Celebrating Democracy with Steve Sparks… USS Tennessee BB43, San Diego 1937

I imagine my father, Vernon, following bootcamp 1937, standing next to the big guns of the USS Tennessee Battleship. The young Seaman Sparks was preparing for his 1st sea duty. The Tennessee would sail off in March 1937 to the Philippines with a stop at Pearl Harbor. This would be the beginning of Vernon’s Naval career and WWII on the horizon, unbeknownst to him in that moment.

Seaman is a military rank used in many navies around the world. It is considered a junior enlisted rank and, depending on the navy, it may be a single rank on its own or a name shared by several similarly-junior ranks.”

Vernon was a rugged teen in St Paul. At 17 he was more than ready to get the hell out of the “shit hole” neighborhood where he grew up.

Vernon dreamed of “joining the Navy to see the world.” He thought of freedom. Freedom from being poor and hungry everyday. Freedom from hate and anger. Freedom from fighting to survive as a kid.

Vernon was tired of feeling trapped in a family preoccupied with so much emotional pain that there was little time for love at home. “Walking into his home was like stepping into a mine field,” he imagined.

America was in a deep depression. It was a very tough time. But for Vernon, he was a fighter, a warrior. Vernon found his calling. He would serve America!

There were no hugs or a welcome voice to be found. Only sadness and anger. Usually his sisters and mother were were yelling and complaining about his fathe. Al was all too often drunk in bar after his daily job painting some where near by in town.

Al didn’t know from one day to the next if he could work to put food on the table after spending much of his pay at the local bar. Sometimes he wouldn’t get home for a couple of days.

Vernon’s last Christmas at home in December 1936 was a “fuckin’ disaster!,” he mused with a little sadness, but with excitement about his future as as a Seaman aboard the USS Tennessee. Vernon was a Navy man now. He loved it from the get go.

“Why would I ever go back to St Paul,” he told his buddy Striker, as they downed a few beers and shooters at a popular water front bar, “The Sailor’s Hole,” where sailors and marines hung out. It was near the Tennessee and other war ships. They wouldn’t dare miss curfew!

After all, San Diego was beautiful in March. On this afternoon it was 70 degrees and sunny. The sail boats were out in the bay. The ladies of San Diego wore shorts and tops in the warm balmy weather.

Vernon and Striker could only gaze and dream of Hawaii and the Philippines.

Later in the evening before liberty curfew, at 12 midnight, Vernon and Striker walked up nthe bridge and asked, “permission to come aboard sir,” and Sparks and Sricker salauted at attention, so proudly, and walked aboard.

Both men would make America and the world proud, so proud forever… Honor and duty so important to both as they served America.

The USS Tennessee BB43 sailed away early that morning. Destination Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. They would cross the equator en route. This was a special Navy ritual, a right of passage.

Vernon never looked back. He and Striker would learn to be the best of the best Seaman and hardened warriors at sea when America needed them the most.

*****

Crossing the Equator

It was a way for sailors to be tested for their seaworthiness. When a ship crosses the equator, King Neptune comes aboard to exercise authority over his domain and to judge charges brought against Pollywogs that they are only posing as sailors and haven’t paid proper homage to the god of the sea.

Happy Thanksgiving! Sarah, Judy and Steve

Politics and Bible Thumping Ain’t Gonna Solve No Problems!

https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2016/03/25/religion-in-politics-john-winters

“I’m about the furthest thing from devout, but even I have to admit that Jesus said some pretty amazing things. His main message, if I may be so bold as to summarize, was love and take care of each other.”

*****

I’m sick and tired of politics and the bible! They don’t mix and they don’t solve a single problem.

But that’s where we are in America and it’s getting worse not better.

Everytime I try to have a conversation about “loving each other and taking care of each other, it’s the same fucking stupid response.

“Trump is a fool and racist!” “Biden is a pedophile!” “Trump hates America!” Biden hates America!” “A good democrate is a dead democrate!” Or worse yet, things I don’t care to discuss any further, especially right now.

I think we are all fools if we don’t start talking about how to talk to each other again.

Stop it right now!

Stop thinking about us and them!

Stop whining, complaining and blaming everyone and everything.

Stop being judgemental. Stop being “holier-than-thou!”

Just stop this shit and start talking to each other about solutions. Leave Trump, Biden, religion, politics and other stupid shit at the door.

And, most importantly, leave your ego at the door to conversation out in the hallway…

Just stop it!!!

Steve Sparks

Steve Sparks, Depoe Bay Oregon

The Hawaiian Nation…Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941…

Ed and Carmen Clark, Little Whale Cove, Oregon

The Hawaiian People served too!

Meet our dear neighbors, Ed and Carmen Clark! Judy and I so appreciate their interest in contributing to our “Celebrating Democracy” series.

Both Ed and Carmen Clark were born in 1946 like me. We are proud members of the 46ers Club of Boomers.

Ed and Carmen were born and raised in Hawaii. They share a rich history and Hawaiian Nation heritage.

We both share a post WWII legacy as well. Our fathers, uncles & grandfathers served in the Pacific well before WWII and the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor.

Well before WWII, the South China Sea was a war front line. The Japanese invaded China during the 2nd Sino-Japanese War starting in 1937.

http://www.combinedfleet.com/SouthChinaSea_t.htm

The US Navy Pacific Fleet was out in force helping China fight back the powerful Japanese Navy at the time.

My father, Vernon, was serving on the USS Tennessee (BB43) in 1937-39, long before Pearl Harbor.

And this takes us to Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Now, the Sparks/Clark famlies team up to share the stories that need to be told.

We ‘Celebrate Democracy’ together.

This is a highlight from our conversation from the YouTube video above.

From Ed Clark…

“WWII was a time to learn and build our nation to protect our freedom.
But … during that time after Pearl Harbor, it was terror to the civilian population. No one tells the stories of the after effect of that terrible day, December 7, 1941.

Everyone was frightened with the unknown after effects – is there going to be an invasion?

My mother was in downtown Honolulu when the attack started. She didn’t know what to make of all the noise until she saw the planes over head.

Why she thought? Maybe it was for training. No one was running or hiding. It wasn’t until she got home was she told what happened.

Everyone was afraid of an invasion.

My father-in-law was hired to help pick up the dead for 50 cents a day. His stories of what he had to do made me cry and sooo sorry for the loss of lives.

I visited Haleiwa airfield where the two fighter planes took off. Off shore there is a trench that probably to this day holds the wreckage of a Japanese plane.

Edmond Clark, Depoe Bay Oregon

Veterans Day 2020

*****

Thanks again to Ed and Carmen! Telling the stories we have not told before is so healing…

Judy and Steve Sparks

Celebrating Democracy with Steve Sparks… Marcella Sparks, the train north to San Francisco fall 1942

While little Jerry slept in her arms, Marcella was transfixed on the beauty of southern California. She so enjoyed traveling the country on a train. Marcella remembered the fun ‘caboose’ stories as a kid growing up in St Paul.

Ohhh! “The orange groves,” she thought while smiling. Marcella loved fresh fruit…

Marcella always had strong faith and hope for her new family. “Vernon was coming home,” she screamed with tears of joy, but silently as her little precious boy was asleep. 

Jerry was smiling as he was held close and lovingly by his mom. He knew he was safe and secure. Little Jerry knew he was loved.

“After all,” Marcella thought. “I can’t imagine Vernon going back to war after Pearl Harbor!”

Little did she know that Vernon was already assigned to the newly commissioned USS Bellegrove LSD2. The Bellegrove would be commissioned in Feb1943. 

Vernon would be promoted to BMC in April 1943. A secret mission to Pacific was already in the making, and for many months starting right after the Pearl Harbor bombing.

Vernon could not share any of this with Marcella. And she knew it.

It didn’t take Marcella long to refocus back then and stand on her own. She’s a mom, a military mom and spouse. She had a WWII mission too… Keeping the home fires burning.

Marcella beleived she served too. Her family served. And grandparents served in WWI. She and Vernon toughed it out during the Greatest Depression as poor families.

Marcella looked out the window. She looked up and observed the tallest mountain peaks near Fresno, Ca.

Someone a couple of seats up yelled with excitement, “Yosemite National Park is up there.”

It was at that moment, Marcella, looked down at little Jerry, and said softly but firmly, “we can do this son!” We can do this!” As the tears flowed down her face. 

Marcella could cry back then… But that would change once there were no more tears to share…or shed.

From this moment of reflection, Marcella knew she was heading into fighting a war herself. 

Marcella would come to know hard combat as a warrior spouse.  The war would come home to the kitchen table every night for dinner. Vernon would be at war with himself. 

But she had no awareness or training on what she heard as “Battle Fatigue.” Vernon was diagnosed with this condition we didn’t understand back then. 

Battle Fatigue sounded like, she thought, “Vernon would need lots of rest before going back to sea.

Maybe the Navy Command would keep her husband home for awhile. Little Jerry needed to know his Daddy.

Marcella again tried to put those worries aside. She had to think about caring for her husband and young son.

Marcella knew Vernon would come home a different man. “Will I even know him?” She thought.

Marcella returned to more hopeful and positive thoughts. She dreamed of getting their new larger 2 bedroom apartment on Scott Street ready near the Marine District in San Francisco.

Marcella would wait for Vernon’s arrival. She dreamed of Christmas with her new family. It would be a beautiful time of love, and prayers. “Maybe we could go to midnight mass.” as she smiled.

When Jerry saw any sailor in uniform, he would yell out a sweat version of “daddy, daddy” to every sailor he saw while on errands with his mom.

Jerry would not get to know his father on this time. That would come much later. In fact, it would not be until June 1945, the very end of WWII. 

It was just like that for 10s of 1000s of men and woman who fought around the world for our freedoms. Vernon’s story repeats itself for 1000s of military families all over the globe who’s loved ones served years in hard combat. 

How can the human mind survive this kind of torture? We know more now but not then. 

I believe America won WWII because we fought together as one community of people. We fought for all of us, not just some of us.

Jerry, Marcella, Vernon and Stephen in mom’s arms summer 1946

Celebrating Democracy with Steve Sparks… Bishop Point Harbor Patrol, Pearl Harbor September 1942

While Marcella and Jerry were making arrangements to make a move to San Francisco, Vernon, was having a difficult time staying grounded.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor and ensuing weeks and months of Marshall Law, took its toll.


One night while out on the town near Waikiki Beach with his shipmates, Vernon got smashed. He and his buddies were already up tight from too much fighting, collateral damage, and stressful patrols around the islands. 


Vernon was loud and boisterous. He was tall 6’3″ with long arms and huge hands. He was mean and scary. No one dare fuck with Bos’n Sparks. He was known for beating the holy shit out of people who pissed him off. Think of “Popeye the Sailor Man.” 

There were a few other rowdy sailors and marines  in the club drinking and raising hell. It really looked and smelled like a fight would be inevitable before midnight. All lived with a midnight curfew during the war. Liberty was no more than 12 hours at a time, not everyday either.

About the time Vernon was tuned up for a fight, a marine he didn’t like came behind him with a sucker punch to the side of his head. Vernon fell off the bar stool to the floor. He was pissed off!

Vernon was so angry and drunk that everybody started clearing out while ‘boogy woogy’ tunes played loud.
Vernon got up yelling and chasing the marine antagonist asshole out the door.

A huge fight ensued between the two meanest warriors from the US Pacific Fleet. 


It was an ugly fight outside on the street next to the old Wang Poo Club in Honolulu, not far from Ft DeRussy (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_DeRussy_Military_Reservation on Waikiki Beach.)

The fighting warriors beat the holy shit out of each for at least 5 minutes before the Marine MPs arrived at the scene.


Both men were arrested and taken to the brig. They were also AWOL because the midnight hour curfew was missed by at least 10 hours. 


You are probably worried like me that Vernon would be in so much trouble that he might be confined to the brig and unable to go home.

This would be the final nail in the coffin for Vernon, he thought with hands shaking and severe anxiety.


But this was a time for kindness and empathy for the US Navy. Many marines and sailors as well as the locals were deeply traumatized.


Following is a quote from Vernon’s Naval record from that time. It was a God’s send…


“Section Base, Bishop Point, Harbor Patrol, 14th Naval District, Pearl Harbor, Oahu AWOL from 2000, 2 July 1942 to 0600, 3 July 1942, 10 hours. Tried on July 6, 1942 and confined for a period of twenty (20) days and $20/month loss of pay for a period of four (4) months per Deck Court-Martial.

On April 2, 1942, he was appointed BM1st class. On September 30, 1942, JAG remitted entirely that part of the sentence involving confinement because he “PARTICIPATED IN THE BATTLE OF PEARL HARBOR ON DECEMBER 7, 1941.”

In the meantime, Marcella and Jerry packed up and caught a train from Long Beach to San Francisco. 


The new family home would be 501 Scott St., San Francisco, Ca

Bro, Jerry, Mom and Dad and me July 1946

Celebrating Democracy with Steve Sparks… Long Beach, Ca 1942… The dreaded ‘knock at the door’

https://www.stmatthewlb.org

In 1932, Long Beach built a large Navy Landing at the foot of Pico Avenue.  By the next year, there were over 50 ships and 30,000 sailors at Long Beach. In 1933, more than 4,500 sailors and marines came ashore to provide rescue units and patrols to assist local authorities in dealing with the destruction, injuries and breakdown of order in the aftermath of a massive earthquake.

Approximate Boundaries of the Former Naval Station and Naval Shipyard

Approximate Boundaries of the Former Naval Station and Naval Shipyard

*****In the fall of 1942, Marcella, was holding her 1st born son, Jerry, in her arms as she attended mass at St. Mattews in Long Beach, Ca. 
Marcella prayed everyday since her husband, Vernon, survived the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. At this moment in church she held her rosary tightly and prayed for her husband, Vernon, to return home. 
Vernon was assigned to the Harbor Patrol shortly after the bombing of the US Navy Pacific Fleet by the Japanese Navy. He patrolled the coast of O.Island looking for Japanese subs.
Marcella returned home from church that day. Soon after she and Jerry returned home to their apartment on Lime St. there was a knock at the door. 
Marcella hesitated while holding, Jerry, who was just one year old. Marcella woke up each day dreaded the knock at the door. Too many of her Navy wife friends she got to know list their husbands in the Pacific War.
Jerry was a healthy and happy baby. He felt loved and secure with his mom. They were close. It was a painful time for 1000s of Navy and Marine spouses and moms waiting for their husband’s to return home from the war. 
There was little or no communications at that time. Letters and cards would come from Vernon each week. She so looked forward to reading how Jerry’s pop was doing. She prayed everyday that he would return home safely to see how much his son had grown. 
Marcella finally got enough strength get up from the couch and go to the front door. She was reading cards and letters, and showing photos up his his pop. She wanted to prepare Jerry to meet his father for the 1st time. 
She opened the front door slowly with her heart pounding and tears in her eyes expecting bad news. What she saw was not a man in a Navy uniform. It was the Western Union man, “thank you, God!!!” She said. Because she knew that Vernon was coming home.
So, after Marcella sat down on the couch, she took the telegram out of the envelope, looked at Jerry with tears and love in her eyes and held him closely.
She yelled out with joy and more tears when she read ouliud so Jerry could hear, “your dad is coming home, Vernon is coming home, he is coming home my son!”
So, on that day, Marcella, started packing up and planning her next move to San Francisco to meet Vernon on his arrival. 
Little did she know that Vernon would sail off again to a secret mission in the Pacific. Vernon’s next ship duty would be the newly commissioned USS Bellegrove LSD2.

Marcella felt so much empathy and compassion for her dear friendships during that time. They were all going through the same emotional pain 24/7 for weeks and months. Waiting for news that their loved ones would return. The “knock at the door” came all too often for so many of her friends and neighbors.

She even said good bye to many Japanese friends who were taken from their homes and taken to the intern camps for the duration of the war was over.

Marcella never understood this. Her friends were Americans just like her. “Why?” she said…

In all these decades later, Japanese intern camps represent a stain on America’s soul. We will never ever do that again!

Long Beach Ca c1942 Nice waves!

What Is a Cult Following? Is Trumpism a Cult?

Come to your own conclusions…

It’s a terrible consequence to be ignorant, especially with the stakes
so high in America…

The cultists “kool aid” phenomenon is very powerful in the minds of those who follow not lead. That’s it! Cults control those who follow. I call it the “path of least resistance.”

We are seeing it as clear as a full moon. I wonder if a lesson might be learned after this. I don’t think so, but hold out hope.

I remember “The Greatest Generation” of men and woman. When they came home from WWII, like my father, America was set free to lead not follow.

Steve Sparks, Author/Blogger

Reference…

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult

“Democracy Dies in The Darkness” Washington Post 2020 by Ed Saslow

https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/eli-saslow/

This is how we treat each other? This is who we are?


A county health director on the high cost of doing her job…

*****

“I don’t really know if I should be talking about all of this. It makes me worried for my safety. I’ve had strange cars driving back and forth past my house.

I get threatening messages from people saying they’re watching me. They followed my family to the park and took pictures of my kids. How insane is that? I know it’s my job to be out front talking about the importance of public health — educating people, keeping them safe. Now it kind of scares me.

But people need to know what’s going on. It’s happening all over the country, and it’s not acceptable. I know we can do better. We have to do better.

I don’t base our whole response to this pandemic on my own opinion. That’s what makes the backlash so confusing. This job is nonpartisan. I’m not political in any way.

I go off of facts and evidence-based science, and right now, all the data in Missouri is scary bad. We only have about 70,000 people in St. Francois County, but we’ve had more than 900 new cases in the last few weeks.

Our positivity rate is 25 percent and rising. The hospital is already at capacity. They’ve basically run out of staff. We can’t keep up. It’s an uncontrolled spread. I have these moments when it feels like I’m a nurse at the bedside, and my patient is dying, and I’m trying every possible intervention to save them.

More social distancing. More masks. More contact tracing. Warnings and more warnings. What else can we try? But in the end, it doesn’t matter how much you do. Nothing will work, because it almost seems like the patient is resisting your help.


I get the same comments all the time over Facebook or email. “Oh, she’s blowing it out of proportion.” “She’s a communist.” “She’s a bitch.” “She’s pushing her agenda.”

Okay, fine. I do have an agenda. I want disease transmission to go down. I want to keep this community safe. I want fewer people to die. Why is that controversial?
We weren’t set up well to deal with this virus in Missouri.

We have the worst funding in the country for public health, and a lot of the things we’ve needed to fight the spread of covid are things we should have had in place 10 years ago.

We don’t have an emergency manager. We don’t have anyone to handle HR, public information, or IT, so that’s all been me.

We didn’t get extra funding for covid until last month. I’m young and I’m motivated, and I took this job in January because public health is my absolute love. It doesn’t pay well, but would I rather be treating people who already have a disease or helping to prevent it. That’s what we do. We help take care of people.

At one point this summer, I worked 90 days straight trying to hold this virus at bay, and my whole staff was basically like that.

We hired 10 contact tracers to track the spread, starting in August, but the real problem we keep running into is community cooperation. We call everyone that’s had a positive test and say: “Hey, this is your local health department. We’re trying to interrupt disease transmission, and we’d love your help.” It’s nothing new. We do the same thing for measles, mumps, and tick-borne diseases, and I’d say 99 percent of the time before covid, people were receptive.

They wanted to stop an outbreak, but now it’s all politicized. Every time you get on the phone, you’re hoping you don’t get cussed at. Probably half of the people we call are skeptical or combative. They refuse to talk. They deny their own positive test results.

They hang up. They say they’re going to hire a lawyer. They give you fake people they’ve spent time with and fake numbers. They lie and tell you they’re quarantining alone at home, but then in the background you can hear the beeping of a scanner at Walmart.


I’ve stayed up a lot of nights trying to understand where this whole disconnect comes from. I love living in this county. I know in my heart these are good people, but it’s like we’re living on different planets.

I have people in my own family who believe covid is a conspiracy and our doctors are getting paid off. I’ve done press conferences and dozens of Facebook Live videos to talk about the real science.

Even with all the other failures happening, that’s the one thing we should be celebrating: better treatments, nurses and doctors on the front lines, promising news about vaccines. But the more I talk about the facts, the more it seems to put a target on my back.


“We’re tracking your movements.” “Don’t do something you’ll regret.” “We’ll protest at your house.”

The police here have been really great. The elementary school says they’re watching over my kids and they’re on high alert.

I have a security system now at my house. I locked down my email and took all my family photos off of Facebook, but you start wondering: Is this worth it? Could anything possibly be worth it?


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And then it got worse this fall around the whole masking issue. Our hospital was filling up, and they asked if we could do more in terms of prevention and masking.

We put out a press release. We went to businesses and did trainings. We kept encouraging people to mask up, but it wasn’t working.

Only about 40 percent were wearing masks, so the health board decided to push for a mask mandate. Of course I was for the idea. Of course it is the scientific, smart thing to do. But at the same time, I kept thinking: Is this going to blow up my life?

We held a public meeting in the auditorium. I knew it was going to be a circus. I gave my kids an extra hug that night and said the things you never want to have to think about.

I asked the city: “Are you requiring masks in this building? Because this is a public health meeting, and that’s important.” They said yes. But, of course, the first person that walks in the door says: “I go to church here in this same building, and they don’t make me wear a mask.” So that ended up being an ordeal, and they decided to allow him in. I asked him: “Can you please, please, please social distance?”

He told me no. It wasn’t: “I can’t.” It was: “Hell, no. I won’t.” It went downhill from there.


We had more than 100 people show up, and most of them spoke in opposition. We do get a lot of thank-you’s and support for our work, but those aren’t the loudest voices, so sometimes they get drowned out.

Our medical providers were at the meeting in their white coats, and three of them stood up to speak on behalf of masks. These are doctors and nurses who risk their lives to treat this virus.

They are shouldering the burden of this, but the crowd wouldn’t even let them talk. They booed. They yelled. Some of them had come in with guns. They were so disrespectful. I was trying to take notes for our board, and my hands started shaking. Why aren’t you listening? Why do you refuse to hear from the people who actually know about this disease and how it spreads?


The board decided to go ahead with the mandate anyway, but part of the community revolted. We did a survey a few weeks later, and mask-wearing had actually gone down by six percent. We required it, and people became more likely to do the opposite.

How do you even make sense of that? We like to believe we take good care of each other here. This is rural Missouri. We pride ourselves on being a down-home community that sticks together, and now this is how we treat each other? Is this who we are?


I don’t go out in public very much anymore. It’s work and then back home. I don’t want to be recognized. I don’t want my kids to see any of that hate.

The one place where I had to draw the line was that my son plays baseball, and honestly, his games are the most normal I’ve felt all year.

But then, a little while ago, somebody took a photo at a game of me with my daughter. We were outside and social-distanced, so we weren’t wearing masks.

The photo got posted all over social media, and it was the usual comments. “Bitch.” “Communist.” “Hypocrite.” My daughter has had some anxiety. My son said to me: “Mom, why does everybody hate you?”


I went in to work the next day, and one of my nurses came to see me. She’d just had one of those nasty interactions on the phone, and she said: “I’m struggling right now. I need one of your little pep talks.” I told her: “I’m sorry, but I just don’t have it. I’m tired of this. I’m so exhausted.”


I’ve been living with that steady hum of tension and fear for almost a year, and I just can’t do it anymore. I keep saying my family is my number-one priority, so at some point I have to keep my kids safe. I decided to put in my notice earlier this month. My last day is this Friday.

I’ve already accepted another nursing job. I’m not abandoning the community. I’m going to keep fighting this pandemic, but I’d rather not say anything much more specific. I don’t want that target on my back. I’m ready to be anonymous.”

Eli Saslow is a reporter at The Washington Post. He won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for his year-long series about food stamps in America. He was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing in 2013, 2016 and 2017.
Democracy Dies in Darkness
© 1996-2020 The Washington Post

Celebrating Democracy with Steve Sparks… Christmas 1935 Sparks Family, St Paul Mn

It was Christmas eve 1935 in St Paul, Mn. My dad, Vernon, and his pop, Al Sparks, just returned home after an afternoon visiting his Pop’s favorite bars in the neighborhood.


Grandpa was already “3 sheets to the wind” as his family would observe when he staggered in and flopped in his favorite chair in the small living room off the kitchen.


Vernon came strolling in after his pop. Vernon often went with him to make sure he got home safely. After all it was Christmas eve and the family was gathering for dinner. 


Grandpa Sparks at times didn’t make it home after being out and about the neighborhood drinking with friends at the local bars and pubs. He would get drunk and fall asleep somewhere, who knows. 


Grandma was busy making chicken dumplings with her daughters Juneth and Dolly. Ronnie, Dad’s younger bro was just a toddler at the time. 


Grandpa liked to hide whiskey in several hiding places at home. My dad knew the places. He changed these places so as to keep his daughter Juneth from finding the bottle and dumping it down the sink while Grandpa watched with horror and trepidation.


The kids hated holidays because the mood went quickly from joy and favorite Christmas songs to violence that looked like a brawl in a local bar.


Aunt Juneth knew there was a bottle of whiskey somewhere and went looking for it while Grandpa took a short nap.

Aunt Dolly joined her sister while they hunted for the booze. Vernon tried to stop them, pleading not to touch it. “Grandpa would go into a violent rage,” Vernon would yell out. Vernon was very loud, indeed. I am my father’s son…


Aunt Juneth found the bottle in the backyard hidden under a small wooden box disguised as a flower stand. Junith, a 13 year old teen, couldn’t wait to dump the booze down the kitchen sink slowly while Grandpa threatened to kill her.


He would say to my auntie Junith with hate in his eyes, “I told your mother we should have stuffed you in a gunny sack when you were born and tossed you into the Mississippi River!”


So, as it was for every holiday, including my own childhood, that most Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays ended up with drunkenness, violent outbursts, broken furniture, bruises, and chaos. It was dangerous. No child should ever be in a home like this.


It’s no wonder that I come from a very sick and traumatized family dynamic. It’s disgusting and horrible for kids to live in a dangerous home like that.


What is sad is in the this year 2020, families in every community live in a home growing up with violence. My home was this way during the holidays. At least 2 weeks dug in a fox hole. It was survival of the fittest. Down and dirty…


What happened at home stayed at home. But this wasn’t Las Vegas. It was St. Paul MN, 2 blocks from St Paul Cathedral in 1935 on Christmas Eve…

You ask why some folks say they hate Christmas? “Now you know the rest of the story.

Steve Sparks, Author, US Navy vet