Royce Humphrey, From Hancock, Would Have Been 100 Today

My dad would have been 100 years old today.    He is pictured below when age 14, in 1934.

Royce 1934

Royce Humphrey, born in Coloma, but living and raising a family in Hancock and serving in local town government for 40 years, died in April 2011.

Royce served honorably in the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater from November 1941 to January 1946. Upon returning stateside Royce drove a truck delivering milk to homes in Waushara County and wedded his sweetheart, Geneva Schwarz in 1947 in Westfield.


Of all the photos of dad taken over the decades, there is one that I treasure the most. It shows quiet tenderness and joy with simple pleasures.  I have always, on a more personal note, found this picture to my liking as it shows him slim, and I have always shared that trait.

Royce and bessie

I was not sure how to honor the day until mid-afternoon.  It was blazing hot and humid but dad always wanted the lawn, and all about the home to be neat and orderly for holidays. We lived in the country and he wanted whoever passed by to see the pride he had for his land.

So with July 4th around the corner, James and I gave our outdoor lawn and gardens ‘the treatment’.  When all was done the lawn was mowed, trimmed, sidewalks were edged. weeded with all the flower beds having a  ‘trough’ around each bed, leaves were blown from the driveway and sidewalks, and all cobwebs swept from outdoor windows and doorframes.

Dad always sat on the picnic table after mowing and mom often brought out a chilled Mountain Dew.   I was raking some compost back under some plants from the monsoon rains this week when I noticed a large green plastic cup of cold water placed on the back porch.

It was a good day of memories and smiles.  The way it should be.

Vulgar Language Not Needed In Wall Street Journal Story

Vulgar language jumped off the printed page of The Wall Street Journal today.  Not only was it coarse language, but it was sloppy journalism along with lazy writing.  Let us not also forget editing was sleeping on the job, too.  Having written a few sentences in my life for public consumption it was most apparent how the facts could have been presented in the article without having the paper succumb to the lowest usage of language in the land.

The story Eric Trump Steers Family Empire Under Father’s Close Watch dealt with how the real-estate empire is faring during a pandemic.   Sourcing an advisor the paper felt it needed to insert a quote they knew to be so over the top they could not use all the letters of the final word.


It offends my intelligence when such lines are used in national newspapers and publications.  It lowers the bar so others feel it more than proper to imitate such reporting.   Such allowances in papers of esteem, such as the WSJ, alerts me that our national discourse is ever hardening and becoming more offensive.

I still operate by two hurdles when writing in public forums.  Would the word(s) be accepted at dinner tables around the nation, and would my former employer in radio, a former broadcaster for WGN Chicago, have allowed it to air in Sturgeon Bay (WDOR)?

Words matter.

Letter From Home “Grandma’s Storm” 6/29/20

I again read my letter penned to Grandma Schwarz in late winter 1977.   The multi-page missive was written over four days and covers a range of topics, but what strikes me these decades later is each day brought her up to date on the weather conditions from Hancock. I informed her “been having snowy, cloudy days” and that it “reminds me of when Mom talked about in Arkansas where it would snow and then be gone the next day”.

I alerted her three days later, much to the chagrin of mom, that I had passed a safety test for shop class, and was all set to run the machines for wood-working.   Oh, and of course that “the weekend sure is supposed to be nice and warm….”

What amuses me as I read the letter, other than my penmanship was pretty good long before the age of the computer ruined it, was Grandma was not on some faraway island needing to be updated on our weather.  She was only in Iowa with relatives!

I have been told by more than one person, who did not grow up in the Midwest, that we talk about the weather more than folks from other regions of the country.  I have never read any poll or anecdotal evidence to know if this is true, but I know that weather seems to never tire as a topic.  And for good reason.

Today Madison experienced what we would have called back home a ‘gully-washer’ as the skies simply opened up and sheets of rain dumped itself for about 20 minutes.   The homes next door were veiled by the intensity of the storm.  There is no way not to be awed by such weather or be pulled to the window or out on the back porch so to watch it.  Feel it.

During a hail storm of some duration in 2005, when James and I lived on the West Side of Madison, I took the umbrella and experienced the drama on our lawn.  The dotted appearance of the lawn is from the number of ice pellets, and the expression and hand motion clearly shows my glee with the storm.

Gregory May Hail storm (002)

I came to know storms should be watched up close from Grandma, as I wrote in Walking Up The Ramp.

We find that often elusive sense of security in a loved one’s embrace. Mother felt safest when she had all of us tucked in under her wings in the basement. Her mother, my Grandma Schwarz, was a bit different. Weather phenomena were something she also enjoyed, but I need to state right up front that I never saw her willingly walk out into a rainstorm or a gale. I do recall standing with her, her arm around my shoulder, at the screen door of her home. She left the door ajar during what my childish understanding thought to be a massive storm. The crashing thunder and bolts of lightning were grand, but there was nothing to fear if Grandma herself was willing to be there in the midst of it all.

I had never experienced a storm in that way before, watching it descend all around, viewing it up close and personal. I absolutely loved the way Grandma watched it, and knew this type of fun could be had at our home too. The question became, of course, how do I convince Mom that letting me ride out the storm from above ground would be a good idea? I knew instinctively that the “But Grandma said…” path of argumentation would likely not produce the results I hoped. My plan would take more thought than that. Moments spent watching storms with Grandma demonstrated two things. The first was that weather was clearly something to be enjoyed, and secondly and perhaps most importantly weather can be viewed up close even when it is wild and unpredictable. That understanding is something I have carried with me every day of my life.

When I was a teenager, and with the aid of our state’s inter-loan library service, I read books about clouds and storms and all the things that made me continuously smile.  Over the past months, with a pandemic changing our daily lives, I have had extra time to explore topics that amuse me.  I pulled a textbook from one of my shelves about meteorology and have been taking my time to again walk through the reasons behind what makes me, as an adult, still smile.

After I had been working in radio broadcasting for a few months,  I was talking with Grandma in her house trailer.  She asked what I liked best about my job and I told her alerting listeners to the watches and warnings from wild weather was something to be very much enjoyed.  There were many parts of broadcasting that warmed my heart, but imparting some drama, and even a touch of the wondrous side of weather, was surely something that my listeners had not heard before.

As the rain fell heavy today on the isthmus and the lightning lit up the gray clouds I thought of Grandma.  She would have enjoyed the storm.  As such, I just had to write this blog post.

IMG_1461 (002)


Chief Justice John Roberts Stands With Precedence On Abortion Case, Working On His Legacy


Once again this month Supreme Court watchers are left with a story to follow they did not see coming.  Many feared that this court would rule for the Louisana restrictive abortion law that has raised so much controversy.  That sentiment resulted from the fact so much common-sense has been tossed aside over recent years that we are left to conclude sanity and reason are not to be found anytime soon.

But shortly after 9 A.M. on Monday, the nation learned that some new alliances might be forming among the justices.  Reason and enlightened thought might not be as lost in this nation as we feared.

Consider what has happened in just the span of two weeks.  Chief Justice Roberts has placed his name with the court’s liberal wing in three major, vital, and heavily controversial cases.  As noted on my blog–and with great pride and applause–the cases of job discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers, along with the moral and humane cases of protecting young immigrants known as Dreamers favored the long arc towards social justice.   We were heartened that new alliances might be forming on the Court.

But abortion has always been the cultural issue that divides as deeply the nation as among the justices.  The Louisiana case carried much-justified concerns for women’s health care advocates.  But with the 5-4 vote which struck down a law that would have left Louisiana law with a single abortion clinic, not only was choice allowed a strong win, but something even more vital to the foundations of this nation was provided a victory.

With this ruling, we have more reason to feel that at least the Supreme Court can still do the national work which is required in these troubling times.  What stands to me as important as the issue at hand is the fact–and do not miss the importance of this fact–but the commitment to precedent prevailed.  Robert’s ruled in this case, based on the fact he understands the value and sanctity of precedence.

“I joined the dissent in Whole Woman’s Health,” he wrote on Monday, “and continue to believe that the case was wrongly decided. The question today, however, is not whether Whole Woman’s Health was right or wrong, but whether to adhere to it in deciding the present case.”

“The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons,” the chief justice wrote. “Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”

There are times we can truly feel good about something which happens in the nation, and this is one of those moments.  Roberts continues to demonstrate needed respect for precedence, along with not having his court besmirched by the stain of Trump.  Recall his vote on the court concerning the Affordable Care Act, and his refusal to place a citizenship question to the census.  He does not want this court to have a partisan taint and is working already towards his legacy—as all Chief Justices do.

This blog has not agreed with all past rulings from Roberts and certainly will be disappointed in the future.  But as long as there are foundational safeguards that he employs in his work as a justice we can all agree the high court is in good hands.

That is better than we can say about the other branches of our federal government.

Might Donald Trump Pull Out Of His Re-Election Campaign?

Let me start out with the obvious statement that Donald Trump supporters do not live in a world where they view polling data, historical election data, or campaign tactics with any regularity.  In other words, they are blissfully unaware and completely oblivious to what is happening on the ground across this nation regarding the presidential election come this November.

Trump is in a world of political hurt, and the intensity of what is about to happen electorally to him grows by the week.   Therefore, Trump has a decision to make. Does he run for the presidency and lose, or does he step aside from the presidency, and allow the Republican Party to hobble in some fashion towards the November election?  As far fetched as that may seem, consider just two factors.

First, anyone who has watched Trump over the past five years knows he is not prone to taking any slur, or negative comment, or even a weighted joke without releasing a nasty tweet or a childish rejoiner. (And he would first need to look up the definition for rejoiner.)    So how would he take the loss of a presidential election? How could he live the rest of his days knowing that his obituary will use both LOSER and IMPEACHMENT in the lead paragraph?

Secondly,  consider all the absurdity and up-side-down events we have witnessed this year—which is only 6 months old–and then what we have lived and experienced since 2015.  Now ask yourself does his self-removal seem so strange with all that is currently behind us?

While I am not making any prediction about this possible action from Trump I can not rule out the possibility of it taking place.  If it were not concerning the man-child which Trump clearly is, no one would make such a suggestion.  But then, if Trump were not an actual man-child none of this would be happening at all.

And so it goes.


Why Impeachment Proceedings Must Begin Against William Barr

This week I was sent the following copy of a letter (below) which was submitted to Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum.  Over the weeks the mounting evidence as to why Attorney General William Barr is unfit for office due to undermining law and order, along with lowering the dignity of his office has grown to proportions requiring action from Congress.

I am most sad that Barr has lowered his conduct to the degree that it is now incumbent upon Congress to consider his impeachment.  He was long known as having high standards and his resume demonstrated political accomplishments.  But like so many others who orbited too closely to Donald Trump, there is now only a slimed name and a ruined reputation that results.  Corruption is now what Barr is known for, and that is how the final national chapter of his life will always be remembered.

I love movies about the mob, with The Godfather being one of my top ten all-time favorite films.  There is no way to not see that Barr is the ultimate consigliere, serving Trump to the exclusion of the national needs.  I never actually thought anyone would lower themselves to that level in that office during this time in our nation.

Just one more stunning example of illiberal democratic actions, and how easily one sells away their credibility.

Now to the letter that should be read regarding why Barr must be impeached.

Dear Rep. McCollum,

I am writing to urge your support for impeaching Attorney General William Barr.

I am not alone. Many well-informed individuals agree, including many former U.S. attorneys. In February, over 1,100 U.S. attorneys said that the Attorney General should resign (see NY Times article, here.)

Just this week, at the House Judiciary Committee hearing, former Deputy Attorney General, Donald Ayer, said that Barr “poses the greatest threat in my lifetime to our rule of law.”

Even more, he stated: ““It’s very important that we recognize what’s happening now,” Ayer said. “What’s happening now is much worse than what happened in Watergate — much worse. It’s across-the-board. It’s a systematic effort to undo the checks that were put in place in Watergate and others that existed in the Constitution. And we need to do something about it.”

Additionally, as noted in the Washington Post, “Aaron Zelinsky, an assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland formerly detailed to the Russia investigation by special prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III, told the panel that prosecutors involved in the criminal trial of Trump’s friend Roger Stone experienced “heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice” to give Stone “a break” by requesting a lighter sentence.”

As Rep. Adam Schiff, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and so many others aptly expressed during the Impeachment hearings of President Trump: “No one is above the law.”

I know impeachment fatigue and Trump fatigue has set in a long time ago and that the Senate will not impeach Barr. But, as with President Trump, if nothing is done — then, a precedent will have been established so that Barr and others with a distorted view of public service will flout the law. 

Trump is not a king. He is not our nation’s top cop, jury, judge, budget maker, and law-maker. And, neither is Attorney General Barr. In order for our democracy to be a functioning democracy — We must say: No, this is wrong and we will not let it stand. If we don’t, the rule of law will mean whatever Trump and Barr says it means.

Two current law professors (Barbara McQuade and Joyce Vance) make an excellent case why Barr needs to be impeached. (See New York magazine article, here.)

They write, in part:

“During the Watergate scandal, we saw members of Congress put country over party to investigate President Richard Nixon and apply public pressure that resulted in his resignation. Republicans and Democrats joined to take action again in 2007 following the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys for politically motivated reasons during the George W. Bush administration, leading to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.”

“We like to think others will come forward to talk about what they have seen and what they know. But even if these whistleblowers stand alone, the rest of the country must see this for what it is, a violation of the principle that no one is above the law. Although many suggest the only option we have is to wait until November, this crisis is so significant that despite the political obstacles, it is time to bring this lawless administration to account. With sufficient public pressure, Barr could be forced to resign, just as Gonzales was.”

Thank you for your consideration.


Best Editorial Cartoon Of The week

As we close out another week I want to again state an absurdity of major proportions.

The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to kill Obamacare completely, eliminating coverage for as many as 23 million Americans and stripping protection from 130 million Americans who have pre-existing conditions. Trump has no alternative plan.

Trump has never offered a workable alternative nor puts an ounce of effort into making the Affordable care Act work better. So with a pandemic in our nation, he has asked the Supreme Court to kill a medical program that’s helping millions of Americans.

Callousness and political stupidity rolled into this action by Trump.   As such, this editorial cartoon is, without doubt, the best creation of the week.



After Beating, WI State Senator Tim Carpenter Was Smeared


The rampage at the Wisconsin State Capitol this week left more than damage to statues.  It left more than a painful page for the history of this city which we love.  The night of senseless violence also left a state senator seriously injured.

Democratic State Senator Tim Carpenter was assaulted and knocked unconscious after he merely took a photo of protesters in Madison. The 60-year-old lawmaker was punched and kicked in the head, chest, and neck and suffered several injuries, including bruising, blurry vision, soreness, and a possible concussion.

Most people surely thought at that point the injuries to be inflicted were over.  But with Donald Trump in the White House, that assumption can never be made.

During a town hall in Green Bay this week Trump claimed that Carpenter “was probably rooting on” the protesters before they attacked him.  Then with no rational reason to do so, Trump mentioned the sexuality of the injured elected official.

“The person they beat up was a Democrat who happened to be gay and he was probably out there rooting them on or something because Democrats think it’s wonderful they’re destroying our country.”

When it comes to the definition of the word despicable in the Webster Dictionary there really should be a picture of Trump.

Speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Carpenter said, “I don’t know what’s worse, the beating or having someone turn something so personal that happened to you and weaponize it against you.”

There is no other public figure alive today who is more loathsome than Trump.  No one is more lacking in character or moral foundation than Trump.  He continues to prove he is repugnant and contemptible.  How his supporters can continually provide cover and backing for Trump, someone they could not possibly wish to have their children or grandchildren emulate, is a mission for historians to unravel.

During the years I worked in the statehouse there were a number of people who were continuously attentive and helpful, demonstrating that friends always were more important than mere politics.   Carpenter proved to be such a man. 

Trump proves on a daily basis the worst of human traits, as evidenced by this story.  Let me assure my readers Carpenter is on the other end of that spectrum, being a guy you would be proud to have at your dinner table or talk with over the backyard fence.

And so it goes.