Jerry M. White 
Books and More
Call Me at (404) 452-4738
 

Book Excerpt -  Today you will be able to read an excerpt from an unpublished bood, to this point, and I hope to get your feedback on it when you read it. The book is called Baseball's Best: The Dynasties. It looks at baseball during the 20th century and baseball's best teams. The excerpt, in honor of the movie "42" which is playing in theaters now and is also in honor of Branch Rickey.

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We have the pleasure of many friendships in this life. Some more pronounced than others. Some friendships we enjoy have more impact on our future than others. All, however, do impact us in some way or another. We, as Christians, have the responsibility to reach past our inhibitions or physical limitations and touch the lives God has placed in our proximity. We have a duty.

 

When I was growing up I had an acquaintance who I recognized as different than others I knew. While I was not a fully committed believer involved in a deep relationship with my Lord and Savior, I did see the imprint of a higher order on life as I, even then, knew it. The crudeness and corrosive personalities of some people I was exposed I saw to be in stark contrast to the person I am referring to now. He was different. I could plainly see it. My dilemma with this contrast was what to do with it. We were not close friends but simply in proximity through athletics.

 

Years later, many years later in fact, this adolescent disconnection with the person and the lack of a concrete relationship came home to me in a blinding way. I had lived my life. I had made bad decisions. I had lost many things and many opportunities to improve myself and my family. I had missed the mark badly. Only after meeting my wife to be and then being enveloped in a lasting relationship with Christianity through her and her relationships and lifestyle did the impact of the earlier relationship come home to me.

My wife and I were attending the visitation of a fellow Christian who had finally fallen to ill health. To my surprise the person who was different in my childhood walked into the assembly. I approached him with pleasantries and reacquainted myself and said how good it was to see him. Then I asked how he knew the fallen friend. He said that he “had known her all his life from the church he attended” and was now paying his respects to her and her family. I was stunned. My life had surely been changed with my revelation of what the spirit world held for me when I clearly saw it. I wondered to myself what he had felt when we were teens in high school. No longer able to hold my question back I ask him why, if he had what I now have and feel, did you not tell of this world when we were in high school? It could have saved me years of frustration with bad decisions. He then was the stunned

 

The following poem speaks to this responsibility. I have not always abided by my own conviction of my long lost friend but I am aware of my responsibility and do try to demonstrate it many ways if not always in a verbal way. His was non-verbal and I recognized him to be different. I hope and pray that I am seen in this same way by others. However, at some time we need to speak the words. This poem hopefully will place on your heart the need to speak the words when God has given you the opportunity to make a real difference in someone’s life.

 

 

Speak the Words

 

Assailing the walls of slavery

In the hearts of those who we know

Which shackle their actions of everyday life

To the capstone of their fears in tow

 

Our lives should demonstrate a difference

To be seen as different in everyday ways

Our actions should pose a query from others

By the things that we do and don’t say

 

Our lives should call to the rustling spirits

Of those trying to begin their lives anew

We should provide a clear path of distinction

By putting our lives in other’s clear view

 

But no matter how vivid our hue seems to us

Friends and family may not clearly see

How passionate we care for those we know

Until the words once spoken to us are finally free

 

We must speak the words of affirming faith

We must speak the words that will lead to salvation

We must actually speak the words loud and clear

We must speak the words across our entire nation

 

It is not enough to simply be an example

Of how best to live in an ungodly time

We must speak the words as an invitation

That will change a friend’s or loved one’s paradigm

 

Examples are good and useful for change

But conversation must assuredly ensue

We must speak the words to any and all

Who want to create their lives anew

 

6/1/11

JMW

 

 

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NATIONAL LEAGUE - #2

 

Chapter Two

 

St. Louis Cardinals – 1942 – 1946

 

 

 

          Major General William Tecumseh Sherman of the United States Army coined the phrase “war is hell” during the American Civil War. The exception to this rule is the 1942 to 1946 St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Club. War, it seems, caught everyone by surprise except Branch Rickey who was more prepared than the United States Government. 

While our nation was fighting, and dominating, the Axis powers of the world the St. Louis Cardinals were fighting, and dominating, the traditional powers of the National League.

The long worrisome war, a vast and bountiful farm system and the amazing Mr. Rickey all combined to mold this 1942 – 1946 Cardinals team into the last National League team of the 20th Century to win 3 consecutive pennants. This team thereby established itself as one of the greatest teams of all time.   

          This Cardinals team not only won 3 consecutive pennants but also won 100 games in 3 consecutive seasons. Only 3 teams within the 27 Baseball’s Best: The Dynasties list accomplished this feat. Two or these teams, the Atlanta Braves 1995-1999 and this St. Louis Cardinals 1942-1946 team, are within the top 3 point earners in the list. The other is the only American League team to do so, the Baltimore Orioles of 1969-1973. So you can see this team is already in very good company.

          For the next few pages we will look at the development of this team and it’s significance to the modern era.

 

Where Did This Team Begin?

 

The 1942-1946 Cardinals team began in another era and before another qualifying Cardinals team, the 1927-1931 edition, made it’s appearance on the scene. Both teams had one thing in common – Branch Rickey. Furthermore, as many as 6 Baseball’s Best: The Dynasties qualifiers have a direct link to Branch Rickey. The teams most influenced by Mr. Rickey in sequential order were the 2 Cardinals teams mentioned above, the Dodgers of both Brooklyn (1952-1956) and Los Angles (1962-1966) and the 1970-1974 Pittsburgh Pirates. Moreover, a case can be made that almost all teams past the 1930’s have had Branch Rickey as an influence in their development.

Prior to the roaring 20’s major league baseball teams were built by team owners purchasing a player’s contract from an independently owned developmental team. This was a fine system if a purchasing team had the money. When it did not have the money this system was very unfair.

         This system was changed by a new general manager for the St. Louis Cardinals who could not compete in the system due to a lack of funds. His idea was to have several developmental teams owned by the purchaser or parent club. A great idea and one implemented today by all teams in both the American and National Baseball Leagues. A great idea pioneered and developed to an art form by the aforementioned Branch Rickey.

          Mr. Rickey had by 1925 developed enough players from his farm system to become competitive and become a force in the National League. His philosophy of finding speed and strong arms worked well for many years and continues to work well today for those who employ his philosophy.

He was a master at talent assessment and detecting deterioration.  Branch Rickey knew who had skills and knew also when the skills were beginning to erode. He was a master known in baseball as Mahatma. An example of his talent assessing acumen rests within his masterwork – the 1942-1946 St. Louis Cardinals. The 25-man roster of this team showcased 24 members of Mr. Rickey’s farm system. They were known as the “St. Louis Swifties” for their desire to run, always run, from 1st to 3rd.

Beginning an irony that would follow his career, Mr. Rickey resigned his position of General Manager of the Cardinals in the fall of 1942 and did not enjoy the fruition of his work from the capacity from which he built the organization. He left St. Louis for Flatbush and the Brooklyn Dodger’s General Manager’s position to rebuild another franchise in disarray.

 

Branch Rickey…So What?

 

What exactly does Branch Rickey’s keen eye for talent and the war have to do with this particular team you may ask. Loss of talented players to the war effort is the simple answer.

Consider that prior and through World War II there were 16 Major League Teams. Each team fielded a team with a 25-man roster. Each player was either developed by an independent team, which was likely the case, or by a team owned by the parent club, which even today is no more than 6 or 7 minor league teams. During the war years of 1942 – 1945 there was a possible player year total of 1,600 seasons. That is 25 players on 16 teams (400) times 4 years (1,600). The total number of years lost to military service was 1,013 or 63% of all possible players’ years.

The percentage of player years lost to the St. Louis Cardinals was 52%. The only team in the National League with a lower percentage was the Cincinnati Reds at 45% and only the St. Louis Browns (49%) and the Cleveland Indians (49%) in the American League had a lower percentage of player years lost to the defense of our country.

The beginning of the war saw Rickey’s farm league empire at it’s peak of 33 teams. The unbelievable loss of competitive manpower throughout both leagues and the abundance of readily available talent to the St. Louis Cardinals organization made possible a shift in the balance of power through sheer numbers of productive and available players with talent.

No one-armed pitchers for St. Louis during the war years.  Most Valuable Player caliber players were the norm for them. All of this is why I say Branch Rickey was more prepared for World War II than the United States Government.    

 

 

 

 

 

What Caliber of Player Was Available

 

Quality was the name of the game for St. Louis during the war years. Although the Cincinnati Reds had a lower number of lost man-years in service to their country in the National League and both the Cleveland Indians and the St. Louis Browns had fewer in the American league the quality of the St. Louis Cardinals player was by far superior.

The 11 categories used to determine offensive strength in our study were at bats, hits, runs scored, doubles, triples, home runs, bases on balls, stolen bases, batting average, slugging average and runs batted in. During the 5-year 1942-1946 era there were 55 opportunities to win each of these 11 categories. A St. Louis Cardinal’s player won 21 of the 55 offensive opportunities, which is 38% of all chances. The only National League team with fewer lost years to wartime service was the Cincinnati Reds and their players only won 2 of the 55 possible chances.

The American League contingents were the Cleveland Indians and the St. Louis Browns. The Browns, like Cincinnati, had only 2 winners while the Browns faired better with 5. Each of these teams won less than 10% of the possible chances.

The 7 pitching standards for measurement were wins, winning percentage, shut outs, strike outs, games pitched, earned run average and saves. The total number of opportunities was 35. The Cardinals again dominated the list with 12 winners or 34%. The Cincinnati and Cleveland franchises did better in the pitching categories with 6 winners each or 17% while the Browns could muster no leaders in these categories at all.

Branch Rickey had set the standard so high in his farm system empire that when players were needed to fill a depleted line-up he simply plugged in the likes of Enos Slaughter, Stan Musial, and pitchers like Mort Cooper and Johnny Beazley.

Furthermore, of all league awards like the Cy Young (begun in 1956), Most Valuable Player (begun in 1931) and Rookie of the Year (begun in 1947), only the Most Valuable Player Award was in use during 1942-1946. The winners of the National League MVP Award during 1942-1946 were, not surprisingly, as follows:

          1942 – Mort Cooper, pitcher – St. Louis Cardinals

             #2 – Enos Slaughter, outfielder – St. Louis Cardinals

                     (The Cardinals had 5 of the top 12 vote earners in 1942) 

          1943 – Stan Musial, outfielder – St. Louis Cardinals

              #2 – Walker Cooper, catcher – St. Louis Cardinals

                     (The Cardinals had 4 of the top 13 vote earners in 1943)

           1944 – Marty Marion, short stop – St. Louis Cardinals

             #4 – Stan Musial, outfielder – St. Louis Cardinals

           1945, Phil Cavarretta, first baseman – Chicago Cubs

           1946, Stan Musial, outfielder – St. Louis Cardinals.

Also receiving votes during the era were Johnny Beazley, Whitey Krurowski, and the previously mentioned winners listed above on more than one occasion. Another Cardinal’s player garnering votes was Terry Moore. Terry was the strong arm in the locker room keeping the whole team together. He was the Captain of the team and considered by many to be the premier center fielder of the era, displaying the Rickey benchmark qualities of great speed and a strong arm.

The Cardinals were not just a little better than everybody else was – they were miles past everybody else in depth of talent. The 1942-1946 St. Louis Cardinals had no one-armed pitchers during the war, only good players. Players good enough to dominate the National League both individually and as a team. Players good enough to win 4 National League pennants and 3 World Series titles. Players, who were recruited, developed and promoted to major league duty by the Mahatma of organized baseball – Branch Rickey.

 

 

Compelling Stories of the ’42 – ’46 Cardinals

 

Mort Cooper, League MVP of 1942, would certainly have been the winner of the Cy Young Award if there had been such an award at the time. His battery mate during an incredibly productive 3-year period from 1942 to 1944 was his brother Walker Cooper. Walker caught in the Major Leagues for 16 years finishing his carrier with another World Series winner, the 1957 Milwaukee Braves.

Mort had an average of 22 wins and 9 losses over the entire 5-year period but his best 3 years were ‘42-’44. The Cardinals won 2 of 3 World Series Championships during that time. The nice thing about all this is that two brothers had so much to do with the accomplishments of a very accomplished team. How many times while growing up do you suppose they played out those 3 World Series opportunities in their back yard playing catch and throw with each other? 

  

Conclusion

 

The 1942-1946 St. Louis Cardinals are another example of great players making great teams. And, in addition, great team management also makes great teams. Branch Rickey was a man more prepared for World War II than the United States Government but unlike the Government Rickey was unable to see the full victorious product of his making. We will pick up the career of Mr. Rickey again in the chapter on the Brooklyn Dodgers and see once again how he used a new development to thrust his team into league dominance in the mid 50’s. In the case of the 1942-1946 St. Louis Cardinals it was his farm system development. With the Dodgers he again employed the farm system technique but added another colorful dimension to his arsenal of weapons aimed at the rest of the National League. See you in Brooklyn.

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This is the perspective page of Until Today: Stories and Poems on Life as I Know It. Life is full of things to do and be a part of. Live your life ... Its the only one you have control of.

 

Perspective

           This page is dedicated to those who wish to put together their own book someday. In Moments of Mine: A Collection of Thoughts in Poem this page was filled with a poem called In the Company of Poets. That particular poem spoke to what was seen by a writer of poems and how their words would sometimes be transposed to the minds of the reader that the words were theirs as well. It is the power of the written word to allow the reader to see that they are not reading something new but something they have thought themselves on many occasions. In the poem that follows we will be addressing another issue.

          Writing your own words for others to read takes think skin and resistance to criticism, because it will surely come. It will come from critics in particular. It will come from many people who are called friends. But it will surely come. However, putting your words out into the world makes your words extraordinary in many ways. Readers will come to you and say “you are right about that” or “I was just thinking that myself”. Your words have resonated with the subconscious of your reader. Your words now have a life of their own and there are very few things better than that.

          How’s Your View is a poem attempting to show others how to be extraordinary in everyday life. It is another way of reminding us to not be just like everyone else. It speaks of being out on the edge of life. It speaks to experiencing all that life has to offer those who wish to live it. It speaks of taking chances. It speaks of taking risks. It speaks of going where others will not go. It speaks of what would be missed if not tried. It spoke to me and I hope it speaks to you as well. If you find yourself reading this book you are already, in my humble opinion, something special. You are a lover of the written word. You are certainly special to me. Now go take some chances. Life is full of them. 

 

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How’s Your View

 

I walk along the surface

Of the crowded level plane

Walking around and past and through

Those who consider only level sane

 

As the denseness of the others

Thinned toward the outer edge

I discovered still fewer others

Hovered near the plane’s less visited ledge

 

The safety of the center

Seemed to draw many to its core

But there were fewer and still fewer

Near the level’s lonely shore

 

Whatever could there be

Along the center’s outer edge

Drawing me farther and farther away

From sanity’s core toward the ledge

 

It is far less crowded now I see

And the view is truly grand

The others who were with me

Seemed devoid of sanity’s brand

 

I walk along the surface

And wonder why so few

Will step away from the level’s sanity

And just enjoy the ledge front view

 

5/12/04

JMW

 

 

Book Excerpt - This is an entry from the section titled Life in the World of the Living and the Dead from Until Today: Stories and Poems on Life as I Know It

This first appeared as a blog entry over two years ago with different copy. This is the form it took for Until Today

 

The fight for freedom began many years before Homer Plessy, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr. became part of the American tapestry. It began as a debate in the House of Representatives in the Congress of the United States in the 1840s. It is here, not at Charleston, South Carolina, that the first shots of the American Civil War were fired. The blood shed began in Congress.

 

There seemed to be no way to alter the events leading to our great Civil War. Two ideologies each held deeply and dearly by the holder. So, inevitably, shots were fired and the war began. Tragic as that is it seemed the only way.

 

Many battles were fought and many men died. No more brutal or bloody battle was fought than at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The three day battle occurred between July 1st and July 3rd, of 1863 remains the largest loss of American lives lost in any battle of any war anywhere. It was the pivotal battle of the entire war. The battle was waged between Union General George Gordon Meade’s 94,000 man Army of the Potomac and Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s 72,000 man Army of Northern Virginia. Its cost in lives was enormous. Almost a full third of all participants became casualties in the epic struggle. It was the signal to the losing Southern Army that the end was indeed near. However, the struggle continued for almost two more years at the cost of many additional lives lost and property ruined.

 

The hallowed ground of Gettysburg was the site of one of the most famous speeches ever given in the history of man. President Abraham Lincoln gave this speech in 2 minutes to inaugurate a National Cemetery at the site. I have included the speech before the next poem because of its significance to our American history. The poem is my feeble attempt to honor, not only those who died at Gettysburg, but all those who fell during our great struggle to free those who were enslaved by a culture dependent on a supply of man power. 

 

The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

 

Reposed at Gettysburg

 

Reposed within the quiet grove

Drifting from the here and now to then

I listen to the tree frogs and crickets sing

As I remember horrors from the battle’s din

 

I hear the constant fire of muskets

As I lie here this quiet night

I hear the whistle of their discharges

As they make their targeted flight

 

I hear the cries of those unlucky souls

As their limbs seem to break and tear

I remember thinking I was so lucky

And how their outcome seemed so unfair

 

I see the smoke hover over the landscape

Like death harvesting the fallen field

I see young sons and fathers falling

Because their loyalty would not yield

 

I feel the fear of young men charging

Running gallantly up a hill

I feel the cold and chill of knowing

I fight a blue wave and my will

 

I smell the odor of burnt powder

And the bark bare trees at hand

I smell the odor of burned grey cotton

Once worn and seemed so grand

 

I repose this night under treetops

I rest on this sacred ground

I drift in and out of now and then

And wonder where tomorrow…

I wonder where I’ll be found

8/30/09

JMW

 

Book Excerpt - This is an entry from the section titled Life in the World of the Living and the Dead from Until Today: Stories and Poems on Life as I Know It

This first appeared as a blog entry a couple of years ago so the historical numbers are now off by 2 years but I think it is still relevant even with the older calculations.  

At one time in my past I found myself a passenger on commercial jets more often than I ever thought I would. Something about sitting next to someone in the cabin of an aircraft brings out one of three alternatives: conversation, reading, or a need to sleep. My personal appetite most often was to read. Occasionally, however, I found the taste for conversation. Since my reading was largely historical subjects I found my conversations gravitated toward anything historical.

 

One flight found me sitting next to a native of the Commonwealth of Virginia. I noted, in my most historical reference I knew of Virginia, that Virginia was home to more of our nation’s Presidents than any other state. In fact, it was the home state of 4 or our first 5 Presidents and 7 or our first 12. All 7 of the past presidents served their terms in office before 1850. The only other Virginian serving as President, number 8 from the Commonwealth, was Woodrow Wilson, who held office during WWI.

 

I always found it odd that there were so many prior to the Civil War and only one afterward. My friend on the flight that day said something that struck me as so obvious. He said that the Civil War had taken most of the best and brightest as casualties of war, either by death or physical hardships. As a history buff I knew that 60% of the Civil War’s battles took place within the borders of the state of Virginia but never put the two features together as my traveler had been able to do. It made sense.

 

We have lost so many of our nation’s best and brightest in defense of it. The Civil War alone took more than 618,000 souls. Throughout our nation’s 235 year history the total cost of American lives lost to war exceed 1,315, 800. While that is a large number indeed, it pales in comparison with the world’s cost. The best, or most legible, figures available on world lives lost can be found at www.rationalrevolution.net. It tells a horrific story of great and tragic loss.

 

Why do I bring this up this weekend in the heat of summer? I have no good reason other than it was pressing me. My love of history compels me to report what history has to say and those are the hard numbers of our cost of freedom here in The USA. How many great leaders have been lost you must ask yourself now. It is like looking at the finite number of seeds in an apple and counting them but never knowing how many trees, or future apples, lie hidden in the seeds you are able to count.

 

There is more to this story however. Now that we are in the right frame of mind, let’s look at another component to the loss of our best and brightest. I think I am safe in saying we have all heard the saying that the pen is mightier than the sword. How true that is now hits me like the Virginia Presidents issue did many years ago.

 

The US Supreme Court, on January, 22, 1973, in a vote of 7 to 2, set into motion a true national carnage. Over the next 37 years, only 37 years as of 2010, our nation lost, according to the Center for Disease Control, 49,551,703 lives at the hands of the 9 Justices’ pens and the signatures of many attending physicians around our country. Legal abortion had arrived with a seemingly insatiable appetite.

 

This new poem Nameless Numbers came from this thought. Enjoy it… if you can.

 

Nameless Numbers

 

In the wake of our wild-eyed Asian war

We memorialized our fallen on foreign fields

We commemorate their dutiful sacrifice

And the posthumous honor it wields

 

We commissioned a wall of remembrance

Made of provocative reflective marble

We wrote books and stories and worthy songs

All holding them as subjects to marvel

 

They are our lost generation

Their contributions to our land now deprived

Our loss we now pine as a painful scar

Of loved ones when they were alive

 

But our nation has another lost generation

That continues from that time to now

Not lost in war but by the words of a court

Leading to many regretfully furrowed brows

 

Now ten times the number lost on Asian fields

Our nations wound continues to bleed

Treating the lost as no more than a number

Leaving no honor to praise for the bereaved

 

The courts decided by a seven to two vote

Clouding the issues of one’s rights and what’s wrong

The nameless numbers continue to mount

Chronicled in a life decision that lasts far too long

 

No wall of remembrance or our nation’s honor bestowed

For the millions of our young now betrayed

We simply argue with slogans in our election cycles

While those who can’t argue are lost day after day after day

 

But if they could argue or cast a vote

They would surely reverse their plight

With words or votes or even weapons of war

The lost would surely lead an honorable fight

 

8/30/10

JMW

 

 

 

Book Excerpt - This is an entry from the section titled Life in the World of Work

 

One of my many professions in life has been teaching. My favorite grade level was high school. I taught at Campbell High School in Smyrna, Georgia. It was an experience to say the very least. It was also life changing, to say the most. I very much enjoyed the relationships developed with the students but detested the relationship with administration personnel. They did not have the stomach to enforce needed rules which would allow for a more civil discourse between student and teacher due to the disruption of the few who knew the administration personnel had no stomach for their discharge. It was frustrating to tears.

 

My first book Moments of Mine: A Collection of Thoughts in Poem contained many poems from my teaching experience. This new piece, Until Today: Stories and Poems on Life as I Know It, has very few. Anyone who has spent time in a classroom in front of students, who are bullet proof, and sometimes hopeless to reach, will relate to the content. Those who did not teach in a challenging environment may not know exactly what I am talking about.

 

To further explain what I am referring to let me give you a picture of the first two days of class. First, the outspoken, the disenfranchised from the educational system, will attempt a coup détente with their brethren and take over the class. If this element is not effectively dealt with all hope is lost. My classroom was located across the hall from one or our school’s four armed officers. When the outspoken were identified, isolated, and confronted, I would take them across the hall for a little one-on-one time with a 12 year veteran of the penal system. His conversation was enlightening and alarming even to a veteran of military service who has seen dead people up close. To a 17-year-old malcontent it was a taste of the fruits they were engaged in picking for themselves to eat for a lifetime. Sometimes this conversation was impactful and life changing, at least in my classroom, and sometimes it was not. It was all spoken with their best interest at heart and as truthfully told as possible. It was certainly worth the effort.

 

I hope you enjoy the poem Daily Distractions and its attempt to convey the classroom environment of challenged students.

 

Daily Distractions

 

How can I help?

I am so unprepared

The world in our room

Is one of turmoil and tension

Dancing between arrogance and argument

How can I help?

I am so distracted

The volume of chaos

Sends clouds of discontent

And the fog of hopelessness

To cover their lives

How can I help?

I am so uncharmed

Their distractions by themselves

Dissolve them from their presence

Resolves them to authority

And complicates and compounds

The cycle that spins their lives

How can I help?

I am so unprepared

Help me help them stop

Quiet the untamed spirit within

And calm the distraction

That spoils their futures

And drowns their dreams

How can I help?

I am but one man

Who else will possibly try?

 

JMW

3/21/03

 

Book Excerpt - This is an entry from the section titled Life in the World of Family

 

I never met my paternal grandmother. She had already passed when I was born. I’m sure I would have enjoyed her company because I certainly enjoyed the company of her only son…my dad. He had a big heart. He had lots of stories and loved to tell them. He had an interesting past which included time with the grandmother I never met.

 

My dad came from a blended family. That was something of an anomaly in the year he was born…1918. Even if it was due to the death of a mate it was uncommon then. He was the sixth child of my grandfather who I also never met. He died just after I was born. I missed both of them but I knew my dad well, and because of that, I knew my grandparents even though we never met.

 

Here is a glimpse of my dad. When my dad was thirty or so my grandmother was confined to an institution. The institution was called simply Milledgeville. It was the home of the state run asylum for the mentally ill. It is here that she would look blankly into the evening sky and comb out her red hair. It was here also that she was mistreated when mistreatment did not convey the same treatment then as now. When my dad learned of this mistreatment he decided to do something about it. He tried the regular more conventional channels of release and was told that could not happen. But my dad was hard headed and set on getting his mom out of a place where she was being mistreated.

 

One night in October of a year I do not clearly know, he made the drive to central Georgia. This was when there were no major highways leading into or out of that infamous city to the south of Atlanta. He marched into the facility, picked up his mom in his arms and carried her out of the building through the front door. It must have been a sight to see.

 

My grandmother would pass at home with her family. She spent no further time in Milledgeville. That was my dad. He was head strong with a big heart. The poem that follows is in honor of that October evening in a year I do not remember just south of Atlanta.

 

Audacity

 

My father’s father

Took a second wife

Her name was Martha Jane

She bore his sixth child’s life

 

Two sons and four daughters

They all shared his name

But had different mothers

And life was not quite the same

 

My father grew up

As a brother to them all

But his mother was not related

There seemed to be a wall

 

Martha was later sentenced

By her doctors if you will

As a patient in the asylum

Known to all as Milledgeville

 

My father learned in his thirties

Of the care she had received

And decided on his own

His mother would be soon retrieved

 

The medical community affirmed

That she was not allowed to leave

But my father would not hear of it

It was news he simply would not believe

 

He recklessly raced to Milledgeville

On an October Friday night

Picked her up in his loving arms

And left the asylum without a fight

 

Martha died at home with family

In the sight of her loving mate

It seemed a fitting ending

To an otherwise ugly fate

 

JMW

12/28/09

 

Book Excerpt - This is an entry from a dark period of my life that I feel others expereince as well - It is from the section titled Life in the World of Work

 

You may have surmised that I have been affected by the nammering nabobs of negativity myself in the recent past and that is in fact true. I could write a full length book on just the experiences leading up to the day I was dismissed and the events that directly followed. I will forego the sign of being negative myself and allow you to see the pain I was experiencing in my family life and in my ability to stay focused and optimistic. It all, actually, worked out for the best and I was excited about all the changes in my life as a result of this extraction from a place I would not have left. It also shows how God works in the events of our lives when we can see only negative. In our darkest hours God will deliver to us our brightest opportunity. It was so with me and my family. However, I am compelled to share the poem at the sake of looking bad and sorrowful and forlorn. It hurt.

 

Facing the Past

 

When facing the past as it mocks back at you

Smiling to a laugh as it stares back at you

Pointing back with a bend to the knee

It stares and laughs and there is nothing you can do

 

Mistakes are maddening to all this is true

Mistakes made with indifference get the best of you

Pointing to the past with great hilarity

It stares and laughs and there is nothing you can do

 

Why did it happen just as it shows me it did

Why could I not see how to stop or forbid

What the past was doing and what it finally did

It stares and laughs at things I cannot comprehend 

 

My wife, my family, my children and theirs

Are due to my past simply paupers as heirs

The past points back to decisions not made

It stares and laughs at our discernable despair

 

Why so unforgiving to the lives I lead

Why laid so bare for so many to see

Why does my past haunt me with such enjoyment

It stares and laughs and taunts me to leave

 

Why does my past not see I have reason

To be happy with life in this late-life season

Why does it celebrate its great success

As it stares and laughs at my acts of great treason

 

I can no longer fight the mistakes I have made

I can no longer justify the down payment paid

On a life going nowhere that I have made

As the past stares and laughs at my life’s failing grade

 

9/1/10

JMW

 

 

Book Excerpt - first entry of Until Today - (2012)

 

The Christmas Season is filled with visits to, and from, people who mean the most to us. It is filled with family, and friends, and many other people who make a difference in our lives from January through November. It is no mistake we decide to make these connections during the month of December. It is a time to reconnect with those who we have neglected, and truly show, those who have made lasting impacts on our lives just how much they mean to us. We are afforded a unique opportunity each year to express this appreciation. It is a special time.

 

We are also able to deeply express our spirituality by attending events with our local church family. This includes a host of activities but most, if not all, are focused on doing what we can to make the community a better place to be during the season. Sometimes this event is done through Christmas pageants detailing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Sometimes there are Coral concerts with lively seasonal songs. Sometimes we find time to just sit and reflect on what the season means to each of us personally and to the world at large. It is a special time, not only here, but, worldwide.

 

One such occasion was during the 2005 Christmas Season at our local congregation. The youth would sing songs and there would be a story recited by memory from the book One Incredible Moment, written by Max Lucado. The story describes the everyday nature of Jesus while growing up. It also, in a very poignant way, shows how the world was changed in only a moment. The history of the world, as it was known, stopped and then was jump started again in only a moment. One tiny pivotal moment in time changed the world as it was known and to what it was to become. In only one moment, tiny Bethlehem changed the world.

 

Earlier on I had been chosen to recite the story on the evening of our presentation. I was enriched by the experience. The narrative describing events of the day of Christ’s birth, his childhood, and their impact on all of our tomorrows certainly made an impact on me personally. 

 

Max Lucado’s original thought that produced the book from which our 2005 Christmas presentation came is the origin of the following poem, Only a Moment. I sent it to Mr. Lucado but never heard anything back from him. I guess he has no objections to my poetic synopsis of his original work. I hope both Mr. Lucaido and you find some resonance in both his idea and my reconstruction of it. You can find the original for yourself online. I recommend you get a copy. It is worth the time it takes to read.

Only a Moment

It was only a moment

On the time line of eternity

From God’s merciful gesture

To Mary’s immaculate paternity

 

It was only a moment

In God’s universal rein

One grand and glorious moment

To relieve our everlasting pain

 

In only one small moment

Eternity’s great galactic play

Had drawn the final curtain

On Satan’s final say

 

In only one small moment

Beneath the sky of her hometown

Young Mary of little known Nazareth

Conceived a Child of great renown

 

A Child who grew and learned

Just as you and I would do

A Child who grew and gave His life

To cleanse all and make anew

 

Only a moment in the realm of time

Is all it took, it had finally begun

A beautiful new course was charted

By the conception of God’s only Son

12/28/05

JMW

___________________________________________________________________________ 

Book Excerpt - Pages 168 - 173 From - Moments of Mine (2009)

 

Many things have changed in our country since our founding fathers drafted the United States Constitution. There have been years or decades of little change and there have been others of great and dynamic change. I am sure that as you read this many such years or decades come to mind. When looking over the historical montage of time there is no period that glows more brightly than the years between 1955 and 1975.

The United States had just exited a tragically unpopular war which required the blood of many to spill without a true victory on the Korean peninsula. Our country was in the troughs of unprecedented growth and prosperity along with political influence around the globe. This period was driven by possibly the greatest generation of American citizens ever. These men and women grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930’s and later emerged a victor of the Second World War. This period saw the United States enter yet another unpopular war requiring more American lives which also ended with no clear victory in sight. However, as far as social issues go there was no more convulsive era in American history than this. Race relations, assignations, activism of all kinds, the military industrial complex and moral decay of ethics held by generations past were front and center for our nation and the world to watch unfold with the help of television. These events were seen live and in color. These were indeed turbulent times.

As I write these words president elect Barak Obama is 12 days away from taking the oath of office as our first black president. Our national change in race relations has never been more clearly seen. However, again, we find ourselves involved in an unpopular war with no clear victory in sight. Some things I guess never change.

The next few poems reflect my view of this period, and possibly yours as well, of issues which were prominently viewed.

 

Turbulent Times

 

The fifties and sixties

Of our last one hundred years

Posed precarious problems

For positions many held dear

 

You will give up your seat

We will all now share our fountains

Everyone can now vote

As we all climb Martin’s mountain

 

Young women were brazened and burned their bras

While young men were burning their cards

There were new pills to control a baby’s birth

And all the changes were much, much too hard

 

As the war in Asia was raging

And as too many cities were ignited

Proponents for the world’s transition

Were far too callously delighted

 

Camelot was ended too quickly

Their praises we did so loudly sing

A brother fell as a brother had fallen

And so did our nation’s black King

 

Two decades of change on such a grand scale

Is enough to make any nation fearful

The turmoil, the lootings and all the shootings

Is enough to make any nation tearful

 

Yes the fifties and sixties of our last one hundred years

Certainly changed our global perspective

But now looking back we all now can see

Our social rainbow is much more attractive

 

2/3/06

JMW

___

 

The Road from Montgomery

 

Are we far from Montgomery

Have we put segregation in our past

Have we built a bridge of peace and understanding

Have we built a spirit that will truly last

 

Are we far from Montgomery

Have the buses equaled out

Have we really changed the seating order

Of those in Montgomery moving about

 

Are we far from Montgomery

What is the color of those we’ve jailed

Have we changed the social structure

Against which Montgomery once railed

 

Are we far from Montgomery

Is the racial tension still in the air

Have we opened doors of opportunity

Have we truly made things fair

 

Are we far from Montgomery

Have we truly, truly changed

Have the standards that we use today

Been so drastically rearranged

 

Are we far from Montgomery

Have we made progress toward the goal

Have the gunshots and tears

Changed the young one’s future roles

 

Are we really far from Montgomery

Have we all done the best we can

Have the leaders of the ones at risk

Taught the free man to be a man

 

4/27/04

JMW


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