My family arrived from Austria in New York’s Idlewild Airport (now Kennedy) on a very cold January 17th, 1957. The family included my parents (Johann and Herta Barthmus), aged 46 and 48, sisters Brigitte, and Sieglinde (aged 14 and 16 years respectively), and my 12 year old brother Hans-Jürgen. I was just over 20 years old. We landed after a harrowing 28-hour flight in a Flying Tiger Airlines prop plane. Because of two major storms over the North Atlantic we had to land on the Azores, and at Gander Airport (Newfoundland, Canada). As we were landing in New York we saw the impressive skyscrapers of Manhattan in the distance. After going through customs (each with one suitcase) we were welcomed by a representative of the Lutheran World Federation, and taken by bus to the Pennsylvania Station. It had snowed that day in New York City, but the snow had started to melt, and was mostly gray and dirty. A shocking first impression was (more…)
When you first look at this photo, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “What a beautiful sunrise.” But if you look closely, you will see a threat lurking on the sand. The remains of a sandcastle built the day before and half washed down by the ocean is more than troublesome to sea turtles.
From the time hatchlings emerge from their nest buried in the sand, they’ve already had the odds stacked against them. A very daunting fact is that only one in 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings born will ever make it to adulthood. Humans have sadly contributed to this fact. With six out of the seven species of sea turtles on the endangered species list, it is (More…)
At the current 2021 COP26 meeting in Glasgow, member nations are struggling to agree on solutions to the earth’s rapidly warming climate and its effect on all species making their home on this planet. Renewed calls for a 1.5 degree Celsius cap in temperatures will require substantial national commitments to reduce fossil fuel use and emissions, and to preserve forests and restrict global carbon levels.
In the spring of 2020, more than a year ago, lockdowns enacted in response to the original coronavirus threat resulted in astonishing evidence of the earth’s capacity to heal when human activity is reduced. Jan Vaupel shared a series of reports from around the world with links to the source material, and added her own personal reflections in a poem. (More…)
“The afternoon is serene, simple, and pure at the cottage. Beneath the shadows of the trees, I lie in the hammock. The breeze that calms me and the whispering leaves create within me a tranquil lull… I hear the ducklings quacking; they, too, enjoy resting in the comfortable grass. The fragrant odors of the flowers sweeten my contemplative thoughts. It is time for sunset. I walk to the bank of the river. Now the motor boats don’t disturb the water. The waves sprinkle my face with tasty kisses. In the sparkling water, I see the reflection of an iridescent sky, and I reflect on this ethereal sight.”
In 1973, I recorded these impressions of our family cottage in a college literature class essay. This treasured property in Johnsburg, a northeastern Illinois village along the Fox River near Wisconsin, was (More…)
What is the appeal of horror? I remember reading the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe with a friend from junior high years ago. We would sit with a flashlight in the back of a dark closet in my home in Illinois, taking turns reading and scaring ourselves half to death. At night, still terrified, I would bolt under my covers, hiding my head under the blankets while still imagining the horrors from “The Fall of the House of Usher.” You would think that experiences like that would have turned me away from that genre forever. But not so. As others have discovered, it is cathartic to read these books. After all, they deal with the many unanswered questions that humans have grappled with through the ages.
From Greek and Roman myths and the writings of the Bible, to the medieval stories of werewolves and vampires and the Gothic novels of Hugh Walpole (The Castle of Ostranto that Jane Austen skewers in Northanger Abbey), to Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein, and to all the books that follow, storytellers have pondered such questions as, (More…)
I was born in Lincoln, Illinois, in 1939 but grew up in Atlanta, Illinois, a farming community of 1,300 residents ten miles north of Lincoln on Route 66. My mother and father were blue collar workers—she a waitress and he a lineman who worked for the Central Illinois Electric Utility company. So you might ask: was growing up in a farming community with parents that are not farmers fun? Boring? Out of touch with a future that was not to be? Namely, becoming a farmer!
Oh, I thought I was going to be a farmer. I was an active member of (More…)
Every year we devote our April issues to poetry for National Poetry Month. Then we seem to ignore poetry for the rest of the year. That hardly seems fair. So, in this week’s issue, with National Poetry Month nowhere in sight, we’d like to share poems by two new poets.
We hope to see more of their work in the future. Enjoy. (More…)
We were on a northeasterly heading at 7,500 feet above and along the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Had I not looked down through a very small hole in the clouds by pure happenstance, there would be no log cabin in our life. I saw, at that moment a long, paved runway in those high mountains. It seemed odd and in curiosity that paid off later, I circled the location on the aeronautical chart and placed it back in the map holder.
This happened while en route to Mount Airy, North Carolina to look at a large track of land owned by the Reynolds Tobacco family. We landed and were met at the airport and toured the property. I found it strange that (More…)
Years ago, my daughter-in-law asked me “Do you remember the first time that you thought to yourself ‘being a grown-up really sucks’?” I laughed and told her that I had reached that conclusion so many times over the intervening years that I couldn’t begin to recall the first time. I don’t remember now what had led her to realize that grown-up life isn’t entirely the fun, freedom, and fast cars that we all envision in our teen years. At the time, she was the mother of a baby and a toddler and married to my charming but utterly unreliable younger stepson; the possibilities were endless.
Thinking about Heidi and her discovery of the unfortunate truth about adulthood has led me to reflect on other seminal moments of realization that (More…)
You’ve been enjoying the posts in OLLI Connects for a long time now. You’ve seen short stories, personal reminiscences, humor, poetry, photography, and personal insights into travel, science, and history. And occasionally, just occasionally, you’ve thought “I could write something like that!” Don’t be coy. I know you have.
Well, it turns out that now is an excellent time for you to turn that thought into action. Creative action. Or visual action. Or explanatory and analytical action. Whatever sends that pleasant surge of electricity through your brain cells.
Why now? OLLI Connects’ editor since its inception three years ago–You know. That Al Carlson guy–is moving to (More…)