Lovin’ the Library ©

A couple months ago one of our dinner guests recommended a book he had read a few years ago: American Caesar, the biography of General Douglas McArthur by William Manchester. I tucked it away in my mind for a “Rainy day” as they say.

Well, we’ve certainly had our share of rainy days lately so a couple weeks ago I decided to act on Charlie’s recommendation and went to the library for the book. I was a in a hurry for some reason or another and because of that I asked the librarian for assistance in finding the book; bingo she went right to it and I was out of the library and on my way within minutes.

Now here’s a true confession that I’m so embarrassed to make but I will anyway: I cannot remember reading any unassigned book all through high school and even through college for that matter. There must have been some, but I sure don’t remember them. Lots of engineering books though! Well, now that I’ve got that off my conscience I feel better.

But now things are different. Being retired without the pressures of corporate life, the time consuming chores of raising a family, and without a cable TV subscription, it’s the perfect time to indulge in reading for pleasure. And the library is the perfect place to make it happen……and for FREE, can you imagine that in this day and age. What could be better for a senior’s budget?

Why McArthur?

  • Having been born in 1943 I was too young for WW II and Korea
  • Deferred from Vietnam while working for a defense contractor
  • Woefully ignorant of the price we paid in the Philippines for our freedom there
  • Intrigued by stories of the colorful but controversial General.

And now that I’m a third of the way through the book (It’s a slow, engaging read of 700+pages), he sure was colorful and controversial. One of the things I never knew about was how close he was to his mother throughout his entire career; he moved her to the Philippines with him. And what an incredible role she played in his career: she even moved to West Point when he was a student there and later when he was the superintendent in charge of the academy!

There is so much to learn, especially by reading biographies of great men and women. One of the common threads about great leaders seems to be their idiosyncratic habits; my thoughts go to Churchill here, another of William Manchester’s biographies (The Last Lion).

So I’m wondering, are there any other late blooming readers out there who are just waiting to discover the joys of reading in these sunset years? I sure hope so. Why not get yourself a library card and check out some great books before these wintry, rainy days are over? I’m sure you’ll be glad you did!

Thanks for reading All About Seniors….see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

NASCAR Memories ©

I spent Sunday afternoon trying to watch the Daytona 500 with my son, David. Between rain delays and lousy internet service that kept buffering our reception I had lots of time to reflect on NASCAR Memories that I hadn’t thought of in years. 

While I’m not a huge NASCAR fan I do enjoy watching an occasional race, especially the Daytona 500 because it holds the richest memories for me. And  for some reason as I approach that magic octogenarian mark,  memories are treasured even more; perhaps because we  intuitively understand that we’re not going to be able to go down a lot of these roads another time.

So here goes my walk down NASCAR Memory lane…..buckle your seatbelt:

1965 …..I was part of a Chrysler Corporately sponsored drag racing team campaigning a car called “The Flying Carpet” during the summer after my sophomore year of engineering school. The Petty’s were boycotting NASCAR early that season because NASCAR was not allowing Chrysler to run their 426 Hemi engine due to its overwhelming power. As a result, the Petty’s turned to drag racing and we got to race against Richard Petty in Bristol, TN. Unfortunately we lost, but not by much!

1969…..I was working a temporary assignment in engineering support in Detroit for Chrysler’s NASCAR racing teams. One particular outing stands out in my memory bank as we met Bobby Allison at the Martinsville, VA track for a day’s worth of brake testing. Those were heady days for the 26 year old bachelor that I was, even getting paid for work that so many guys would have given their right arm to do for free. When Chrysler offered me the job on a  permanent basis I had to think long and hard before I turned it down. It was because everyone in that group was either divorced or in the process of getting divorced and I had just gotten engaged. Looking back after 50 years with my bride I know I made the right choice. But I have to admit I often wonder “What if…..”!

1988-89…..I was working at Blue Bird as VP of our Wanderlodge motorhome division and we decided to try to break into the motorsports market at a time when virtually none of the drivers were using RV’s. We setup a meeting with Darryl Waltrip and his agent  during the 1988 Atlanta race to negotiate an arrangement whereby we would provide Darryl and his family a Wanderlodge to use in the infield for the 1989 Daytona 500. As part of the deal, I was able to bring a second Wanderlodge to park right next to his. We had a “Marketing field day” as they say while CBS Sports did an extended interview of Darryl’s wife and mother in our coaches while Darryl was leading the race on the track. He eventually went on to win the race; the only Daytona 500 victory of his career!

1989…..We were still sponsoring Darryl Waltrip, this time at the Talladega race and I was with my brother, again in the infield next to Darryl’s coach. During this trip, as well as the Daytona trip, my brother and I used our time together to plan the details of my parents 50th wedding anniversary celebration.  

While I wouldn’t blame you for thinking it, I am absolutely not recounting these memories to brag about them; no, not at all.  After all, for the most part I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. 

But I am very thankful to be able to look back on them. My main thought in today’s column is that most of us have some very rich memories we can draw on not unlike browsing through an old photo album. It was a lot of fun today , during the rain breaks and internet buffering, to relive these times. What memories do you have stored up that you should go back and visit? Perhaps even with your grandkids!

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com 

The Most Important Thing! ©

Last night, just before we went to bed, I asked my wife this question: “What is the most important thing that shaped the worldview you have today”? I know it’s not the most romantic question to ask your wife just before bedtime but that’s what I did; at least I’m being honest with you!

Without hesitation she answered: “Being taken to church as a child”! My soul shouted for joy as I said to her “Me too”! Think of it, here are two seventy-plus year olds admitting to each other that the most important thing in their lives happened when they attended church with their parents when they were kids!

So what is a “Worldview” anyway? Our worldview is the foundational lens through which we view every event in our life. By the way, every institution (school, political party, church, etc.) and media outlet (TV/radio station, newspaper, magazine, movie producer, etc.) has a worldview from which they make decisions and produce content. And, whether they realize it or not, every individual, has a worldview through which we receive and interpret that content.

Why is our worldview so important? Because it frames for us the most basic questions of life:

  • What is truth?
  • What is the source of truth?
  • What is right and what is wrong?
  • When does life begin and Who gets to decide?
  • What is a marriage?
  • How many genders are there?

These questions weren’t even on the radar screen when we seniors were kids; shucks, radar was even new when we were kids!.

The reason that these issues were not on the radar when we were kids but they are now is that the worldview of our institutions and the people who control them has largely changed and that has molded the worldview of our citizens to what it is today. In fact, these many of these institutions are trying to redefine the answers to every one of the basic questions of life I listed above that we all learned as kids.

How did our generation form its worldview? By largely being raised in two-parent homes in the 40’s and 50’s and going schools (both public and private) where our teachers read to us from the Bible and saluted the flag with us every morning. And on top of that, many of us had parents who took us to church or synagogue every Saturday or Sunday.

All of this started to change at an accelerating pace back in the 60’s when drugs, sex and music all took a very sharp turn in our culture to reshape our worldview. And while we see and feel it some, I don’t believe that we here in “The Bible Belt” of the USA realize the full extent of what has happened to our culture.

So what can we do about it?

  • Be careful not to let the culture rob the truth from us
  • Vote for candidates who stand for what we know to be true
  • Faithfully attend a Bible believing and teaching church……
  • And take your grandkids with you if they’re not going already
  • Teach your grandkids what you know to be true

These are The Most Important Things we can do. They are more important than ever in this post modern era and culture we live in here in the USA; it’s not the same country we grew up in……let’ s take it back!

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Hands on Helpers ©

One of the fondest memories I have as a child is helping my grandfather, “Milby the Plumber”. Oh, what I would do today if I only had that proud sign of his that hung in his back yard. He was a self-employed master plumber way back in the days before PVC pipe. He took the greatest pride in his beautifully “Sweated” (soldered) copper joints. And before that, he even taught me how to cut threads on black iron and galvanized pipe. I learned so much just watching him and handing him his tools.  And although none of us is supposed to have favorites, I believe I became his favorite grandson, but please don’t tell anyone I said that!

I was laying awake in bed about 4:30 Monday wondering about two things: what should I write for the AAS column this morning and what should I do to keep my two grandsons occupied today until my wife returns to take up her regular “Nanny Duties”. All of a sudden it hit me how to combine these by involving my grandsons in a project my wife has on her “Honey-do” list; I’ll have them help me build a table.

We recently renovated a guest house kitchen and used butcher block for the counter tops; they turned out beautifully. Now we need a kitchen table. After my wife scoured through her large trove of magazines and we kicked around lots of ideas, we settled on me building a 30″ round table using butcher block for the table top to match the counter tops. Should be relatively simple, fun and certainly unique. 

So that’s what Luke and Josh, 8 and 4 years old respectively, are going to help me do today. Of course, they don’t even know it yet…..they’re still sound asleep in our bed (It’s still only 5:30). Yep, all three of us were there until I got up and cranked up the computer to put this idea on paper.

So, in just a little while, after I feed them a good ‘ole farm breakfast of grits, biscuits, and fresh eggs that they’ll gather from the hen house, they’re going to learn how to build a table. In the process they’ll learn what butcher block is, how to use a tape measure, scribe a circle with a compass, handle a jig saw, carpenter’s glue, an orbital sander and a power nailer. I wonder what grand pop Milby would have done with all those fancy power tools? We are so spoiled today with every tool imaginable just a few clicks away on our computers and delivered to our doorsteps in just a day or so; what a world we live in !!!

So, here’s a word for all you grand pops out there: Why not pry your grandsons, and granddaughters too, away from their iPhones and iPads and let them help you with a project in your shop. Preferably it should be one on your wife’s “Honey-do List”; that way you can kill two birds with one stone as the saying goes. But if you decide to take the challenge, remember to make it fun; after all they are kids. Hot chocolate and marshmallows, anyone?

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

PS: Have a Very Merry, Christ-Centered Christmas!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com 

Bethlehem in the Pitts, 2019 ©

Have you ever wondered what Bethlehem was like that special night a couple thousand years ago when our savior was born? It must have been incredible. On the one hand it was the most important event in all human history, with the birth of the savior of all mankind happening in Bethlehem as foretold by the prophets hundreds of years before. And on that special night, it was announced to some shepherds by an angel who was then joined by “A vast host of others –the armies of heaven–praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased”.

On the other hand it was an incredibly humble event. Mary, a young Jewish girl, being basically at full term in her pregnancy, had to travel about 80 miles by foot, or perhaps on a donkey, with Joseph because a census had been ordered, and there was no exception for young girls about to deliver their first baby! When they arrived in Bethlehem there was no lodging available for them so they had to sleep in a manger. Can you imagine Prince William and Kate spending the night before her first baby delivery in a stable?! What a contrast from what happened to Mary and Joseph to what we would expect today for the birth of a Royal baby.

At any rate, it’s a story that deserves telling each year at this time, especially to our grandchildren, and if we can get a little help in telling the story, that would be a good thing.

And that’s exactly what the folks at Pleasant View Baptist Church in Pitts , GA decided a few years go when they started a live Nativity display at an old donkey barn owned by one of their members. It went over so well that they’ve outgrown the old barn and this year decided to build a new one to host the Nativity.

My neighbor’s wife has been teasing us the last month or so with Facebook posts re the barn’s progress. Last night, curiosity got the best of me so my wife and I went to see for ourselves where this Bethlehem re-enactment is going to be this Sunday, Dec. 15th at 5 PM. It’s on a perfect little triangular plot of ground across from the church building which has been set aside just for this purpose. In talking with Mike Holiday, one of the chief architects and builders of this project, I was told last night there would be live animals, music, and a cast of actors from the church to re-enact that special night.

Mike said they even looked into renting a camel for the occasion but it didn’t quite fit in this year’s budget. But he did say that hot dogs, and drinks did fit in the budget and that all were welcome to join them this coming Sunday at 5 PM.

We’ve invited all of our grandchildren that live nearby to come celebrate with us at Bethlehem in the Pitts. *Will you join us at:

Pleasant View Baptist Church

74 Spruce Lane,

Pitts, GA, 31072

PS Bring your lawn chairs!

*This event has already happened, but you can add it to your calendar for 2020

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Senior Gift Card Scam ©

Scammers have found another way to put a “Grinch” in Christmas. And this time, according to a Nov. 20 Wall Street Journal story, the target is seniors.

The best way for me to explain the scam to you is to quote the first few paragraphs of that WSJ story, so here goes:

“Just as Toni Capen was about to leave her house to play bingo at the senior center, her phone rang: It was a young man claiming to be her grandson, asking her to buy Wal-Mart gift cards to bail him out of jail.

The young man, she said, sounded just like her grandson. He said he’d been driving with friends and been arrested. He handed the phone to a man he said was the arresting officer. The younger man pleaded with Ms. Capen not to tell his mother. After she hung up, she dialed her grandson’s cell phone, but he didn’t answer. She said this convinced her that he was, in fact, in jail without access to his phone.

She went straight to the bank and withdrew $4000 in cash and then on to her local Wal-Mart.

What happened to Ms. Capen less than two years ago is becoming increasingly common-or at least is being reported with greater frequency.”

So that’s how Julie Jargon, the WSJ writer, starts her half page story of the latest scam targeted at seniors preying on their sympathy toward their grandchildren.

Sound preposterous? Julie goes on to report that through September of this year, seniors have reported losing $74 million dollars in such scams. How many more went unreported by seniors too embarrassed to admit they had fallen for such a scam?

If my late mother-in-law hadn’t been the target of a similar “IRS” scam three years ago I would ask how could seniors be so naive. But I was on that call with her and those scammers were so professional, they almost had me convinced for awhile. That call so upset mom that it spiked her blood pressure and the next morning she died of a massive stroke. Is it any wonder I get outraged at these scams, especially those aimed at seniors?

The WSJ story goes on to explain there are variations of this scam such that some come to you via email.

So what to do, if you or your senior are targeted by this or similar scams?

1. Hang up on fishy calls. No legitimate business or government agency is going to accept payment in the form of gift cards.

2. Verify the caller. If someone who sounds like a relative calls and claims to be in trouble and needs money, hang up and call that person back or another trusted relative.

3. Confirm the email. If you receive an email asking for money or gift cards, make sure the email is actually coming from who it claims. Verify by calling them. Scammers are very clever in duplicating emails, logos and letterheads to make things appear official.

4. Report the scam. Immediately call the Sheriff and/or the local FBI field office.

I hate to be the Grinch messing up your eggnog this Christmas season but I’s rather play that role than weep with you after losing your life’s savings. I hope you have a safe and joyous Christmas season this year with your family and friends.

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Care Giver appreciation Logs ©

I just came in from the woods where I was asked to slice up some logs to serve as center piece bases for candles and decorations for the tables at our Giver Appreciation banquet at Visiting Angels.

This is our 5th annual CG appreciation event and each year we try to make it a bit more special than the last. It was a perfect fall morning for it but my chain saw wouldn’t crank so I decided to take a break from pulling the rope and come write about it before I needed a Care Giver to rescue me from the woods.

The banquet, which we plan for, and save for all year long, is a very special event where we recognize Care Givers not only for their years of service but for out of the ordinary acts of service as well. Often times these special acts of service, as they’re introduced by my sons, come with lots of laughs and sometimes with lots of tears for the most sacrificial service you can imagine. It is a great time of celebration that we all work on and look forward to not only for our Care Givers but also for their clients as well, if they’re able to attend. I wish all of you readers could attend sometime too so you could experience it firsthand.

But, that’s the business side of Care Giving. What about the personal side? Who is your Care Giver? You might be tempted to say “I don’t have one” or maybe even, “I don’t need one”. If you’re in a position to even let those thoughts cross your mind, you are fortunate indeed but I’d still disagree with you.

Why? Because none of us lives this life alone without Care Givers ministering life and love into our lives. I know I’m writhing to a very mixed audience of readers right now; some are still happily married, some just barely married , some widowed , some never having been married and a whole continuum of situations that run the gamete of life.

I am one of the most fortunate of all; my Care Giver is still my wife. 601 months ago today (50 years and one month) we stood before an alter together and pledged to care for each other “For better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death do us part”. So far, we’ve experienced some of all the above and we’ve managed to keep that pledge to each other through it all. I cannot even imagine doing life without her.

Whoever is your Cage Giver, whether your spouse, one of our Visiting Angels, or the waitress at Cracker Barrel, I hope you’ll appreciate them for the way they serve you and make your life more comfortable each and every day.

I’ve got to run now and get that chainsaw cranked up to cut those centerpiece logs for the banquet before I get in trouble with the boss.

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Saying Grace ©

“Saying Grace” is the title of a Norman Rockwell painting that appeared on the November 24, 1951 Thanksgiving issue of the Saturday Evening Post. In 1955 it was voted as “Everyone’s Favorite” in a poll taken by The Saturday Evening Post® which had paid Rockwell $3500 for the original (equivalent to about $34,000 in 2018 dollars). 

That was quite a tidy sum in those days but nothing compared to the $46 million dollars it sold for in 2013 at a Sotheby’s art auction after a nasty legal battle among Rockwell’s estate. The buyer’s name was not identified.  

I subscribed to the rejuvenated Saturday Evening Post® a couple years ago primarily because it advertised that it would feature Rockwell’s art and because I felt the stories it featured would be of interest to the readers of this column; and that’s exactly where this story originated. Supplemental facts are from Wikipedia. 

Norman Rockwell was one of America’s most prolific well known artists (he called himself and illustrator) with more than 4000 original works, 321 or 323 (depending on what you read) were covers for The Saturday Evening Post spanning a period of five decades! That is so humbling to me; I have a hard time doing a weekly AAS column! It was both inspiring and humbling to read his accomplishments in Wikipedia as I was preparing for this column.

But what intrigues me about “Saying Grace” (take a minute or two to Google it so you get a visual image of what a $46 million painting looks like) is the subject matter: a grandmother and grandson bowing to say grace over lunch in a crowded, rather modest restaurant while two other patrons at their shared table look on with intense interest.

The painting was done in 1951, a wonderful time in American life during which many of you readers grew up. I was eight at the time. I had a stay-at-home mom who looked after our VERY modest home and made sure we all had clean clothes from her wringer washer in the basement that were dried on the clothes line in summer and in the basement in the winter. Materially, life was lean but I didn’t even know it. Spiritually and emotionally, it was rich; we even walked to church together as a family for several years before we got a car.

“Saying Grace” depicts that time in our national culture where saying grace at the table before meals was a very common expression of faith, whether in private or in public. Today, not so much. In fact, more and more our public demonstrations of faith are scorned by popular culture which causes me grave concern for the future of my grandchildren and our nation.

But no matter what our culture says, to paraphrase a quote from Joshua 24:15, as for me and my house, we will continue to “say grace” (I prefer “Give Thanks”) before meals because  I know they are a gift from God and I never want to take them for granted. Let us always remember we are blessed beyond measure to be born and raised in this country where most of us have three meals a day and we’re free to “say grace” over them if we wish.

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!   

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com 

A gifted friend ©

Last Friday my wife and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. All five of our kids came together along with the grandkids who could sit still long enough for the affair as well as some in-laws and long standing friends. It was a delightful occasion and we’ve had so many friends from all across the USA and Canada comment on Facebook re the pictures that were posted. Each of their commentaries has brought back the special relationship we’ve shared with them over the years. Some of them go back more years than I thought were possible.

My thought for this column this morning was to share with you more of the details re that celebration. But just moments ago, I was sent the obituary of a very gifted friend, Robert Fudge, a lifelong resident of Perry.

I first met Robert in 1971 when we moved from Detroit to go to work at Blue Bird. Robert, who started as a draftsman there, had already been promoted to manager of the drafting department and was a stickler for details and organization. His hand printing looked as though it had been type set at a print shop.

We bought our first house just a few blocks away from where the Fudges lived and quickly became close friends and even car pooled to work for awhile. Because I was paying to send my wife to Wesleyan to finish her degree, finances were tight at our house so I was driving a very used VW Beatle at the time. Robert despised that car for more reasons than one; when he drove, we rode in his hot rod 396 Chevy Chevelle with a four speed gearbox. A few years later I bought that car from him. I think he missed it but not his wife, Carol, because it had “Armstrong” (manual) steering!

In 1980 our career paths separated us when Blue Bird sent us to Quebec where the average snow fall was eleven feet per year! My wife and I often wondered if that was in response to her comment of “I’ll never go back to cold country” after moving from Detroit to Perry back in the 70’s.

But then in 1997, fate brought us back together again when Blue Bird asked me to come back from Canada to direct the engineering department where there were several urgent crises brewing at the time. One of those was a recall the NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) was pushing us to do on a large number of All American school busses. It could have been an incredibly expensive recall to do on all those busses already in service across the USA and Canada were it not for Robert Fudge.

He designed an elegantly simple reinforcement for the fuel tank safety cage that made the fix easy and very cost effective. I remember celebrating with Robert on that one after the successful crash test which proved his design at the Transportation Research Lab in Ohio. Designing simple solutions to complex problems was a hallmark for Robert which earned him the right to finish his career at Blue Bird as Senior Project Engineer.

RIP, Robert, and thanks for the memories as Bob Hope was so fond of saying! I hope we can go motorcycle riding again when we have our reunion in Glory land! Heartfelt condolences to Carol, Jim and Cathy.

Thanks for reading All About Seniors,…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

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