Monday, January 14, 2013

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Ad-Express/Iowegian - 19 November 1987
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Friends' passing brings end of an era
 By Mildred Dooley Cathcart, Columnist
  It seems strange how just a minute can change one's complete life or bring an end of an era. When Raymond Dearing died suddenly last week, I thought of the years he had been a partner in the Walnut Creek Coal Company which had been the idea of my father.  My father was a strong union man, serving many years as president of the local miners union when the Big Four Coal Co. was operating in full swing.
  Dad went to Des Moine to meetings and in those daysit seemed as eventful a trip as it is to fly to the coast today, and it probably took about as long to make the trip. When the unions folded and the word "scab" became a derogatory term, Dad decided he would sink his own mine.  Several men who joined in the venture were Arch Hawkins, Charlie Burns, Carl Hamm and later Raymond who was much younger, and he was the last survivor.
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  Then just as suddenly on Thursday, my sister-in-law, Neal Bear, passed away. And that seemed like an end of a phase of our lives. Now only three of the Cathcart children are living Neal was the oldest urvivor and it seemed she had become a kind of head of the clan. Although arthritis had slowed her down somewhat physically, her mind stayed sharp.
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  It is strange what things stand out in one's memory. I think of her gardening skills.  We often noted that they raised more produce in their little postage stamp-sized plot behind their apartment than we harvested in our big garden. And I have never known anyone who could make such picture-perfect good tasting pie crust as Neal made. Shed would give her recipe and a step-by-step description, but much never could equal hers. I think she had a magic pie finger as well as a green thumb.
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  The weather was perfect for both Raymond's and Neal's funerals.  Not often in middle November can one be comfortable in just a suit without a top coat.
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  "We never truly understand death until it lays its hand on one we love."
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   I have never been lucky when it comes to winning but I was happy when our neighbor called excitedly the other evening to tell me she had won one of the bikes that Fareway had given away.
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  The concert at Ottumwa presenting the National Ballet of West Java was very different from any I had ever seen and was most enjoyable. The music, constumes and dances all portrayed the Indonesian culture and was most colorful and entertaining. I thought the Peacock Dance was especially lovely.
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  Ever so often, I develop a new pet peeve. This week my latest is spray perfume bottles that refuse to pray when there is a considerable amount of perfume left. I have tried turning the bottle upside down and it is so exaspcrating, I have felt perhaps a hammer should be the last resort.
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  It was a kind of preview of Christmas when Deloris and I accepted Becky Montegna's invitation to her home which was prettily decorated for the holiday season.  And we selected a few items for gifts from a table containing a variety of things just for Christmas giving.
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  I did feel I was rushing the season the other day.  I went through my gift drawers and as I found the gifts, I decided to wrap them before putting them back.  Soon after Thanksgiving, it will be time to get the box packed for Ohio, so part of the presents are ready to be boxed.
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  With the scare of AIDS, I wonder if we are getting carried away with sex education in the lower elementary grades, in some wayhs I agree with the youngster in the cartoon who said to his friend, "It is silly to teach us all this sex education now; we will forget it all by the time we grow up."
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  There is a kind of tragic, death-reminder, beauty in the bare trees. The shape of the branches are well defined and the nests of birds and squirrels, hidden by summer leaves are now plainly visible.  There is an old tree across the road that looks like candelabra with seven hugh branches extending from the trunk. The black limbs look especially pretty against the sky on a bright moonlit night. There is a graceful, ballet-like quality to the naked branches as they sway in the wind.  They remind us that death is only a temporary state; new leaves and life will come again with the spring rain and summer breezes.
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  Several have remarked about the scarcity of pet squirrels. I think when the snow covers the ground, they will be looking for a handout. So far the weather has been too mild.
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  All the modern machinery and devices have changed our way of life. The other morning, I went for a walk about nine o'clock and when I passed the cemetery I noticed they had never begun to dig the grave but it was all ready by funeral time.  I remember as a youngster, neighbors would take shovels and spades and if the ground were frozen or extremely wet, the men would have to start opening the grave the day before the funeral, boarding up the hole and hoping it would hold fast.
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  "It is better to choose what you will say that say what you choose."

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