Going Back To The Stair Steps Rapid.

Just a short distance below scenic Laurelhurst State Park, off of old Highway 62, there was a clearing in the woods, which let you see down to the Rogue River.  As a child, my father sometimes took me and Grandpa Johnny there armed with a pair of binoculars to gaze down at the canyon.  I remember looking at an intimidating rapid, which Dad called “the rapid above Tucker’s”, but was known to the natives as the Stair Steps, because the river flowed over a series of ledges before it dropped into a large hole.  Just below it was The Whirlpool, a rocky bar that went into the bank, creating a large eddy of swirling water.  People used to park their cars off of ’62, and walk down a narrow path to fish there.  The beginning of The Whirlpool could be seen from the clearing.

I never knew that some years later I would be floating those same rapids, often carrying some curious passengers.  The years I spent floating from Laurelhurst State Park to the Obstinate J Ranch(rafting or inner tubing)were probably the happiest years of my life.  In 1979, the Lost Creek Dam was built, which buried those rapids forever, creating Lost Creek Lake in its stead.

The brief video below shows our view of the Stair Steps in 1961.  The rapid was considerably more difficult then, because the left channel was narrower and less forgiving.  The 1964 flood made the river wider and the rapid easier to navigate.  Nevertheless, this was the only rapid that I pulled to shore on the right to scout.  You had to locate a series of boulders to know where to drop over the main ledge into the left channel, or you could have difficulties.  Sliding over the ledge required some technical skill.  However, I’m not sure I could have inner tubed the 1961 version of the Stair Steps.  The 1964 flood took away rapids such as Tucker’s Plunge, Jackson Falls(which were not possible for inner tubing), and made rapids like Casey, Trail, Upper and Lower Obstinate J, Robber’s Roost much easier.  Some people believe that the flood was nature’s way of showing that the Rogue River was becoming an old river, with the widening of its banks.  Be that as it may, there is no denying the impact of the 1964 flood, and the changes it wrought.

Charles Laughton, Christmas Reflections, And The “Snapdragon” Game

It is the month of December, and time to listen to my collection of Christmas carol CDs and LPs and to bring out my children’s Christmas 78s.  The most popular of the children’s stories are the renditions of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, whether by Basil Rathbone, Ronald Coleman, Lionel Barrymore, or Ernest Chappell.  Indeed, these Hollywood artists of the 40s give a spark and splendor to the seasonal tale.  But there is another album, which must also be mentioned:  Mr. Pickwick’s Christmas as told by Charles Laughton.

Until recently, I didn’t even know I owned it!  I must have purchased it from The Old Curiosity Record Shop on Van Nuys Blvd., which had odd business hours and an irascible owner.  Needless to say, the store no longer exists, and is part of my childhood memories.  But Laughton’s album remains.  It is one of the few albums made by Hollywood stars that has the complete text of the recording and is part of Decca’s Personality Series.  Mr. Pickwick’s Christmas also offers some holiday reflections by Mr. Laughton:  “Dickens has put down, in magical words, our common human experiences at Christmas time–when we all try to get together with our parents, our children, brothers and sisters, close friends, at our house or theirs.  Old grudges, old pains are softened;  old loyalties are pledged again.  We give each other presents, around goes the cup, we sing–and each year no matter how much we complain beforehand about the nuisance of preparing for Christmas, warm hope is reborn in us.”  Later, he speaks of a novel game called snapdragon:  “One thing more, here’s how to play the game of snapdragon;  put some raisins in a fair-sized kitchen bowl, pour warmed brandy over them, light it, allow each player his/her turn to snatch a raisin from the flaming bowl and eat it(quickly, you’d better, or else…).  As far as I know, you do not take sides.  One old book says the game causes ‘fantastical mirth.’  It does–” IMG_5661IMG_5660

Michael Parciak And Janusz Korczak: Ideas And Suggestions

Michael Parciak, who was the Chief Architect of Korczak City on the Internet in the late 90s, had many ideas and suggestions for disseminating the legacy of Janusz Korczak.    One of his main concerns was how Korczak’s ideas could be applied to the present and future of education.  He felt strongly that Korczak was absolutely necessary in a world that deals with the issues of children’s rights.  Michael wanted to spread Korczak’s philosophy to countries where children were at particular risk due to the lack of supportive legislation.

We know that Korczak viewed the child as a complete human being, which was entitled to definite rights.  His view was quite the opposite of that of the Middle Ages, in which a child was considered a dwarfish version of an adult and the paintings of that time reflect it.  A child needed instruction to become complete and it is no wonder that some of the earliest children’s verses in England deal with manners and behavior.  Korczak was a visionary, who even now is not understood fully.  Michael Parciak was a visionary in realizing the immense possibilities of the internet when it was just gaining prominence.  He felt that the internet could spread Korczak’s conceptions throughout the globe and offer children from all countries the opportunity to participate in an educational forum.  And so, Korczak City came into being.

Michael saw Korczak City as an innovative model in establishing multicultural, multilingual and multi-social contacts between children of all countries.  Korczak City would be a means of promoting partnership contacts between schools and children in which educational projects could be shared through the internet.   Michael foresaw what is commonplace today:  internet libraries, school books, teachers, lessons and interactive lessons.  What Michael Parciak planned, however, is by no means finished; it is an ongoing project.  As long as children’s rights are violated, Janusz Korczak’s and Michael Parciak’s ideas remain ideals to be achieved.