a pandemic in 1918. She lost two siblings within five days of each other. It was the Spanish flu.

    While I wasn’t one of the Volunteers invited to Kiev during VP Biden’s trip, I did have an executive branch encounter in 1979. President Carter came to my home county, specifically Bardstiwn for one of his signature town hall meetings. What a day that proved to be. He was the first presidential candidate for whom I cast my ballot. Although he had a tough four years, I still think fondly of him.
    Only time will tell how the Biden administration will perform.

    Take care,

    Ken

  3. Hi Ken, Say hi to good old guy He sure is looking young for his age ?

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