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Monday, June 24, 2024


Notes to my Neighbors 4.5.2006

By Rick Racela

The other day, I was driving home along Park Avenue in Wildwood when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but the Dragon House delivery car.
Oh, joy.
Some people watch for robins to return from wherever it is they go, or flowers they planted in October to sprout, but not me.
For me, it’s restaurants and shops that open up like the prettiest blossoms in town.
Eating, shopping – the more opportunities for both, the better I like it.
A few weeks ago, I was afraid the worst had finally happened. This was going to be the first year in my life that spring never came.
But no, here we are heading straight for little league baseball and spray-on tans.
A few columns ago, I was saying how it takes me no time at all to get so comfortable with a new situation that the old one is wiped completely from my mind.
Last night I got into a discussion about the smoking ban that’s set to go into effect on April 15, but which has already taken root in some restaurants and many homes.
Now there’s something I’d forgotten all about: that choking sensation when we’d go to a house party or to a favorite restaurant where they’d seat us near smokers.
And I remember anticipating a fine meal, getting situated in a cozy booth, only to be smacked in the nose with a used ashtray.
If I travel a bit further back in my memory, another scene appears. In this one, it’s me in the booth tapping my own cigarette in the ashtray. Further still, and there are my parents, Joe and Esther, enjoying their Winstons.
Ancient history.
But it’s funny. In those olden days, I never dreamed that smoke-free environments were possible. Smoky air in private and public places was a simple fact of life.
Someone, though, did dream of something better.
Makes me think.
What if we could envision other, improved situations, and they actually materialized, replacing something we’ve just assumed is inevitable?
We all know, though, that major changes don’t really “materialize.” People make things happen.
Lots of people have been working tirelessly to get the smoking ban legislation passed. And soon, we will have forgotten what it was like to try to enjoy a meal with smoke in our eyes.
In a completely different situation, many others are dedicated to changing the facts of child abuse. A new world hasn’t materialized yet, but maybe, someday.
April happens to be Child Abuse Prevention Month, proclaimed originally by President Ronald Reagan in 1982.
Since then, countless organizations in our county and across the country, have been working to bring child abuse out into the open, so we can all agree that it’s not a private, family issue, but a crime worthy of severe punishment. 
On the Prevent Child Abuse America Web site, I found this: “In the spring of 1989, a Virginia grandmother, named Bonnie, began the blue ribbon campaign as a tribute to her grandson. The three-year-old died at the hands of his mother’s abusive boyfriend. Since that time, concerned citizens all over the country have worn the blue ribbon as a symbol of the need to prevent child abuse and neglect.
“Bonnie sends this message to you: “Please wear a blue ribbon…put one on your car …give one to your friends…tell them my story…. In this small way, you may save a child’s life.”
In last week’s Community News Scrapbook, we printed a picture of volunteers who were preparing Blue Ribbon flyers for “Dress in Blue” day, April 7. The Caring for Kids Exchange Club Family Center has been coordinating this effort.
I’m guessing that there are plenty of others in our neighborhoods who are also sponsoring Blue Ribbon events as well.
If you want to get involved, visit the Prevent Child Abuse America Web site where you’ll find many suggestions for ways to promote awareness and begin to create that new landscape we can get so used to, we’ll barely remember when it was otherwise.

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