Favorite posters from the past can provide life lessons

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2000

"Life wants life, look at the grass growing through the asphalt.

Tuesday, September 19, 2000

"Life wants life, look at the grass growing through the asphalt."

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Above were the words printed on a poster – a gift from a friend when I was drafted in 1966.

The poster had a different shape, especially for the time. A glossy poster, maybe three feet high and a foot wide. It was a shiny multicolor poster with a bright yellow sun near the top, the words inscribed in a bright blue against a tinsel-colored background. Green was present to represent plant life.

My dad used to pour gasoline on anything green growing through the cement on our driveway or sidewalk to "kill it off."

It would power its way through all that cement only to burned up by gasoline.

He used to take his chemical sprayer after dandelions and what he called "Creeping Charlie" that weaves its way through a yard. His dad, Grandpa Tom, had it in for flies, and he would splat them on the steps outside the house before they got in.

When we lived on Sixth Street SW, Dad came by to spray our dandelions and our Creeping Charlie. It was making in-roads to our yard from Mr. Jim’s next door.

He didn’t stop at the fence, no, he went right into Mr. Jim’s back yard, a privilege I guess that comes from being in your 80s.

Jim appeared to have a good sense of humor and was able to laugh about it days later as the majority of his backyard ground cover lay shriveled up – maukie.

As I walk or ride my bike around Austin, I take great pleasure in seeing green life bursting through, especially those little holes in the cement sidewalks.

It’s even more fun to see black-eyed Susans breaking through the asphalt, along highways and freeways with an occasional sunflower standing tall and proud beaming toward the sun.

Now Austin is getting ready to tear down yet another set of historic buildings to make way for another parking lot – it will be a spell before we find life making its way through the poured asphalt but it will come.

Speaking of life wanting life, I should mention that I finally released a number of mosquitoes I kept in captivity, a few bee couples and recently added monarchs. The monarchs I took in before the "complimentary dose," the third dose, of the $17,000 mosquito spray penetrated Austin’s air.

I brought in the monarchs after reading of the huge number that died in Gaylord after they sprayed.

John Erichson, the city engineer, assured me – assuming it shouldn’t be a problem. I hid a few away just in case.

There were mosquitoes that I didn’t harbor during the three mosquito raids that certainly survived on their own if our back yard was any indication.

The ones I kept in captivity were pretty riled up by the time I released them.

Can you blame them? I guess it may be better to be upset then laying belly up in the back yard.

I understand they didn’t spray in Albert Lea, and even before our complementary third spray, the mosquito population was hardly evident there, leading me to wonder if the last spray was necessary.

Whether it was or wasn’t, it seems to me, most people are in their homes watching TV anyway.

I guess Albert Lea is one up on us on that one huh? And we all (here in Austin anyway) take such pride in one-upping Albert Lea.

Well, on this one it looks like the tables were turned.

The second poster that meant much to me came from my sister. It read: "Not to decide is to decide." This was helpful in helping me make decisions or I should say a decision.

For someone not inclined to make decisions this poster concludes that not deciding is a decision. Now I can make at least one decision.

A third favorite poster was hung by Bill "Whitey" Walters, who recently visited Austin. He had posted in the house he shared with others in San Francisco. Sam Vision and I visited there in 1968, before leaving for Tahoe in search of Snowshoe Thompson and a few hours of unsuccessful gambling in Reno. The poster read: "It’s the snow" in bold black letters at the top against a snow-white background. In the lower right hand corner featured a skier, maybe a half-inch in size, skiing down hill. It was an actual photograph.

The fourth was a Russian poster that showed a hand extending from the clouds above with people below. I was told it translated to: "Remember the starving."

One I would like to see is the Czech proverb – "Better a lie that heals then a truth that wounds."