The View from 87

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In the third grade I learned to type. It was one of the few studies I was good at. For a long time I was grateful to Mrs. Miraskin for her patience in working with me. Mrs. Miraskin must have been terrific teacher, because she is the only teacher whose name I remember except for two professors in college. When I left Hollywood in 1988 I decided I could be a writer. Typing was crucial to my effort, because Mrs. Miraskin was tasked with teaching us kids manuscript writing. I know not what course my co-students may have taken, but the result was a lifelong inability to have my writing understood even by me.

I say this because these days, typing has become almost as difficult as being switched by Mrs. Miraskin to a right-handed manuscript writer from my former left-handed Palmer method training in the prior grades. Somehow I manage to constantly turn on the Caps Lock on the keyboard of my computer when I stretch for an “a,” and have constant trouble in putting my hands in the right position. This problem results in ghastly problems that are very discouraging. I am saved, somewhat, by my spellcheck system, but even spellcheck can’t figure out something like shgtrgy//?hjk, nor can I. Moreover, what prevents me from being Ernest Hemingway is weakness of will (not to mention talent). A true writer must be able to screw his/her behind into a seat for many hours at a time. The typing errors destroy whatever will I had and here I am, aged 87, incapable of doing almost everything but sleep, eat, read and watch tennis on television.

Oops, I forgot that I can still opine and criticize. Having lived an inordinately long life it is my opinion that the general discontent in this country is terribly overstated. Lighten up folks. This country is nowhere in the kind of trouble we were in during the Great Depression in the ‘30s, or after the stunning attack on Pearl Harbor and the early Japanese success in the Pacific in the ’40s and the casualties we suffered during World War II, or during the ghastly era of McCarthyism and blacklisting during the ‘50s and our defeat in the Korean War to be followed later by Vietnam. In the 1960s our faith in government was shaken by assassinations, race riots and many deaths from air accidents. In the ‘70s we somehow elected President Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew as vice president. Agnew had to resign over financial shenanigans and Nixon–well, you know, despite the fact that he claimed to be “not a crook” he would certainly have gone to jail if he had not resigned the presidency just in time. In the 1980s we were blessed (?) with President Reagan, the all-American, who somehow managed to get himself into the Iran-Contra scheme which proved once again that presidents are sometimes dishonest. In the ’90s we got involved in the First Gulf War to reverse an invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. The Iraqis fled like mice from cats when they came in contact with our troops, and Iraq quickly surrendered. This led to the false belief that Saddam Hussein was some kind of pushover and therefore we could overrun his country at our leisure whenever required. Next up was 9/11 followed by George W.’s dreadful decision to invade Iraq in search of nonexistent atomic weapons.

Today we find ourselves more or less permanently at war with various Muslim evil-doers and strife between two incompatible parties who cannot even agree to pass a budget. While we face these and other problems, our situation is not nearly as perilous as it was in the good old days of my youth. The economy has improved substantially since the election of Obama, not to mention the passage of universal health care, and despite unlimited campaign spending we are still more or less a democracy. Be this as it may, we have survived a lot worse. As I said before, lighten up.

My memories are not all terrible. I still remember lots of attractive young women from before I was married for the first time (1960). I get hot and bothered over these memories until I remember that these girls would be about my age now if they have not already passed on. There is, sadly, no reversing age. As George Burns once said when he was in his 90s, “I still chase girls but I forget why.”

Arthur Joel Katz, who generally goes by ‘Joel,’ is a Lower Saucon Township resident. In addition to Saucon Source, he has written for Hellertown-Lower Saucon Patch and the former Saucon News. He is also the author of “Making Harriet,” a novel.

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