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Day: November 28, 2016

“Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” by J.D. Vance

c.2016, Harper
$27.99 / $34.99 Canada
264 pages



Home is where the heart is.

It’s where folks take you in because they love you, and put up with your nonsense for the same reason. It’s where you go when there’s nowhere else, a haven both for body and soul. Home is where the heart is – and, as in the new memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance, it’s also where troubles begin.

At first glance, most people would say J.D. Vance had a pretty good bringing-up.

Vance was born in Middletown , Ohio , sometimes referred to as “Middletucky” because, like him, many residents’ roots lay in the Bluegrass State . Kentucky ’s Appalachian hills, in fact, were where Vance remembers spending the best of his childhood, running wild with cousins while his grandmother, Mamaw, visited kin. Her brothers – Vance’s beloved uncles – taught Vance how to be a man.

Such information didn’t come from the men his mother brought around.

There was a succession of them: five husbands, various boyfriends, in a roulette-wheel of homes. Vance mistrusted his Mom, barely knew his father, and was raised to believe that the man didn’t want him; he grew to rely instead on his older sister and his Mamaw, whose home was a shelter.

She lived close-by, often just a block away, and he stayed with her more than he lived with his mother. A heavy smoker who spewed profanity, Mamaw was tough as nails but tender with babies. She demanded that Vance excel in school, and she protected him from “the worst of what [the] community offered,” though there were times when he was ashamed of her.

He was ashamed of his mother, his behavior, and the poverty that surrounded him at home, too, but as Vance matured, he learned a few truths: his mother tried to do her best, but drug addiction was stronger. Anger and yelling were not keys to a successful relationship. Education was the strongest way out. And “…Mamaw was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Let’s face it: a happy-happy memoir is, well, it’s no fun. We want to see some pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstrap sentiment but there’s a better surprise inside “Hillbilly Elegy.” It comes in author J.D. Vance’s words.

With a sense of the poetic, Vance writes of the beauty of the place of his kin: deep hollers, green rolling hillsides, and people who live by a fierce code of honor. But we learn a different story, too: that of hopelessness, early pregnancies, addiction, and the sense that poverty is a life sentence. These are the things Vance says he grew up with, and he takes readers on a tour that rises and curves like an Appalachian mountain road. He then explains why this is relevant to the entire rest of America , including everyone who voted on November 8.

This is a book that’s easy to dive into and hard to forget. It’s perfect, if your concern lies with those who are marginalized, even just a little bit. To see how The Other Half lives, “Hillbilly Elegy” is the book to take home.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin

Neva Irene Norris

N. Norris
N. Norris

Neva Irene Norris passed away Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. She was 84 years old.

She was born June 11, 1932, to Alfonso and Clara Sanchez in San Francisco, Calif. She became the eldest of three siblings.

Neva grew up in California and married LaFoy Norris on Oct. 16, 1955.  Together they had four children: Neal Norris of Watsonville, Calif., Faron Norris of Elgin, S.C., LaVern Atkins of Keizer, and Loren Norris of Gold Beach, Ore.

After the death of her husband in 1995, Neva moved to Oregon where she resided with their only daughter. She stayed there for more than 21 years until her death.

In her later years, she suffered from Alzheimer’s among other health problems, but still retained her cheerful demeanor with a smile on her face, a small giggle to her voice and a cheerful hello to all who spoke with her.

She is survived by her sister Nelda Benedict, her four children, seven grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren as well as many nieces and nephews.

Joyce Worden

J. Worden
J. Worden

Joyce Worden was born in Colville, Wash., on February 22, 1930, but her family’s home was in Alladin, a small rural area nearby.

Growing up during the Great Depression had a big influence on her. She learned to be frugal and to take very good care of what little she had.

She attended a small, one-room school.  Being somewhat of a tom boy, she enjoyed roaming the countryside with her dog named Bloop – occasionally skipping school with her cousin Kapper.

Joyce was the youngest of four children. Francis Loiselle the eldest, followed by Generieve and brother Roy, all of her siblings preceded her in death.

In 1937, the family moved to Amity, pursuing an opportunity to farm, raise dairy stock and sell eggs.

Joyce later attended Amity Union High School where she enjoyed playing on the volleyball team and in track and field. She remembered those days as some of the best in her life and always looked forward to the Amity-Dayton rivalry football games. She returned to watch the teams collide many times.

After graduation, she worked at Oregon Mutual Bank in McMinnville, as well as for the State of Oregon in Salem.

On Oct. 27, 1950, she married Walter R. Worden in Salem where they took up residence.

Together they raised three children, a daughter, Vicky Ann, followed by two sons, Bradley John and Guy Allen.

In 1957, the family settled on small acreage in Keizer where Joyce raised sheep, her favorite was a lamb named Georgie.

Joyce was rarely idle. After raising her children she took up oil painting and filled her home with seascapes, landscapes and roses. She had a public art showing at the Beaverton City Hall just months before passing.

She was a member of the Keizer Art Association and the Salem Senior Center where she enjoyed singing as wall as in the choir at Keizer Christian Church where she was proud to be a charter member. She enjoyed dancing and took lessons at France School of Dance well into her 50s.

Joyce was blessed to have numerous grandchildren: Amanda Motley (Robert) of Keizer, Melody Maertens (Roland) of Mobile, Ala., Travis Worden and Trent Worden of Salem, Nicole Worden of Silverton, and Austin Worden of Sacramento, Calif.  Great grandchildren include Jake, Garrett and Roselyne with one on the way

One of Joyce’s favorite places was the Oregon coast where she was laid to rest on a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Per her request no funeral services were held.  For those wishing to do so, donations can be made to the Union Gospel Mission. Joyce would also encourage a visit to Keizer Christian Church where she found a warm and loving home to worship over a half a century.

Arrangements by Keizer Funeral Chapel.

Fasten your seat belts

There are millions of Americans who voted for Donald J. Trump as their next president. So many decided that a change in direction on national policies was important that many blue states flipped over to become red states.

This after a campaign in which the winning candidate did not lay out a specific agenda—just a lot of applause lines like building a wall along our border with Mexico, banning immigration into the country by those of the Muslim faith amid many others.

Now as president-elect, Trump is slowly forming his government. Those who voted for change are going to get more change than they probably hoped for. Trump has named Steve Bannon, former chief executive of Breitbart News—known for its alt-right, nationalist, anti-Semite views—as his chief political strategist. Bannon’s appointment has many on both the left and the right very concerned about how much influence he will have over Donald Trump’s thinking.

Until Trump is actually in the Oval Office will we not know what kind of president he will be. The awesome power of the office has a way of moderating the president. Already Trump is backing away from some of his proposals that got him where he is today: he won’t pursue a prosecution of Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while Secretary of State or for any alleged improprieties at the Clinton Foundation.

Parts of ‘the beautiful wall’ have receded into ‘some places a fence.’ Trump’s call for a repeal of the Affordability Care Act are now tempered with support of some of Obamacare’s most popular elements including children staying on their parent’s insurance until age 26 and the inability of companies to deny insurance to those with a pre-existing condition.

For every step forward there are two steps back. The spoils do go to the victor, but we’ve never had a victor like Donald Trump. His myriad of business interests include developments in many countries around the globe—countries the Trump Administration will deal with on political, military and economic issues. Citizens should be concerned by the president-elect’s pronouncement about conflicts of interest. He said no one should be worried because voters knew about his business interests during the campaign and when they voted for him.

Aside from conflicts of interest here in the United State and around the world, one should be concerned about his disdain for the press. The press and media have been attacked for its supposed bias with their campaign coverage; Trump calls the press—especially television and cable news—dishonest liars.

Trump has no taste for the press. Traditionally, there has been a press pool representative that follows the president wherever he goes. Trump doesn’t want that and will probably be the least covered president in modern times. At a meeting with executives and news anchors this week, rather than learning how best to cover the Trump White House, the attendees were met with a dressing down. It was definitely not a friendly gathering.

For those who voted for change in Washington, those supported Trump’s call to “drain the swamp” in the nation’s capital, they will get it. Bigly.

Change is always hard for people to cope with. Some people will get a change they never wanted; others will get a change that goes too far. Whatever the Trump Era brings, buckle your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy flight.


Christmas in Keizer

Many homes are still enjoying Thanksgiving dinner leftovers and cleaning up after a house full of guests and now their attention turns to the Christmas season.

Keizer does love Christmas and there are plenty of activities and events to help enjoy their favorite time of year.

It all starts with the annual lighting of Keizer’s Christmas tree at Walery Plaza at the intersection of River Road and Cherry Ave. on Tuesday, Dec. 6. Two lucky kids will be chosen to help Santa Claus flip the switch.

Later that week the first Keizer Holiday Lights Parade will travel down River Road. Staged by the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, the parade takes over after the Festival of Lights Parade ended its 25-year run last year.

It’s a big job to put on that parade and we’re fortunate to have oranizations and volunteers who will keep a light parade in town.

Speaking of lights, on Dec. 2 the Miracle of Christmas display starts in the Gubser neighborhood and runs through Dec. 26.

There will be lots of chances for Keizer kids to see and talk to Santa Claus. He’ll be making appearances at the Volcano Stadium (via helicopter) on Dec. 3, he’ll be at breakfast at the Keizer Fire hall on Dec. 11, he’ll be giving candy canes with help from Marion County Fire District #1 in the Clear Lake/Forest Ridge area on Friday night, Dec. 16. Then, the Keizer Fire District will help Santa give out candy canes on Saturday, Dec. 17.

Tis the season, and Keizer offers lots of ways to enjoy it.   —LAZ

Democrats at a crossroads


While the challenges of the GOP —its long-term demographic difficulties, its erratic leadership, the bitter struggle for its ideological soul—are obscured by victory, the problems of the Democratic Party are on full display. Republicans suffer from heart disease; Democrats have an ugly, gushing head wound.

The losing party would be foolish to minimize the scale of its political failure. Hillary Clinton proved incapable of defeating a reality television host whom more than 60 percent of Americans viewed as unfit to be president. It is perhaps the most humiliating moment in the long history of Mr. Jefferson’s party. But the effect is more than reputational. The Democratic candidate and her team could not protect America from a serious risk to its ideals and institutions by an untested and unstable novice who flirted with authoritarianism and made enough gaffes on an average Tuesday to sink a normal presidential campaign.

Donald Trump was riding a modest electoral wave in certain parts of the country, but it was not large enough to overwhelm a reasonably capable Democratic candidate with a decent political strategy. Trump’s vote did not burst the levees; it barely lapped over the top of them in the industrial Midwest. The “blue wall” was too low by just a foot or two.

But why was the election even close enough for bad strategy in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, or utter incompetence by the FBI director, to matter? Trump obviously benefited from extreme polarization. The proposition “anyone but Hillary” was tested, with Republicans (and others) ultimately rallying to “anyone.” The Obama coalition—including young, minority and college-educated voters —did not turn out in sufficient numbers. And an appeal to racial and ethnic resentment remains disturbingly potent in our politics—the continuing evidence of America’s original sin.

But here is the largest, long-term Democratic challenge: It has become a provincial party. It is highly concentrated in urban areas and clings to the coasts. But our constitutional system puts emphasis on holding geography, particularly in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. It is difficult for Democrats to prevail from isolated islands of deep blue. In 2012, President Obama won the presidency with fewer than 700 counties out of more than 3,000 in America —a historical low. Clinton carried a little under 500—about 15 percent of the total.

This is another way of saying that the Democratic candidate for president can’t prevail, at least at the moment, when she receives less than 30 percent of the vote from the white, non-college educated Americans who live in the spaces between the cities. Most of these voters were not examining public policy and calculating their interests, except in the vague sense that they don’t like sending American jobs abroad and don’t want anyone messing with their Social Security. They were convinced that Trump has their back. Democrats have become symbolically estranged from white, working-class America.

What are the Democratic options moving forward? First, there is the Bernie Sanders option—the embrace of a leftist populism that amounts to democratic socialism. Second, there is the Joe Biden option, a liberalism that makes a sustained outreach to union members and other blue-collar workers while showing a Catholic religious sensibility on issues of social justice. Third, there is the option of doubling down on the proven Barack Obama option, which requires a candidate who can excite rather than sedate the Obama-era base.

Democrats should not overlearn the lessons of a close election. Option No. 3 is the Democratic future on the presidential level. Clinton was correct to appeal to a slightly modified version of the Obama coalition; she simply could not pull it off. Democrats will also need a dash of No. 2, including a more accommodating attitude toward religion and associational rights.

There is a serious prospect, however, that Democrats will choose No. 1.  America would cease to have a center-left party and a center-right party. Both radicalized institutions would exaggerate our national differences, becoming the political equivalent of the hard-left and hard-right media. And the cause of national unity would be damaged even further.

(Washington Post Writers Group)

Campaign promises already trashed

Recognized economists, writing on the subject of the anticipated Trump presidency, predict a “short” four-year term that will be damaging to jobless and low-wage American workers. It is now predicted that the nation’s big corporations and Wall Street will retain the upper hand over struggling workers who helped to elect him in what’s recognized as a populist wave.

For the purpose of clarity, let’s spend a moment looking at the definition of populism. It is a political ideology that holds that virtuous citizens are mistreated by a circle of elites who can be overthrown if the people recognize the danger and work together.  Populism depicts elites as trampling the rights, values and voice of the “legitimate” people.

No sober person of economic understanding sees it likely or even plausible that Trump’s plan to repatriate huge corporate profits to the U.S. for infrastructure spending will succeed.  In fact, what we know of the sketchy and abbreviated ideas from Trump during the many months he ran for the highest office, we can expect a continuation of the status quo, remaining pretty much the same or with little noticeable change. Economists of considerable reputation on prospects for changes to unemployment and joblessness numbers are amazed at the willingness of the American voters for what they have done to themselves.

Global populism may be the wave of the future but it has taken a turn in America that will only end in more disappointments and disillusions among those who voted for Trump in hope of seeing factories and jobs return to the midwest industrial states and most everywhere else in the U.S.  Those with insight also believe that even American investors inside the country will proceed with extreme caution, understanding that higher deficits, resulting from the lower taxes Trump has promised, will raise interest rates and inflation and result in lower earnings and fewer job opportunities.

Trump made rash promises by the dozens. He’s already said he’ll settle for a fence in some places with the border with Mexico,  instead of a wall.  He’ll only deport criminal immigrants. He’ll gut the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), he said, but now says some provisions will stay.  He promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C. but proceeded immediately after his election to choose entrenched lobbyists, one of America’s most notorious bigots and a racist, and mainly members of his own family, especially his young son-in-law, Jared Kushner, whose father and mentor was convicted of crimes and spent years in prison. Then, too, full court nepotism and conflict-of-interest will prevail as Kushner runs the White House while his wife, Ivanka, Donald’s daughter, runs the Trump business empire.

Based on what’s known about Donald J. Trump to date, prospects on him further dividing our country appear highly certain. He could surprise us by positive moves that settle the dust storm currently airborne. But he remains to date a self-centered individual whose ego must be stroked constantly, his coffers must fill over with no end to the greed, while family and friends being loyal to him is more important than the welfare and very survival of our nation.

(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)

City recognized for bicycle friendliness

Of the Keizertimes

Keizer has earned an honorable mention as a bicycle-friendly city from the League of American Bicyclists (LAB).

It was announced last week in Washington, D.C., that Keizer joined 33 other communities throughout the nation in the honorable mention category of recognition. Platinum, gold, silver and bronze designations are also available should city officials decide to pursue them. Oregon has 11 communities that rank bronze or higher. Ashland (gold), Corvallis (gold) and Bend (silver) also received designations this time around.


An honorable mention recognizes Keizer’s efforts toward improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies. The Bicycle Friendly City (BFC) program provides a benchmark for communities to evaluate those conditions and policies, while highlighting areas for improvement.

A trio of city volunteers were the driving force behind the application to LAB. Hersch Sangster, Pat Fisher and John Henry Maurice, all members of Keizer’s Traffic, Bikeways and Pedestrian Safety Committee, took on the effort with the blessing of the city council.

“We really tried to play devil’s advocate as we went through the checklist of qualifications,” said Sangster. “And we came out better than we expected. This is a big thing for the city.”

More than an honorable mention or a metal designation, the group wanted a baseline assessment of where Keizer stood in relation to other cities in the LAB program. In addition judging the application to the program, LAB officials sought out input from residents who use Keizer’s bikeways through an online survey and then selected some responders to interview about their experiences.

The results were somewhat mixed. Keizer outperformed other cities in some categories but lagged behind in some key areas.

While only 20 percent of the average city’s high speed roads have bike facilities,, 45 percent of Keizer’s do. Keizer’s bicycle-friendly laws and ordinances were rated “excellent,” far above the standard community with a BFC designation. Keizer was also deemed to have good Bike Month and Bike-to-Work events.

Other assessments were less kind to Keizer. While the BFC program suggests 9 percent of the city’s transportation budget be spent on cycling, Keizer clocked in at 1 percent. Bicycle education programs were also found to be needing improvement. Keizer also generally scored on the low end of cycling encouragement, enforcement and evaluation and planning.

A constrained budget limits what the city can do to achieve a higher designation, the report city officials got back from LAB suggests some actions to be taken. Here are a few:

• Adopting a complete streets policy requiring all new road or repaving projects to include bicycle striping.

• Making bicycle safety a routine part of education for students of all ages.

• Increasing staff time spent on improving conditions for those who bike or walk.

Sangster said that the biggest impact could likely be seen with more education, but making it a priority on the local level is something that happens school-by-school.

“The schools just don’t have the budget for it here, unlike Portland where it is an actual program in place,” he said. In times when more funding was available, the Salem-Keizer School District would host Safety Town camps during summer months that guided students toward best practices, but the camps fell victim to budget cuts.

“Bringing things like that back will require a budget and volunteers,” said Sangster who was one of the Safety Town instructors.

On the whole, he’s been pleased with Keizer’s acceptance of pro-cycling policy and inclusion.

“The roundabout was a great example of that. We felt like we were part of that discussion from the start,” Sangster said.

He also commended the city for adopting a planning policy requiring bike parking within 50 feet of entrances.

If he had one wish, it would be for more enforcement of bike laws. He cited adult riders disobeying traffic control devices or traveling the wrong way as two areas of concern.

The other area where Sangster saw opportunity was in encouraging local businesses to apply for a “Bicycle Friendly” designation through Travel Oregon.

While food destinations are the logical starting point, Sangster said bikers on long rides make use of everything from banks to hotels.

“I really think it’s just a matter of connecting with the Chamber of Commerce and helping them promote it to members,” Sangster said.

Another added benefit to the BFC designation is that Keizer can use it as a feather in its cap when applying for transportation and other grants to improve local amenities.

Keizer will have to reapply to the program annually to maintain its honorable mention designation.