The worst of times can bring out the best in us

Sue Daugherty
Mar 23, 2010


I just left the Sandusky City Commission meeting and witnessed Mayor Craig Stahl over dramatize our current economic condition to quiet Sandusky Register reporter and fellow blogger Jason Singer, who was at the podium. (I must say, Jason has an excellent grasp of public sector governance and its fiscal responsibilities.) 

To divert the audience’s attention from Jason’s valid questions, Mr. Stahl said, “What we are experiencing today is unprecedented.” Then he told Jason he hopes he never has to experience these times ever again.   

That statement provoked me to blog about this: I wonder how many of us who have no memory of tough times, really appreciate those who are now over 90 years old? Now those are people who truly lived through the toughest of times!  And they will tell you they are a better person because of it.

Our 90 and over population remembers rationing every square of toilet tissue (assuming they were fortunate to have it), putting cardboard in the soles of their shoes and happy to have a pair (The certainly didn’t care about the social pressures of what people would think when they noticed they weren' “Nikes.”) and having to grow their food because they didn’t have enough money to buy it at the grocery store.

A few years ago I had the good fortune of bringing in some guests to Perkins High School. All of them were age 93 or older. One gentleman shared his childhood/adolescent stories. In response to a student’s question, “What did you do when you were my age," he replied, “I wonder if you kids today, could live like we had to live."

He explained that his day started at 5 a.m. setting traps. The animals he caught were dinner, and their skins were sold for whatever he could get for them. Then he did the farm chores and off to school.

He walked. There was no bus. After school he checked his traps and brought home what he caught. It wasn’t for pleasure that this was done. It was out of necessity. (I would think this would really take the fun out of trapping.) Then it was time for farm chores, again. With his free time, he would try to make extra money by wheeling coal to stoke the furnaces of those who would hire his help.

Now those are tough economic times!

I would agree we are in the midst of some scary economic difficulties. However, it doesn’t begin to compare to the great depression. 

I certainly hope it never does.


Anonymous (not ...

You are sadly correct; Americans have become soft, spoiled and whiny.

I recently read that more Americans had access to the Internet at the end of the 20th Century than Americans who had indoor plumbing at the century's beginning. Are we a wealthy country or what?

I have a roof over my head; it’s not the finest home, but it’s a good solid well-maintained home with no mortgage.

I have clothes on my body; they’re not the finest clothes, but their good clean clothes.

I have food on my table; it’s not the best food, but it’s good and nutritious and I can eat until I’m satiated.

Over the decades I’ve lived, I’ve never been naked, starving or homeless.

In a world filled with extremes in deprivation, I often remind myself that my family has food, shelter and clothing. We’re doing far better than hundreds of millions of others in the area of prosperity.

I’m reminded of an Arab saying:

I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.


The worst time always brings out the best of us. You are correct.
Remember after 9/11---we were so united. We stood up "together" as a nation.
If we could only hold on to this feeling. But we so soon forget.
We are a spoiled nation. I listen to people saying how poor they are, only to see them driving newer cars, living in nice homes, paying $300 cellphone bills (just have to have it).
Or the people that think that they don't have to work hard. The goverment owes them a decent living. "what"?
This is what we created...
Thankfully there are still a lot of americans that work hard and live within their means. As the generations grow, I see less of them.

Rick Studer

The last time I felt “really good” about America was during the Clinton Presidency. After Clinton left office, we started a very dark 8 years in American history.

First, there was the Florida debacles were the Supreme Court gave the Presidential Election to Bush, even though Al Gore received more votes in the general election. Then we segued in to the 9/11 period which gave us the first real look at the type of man we had just elected to office.

This snowball then opened the door for the Dark Knight himself, D$ck Cheney and his conclave of Nixonites led by Don Rumsfeld, to basically hijack the White House. This of course led to the Iraqi mess and the erosion of civil liberties with Anti-American legislation such as the Patriot Act. Couple this type of government with ill-conceived tax cuts, geared at the wealthy, causing a major redistribution of wealth in America it is easy to see how Americans have become accustomed to having a gloomy attitude.

Luckily, with the election of President Obama hope is reborn again. If we give this man a chance things will start to get better. With a new, fairer tax plan, health insurance standards raised to the same level that the rest of the industrialized world already enjoys and a more cooperative attitude with our European and Middle Eastern friends, the world can return to and even exceed the standing it enjoyed during the Bill Clinton Presidency.

I predict that the Bush years will achieve, historically, some type of status comparable to McCarthyism. I would imagine Hollywood will start making a group of movies, for posterity's sake, that chronicle the Bush years. Hopefully they will be as substantive as classics like “On the Waterfront” and “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller.

Hope is alive!

Rick Studer

Rick Studer

I wish the Register would do something with its “bad” word monitor. While I agree D$ck Cheney works as a spelling option, I think I should be able to call Cheney D$ck if I’m not calling him a D$ck.



Sue, How many more residence will Smoochy dismiss at the commission meetings? For me, November can't come soon enough!

Anonymous (not ...

Ms. Daugherty,

If you’ve never read Dr. Viktor Frankl’s short but powerful book, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning,’ I encourage you to read it.

Years ago when I read it, it had some profound effects on my thinking about life and one’s place in the world.

Dr. Frankl was a Jew who was imprisoned by the Nazis and lived to write about the experience. Being educated, he came away with unique insights.


‘Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished.

Based on his own experience and the experiences of those he treated in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.

Frankl's theory—known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning")—holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.’

Anonymous (not ...

Another book worth pursuing is, ‘When Hell Was in Session.’

Many of our brave U.S. servicemen who were imprisoned at the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ during the Vietnam War took the horrors of the experience and crafted it into a once-in-a-lifetime personal learning tool.

According to Dante, only in the lowest circle of Hell is God not found. Somehow, many of these men proved him wrong.


Life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it..Wise words to live by.


Hi Winston, Thanks for your comments. I did read Man's Search for Meaning. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't like it -- and remember very little of it. After reading how much you got out of it... I feel like I should read it again.

That would be a good "book club" book. Maybe if I could discuss it with someone, I would have a greater appreciation for it. Thanks again for your comments. -- Sue

Rick Studer

Don’t be ashamed Sue, your first instinct was correct. Frankl's logo therapy theory is crap, unless you consider lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride the “pursuit of what we personally find meaningful”.

The lowest circle of Hell is Jeff’s never ending reading list, I think he uses the Swift Boat Book Club list. If you want a good read pickup a Susan Sontag book. My favorite quote of hers is “The white race is the cancer of human history." She later offered an apology for the remark, saying it was insensitive to cancer victims.


Rick Studer

After reading my last post, I felt it necessary, do to the comprehension level of some of the readers to add this brief addendum. I in no way was being unsympathetic or disrespectful to the terrible plight, experiences an tragedies suffered by Dr. Frankl and his family. I only meant to denigrate him as a physiatrist and a writer.

Anonymous (not ...

Ms. Daugherty,

Thank you for your response.

MSFM is a two-fer. The first section covers his experiences in the camps, and the second lays out his theories.

I will agree with you that I remember very little regarding his psychological theories.

But his descriptions of the acts of kindness demonstrated by his fellow inmates amid the squalor and deprivation were for me enlightening.

Having re-read some thought-provoking books at different stages in my life, I find that I discover concepts that I originally missed only because of the age at which I had previously read it. Age tends to bring different insights.

Will you recommend a book or books that have made a profound impact on your thinking?

Rick Studer

Great idea Jeff! Thanks for suggesting it. What a joy to be asked to consider your favorite books. The top of my list would be “Catcher in the Rye”. While almost a cliché, because it’s so popular, the exploits of Holden Caulfield stir the imagination and can be an inspiring read for anyone, especially young readers who are just being introduced to their wild side.

My next choice would be “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac. Everyone should read at least one thing by a “beat” writer like Jack or perhaps Allan Ginsburg.

“The Old Man and the Sea” by Hemmingway. “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath.

A fun read is “Thy Neighbors Wife” by Gay Talese. The chapter that contains the swap party has the most realistic telling of the pain of infidelity that I have ever read. While infidelity of course is a betrayal of the flesh, the real pain is from the betrayal of intimacy. Talese’s description of watching his wife with another man is not only painful to read but very enlightening to how fragile any relationship really is.

If you just want some mind candy for a weekend any Mitch Albom book will suffice.

Jeff, I notice you read quite a few “bummer” books. Have you ever tried reading something like an Ann Rice book? Or maybe something by Al Gore?


Grew up when times were good for America. Anyone who wanted work could find it. Regardless of background. Worked beside parents & family members. 6days a week. Looking back there is no shame in what we, along what most did. Also see what others seemed to forgot. Give us cheap labor! (Celeryville,Ohio) Give us "entitlements." How many in America get on a regular basis some form of government money? I think it was around 80% of the populace.My figure could be off because that was around the middle 80s. Saw so many judge on the outward, especially when it concerned color of skin. Watched as so many hid or denied sex abuse, wife beating, etc. The good old days aren't being viewed by people my parent's age in a proper light. I too witnessed the outright greed & lies by many in the business arena. Some things stay the same.

Rick Studer

Winston, kURT, Mick? Why so many names Jeff?

Oliver Hardy

Miss Sue,
I can tell you all about the good old days. My first job paid $1.25 an hour and gas was about 30 cents a gallon. Life now is such a rush with people trying to drive and gab on the cell phone at the same time. I don't know about the other people here on this blog but I am an old geezer. I recall 5 cent bottles of pop, penny candy and milk that was delivered to homes as were baked goods. Time back then went much slower and nobody was really in a hurry. Times have changed for the worse in my opinion. Nobody seems to care for their fellow man anymore unless they get something in return.


Nobody seems to care for their fellow man anymore unless they get something in return

So true Oliver...I have witnessed kind acts in the past, anonymous acts. It seems we lost this touch. Lately I witnessed kind acts of people because they wanted some kind of payoff in return.
Kind of sad!!

Oliver Hardy

Thanks for your comments, CM. A friend of mine told me that several winters ago, he got stuck in the snow and a guy in a 4 x 4 offered to pull him out with a towing strap for $20. The guy in the 4 x 4 wasn't a tow truck driver but somebody just driving around to make some cash on some unfortunate person. As I mentioned before, it seems that very few people will help out a fellow person unless there is something in it for them. Very few people will shovel the snow for an elderly person in need. Most want cash or no help is offered.

When I was a young boy, almost every young person wanted a paper route to earn a few bucks a week. I tried to get a paper route but I couldn't afford to pay the paper boy $25 to take over his route. In the old days, you would pay someone some money who would take you around to deliver papers until you learned the route. Then in turn, he would recommend you to the newspaper so that you could take over his route. Now, nobody wants to deliver newspapers because it is too much work. I recall seeing all of those Sandusky Register ads begging for newspaper carriers. What happened to the younger people? I never got that paper route in my youth because I didn't have the $25 to buy a route. Too many young people wanted a paper route in those days and not enough paper routes existed.

I used to make money when I was a boy by collecting dew worms on a rainy night and selling the worms to area fishermen. I rode my bike to where the fishermen congregated. After I made a couple of dollars, I went to the hobby store to buy that model airplane or boat kit that I wanted.

Anonymous (not ...

For those who believe that times have changed for the worst, consider this:

“Our youth now loves luxury! They have bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect for older people…they contradict their parents…and tyrannize their teachers…” – Socrates, 329 BCE

And from the Bible:

‘What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.’ (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Oliver Hardy

Very true Winston. ‘What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;

But things seem to be getting worse. It seems to be that helping a fellow man without something in return is now a rare deed. During 911, everybody seemed to have come together to help their fellow man. People seem to forget history or what happened in the past.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;

Rick Studer

I’m sure the guy in the 4x4 with the tow strap was some redneck Republican with an NRA sticker on his bumper. And… I bet he smoked too!

Winston is correct. Things never change. Remember when our parents said they’d walked a mile in the snow to school? I recently told my kids “when I was a kid we only had 3 TV channels”. Now they have 100 and complain nothing is on to TV to watch.

Just the other day I was in line at the store and the woman in front of me was a dollar short for some cough drops and cold medicine she was buying. She was digging in her purse for change so I offered her a dollar. She gladly accepted the dollar and thanked me profusely for it, she was so surprised. In actuality I had given her the money because it was worth a dollar to me to get the hell out of Drug Mart, but it did feel good. So I guess I got a Jeff-Winston “two-fer”.

Rick Studer

Well I see the stimulus bill passed and will now become law. Of course, there was very little Republican support. Not surprising considering what cowards the GOP is comprised of. My only regret is that Al Franken didn’t get to vote.

I think with another vote or two the Democrats could have opened the bill back up and removed the tax-cuts. Why give the dog party anything. They have proven that they have no interest in anything but becoming the obstructionist.

A perfect example is Republican Sen. Judd Gregg withdrawing as Commerce Secretary Nominee. Typical Republican coward who would pass on an opportunity to get in the debate and instead chooses to go to sideline with the rest of the “B Team”. Why couldn’t he take the job and bring an opposing point of view to the Obama team. Loser…

One good thing about all this is the GOP is one step closer to being eviscerated, cleaned and cooked. Hopefully the Republican Party will be sent to the dust been in my lifetime. The two party system would thrive if the main parties were the Blue Dog Democrats and the Liberal Democrats.

Another good thing that could come of this is President Obama might now realize that he doesn’t need to work with GOP and shouldn’t let the Rush Limboneheads influence his programs.

Hope is alive!


Anonymous (not ...

Oliver Hardy wrote: “People seem to forget history or what happened in the past.”

History is instructive, not predictive. Fools choose not to learn the lessons.

Different cultures take longer views of history. Unfortunately Americans have a very short view of history, probably due to the influence of TV and pop culture.

Other cultures like the Chinese have a long view of history. Consider the following interesting story:

"Legend has it that, while preparing Richard Nixon for his historic visit to China in 1972, Henry Kissinger mentioned that Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-Lai was an avid student of French history.

During his trip, Nixon met with Chou En-Lai in the walled garden of the Forbidden City. As they walked slowly around the lily ponds, Nixon remembered Kissinger's comment.

To break the ice, he asked Chou what he thought had been the impact of the French revolution on western civilization.

Chou En-Lai considered the question for a few moments. Finally, he turned to Nixon and replied, 'The impact of the French revolution on western civilization -- too early to tell.'"


Of course PM Chou is right.

Not unlike the chaos theory concept that a butterfly flapping its wings in the jungle causes the hurricane in the ocean thousands of miles away; the historical reverberations of the French Revolution continue to be felt.

Kottage Kat

Those who are 90 have seen 17 Presidents, and 5/6 wars. They are the history, and there story is an intresing one. Being 60 I can apreciate it, wish I has taped all the conversations I had with my Grandfather, he was fascinating and sadly I did not see the relavance of saving his bit of history.

Kottage Kat

I am an LPN, when I went to nursing school, I worked at old Memorial Hospital in Central Supply to put myself through school. I made 1.00 and hour. Cost for Nursing school, tuition, books, uniforms, and lab fee= $ 550.00 for the year of school. When I graduated, I made $2.03 an hour, passed my state boards and got a 7 cent raise. Not sure of the exact cost, I think EHOVE is about $5, 000. for their nursing program.

Sue, I am still driving the Escort you helped me buy in 1996, it has 232,000 miles on it and still ticking along. Bless you.


@ Rick Struder

You are quite the hater, aren't you?
United we stand, devided we....well that's why it came to this point. Selfish motivations.
There has to be way or the highway attitudes will distroy this country.

Rick Studer

To Communist Mom;

I see you’re still smitten with me… Hater? No, I prefer irascible. And, I still think fondly of you rolling in my socks on a long pier.