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Imperfect perfection by Peter Children

There seems to be a quagmire of sorts at the council table. Whether you believe it or not that’s the way democracy works in a free society. There’s push and shove, give and take, quid-pro-quo and tit for tat….and somehow in the end it all comes together, hopefully.

No one ever gets everything they want, not in the real world they don’t. And that’s OK because most of us really don’t want much. Most people are happy with just the basic’s in life…and if a little extra might come their way, well then that’ll be just great too. We’re experiencing some tough times right now and we have been in this trench for a couple of years….maybe for some it could be a bit longer. Good jobs are hard to come by, some who had fifteen to twenty years on the job were let go when factories closed their doors; they lost their insurance and whatever other benefits they might have had.

Stress is now a major factor in many homes across the land, and too much of that stress can cause illnesses, it can be the reason for domestic discord, increased drinking and gambling by those who before never before went into a casino. They think they can win enough to pay past due bills but only end up digging the ditch deeper than it was before..

This isn’t a good time to be a council person, almost impossible to please everyone. No two people have the same agenda, what you want isn’t what I want and by now if you’re as regular reader of this site you now my passion is human rights. I grew up in an ugly era, a time when discrimantion was glaringly blatant and open discrimantion was the rigor of the day. It’s a time I never want to re-visit. You see during that early period in this city and countless others, there was no such thing as an office of human rights, a place where you could seek justice against abuse in the workplace, discrimantion in everyday life was common place.

In the 60’s the civil rights enactments were signed into law by the Johnson administration, which was close to one hundred years after the civil war was fought, and after which the Emancipation Proclamation was created and made the law of the land. No one paid attention to that hard fought civil war declaration but the mandate of the sixties changed the way cities like ours lived. Here in the North, we’re a long way from the Mason/Dixon line, African Americans were not allowed in local barber shops, ninety-five percent of restaurants were off limits, movies had to be watched from the balcony. They were not allowed to rent hotel rooms; when the immortal Count Basie and Duke Ellington orchestra’s played the Surf Ballroom, they had to sleep in private homes after the proformance, and those homes were here in Mason City on South Jackson Avenue. And by the way, the owners of those homes were not allowed into the Surf to watch the big bands play. If I close my eyes I can still see the big band buses parked on South Jackson. In these buses were some of the greatest musicians that ever lived. These were people who were feted by Royalty while playing in Europe…but here they couldn’t get a room in a cheap motel.

This wasn’t the deep South, this was and still is, North Iowa where during the fifties when my hormones were in full bloom, I had parents refuse to let their daughters go out with me because I spoke a foreign language and ate “foreign food” in my home. That foreign food was imported olive oil and garlic….I was also found guilty of eating Feta cheese…I guess my breath gave me away…or there might have been informants in the Atlas Grocery where we shopped, that and the Evia Meat Market, both on 6th Street…they could have turned me in. Now the “whitest” of all stores in America, Wal-Mart sells Feta cheese right out in the open and anyone is free to buy it. I guess it lost it’s dangerous drug classification somewhere along the way during the past six decades. It comes in eight ounce packages. I always suspected that if you bought too many packages, the cashier would report your name to the social register committee and your Country Club membership would be automatically revoked. I mean….who would ever take that risk? We often bought it direct from the distributor in 8 pound tubs. It was packed in a salt brine and if our craving was particularly strong we’d inject the brine directly into our veins…we were real hard core.

In the early thirties there was a Klan gathering here in Mason City. Close to 3,300 attended…some came on horse back, tents were pitched in which many slept. The largest Klan chapter in Iowa was thirty miles to the South in Hampton, Iowa. What a marvelous legacy that must be.

And now there are the likes of Bookmeyer and Turncoat, Solberg and it looks like Hickey might stay on that bus as well. For sure they don’t remember the big band buses parked on South Jackson, and I can tell just by looking at them they don’t eat Feta cheese, I believe they think it’s a designer food, something to throw around in conversation that might make you appear worldly when secretly you long for the yesteryear when white was right…

I also know the four of them read this site and every word I write; then know this as well; where is your conscience? Your present predjucies may have been obtained through osmoses at the diner table while growing up, inflicted by bigoted parents…but look around, you’re all grown up now. Look into a mirror, look into your own eyes and ask yourself this; “Am I the sort of person that will be responsible for closing the door of hope that serves the down trodden and unfortunate in this city I represent. Will this uncaring act be forever affixed to my legacy. Where will the single mother go for justice, when her landlord won’t bring the house she rents up to code? What about the married wife who desperately needs to work because her husband hasn’t found work in over a year…and her boss is demanding sex or he will fire her…where does she go?” Can these people come to your house? Can they sit in your Sunday School class and learn what Jesus would do? And don’t you dare bring up Des Moines; we all know that isn’t a viable solution. Its only a cheap ointment that you use to rub on your conscience that you feel absolves you of being callous…well no one is buying it so get off that horse. You don’t believe for a minute that some single mom with no money can buy a ticket and haul herself and a couple kids to Des Moines and try and find her way. Wake up!

Are you so wrapped up in yourselves that you’d follow this arrogant and incompetent mayor through the gates of hell? To what purpose? Is this office your stepping stone to the U.S. Congress? I don’t think so. And finally…do you think the nine complaints filed against I.C. Systems are nothing more than a group of people ganging up on the manegment? My good God…. all of you can’t be that stupid.

Peter J. Children


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