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Author Archive: Howard James

About Howard James

Howard Anthony James Who is this character who has chosen, after sixty years in television and newspapers, to depart from his comfort zone and venture out as a blogger on the internet? Why doesn’t he just retire and watch TV, putter around the house, go fishing or grow tomatoes as so many others do after they have wrapped up a fairly long and successful career? Is he restless? Absolutely. He finds sitting around extremely unpleasant. Is he also doing this because of ego? To a substantial degree. There are too many topics he believes the public should know about not being covered by today’s newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations. There is reporting to do on subjects being ignored. Could it be his wide range of interests? Without question. Name a topic and James probably would like to know more about it. Or is it his love for and pride in America. Absolutely. He finds himself e irritated, even disgusted when people without a clue put our country down. He understands that President Barack Obama didn’t grow up in America and had a father from Kenya who verbally bashed America. Obama also says in his book he was friends with Marxists. Now, when Obama and others say or do things that denigrates our country James grows deeply unhappy. Perhaps the fact Howard Anthony James was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 1968 is the right place to start in discussing his career. The Pulitzer rather clearly identifies him as a fairly serious journalist who has spent a lifetime gathering and reporting news. Like so many others, James had a paper route as a child. While his father, Howard Sr., was in the South Pacific, including Iwo Jima from the Japanese, James, at the age of seven, began delivering newspapers in Moline, Illinois. After the war, when his father began teaching in Elkhart, Indiana, James delived the Chicago Tribune every morning. At the age of 15 he switched to delivering refrigerators, stoves and other kitchen equipment for Borneman’s hardware. Later he worked after school unloading boxcars and on the production line from 3:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at a Whitehall Pharmaceutical Company. While in high school in Elkhart, he took a three year class that involved radio broadcasting. His start in television was in the summer of 1954, when his home town television station, WSJV-TV, hired him for a summer on-the-air job after he finished his freshman year at Michigan State University. At Michigan State he worked at Schaffers Bakery from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. and carried full college schedule. Later he commuted to WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, then worked for WJIM]- TV and radio in Lansing reporting, writing and reading the first local newscast at 6:00 a.m.every morning. During his junior year in college, in 1956, he was hired as the news anchor at WDMJ-TV in Marquette, Michigan, the first station in the Upper Peninsula. James signed the station on the air, then later returned to graduate from Michigan State. After graduation he launched his own television news service, working out of the capitol building, serving WWJ-TV in Detroit, WXYZ radio in the motor city, WJRT-TV in Flint, and WOOD in Grand Rapids. Growing disenchanted with the egotism he found in television, he returned to Marquette to report for the local daily newspaper and soon was hired as a reporter by the Chicago Tribune. In 1965 he became Midwest Bureau Chief of the Christian Science Monitor.

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New Motorhome

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Loading day. This is the 1999 Winnebago unit that replaces the motorhome ripped apart by a speeding logging truck in Yulle, Florida, thanks to the trucker’s honest insurance company. I still had to trade in my 2005 Fifth Wheel trailer that I pulled with my diesel pickup truck. This motor home is easier to maneuver when I pull in between the pumps at a gas station.

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Back to Blogging after Highway Mishap

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My April 4 brief tangle with a logging truck is now history. Three charges have been filed by the sheriff’s office against the driver. I’ve been told I may have to return to testify against him. Not  a pleasant prospect, but probably necessary. Traffic laws need to be enforced to protect the public from distracted, careless or indifferent drivers.
Fortunately I was not injured, so, as they say, “the show must go on.” I left the crash rather unhappy, but without a single bump, bruise or scratch. I am convinced God was there, protecting me. He must like little old bloggers. I am deeply grateful. However, I am a bit troubled by the unexpected delay. As you know, this is a very large country to cover.
The incident took place on Florida Highway 17 near Yulee, Florida.  I had to load everything I own into a rental truck from Jacksonville to haul it the 300 miles back to our winter home in Southwest Florida. The mess was then piled up in our small living room. Both Judy and I will be glad to see my stuff back where it belongs.
Now, three weeks later, I have a new, (used) motor home, thanks to the integrity of the trucker’s insurance company plus the value of another camping unit I traded in.
As soon as my newly acquired 1999 Winnebago has been loaded with my clothing, my tooth brush, pots and pans and groceries I will resume visiting America’s small towns, interviewing the people of America about their interesting lives, while  looking at the plight (as well as successes) of those engaged in commercial fishing, forest products, and farmers who raise kitchen crops for a living, or those who produce their own back yard organic vegetables to feed their families.
I’m also interested in the deliberate denigration of the concept of American Exceptionalism by individuals who choose to be identified with those who express enthusiasm for liberal politics.  
The liberals have become a group that seems to be embarrassed by, or even angered by the suggestion that our nation is both historically and actually special.
Why they feel that way is puzzling to me. However, exploring their mindset isn’t my prime goal at the moment. But I am interested in considering the theories and findings of Stanford University Psychologist Carol Dweck. She explains how the failure of the brightest and most talented among us can be related to having an improper mindset, while those who are less brilliant are hard workers who often experience greater personal success. Perhaps that is why President Obama is making such a mess of things.
But I digress.  I had to trade in my 2005 fifth wheel trailer, which I had purchased new, to sweeten the deal. I had purchased it along with a one ton diesel truck to pull it. But the rig was simply too long to drive comfortably. I found trying to thread it through gas pumps rather difficult. When I had to turn around on a narrow road it was challenging. The fifth wheel with four slides was a great trailer, but it didn’t fit my new, self-imposed small town assignment that involves blogging.
My replacement for the clean, comfortable, shorter Class C  is a 35 foot long 1999 Winnebago Chieftain.
 
My earlier motorhome was clean, comfortable, shorter – may it rest in pieces in a salvage lot. As mentioned, my new, day-to-day on-the-road home is a 35 foot long Class A 1999 Winnebago Chieftain. True, it is old, but it also is clean, larger and even more comfortable.
This blogging trip is being financed by what could best be called our “retirement fund.” That’s why I have begun adding advertising to my blogs. I will be paid a few cents for every click. I’m hoping that will help defray my gasoline costs and even pay for a meal now and then.
I am now diving north to eventually write about what makes Maine special now that the temperature in New England has warmed up. Soon I will  head west along our country’s northern border. I’d also like to head north to Alaska, where my lovely, brilliant granddaughter will be married in the fall. That trip is possible but not likely,
Now and then I also will borrow a photo or two from my adult son, Jonathan, who has become a skilled photographer, and now makes the Boston area his home.
So I’ll see you down the road.
Howard

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American Morning opner

AMERICA’S BACK ROADS

This sunrise photo was taken from my back deck in rural Maine on a cold winter morning.

By Howard James

So what’s “AmericanMorning.com” all about?

It is far more than just a collection of beautiful sunrise photos. We’ll be digging into a variety of interesting and often important topics in the weeks ahead, reporting to you on serious subjects here and on our several companion sites.

Our focus is on ALL of America, but especially RURAL America, an area that has been largely neglected over the years by most large television networks and many daily newspapers.

This isn’t just another travel blog, telling you about our interesting trip across the nation. That would have been more appropriate back in 1963, when we followed the continental divide from Cloverdale, New Mexico north to Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, Montana in a pickup camper. While on that trip one morning we were choked my smoke because I had parked our rig too close to an outdoor Zuni bread oven.

But we will keep you posted on where we are and where we are heading. Watch for our Maine license plate “USA 1″.

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One possibly controversial topic in our blog community would be American Exceptionalism. Do we live in a country that is, for a variety of reasons, superior to all others? There are people who strongly differ with the concept of American superiority. We intend to track down solid evidence to prove who is right and who is wrong – but in a new way. That site has already been launched.

Check out:   “www.OurExceptionalism.com“.

We also will be looking into the future of the nation’s forest products industry. Paper mills are shutting down in many states. North Carolina’s furniture future seems bleak. Have we saved the redwoods? Are there enough trees left in America to purify the air? Our blog BoldOak.com is now  available to tell you.

We’re visiting the nation’s coastline as well. Can New England’s small coastal towns survive the loss of their fishing fleet that has brought in tons of fresh cod for 400 years. What about those who provide us with Chesapeake Bay oysters? Or what is the future for shrimp fishermen who ply the Gulf of Mexico after the BC oil calamity? Can fishermen make a living along the Pacific Coast? See www.ShutDownFishing.com.

Have we finally surrendered all of our manufacturing to Asia? Check out www.KeepUSABusy.com. There is more than a glimmer of hope.

You may find our 1000SmallTowns.com interesting.  Same is true of ThePeopleOfAmerica.com.

With a million new websites being created every week Google, Bing and other browsers are struggling to keep up. If you want to visit our sites you’ll have to copy the URL and paste the name into the browser line for awhile. That’s not our choice. It’s just the way it is.

My wife, Judy, and I are traveling across America in a 1999 27-foot, Class C motorhome, first from Maine to Florida, then west to California and north to the state of Washington. When the winter weather breaks we plan to head back across the Cascades, across the Rockies, the prairie, the Great Lakes states and the rest of the Midwest to Maine again, stopping frequently along the way to take photos and ask questions. Before we are done in 2015 or 2016 we hope to visit every state accessible by road.

Tired of bad weather?  Consider www.FloridaFavorites.com. While we prefer the Sun Coast from Sarasota south, in time we’ll look at the entire state.

Now another blog is underway:   http://www.trulyspecialplaces.com  This website is the logical extension of 1000smalltowns.com. Not certain how many of these special places we will find. But we’ll know it when we get there and in a year or two of traveling ahead we should find several.

We already have some places we havespent time in years past that should qualify. Sadona, Arizona could make the list. That’s where friends Doug and Mary Hancock have settled.

Years ago, before Mary became a world class jewelry designer the couple lived with us and took care of our children while Judy and I worked long days at our newspapers. You can check Mary out at http://mummysbundle.com

I lived and worked in Marquette, Michigan back in 1956. In fact I signed the first television station in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on the air that spring and was their news anchor.

I remember walking out on the ice on Lake Superior when it was breaking up in the spring. A young Coast Guard member, Seaman Penberthy, walked just ahead of me. In case a chunk of floating ice didn’t hold me, it was his job to fish me out of the frigid water as I trundled out to visit two fishermen whose boat was trapped in an ice flow a half mile off shore.

I met the two men and took their pictures, then interviewed them. I found  they were as happy as kids because they didn’t have their wives there to complain or nag them, and they had plenty of food and appropriate beverages to last as long as their boat was trapped.

I want to see if Marquette is still the pleasant community I found it to be back in the 1950s.

There also are some delightful fishing and tourist communities along the Maine coast. Question is, would “people from away” be welcome to live there year around? I remember people jokingly telling me how they would like to build a barricade across the Maine end of the Kittery bridge (Interstate 95) to keep strangers out. The folks that depend on tourism for a living certainly didn’t feel that way. But some of the Maine natives seemed to want to preserve their towns and way of life for Maine natives only. I’m grateful they can’t do that.

Our goal of launching and tending multiple blogs is an ambitious one — perhaps actually too large for two folks to tackle. But I asked myself: “Why not at least try? You don’t play golf, haven’t been fishing in years, tomatoes grow slowly, so why spend your days watching television or planting another garden when you have the energy and a strong desire to continue writing after more than 60 years in the television and newspaper business?

We live in a new world of technology, so I’ve purchased a “mobile hotspot” –  a pocket-sized device that will let me communicate with you by internet right from the kitchen of our motorhome whenever there is a cell phone tower within range. If that doesn’t work we’ll stop at fast food restaurants that offer wifi or if required, switch to blogging via satellite.

See you down the road.

Howard James

 

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