|Seaman Jim Hornick circa 1950|
Friday, March 24, 2017
My husband and I recently attended a memorial service for James Freeman Hornick, a USN Retired Commander, our former neighbor and forever friend.
Sitting in the mortuary,
amongst his family and friends, I realized that Jim was one of those golden
Cottage Grove residents that I spoke of in my last column. This is his story.
To all appearances, neighbor Jim was a good old boy just like all the other guys. He wore jeans, tended his garden and told tall tales. But he was so much more. He had a unique success story that began in the hills of West Virginia where he was born in 1931. The cabin that he and his brothers grew up in had neither electricity, indoor plumbing nor water. His family was truly destitute.
The town of West Milford, WV, had a population of about 630. Jim was one of 15 graduates from his school. (One of the student’s’ favorite pranks involved tipping outhouses!) Post graduation, his future was uncertain. The only certainty was that all young men between the ages of 18 and 26 were required to register for Military Training and Service. I.e. the draft.
Jim may have been a hillbilly (his words) but he was smart and he didn’t have many choices. Since the draft was imminent, he enlisted in the Navy in 1950 at the age of 19. Why the Navy? His answer: “I didn’t want to roll around in the mud with the Army. Bed sheets on board every night were much better.”
His Navy career began on the flight deck as a “white hat” enlistee or “mustang” meaning that he started out as an enlistee but advanced to an officer—30 years later he retired as a full Commander.
At the memorial, his wife Charlene shared how Jim’s life was a lesson in how to attain success. He had minimal education but a great desire to be more than he was. His life as a sailor was governed by goals, determination and self-education. If he didn’t know how to do something he went to the library and read up on it. That included books on etiquette and manners he hadn’t been taught.
Simply knowing how to type opened the doors to administrative positions. After that, the sky was the limit. He skipped the rank of Chief and Ensign and started climbing the ladder: Warrant Officer, LJG, LT, LTC and finally, a full Commander with the rank of CD-R (as high as he could go under his designation).
The boy who had never left West Virginia quickly became a world traveler. He sailed the world’s oceans including around the African Horn in a harrowing, ship-rolling storm. He served in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. His shore duties included coast-to-coast tours from California to Florida.
His last duty station was at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He supervised hundreds of office workers. How did he get along? With respect. He said, “If you want respect you give respect.”
He met Charlene while serving in Calif. After a whirlwind courtship they married in San Diego in 1973. Jim retired after 30 years of service in 1980 and they moved to Cottage Grove Lake where he quietly set aside the ever-changing military lifestyle, his medals, ribbons and other awards and settled down into civilian life.
In retirement, this officer who bled red, white and blue, loved to golf, fish and hunt. Occasionally we could get him to tell us a story about cruising the world. He would always end it by saying, “Even a hillbilly from West Virginia can do okay in the United States Navy.” In his last years he valiantly fought Alzheimer’s disease. Sadly, he lost that battle January 21, 2017.
We will never forget you Jim. We are grateful to you and all those who choose to serve in the military. You are role models for all generations on how to live disciplined, honorable and patriotic lives. And thank you Jim, for reminding us that anything is possible if you dream big and work hard enough. Rest in peace.
Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Cottage Grove is famous for many things, including its Bohemia Gold Mining district. But in my opinion, this entire area is a huge gold mine of caring residents. Tucked into quiet neighborhoods in and around town, we are blessed with so many people who are pure gold. They quietly contribute their time and talents to make ours a better world.
Former resident Doug Still falls into that golden category. I first knew him by reputation. At that time he had lived here for 31 years and he focused his interests on energy and social issues. Among other things, he was a founder of Jefferson Park, South Lane Mental Health, EPUD and renown for building the solar energy-powered Cottage Restaurant restaurant building.
In Feb. 2006 I was invited to be a guest at a Rotary meeting where Doug was the speaker. Until then I did not realize that his pre-Oregon life included a historical contribution to the Civil Rights movement. I think it bears repeating in this African American History month.
First, a historical reminder: In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. I 1865 the anti-slavery amendment was added to the Constitution and officially eliminated slavery throughout the U.S. One-hundred years later, racial equality was still being disputed in most southern states.
In the 1960s, beleaguered Black citizens all across the South began calling upon Dr. Martin Luther King for help. This American Baptist minister was also a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. Beginning in 1955, he advocated a fresh approach to civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.
In 1962 the Reverend Doug Still was serving in Chicago as the executive director of the department of social welfare of the Presbyterian Church Federation for four counties and 2200 churches. (He was a graduate of Union Theological Seminary and was ordained at the historic Madison Ave. Presbyterian Church in New York.)
He began his Rotary talk by saying, “One day a wire came to the Chicago clergy from Martin Luther King saying that the people of Albany, Georgia needed help. They were in trouble and needed us to come and stand with them in their efforts to desegregate the city’s libraries, parks, schools, churches and hotels. (City officials were closing them rather than integrate them).
“We formed a committee representing the three major faiths,” he said, “and boarded a bus. About 50 of us — Catholic, Protestant, clergy and lay people — rode about 800 miles to Albany to show our concern for our brothers and sisters.
“We arrived at night and the next morning we worshipped together (blacks and whites) and Martin Luther King spoke. Our strategy was to gather in front of city hall and offer a very brief prayer. The sheriff immediately arrested us and locked us up in jail. Even then we were segregated with the black people being put in the stables at the fairgrounds. Six days later, our bus left for Chicago, the most segregated city in the north.”
In 1963 King gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. After that, he won hundreds of awards including the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. The nation was inspired by King’s “dream” speech but racial acceptance was slow in coming and bloody in the process.
Later that year, many were injured in riots when James Meredith was enrolled as the first black at the University of Mississippi. In 1963 fire hoses and police dogs were turned on marchers as they demonstrated in Birmingham, Alabama. Medgar Evers, the NAACP leader was murdered. Four girls were killed in the bombing of a Baptist Church.
President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 but three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi. He then signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 but Malcolm X was murdered and the Watts riots left 34 dead in Los Angeles.
State and local lawmen attacked 600 civil rights workers with billy-clubs and tear gas as they as they approached the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965. The march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama for voting rights became known as “Bloody Sunday.”
Things got worse, Doug said, “Another wire came, asking the clergy and laity to come to Selma. We went down but our efforts to march across the bridge were turned away twice and we returned to Chicago. Later, the National Council of Churches asked me to go to Greenwood Mississippi where I worked with black churches.”
Unfortunately, King did not live to see his dream of peaceful coexistence come true. His voice was stilled by an assassin’s bullet in 1968 and contrary to everything he believed in, the West side of Chicago went up in flames. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Fortunately, King’s color-blind dream didn’t die with him. Others like Doug Still took up the torch and progress in racial equality has been made. Progress — not perfection. But when the torch gets dim we can still hear King exhorting us to keep the dream going: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!”
Doug Still has also moved on to his heavenly reward. But he will long be remembered by the legacy that he left of serving others locally and across the nation. That day at Rotary he also left us with this thought:
“So, what do we learn from all of this?” he asked rhetorically. “Violence doesn’t work. Communication and dialog do.”
So, in the spirit of peace and racial harmony, I leave you with this Biblical scripture quote: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family,
and other matters of the heart.