Brain Food

“Change your thoughts, and you change your world.”

- Norman Vincent Peale -

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Living in the present moment creates the experience of eternity. - Deepak Chopra -

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”
- Albert Einstein -

Update for 02/28/2012

This week’s update is a bit different. The first year anniversary of Diane Murray’s passing was this past Wednesday. She was as the saying goes “My Significant Other” for the past fifteen years. I’m still sad, but I’m better, and I understand the process of grief is forever. Many of you know I work with ROZE ROOM HOSPICE as a volunteer.

Diane Murray
1958 - 2011

I’ve found working with the dying helps me to live better. On that note, I ran across an article written by another palliative care worker – Top Five Regrets of Dying.

Everyone who is reading this will one day have to leave this realm, and I for one, do not want to have many regrets when it’s time to depart. I think this article can help one make directional changes so any regrets are few and minimal.

To quote the author:

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, and choose honestly. Choose happiness.”

Again, until next week, I thank you for your time.


PS: The Final Post Honoring Black History Month.

A White Reflection on Black History Month

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." -Dalai Lama

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." - Aesop

Video from KarmaTube

Update for 02/07/2012

We continue with our Black History Month celebration. Thanks to my cousin, Sameera “Ramsey” Thurmond, our family historian, several members of our ancestors’ served with the famed “Red Tails” during WWII. Here is one story:

J.C. Ramsey


Jim was born May 24, 1884 in Columbia County, Georgia. His family called him “little Bud”. When striking out on his own, he lived at the YMCA.  At 24 years of age, he secured a job shoeing horses with the L.M. Hutto Company and was residing at the St. Clair in the Summerville section of Augusta (per 1908 R. & L. Polk Augusta City Directory).  He was a hard worker, fiercely independent and frugal with his money. He had no extensive social life but at 35 years of age he finally settled down and married the striking Carrie Chapplear.  

Carrie, born 1892, was the daughter of William and Jennie Chapplear who were from Alliance Hall (Columbia County), Georgia.  Her sisters were Lizzie Chapplear-Hall, Janie Chapplear-Dixon and Frank Chapplear.

The R. & L. Polk Augusta City Directory for 1912 listed his blacksmithing partnership, Ramsey and Thurmond, with Jonas Thurmond as being at 732 Ellis Street and for a while they share living quarters with Jim’s grandmother and step-grandfather at 1005 Gwinnett Avenue.  Jonas’ brother Robert was married to Jim’s sister Henrietta.  Jonas himself was a skilled blacksmith but he wasn’t as settled and didn’t quite have the business acumen that Jim had.  This partnership lasted at least until 1914. When Jonas embezzled some of the money, he and Jonas’ partnership ended. In 1925 Jim worked as a blacksmith and resided at 2056 Central Avenue (per 1930 Richmond County Census, Vol. 96, E.D. 123).

Around 1937 he purchased a large house on Windsor Springs Road in Augusta from his brother-in-law Leon Wright.  He and his daughter Frances remained here until he built another house on Heard Avenue in Augusta where he lived until his death.

In addition to blacksmithing, Jim trained horses and acquired some his own race horses.  For approximately fifty years, he trained horses for wealthy people who raced them at the famous Belmont Racetracks in Nassau County, NY and Hialeah in Florida.   He kept his personal horses domiciled in Aiken, South Carolina.   When he retired, he purchased a home on Wrightsboro Road in Augusta and embarked on farming.  Jim was plagued with severe asthma but the onset of his death was due to coronary thrombosis, a blockage of arteries leading to his heart.  He died October 10, 1866 [State of Georgia Death Certificate #35014].  He and Carrie had two children.

A.        James Chapplear Ramsey, called “J.C.” by his family, was born April 1, 1922 in Augusta, Georgia.  He was pleasantly disposed and well liked by those who knew him.  His father had strong expectations regarding hard work and academic study and while J.C. followed his father’s will, he longed for a more promising life rather than one of farming.  The discipline imposed upon him at home, however, served him well thereafter.

He attended Payne College (Augusta) and Dillard University from where he was graduated March 11, 1943 with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences.

In 1939 President Roosevelt spearheaded the creation of a civilian pilot training program for Blacks under the direction of the U.S. Army Air Corps.  Tuskegee Institute (Alabama) was one of six African-American colleges selected as a site for such instruction. 

J.C. enrolled in the pre-flight training program at the Tuskegee Institute.  As an aviation cadet he learned subjects as navigation, meteorology and mathematics.  When finished, he entered Primary Flight training, which was located at Tuskegee’s Moton Air Field.  In basic flying instruction, cadets were using PT-17s (bi-planes) with open canopies.  After accomplishing this stage of basics, he and his colleagues moved on to the Tuskegee Army Airfield, about ten miles from the institute.

Regular Army personnel provided instruction at Tuskegee’s Army Airfield.  This program was advanced basic flight training.  The planes used were more advanced than those used in Primary Flight training. He was graduated from Tuskegee’s air training school May 23, 1944, Class 44-E as a commissioned offer.  The class of 44-E was unique because all the trainees were fighter pilots and trained using the single-engine fighter planes, P-40s.   

The graduates then went to Walterboro, South Carolina where they learned fighter-training techniques such as formation flying and gunnery using P-47s known as “Razorbacks”.  These planes were larger one-seaters.  Combat flying techniques involved acrobatics-type (or aerobatics in military lingo) maneuvering. 

Fighter planes were smaller than the B-17s and B-24s bomber planes. Fighters’ responsibilities were more diverse than that of bombers. Bombers were tasked with direct-hit bombing of sitting planes, buildings or trains of enemy airfields but fighter planes were designed for maneuverability and were tasked with protecting the bombers and might have to either give chase with enemy planes or, when necessary, elude them. There was only one pilot in a fighter plane whereas the bombers had from six to ten crew members aboard: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, gunners, bombardier and radio operator.  The Germans used trains a lot in Italy to move war items.  If the Germans anticipated an allied air strike, they might position anti-aircraft weaponry in the trains. 

In the same year of graduation, J.C., his best friend and another 44-E graduate, Earl B. Highbaugh, and other pilots sailed to North Africa.  They remained there until sometime in November 1944 then were assigned to an airfield in Ramitelli, Italy as replacement pilots.  Ramitelli was in the southeastern part of Italy on the Adriatic Sea.  J.C., Earl, James Maghee, George Iles and Ralph Orduna were some of the 44-E class members assigned to the 302nd Squadron.  There were four squadrons altogether: 99th, 100th, 301st and 302nd.  These four squadrons were later consolidated to comprise the 332nd Fighter Group.  Colonel Benjamin O. Davis (who would later become the U.S.’ first Black general) was the commander of the 99th Squadron in North Africa.  When the 332nd Fighter Group was established, he was called back to the states to command it.  The single-engine P-51s, an upgrade of the P-40s, were introduced. 

On December 9, 1944 both Highbaugh and J.C. were on a training mission in Foggia, Italy to familiarize themselves with the P-51.  The P-51s were the infamous red-tailed planes that the Tuskegee Airmen notorious for flying.  The two engaged in a combative practice called "dog fighting" in which aerial stunts as rolling, looping and tailing are performed. It was in this session that J.C. and Earl Highbaugh were killed in a mid-air collision. His remains were eventually returned to Augusta Georgia for re-burial.  He was 22 years of age.  His obituary was noted in the Augusta Herald on December 21, 1944.

Earl Highbaugh’s brother, Richard, remembered J.C. as being good- natured and always smiling.  George Iles remembered J.C. as being well spoken and studious.

The 332nd Fighter Group was the largest fighter group to serve in European combat.  The skill and size of the group's all-Black squadrons helped to significantly reduce the losses of bombers.

At minimum, J.C. Ramsey would have been eligible for the WWII Victory, U.S. Commemorative and the Combat Service Commemorative Medals.  In the City of Augusta, a Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW) post was named after him.  He never married, thus had no direct heirs.

B.        Frances Nanette Ramsey, born September 1927.  She attended Talladega College (Alabama) from which she received a liberal arts degree in 1948.  While serving at Talladega, she was a member of the Talladega chorus and the Little Theatre Guild and traveled with both groups extensively throughout the Midwest.  She was more outgoing than her dad had been in his youth and was involved in several social sororities.  At her passing she had been working for the State Department of Education.  As her cousin Rowena Wright-Garner said, “She loved to party!”  Frances inherited Little Bud’s severe asthma which ultimately incurred a serious heart condition bringing about her untimely death.

Sources :( 1) Interview with Richard Highbaugh, Chicago, IL, August 29, 1988 via
Interview with Ralph Orduna, December 1999 via telephone
Interview with George Iles, Sacramento CA, February 17, 2001 via telephone
Interview with William F. Holton, Columbia, MD, February 24, 2001 via telephone

Now, after that great read you must click on this link. It is, you know, Black History Month, and not all black faces are your brother. We have so-called “Black Conservatives” who for a chicken wing and a bowl of grits will sell their soul.

And finally, you MUST watch, "Slavery by Another Name," on Monday, Feb 13, 2012 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (Check your local listing)

Until next week,