Two New eBooks at Amazon Kindle!

FacebookMySpaceTwitterDiggDeliciousStumbleuponRSS Feed
One of many recollections from staying the night at Grandpa and Grandma Rogers’s farm as a kid was awakening in the morning to a glorious bird chorus. There seemed to be more birds and more variety in the country. This is still my favorite music.
Their farm was just five minutes outside of the small village in which I grew up in southeastern Ohio. It's where I earned my first dollar "putting up hay" and mucking stalls, where I rode ponies, watched butchering, fed the chickens and pigs, hunted squirrels and rabbits, and milked the cow. I value these experiences at the top of my memories.
This came to me in the predawn this Maryland morning when I awakened to silence, then heard one bird sing one note. Not much but he was first. Soon another then another, a slow symphony.
Both grandparents and a simpler time came to mind.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at    

I grew up hunting, at least since about the 7th Grade. I greatly benefited from Grandpa Rogers’s farm being located just five minutes outside our small town, offering me the opportunity to roam the acres long before I was trusted with a gun. 

In this way I was exposed to the great variety of small game that existed at that time in rural America. Usually gray but sometimes fox squirrels, cottontail rabbits, groundhogs, and from time to time skunks, red foxes, raccoons, and a wide variety of snakes. And, of course, birds, including quail, grouse, pheasant, ducks, and very few turkeys.

One of my best farm memories is awakening there in the summer with the windows open. Birds sang loudly in an incredible cacophony that to me was a symphony. Music to my ears and in fact to this day birds are my favorite music.

Later, in the farmhouse’s front yard, Dad set me up with Grandpa’s double-barreled 12-guage shotgun and I shot it into a bush about 30 feet away. Needless to say the recoil rammed my shoulder hard enough to rock me back into Dad’s arms. It was the first time I fired a shotgun. I learned then that guns, particularly shotguns, were not to be trifled with for any reason. Unfortunately, this shotgun somehow escaped the family when Grandpa eventually sold it to a fellow passing through.

Then I was introduced to Grandpa’s single-shot, bolt action .22 caliber rifle. That gun is still in my possession, or rather now in the possession of one of our sons. It featured a scope through which I was able to hunt groundhogs and otherwise enjoy the pastime called “plinking.” 

Along about 8th Grade Dad took me to the next town where he’d located a shotgun for sale, one he thought might work for me. It was perfect in that it had a modified shorter stalk that fit my then not full-grown stature. The gun was a single-shot 16-guage with a lever action. Dad thought a single-shot was safer for a beginner—less likely I’d get so excited while hunting I’d forget what I was carrying and fire off another undirected round that could hurt me or others. That gun sits in my gun rack above my head as I write. It’s a revered family heirloom, at least to me because it brings back so many warm memories of hunting squirrel and rabbit, sometimes grouse or pheasant, over several seasons during my teenage years. 

I remember a time when Dad and I went hunting for squirrel on the family farm.  We got up early, really early for me, and were in the damp, cold woods by 4:30 am. I was freezing in the fall weather. Dad had brought along a thermos of coffee. As an eighth grader I’d never drank coffee at that point but there’s a first time for everything and this was it. Dad poured me a half-cup and I sipped away. I remember the bitter taste, scorching hot, but man was did that coffee hit the spot.

My Grandma Davis, Mom’s mother, grew up in an era when local farm and field small game were very much a staple of the American family’s diet. She loved the taste of “wild meat.” Since Mom didn’t particularly care for cooking squirrel or rabbit, Grandma Davis was next on the hit parade. She loved it and loved the game each of us grandsons brought her during season. 

My junior high, high school, church friend, Ed, virtually lived in the field and woods. That guy loved hunting like no one I knew then or have met since. Not sure if he continued this in adult life, but I enjoyed many hours tramping over hillsides with him trying to scare up rabbits.

Hunting back then was something nearly every boy did at some point in his upbringing. We didn’t needless harm or act cruelly toward animals, but we weren’t squeamish and didn’t treat animals like they were human beings either. Hunting was something you did with respect for the animal, the weapons, and the experience. For me, hunting small game in small town USA is nothing but good memories.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at    

Grandpa “Bones” Davis was a world class people watcher. I remember “going to town” when I was a kid and being left in the car with Grandpa because he didn’t like to shop. Parked along the main street, I’d want to go here or there and he’d say, “Just watch the people. They’re interesting.”

Granpda never made catty or cutting remarks, nothing negative, just insightful things like, “Look, that boy is walking exactly like his Dad, same motions, same gait.” Or, “Those people look like they’re having a good time.” Or, “Hey, they’re eating chocolate candy. How about us getting some?” Sitting with Grandpa in that car along a well-populated street is one of my good childhood memories.

So, I learned young to watch people. Now one of my favorite activities when I’m in a mall or airport is to watch people, especially older or elderly couples. I like the feeling in South Florida when I seem to be the youngest person in the mall. I’ve often seen 80-something couples strolling or sitting, demonstrating in a variety of ways they still value their spouse. It’s fun and offers a load of life lessons.

Grandpa would have loved malls and airports, neither one of which were part of his experience.


Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at    

Authorities confiscate the weapon and call for lockdown when grade school children show up at school with knives, even penknives. And sadly, perhaps they must. It’s the world we live in today.

But it was different when I was a kid. From the time I was in about 5th Grade well into my 20s I carried a penknife everywhere I went. It wasn’t a weapon. It was an all-purpose, highly functional tool.

My penknives came in different sizes, colors, and styles. I loved and lost them all. Somehow they eventually found a way out of my pocket and turned up missing, permanently. This was always a sad moment—my “friend” was gone—but it also meant I could pick a new one.

I used my penknife for whittling, playing “Mumbly-Peg,” cutting things as needed when I was in the field or woods (which was often), and later as a young teacher, cutting out newspaper articles for later reference. Having a penknife in my pocket was a kind of ready necessity for going out into the world.

I was not all that different from a lot of young guys at the time. Many of us carried penknives and no one intended to use and certainly never did use them in a threatening manner. Our penknives were just a part of coming of age, one symbol and artifact of our manhood. No middle class young man in the 50s and 60s grew up without a penknife.

It’s interesting to note how much culture has changed, even with respect to something as simple as a penknife. Today, they’re used by hunters and workmen but aren’t much in evidence anywhere else. As I noted earlier, schools now have extensive policies referencing all manner of items qua weapons. Any kid showing up with a penknife is considered a threat. I’m not taking shots at schools for this. But it’s a sour comment on where we find ourselves in the early 21st Century.

So maybe I’m a member of the last penknife generation? I don’t know. But I’m glad for my penknife memories. They bring back a time too soon gone.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

Tonight in Dallas, Texas I finally did something I've wanted to do since I was a teenager. I bought a pair of cowboy boots. Not the high top "Western" kind but the shorter "Roper" (learned this tonight) kind.

My boots are brown with some light blue designs on the uppers. Rather than the traditional pointed or classic squared toe I opted for a rounded toe, so I could wear the boots Up North and not look like I’d escaped from a “Lonesome Dove” movie set.

I was born in Pasadena, Texas, a suburb of Houston when Dad was in the U.S. Air Force. He and Mom had gotten married in Biloxi, Mississippi in October 1951, and later they found themselves as young marrieds stationed at Ellington Air Force Base. I came along in October 1952. They remained in Texas, which meant I did, until Dad finished his hitch at the end of the Korean War. Then they headed home to southeastern Ohio.

Texas was a big time for my parents, and I grew up hearing Texas stories from their stint in the Lone Star State. It’s a big state, but it became even bigger for a kid.

And I grew up in the TV cowboy era, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Hopalong Cassidy, the Rifleman, later on “Rawhide,” and later still, “The High Chapparal.” And of course “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza.” TV movies were dominated by Western themes too with characters played by Glenn Ford—my favorite, John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Gary Cooper to name a few.

As a little kid I had the boots, guns, and cowboy outfits. I even had the name. All my life people have commented on my name, like “Hey, Roy” or “Rex Rogers, that-a cowboy name?” It was like the name fit in a movie title, "Rex Rogers and Gabby Hayes in 'West of the Pecos.'" Even this week in Texas at a SAT-7 briefing a lady said, "What a great name." It's a Western thing.

And I read "Westerns," Zane Grey, Louis L'Amour, and their writing progeny. I still can get lost in a good Western, though fewer writers, at least good ones, are tackling the subject and the setting. 

Having grown up with Texas being talked up to me, and having had cowboy boots and clothes as toys when I was a kid, I've had Texas on the brain my whole life. So once in awhile I’d think about buying boots.

But whenever I had occasion to consider boots I pushed the idea away due to cost or the fact I worked a profession where I had no place or opportunity to wear them. Seemed silly then, not so much now. I don't work that kind of job anymore, and I have plenty of time to wear casual clothes. And for a Michigan guy there's an added bonus: the boots can be worn in the winter.

So here I was in Dallas driving toward my hotel when I saw Cavender's (next door to Sheplers—even bigger), which I've seen on several previous visits. It might have been smarter to buy the boots at home in case I needed to go back. But there was something cool about the idea—one long in incubation whose time had come—of getting my first pair in Texas.

So, I may be nuts or just fulfilling a childhood psyche thing, but it was fun.

At last, Roy Rogers would be proud of me. Check buying cowboy boots off the bucket list.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issueand events at or follow him at

I remember reading about, watching, and enjoying some of the greatest athletes in history, all at their peak in the 70s: Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Muhammad Ali—Joe Frazier, Jack Nicklaus, Mark Spitz, Billy Jean King and Chris Evert, Bobby Orr, Arthur Ashe—Borg—Connors, Nadia Comaneci, Secretariat.

I remember bellbottom pants, tie-dye shirts, huge collars and equally huge ties. What can I say? It was the 70s.

I remember our first date, November 10, 1971, “The Carpenters” concert, Dayton, Ohio. I remember my date wore pink; I do not remember what Karen Carpenter wore.

I remember long sideburns, wide sideburns. I had long sideburns when we got married. Dad had wide ones, looked like a holdover from the Civil War.

I remember pet rocks, 8 track tapes, streaking, disco, platform shoes, mopeds, “Dig it?” leisure suits, lava lamps, and Rocky before a Roman Numeral followed the title. And I remember “Yo, Adrian.”

I remember hair, lots of it. “Gimme head with hair—Long beautiful hair—Shining, gleaming—Streaming, flaxen, waxen—Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair.” I never wore the way-long variety that came along in the late 60s and 70s, but it was long enough. In our wedding pictures my hair is too long in front and flips up like a baseball cap bill in every picture.

I remember our first calculator. It was 1974, a month after we were married, and it could add, subtract, multiply, divide, and do percentages. That’s it. Now you can get one in cereal boxes that could’ve been used on the Apollo space missions.

I remember in grad school IBM punch card machines with its attached keyboard. You’d put in a deck of cards, punch them one hole at a time, stack your computer “job,” submit it through a window to computer techs, and get your job back the next day. You lived in fear you’d open your mailbox and find a slim printout, meaning you’d made a mistake and had to re-punch and rerun and re-wait all over again.

I remember seeing my first PC. It was jet black, large and heavy, looked like 3 boxes stuck together. It came to the Institute for Public Policy Research, University of Cincinnati, where I worked in grad school. We all walked down the hall to stare at it like it was a new baby.

I remember when as young marrieds we bought our first microwave. It was like acquiring a new car and was, shall we say, large, about 50%-75% bigger than most kitchen microwaves I see now.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at