At 88 years young, my friend and mentor, Carl Foster, should be living a life of quiet retirement at his home in Warrensburg, Missouri. Not Carl. He is still ranting against injustice, intolerance and hypocrisy — a terrific role model if there ever was one!
Rather than do my own rant, I just could not resist sharing Carl’s priceless piece, “Get a Hobby. Write Letters to the Editor,” which I’ve attached and pasted below. Okay, it’s 2500 words, so a bit long — but well worth your getting a nice cup of coffee and investing 10 minutes of your time to see what the crisp 88-year-old mind has been doing to stay busy.
Get a Hobby. Write Letters to the Editor
By Carl B. Foster
When you reach the age of 88 and have to give up deep sea diving or wild boar hunting or even golf because of your physical limitations, you really need a doable hobby to keep you occupied. Mine is writing letters to the editor.
Each morning I scan the morning newspaper, searching for news of some city, county, or state official trying to mold our society or of someone’s malicious attack on an innocent. If I find a suitable subject that causes me to start tingling all over, I begin drafting my “Letter to the Editor.”
I write letters for several reasons. To be honest, it’s because I love to see my name in print and I enjoy immensely the phone calls (both for and against my position) but more important, because I am a “do-gooder.” I hate injustice, intolerance, bigotry, and above all, hypocrites. These are all fodder for my letter writing hobby.
There are some basic rules about writing letters to the editor. Never attack an individual on a personal basis. Try injecting a bit of humor (no jokes, please) or my favorite technique – exaggeration.
Following is a letter to the editor which is an example of my way of dealing with an issue that I really feel strongly about:
WHY NOT HAND GRENADES
When I was in the U.S. Navy on a PT boat in the South Pacific during World War II, we got pretty tired of eating out of a can. To get a bit of variety in our diet, we simply tossed a live hand grenade over the side. You would be surprised to see the variety of fresh seafood that came floating belly up!
I understand that the U.S. Congress is currently contemplating allowing the ban on assault rifles to expire soon. I personally see nothing wrong with helping hunters who don’t like to aim by allowing them to own and use their automatic weapons. But, in all fairness, for those of us who are not too great at fishing, how about approving the use of hand grenades – for fishing only, of course, After all, fair is fair.
Recently Missouri lawmakers wrestled with a “concealed carry” bill that would permit duly licensed individuals to be armed. Although certain facilities were excluded, such as schools, churches, and courthouses, one of our representatives proposed an amendment to the bill which would permit the carrying of guns on university campuses.
Here’s the way I reacted to his amendment:
‘A MODEST PROPOSAL’ OFFERS
IDEAS FOR GUNS ON CAMPUS
There are many of us who are looking forward with great anticipation to the efforts of the Missouri legislature to enact a bill permitting concealed weapons on the UCM campus. We are thankful for the support of the NRA and its fine support of our legislators in this patriotic endeavor. If this measure passes, we can look forward to a rapid decline in rapes, robberies and murders on the UCM campus.
Basically, I liken the implementation of concealed weapons to a baseball game. If a batter thinks the pitcher is throwing a curve ball, it doesn’t really matter whether the ball actually curves or not. It is the batter’s perception that counts.
Same with concealed weapons. If we think that everyone may be carrying a concealed weapon, it has exactly the same effect.
However, just passing legislation allowing students to carry guns on campus is really not enough. Following are some suggestions on what would greatly enhance this legislation:
Because of the current economic recession, many students cannot afford to purchase a gun or the ammunition that goes with it. Only the richer students can take advantage of such a program. Therefore, I would propose that the university bookstore sell guns and ammunition (with student discounts) to help level the playing field. Which brings our athletic programs into play. I recall that last year the UCM Bookstore offered a percentage discount on everything based on the number of touchdowns made by the football team. If we have another winning football season, the cost of these guns and ammunition would be drastically reduced.
Female students would be particularly pleased over the program. They would feel much safer if they assumed that their date was carrying a concealed weapon. When I was a college student (many years ago) I dated a girl who wore a leather jacket, boots and a helmet and rode a motorcycle. I felt real safe when I was with her.
Think of the huge savings by eliminating the need for a campus security force. With students armed with guns the number of violent actions on campus should be reduced to almost nothing. Even the Pine Street problems would be greatly reduced.
The only added cost of a concealed weapons program that I can see would be the need to purchase bullet proof vests for faculty and administrators, especially during the weeks of mid-term tests and finals. Actually, students should see a dramatic improvement in their overall grades since most faculty would be reluctant to fail a gun-toting student.
I understand that one of our sister universities provides laptop computers to all incoming freshmen. How dumb is that? Guns can provide a lot more security than computers, especially when you read about all the sex that is being solicited via the internet.
It goes without saying that both the NRA and the Missouri legislature should be highly commended for their deep concerns over our well-being.
I should note here that there were some people in our community who thought I was nuts for advocating concealed weapons on our campuses.
My letter writing isn’t always in opposition to what I perceive to be an injustice. Following is my way of saying thanks to a bunch of nurses and doctors at our local hospital who were involved in a problem concerning the upgrading of staff and the deadlines for completing some educational programs.
MY VISIT TO THE HOSPITAL
Following a three-day involuntary visit to the Western Missouri Medical Center, I was really intrigued with the front page stories in The Star-Journal about the controversy over the plan by the hospital board to upgrade its staff.
I have no intention of commenting on something about which I have no knowledge. However, I do want to tell you that if you have to go to the hospital (which I did) you could not be in a better place than our local medical center.
During the three days of my “internment,” I was served by RN’s, LPN’s, MD’s, and a multitude of other professionals who all had specific patient responsibilities. I did not know (or care) who was what. All I wanted was for some tender loving care. And that I got, big time.
Although I was restricted to a liquid diet, the staff did wonders with a wide variety of delectable foods. I had many choices – lemon, raspberry, or lime jello and finally, a big bowl of beef and noodles. Someone in the kitchen took out all of the noodles and beef so all I got was the broth. It did increase my desire to get well quick.
Every time a new staff member entered the room, they asked me for my birth date. I thought at first that they wanted to be sure that I invited them to my next birthday party. Not so. It was a system to assure verification that you were who you were supposed to be.
Then, before any medical action was taken, the nurses read the numbers on the band around my wrist in much the same manner that a pilot and co-pilot go through their check list prior to take off. Again, this was to assure that they were providing the proper medical treatment to the right patient. I was really impressed.
For the record, the staff of the Western Missouri Medical Center is extremely well trained. Every one of them came into my room with a very positive manner and a “what do you need, how can I make your stay more comfortable,” and finally, “this is going to hurt and I am truly sorry, so please forgive me” attitude.
Even the lady who came in to clean up my room (after I really messed it up) was cheerful and wished me well, and she knew I would be glad to get back home, I knew that the administrators of the hospital had made patient comfort and service a top priority. This kind of treatment prevailed from the Emergency Room to admission to the hospital and further treatment.
Warrensburg is truly blessed with a state-of-the-art hospital.
Actually letters to the editor can really pay off. On my next visit to our local hospital, I was awarded a Good Conduct pin and all my medical records indicated that I was one of the Good Guys!
Another issue that really rattles my cage is the attempt to legislate morality. Following is my response to a number of legislative actions:
KEEPING US MORALLY SAFE
As a senior citizen who has been married to the same woman for 55 years, I believe that I have had enough lifetime experiences to warrant my suggestions and recommendations to our Missouri legislative bodies. In the interest of simplifying current statewide problems, here is what I propose:
1. Concerning the desire to strengthen the sanctity of marriage by banning single-sex marriages there is a much quicker and simpler solution. Pass a law which abolishes divorce. It follows that Missouri should also refuse to recognize divorces that have been executed in other states. We must do everything we can to protect the sanctity of the home.
2. Concerning the proposal to prohibit highway billboards that promote “Gentlemen’s Clubs” or other nefarious sex promotion outlets, I propose that the legislature pass a law prohibiting the use of billboards to publicize motels. We all know (so I am told) that there is much illicit sex going on in motels.
3. Concerning the need to cut state support of indigents and dependent children, I propose that the legislature simply declare a lowering of the poverty level, to say, an income of $5,000 or less per year. Just think of the savings that can be made in just reduced Medicaid and welfare alone. Of course, we could deny residency to anyone with less than a certain income, but this could get a bit complicated.
4. Concerning the need to spend money on maintaining roads and bridges, the legislature should set statewide speed limits at 30 miles per hour. At that speed, roads don’t need to be so good, and life will be much safer. Right?
We are blessed with a legislature that is determined to keep all of us on a high moral plane, and for this we are eternally grateful. I hope the above suggestions will contribute to the passing of laws that will keep Missourians morally straight.
While I normally write my letters with “tongue in cheek,” occasionally there is an issue that really ticks me off and I react accordingly. The issue again was “same-sex marriage.” Our local paper dared to print an engagement photo of two people of the same sex, and the flood of letters to the local newspaper were extremely nasty. Some threatened to cancel their subscription. It got this rather serious response from me:
It has been a long, long time since I have seen so much hatred expressed in the name of Jesus in all those letters to the editor of The Star-Journal that condemned an engagement announcement.
I really feel sorry for those who have such fragile family values that they feel threatened by the very personal (and private) actions of other people.
Although I disagree with the hate themes expressed in those letters, I commend The Star-Journal for publishing them. I look forward enthusiastically to renewing my subscription.
Lest we forget, “LOVE IS THE ONLY POWER.”
Although I generally write letters to the editor which address specific issues, there is a favored way to express thanks to those who have helped you in some way. Thank you notes are OK, but I like to express my thanks publicly. Following letter to the editor illustrates that point:
DOG-GONE LUCKY DOGS
We live in Northfield and while I was working in my yard this afternoon, someone inadvertently left the gate open (it was me) and my two senile idiot dogs decided to see what lay beyond. Most dogs just wander the neighborhood and then come home after a respectful jaunt.
Not our independent thinking dogs, Tracker and Katy. Thinking they would surely come home soon, we didn’t worry too much about them for the next hour. We were shocked to receive FOUR voice mails telling us that our dogs were secure behind Stahl’s. Egads, that’s right off the highway! We jumped into our car and drove the mile or so to Stahl’s staying well within the speed limit of 65mph, right? Would you believe that Stahl employees – who didn’t have any dog leashes – had secured our dogs by shifting them from one parked car to another, apparently during their various breaks. They told us that they were dog lovers and knew what it was like to lose a pet.
When we got our dogs home, I severely punished both of them. They only got two bedtime doggie treats instead of their usual three. Stahl’s must be a wonderful place to work if those employees are representative of their company.
In summary, I have a number of beliefs that motivate me to respond to what I read or hear about. Here are just a few of them.
• That every household should have a grenade launcher since they are legal in Missouri. However, I also believe that grenade ammunition should be outlawed.
• That I am one of the good guys, at least when compared to some of the bad guys I know,
• That all guys should have a wife who will bake them a yellow cake with chocolate icing for each birthday.
• That the number 88 is a great score for a round of golf but it is awesome in terms of years of age. Golf is still the greatest sport going and my shattering of the course record during a City Golf Tournament still stands. (I shot the highest score anyone has ever shot in that tournament.)
• That I would rather read a good book than work in the yard.
• That when I run across anything that is counter to my beliefs that I have a patriotic duty to write another letter to the editor.
Thanks, Carl Foster! Keep those cards and letters coming!