When our son, Jim, was stationed with the U.S. Army in Germany he visited the old Soviet Union just before the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. He told us the very few other Americans he saw in what became modern Russia were easy to spot; they were the only ones smiling. I noticed that same phenomenon among the public when I worked for a couple of weeks in the Republic of Ukraine in 2000. Then when Peg and I spent a week working in Russia in 2003 we noted everyone but the two of us wore dark clothes and dark expressions. Our recent eight-month experience working with the judiciary in the Republic of Georgia, once part of the old Soviet Union and bordering Russia, reinforced these … [Read More...] about The Founders
Be Bold, It’s Worth It!
Thousands of free people gathered in front of the country of Georgia’s parliament in the capitol city of Tbilisi this past week to protest two new general laws the ruling political power, The Dream Party, wanted to impose on Georgia’s citizens. Although it has been denied by Russia, both bills were inspired by Russia’s draconian statutes that suppress dissent and oppress would-be dissenters in Russia. The Russian Duma and President Putin have managed to enact a series of laws that would make Joseph Goebbels envious and George Orwell prophetic. Georgia’s reactionary, pro-Russian, anti-Western ruling party thought to run roughshod over freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of … [Read More...] about Be Bold, It’s Worth It!
The American Mantra
Peg and I got back to “The Osage”, Osage County, Oklahoma, USA on 26 February 2023 after a trip of two days from the one-time Soviet Union Republic of Georgia that is bordered by Russia and Turkey and lies directly across the Black Sea from Ukraine, that, also, was a former member of the Soviet Union. Georgia has a population of about four million, almost every one of whom we met yearned to come to the USA and every one of whom was insatiably curious about, “What makes America, America.” The Georgian judges we worked with from June 2022 to April 2023 unfailingly asked me “How do American judges do …?” I was sent to Georgia by the United States Agency for International … [Read More...] about The American Mantra
It Was A Blast
Peg and I will leave Batumi, Georgia this Saturday, 25 February 2023. We will fly through Istanbul, Turkey then on to Chicago and Tulsa where our good friends Doug and Marcia Givens will pick us up at the airport; thank you, old friends! Doug and I have been friends since the first grade at Franklin Elementary School in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. For some reason neither of us could ever recall, Doug and I fought every day after school at the same location on our mutual routes home during first grade. As we both always wore a white T-shirt every day, we went through several shirts apiece until the good sense of our mothers intervened and peace was declared upon us. Doug and I got along fine … [Read More...] about It Was A Blast
End of Tour
If you happen to be one of the true followers of “Gavel Gamut”, that is, one who started with me in 1990 and still hopes to glean something of interest from it, let me say, Gentle Reader, you are 33 years older and still hopeful. Now, whether that means you are any wiser, well, only you can decide. As for me, since I started this column only because I was asked to do so by my good friend, Jim Kohlmeyer, who had just bought The New Harmony Times newspaper and was looking for filler, I certainly feel the passing of the time. About 1,000 of these burnt offerings have been sacrificed on the altar of public opinion since 1990. At a calculation of approximately between 500 and 1,000 … [Read More...] about End of Tour
About 4:30 a.m. on February 06 in the country of Georgia Peg and I were awakened by a strange squeaking/creaking sound as if a giant was rolling around on bare bed springs. The sound appeared to come from above us and all around us. We checked through our small apartment and even ventured out on our 17th floor open air balcony and into the indoor hallway. Peg advised we should exit our apartment but I said, “max nix, let’s go back to sleep; it is probably just a neighbor moving furniture.” These two reactions pretty much sum up how Peg and I address most situations. It turned out it was a neighbor, but the neighbor was the neighboring country of Turkey that was dealing with another kind of … [Read More...] about Letting Go
In 2016, Peg and I were signed up for a Danube River Cruise that included a right turn off the Danube and a flight south for three days in Istanbul, Turkey. Because there was unrest in Turkey in 2016 Americans were advised to avoid Istanbul until things calmed. Being raised during the 1940’s to the 1960’s we heeded our government’s advice. We had already visited Amsterdam, Vienna, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania and other ports of call, but we always regretted not getting to Istanbul, the one-time Constantinople and capitol of the Holy Roman Empire. We finally joined the Ottomans, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, British, etc., etc. and landed in Istanbul for a week in … [Read More...] about Istanbul
Brothers From Other Mothers
This week I ran into a man whose family has connections to Ukraine. They live in the country of Georgia now as Peg and I have been doing for the last five months where we are working with the Georgian judiciary. His perspective on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is quite personal as is the perspective of the Russian man who sat next to me on a flight from Istanbul, Turkey to Batumi, Georgia last Wednesday. The two men looked quite similar. Both were rather tall and athletically built and about 40 years of age. One man’s native language is English but the other speaks fluent Russian. His English created several entertaining exchanges for us that we worked through in mutual good humor. My … [Read More...] about Brothers From Other Mothers
Let’s Talk Turkey
The country of Turkey borders the country of Georgia to the southwest. The city where Peg and I have been working for the last five months, Batumi, Georgia, is about 12 miles from the Turkish border. Because Turkey requires U.S. citizens to have a 90-day tourist visa we have not been able to just travel into Turkey from Georgia until this past week. The “simple” procedure to obtain a visa took a long while. Both Turkey and Georgia are located where east meets west, that is, where Asia and Europe meet. Thousands of people travel from Georgia to Turkey and Turkey to Georgia every month. Peg and I encounter numerous Turkish citizens on the streets of Batumi every time we go for a stroll or eat … [Read More...] about Let’s Talk Turkey
Food For Thought
Peg and I have been away from our U.S.A. home for almost 5 months now and we are each missing some of what makes our cabin on the Oklahoma prairie so special. Peg is nostalgic for kids, grandkids, great grandkids, siblings and friends, you know, Gentle Reader, the things most people get misty-eyed over. I feel her pain but, frankly, I find that what our current home in the old Soviet Union country of Georgia really needs to join the family of democratic nations is a good bowl of chili and some hand-rubbed and torturously slow smoked Oklahoma beef brisket accompanied by a few ears of southern Indiana sweet corn. And while Georgia claims to be the 8,000-year-old birthplace of wine, a … [Read More...] about Food For Thought
The Good, The Bad, The Average
Is it an end or a beginning? A New Year of hope or a past year of regret? A harbinger of exciting new adventures or a specter of hovering doom? I guess one way of discerning whether we are going to gaily anticipate, as the tune says, “Oh, the good times are coming,” or gloomily dwell on, “I took the blows and did it my way,” is to make an accounting of 2022. After all, if past is prologue, perhaps we can peer into the future by studying the past. But, as the sorceress Cassandra who was blessed by the gods with the gift of prophecy but also cursed because no one would believe her forecasts of coming disasters, we might see the freight train coming but ignore it anyway. Nuclear war anyone? … [Read More...] about The Good, The Bad, The Average
Unanimous for Murder
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Unanimous for Murder picks up where JUDGE LYNCH! left off. A gripping story of small town murder and judicial shenanigans on the western frontier when the western frontier was east of the Mississippi.
Echoes of Our Ancestors: The Secret Game
Jim’s new novel tells the exciting story of a long hidden but important football game that occurred between representatives of Haskell Indian Institute (now the Haskell Indian Nations University) and professionals from the then Kansas City Cowboys in 1924 at a secret location on the Osage Indian Nation near Pawhuska, Oklahoma - where Jim was born.
“Judge Lynch Holds Court!” That was the banner headline in a Posey County, Indiana newspaper after seven African American men were murdered by a white mob during October, 1878.
Gavel Gamut Greetings from JPeg Ranch
“Gavel Gamut Greetings" is an anthology of topical and historical selections mainly about regional events and personalities that have appeared in my weekly newspaper column, Gavel Gamut.