Sunday, December 20, 2015

Shootings: Where is the light in this madness?

12/9/15 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Traditionally, December is the month of love, joy and peace. It’s the time when we happily worry and fret over how we’re going to get everything done in time for Christmas. It should not be the time when foremost in our thinking is the safety of our loved ones in their school, shopping or work place. That safety, however, is today’s concern, as inexplicable violence and mass murderers seems to be erupting all around us. The light of the season seems strangely dim.

Sometimes when I’m wallowing in the misery of this reality, I need to step back and get some perspective. While I like to see the world through rose colored glasses and believe that today’s killings and atrocities are something new and have never happened before, I would be wrong. Evil is and always has been at work amongst us.

I am old enough to remember many senseless and tragic killings in our country. I remember where I was when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Nov. 1963. My three little towhead babies were in the car with me as we drove down Inglewood Blvd., Calif. They were oblivious to the news but tears ran down my face as I wondered not “who” but “why.”

I remember the escalation of fear and frustration during the official Vietnam War era of 1969-1973. It was an ugly war and I marveled at the bravery of the war’s protestors. Then, on May 4, 1970, the unthinkable happened. The Ohio National Guard fired on unarmed protestors at Kent State, killing four and wounding nine others. Three years later the war officially ended. Where was the light?

The 1980s and 1990s were filled with dozens of illogical shootings. In 1984, in San Ysidro, Calif., an out of work security guard killed 21 and wounded 18 at a McDonald’s restaurant. In 1986, a mail carrier in Oklahoma, walked into his post office, opened fire and killed 14 co-workers before killing himself over a poor performance report.

About this time, a sort of pattern seemed to be emerging. Individuals disgruntled with their jobs or perceived treatment would heavily arm themselves and go on a killing spree. There was even a term coined for this mentality called “going postal.”

Twenty years ago, Americans were ushered into a new killing nightmare. Timothy McVeigh, an anti-government militant and his accomplice Terry Nichols introduced a new level of homeland terrorism. McVeigh set off a truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds including children. Where was the light?

Revenge was McVeigh and Nichols motive. Their hatred against the way the U.S. government handled a standoff with Randy Weaver that ended with a firefight was one of many grudges they held. In return McVeigh decided to bomb a federal building and destroy both it and its occupants.  Until Sept. 11, 2001 it was the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil and is the worst act of domestic terrorism in our history.

Suddenly, multiple school shootings came into the headlines. In 1998, Kip Kinkel, a disturbed young man, was suspended from Thurston High School for carrying a loaded, stolen handgun. That afternoon, he shot and killed both of his parents. The next day he returned to school wearing a trench coat to conceal his weapons.  He fired 50 rounds, killing two and injuring 37. His fellow students eventually restrained him and he is serving a life sentence.

In 1999, two students put Columbine High School on the map when they opened fire at school, killing a dozen students and a teacher plus numerous injuries to others before they killed themselves.

Just two years later on Sept. 11, 2001, our country was introduced to global terrorism. Everyone remembers where they were when they saw the Twin Towers taken down in a coordinated series of attacks. We remember the ash-covered survivors running for safety. We remember the towers collapsing. We remember the heroism of First Responders. Thousands were killed. We were shocked to learn of an enemy dedicated to the destruction of the United States. A fatwa or declaration of war had been issued by Osama “Who”?

And the list of horrors goes on. I think that CNN reporter Brooke Baldwin spoke for many of us when she said, concerning the Roseburg and San Bernardino shooting …”I’m sick of speaking the words ‘active shooter situation.’ I’ve been covering too many of them…I’ve become too familiar with this. It’s sadly become a routine.”

So where is the light in all this madness? That’s a good question.

It saddens me to put out a column of remembrances like this in an attempt at perspective because I have no answers. I can’t just pretend that evil isn’t happening in my happy little corner of the world. The truth is, evil doesn’t take a break. Not even for Christmas. And now, more than ever, we must be vigilant. Now is the time to be alert, know our neighbors and put our fears in perspective.

One answer is to look around and find pockets of light. Random kindnesses are being practiced daily. Every-day life goes on. Good people are at work everywhere. Law enforcement is working to protect us. Babies are being born. Birthdays are being celebrated. Families are flourishing. The poor are being fed. The homeless are being sheltered. We are becoming united against the darkness.

In the Netherlands during the dark days of World War II a church minister was trying to convince his people that God would eventually destroy their enemies. He said, “It can take time but good will always win over evil...For the time being I can only forecast a dark night but the dark night will be followed by a bright dawn.”

These are dark days. But the gift of Christmas and the angel telling us to “fear not” is just around the corner. Let us pray for and work towards a bright dawn. Shalom.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. 

Veteran's Day: Honoring those who serve in the military

11/11/15 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Today is Veterans Day and the above World War I poem will be quoted extensively around the world. In 1915, Major John McCrae, a battlefield doctor, penned it during the Second Battle of Ypres, upon the death of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer. In a few short words he sums up the brevity of life when nations quarrel. One hundred years later, his words have not been forgotten.

For centuries, the world’s nations have struggled to put their wars into perspective by remembering the bravery of those who have gone into battle. Here in the United States, we have two legal holidays to celebrate our military personnel. Both days are set aside to honor those who have served their country in the military with parades, speeches and the laying of wreathes. But there is a difference between the two.

Memorial Day was originally celebrated on May 30. According to the US Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs, it is a time to remember and honor military personnel who died in the service of their country—either in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.

There are many versions of how and when Memorial Day began. All agree that it started after the Civil War and each one has its merits. The most popular is that in the late 1860s, the ladies of the South would decorate the graves of Confederate dead. Then someone suggested that they also decorate those of the Union soldiers as a reconciliation gesture and the tradition spread around the country.

My favorite Memorial Day story is that former slaves started it on May 1, 1865, in Charleston, So. Carolina. They dug up the bodies of 257 Union soldiers buried in a Confederate prison camp and gave them a proper burial as gratitude for their freedom. They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 2,800 black children as they marched, sang and celebrated.

By the end of the 19th century, Civil War Memorial Day celebrations were being held around the nation. It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who died in all American wars. The date was also changed to the last Monday in May, as were other federal holidays. Later, a nationwide moment of silence was added at 3 p.m. as a Moment of Remembrance.

Armistice/Veterans Day came about as a result of World War I, also known as “the Great War.” It began with the shooting of the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and launched a global war that killed untold millions between 1914-1918. Finally, a temporary cessation of hostilities was declared between Germany and the Allied nations on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Commerations began the following year. Nov. 11 became a federal holiday in 1938.

Now here’s where things get tricky. Veterans Day is a day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military—during war or peace. It is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service and acknowledge their contributions to our national security. So if you know a veteran, today is the day to shake their hand, give them a hug and say “Thank you!”

The national Veterans Day Ceremony is held every year on Nov. 11 at Arlington National Cemetery. It begins precisely at 11 a.m. with a wreath laying by the President (or his designee) at the Tomb of the Unknown and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations remarks from dignitaries.

Other countries also celebrate veterans in Nov. Today, Canada and Australia will join us in observing “Remembrance Day” in a similar manner to the U.S. Many Canadians wear red poppy flowers in honor of their war dead in reference to the above poem.

Great Britain observes “Remembrance Day” on the Sunday nearest to Nov. 11 with church services and parades leading from London’s Parliament Square to Trafalgar Square. Wreaths of poppies are left at a war memorial in Whitehall, built after the war. A two-minute silence is observed at 11 a.m. to honor those who lost their lives in war.

Now, here are a few bits of miscellaneous trivia for you from the 2013 V.A. census facts. Some of these veterans overlapped and served during as many as three eras.

1.    There were a total of approximately 21.5 million living veterans.
2.     9.3 million veterans were 65 years or older.
3.    1.6 million veterans were younger than 35 years.
4.    1.6 million were female veterans.
5.    7.0 million Vietnam-era veterans
6.    5.2 million served during the Gulf War era.
7.    1.3 million were World War II veterans.
8.    2.1 million were Korean War veterans.
9.    4.7 served in peacetime only.
10. The last surviving World War I veteran was Frank Buckles in West Virginia. He died in 2011 at the age of 110 years.

These are sobering numbers and the individuals worthy of our praise and respect. May God bless you all and peace be in your hearts and homes. God bless America!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places,
 family, and other matters of the heart. 

Friday, November 13, 2015



The 1950s were a great time to be a teenager. By now, everyone knows that era was characterized by hot rods and rock and roll. Elvis Presley was shaking things up for teenage girls and my friends would swoon at the mention of his name. The sound of revved, souped-up engines was a battle cry for high school guys. Naturally, our parents thought our clothing, hairstyles and fads were awful.

Moms were mostly the stay-at-home variety. While taking care of the kids, they did the housework, cooked the meals and helped out at the school’s PTA. Sometimes, they took a break in the morning to buy a jelly donut from the Helm’s Bakery truck and have coffee with their nearby gal pals. In the afternoon, they often watched “Queen for a Day” on TV until the kids got home from school. Thus the middle class was born.

I was one of the products of that era—a baby boomer teenager. I wore sweet little sweater sets and plaid skirts to school with white buck shoes. On really special occasions I wore one of the infamous poodle skirts with a starched petticoat. I was a serious student and Concert Mistress of the orchestra when I wasn’t talking on the telephone (AX-13756), listening to the radio or reading movie magazines about actors like James Dean and Grace Kelly.

Chuck, my soon-to-be boyfriend, lived on the other side of town. He drove a cool 1949 Ford with a full-race engine that sported several different coats of primer. He and his buddies were the forerunners of the Fonz. They had gelled crew cuts and dressed in rolled up Levis and white tee shirts. They were way more interested in hot rods than school. On weekends, they took their dates home by midnight and headed out to the Lion’s Drag Strip in Long Beach or Hollywood & Vine to listen to the latest records while watching the parade of cars.

We girls were not allowed to date until our 16th birthday. We all thought it was a cruel rule but no one ever challenged it. My first date was with an “older” man (a high school graduate!) and he took me to the Hollywood Bowl in his father’s nice car. Wow. Did I ever feel grown up! I’m still amazed mother let me go with him.

I met Chuck at a big inner city church. He and his buddies came for the gymnasium basketball court. It was a little slow but he finally asked me out after I had dated all of his friends. Today’s teens have Facebook. We had church socials. In the summer we had pool parties or went to the beach. In the winter, one of our favorite places was the huge roller skating rink in Culver City. At school there were football games and proms. We went to them all and Chuck will tell you that he knew more people at my school than he did his.

Outside of church, we did a lot of double dating but they were nothing like you see on TV. No “Dirty Dancing” scenarios. Early on, getting to know one another included a long drive (no freeways!) up to a drag race in Goleta. To this teenage girl, the event was loud, dirty and boring. That was my first and last official drag race event. Ever.

One of our first and most expensive dates was in 1956. That was the summer after Disneyland opened. Three carloads of us headed into Anaheim from L.A. along surface streets to Firestone Blvd and a day of fun. Remember, there were no freeways.

We rode rides non-stop until it was dark. As soon as the fireworks were over, we quickly left to get me home by midnight. Of course, Chuck’s car broke down. This was a common occurrence! He pulled over by the side of the road under a street light. The other guys jumped out of their cars and they all went to work repairing the Ford’s carburetor. Soon we were on the road again and I made it home in time to beat my curfew.

Otherwise, our dates consisted of picnics at the park, going to the movies and once in awhile a restaurant for dinner. He was always a working teen and saved his money in one of his dad's cigar boxes. I knew he could afford a car and me while going to school as long as he delivered the L.A. Times!

The Yum Burger was our favorite diner. Located on Manchester Blvd. it was famous for its logo of an American Indian brave—a cultural icon that would now get it shut down! Nickels and dimes powered the jukeboxes on the tables. The burgers, fries and ice cream shakes were about 35¢ each. The walk-in movie’s comfortable, rocking loge seats were 50¢ and ice cream at Scrivener’s Drive-In was about 24¢. My, how times have changed.

Ultimately, we graduated from our respective high schools. Chuck proposed marriage with a cigar band and promptly joined the U.S. Army Reserve. I worked at the Broadway Dept. store as an elevator operator to save up for our wedding while attending Pepperdine College. Finally, on Nov. 1, 1958, we married at St. Mark’s Methodist Church in Inglewood, Calif. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Those early days are the times that memories are made of. But my love for the 1950s has nothing to do with Elvis or hot rods and everything to do with the man I married.

Happy Anniversary to my loving, faithful, talented, one-of-a-kind, car crazy husband!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Making Memories as we turn life's corners

Kaisers and Bigfoot on the Colombia River 2015
10/7/15 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

There are certain defining moments in life when you know that you have “turned a corner.” When you’re young, those corners are usually exciting. They are monumental moments that happily change you forever: Becoming a teenager. Graduations. Celebrating your 21st birthday. Falling in love. Getting married. Starting a family. Discovering a career path that makes the difference between subsisting and thriving.

As we get a little older and retirement nears, the corners get a little sharper. For those of us who loved parenting, the empty nest experience is a bit of a jolt. We have questions. What happened to my fit body? What’s with all this gray hair that makes us look like Q-tips? Why am I so tired at the end of the day? And what in the world is happening to this current generation?

 Retirement age is a different story. IRAs and 401Ks were not common until the 1990s. That was too late for many of us to accumulate sizeable chunks of money. So I think that most of us wondered how we would ever afford to retire. We thought we going to have to work until we died! Nevertheless, one day we turned a corner and realized that we just couldn’t cut the 9-5 job any more.  So we figured out how to make the finances work.

But after retirement there are more corners to turn. I learned that from our neighbors Sallie and Jim. They were already “elderly” (at least 70 years old!) when they moved into our California neighborhood but boy, were they active. They mowed lawns, painted the house, planted a garden, drove to Texas to visit family and volunteered at church where Sallie's Sunday School classes were standing room only.

As the years went by they slowed down and we started helping them keep things together. Jim would regularly knock the lamppost down as he backed out of the driveway. He often showed up on our doorstep, head bleeding, after he fell off a ladder. Sallie’s driving became so erratic that one day a school bus driver stopped her, got her name and license and reported her to the DMV. Eventually, both of them had their driver’s licenses taken away and they were dependent on others for transportation. Now that's life changing!

One day I stopped to see Sallie after work. She and Jim were now well into their 80s. As I walked in the house, she burst into tears, threw her apron over her head and said, “Betty, I’ve turned another corner.” General housework—cleaning and cooking their meals had become too difficult for her. As we commiserated...both of us cried.

Ever the problem solvers, Chuck and I put our heads together and decided that we could help. We brought in meals three times a week from Kaiser’s Country Diner’s daily specials. Our neighbors weren’t big eaters (two dinners was enough for two nights) and they went out for Sunday supper. One problem solved. (Later, when we moved, I signed them up for Meals on Wheels.)

It’s amazing how these past memories come back since Chuck and I have aged and started turning unwanted corners. When we were 50 years old we gutted our house and rebuilt it ourselves. In our 60’s, we were still working jobs, planting gardens and ceaselessly manicuring our six acres. Now in our 70s we have turned some major health issue corners and have slowed down considerably. To keep up the property we hire helpers but other corners are not that simple.

I was born with a passion for travel. Our family’s yearly travels began at Catalina Island and expanded from there to primitive/RV camping in state and national parks across the USA. Along the way we flew around the world and checked off places we had dreamed of visiting. I thought we would always be able to go and do. Wrong!

At this age and stage of life we have turned a sad travel corner—flight fatigue. A flight across the United States is still doable—barely. It all depends on connections but if it takes all day…we don’t go. Any place “across the pond” or beyond is now definitely off the want-to-go list. We were always going to go back to Johannesburg, So. Africa but a nearly 22-hour flight would do us both in.

Our current travel destinations are a little closer to home. They are what I call “Do-over’s.” They are places that we’ve been and want to see again. Having “been-there-and-done-that,” we are comfortable returning. Once there, our anxiety level drops. We know where there are places to stay, good places to eat and things to do. Time slows down, we don’t have to rush around and we can explore nooks and crannies that we didn’t see before.

We just returned from one of those slow-go places at the foot of Mt. Hood outside Sandy, Ore. I would guesstimate that we have stayed there in our RV at least a dozen times in the last decade. Every time we go we find something new to do. We have ridden our bikes to garage sales, eaten at the Tollgate Café, talked to the locals, ridden the Mt. Hood ski lift, sailed the Colombia, shopped till we dropped and stopped by the Guide Dogs for the Blind on the way home.

For us, no trip is complete without getting out into the woods. One of our favorites is the nearby Wildwood Cascade Streamwatch Trails. It’s a fabulous place to get out in nature and not break your neck! In addition to the sound of the rushing river that leads to outlooks, there are paved paths down to the river and slightly steeper gravel paths for the more adventurous. Everywhere you look, the scenery is fabulous. There are fish for underwater viewing and crafted benches that are works of art along the way. Signs make sure you don’t get lost. We love it!

Turning the corners of aging is not always fun. But “Do-over’s” are bright spots in the making memories process. Is there some place within a days drive that you’re longing to go? You can do it! Make a plan and find a way to make it happen! 

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Wondering 'WHY?'

9/9/15 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

I spend many a sleepless night worrying about things I have no control over. I probably need to see a therapist! The questions that I wrestle with usually begin with the word “WHY?”

I’ve finally had to stop watching the nightly news reports that recite the day’s atrocities. It’s like there’s a bewildering underground of sociopaths out there trying to outdo one another in evil acts. Weren’t we all born with a conscience to do the right thing? Evidently not.

I understand natural disasters. Tragic as they may be, the things that happen when Mother Nature goes on a rampage—earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and fires—seem to bring out the best in people. People rise to the occasion, comfort one another, help their neighbors and look for solutions.

It is always heartwarming to hear or read of massive acts of kindness going on right in our neighborhood. A recent Register Guard article by Mark Baker on World War II veterans returning special message flags to Japanese families was great. It left me in tears. Tears of joy. The verbal picture of former (aging) U.S. soldiers ministering to their former enemies with respect, compassion and humility was priceless.

 “A Mission of Peace” described the mission of Eugene residents Rex Ziak and his wife Keiko, to return the “good luck flags” to the families of dead Japanese soldiers from whom the flags were taken. It also captures the spirit of now-elderly WWII veterans as they returned some of the flags that have been found. Our veterans were humble and the recipients grateful. Their mission is on-going.

In this computer age of isolationism, good stuff still happens. So-called Crowdfunding websites are especially impressive in getting the word out that someone needs help with medical bills or other necessities. I liken them to the Bible’s loaves and fishes story where a few morsels became enough to feed 5,000 people. Ten dollars can easily become $10,000 when word spreads that help is needed.

But more often than not, the everyday news that we receive is not good news. It’s not even bad news. It’s awful news. Killing news. Hateful actions by deeply disturbed people living secret lives and plotting unthinkable revenge on good people.

You would think that I’d be used to such atrocities. After all, I grew up in Los Angeles, the second largest city in the USA. But that was the 1950s. An era of innocence. I don’t remember my parents ever talking about people killing people for the sake of killing.

I do remember my parents talking about the Lindbergh baby kidnapping that happened long before I was born. Charles Lindbergh was a celebrity in 1927 after he flew the first solo flight across the Atlantic.  In 1932, he and his wife Anne discovered their 20-month-old son missing. The kidnapper used a ladder to climb up to the boy’s room, leaving muddy footprints on the floor and a $50,000 ransom note. The ante was later upped to $70,000. It was paid and the child found dead near the Lindbergh mansion.

The entire country went into mourning. Parents held their children close and 15 years later, kids were still being warned to stay near home because “There are kidnappers out there.” And there still are.

I don’t know. Maybe today’s stuff has always gone on but just not on this 21st century scale.  Here are some questions that keep me awake at night asking “Why?”

Why are homicide rates surging across the country in 2015? In Baltimore, New Orleans and St. Louis, rates are up 33%.

Why do so many people have grudges that are so heavy and deep that they can’t walk away from them?

Why are individuals killing their friends, family and loved ones (including children!) then killing themselves? What’s the point?

Why do people have to go on Facebook and humiliate someone that they dislike because they’re too fat, too pretty, too popular or whatever? How does that make the hater feel better?

Why does it seem like everyone carries a gun? I know people who have permits and wear their guns to the grocery store. Can’t be too careful, you know!

Why do some people think that laws don’t apply to them? Daily I see people talking or texting while driving. Duh. They are accidents (and tickets) waiting to happen.

Why do people loot and burn the neighborhoods they live in during a riot? Where are they and their children going to sleep afterwards?

Why do we blame the police for doing their job? And what is their job? It’s to uphold the law. Many people break the law and then blame the police for catching them in the act. Strange thinking.

Why are there bad cops? I don’t know. Bad apples are in every job.

Why are most cops good? Again, I don't know. But I do know that I’m grateful for them!

Why do people prefer to get high on drugs instead of life?

Why do on-going racial, religious, power-hungry wars never cease?

Why don’t we all respect one another unless or until it’s proven that someone isn’t deserving of our respect?

As you can see, I have no answers to these questions. In fact, I have more questions. However, I’m just a clueless columnist preaching to the choir and trying to maintain my sanity.  Here is what I do know:
Daily I try to look for the good and praise it while I remember that laughter is good therapy. So is practicing the Golden Rule: “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” To sleep at night I pray and put my concerns in God’s hands.

Now I’m going to go have a long talk with my sister the psychologist!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Places to go and things to do in summertime Cottage Grove

8/12/15 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Locals offer visitor tips.

Last month Oregon’s Senator Ron Wyden sent me (and several thousand others) an email letter about the Seven Wonders of Oregon. In the letter he describes his seven-day trip around the state to meet with local businesses and discuss the state’s growing recreation economy. He also visited Oregon’s natural icons. They are:
1. Crater Lake (Deepest Lake in America)
2. Mt. Hood
3. Columbia River Gorge
4. Oregon Coast
5. Painted Hills
6. Smith Rock
7. The Wallowa Mountains

I surveyed the above list with an eye to my annual August tour guide duties. August is the month when out-of-town family and friends descend upon us. Usually, when they get here, they’re tired. They are happy to plunk themselves down on the deck, read a book, sip some iced tea, enjoy the wildlife or close their eyes and take a nap. They really don’t expect us to take them anywhere.

I’m the one with the expectations. None of which measure up to the places on Senator Wyden’s list. As the month of August winds down so does my tour guide brain! My places-to-go list for grandsons and guests hasn’t changed in years (Shahalie Falls, UO, historical places, water parks, Wildlife Safari, any place that sells elephant ears, etc.).

In an effort to change my course, I decided to poll a few friends on their favorite places to take visitors in and around Cottage Grove and Lane County. i.e. Places close to home. Following are some of their tips. These are personal opinions. No money has changed hands for their input. Initials have been used to protect the innocent.

 Along Main St., folks liked strolling into shops—antique, jewelry, the museums, whatever. Book stores are especially popular. Everyone had a favorite place to eat or beverage stop. I started to list them all and realized that if I left a restaurant out I would be toast!  Suffice it to say that you will not go hungry or thirsty in our town.

J.P. combined a variety of activities: “In the summer I take guests to the concerts in the park and the Art Walk. I drive upriver and stop along the way to admire the beauty. A drive in the country (maybe along Sears Rd) and the swinging bridge adds excitement.” R. H. added his two cents with four words: “Pancakes up Bohemia Saddle.”

Many folks recommended the Covered Bridge Tour. My favorite comment came from S.L. who said: “One Sunday at the Community Center a couple with a British accent asked me if this was where they filmed “Bridges of Madison County. I told them ‘no,’ it was clear on the other side of the USA. They were very nice and must have come from across the pond but were happy with directions on the maps.”

For the physically fit, A.C. suggested this route: “If visitors are energetic, we take them for a hike to Trestle Falls on the Umpqua Forest or bicycling on the Row River Trail.  For bird watching, the Row River Nature Park is great and has an amazing number of species including both great blue herons and green herons; often you can see osprey and bald eagles there, too, as well as multiple warblers, woodpeckers and migrating ducks in the fall.”

Short area walks; hikes and bike rides along the Row River Trail are also popular.  Former resident S. B. recommends the labyrinth at the Village Green.” B. G. suggested a hike to Brice Creek Falls. Not difficult but beautiful. B.I. added, “We just think that the C.G. Lake area is hard to beat for scenery. We are so blessed to live here!”

C.A. suggested that Lane Co. is an avid golfer’s paradise: “Eugene’s Fiddler’s Green is a golfer’s delight along with Emerald Valley in Creswell; Middlefield and Hidden Valley in C.G.; Sandpines in Florence and Tokatee near Blue River.”

The Oregon Coast is always a must-see. L.M. said, “Most of our visitors are from California. They always love the coast. It’s rugged beauty is in sharp contrast to their beautiful but treeless beaches.”

B. W. reminded me of a personal favorite that I can vouch is worth the trip: “Sweet Creek Falls Trail. It’s on the way to Florence, about 11 miles to the trailhead off Hwy. 126 in the Siuslaw Nat'l Forest. An easy-to-moderate hike follows the 70 ft drop in 4 tiers. The 2 1/2 miles of trail has moderate steps, wooden bridges with hand rails.”

Now I’m going to break my rule and name a restaurant since it’s out of the city limits. C.A. said, “In Florence, just around the corner from Mo’s, is Lovejoy’s Teahouse. It's a little known but popular gem. They serve traditional English food and have yummy scones with preserves and clotted cream, a variety of English tea sandwiches (cucumber, egg salad and watercress), petit fours, and a variety of loose leaf teas served in your own teapot. 

Replies waxed absolutely poetic about lunch at King’s Estate: B. G. said, “The patio affords a beautiful view of the Loraine Valley with a distant view of snow capped mountains.  In summer as you drive through the property toward the main building, your eyes feast on the lush green grape vines allowing one to see grapes in their formative stage. Fall brings the harvest with leaves of gold and orange and grapes showing their distinctive purple color.”

Well, I’m out of room but I think the point has been made: You don’t have to go far to have a good time in C.G. and Lane Co. There’s always somewhere to go, something to do and someplace to eat. If you’re still lost, check out the Chamber of Commerce. Great stuff!

 And don’t forget—this weekend it’s time for the WOE Heritage Fair and Lumberjack Show. You can enjoy a historical event and eat elephant ears. I’ll see you there!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Bohemia Mining Days in Cottage Grove, Oregon

7/15/15 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

BMD Daze: Where to go and what to do!

Howdy, folks! Welcome to Bohemia Mining Days here in beautiful Cottage Grove, Oregon. This weekend, we’re putting out the welcome mat for everyone to come and enjoy some good, old-fashioned fun. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a born-and-bred Grover or a first time visitor—you’re going to enjoy some great history and hospitality.

Bohemia Mining Days celebrates the discovery of gold in them ‘thar hills southeast of Cottage Grove in 1863. Legend has it that two men (fleeing from Roseburg after killing an Indian) made their way into the Calapooya Mountains where they accidentally found gold while skinning a buck. And the rest, as they say…is history.

Eventually an area called Bohemia City was established as miners began the hard work of picking out a living. In the early 1900s they even had a few parades to celebrate their mining efforts. Then, in 1955, a really big 10-day celebration honored the 100-year birthday of the settlement of C.G. A parade precedent was established.

 “Radio Ray” Nelson (who loved the mining life) is credited with stirring up interest to celebrate Oregon’s Statehood Centennial in 1959. To help with financing the event, he founded the “Prospectors and Golddiggers Club” to be a booster group for mining. He soon became known as “Bohemia Ray.” Nearly 60 years later, the financial backing, traditions and enthusiasm of this event are still reflected in today’s Bohemia Mining Days.

Of course, there have been changes. The entire event has certainly grown since Chuck and I rolled into town in the late 1980s. As I recall, some activities such as carnival rides, food vendors and other concessions were located in a dusty field in what is now WalMart’s parking lot. I also remember a year when the carnival rides were set up in the old Madonna property located off Highway 99—a long walk from Main St. and Bohemia City.

And speaking of walking, the free BMD Express Train will once again be offering rides along the Main St. route from Coiner Park (Bohemia City) to the carnival rides at Bohemia Park and the Opal/All America Square. The Express will also go to Trinity Lutheran’s chicken dinner and First Presbyterian’s ice cream social. Times vary so check the printed schedule.

The festivities actually begin this evening (Wed.) at Bohemia Park Amphitheater with a free show. “The Fret Boy—Al Bennett,” will be performing classic rock. Seating is limited, so bring some folding chairs or a blanket for the grass and rock on!

Thursday afternoon from 3-9 p.m., Bohemia City opens in Coiner Park. First there is an opening ceremony. Then, the sky’s the limit: Every day there’s a “Cultural Stage” talk, musical performances, pony and camel rides, an antique engines exhibit, food and drink vendors, a beer and wine garden and on Thursday only, a miner’s dinner near the basketball court. It ends when steaks run out!

On Friday, there are some additions: the Kiddie Parade will scamper thru downtown; a family friendly melodrama will entertain at Cottage Theatre, 700 Village Dr., on Fri. and Sat. at 7 p.m. and Sun. at 2:30 p.m. Cost $7. The Oregon Aviation History Center will be open along with the Bohemia Gold Mining Museum and CG Historical Museum. A Gold Rush 5K night run or walk thru town begins at 9 p.m. at Washington & 6th St. Cost $20-$30.

The Ice Cream Social and Quilt Show is one of BMD’s oldest events The quilt show opens at noon on Friday at First Presbyterian Church, Adams & 2nd St. Then, from 4-8 p.m., homemade cakes, brownies, pies and a choice of ice cream are dished up. Proceeds benefit the FPC youth music program and Community Sharing. Cost: $1.50 kids; $3.50 adults.

Saturday, of course, is the really big show (as Ed Sullivan used to say). The eagerly awaited Grand Miner’s Parade starts off at 10 a.m. As of this writing I don’t have a float schedule so the line-up will be a surprise! But you can count on the parade beginning with a Color Guard processional followed by bands, batons, dogs, horses, old cars, music, people of all ages and floats decorated from the ridiculous to the sublime. It always ends with the wail of fire engines. 

Then, if you’re brave, you might want to check out times to compete in one of the feud contests. For many years, the Lemati Gang re-enacted an original running feud from the late 19th century. They entertained BMD audiences with their western themed shootouts, hangings and jailbreaks. This is the third year of the resurrection of “The Slabtown vs Lemati Feud.” Feud contests range from the ridiculous to the sublime on the Gazebo stage.

Saturday also features some great food. In addition to corn dogs, curly fries and cotton candy (I hope!), there’s a chuck wagon breakfast from 7—11 a.m. in Bohemia City. An always-fabulous BBQ chicken dinner plate at Trinity Lutheran Church runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. or whenever chicken runs out!

Sunday, beginning at 6 a.m., the 51st Annual Miners Breakfast on the Mountain will begin. It’s a great chance to not only get some grub but appreciate the scenery up the winding road to the Bohemia Mining District, 40 miles SE of Cottage Grove. The breakfast ends at 1 p.m. but the fun goes on in town at Bohemia City until closing at 5 p.m.

So, there you have it. It’s BMD! Time to celebrate the colorful and rich history of Cottage Grove with your family and friends. A full three days of celebration of carnival rides, history, melodramas, food, musical entertainment, cherry seed spitting and beard growing contests. There’s something for everyone. Don’t miss it!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Where do you get your news?

6/17/15 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Digital changes to our daily news sources

“Well, what shall I talk about? I ain’t got anything funny to say.
All I know is what I read in the newspapers.”
Will Rogers

This famous statement by renowned American humorist Will Rogers was originally used during his appearances in Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolic shows in 1915. One hundred years later, it still rings true for many of us today. We get meaningful news from newspapers.

The times however are changing. Our news today comes from many sources, including radio, television and the Internet’s social media. All of which are (presumably) more attractive to today’s on-the-go generation. It’s sad but true that hold-in-your-hand newspapers are a dying breed of communication.

It was shocking to me when The Oregonian ceased a daily publication in 2013 and went mostly digital. Today, one can pay for unlimited (7 days a week) access to the Oregonian Digital Newspaper with apps from a tablet, smart phone or computer.  Twice a week, a print edition is delivered and sold on the newsstand.

Recently, the Eugene Register Guard newspaper announced that the family-owned paper’s new publisher was not a family member. They were proudly heralding a new era of digital change to become “more than a newspaper.” With that thought in mind, one has to wonder how long before they quit printing.

This is not good news for us real newspaper junkies. I subscribe to both the RG and the CG Sentinel and used to buy the Sunday Oregonian. I wake up to radio news, read the daily Internet news and watch two different news channels at night. I like to know what’s going on in the rest of the world as well as Lane Co.

It’s because of the Internet’s Yahoo! that I discovered Katie ‘s FYI. Former news anchor and daytime TV star Katie Couric is now Yahoo’s Global News Anchor. I was never a big fan of hers so frankly, I ignored her Internet presence until last Dec. Then, I stumbled across her report on falling oil prices. In a segment that she calls, “Now I get it,” she explained (in words that I could understand) the oil crisis situation.

Suddenly, I was a fan. I signed up at
to receive her daily reports. Turns out that I like her news choices as much as I did her commentaries. Now, every morning, a variety of important and interesting news gets delivered to my email inbox. They range from breaking hard news to whimsically articles that make me think.

In January, the first headline that grabbed my attention was: “Unlock your creativity this year: Get bored, early and often.” The author was a mother with a colicky baby. But it wasn’t a sweet mother-child relationship study. Instead, this working mom had to turn off her iPhone while walking her baby. She was bored. Eventually she discovered that this mindless activity of walking and thinking paid great dividends in productive thinking. Imagine that!

In March, thanks to Katie, I watched a fascinating video on a very timely subject: “Cancer’s Most Controversial Surgery.” Can you guess which one it is? Breast cancer. Today about 60 percent of women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer choose lumpectomy surgery followed by radiation instead of a complete mastectomy. Once this was not a choice. Now it is.

In May I read a fascinating piece about an outspoken Iraqi parliamentarian taking a brave stand against ISIS. We don’t hear much about how ordinary people in Iraq feel about this scourge. Certainly not if the person is an unveiled woman, who believes in democracy! But there is such a woman and her name is Vian Dakhil. She cares about all the people in her country and is working politically to save the endangered Yazidi religious and ethnic minority. Her story gave me hope. It was published in “Fast Company.” 

Other headlines have included “Who decides where autistic adults live?” “Can one man end the global drug war?” “Will Cleveland’s police reform offer blueprint for other cities?” “Why cursive mattered.” And “The real reason you have a terrible memory.” There’s something for everyone. Check it out.

Thanks to Katie my horizons are stretched in different ways every day. I need that. Otherwise I might get lazy and settle for being spoon fed whatever pops up on my screen i.e. the latest UFO sighting or Kardashion fashion statement. Even worse, I could become depressed over the depravity of this world—murders, molestations, global warming, genocide, terrorism and more. No, I need a balanced look at the world and Katie’s FYI provides it.

Locally, “Around the Grove,” is a new weekly resource for events that are happening here in Cottage Grove. Its goal is to encourage community participation. This enews made its debut a few months ago and is an additional resource to the Chamber of Commerce, radio station KNND or the Sentinel.

ATG is a nice addition to the mix with a laid out calendar of events that I find easy to read and mark on my own calendar. Although it’s technically not a news sources, I always learn something. For instance: Do you know what the networking acronym TEAM means? “Together Everyone Achieves More.” A worthy community goal.

KNND calendar coordinator Cindy Weeldreyer is the editor of ATG. If you’re interested in getting on the weekly email list or would like to submit an item for the weekly calendar, send an email to or drop it off at radio station KNND, 321 Main St.

Yep. Times have changed. I do wonder what Will Rogers would say about all these new-fangled options. But he was a simple guy. He’d probably still be funny and find a newspaper to read.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. 

The power of one person

5/13/15 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

The power of ONE…

“One person can make a difference and everyone should try.”
John F. Kennedy

On August 11, 1965 a routine traffic stop by police, triggered a race riot in a suburb of my hometown in Los Angeles. African Americans (then called Negroes) lived in semi-isolation in the Watts area of L.A. Unemployment was high, relations between the mostly white police department and the community was strained at best. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was in its infancy. The area was a powder keg.

Ugly rumors about the traffic stop grew, flew and ignited an explosion like we Angelenos had never known. For six days, as many as 10,000 rioters took to the streets in roving bands. By the time the riots ended, 34 people died, more than 1,000 were injured and 600-plus buildings were damaged or destroyed by fire and looting.

After the riot, racial tensions continued to simmer. Young men were still unemployed and turning to drugs, gangs and violence. Into this scene came a most unlikely peacemaker—“Big Willie” Robinson.

Willie, a Vietnam veteran and member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, came home to another kind of war. He was an imposing 300 pound, 6’6” gentle giant of a man— the kind of guy that could get gang members and cops to put down their weapons and shake hands. He also loved fast cars and soon made a name for himself in East L.A.’s street racing underground in his ’57 Chevy.

Veterans returning from WWII are credited with starting the hot rod racing craze. “My car is hotter than your car” conversations led them to the streets in competition for bragging rights. Later, in the 1950s my husband and his buddies raced after school in isolated areas and at night at Lion’s Drag strip in Long Beach. It was everything that a young man loves—speed and competition.

In 1966, a year after the riots, L.A. residents and politicians were desperate for ways to vent the Watt’s pressure cooker. Future mayor Tom Bradley (then a councilman) noticed that the local street-racing scene of hot rodders and drag racers attracted an integrated crowd. He and the council approached Robinson to stage a series of semi-legal street races at midnight on Fridays for all comers.

More than 10,000 people showed up on the first night! Thus was born the National and International Brotherhood of Street Racers. "Jalopnik" magazine, said membership was simple: pledge to race under safety supervision; abstain from alcohol, drugs, fighting; and NO squirreling during events (i.e. acting stupid while showing off).

In 1968, the program was credited to have helped L.A. keep order on the streets after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Cities like Chicago, Detroit and New York saw spikes in racial unrest.

Robinson worked for years to get a drag strip that could be operated with the low buck street racer in mind. In 1974, he finally saw his dream come true on Terminal Island outside L.A. The track was short on amenities but it was a true melting pot for the car culture. There, on their own turf, guys could quasi-legally drag race off the city streets without the dangers of illegal racing.

Big Willie Robinson, street racer and peacemaker, died on May 21, 2012 at the age of 69. He helped thousands of men to build a brotherhood through street racing. “When you get around cars, man, there isn’t no colors, just engines,” he told the L.A. Times in 1981.

The power of one person to make a difference under pressure cooker circumstances always amazes me. Last month, the whole world sat up and paid attention when Ms Toya Graham chased down and stopped her son as he took part in the Baltimore riots. I nominate her for mother of the year!

The riots began when Freddie Gray, a 25-year old African American resident of Baltimore, died in police custody a week after being arrested.  Gray reportedly was in good health prior to his arrest but possibly incurred neck and spine injuries while being transported to jail. He later fell into a coma and died. Charges have been filed against six police officers.

Irate citizens initially protested peacefully. Once charges were filed against the police the scene turned ugly. Angry crowds took to the streets in massive acts of violence, vandalism, looting and arson. In the end, everyone suffered—police, rioters, innocent civilians and shopkeepers. There were no winners.

Well, maybe one. Score one for mothers! I loved Toya Graham, rushing into the fray to do what she could. She didn’t rush out to beat up the police, or the protestors or shopkeepers. No, she zeroed in to stop the only person that she had any control over—her son. Her actions went viral, giving us all a lesson in love and wisdom.

Graham, a single mother of six children, spotted her 16-year old son Michael wearing a hoodie and mask. She said, “I just lost it. I was shocked, I was angry, because you never want to see your child out here doing that. I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray…I’m a no-tolerant mother.”

 It’s that reputation that made her son wince the second he saw her. He said, “when I seen you, ma, my instinct was to run.” Photos show her whacking and herding him out of the crowd and home where they watched and discussed the riots play out on television. I can only imagine what was said.

Graham hopes that with the perspective of time it will be a teachable moment for her son. I’m thinking that it’s a teachable moment for all of us: Respect one another, play by the rules, don’t hurt others, make a scene for a good cause but start the training at home.

God bless the peacemakers. They make a difference. It’s a task for each of us to try.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Road trip calling? It must be spring fever!

4/15/15 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

 On these glorious, sunshiny days, I do not like to be inside, tied to my desk and a keyboard! Outside there is real work to be done: moss to be scrubbed off planters and walkways; weeds to be pulled; bushes to be shaped; roses to be uncovered and winter’s damage to be repaired. And of course, roads to be traveled.

In springtime, if it’s a sunny day outside then I’m a gloomy inside person. So now that I’ve got that out of my system, here comes another confession—I’m not getting much done inside either. I’m sitting here looking at the blank computer screen with a road trip brain, dreaming about new places to explore.

One of the many things that I love about Oregon is that it is such a compact state. In our RV days we traveled to just about every nook and cranny possible in the Pacific North West. Now, for the first time in 35 years, we are touring by car, bus or train and there aren’t many places we haven’t been.

Where to go next? That is always the question. The answer usually arrives when the monthly edition of Travel Oregon arrives in my inbox. They have great suggestions for cities and regions to visit, places to stay, things to see and do, in places large and small.

Last month their visitor information concentrated on the “Seven Wonders of Oregon.” In no particular order, they are:  Crater Lake, the Wallowa Mountains, Painted Hills, Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood, and the Oregon Coast. I was able to check off five of those areas as well-explored. We had been near the Painted Hills but were unable to stop on our way to Baker City.

Baker City is worth the long drive just to visit the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. There, the story of the Oregon Trail comes alive before your eyes. The 23,000 square foot facility is more than a museum or monument. The story of tens of thousands of men, women and children who walked for 2,000 miles comes alive through life-size exhibits, interpretive trails, special events and Oregon Trail ruts. The living history performances bring life to the trail experience. I even bonded with one of the oxen over its long eyelashes!

Having been-there-done-that, its time to visit the Wallowas and the Painted Hills. Both destinations make me a little apprehensive. First, I’m not fond of deserts—high or low. We took a trip one year from our home in Ventura (on the Calif. coast) to Death Valley—the lowest, driest and hottest area in No. America. Not our favorite trip.

It was, however, one of the last Calif. National Parks. to check off our list. We had to go. The valley is known for its isolation, sizzling temperatures and lack of rain. But it was only May. How hot could it possibly be? Well, we would soon find out. This was the early 1980s. Information was limited. There were no computers or cell phones. Word-of-mouth, maps and encyclopedias were our guides.

As I recall, we drove into the town of Ridgecrest at dusk. We had plenty of water and snacks in our ’81 Oldsmobile but only about a quarter tank of gas. Our maps indicated Death Valley was just down the hill. We decided to head down and fill up in the valley.

I can still see the long, winding, isolated road to nowhere that greeted us. We promptly turned around, filled up the gas tank and ate a hamburger (our last meal!) at the only café in town. Down, down, down we went. There was no traffic. We were the only car on the road. It was almost dark and we had a sinking feeling wondering if the road would lead to civilization and a comfy, air-conditioned motel.
We gratefully arrived about 9 p.m. and the heat was tolerable. The next morning we woke up to brilliant sunshine and (gulp) 100° F. heat. By the time we had breakfast and headed out on a tour bus to Scotty’s Castle, the temperature had climbed to about 117° F.

Scotty’s Castle was 53 miles from the Furnace Creek Resort where we were staying. The castle and grounds are famous for opulence in the middle of nowhere. In the early 1900s, Albert Johnson grubstaked a gold mining expedition for Walter Scott (Scotty). The gold never panned out but Scotty convinced everyone that he had money from secret mines in the area and built a castle. Actually, Johnson and his wife built the spectacular two million dollar home as a vacation getaway. The National Park Service now owns it.

Today Death Valley State Park is quite the destination spot. The Furnace Creek Inn has luxury lodging as high as $370 per night. Its amenities are endless and of course, include swimming pools. A nearby mini-town built by the Pacific Coast Borax Company now features another hotel and the Amargosa Opera House. Things are a wee bit different than during our visit.

Now, back to Oregon’s desert hot spots. The stunning Wallowas Mountains are said to be one of Oregon’s most beautiful secrets and a multi-day adventure. Pictures of the Painted Hills are spectacular. The colors shift and change with the difference of light and the seasons. Wild flowers flourish at this time of year. Both destinations sound wonderful. But they’re still far away in a hot, desolate setting.

To go or not to go? That is the question. But the road is calling...

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Trash and treasures in the mailbox

1/18/15 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Going to the mailbox used to be one of life’s pleasures. In a more personal and un-computerized society, we corresponded across town and around the world with pen and paper. Telephone calls were expensive but postage stamps were not.  A treasured note from someone saying ‘hello’ was usually tucked in among the inevitable bills. Those cards, notes and letters always made my day.

Today, just about the only people saying ‘hello’ to me by snail mail are not people at all. The mailers are automated computers deep in the bowels of marketing offices all across the nation. There, clever ad agencies put together enticing, colorful offers that are mass mailed to millions of people. At my house they go right in the trash/recycling.

This past year our mailbox has been bombarded with a ridiculous amount of unwanted catalogs, coupons, credit card offers and donation requests. Some charities send one or two solicitations a week. Many add stamps and coins to entice a donation. They are seldom opened. In an effort to stop the flow, I tried marking them “return to sender.” It made things worse and they keep coming.

One day I couldn’t stand it any longer. I opened a solicitation and found a phone number to call and (hopefully) stop the onslaught. I was told they would be happy to do so but  “Mrs. Kaiser, you must understand that these mailings are prepared months in advance and will take up to 12 weeks to stop.” I hung up before I said something that I shouldn’t.

Eventually, the mailings dwindled down to once a week communications. As I stand over the trashcan, slicing and dicing them, I no longer wonder what some banking institutions are doing with our money. I know. They’re spending it on soliciting more customers and keeping the post office in business.

I am an avid magazine subscriber and thanks to some very nice ‘two-years-for-the-price-of-one’ offers, I often get good deals. Especially nice are the ‘buy-one-give-one’ gift offers. Obviously (as you will see) these are cash flow bonanzas for the companies and cash cows for the long haul.

A couple of years ago I noticed that the due dates for my Reader’s Digest magazine subscriptions were coming closer and closer together. December bills for family gift subscriptions were arriving in July. When I didn’t pay them, the bills kept coming. So I decided the subscriptions must be expired and wrote a check. The next year I did the same thing.

Guess what? By the time that I caught on to their advance billing game, everyone still had two years left on subscriptions. I finally called Customer Service and got it all straightened out. Now I keep a list of expiration dates.

“Final Notice!” offers without an actual expiration date are common.  An offer to renew my three-year AARP membership was really annoying.  My membership was only one year old when I received a notice to confirm that I wanted to renew my AARP membership and receive a Free Travel Bag! I called and complained that the offer was deceptive and they apologized. Yea, right.

Of course, these solicitations are not just limited to snail mail. Oh, no. They also come via telephone (email spam is another subject).

Last winter, in one of March’s wild winter storms, our power was out about 24 hours. As soon as our telephone service was restored, the phone rang. The caller inquired if everyone was okay and if we were interested in purchasing a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) in case this happens again. In a different state of mind and a different time, I might have been cordial. Instead, I just told him to remove our name from his calling list and hung up.

My husband has a product in his workshop for which he purchases parts on the telephone. When he needs something, he calls and orders it. If he doesn’t need anything, he doesn’t call. The problem is that if he doesn’t call every 30 days, they call him — night after night at dinnertime. He asked to speak to their supervisor and be removed from their call list. They agreed but still the calls came.

Finally, I got online and ferreted out email addresses for the corporate office customer service division. A distinctly worded message protesting their sales tactics resulted in corporate calling me. They assured me that the sales solicitations would stop. And they did.

Still, in spite of our enrollment in the “Do not call” program, the other calls continued. So, we threw in the towel and subscribed to our phone company’s feature that blocks unwanted calls. For a small fee its message annoys everyone who calls—but it does what we pay for—a great job of filtering out solicitors and scam artists!

In a last ditch effort to opt out of the trash mail offers that kept coming, I Googled for some help. I started with Their site suggests that we tell the companies directly to remove our name (an on-going chore) or call the credit reporting agencies notification system at 1-888-567-8688. This required giving one’s Social Security number.

A final suggestion was to visit the Direct Marketing Association’s website at:

I decided to sign up with this one even though it doesn’t get rave reviews and must be renewed every three years (without an expiration notice). It was quick and simple and hopefully it will work.

Now, if I could just get friends and family to fill the mailbox with hand-written treasured notes—I would be a happy girl!

 Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.