THE SALINA JOURNAL SUNDAY, APRIL 29, 2001 - AT Tom BeU Editor & Publisher Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® saljournal.com Answering the call THEBSIIE Responding to disaster THEARGUMBVT Kansans know how to volunteer T Quote of the day "This is going to be slow as molasses, as far as the river going down." Dee Bruemmer public works director of Davenport, Iowa, expecting that it will be mid-May before the Mississippi River returns to its banks. ^he details are lost to the mists of memory, but some years ago some scholarly organization made a list of the most beautiful words in the English language. Judges considered the whole word, its meaning, how it fell upon the ear and how perfect it was at conveying its message. Some of the winners were "jazz," "mellifluous" and "celestial." It might require changing the rules just a bit, but Kansans have been reminded in recent days of the top contender for the most beautiful word in the language. Volunteer. The tornado that roared through Hoisington April 22 had barely evaporated when the Kansas volunteers started answering the caU. And a lot of them didn't even wait to be called. The Red Cross, as always, led the way, coordinating the efforts of its own members, those of other organizations and those who just showed up because they heard a fellow Kansan was in need. The National Guard was also there, along with Mennonite Relief and other church groups, and a team of building inspectors, architects and contractors that is mobilized whenever a group of experts is needed to count the damage and crunch the numbers. And, of course, many volunteers came from Parsons, a city that suffered, and is recovering, from a tornado that struck the core of that community just a year ago. All have been helping families who had lost everything to get their bearings, gather their wits and put their lives back together. Some of these people, of course, are making these efforts as part of their full-time or part-time jobs. But it is all still effort that is above and beyond the call of duty And it is all effort that money just can't buy Kansas, despite what some members of the Legislature think, needs a strong base of government services. But it would be foolish and unnecessary to build up a team of full-time pros to respond to disasters such as this that are blessedly rare. , Foolish because it would cost too much money Unnecessary because enough Kansans have proven, time and again, that they will appear as if by magic whenever the word gets out that someone needs their help. We woidd be a poorer state without them, both financially and spir- ituaUy — George B. Pyle Journal Columnist • EDITORIAL NOTEBOOK Child care without guilt A new, unsettling study from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development says children who spend more than 30 hours a week in child care are more likely to display aggressive behavior than children cared for by their mothers. Even high-quality care arrangements are said to show this effect. One implication seemed clear: Mothers — or fathers — should work less and spend much more time at home, caring for their children. But instead of guilt trips for moms and gender wars over the role of dads, America needs world- class child care. The study's troubling findings should be put in context. One study researcher, professor Jay Belsky at the University of London, suggests cutting back on the number of hours children spend in care. But professor Kathleen McCartney of Harvard's Graduate School of Education, also a researcher on the study, argues that Belsky's advice on hours "is simplifying the results we found and offers recommendations to parents that don't follow from the data." In an interview, McCartney said the quality of child care does count. So does "maternal sensitivity" the ability, in part, to give children sufficient attention — even at the end of a long work day The study found 17 percent of children in care showed aggressive behavior by some measures, compared to only 5 percent mostly cared for by moth- • BELLWETHER Family finds bright side in its loss God dealt with a husband's concern that his family had way too much stuff I t is two days since a tornado slashed across Hoisington and clean-up is well underway. Streets are passable and heavy equipment clears some of the 200 homes and buildings destroyed by the Saturday night storm. The tornado took one life. It is a miracle more did not die. Pam and Greg Willis sift through the wreckage that was their . home. The story of that night is told again as Pam and Greg take more family through the debris. Only a fourth of their large house is left standing. Everything is coated with a strange mixture, as if insulation, grass, mud and wood were put in a blender and sprayed from a firehouse. The storm ruined what it didn't take or blow into matchsticks. Humor provides a buffer ^ to the destruction. "I had a honey-do list all day Saturday," Greg said. "And when I'm done I tell Pam, 'We've got way too much stuff.'" Then he looks up and smiles. God, it seems, took care of the problem that very evening. A divine hand also took care of Greg, Pam and their four children. Liz was at Kansas State University Adam was downtown at the high school prom, blocks from the tornado's path. Nate and Katie were home. As the tornado drew close, Pam and Vie Salina Journal Greg heard things start hitting the house. They thought it was hail. Then the lights went out. Windows blew in. Ears popped from changes in air pressure. The two adults and two children met in a downstairs bathroom, little ones in the tub, adults pressed on top. "When they describe the noise as a freight train, they are exactly right," Greg said. The house rocked and twisted. WaUs sucked in and out like a beUows. Greg said the family prayed three Hail Mary's shouting at the top of their lungs. Pam said it was 10. As the wind died down Greg felt warm water on his back. He figured it was a broken pipe, left the bathroom and reached for the house shut-off valve just around the corner When he looked up he saw open air where a wall used to be. Around another corner and more shock. "Oh my God, Pam, the house is gone," Greg said. The bathroom where they huddled is the only room left with four walls standing and a ceiling. The window is the only one in the house that didn't shatter. Across the street only a couple of structures remain. Minutes earlier the block was full of neatly kept homes and large trees. The storm swept houses from foundations like leaves before a broom. Greg finds the family van blown from the garage and sitting in a neighbor's bedroom, yet a tea set rests on a table, unmoved. The wall behind it is gone. Within an hour family starts showing up to help. Pam's mother, three brothers and a sister live in and around Hoisington. All are safe. Pam and Greg's house is the only one heavily damaged. Greg is asked about the greatest loss from the storm. He looks surprised by the question. • • "The greatest loss? We found thing?. We found an adventure," Greg said. There were tough moments, he admitted, as when the parish priest stopped by Then the hurt rose up to where it had to be dealt with. ' • But now there are more smiles than sorrow. More wisecracks than laments. And a surprising amount of laughter ' • • Pam asks a visitor if she likes her ire- modeling job. Nate says he always walnted a skylight. Now his room has no roof. • Greg says they found clean clothes in'the dryer, so he has clean underwear. And standing amidst piles of rubble, he turns to a friend and says, "Hey, I found that book you loaned me." Things could be worse, Pam says. They have adequate insurance. They can bulldoze and start over, getting a new house out of the deal. Others with less damage have to repair windows, doors and roofs, work that may take longer and leave problems unseen until later "This is how I look at it," she says, as she hands a visitor a book stained and bent from the storm. The title: "You might as well laugh ... because crying will only smear your mascara." The best thing, Greg says, is the outpouring of help from family, friends, coworkers and agencies such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army "I'U never be able to repay them," Greg said, "other than helping when I can." • Editor's note: Tom Bell is from Hoisington, as is his wife, Roxanne. Pam Willis is Roxanne's sister. • Journal Editor & Publisher Tom Bell can be reached at 823-6464, Ext. 753, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. ers. But as McCartney says, that's a good reason to study the 83 percent who didn't show aggressive behavior, figure out why, and share these insights. Working parents are part of the American way Fot decades, women have been expected to earn part or all of their families' incomes. Logically, there should be excellent child care. Instead, there's emotional turmoil. Welfare mothers who don't work seem lazy Middle- class mothers who do work seem to be selfishly indulging in^ careers. A nasty undercurrent of advice plagues parents: If you can't take care of your children, don't have any Of course, few say: If you can't teach calculus to your children, don't have any And this is key American society doesn't expect parents to do it all. That's why schools teach calculus, physics, French, and getting along with others. The country should muster the political will and resources to take the same comprehensive approach to child care. Europe offers good models. France, for one, is praised for its excellent child care, with plentiful and affordable slots and government subsidies to help pay the bill. In America, subsidies fall short, only going to some poor children and not much further. Other fixes are obvious: Establish low staff-to-child ratios and higher salaries to attract and retain more qualified staff. A nation of working parents should have a deep commitment to excellent child care. — The Boston Globe • SUNDAY FUNNIES Toads, tycoons become bosom buddies I demand that somebody get to the bottom of all these bosom incidents I demand to know how much longer the so-called "authorities" intend to continue ignoring the international spate of alarming incidents involving bosoms. At this point, you're thinking: "What international spate of alarming incidents involving bosoms?" Unless of ^ course you're a man, in which case you're thinking only: "Bosoms!" The male brain has an entire lobe devoted to this topic. Anyway the first incident, which occurred in 1999, is summed up by a headline, which I swear I am not making up, from the Calgary (Canada) Herald, sent in by several alert readers: "Women fear being forced to suckle large frog." This headline — which I assume will win the $100,000 cash reward offered by the Association of Professional Journalists for the first person to get the words "suckle" and "frog" into the same headline — appeared over a report from the nation of Zimbabwe. According to this report, Zimbabwe was being "swept by hysteria" over rumors that a "tycoon" was picking up young women in his limousine, then forcing them "to breastfeed a large frog to improve his business prospects." The report says that Zimbabwean police scoffed at these rumors. But the tragic fact is that the police are always quick to dismiss reports of women being forced by tycoons to suckle large amphibians for business purposes. I say it's time the interna- DAVE BARRY The Miami Herald # tional authorities looked into these reports and asked some tough questions, starting with: Where, exactly, was Donald Trump during 1999? Our next incident in the alarming international bosom spate is detailed in a report from the Dec. 13, 2000, issue of the Myrtle Beach, S.C., Sun News, written by Kelly Burch and sent in by many alert readers. This report states that the Myrtle Beach Fire Department was forced to reject a $2,400 donation because — and again, I am not making this up — the money "was collected at a party where women danced on stage while having their bare chests rubbed with a ham." Yes! A benefit topless ham rubbing! This occurred Dec. 10 at a Myrtle Beach dance club, whose owner is quoted in the story as offering this tightly reasoned defense of the event: "If somebody goes up there and pulls their shirt up, it is all in good taste." This argument apparently was not persuasive to Myrtle Beach City Manager Tom Leath, who is quoted as saying: "I guarantee this will be the last ham rubbing they have for the fire department." Again, we are left with unanswered questions, such as: What did they do with the used ham? Sell it QX\ eBay? And, on the night of Dec. 10, where exactly was President Clinton? The next bosom-related incident occurred in Nebraska (Motto: "You Can't Spell Our Name Without BRA"). According to a Jan. 26 story in the Lincoln Journal Star, written by Aaron Sanderford and sent in by alert reader Kent Propst, a woman became enraged when her boyfriend refused to let her into his apartment. So she did something that will send a chill down the spine of every man reading this: She forced him to suckle a large frog. No, seriously, according to the story she stuck her brassiere under his door and set it on fire. Fortunately, the fire was quickly extinguished and nobody got hurt. But we are left with some troubling questions: What if the fire had gotten out of hand, and on the very same night the fire department was holding a ham rubbing? And does this mean that brassieres — which many women carry concealed on their persons — are potentially deadly weapons? The Journal Star story states, ominously, that "Lincoln Fire Deputy Chief Dean Staberg declined comment Thursday on the specific flammability of female undergarments." Moving on with our bosom report: According to an Associated Press article seiit in last October by many alert readers, four women in Westport, Calif., "held a topless prayer vigil against clear-cut logging." '. The article quotes "activist Daryl Cherney" as saying: "The loggers will h?ive to drive through a gauntlet of bare-breastied women. They are burning sage, saying prayers and invoking the name of the goddess and reminding the men of the' god within each one of them." : Sure they are! Whenever men see a topless woman, their reaction is: "Whoai This reminds me of my inner god!" Believe it or not, I have even more alarming incidents in my bosom file. But I'm put of room here, so I'll close with this plea;to the authorities: please look into this spiate, OK? I'm talking to you women authorities.Iof course. The male authorities left iniich earlier in this column, to volunteer for the Myrtle Beach Fire Department. ; • Dave Barry is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald. Write to him do The Miami Herald, One Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132.
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