In Our Community
Christmastime is a wonderful time of year, especially during the golden days of radio. I can think of many radio series that brought laughter and warmth into the family home.
Take, for example, the time Jack Benny played Santa Claus for the children of Phil Harris and Alice Faye. Of course the girls knew that Mr. Benny was the fake Santa and laughter ensued throughout the broadcast. Another time was when Ozzie and Harriet were so proud of the radio/phonograph they had for each other for Christmas. But despite that one gift to each other, they decided in the end, that something more personnel should be given to each other.
Probably the greatest radio broadcast of the time was A Christmas Carol performed by Lionel Barrymore. A Christmas Carol was brought to CBS by Lionel Barrymore on December 25, 1934, and each year the Charles Dickens’ classic became a listening must for millions. Barrymore’s protrayal of the miserly Scrooge was as flawless as anything radio has ever produced. For his first performance he was supported by Beatrice Lillie, while Alexander Woollcott served as master of ceremonies. In 1936, with the death of Barrymore’s wife, his brother John took the role. Orson Welles played Scrooge in 1938 when Lionel became ill. But the following year Barrymore was back, in Welles’ own Mercury Theatre, for a full 60 minute production with Welles as narrator. On December 23, 1944, Barrymore did the story in 30 minutes as part of his regular Mayor of the Town series. Many listeners and critics considered A Christmas Carol the greatest Yule story ever done on the air. Until his death on November 15, 1954, Barrymore, with almost clockwork regularity, captured the essense of “the grasping, clutching, conniving, covetous old sinner, Ebenezer Scrooge.
Listen to AM 1370 KDTH’s Big Broadcast on Sunday nights from 6 to midnight during the Christmas season and you will hear many Christmas radio favorites, especially A Christmas Carol with Lionel Barrymore.
ALERT: Disability Benefits Questionnaire Scam
The Veterans Administration Office of Inspector General recently issued a fraud alert. They don’t do that very often, but this one is important: the Disability Benefits Questionnaire.
The DBQs are those forms you give to your health care provider that, along with information from your provider, lets the VA evaluate your disability claim. The fraud involves trying to get money out of veterans in exchange for getting a provider to fill out the questionnaire and getting the claim filed.
You do not have to pay to have that done. It’s free at the VA or through their accredited representatives.
Per the alert, it’s the initial filing that’s free. Later, if there’s an appeal, yes, there might be fees for that appeal. Apparently, the scammers are asking for a percentage of any payments that you get or fees to file your first claim.
And there’s more: The scammers might want to send you to a different health care provider, claiming you’ll have a better chance for higher benefits, likely by “finding” a diagnosis to get a better claims decision. For this reason they might even tell you to stay away from the VA exams. Worse, you might be asked to have your benefit payments deposited into the scammer’s bank account.
To avoid the scammers, if you want help from a genuine accredited rep, go to the VA’s database to see if your proposed rep is listed: www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp.
If you have an accredited rep and there are fees, discuss them in advance and check to see if those fees are legit: www.va.gov/ogc/accreditation.asp.
Remember: Even if your rep is on the up and up, you’re responsible for the accuracy of the information in your disability claim. Don’t take chances. If you submit fraudulent paperwork, it’s a federal offense.
Want to know what the VAOIG has been doing in your state and what they uncovered? Go to www.vaoig.gov/reports/data-dashboard and click on your state. That will give you all the reports they’ve done near you.
© 2023 King Features Synd., Inc.
Unstringing a Prelit Christmas Tree
I thought it was a good idea to buy a prelit Christmas tree a couple of years ago. This Christmas season I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t such a bright idea (pun intended).
Some of the lights stopped working. It was going to be difficult to match a new string of lights with the existing lights that came with the tree and still worked. We made the decision to remove all of the lights so they wouldn’t clutter up the tree. If the first bad idea was buying the prelit tree in the first place, the second bad idea was trying to remove all the factory installed strings of lights.
I don’t much enjoy stringing lights on a tree, but do so out of love for my wife, who puts on the decorations (a division of labor upon which we agree), and grudging compliance to the tradition of decorating a
Christmas tree. I enjoy even less the removal of the lights after Christmas. There was no enjoyment at all in trying to remove the factory installed lights!
If the Christmas tree factory worked as hard at making sure the lights last for years as they do in making sure they are firmly affixed to the tree, then we wouldn’t have had to deal with this whole issue in the first place. It took over an hour to remove the strings of lights. What a pile of lights and wires we ended up with on the floor! Who would have thought there were THAT many lights!
A frequent lament of mine at Christmas time is that, try as we do, we never have a perfect Christmas as is portrayed in Christmas programs, TV Christmas commercials and in Currier and Ives Christmas prints. If I start the list of reasons for experiencing an imperfect Christmas with my unstringing of the prelit tree, I’m sure you can quickly add several items to the list, as can I.
I try to follow my laments about Christmas not being perfect with the reminder to myself that Christmas is no different than other times of the year, times which are also filled with imperfections. Why should Christmas be any different? In fact, the origin of Christmas was God’s act of countering an imperfect, sinful world by sending His Son into the world to deal with the problem by being the Savior.
The perfect Christmas carol for properly celebrating an imperfect Christmas is “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” particularly verses 3 and 4. “And in despair I bowed my head: ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said, ‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.’ Yet pealed the bells more loud and deep: ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.’” The words ring true!
The imperfections of our Christmas celebrations can be a sacramental-type experience, frustrating but sacred reminders that Christmas is all about God coming to a broken, far from perfect, sinful world to make things right. When I was gathering up and throwing away the huge pile of prelit lights from our Christmas tree I needed to remember this!
A prophecy fulfilled of Jesus coming into the world: “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:16)
The other day while socializing with a friend I mentioned that I was going to do a column on observation. Oops! I don’t think she liked that idea because all I got out of her was a “wrinkled-nose” flip! But, I always like to get corrective criticism because it makes me think more about what I am writing and why I am writing. I guess you might say, right now, I am concerned with the pandemic survivors (all of us) and how we are handling our comeback from so many months in confinement. It’s been a while now but it takes time to regroup and start life all over again.
The other day while on a coffee run, I stopped at a restaurant and had a cup of coffee and a piece of strawberry-rhubarb pie. The restaurant was alive with laughter and seemingly happy people. There was a din of sounds but not of the disturbance kind. The room was filled with friendly people just talking together and having fun. I was observing pandemic survivors who had captured the strength to once again enjoy life.
After leaving the restaurant I drove downtown where one of our biggest bridges carries endless cars over to the State of Illinois. Davenport is a city of 101,009 people and many of them work in Illinois. And you know what? The pandemic didn’t hurt that bridge one bit. But it did cause a lot of people from Davenport to be on lock down. I stood along side the bridge for a while just to observe its power over mankind.
Well, if you have read this far, I guess you are somewhat interested in observation. It’s good to look around and see what’s going on in the world we live in. I guess if a person really wants to be involved in the world around them they should be monitoring those in command of their Country. I like to think that we the people should be the strength of the Nation. And our faith in ourselves should be what motivates us be
I can’t leave this unsaid about observation if I don’t mention how the children enter into this written conversation. Have you ever noticed how intently children watch everything we do? They are innocent observers. Watch their eye as they open their birthday presents. They sparkle. Take a good look at them when they see an ice cream cone in your hand. They trust you to give it to them. And I know how many of us treasure the Christmas holidays because our children plant memories for us by their joyful glee of opening their gifts. Our observation of this scene is universal. “Have a good day.”