Background - Parents 003

 

Life – economic life anyway – was hard for my parents.  There were many years of struggle for them.  I don’t know the processes that they went through to each obtain a CPA certificate, but both did just that.  I believe that mother had many accounts that she serviced, but I don’t know the names of all of them.  Dad went to work in an accounting firm of some renown.   They lived in a rented house for a while but moved soon after I was born.  They moved to a little house on Cresent (522 Cresent) in Independence Mo.  Independence is a town right outside Kansas City, the town in which Harry Truman (a President of the United States lived.  We lived there until we moved to Edgevale in Kansas City when I was 6 years of age.  I remember there was a store a couple of blocks away, and for some reason I was frequently there.  It was a grocery store with a pot belly stove in which coal was placed to warm the entire room.  I remember there was a older boy – probably in his teens – who used to “play” with me.  He would allow me to get a piece of coal and throw it into the stove under his supervision.

I remember one day that mother was going to the bus to go somewhere – probably to work.  I was outside the house and she called back to me yelling something about keeping the house unlocked when I went somewhere, because no one had their key.  For most of life growing up, it was our habit – and those of the people I knew – to not lock their doors.  People were safer in those days.  In current times, of course, everyone locks their doors.  But then they did not.  Well – this time I am remembering was the only time in my lifetime with my parents that our house was robbed.  Someone had overheard our loud voices going up and down the block, and robbed the house during the absence of all of us.

It also comes back to mind that one evening I awoke to find myself in my father’s arms being carried out of the house.  I guess Lorna had been awakened and gone out on her own.  Anyway, there was a fire in the house.  We had a fireplace in which we burned logs.  I do not remember the rooms in that house – and I don’t know anything about what the fireplace looked like or where it was located.  Anyway, somehow in clearing the ashes from the fireplace through the opening in the floor to the ash storage bin in the basement, an ember had not been properly disposed of, and a fire ensued.  

 

My parent’s skills in accounting grew, and dad decided to leave the employment of an accounting firm and branch out on his own.  He took with him several rather big accounts most of which stayed with him for the rest of his life.  He formed a partnership.  I think there was someone before him, but the first partner I remember was Pichitti.  Pichitti was a nice man of Italian heritage.  Our families would sometimes get together and have dinner.  The Pichitti’s had one son.  He was several years my senior but I think he liked me, and we had some fun together.  I remember trying to eat more pancakes then he could eat one time in what was a fun time with him.  While I was still fairly young, he went off the Wentworth Military School for high school.

 

He played football there.  I think he was in his senior year when one day we heard that his parents had gone to see him play football at the school, and that he had been tackled while carrying the ball.  It was thought that he had been seriously injured, but after his death in the post-mortem, they discovered he had some sort of preexisting physical problem which caused his death.  The rest of what I remember was my sister and I at the funeral not knowing what to do or say, talking to Mrs. Pichitti.  She was distraught, and at one time her face and sounds looked like laughter – though she was clearly in tears and suffering.  Lorna and I thought we were responding and emitted a laugh from which we both recovered quickly with a great sobbing noise.  No one ever seemed to notice our mistake, and no one ever said anything about it, but I still remembered how embarrassed I was by my behavior.

 

Later in time – I don’t know how long it was, Pichitti decided to go his own way in accounting, and dad and mom formed a partnership which lasted until she stopped working at 62 years of age.  They did very well, and made a very good living.  Mother ran the office.  She was in charge of all work that left the office.  Any report or letter or note that was sent out to a client or was about a client had gone rigorous examination under my mother’s scrutiny.  If one of the junior accountants issued a report (this report would be in pencil), it came to the outer office.  Someone in the outer office would enter all the figures in the report into an adding machine.  They would be entered from top to bottom.  There were pages of figures sometimes 8 or 10 columns to a page, that had to be added, and each column had to be checked.  If there was a disagreement in answer – the answer in the original report did not agree with the checkers answer, the figures were checked orally – one person reading them from the report – the other person checking the adding tape of the figures.  Errors were not allowed to escape.

 

Now a days we rely on computers, but in those days it was just plain hard work.  Long reports were then typed on a manual typewriter.  These typewriters were made with an extra long carriage so that paper could be 18 inches wide, or even more.  The paper used had to be extra thin – the term onion skin paper was used to describe the paper.  It had to be extra thin because copies had to be made of the reports.  Carbon paper was used, and it was frequent to make 8 copies.  Once the report was typed, guess what – all the figures had to be re-added, and the report had to be read to another person to make sure there were no mistakes made in typing the report.  If even one mistake occurred, the page with the error was retyped.  They did not erase or use any of the later invented helpers such as white out.  Re typing was the method.  And when you had just typed a page with maybe 10 or 12 columns of figures which filled a page from top to bottom, you were really not wanting to do it again. 

 

Dad, on the other hand was the sort of outside man.  He got along with everyone, and made many friends.  Mother did not make friends easily.  He got lots of business, and he worked well with junior accountants who he brought into the firm.  He loved his work as far as I could tell, and he was very good at it.  He retained his accounts and got many new ones.  He was a very bright man who understood the laws governing financial institutions well.  He also just liked working with numbers.  One time later in life when machines came into use and people got the first hand held calculators, dad did not trust them.  Dad could add a page of figures faster than most people would be able to add the first two numbers on the page.  Anyway, he insisted to his staff that his calculator was not correct.  Every once in a while it would make a mistake, he claimed.  He was teased a lot by the young accountants who were sold on the calculators.  Then one day, he found an error again and called everyone in.  And indeed, he was correct.  The calculator had a recurring error on the rare occasion that certain numbers were entered in a certain order. 

 

While the firm did the full array of accounting practice, dad specialized in income tax law, and became widely known as an expert in that area.  He also developed quite nicely in the accounting field and was on the Board Of Certified Public Accounts of the State of Missouri.  So my parents worked well together, each using their own personalities well to effect a truly well functioning and successful accounting practice.

Fri

13

Nov

2015

Are Languages Products of their Environment?


shutterstock_222422665_151112


DISCOVER MAGAZINE published this very interesting article: 


  Languages Are Products of Their Environments


The characteristics that make each language unique may actually be adaptations to the acoustics of different environments.

0 Comments

Tue

03

Jun

2014

The Case for Reparations

 

The Case for Reparations

 

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

 

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

May 21, 2014

 


Chapters

  1. I. “So That’s Just One Of My Losses”
  2. II.  “A Difference of Kind, Not Degree”
  3. III. “We Inherit Our Ample Patrimony”
  4. IV. “The Ills That Slavery Frees Us From”
  5. V. The Quiet Plunder
  6. VI. Making The Second Ghetto
  7. VII. “A Lot Of People Fell By The Way”
  8. VIII. “Negro Poverty is not White Poverty”
  9. IX. Toward A New Country
  10. X. “There Will Be No ‘Reparations’ From Germany”
0 Comments

Mon

02

Jun

2014

A Look At 19th Century Children In The USA

PHILADELPHIA — DINNER with your children in 19th-century America often required some self-control. Berry stains in your daughter’s hair? Good for her. Raccoon bites running up your boy’s arms? Bet he had an interesting day.

 

As this year’s summer vacation begins, many parents contemplate how to rein in their kids. But there was a time when Americans pushed in the opposite direction, preserved in Mark Twain’s cat-swinging scamps. Parents back then encouraged kids to get some wildness out of their system, to express the republic’s revolutionary values.

The New York Times

Sunday Review

By JON GRINSPAN MAY 31, 2014

 

A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks
A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks

American children of the 19th century had a reputation. Returning British visitors reported on American kids who showed no respect, who swore and fought, who appeared — at age 10 — “calling for liquor at the bar, or puffing a cigar in the streets,” as one wrote. There were really no children in 19th-century America, travelers often claimed, only “small stuck-up caricatures of men and women.”

 

This was not a “carefree” nation, too rough-hewed to teach proper manners; adults deliberately chose to express new values by raising “go-ahead” boys and girls. The result mixed democracy and mob rule, assertiveness and cruelty, sudden freedom and strict boundaries. Visitors noted how American fathers would brag that their disobedient children were actually “young republicans,” liberated from old hierarchies. Children were still expected to be deferential to elders, but many were trained to embody their nation’s revolutionary virtues. “The theory of the equality” was present at the ballot box, according to one sympathetic Englishman, but “rampant in the nursery.”

 

Boys, in particular, spent their childhoods in a rowdy outdoor subculture. After age 5 or so they needed little attention from their mothers, but were not big enough to help their fathers work. So until age 10 or 12 they spent much of their time playing or fighting.

 

The writer William Dean Howells recalled his ordinary, violent Ohio childhood, immersed in his loose gang of pals, rarely catching a “glimpse of life much higher than the middle of a man.” Howells’s peers were “always stoning something,” whether friends, rivals or stray dogs. They left a trail of maimed animals behind them, often hurt in sloppy attempts to domesticate wild pets.

 

And though we envision innocents playing with a hoop and a stick, many preferred “mumbletypeg” — a game where two players competed to see who could throw a knife closer to his own foot. Stabbing yourself meant a win by default.

 

Left to their own devices, boys learned an assertive style that shaped their futures. The story of every 19th-century empire builder — Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt — seems to begin with a striving 10-year-old. “Boy culture” offered training for the challenges of American manhood and a reprieve before a life of labor.

 

But these unsupervised boys also formed gangs that harassed the mentally ill, the handicapped and racial and ethnic minorities. Boys played an outsize role in the anti-Irish pogroms in 1840s Philadelphia, the brutal New York City draft riots targeting African-Americans during the Civil War and attacks on Chinese laborers in Gilded Age California. These children did not invent the bigotry rampant in white America, but their unrestrained upbringing let them enact what their parents mostly muttered.

 

Their sisters followed a different path. Girls were usually assigned more of their mothers’ tasks. An 8-year-old girl would be expected to help with the wash or other physically demanding tasks, while her brother might simply be too small, too slow or too annoying to drive the plow with his father. But despite their drudgery, 19th-century American girls still found time for tree climbing, bonfire building and waterfall-jumping antics. There were few pretty pink princesses in 19th-century America: Girls were too rowdy and too republican for that.

 

So how did we get from “democratic sucklings” to helicopter parents? Though many point to a rise of parental worrying after the 1970s, this was an incremental change in a movement that began a hundred years earlier.

 

In the last quarter of the 19th century, middle-class parents launched a self-conscious project to protect children. Urban professionals began to focus on children’s vulnerabilities. Well-to-do worriers no longer needed to raise tough dairymaids or cunning newsboys; the changing economy demanded careful managers of businesses or households, and restrained company men, capable of navigating big institutions.

 

Demographics played a role as well: By 1900 American women had half as many children as they did in 1800, and those children were twice as likely to live through infancy as they were in 1850. Ironically, as their children faced fewer dangers, parents worried more about their protection.

 

Instead of seeing boys and girls as capable, clever, knockabout scamps, many reconceived children as vulnerable, weak and naïve. Reformers introduced child labor laws, divided kids by age in school and monitored their play. Jane Addams particularly worked to fit children into the new industrial order, condemning “this stupid experiment of organizing work and failing to organize play.”

 

There was good reason to tame the boys and girls of the 19th century, if only for stray cats’ sake. But somewhere between Jane Addams and Nancy Grace, Americans lost track of their larger goal. Earlier parents raised their kids to express values their society trumpeted.

 

“Precocious” 19th-century troublemakers asserted their parents’ democratic beliefs and fit into an economy that had little use for 8-year-olds but idealized striving, self-made men. Reformers designed their Boy Scouts to meet the demands of the 20th century, teaching organization and rebalancing the relationship between play and work. Both movements agreed, in their didactic ways, that playtime shaped future citizens.

 

Does the overprotected child articulate values we are proud of in 2014? Nothing is easier than judging other peoples’ parenting, but there is a side of contemporary American culture — fearful, litigious, controlling — that we do not brag about but that we reveal in our child rearing, and that runs contrary to our self-image as an open, optimistic nation. Maybe this is why sheltering parents come in for so much easy criticism: A visit to the playground exposes traits we would rather not recognize.

 

There is, however, a saving grace that parents will notice this summer. Kids are harder to guide and shape, as William Dean Howells put it, “than grown people are apt to think.” It is as true today as it was two centuries ago: “Everywhere and always the world of boys is outside of the laws that govern grown-up communities.” Somehow, they’ll manage to go their own way.

 

________________________________

 

A National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Massachusetts Historical Society who is writing a book on the role of young people in 19th-century American democracy.

0 Comments

Mon

21

Apr

2014

Investigating Family's Wealth, China's Leader Signals a Change

From The New York Times 

By CHRISTOPHER DREW and JAD MOUAWAD

APRIL 19, 2014

 

HONG KONG — His son landed contracts to sell equipment to state oil fields and thousands of filling stations across China. His son’s mother-in-law held stakes in pipelines and natural gas pumps from Sichuan Province in the west to the southern isle of Hainan. And his sister-in-law, working from one of Beijing’s most prestigious office buildings, invested in mines, property and energy projects.

 

In thousands of pages of corporate documents describing these ventures, the name that never appears is his own: Zhou Yongkang, the formidable Chinese Communist Party leader who served as China’s top security official and the de facto boss of its oil industry.





A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China.  Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests.  Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times
A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China. Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests. Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times

But President Xi Jinping has targeted Mr. Zhou in an extraordinary corruption inquiry, a first for a Chinese party leader of Mr. Zhou’s rank, and put his family’s extensive business interests in the cross hairs.

 

Even by the cutthroat standards of Chinese politics, it is a bold maneuver. The finances of the families of senior leaders are among the deepest and most politically delicate secrets in China. The party has for years followed a tacit rule that relatives of the elite could prosper from the country’s economic opening, which rewarded loyalty and helped avert rifts in the leadership.

Zhou Family Ties

1 Comments

Fri

13

Nov

2015

Are Languages Products of their Environment?


shutterstock_222422665_151112


DISCOVER MAGAZINE published this very interesting article: 


  Languages Are Products of Their Environments


The characteristics that make each language unique may actually be adaptations to the acoustics of different environments.

0 Comments

Tue

03

Jun

2014

The Case for Reparations

 

The Case for Reparations

 

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

 

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

May 21, 2014

 


Chapters

  1. I. “So That’s Just One Of My Losses”
  2. II.  “A Difference of Kind, Not Degree”
  3. III. “We Inherit Our Ample Patrimony”
  4. IV. “The Ills That Slavery Frees Us From”
  5. V. The Quiet Plunder
  6. VI. Making The Second Ghetto
  7. VII. “A Lot Of People Fell By The Way”
  8. VIII. “Negro Poverty is not White Poverty”
  9. IX. Toward A New Country
  10. X. “There Will Be No ‘Reparations’ From Germany”
0 Comments

Mon

02

Jun

2014

A Look At 19th Century Children In The USA

PHILADELPHIA — DINNER with your children in 19th-century America often required some self-control. Berry stains in your daughter’s hair? Good for her. Raccoon bites running up your boy’s arms? Bet he had an interesting day.

 

As this year’s summer vacation begins, many parents contemplate how to rein in their kids. But there was a time when Americans pushed in the opposite direction, preserved in Mark Twain’s cat-swinging scamps. Parents back then encouraged kids to get some wildness out of their system, to express the republic’s revolutionary values.

The New York Times

Sunday Review

By JON GRINSPAN MAY 31, 2014

 

A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks
A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks

Read More 0 Comments

Mon

21

Apr

2014

Investigating Family's Wealth, China's Leader Signals a Change

From The New York Times 

By CHRISTOPHER DREW and JAD MOUAWAD

APRIL 19, 2014

 

HONG KONG — His son landed contracts to sell equipment to state oil fields and thousands of filling stations across China. His son’s mother-in-law held stakes in pipelines and natural gas pumps from Sichuan Province in the west to the southern isle of Hainan. And his sister-in-law, working from one of Beijing’s most prestigious office buildings, invested in mines, property and energy projects.

 

In thousands of pages of corporate documents describing these ventures, the name that never appears is his own: Zhou Yongkang, the formidable Chinese Communist Party leader who served as China’s top security official and the de facto boss of its oil industry.





A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China.  Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests.  Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times
A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China. Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests. Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times

Read More 1 Comments