Saturday, June 17, 2017

In 1937, My Grandad bought my Dad a...

One way ticket on a slow boat to America. Like so many other tales of immigration this one too is interesting. 

My dad's family resided in a village near Lodz, Poland. They made their living mending and making clothes. The family was considered middle class. When a wave of Nationalism began to spread from Germany, a high tide of Anti-Semitism followed along. It wasn't a good time to be a follower of Abraham in Europe.

My Grandfather (according to Dad) was a pious Jew, who saw the hand of God in every random event; such as a letter arriving from the Sambur clan already ensconced in the Land of the Free. Unfortunately, it was written in English.  Fortunately there was a Polish-American visiting the town. The gentleman gave it a quick look. He told my Grandfather (in Polish) the letter was a wedding invitation. 

My Grandfather must have had a  "Something Wicked This Way Comes" premonition.(Book title by Ray Bradbury) Here was a Divine Sign. Seventeen year old Sid would go to the wedding in the Big Apple with no return fare. The Polish/Jewish DNA strain of Sambur's  was now destined to continue. 

Mind you, it wasn't easy for Young Sid. He knew many European languages but not the American one. He learned fast, got a gig as a tailor and eventually moved out of his Aunt's apartment. Around 1941 he met Clara Zinn (a recent Jewish/Austrian immigrant with a beguiling smile) on a blind date. On December 7th, 1941 Pearl Harbor woke the "Sleeping Giant."  America was then at War.

Irony: The US Army drafted Sid and eventually sent him back to the Europe. (The Continent his father shipped him away from). Dad wasn't assigned to the Front Line. He gave tetanus, penicillin and other inoculating shots to injured soldiers. He performed clerical duties.He also read letters from home to his illiterate Made in America compadres. 

It wasn't always chummy. Sid told a story of a cold night when soldiers were gathered around a communal campfire. A late arriving GI tried to bully my father away from the fire. Disparaging words were said about Jews. Verbal confrontation upgraded to physical confrontation. The combatants were eventually separated. Sid resumed his place by the fire. Apparently, the other guy wasn't able to let bygones be bygones. He swung a sucker punch, blind side haymaker at my father. The bastard was clutching a tin cup too. Sid's jaw got broken.

This incident made the rounds while my father was convalescing. A Jewish Captain appeared and gave Sid a two-thumbs up for standing up to the bigot. He went on to make it clear to the medical staff, Sid would get treated very kindly or their would be issues. 

V-E Day (May 8th, 1945) finally arrived. Refugee camps sprang up giving aid to the war ravaged and displaced Europeans. Sid's officers must have been aware of his gift for the local languages. (He spoke Polish, German, Yiddish and English fluently) He would serve as an interpreter in the camps. One day, he met a people from his village. He queried them about his family. I suppose they looked down at their shoes and shook their heads. Sid's parents and two siblings were executed for the crime of being born Jewish. In total,  approximately 6,000,000 Jews were victims of the Holocaust. 

Sid eventually was honorably discharged and returned to NYC and Clara Zinn. In 1948, she became Clara Sambur. My oldest brother Allan arrived shortly thereafter, followed two years later by Mike. I was the caboose who arrived after a four year gap. 

My brothers have four sons between them who have been busy procreating. 

My Grandfather can now RIP knowing the Sambur lineage is continuing on in the New World. Thank you Grandad, even though I never came close to meeting you.

Thanks Dad for teaching me the nuances and ways of being Jewish Thanks too for showing me it's OK to stand up for your beliefs. (Even though you might get pummeled!) 

Finally, thanks for all the times you said, "Jeffy! Be a Mensch! Do the right thing!" 

I'm trying, Sid, I'm trying.  God knows I'm trying. 

BTW. Without America"s Pre WW II  Immigration Policy, this post would never had happened. You would be looking at a blank screen. Please give this a thought. We are a Country of immigrants. 

Happy Dad's Day,

Saturday, June 10, 2017

In June 1864, Abraham Lincoln...

Signed  an Act of Congress ceding the Yosemite Valley and nearby Mariposa Giant Sequoia Grove to the state of California. With his signature two natural treasures attained a level of protection from loggers, sheep herders and other short sighted individuals. The land transfer wasn't perfect. Eventually Yosemite would become a National Park (1890) under Federal jurisdiction.

Now think for a moment about this random historical event. 

The US was in the throes of a calamitous Civil War with no obvious expiration date in sight. Death and destruction was the order of the day. A war weary Congress was able to take a time out, sigh and say, this conflict too shall pass, let's think about our Nation's future. The Act passed despite the fact most Congressmen or Honest Abe wouldn't ever gaze upon a Giant Sequoia (Behemoths of Biomass) or see Half Dome, El Capitan or Yosemite Falls in all its photographs don't do it justice glory.

That is unselfish and forward thinking! That's what made America Great. 

Now our Country is in the midst of another Public Lands debate. Twenty seven National Monuments are now under scrutiny to see if former Democratic Presidents wielded  the power of the Antiquities Act of 1906 a little too "Bigly." Disciples of the Sage Brush Rebellion shout "Federal Land Grab!" only to discover the property is already owned by the Feds. (Most of the lands are under the Bureau of Land Management or the US Forest Service jurisdiction) In the words of Woody Guthrie, "This land is your land, this land is my land." 

Yes! We are all part owners. 

Utah's Escalante/Grand Staircase NM and the recently named Bear Ears NM has drawn the most attention. 

In a recent blog, I spoke out about this contentious issue. 

One good blog deserves another! So... I decided to give a further look-see at Bear Ears NM concentrating my efforts in the Dark Canyon region west of Blanding, Utah. (Oh the sacrifices I make to provide good copy and photos for my handful of readers!) 

First off, both controversial Monuments have short growing seasons for human intervention. In winter, many of the unpaved roads get clogged with White Death (AKA snow). When wet the clayey roads become a slicker than phlegm mess. Even the most macho 4x4 trucks can get mired down in the primordial goo. Summertime is too hot and unforgiving in this desert environment. For these reasons, Spring and Autumn are the High Seasons. 

I justI spent five peaceful days hiking the canyons, driving the  dusty wash-boarded roads, reading, drinking IPAs, pondering things and sightseeing. In that time frame, I endured five minutes of conversations with other bipeds. It was wonderful.   

Not everyone's in favor of the Monument.  Many locals (I.E. Monticello and Blanding) want the upgraded Federal protection status to be rescinded. They look at the Ponderosa Pine covered mesas, the ravines, the canyons, the gulches, spires, turrets and arches to be their neighborhood sanctuary/playground. They feel by creating a Monument outsiders will come and "love the place to death." These are valid concerns. 

However, there's a problem with rolling back Bear Ears NM status. This would empower the current Administration to unravel the other 26 National Monuments under review. A Domino effect of areas of Natural Wonder, History and Solitude could possibly occur. The "Drill! Baby! Drill!" Crowd are the type of folks who ask for a "taster" sampler in a brewpub, then demand the whole keg-for free! In other words, their greed knows no bounds. 

For those who still seek to rescind Monuments, look at it this way. In the next four years there will be no net gain in National Monuments, Parks, Federal Wilderness Areas or Wildlife Refuges. 
The one and only exception would be President "Aren't Golf Courses Wilderness Areas?" to declare New York's Central Park a National Monument. The reason? This would increase the property value of the nearby Trump Towers. 

In the long run, it'll all average out.

Back to the start of this post. 

153 years ago, Congress squinted into a cloudy Crystal Ball and took a chance. Now no one complains about Yosemite National Park's protected status. They might be miffed at the gaggles of selfie stick wielding visitors but not the scenery. 

153 years from now, Americans won't be whining about too many or too large-sized  National Monuments. They will be pleased to know they are out there for everyone's use and enjoyment.

Besides, future Sociable Hermits (like me) will still need places to go.

From my three-acre meadow campsite! 

PS. Final photo. Yes! I am a tree hugger. Fido is marking his territory. 

For further reading on our National Treasures: