Louis Roney: In no time, et al.

Louis Roney

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• We recently met Randy Russell and his wife Linda at the home of a good friend. The next time we saw the Russells was at a birthday party where Randy displayed his formidable musical talents both as a singer and saxophonist. Highly versatile, Mr. Russell recently made us a present of no less than a book he has published. The book is a compact history of the United States called “American History in No Time,” – labeled “A Quick and Easy Read for the Essentials” – by Randolph G. Russell (it is purchasable at AmericanHistoryInNoTime.com). In my opinion, Russell’s book would be an asset to anyone who is interested in our national biography. And it might well “suit to a T ” anyone who has historical gaps that may need filling. It could be helpful in the hands of those who are seeking citizenship in our country. Mr. Russell’s brief 108 pages miss few if any tricks in covering all the important historical events in our history and encapsulate everything one would need who is looking for a fact reviewing pre-exam “pony.”

• People choose to live in the darndest places and we’ll never know the reasons why! When Mark Twain quoted his friend Charles Dudley Warner saying, “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it,” he started many an idle conversation. I have yet to understand the compelling reason that so many people live in North Dakota. If you live in Florida, you are often inclined to mention the bright warm winter days we enjoy as our usual fare, but you may be ashamed to crow much about the obvious. I think the folks in North Dakota already know the plusses of living in our “Sunshine State!” When I used to concertize for community concerts all over the U.S., I often wondered why, with so many roads running in all directions, people settled in so many places without any obvious selling points. Still, there’s some person at least who lives where there’s a house anywhere on the map.

•Most of the time, most of the people seem to know the answers to the questions they ask of most other people — but the answers may not be the ones they seek. Writing “Play On!” through several decades, I have dared to express my opinion on myriad subjects, knowing that all opinions are, by definition, arguable. Arguments are famously called, “restatements of long-held prejudices.” The human mind is amazingly spacious and, concomitantly, amazingly self-serving. Politicians know well the value of setting up their ideas by publicly asking themselves the proper questions. These days, there are many questions about the president and his presidency floating around in the political air we breathe. I don’t claim to have the answers to many of life’s conundrums, but I have a plethora of questions: Do I like the president? That’s quite another question. Does it really matter?

• “It is the manners and spirit of the people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution.” –Thomas Jefferson

• Shirley Temple Black, who died recently, was seven years younger than I, and I remember seeing her in my early teens when she was a prodigious child movie actress. At that time I cared little for girls— especially little girl movie stars. W.C. Fields often said, “Never go on stage with a dog or a child.” Shirley proved the wisdom of that saying many times. A friend of my b.w.’s, musical composer Jay Gorney, set Shirley on the top of his piano in a Hollywood movie studio in 1934 and told the producer, “Here is your new child star,” and she starred in her first smash hit “Stand Up and Cheer.” The rest is history. Everything Shirley did in her long useful life was “the real McCoy,” and she had no diminishing vulnerabilities. She delivered the goods powerfully as an actress and later as a diplomat for her country. Along the way she worked for presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and H. W. Bush, and in their service she was never called upon to sing or to tap dance.

• “I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.” – Thomas Jefferson