Sunday, December 20, 2009

Decade in Review/ 2003 & 2004

This is the third of a series of posts titled "Decade in Review". Each post will be dedicated to one year or at most two, so no one will get bored reading the entire long document! This is a review on the years 2003 and 2004. Thanks for reading!!
- 2003 -

How rare is it that it gets warmer than 50 degrees in January? Well, a quick look at the record books informs me it has only happened a total of 9 times since the 1880's, one of which just happened to be on January 8th, 2003, with a high of 52 degrees! I even took a bike ride to celebrate!

Nationwide, the first big headline for the year came on the morning of February 1st, 2003, with the tragic words, “The Columbia is lost”. As we all remember, the space shuttle Columbia broke apart over Texas upon reentry that morning, killing all on board.

Locally, a big event occurred on February 18th, 2003, when part of the town of Hallie in which we lived incorporated into the Village of Lake Hallie. While some did not like the change, most heralded it as a good thing, because it prevented the big cities of Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire from gradually annexing parts of Hallie until it was gone.

March 19, 2003, deserves a mention as the day that the U.S. officially invaded the Arab state of Iraq. Although the Iraq war was initially supported by Americans in general, as the war dragged on, it quickly became one of the most criticized aspects of the Bush Administration.

Personally, my big highlight for the year, came when it was announced that easy-listening Country star Don Williams was scheduled to perform at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair on July 9th. Despite a cold drizzly rain, with Don's sympathy, everyone loved “The Gentle Giant” in concert! Don Williams has since retired from touring, so as it turns out, it was my last chance to see him, so I'm doubly glad I took it!

Another major highlight of 2003, and a shocking headline to many, came when generational crossover and Country superstar Johnny Cash died on September 12th, 2003; he was 71. His untimely death came just 4 months after that of his wife June Carter.

- 2004 -

January 12, 2004 was a big day for me, as I started taking Driver's Ed!! Finally I got to sit behind the wheel of the car and drive!!

Another notable occurrence of that winter was the passing of my great grandma Rose on February 19th at the age of 96. I never knew her, due to the fact she had had a paralyzing stroke many years earlier.
The weather in 2004 was weird. One of the first evidences of that came on April 18th
. After a very hot day in the mid 80's, the wind picked up and dust began to roll. Rain and storms were predicted, but before any rain managed to fall, 50 mph winds whipped up huge dust clouds off the newly plowed farm fields and residential yards creating a dust bowl of sorts for about 6 hours. It was pretty impressive!

A few days later, on April 24th, 2004, I was driving with my dad in the Twin Cities to pick up our order of nursery plants. We had made a wrong turn, and were going down a residential 2-lane road; sort of a service road along a busy 6 lane highway. As we were going along, the engine just sputtered and died. No warning, just dead. Nothing we did would start it, and we ended up calling a tow truck. The road was quiet, which was nice, since it took 2 hours for the tow truck to get there!! This was also not a simple matter, as we had a full truck and trailer load of plants! We managed to find a repair shop that was able to order us a new fuel pump and install it the same day, while we sat in the waiting room!! That was an experience. I call it “the day the truck stalled in St. Paul.” We drove out of there about 4 pm.

In June, another death brought tears to the nation. Former President Ronald Reagan, conservative champion, and one of our strongest leaders to date passed away on June 7th, 2004. Ronald Reagan crossed party lines and brought the country together like never before, and the nation mourned his passing.

The 2004 presidential campaign was in full swing by August, and presidential hopeful John Kerry had visited a Bloomer area farm earlier in the summer. I caught wind that something else might be up in early August, when the radio station began hinting at a visit by a Republican official sometime soon. My grandpa who was a staunch Republican, received a call offering him tickets to see a “high ranking Republican official” who was coming to Chippewa Falls. He declined... and then regretted it when it was announced a few days later that President George W. Bush would be making a campaign stop right here in Chippewa Falls!!!!! I would have given anything to see him that day, at Kell Container Corp on August 18th, 2004, but no one else of my family was inclined, and we had to go to work (as I remember we were starting a pond that day). So, I resigned myself to photographing Air Force One as it flew overhead!! President Bush would make one more appearance in the Chippewa Valley in 2004, on October 20th. My grandpa tried to get into that one, but found it was invitation only. So, once again, I watched for Air Force One, and caught it both coming and leaving!

Another notable occurrence in August of 2004, was the unprecedented cold temperatures!! In fact, there was significant frost on the ground on the morning of August 20th! After such a cold August, we were relieved by a warmer than usual September.

My driving test was scheduled for the 23rd of August 2004. I was understandably nervous, as I had been told that most people fail the first time. Well, I made some errors, but the examiner must have liked me, because I actually passed the exam! I think I was one point from failing, but anyway, the fact was that I passed! So, with my new drivers license I confidently went out and... well, we won't go into that. No, I didn't crash, but I could have, and I discovered I still had things to learn. Come to think of it, I've never gotten a ticket though!

Well, like usual, when I get fired up about something, I DO something about it! Sometimes I wait until the last minute to get fired up in the first place however! That was the case with the 2004 presidential election. Yeah, I was rooting for Bush all along, but with weak enthusiasm from the rest of my family, I didn't do too much... until the night of October 30th. That night, I got a big piece of cardboard and various markers and reflective things and built a large double-sided sign that stated “VOTE FOR GEORGE W. BUSH”. I completed the sign in the shed about 10 pm, and then went back into the house. I did not want to be seen putting up the sign. I told my sister and my mom, and word eventually leaked out to my dad too, who wasn't too happy, but whatever. As it was Daylight Savings time that night, my plan was to wait until late and then put up the sign. So, that was my 2004 election statement, printed on a large piece of cardboard and posted up along the road at 2 am! I retrieved the sign after election day, someone had smashed one of the legs off of it, but it was still in tolerable shape so I brought it home and photographed it!! Conservatives pulled out all stops, and turned out in record numbers to reelect George W. Bush to the obvious consternation of the outspoken liberal minority!

One final 2004 world event demands some space here. On December 26th, the day after Christmas, a massive tsunami crashed ashore in Indonesia, killing untold scores of people. Unfortunately, there was not a warning system in place, and most communities had no idea that anything like that was coming. Unfortunately, there still isn't a good warning system. Nations from around the world pitched in to help send food and medical supplies to the disaster zone, but for many the help arrived too late. Communities once again began the tedious process of rebuilding.

<<<>>><To be continued><<<>>>

1 comment:

JWcountryphoto said...

If you haven't read post #1 yet, here it is: