Life in Istanbul

Life in Istanbul

Several years ago, our daughter and family were given the opportunity to study abroad in Istanbul and away they went…on an adventure that continues to this day.

From our distant view, it has been an adventure encompassing all of the imaginable ups and downs associated with raising two small children. That, in itself is an adventure. But, imagine living that “learning curve”…in a new world.

They have done an amazing job. The children are completely immersed in the culture and learning the language as they go. As Grandparents around the world know…FaceTime video conversations are treasures that only a few years ago were non-existent.

And yes, they are dealing with the Covid-19 Pandemic just as we are here in America.

This is a worldwide event.

Recovery Mode

It was just before Christmas of 2018. 

…the final week before we shut down for a long and well deserved holiday. 

A delayed project or a lower than usual volume in the workload allowed me to break away from the shop to wish some of my colleagues a safe and Merry Christmas. 

The campus is quite large and a brisk mid-morning walk on a beautiful December morning is just what I need.

To the far side of the campus I go…to visit the tool design group…some of the brightest and best in the industry.

Well-wishes delivered, its time to head back. 

On the way back I passed through the machine shop, continuing my mission to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, exiting the door at he opposite end of the shop to complete my mission.

Making my way along the road…I continue my brisk pace. 

Along the way, I noticed an employee struggling to replace a propane bottle on his forklift. I cross over the road to offer a helping hand…

I was startled… 

He should not be here…

I have ever seen anyone so close to death. 

I had been thrust into a scenario I could never have imagined.

Concentrating on the task at hand we finished the task.

 At odds about what I need to do…I wished him a Merry Christmas and continued my walk, now tasked with a new mission. 

My responsibility moving forward is becoming apparent. 

I’m brought to tears

I have to get involved

Upon returning to my workstation, I made the call.

“Medical”, answered the nurse. After a brief conversation, she promised to have the Nurse Practitioner call as soon as he was available. 

A short while later…

“Hello Mitchell, this is James, how can I help you”

I replied “James, thank you for getting back with me.”

“I’m sure this is probably the strangest request you may ever have, but…could you do a Wellness Check on an employee?”, I asked

A slew of questions followed…regarding my relationship with this employee. 

“No, I am not his supervisor. No I am not his lead man. I do not work with him. I merely encountered him and have to get him some help”

Later, through co-workers, who worked with this employee,

I learned of his health issues. 

He did get the help he needed…

His life was saved.

Surely, I was not the first person to see that he was in need.

His immediate supervisor allowed him to get on a forklift in his impaired condition putting, not just himself…but, others at risk.

Everyone in my chain of command received and e-mail from me asking, “How did this happen?”

Everyone in this employees chain of command should have been admonished for allowing this to happen. 

Update: May of 2020

I retired in March of this year, but stay in touch with my friends from work…

I received a text yesterday.

I am saddened to hear of his passing.

I can’t tell you how many times I have passed along one of my go to mantras…

”It’s best not to get involved” 

So many times, in my career as a toolmaker, someone would ask about a project or a quagmire they found themselves in…“Recovery Mode”, I like to call it.

It happens. 

It is the nature of the beast

…I would look at them and say, “What is my inner being screaming?” and they would recite the mantra,

“It’s best not to get involved.” 

I will always get involved…

A love that’s lasted

by Patti Emmel

Special Edition of Charles City PressD1CC0CA1-25C7-475B-B940-54ADE4E45212_1_201_a

April 23, 1985

A love that’s lasted

Married 61 years 

Charles and Alethia Pettitt, Charles City, Iowa are an example that marriages can be happy successes.

By Patti Emmel

It was a cool October 31st in Iowa in 1919. The trees crackled as the Halloween wind whistled through their leafless branches.

Charles Pettitt, a fifteen year old boy, directed his horse named Tom, as he sat in the carriage behind. Out of the families drive and down the road the two traveled, moving quickly as the boy held the reigns tightly in shy anticipation.

Crossing the railroad tracks, the house came into sight. He held a few jitters in his stomach as he turned into the yard. 

Then he saw her.

He thought she was awfully pretty when she came out of the house, her brown hair blowing in the wind. She was 17, and Alethia Logan was her name. They had just met 15 days earlier at his first day spent at the Otranto, Iowa, consolidated school. 

His family had just moved into the area.

He didn’t like her at first. She had laughed at him in front of the whole class during that first day, when he got out his lunchbox but didn’t know where to sit and stood in the middle of the room looking at everyone else. But, she was his neighbor and she didn’t have a ride to the Halloween school dance, and he did live awfully close.

Now, 66 years and four later, Alethia and Charles Pettitt, 1002 21st Ave., Charles City, are still together. Married more than 61 years, the couple still laughs playfully at one another, and more importantly, laughs with each other. “He lived on the wrong side of the tracks back then,” Alethia joked. “No, you lived on the wrong side of the tracks,” Charles replied. “Anyway, it wasn’t love at first sight,” he said. However, love obviously entered the picture somewhere, and the couple claims it is something that has only increased as they have become older.

What are the secrets to have a good, lasting marriage?

“Well, we tried to follow our vows. So many people today don’t seem to follow them.” Alethia said.

“You’ve got to talk things out. Talk about everything,” Charles said.

“That’s right. Don’t keep secrets.” Alethia patted her palm on the couch. “We never kept secrets. And you have to kind of know each others business in expenditures.”

Charles continued. “Put it in one pocketbook. You both have to agree where the dollar will be spent.”

The couple also stressed much of the success of their marriage is due to their faith and relationship with God. They have attended the United Church of Christ at Colwell, located four miles northeast of the spot where they farmed, since the fall of ’49. They also attend Sunday school and read the Bible every morning. “I’m always learning something new from that,” Charles said.

The couple was honored last year for their 60th wedding anniversary, receiving greetings from President Reagan and Nancy, Alethia said.

Throughout their lengthy marriage, they became the parents of two children: a daughter, Anita Darrow, Charles City; and a son, James Pettitt, who died seven years ago of multiple sclerosis. The couple also has five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

“There’s been ups and downs,” Alethia said. We had hard times – the depression and when we first got married. There was a time when we got $5 for cream and thought we were rich. But we made it. We’re still here!”

“I wouldn’t start that way again, though,” said Charles. “I got married and took someone I loved and about starver her!.”

“Oh, it wasn’t that bad,” chirped Alethia, who often addresses her husband as ’honey.’

And what advise would they offer to newlyweds?

“When there’s a problem, a friend of mine used to put it, ‘lay it out on the table; let’s have it,’ ” Charles said.

“Well,” Alethia continued, “I think the whole family should go the same way. With so many, the wife goes her way, and the kids go theirs and the husband goes his. But, it works better if you all go the same way.”

Alethia held up a ceramic lamp at the end of the interview.

“See,” she said, “I painted this.” It featured an Iowa scene of a boy driving a buggy into a yard and a girl coming out of a house. 

Below, it said, “October 31, 1919. Our first date.”

The first of many good memories for Charles Pettitt and Alethia Logan Pettitt.  




After a short career mowing lawns and throwing newspapers I finally landed a real job.

Mott’s 5 & Dime, downtown Grand Prairie, Texas…the Heart of the Metroplex

Mott’s offered a little of everything, from sewing thread to Tropical fish.

Stock-boy was my job title and proud to be working.

$1.36 cents per hour.

Remember, this was 1970 and back then that figure would buy you 3 gallons of gasoline and get change back.

It didn’t take long for the newness to wear off…my primary function was to care for all of the pet department.

A variety of birds, from Canaries to Parrots…Rodents, from Mice to Gerbils…Tropical fish from Angels to Zebras.

And Henry…a Spider Monkey, was the largest of the bunch and, as close as I came to really getting to know him, always had a disposition of someone living their life in a cage.

Mutual respect…we shared dispositions and second guessed our career choices.

We’ve bottomed out.

Working one Saturday, I took my lunch break across the street at Don Juan’s Romantic Mexican Food.

There is a bit of humor in the name, but you must know that in 2016, this drive through celebrated fifty years in business and has a special place in many hearts around these parts.

Glancing up from my premium seat at the window counter, I see one of my classmates entering the restaurant with a classmate from grade school that had moved away sometime before entering junior high school.

They had been to Mott’s to pay me a visit and directed to Don Juan’s Romantic Mexican Food Restaurant, where I sat quietly pondering my place in the universe.

Connie and Deborah took a seat and tried their best to coax me into conversation.

As a grade schooler, Connie, Deborah and I had been close…and there I sat, bottomed out with two of the sweetest, kindest girls I had ever known…between me and the door.

Life’s circumstances, teenage complexion and grooming equates self implosion, retreat…shell intact.

For years I have relived this moment as a skeleton in my closet.

I wish I could tell you how many times I have replayed this scenario over and over in my mind, seeking a better outcome. And, given the same circumstances, the outcome is the same.

I contacted Connie a week or so ago to apologized for my “Less than receptive disposition” on that day.

She didn’t recall the incident and, of course, that’s all fine.

I have remembered it enough for the both of us.

Why couldn’t I have, at the very least, offered to buy them both a good old Don Juan’s fountain Coca Cola and a Guacamole Chalupa.

There’s still time

What life has to offer…

….and so, as I was floating in the pool this evening I was feeling so thankful for what I have and reflecting on a time in my life, so long ago…when my youthful love struck heart was broken and…sitting in the swing on our lawn, in tears, asked God…”What is my purpose here, I am failing at this, take me now!”

I believe we have all been in this place in our lives.

The answers to these questions I asked so long ago have been revealed, at various times, along the way.

And, this moment…was one of those times…when you give thanks to God for the reveals along the way.

To those in despair…there are no guarantees in life, there is only hope that, at some point in life, small, seemingly insignificant events, will reveal themselves…as treasures you never would have realized had you taken another path.

Timelines, your timeline has a dynamic that is unseen until it is revealed.

Hope is yours to treasure.

Treasure hope…

(idle mind)

As I’ve grown older I’ve tried to become more tolerant toward things that, in the past, have irritated me.

Not so much the irritation, the irritability, the behavior.

…my behavior.

Insects…I saved a hornet from drowning the other day while in the swimming pool…that’s no way for a Hornet to die!!!

I saved a Hornet…

I’m changing.

Flies…I’ve become more tolerant of flies.

I think of them now as a species made up entirely of females.

Apparently, I’m wildly attractive to females.

And looking back, I’ve always been that way…

Picnics, outdoor events, sipping a bottle of “Perrier” poolside…

Snakes (not insects)

…an animal species I have yet to embrace.

Perhaps if I were bitten…just once, I might be less afraid of snakes.

But, I seriously doubt it.

The headline would go something like this,

“Local man dies after being bitten by a non-venomous snake.

The cause of death was inconclusive.”

Spiders…I wish I could be a fan.

They are too small for me to verify their demeanor. Sometimes they act aggressive…I yield…until they become so pushy, the “Alpha Whatever Iam” kicks in and “Captures & Releases” to the wild.

But Honey Bees…you’ve got to love them.

A predominately female species. Approximately 1000 Male fertile Drones, ten’s of thousands of infertile female Worker Bees…




Now, as much as I love Honey Bees, I have been stung by one…

and their sting hurts just as much as a Hornet.

Serendipity (revised Sept 2018)


It is quite a stretch to imagine a perfect family. 

I was not raised in a perfect family. Nor my wife Nancy. 

Far from perfect seems the common theme regarding the households we grew up in. 

But perfect families are a rarity, I would imagine. 

Clearly from opposite ends of the social scale…to imagine how Nancy and I crossed paths is an epic tale that began in the Northeast and continues in the great State of Texas. 

Born and raised in the Village of Owego in Upstate New York, Nancy moved to Texas to be near her older sister Esther, an American Airlines Flight Attendant and, given that the home office was located in the metroplex, settled in for her first Texas summer…1980. 

Now, if you are from Texas, this needs no explanation, but, for those unfamiliar with Texas weather, in 1980 the temperature hit the century mark 69 times…the longest heat wave in Texas history.

Growing up in Owego, New York for Nancy was not as much a fairy tale story as it could have or should have been given that she came from a well established family, deeply rooted in the history of the Village of Owego. The story of her  childhood years and early adulthood are filled with, as most families’ stories, moments of nurturing love and kindness, as well as turmoil and heart wrenching tragedy, the final chapter of that fairy tale ending with the death of the matriarch and sale of the magic kingdom, allowing the surviving spouse to retire and start a new life in sunny Florida, his days filled with tee times and cocktail parties for the remainder of his life, while the surviving children, three sisters, fend for themselves, making new lives wherever and however possible.

My parents moved from Northeastern Iowa in 1954 to make a new life in Texas, far away from the farm fields my father grew up working.

Two adults, starting a new life in a new place and eventually, three children, formulated the dynamics of our upbringing in a working class family.

It was not a terrible existence or environment to grow up…nor, was it a fairytale story.

There was, as in most families, a fair amount of love and nurturing. Life in the late fifties had to have been hard for my parents. Jobs in the Dallas metropolitan area during WWII were booming. The aerospace industry was well established by the time my parents made their move to the metroplex, as well as the oil and gas industry. Our father eventually settled into oil manufacturing. 

Security Engineers, aka…Dresser Industries provided the income to support our family.

A steady job allowed our parents to transition from renters to homeowners and our family settled into a quiet neighborhood on the Northeast side of Grand Prairie, Texas. The All American family dream began to take shape in this quiet little neighborhood. Lifelong friendships would be established here as well. 

Summer vacations for our family were typically northbound, taking us “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go.”

Our grandparents were very loving, hard working people.

I can only speak for myself, but, I believe we all cherished the relationships developed with our grandparents, regardless the small amount of time spent with them or the distance separating us.

I still love my grandparents and though they have been gone for many years now, will always love my grandparents.

But, all fairy tales come to an end and as tragedies befall the best of families…our’s was no exception.

Our father, diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis was forced to retire. His failing health changed the dynamics of our family forever and it was the beginning of the end of our less than magic kingdom.

So, to imagine how Nancy and I crossed paths is an epic tale that began in the Northeast.

For most of America’s immigrants, life began in the Northeast.

Nancy’s family were some of the earliest to immigrate to America, coming from Great Britain and Wales. Mine from Great Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia. Her family eventually settling into Tioga County.

Some of my family had their beginnings in the State of New York as well. Both of our families fought in the Revolutionary War. My maternal 3rd Great Grandfather, Lyman Amsden, Private, Captain Woodworth’s Company, New York Militia, War of 1812 lived in the Finger Lakes region of New York, not too far from Owego, New York and in 1855 was awarded 160 acres, located upon the Southeast quarter of  Section thirty-one in Township Ninety-nine North of Range 15 West, in the District of Lands formerly subject to sale at Osage, Iowa _President James Buchanan

Merriam-Webster defines Serendipity : the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also : an instance of this 

So, to imagine how Nancy and I crossed paths is an epic tale that began in the Northeast.

…our meeting and first date are told in this story titled “How I met Nancy”

in memoriam…Daniel Grayling Fogelberg

In our lives, great artist, performers and historically significant people pass with great sadness.Some of those you will always remember where you were…what you were doing when you heard the news. 

To date, none have had as much impact. 

Sharing morning coffee in bed watching the morning news.

  I shamelessly gifted myself “Full Circle” that year…

… and on Christmas morning, after unwrapping my gift, loaded the cd into the player and pressed play thinking “I’ll be okay”.

My wife and I…our children, now young adults, continued enjoying Christmas morning.

When it hit me…

I arose and made my way toward the kitchen where my wife Nancy, met me halfway…

“I thought I would be okay” as I wept openly, embraced in the kitchen.

Our first date…Dan Fogelberg concert

We’re not in Kansas anymore

So…I was asked to pick up my close enough to 5 year old Granddaughter from school Friday afternoon. 

Not a problem. I’m off every Friday, so it’s my Grand Parental honor.

After a full morning of chores…laundry, vacuuming floors and the dishes…outdoors for 3 additional hours of lawn work.

Back inside…showered, lunch and a short nap.

Gas up the truck. Check…

Haircut. Check!


And now onto the most important task of the day.

It’s around 3:45pm as I roll into the parking lot of the school.

Through the door and into the school.

It’s a ghost town.

I walk to the end of the hall checking each room along the way…must be in here…no.

I’ve seen this episode of “Twilight Zone”.

Things are not as they should be.

I’m completely alone in this building.

As I head back toward the exit…yes…EXIT…a young lady appears at the door.

“Are you here to pick someone up?”

“Yes. Where is everyone?”, I replied

“Oh…they’re up the hill at the playground”, she explained.

“Thank you, so much…I was lost, but now I’m found. Thank you”

Out of the door and up the hill.

“Hey, look…there is a playground”

As I make my way up the hill and approach the playground, another young lady asked if I was here to pick up Cassidee.

“Yes, thank you”

And with a shout to be heard over the sound of children playing, another young lady said, “Cassidee!!! Your Grandfather is here!”

“He’s not my Grandfather!!”, Little Miss Cassidee replied.

“He’s not my Grandfather!!…

Flashbacks…Twilight Zone…Handcuffs

Silence, for seconds that seemed like minutes…

“He’s my Papa!!!”

As we walk, holding hands down the winding sidewalk towards the truck, “Have I ever told you the story about the first time I picked you up from school?”

 She was a very tiny little bit…

There was a tornado that day

I felt like “The Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion” carrying such precious cargo for the first time ever…