Old hands

I am older than most folks. I got into computers relatively early, and was making my living from computers full-time by the mid-1970s. While I am not big on social media per se, I did get involved with LiveJournal early on, and was one of its first lifetime paid users as it was rocketing into popularity (before MySpace and FaceBook and Twitter). So this recent XKCD strip was a bit poignant:

XKCD 1362: Morse Code

LiveJournal is Alive

But there is one significant difference between Randall (the cartoonist) and me in perception of LiveJournal. For me, it is where the action is still happening. The DeHavelle.com WordPress site shows up on search engines and such, but in my thirteen years of writing on LiveJournal (where DeHavelle posts are copied) I’ve built up a cadre of friends and readers, and it is there that these posts get comments. Sometimes dozens, occasionally 100+ comments. (An aside: My LJ name “Level Head” is an anagram of DeHavelle.)

LiveJournal never did fix their comment system; you only get notified of further activity on a post if someone replies directly to your comment (even a post further down the thread doesn’t notify you). Despite this, my group of friends on LJ, several of whom I have been privileged to meet in real life, make the posting of my silly notions pleasurable. It helps to have an audience for this sort of thing.

History and Harvey Girls

Other aspects of being older include a sense of history, at least for me. My father was many things, but included in this was riding the rails as a hobo and working in a coal mine during the Roaring Twenties, and sailing as a merchant marine during the Depression years and World War II (during one cruise his freighter was attacked by Japanese kamikaze bombers). My mother worked here, at the famous Harvey House restaurant in the Chicago Union Station (which involved very substantial training) during WWII:
Harvey House at Union Station

At the time, it was pretty significant to become a Harvey Girl, and she worked hard at it and did pretty well. She would have looked more than a bit like this on the job (this is Judy Garland in The Harvey Girls):

The Fred Harvey Company, whose Harvey Girls “civilized the Southwest,” survives today, in altered form, as Xanterra Parks and Resorts. They still do an excellent job taking care of people.

This is all ancient history in a sense. My father could remember a time before automobiles became common. I was born before the Pledge of Allegiance included the phrase “Under God.” I remember the okl Democrat South, with separate drinking fountains marked “Colored Only” — just as the Pentagon was built with separate “Whites Only” and “Colored Only” dining rooms and bathrooms.


And recently, I’ve had too many reminders of my own mortality. From my lady and lifemate’s abrupt passing a month ago, to my own near-death two weeks ago, to a bout with major stomach distress for twelve hours Wednesday, I am aware that I will not be here forever. My typing Wednesday on a project was done with very shaky hands, and I marveled at how very old I was feeling.

I’m much better now; the bout was temporary. I don’t think I am done with life yet — but I cannot predict the moment when life will be done with me. If fortune, and my Lady’s memory, smiles upon me, it may be many years yet.


What will I leave behind of value? It’s hard to say — I’ve done many interesting things in my life, from fighting with giant corporations to building a little corporation of my own to winning a negotiation with the Mafia for my life to meeting (and sometimes debating with) major political figures. And many things besides, experiences and travels that my Lady and I shared that I will always treasure.

But perhaps, in these old posts, someone will find something of value, something that might change a way of thinking or expand a horizon a little bit. To that extent, as I get the occasional comment back along these lines, these writings have been satisfying indeed.

Thank you, my friends, for being there and being part of my life.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle