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July 21, 2008

Damaged Animals/Damaged Humans

By G.L. Rowsey

His father wanted him to kill an animal, and then rip its head off. He didn't want to do it. But until he killed and ripped off a head, he coul;dn't be with the "men." This touchy viognette is about a man's conscience, and his respect for life.

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by G.L. Rowsey

The first time I remember that I saw my father cry was when we were living on a small ranch in the south-central Texas hill country, when I was seven or eight. There was a pond about half a mile from the ranch house where my father and his friends shot doves late summer and early autumn evenings. Beside the pond was a raised platform with a roof, and the shooters would stand on the platform in partial concealment, drinking beer, talking, and waiting for the birds to come winging in to water for the night. When someone knocked a bird down into the pond, the dogs raced to retrieve it; and the man whose dog swam back first with a downed bird won a bet, as of course did the man who downed the bird. Across the pond from the platform, there was a telephone pole standing in long grass and weeds.

I’d been begging my father for what seemed like an eternity to let me come to the pond when the men were shooting. He always said no, it would be too dangerous. Then one day he gave me an old 410 shotgun of his, took me out, showed me how to load and unload, aim, and shoot. And he must have told me that the men would hold off shooting until I’d got a bird and gone back to the ranch house.

Which was how I came to be sitting by a pond, in the early evening of a hot September day, in long grass by a telephone pole waiting for a dove to land on a wire. But I had buck fever and missed the first two birds, just sitting there no more than thirty feet from me. To the great amusement and guffaws of the men across the pond. I had better luck with the third dove and knocked it off the wire. It fluttered down into the grass where I found it immediately, not dead but alive and looking me directly in the eye. Its head and neck were beautiful and incredibly graceful, its coloring an astonishing grey. I called out, “Dad, he isn’t dead.” He said, “That’s all right, son. Pick him up and pull his head off.”

At first I simply did not believe my dad had said that. But I realized he did say it when he repeated with implacable and irrefutable adult logic: “The bird is suffering, son, pick it up and pull its head off.” So I picked the bird up. And I said, “I can’t, Dad.” I could tell dad’s anger was rising, and this put me on the edge of tears. He said, “Pull the goddam bird’s head off, G.L., or you’re going back to the house.” In tears now, I repeated that I couldn’t. “Pull the bird’s head off, and put it out of its misery, or you’re going back to the house and you’re not coming back to shoot with the men.” By this time my face was crimson with tears and shame and the only thing I could hear or see was a noise inside my head. I stood underneath the wires with the dove in my hand, bawling. Then I was running back to the ranch house.

I’m sure my mother and sister must have consoled me when I got back to the house, but I don’t remember. The first thing I do remember was dad coming into my bedroom hours later, and he was crying. He told me he was sorry for getting angry with me. How he could understand why I didn't want to pull the bird’s head off. And that when I got used to pulling the heads off sparrows that I knocked out of trees with my BB gun, I could come back to the pond and shoot with the men.

 [GL Rowsey is sixty-seven and lives in Northern California.  He graduated from college in 1963 and from law school in 1966.  He retired in 2001, after working 23 years for the United States Forest Service.  Rowsey writes that he indulges in internet exchanges and doesn’t spend nearly as much time as he should re-writing old pieces.]



Submitter: Walter Brasch

Submitters Website: http://www.walterbrasch.com

Submitters Bio:

Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor of journalism emeritus. His current books are Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution , America's Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government's Violation of Constitutional and Civil Rights, and 'Unacceptable': The Federal response to Hurricane Katrina, available at amazon.com, borders.com and most major on-line bookstores. BEFORE THE FIRST SNOW is also available at www.greeleyandstone.com (20 discount)

Walter Brasch, a deeply valued Senior Editor at OpEdNews passed from this world on February 9, 2017, age 71, his obituary follows:

Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D., age 71, of 2460 Second Street, Bloomsburg (Espy), died Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville surrounded by his family.

He was an award-winning former newspaper reporter and editor in California, Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio; professor emeritus of mass communications and journalism at Bloomsburg University; and an award-winning social issues journalist and book author.

Walter was born March 2, 1945, in San Diego, the son of Milton Brasch and Helen (Haskin) Brasch and was a 34 year resident of Espy.

In his early years he was a writer-producer for multimedia and film companies in California, and a copywriter and political analyst for advertising and public relations companies. For five years during the late 1990s, he was the media and social issues commentator for United Broadcasting Network. He was also the author of a syndicated newspaper column since 1992 and the creative vice-president of Scripts Destitute of Phoenix.

Dr. Brasch was a member of the Local Emergency Planning Committee and was active in the Columbia County Emergency Management Agency. He was vice-president of the Central Susquehanna chapter of the ACLU, vice-president and co-founder of the Northeast Pennsylvania Homeless Alliance, a member of the board of the Keystone Beacon Community for healthcare coordination, and was active in numerous social causes. He was co-founder with his wife Rosemary Brasch of The Oasis, a biweekly newsletter for families and friends of personnel stationed in the Persian Gulf. Later, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, they published The Oasis 2, for families of persons in combat zones. They were supported by the Bloomsburg Chapter, America Red Cross and Geisinger Medical Center, Danville.

He was the author of 20 books, most which fuse historical and contemporary social issues. Among his books are Black English and the Mass Media (1981); Forerunners of Revolution: Muckrakers and the American Social Conscience (1991); With Just Cause: The Unionization of the American Journalist (1991); Sex and the Single Beer Can: Probing the Media and American Culture (1997); Brer Rabbit, Uncle Remus, and the 'Cornfield Journalist': The Tale of Joel Chandler Harris (2000); The Joy of Sax: America During the Bill Clinton Era (2001); Unacceptable: The federal Response to Hurricane Katrina (2005); America's Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government's Violation of Constitutional and Civil Rights (2006); Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush (2007);  and Before the First Snow (2011). He was co-author of The Press and the State (1986), awarded Outstanding Academic Book distinction by Choice magazine, published by the American Library Association.

His last book is Fracking America: Sacrificing Health and the Environment for Short-Term Economic Benefit (2015), a critically-acclaimed novel that looks at what happens when government and energy companies form a symbiotic relationship, using "cheaper, cleaner" fuel and the lure of jobs in a depressed economy but at the expense of significant health and environmental impact.

During the past two decades, he won more than 150 regional and national media awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Society of Professional Journalists, National Federation of Press Women, USA Book News, Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group, Pennsylvania Press Club, Pennsylvania Women's Press Association, Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association, Penn-writers, International Association of Business Communicators, Pacific Coast Press Club, and Press Club of Southern California. He was recognized in 2012 by the Pennsylvania Press Club with the Communicator of Achievement award for lifetime achievement in journalism and public service.

He was an Eagle Scout; co-recipient of the Civil Liberties Award of the American Civil Liberties Union, 1996; and was honored by San Diego State University as a Points of Excellence winner in 1997. In 2000, he received the Herb Caen Memorial Award of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. For the Pennsylvania Humanities Council he was twice named a Commonwealth speaker. He also received the meritorious achievement medal of the U.S. Coast Guard.

At Bloomsburg University, he earned the Creative Arts Award, the Creative Teaching Award, and was named an Outstanding Student Advisor. He received the first annual Dean's Salute to Excellence in 2002, a second award in 2007, and the Maroon and Gold Quill Award for nonfiction. He was the 2004 recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Service Award. For 22 years, he was Editor-In-Chief of the awarding-winning Spectrum Magazine, part of the journalism program of the Department of Mass Communications, Bloomsburg University until his retirement in 2010.  The community magazine was published twice a year by students for residents of Columbia and Montour counties in northeastern Pennsylvania and one of the few to be inducted into the national Associated Collegiate Press hall of fame. The magazine was also a consistent award winner in competition sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists, Columbia Scholastic Press Association, and the American Scholastic Press Association. He primarily taught magazine editing and production, public affairs reporting, feature writing, newspaper editing; every Fall, he taught a 250-student section on mass communications and the popular arts.

 Dr. Brasch was co founder of the qualitative studies division of the Association for Education in Journalism, president of the Keystone State professional chapter and for three years deputy regional director of the Society of Professional Journalists, from which he received the Director's Award and the National Freedom of Information Award. He was president of the Pennsylvania Press Club, vice-president of the Pennsylvania Women's Press Association, and founding coordinator of Pennsylvania Journalism Educators. He was a featured columnist for Liberal Opinion Week, senior correspondent for the American Reporter, senior editor for OpEdNews, and an editorial board member of Journalism History and the Journal of Media Law and Ethics.

He was a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Author's Guild, National Writers Union (UAW/AFL-CIO), The Newspaper Guild (CWA/AFL-CIO), and the Society of Environmental Journalists. He was a life member of the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, and was indicted into the national scholarship honor societies Phi Kappa Phi (general scholarship), Kappa Tau Alpha (journalism), Pi Gamma Mu (social sciences), and Kappa Tau Alpha (sociology.) He is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the East, Contemporary Authors, Who's Who in the Media and Who's Who in Education. Dr. Brasch earned an A.B. in sociology from San Diego State College, an M.A. in journalism from Ball State University, and a Ph.D. in mass communication/journalism, with a cognate area in both American government/public policy and language and culture studies, from The Ohio State University.

He is survived by his wife of 34 years, the former Rosemary Renn the most wonderful thing that happened in his life and whom he loved very much; two sons, Jeffery Gerber, Phoenix AZ and Matthew Gerber and his wife, Laurel  (Neyhard)  of Bloomsburg, a sister, Corey Brasch of Sacramento, Calif; a niece, Terri Pearson-Fuchs, Calif, numerous cousins; and his beloved dogs Cabot and Remy.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, at 2:00 p.m. at the Dean W. Kriner Inc. Funeral Home & Cremation Service,  325 Market St., Bloomsburg with family friend, Nathaniel Mitchell officiating. Interment in Elan Memorial Park, Lime Ridge.

Friends may call at the funeral home on Tuesday from 6 - 8 p.m. or Wednesday from 1-2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Walter M. Brasch Scholarship Fund,

c/o First Keystone Community Bank, 2301 Columbia Blvd, Bloomsburg, PA 17815 or to

Mostly Mutts, 284 Little Mountain Rd., Sunbury, PA 17801

 


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