Thursday, December 24, 2015

MANY CHRISTMAS EVES AGO



Many Christmas Eves ago, I remember going to the Koether farm for presents, food, and firework display. My what a celebration it was. This afternoon as I was mixing my easy microwave fudge recipe, I thought of all the goodies Aunt Willie Mae and Grandma cooked for us. It was a mammoth table full of all kinds of candies, cakes, sandwiches, dips, potato salad and seasonal meats. They must have had to start getting ready weeks in advance. Their fudge was not instant like mine. And their divinity was devine. The Koether family was most generous with numerous gifts for all their children and grandchildren. When the night become dark, we gathered outside to watch the outburst of color from the tons of fireworks our uncles, Bill and El set off to the excitement of us all. Afterwards, we returned to our home to collapse in bed with visions of sugar plums dancing through our heads and tummies. Oh what a Christmas eve those were.

Monday, March 30, 2015

THE MAESTRO PROFESSOR-JOSEPH LOPREATO JULY, 1928-MARCH 2015


    THE MAESTRO PROFESSOR -JOSEPH LOPREATO, SOCIOBIOLOGIST,  
                                                 JULY, 1928- MARCH,2015



It was January, 1977 when the heavy classroom door banged open and shut. I glanced to my left and first spotted our professor, a short man with black hair slicked back on his head, wearing horn rimmed glasses with a show of intellect and social savvy. He pranced down the aisle toward the podium. He had a happy, but somewhat cocky grin on his face, as he glanced toward us students, the small group to his right. The professor showed a flamboyant style of confidence in a manner of vitality that a conductor of a small symphony attacks an often and repeated performance with much love and gusto.

As he settled his notes on the tall stand with the sun shining brightly through the windows behind, I expected to see at any moment a baton with symphony music mysteriously appearing from somewhere in the room. I realized I was observing a maestro that was preparing to give us a “Great Performance” and he surely did as the semester evolved.

 The Maestro Professor greeted us in his deep melodic voice with an Italian accent
and  vocabulary I had never experienced in all my years,  I immediately knew I was totally unprepared, as a student from rural south Texas. But in his European voice he assured us we were in for a flight to which he would expose our minds to the greatest thinkers of sociological theory, Vilfredo Pareto, Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, etc.  And if we opened our minds, listened and studied with him it would be worth it. He would teach us logic through these great scientists that would bring enrichment and much meaning to our lives.      


And so he did. My mind was indeed open and grasped so much that has carried me through years of teaching and observing human behavior. I will always be grateful for the education I received from my wonderful professors in sociology, and especially from Professor Joseph Lopreato. Yes, he will be sorely missed, but his spirit will live in the minds of many through generations of his students.  I can still hear his voice point out the teachings of Pareto’s logic and nonlogic of human behavior.  Then I better understand the world around me. THANK YOU PROFESSOR LOPREATO.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

THE PRAYER SERVICE IN THE MALL PARKING LOT

I enjoy people watching. It's part of my sociology training. Especially interesting is watching culturally different people in the San Marcos Outlet Mall. During this time of year I've seen many Mexican Nationals shopping and interacting with their families. Today, I waited in the car while my husband ran in a shop to exchange a purchase he made before Christmas. I looked around the parking lot and saw two cars drive up close to where we parked. One man jumped out of a car and directed the driver of the other to back up several feet so the two cars had about eight feet between the hoods of their cars. They were facing each other. This small amount space provided an isolated location protected from traffic. It's where I observed their interaction.

The four men were similar in age, dress, and bearded dark faces. Their stocking caps fit closely on their heads. Three of them wore rubber like shoes without socks and one wore socks with his shoes. They were laughing and seemed to have an objective,  parking where they did. First, they pulled out 4 rugs, around 2'x4' in size. The style was not your typical type or the Mexican colorful design I have in my house. I decided the rugs were  more of an Asian influence. With my guessing, I began to suspect they were definitely not people I was used to seeing at the Mall interacting in this manner.

 One of the men picked up a bottle of water and poured it on his hands and arms. He repeated this action several times. Then he picked up his stocking feet and poured water on them  and rubbed them.  The other men who were without stockings poured the bottled water on their bare feet. They repeated this several times, as well. My husband returned to the car and I told him to drive around the cars so I could watch what they were doing. Of course he was not going to have anything to do with my being so nosy. But as we began to drive away, I looked over to the four men who were kneeling between the two cars on their individual rugs. In unison, they kneeled over and touched their heads to the ground at exactly the same time. At this point I realized I was probably observing Muslim men praying together.

This was a different experience for me to observe, since I live in a small south central Texas town and never have seen a  ritual, such as this.  But this is central Texas which has the fastest growing population in the country, according to Demographers and Census people. The site I saw demonstrates how different cultures are emerging and becoming more visible in our state.    

I researched some of the actions I observed of the Muslim interactions. First of all I found that today, January 3rd, 2015 is the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. And although there are different ways to demonstrate the followers' veneration of their Prophet,  prayer is important.  Moreover, the washing of parts of the body before prayers is a form of cleansing and making followers more worthy. This explained the washing of the men's bodies. .http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/articles/92744/obligatory-and-optional-aspects-of-ablution

I am so glad that I had the opportunity to see those of another culture perform a most important ritual on the Prophet's birthday. Now I understand better what the Muslims were doing. And it was so remarkable that they would exhibit their devotion in a public parking lot for anyone to see.