Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Previous writing sparks memories for 2 readers

 This column appeared in the Aug. 28 edition of The News-Herald.

Some of the mail I get is worth sharing. Here is an example, from Rick Eisenberg of Mayfield Village.
Read your column about Walter Kremm with ironic interest. He was my social studies teacher at Heights High. Was the middle of the last century. Not sure the course is still called social studies or if they even teach history any more.
As you noted, Mr. Kremm was an ardent New Dealer. This was reflected as he taught us “modern” history. You know, recent stuff, like the Depression and World War II.
It was not until I reached college that I learned the majority of the New Deal programs were those that Hoover could not get through his Congress and that unemployment was still 16 percent (officially) at the time Hitler invaded Poland.
He was, as you observed, a brilliant man, and some of us would try to meet him after classes to question him and, on occasion, even debate some of his views.
That said, what I most remember was his answer to a question a couple of us posed. Where did the money go in the Depression? One day people had money and jobs and, seemingly, the next they were broke and unemployed.
He reserved his answer for a couple of days and for the full class. Answer: It never existed.
Our thoughts were that money was what we had in our pocket, what was in the cash drawer at the bank or the neighborhood store cash register. He explained to a group of dismayed teenagers that actual currency was a tiny fraction of the “money” in the world. The rest was on paper and existed only to the extent that individuals, companies and nations trusted one another to honor the paper promises and make them good, generally with more paper and/or someone else’s promises.
He briefly touched on the national banks, such as our Federal Reserve, and their ability to create money. Did not go too deeply or I am sure our tender brains would have short circuited.
So it was ironic to read of your relationship with Mr. Kremm the weekend our leaders were debating the national debt limit, all the while saying to myself, “it doesn’t really exist.”
And here is another letter, from Henryetta Cokor of Jefferson.
Thank you for your kind words about Walter Kremm. You’re right, he was a great citizen.
Before moving to Jefferson, my husband and I lived near Walter. He was a walker, as I was, so during walks on County Line Road sometimes we walked together. My husband wasn’t well and could no longer drive — a necessity on County Line — and I worried that I may have to stop driving. We moved here, where I can “hoof it” to most needed places.
Since then my husband died and I’m 10 miles from grandkids — which is all beside the point. Walter Kremm and I stayed friends and wrote for seven years. We had much in common. He was an absolute gentleman and very accepting of other people’s views and opinions.
He loved animals and never failed to mention his kitty, Sweetie, and a wild one he fed, Pretty Face.
I hoped he would reach 100 years. He had only two months to go. I will also miss the letters written on yellow lined paper.
Thanks again for the article. I will keep it.
And thank you so much, Rick and Henryetta, for your thoughts.
As I pointed out in that recent column, Walter and I had met only through the U.S. Postal Service, and although we agreed on absolutely nothing politically (he was enamored of Franklin D. Roosevelt, my political hero was Robert Alphonso Taft), he was a true gentlemen and a pleasure to share viewpoints with.
I also was saddened he didn’t make it to 100.
Now I have learned something else that I like about him — he loved animals (as we most assuredly do in our household) and he fed feral cats. That is another passion of the lady of the house. Our outdoor kittens are darling creatures, and anyone who would let a starving animal go hungry would probably do the same to a starving child.
If you have a different opinion of feral kittens, you are entitled to it. And we, of course, are entitled to ours — which is the one that prevails in our circle of friends.


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