Odds and ends with some a bit odder than others:
Jimmy Carter’s death: Perhaps it is our culture’s aversion to death, our unwillingness to see it as a natural end of each life. How else to explain the “Mr. President, we’re pulling for your full and complete recovery,” after the news that President Jimmy Carter eloquently and plainly delivered himself that at the age of 90 he has been diagnosed with a cancer that has now reached his brain.
Mr. Carter, with Rosalynn, his partner of 69 years sitting beside him, told reporters at the Carter Center in Atlanta that “I have had a wonderful life. I have had an exciting and adventurous and gratifying existence.” He said that what comes next will be a “new adventure” and that “I’m perfectly at ease with whatever comes next.”
If he can be so at ease, why can’t we?
Mr. Carter has not come forward to teach about melanoma, chemotherapy or what four spots of cancer on your brain will do to you, though he brings his scientist’s interest to those topics. Rather, to me it feels he has come to us with such candor to teach us about death and dying.
He has the gift of great faith. And that would explain the hundreds now traveling to Plains on Sundays to crowd the Sunday school lessons he continues to teach at the Maranatha Baptist Church. Sunday’s lesson was on forgiveness.
I’ve always admired Jimmy Carter. Never joined in the simplistic disdain that discredited all aspects of his presidency. Then, like most people, I’ve watched his 35 years as a past-president and its redefinition of what that role can be. Now we’re moving to the final portion. And again we find in Jimmy Carter a man of grace and virtue ready to show us what dying well looks like.
Not to focus exclusively on presidents and death but: President Obama is making news, as usual, with the announcement that he is restoring the name of America’s highest peak to Denali, the native Alaskan name for what we’ve been calling Mt. McKinley for almost a century.
The McKinley moniker was installed shortly after the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. And just for a moment I thought we had an Oak Park connection. But, alas, while Oak Park can stake a claim to one presidential assassin, it is not McKinley’s killer.
Instead, we’ll go back another 20 years to 1881 when James Garfield was the still new president. Charles Guiteau, an on-and-off-again Oak Parker during the 1870s, was a disgruntled office seeker as well as a failed lawyer, supposed con man, and likely a person with mental illness, possibly what we’d call bipolar.
He shot the president twice in the back while Garfield was boarding a train in Washington. Didn’t immediately kill the president, who lingered for 11 weeks before dying of wound-related infections.
Guiteau’s main Oak Park connection was through his in-laws, the Scovilles. Yes, those Scovilles. In fact, George Scoville, an attorney, defended Guiteau in his murder trial, to no good outcome. Oak Park’s sort-of-own Charles Julius Guiteau was hanged in 1882.
Now you know.
So long, Tasty Dog: The countdown begins for Tasty Dog. Ordered out of its quarters at Lake and Euclid in an eviction lawsuit brought by the village of Oak Park, its landlord, the hot dog stand will boil its last wiener on or about Sept. 14.
It has been a long, weird ride for Tasty Dog. A pretty good local joint housed in a repurposed Mobil station on the south side of Lake, it gained infamy when the village wanted its parcel for development and traded up for a million-dollar hot dog palace on an abandoned Amoco station across the street.
These being different times and different circumstances, there has been no public show of support for the owners, who have not paid their rent at all in 2015 and haven’t been paying property taxes for much longer.