Putin on the Fritz!

Published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette May 17, 2022

“Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have gone something good.“. In the film, The Sound of Music, Captain Von Trapp sings of finding love with Maria as the world around them teeters toward World War II.  

Today, Putin’s Russia is evil incarnate; love is missing in action.

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during the Victory Day military parade marking the 77th anniversary of the end of World War II in Moscow, Russia, Monday, May 9, 2022. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

I’m a fan of song-filled Hollywood musicals with happy endings. Ira Gershwin compares lasting love to immoveable things like the Rockies and Gibraltar’s rock. “The radio and the telephone, and the movies that we know may just be passing fancies and in time may go, but our love is here to stay.” 

It’s been many a year since Fred Astaire, or Gene Kelly, set their lithe dancing partners back to earth. Careful, James, nostalgia is catching.

One of my stronger childhood memories is that May is the month of Our Mother. At  St. Michael’s school we all sang as a crown of flowers was placed upon a statue of the Virgin Mary, Queen of the May. Sensing spring’s arrival, we loved to love this icon of heavenly perfection, draped in sky-blue.

The majority of us had mothers waiting at home for our arrival.

Dads went off to work; mom took care of the kids.. Except at our house, where mom was dad’s bookkeeper, too. There were kids aplenty, tons of laundry, and three squares to cook. In late-found appreciation, Christ’s mother, Mary, was, and is, far from the only woman to perform miracles. 

Our son, Dan, sent me a copy of my parent’s page in the 1950 census. It called to mind that Jesus was born in Bethlehem due to a Roman census. Every ten years, America counts all persons inside its borders. A census can measure migration trends, affecting government funding. Results are closely held for 72 years. Wow! America’s population doubled to reach 330 M in 2020, compared to 150 million in 1950. 

Educated involved citizens are the key to a thriving democracy. Millions of us write fearless opinions online, and to local newspapers. 

As a hopeful song goes, that’s America to me.

Time stopped as I read the name, age and occupation of my parents’ household. America measured us thus: James, 39, Head, Ireland, Proprietor, Garage.  Peering through time’s looking glass to find myself 50 years older than my father is a strange feeling. On the census page, he’s vibrantly alive.  Conversely, in 2022, I’m feeling like my own grandpa. 

To the census taker, our mom was: Imogene, 38, Vermont, earning two titles: Wife–Housekeeper. Her striver husband was running a garage, two gas stations, a new car dealership, and a Goodyear tire store. Mom’s large household consisted of five school-aged children, a four-year-old at home, and a 69-year-old Irish father-in-law. I’m twenty years older than Gramps, too! After 72 years, America is well aware of how little women’s work was valued in the mid-20th century. “Jean’s” charges were: Jimmy 17, Steve 15, Bobby 13, Jack 11, Maureen 7, and Mikey 4.

I admired mom for coming to Northampton and working her way through Commercial College. Secretarial jobs were among women’s few work choices. In time, they would push open America’s closed doors of opportunity. It took decades to become company CEO’s, astronauts and television network anchors, minorities even longer! It’s hard to dream of things you’ve never seen. TV series like Mad Men and Julia cause national cringing at the crass menfolk living it up atop the thickest of glass ceilings. 

During my life, peacetime has been more concept than reality. The years between 1945 and 1950 were my generation’s high school days. Our halcyon hours until the gods of war got bored and sent for us. Shockingly, they’re surly again with Ukraine their deadly target. 

Pope Francis called Mariupol a ‘martyred’ city; it has gotten worse. A “humanitarian catastrophe and genocide of civilians of a scale unseen since Word War 2.” Civilians, warriors and hundreds of wounded were bombed in Mariupol’s steel plant. Their suffering and steely determination has to be matched by many democracies’ combined efforts. May the  Red Cross and United Nations be given time to save more lives. 

The city of, Mariupol is dedicated to The Blessed Virgin Mary. Her title,  “Queen of peace” and her people, are insulted by horrors unimagined in Europe for eighty years. Evil’s unleashed, ravaging Mary’s once peaceful metropolis. Putin’s unconscionable invasion has even shaken neutral Finland and Sweden into joining NATO. 

Vlad is like the dog that caught the car; what now for Russia?

Western leaders know history and are girding to change the ending. Ukraine is not one nation’s war, It’s also that of the UK, EU, USA and all those who swore, “Never again.” Importantly, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches blames Patriarch Krill of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) for “long aiding Vlad Putin’s political ambitions by laying spiritual ground-work to justify the invasion of Ukraine.” 

Pope Francis has lost patience with Krill for blessing Putin’s war and justifying it by slamming western values, like gay pride. Pope Francis tried warning Krill not to become Putin’s “altar boy.” 

Following Mariupol’s siege, I don’t like Putin’s odds at heaven’s gate.

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