Welcome to Spring

Monday, April 28, 2014

It was a long winter, but spring is finally here. How do I know? Four ways.

The first is the buds on the trees outside my office window. The second is all the birds I encounter on my morning walks. Most are robins, but it is the cardinals that make me wish I had my camera along.

The third sign of spring is the road kill on U.S. 30 as I drove to and from Ft. Wayne on Saturday. One carcass even looked like a young deer.

But for Roland and me, the key proof came yesterday when we launched Freizeit for another sailing season. We battled the wind and did not emerge unscathed, but in the end we were the victors.

Spring is here. Finally.


Monday, April 21, 2014

I had a busy eight days that included singing in the choir at five services (two on Easter morning). So I’m going to take the lazy way out for this week’s blog post and use a poem that I wrote in 1974. It might have seemed timelier last week but is appropriate all year round. Here it is:
I often wonder if God understands
When I feel deserted and all alone;
But then I remember three sleeping men
As Jesus knelt on the garden’s stone.
And does God understand my anguish
When from life’s cares I want relief?
“Let this cup pass” were my Savior’s words
As He voiced His anguish and His grief.
And sometimes it’s hard to follow God’s will
When He asks for a sacrifice from me;
But Christ was giving so much more
When He followed God’s will to Calvary.
So whenever I wonder if God understands,
I remember Christ’s love for me;
How, because of that love, He has felt what I feel,
As He had His own Gethsemane.
By Kathryn Page (Camp)
The picture of Gethsemane is from a slide taken by my father, Oliver S. Page, in 1957.
The poem is ©1974 by Kathryn Page Camp.

Time Stops Here

Monday, April 14, 2014

I bet you can’t guess my favorite research site from the past month. It isn’t one that comes immediately to mind.
But now that I’m working on a historical novel, I’ve found that eBay is a great tool for discovering what life was like back when.
Several weeks ago, I was researching the types of picnic supplies people used in the 1920s. My novel takes place in the early 1940s, but my main character’s father would have bought the picnic basket in the 1920s when he was courting her mother. So I needed to know what type of equipment people used in the 1920s and what material the plates and cups would have been made of.
I started with a Google search for “1920 picnic baskets.” The results included eBay and other auction sites that sold vintage picnic baskets. By looking at the pictures and reading the descriptions, I was able to gather most of the information I needed.
In my second experience, I used eBay the way it was intended. I participated in my first auction and purchased a 1942 Montgomery Ward Spring & Summer Catalog.
My main character has to do her shopping by mail order, and I wanted to know what was sold in the catalogs of the time. Naturally, I started with the free resources. First, I looked online for a scanned copy of either a Montgomery Ward or a Sears Roebuck catalog from the period. When that didn’t work, I checked the card catalog for the Harold Washington Public Library in Chicago, hoping to find something in the library’s extensive microfilm collection. No luck there, either.
But I did find a current auction on eBay. It took several bids to win the prize, but my 1942 Montgomery Ward catalog will be worth every cent I spent on it.
Because a catalog is both a time capsule and a great way to get a feel for the period.

What Are They Playing For?

Monday, April 7, 2014

After finishing my series on the Japanese American incarceration, I was at a loss for a subject for this week’s blog. Then a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board decided that Northwestern University football players with athletic scholarship are employees. Actually, that decision was made on March 26, but it’s timely enough for me.

For those of you who haven’t been following the controversy, it all started when a union wanted to represent football players at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, which is a private university located just north of Chicago. The union argued that the football players are Northwestern employees because the scholarships should be seen as wages paid for services (playing football). It’s actually more complicated than that, and it doesn’t affect a lot of college football players—including scholarship players at public universities. But this isn’t a legal blog, and that should be enough information to understand the point I’m going to make.

First, two quick disclaimers. I’m not at expert in labor or employment law, and I haven’t read the decision at issue here, so I’m not going to comment on its legal correctness. Also, the regional director’s decision will probably be followed by a lengthy appeals process, and the result may well change.

Regardless of whether the decision is legally correct, I think the result is stupid. But I place a significant amount of the blame on the National Football League’s training system, which never made sense to me. Well, maybe it does economically, but it isn’t rational.

The NFL uses colleges and universities as its training ground. I’m not familiar with its eligibility rules, and it may be possible to go straight from high school to the NFL. But college football programs have many players who—at least by appearance—don’t care about getting an education. They are there simply because the chances of being drafted by an NFL team are much higher for a player who enters college and plays three or four years at that level.

For a player who wants an education, a football scholarship is a means to obtain a degree that might otherwise be beyond his financial grasp. The degree is the motivation, even if he hopes for a professional career afterwards. And if he works hard, he is likely to achieve his primary goal.

But not everyone is college material, and even some who have the potential don’t have the motivation. For those players, college is solely a means to a professional career. And that’s an outcome that is by no means assured.

I prefer the baseball system with its minor league teams. Players who want an education can go to college and enter the draft after obtaining a degree. But players who aren’t college material or aren’t motivated to get an education can go straight into the baseball workforce and earn actual wages right away. Even if they don’t make it to the major leagues, at least they were paid for their years in training.

Do I think that treating college football players as employees is the right result? No.

But I can understand it.


The picture shows a 1906 football game between the Canton Bulldogs and the Massillon Tigers. The photo is in the public domain because of its age.