I Know Nothing, Locke, Hume and Volataire, Letters to My Grandchildren

I Know Nothing

My only similarity to Socrates and Montaigne, I’m in no way comparing myself to those two heavyweights, is that as my tenure here approaches its conclusion, I’m persuaded I know very little about most everything. It wouldn’t be far wrong to say ‘I know nothing’.

Of course I know about a few things. I know the common English names of a few plants and trees but not one Latin name. I know how to pay the insurance on my truck and which key to use to start it and how to use my credit card to put fuel in the tank.

I can speak my language moderately well, a language I know little about, to tell the truth. I can order a bowl of oatmeal and ask politely where the men’s room is, et cetera.

I have learned a few facts but I know little about this world’s wisdom. I know nothing about the real world, the world of ideas and man’s search for truth, how this world of hominoids really works, about those complicated things that have been percolating for centuries under the hood, unknown by me.

I know nothing about Aristotle, Augustine, William of Occam or Thomas Hobbs. I never read one of Plato’s dialogues. I can’t remember anything I read of John Locke, David Hume or Voltaire. Blessings upon you if you can read Kant, the insomniacs friend.

I know nothing of our modern thinkers and their thinks. When I pick up a National Geographic, I only look at the pictures. I guess I watched too much television when I was a boy. Oh well.

I know almost nothing about the whys of life. I know about the battle of Actium and that the Sumerians had an advanced culture but I don’t know why the Roman Empire collapsed, why Russia is so big or why Archimedes was so smart. I don’t know anything about China, Japan or Indonesia. I failed Algebra I twice. When I was learning to read I used to cry on my Daddy’s lap because I couldn’t tell the difference between ‘saw’ and ‘was’.

I’ve never sailed across the ocean or jumped out of an airplane. I do know that scuba is an acronym. Each letter of the word stands for the sentence, ‘Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus’ but I never learned to scuba dive and that’s all I know about that.

I use a computer but I understand it about as much as I understand the world. Sixteen screens are open, four are frozen and I don’t know where the music is coming from.

A long time ago a man told me I should never parade my knowledge. I asked him why. He said mine would be a very short parade. I was offended but immediately grasped the continuing truth of his statement.

I do know one thing, however, one important thing. My mother loved me. That I know. I also know my father loved me. I know those two things. I can add four more things to those two things. My grandparents loved me. I can’t really explain the ‘why’ of those loves. Maybe Kant, Hume, Hobbes or Descartes could, but somehow, I doubt it. My parents and grandparents loved me, end of story.

I think Fred Rogers understands. He’s right about that sort of thing. I was and am loved by my mother and father just because I am, not because of anything I have ever done or for what I might become. I didn’t have to pass algebra or get a college education or live in a big house to be loved.

I guess Descartes didn’t go far enough, did he? I’m not loved because I know things or can run especially well or paint lovely pictures or perform some complicated task superbly before an audience. I am not loved because I make straight A’s, play the piano or earn lots of money or because I am handsome or pretty and I wear designer clothing with just the right shoes.

Perhaps knowing my mother and father loved me just the way I am is the only thing in this world really worth knowing. I have a sneaking suspicion that is true.

I also have the suspicion that human parents, and thus grandparents, are not an accident of organic development over eons. I suspect the fact there are parents and they love their children is itself part of a greater plan. My word, that’s a nice thought, isn’t it?

Can I prove to Descartes, Hume or Locke the empirical existence of my mother’s love, my father’s love or that my grandparents loved me? I doubt if Hume or Locke would think I know anything about what I just said. They would agree I know nothing but the answer to my question is ‘NO’.

No one HAS to ‘prove’ my mother loves me.

No one has to prove my grandparents love me.

I’ve lived a long time and that’s about the only thing I know for sure.

And you can be sure of that, too. That I know

Your grandfather,


To purchase Letters to My Grandchildren Volume One CLICK HERE.

To purchase Letters to My Grandchildren Volume Two CLICK HERE

Copyright 2021 by Barney Beard. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.


Some of the Right Books….Letters to My Grandchildren by Barney Beard

Robert Kanigels’s book, Vintage Reading, is now in my bookcase where I keep, Some of the Right Books.

Occasionally I come across a book I want to recommend to my grandchildren. Robert Kanigel’s book, Vintage Reading, is such a volume. Mr. Kanigel is a professional writer who landed the enviable job of writing a regular column about books he had read, books that have been around a while, books of his own choosing and he was to paid for his labor. How good is that.

He published his articles in book form, much to my delight.

He is an excellent writer, eminently readable. I enjoyed thoroughly both his choice of books and his insights. There are books he reviews that were written in the past century, other books were written over two thousand years ago. I suspect you, like me, will read Mr. Kanigel’s book about books, and feel the urge rise within you to read the books he has reviewed.

Please be aware of the evil devices of the Book Dragon, who wants you to watch more television, play more sports, spend hours with your phone and video games, and drink more beer. Help defeat his vile intentions for you and yours: Read a book today.

I hope you have a ‘Some of the Right Books’ in a special bookcase in your home, study or bedroom, perhaps more than one bookcase.

Barney Beard


Reading by: Barney Beard…from Letters to my Grandchildren


by: Barney Beard

Inspired by Bohumil Hrabal from Too Loud a Solitude


I read,

I sip on sentences like coffee in the morning,

fresh brewed, dark, rich, each sip a magnificent pleasure,

welcoming me into the new world of the pre-dawn,

I sip those words into my mouth, into my world,

a world of swirling thoughts, each looking for a partner,

to polish, to grow, to mature, to coalesce,

the assemblage to form into a golden chariot,

pulled by majestic words in silver harness,

to travel up a road to the summit,

the track becoming a highway,

leading to an overlook, a vista never before viewed

by human mind.


Preface to: The Adventures of Bouncy by: Barney Beard

My Dear Grandchildren,

The following is the preface to The Adventures of Bouncy, a book I’ve written for you. It’s for you when you’re a bit older, I think. In any case, I want you to know I love you dearly. I wish you well.

Let me know what you think of it.

Preface to: The Adventures of Bouncy

It has been one of my life’s greatest pleasures to write for you. I hope you enjoy reading the things I’ve written. Every word was written with you in mind.

I understand it may be some time before you read my stories, but that’s ok. I’m quite patient. I understand. It takes time to learn to read. After you learn to read, you’ll be busy with schoolwork. After school you’ll have your homework, chores and you must visit with your friends.

Then, in addition to your schoolwork, you’re going to have all sorts of marvelous extracurricular activities. Your days will be so busy you’ll fall into bed each evening exhausted—much too tired to read.

Then, before you know it, you’ll be off to college. You’ll be so busy with required reading and making the Dean’s List, you’ll have no time to read for pleasure.

When you’re in the big university, you’ll have tons of research for your Master’s Degree and then even more study and research when you write your doctoral thesis. Oh, well. Reading for pleasure will have to wait, won’t it?

In a wink your youth and education will simultaneously come to an end. You’ll begin your professional career and begin to learn how the real world works.

You’ll start out with a good job because you wisely finished what you began. You’ll soon open your own business, get married, buy a home and before you can say Jack Robinson you’ll have a merry houseful of busy children. How wonderful. What a joy. I know all about that.

Do your best to remember during these busy years that the joy is in the journey. I had four children. If I had my life to live over, I would have eight or ten children.

It will soon be fifty years since my first child was born. Here I am. I sit alone beside my lovely bow window in the pre-dawn darkness writing to you about the good old days. I can tell you absolutely—the joy is in the journey. Don’t be in a rush for those hectic, busy days to end.

Well, when you have children you’ll be tired all the time and your only reading will be bedtime stories. Make sure you don’t skip pages the way I used to do when your parents were little.

For the next twenty-five years after you have children you won’t have one extra minute to do anything except work and support your family and save for your children’s college.

Making a good life for your spouse and providing for your children and their future consumes a great deal of time.

I understand. Long ago I asked a hard working friend of mine what he wanted to do with his extra time when he retired. He replied, “I’m going to sleep.”

Well, before you know it your kids will be grown, graduate from college and they will have children of their own. You’ll sell your business for a nice profit and retire. You’ll finally be able to enjoy the reward of all those years of invested sweat equity.

You’ll finally be retired. For the first time in your life, since you were in primary school when you used to read with a flashlight under the covers, you’ll have the time to read for pleasure. How wonderful.

When you once again find that you have leisure time to read, I’ll be long gone. If you happen to think of me all those years from now after you retire, you might search for my old, dusty books with the yellow, brittle pages and give them a read.

I have been thinking about your future and my past. I wish I could begin my life over again with what I know now but that isn’t allowed. There are no do-overs in real life. Unfortunately, you’ll find that out for yourself as I did. You can’t move your board piece backwards in this game. You can’t go back to Go and collect $200. If you make a bad roll or an ill-advised decision in this game you can’t fold the board up and go outside and play. In this game, you’re forced to live with your mistakes. I know that too well.

So, according to those long-established rules, I can’t stay here with you as long as I would like. I’ve had my go. Now it’s your turn. No matter how hard I try, wish or imagine, I can’t change the rules and cause the seasons of my life to run concurrently with yours. I would if I could. You’re in your springtime. I’m in my winter. I love the Spanish name for spring, ‘primavera’. That old compound Latin word makes me think wonderful things about you. I want you to enjoy the springtime of your life.

Oh, well. Like King Canute I discovered time and tide wait for no man. Not even the most powerful king or well-intentioned grandfather can alter the progress of the seasons or stay the tide of life.

Therefore, since for me it’s December, I better throw another log on the fire and get busy with my writing, hadn’t I?

Because I have no time to lose, I shall write and publish this story as quickly as I can even though you don’t have time to read it presently. I may not be here when you finally get to read it, but if I’m not here you’ll know where to find me.

When you finally get time to read this, I want you to know that during every busy minute of your life I was thinking of you.

Occasionally I have an idea that strikes my fancy that you might find interesting. The idea for the story of Bouncy came to me as I was driving to the grocery store this past week. Where the idea came from, I have no idea. I think the ‘idea fairy’ sometimes inadvertently falls asleep behind my truck seat. When I’m driving, I hit a bump and wake her. When she is jolted awake, she remembers an idea she wants to give me and then quickly stuffs it in through my ear. I think that’s probably what happens, don’t you?

Well, here’s the story she gave me. What do you think of the adventures of Bouncy? Do you like my little story?

I love each of you dearly. My wish is whatever small ray of sunshine I may cause to light your young life, you may occasionally think of me and in that moment bask in the warmth of the great affection I felt for you when I first wrote this and other stories—just for you.

As you grow older it’s my wish that you may credit my feeble attempts to beguile your time as what they are, an abiding fond regard for the entertainment and well-being of you, my favorite grandchild.

My love for you grows daily,

Your Grandfather,



copyright by Barney Beard 2020, 2021. All rights reserved.


A Poem for Writers Everywhere…Barney Beard


by Barney Beard

These words are for writers everywhere,

For writers who sit, for writers who stare,

For writers who write while taking a shower,

Or write in their car or when kneading flour,

For writers who write in the day or night,

For writers who wish to give words flight.

To see words soar and rise to the sky,

Words dressed with a shiny black tie.

For writers who want to give me a fright,

Or those who write of the deeds of a knight,

Whatever you do, I beg, I plead,

There’s only one thing I shall need,

I need you to write, I need to know.

What is it that makes you glow?

Give me the chance, give me the time,

Oh Please, I want to see inside your mind.

You’re so interesting, you’re so smart,

I want to know secrets,

That come from your heart.

So find a pen and sit in a chair,

Write on a wall or the back of a mare.

Write on the sand or a cardboard box,

Write on the top of a smiling ox.

Whatever you do, take pencil in hand,

And be a writer-woman or a writer-man.

You can do it, I know you can,

You alone can think of your plan.

Today or tomorrow or maybe next week,

I’ll get a letter, the letter I seek.

You’ll tell me a story with words galore,

I’ll read the story I’ve been waiting for.

So write, write, write and write some more.

Don’t even bother to go to the store.

Write on the glass, write on the shoe,

Write stories for me and write stories for you.

Write stories for me and write stories for you.

I can’t wait until you do.

I can’t wait until you do.



How To Write an Old Fashioned Letter…Letters to My Grandchildren…Barney Beard

My Dear Grandchildren,

I have some news for you. As you know, I enjoy sending books to my grandchildren. I also enjoy writing books. I write most everything with my grandchildren in mind. Now I have something new I bought especially for you.

Recently I purchased a printer. My printer is connected to my computer. With my new printer I can write to you more often. You will have to forgive me for not writing by hand. When you get older and have eleven grandchildren with two on the way, you’ll understand about the inordinate amount of time required to write old-fashioned letters to the ones you love, thus my purchase of a mechanical printer to help me write my letters.

If I had lived in Rome and was a man of means, I would have an amanuensis to assist me with my correspondence. I don’t live in Imperial Rome and I am not a man of means. Instead of a real person to help me stay in touch with my loved ones, I have acquired a mechanical amanuensis that sits on a little wooden table behind my chair ready to assist me day or night. I can now compose my letter to you on my computer, press the button and ‘poof’…the letter flies through the air, over my head and under my chair and into the little, square machine behind me. I hear a mild grinding noise and out of the machine pops a piece of paper with my words printed exactly as I intended. Isn’t that amazing?

It may be in the days, weeks, months or years to come you might wish to write an old-fashioned letter yourself and send it to a dear friend or loved one. Hand written letters can be handy if you want to impress someone or even write a simple thank-you note. If you will forgive me, I’m going to give you some advice about writing such an old-fashioned letter.

Please, do not be offended. I have no intention of being patronizing. I know quite well you’re already better educated about things in this world than I am. If you aren’t already smarter than I am, you soon will be.

I want to help you produce the kind of letter you will write on actual paper with pen and ink and put inside a paper envelope. You’ll take that envelope, with your precious letter inside, to the Post Office. At the Post Office you’ll purchase a government stamp which will allow you send that letter to your loved one through the Postal Service. It doesn’t matter if you loved one lives in Paris, London or Lady Lake, Florida, the Post Office will deliver your letter. What could be better than that?

Let’s pretend you’re going to write an old-fashioned letter to me, your grandfather. You’ll find it’s quite simple to write an old-fashioned letter.

First – You must find a piece of paper to write your message on. 8.5 x 11 paper is quite common. It’s a good size for writing by hand and it’s the size most mechanical printers use. Of course, you can use any kind of paper available. I don’t suggest toilet paper. Toilet paper is much too soft, is not a friendly size and tends to tear easily when you try to write on it with a sharp pen or pencil.

Second – Find a pen or pencil.

Third – Find a desk or table with a flat, smooth top.

Fourth – Find a comfortable chair and put it beside the table.

Fifth – Put your paper and pencil on the table and sit in the chair.

Sixth – In the top right corner of the paper write the date. For example, today is 1 January 2021. When you get a letter from me, you will know the exact day I sat down to write. I never stand up to write or lie down to write. I never write a letter when walking. I only write when I’m sitting. I think that’s true of most people.

Seventh – Under the date, write your address. This is important if you want to get a return letter. If you don’t want anyone to know where you live and if you don’t want to get letters from your friends and loved ones, then don’t put your address on the letter or a return address on the envelope. However, if you want people to like you and know things about you and you want them to write you a letter in return, then by all means put your address under the date in the top right corner of your paper. I don’t know about you, but it gives me a thrill when I go to the post box and find a letter from you. I get all tingly inside. I love to get letters….(hint).

Eighth – Now you’re almost ready. On the left of the paper you put the name of the person or persons you’re writing to, usually with a term of endearment if you like them or just the name with no term of endearment if you don’t like them. You could say, ‘My Dear Friend’ or ‘Dear Aunt Bernice’ or ‘My Dear Grandfather’ or you could just say, ‘John’ or ‘to whom it may concern’. It’s your letter and you can write whatever you wish to write and send it to anyone.

If you were going to write to me, you would begin the letter something like this, ‘Dear Grandfather’. I think you understand. I wrote ‘Dear Grandchildren’ at the beginning of this letter because you are truly ‘dear’ to me.

Ninth – After you have written the greeting and have ‘Dear Grandpa’ there on the top left of the body of the letter, you can begin writing all the things you want me to know. You can tell me what you have been doing, what good books you’ve been reading, what amazing adventures you’ve been involved in, the unusual stories you have imagined, what interesting things you’ve learned from your parents and from others, what tasty foods you’ve discovered, the names of your new friends and why you like them, your plans for later this year, your plans for next year and so forth. You get the idea. You can write anything you wish. It’s your mind, your pen and your paper.

My plans for this year are to send more books, write more letters and do my best to help you become a happy, literate person who knows lots of words and reads lots of good books. You know what I mean.

Tenth – When you have finished telling me all the wonderful things you couldn’t wait to write to me about, you will write a parting word in closing like: ‘That’s all for now’ or ‘Until next time’ or ‘I miss you terribly’ or ‘I think about your often’ or ‘With love and affection’ or the old standby, ‘Sincerely’. You can end the letter any way you wish.  You’re allowed to say anything you want to because this is YOUR letter.

Eleventh – The last thing is your signature. This is important because the person you’re writing to won’t know who wrote the letter if you don’t put your name at the end.

Twelfth – There’s one last thing that sometimes comes after the last thing you write. Everyone remembers something after they have signed the letter. After you finish your letter and you write your signature you may remember something you wish to add to the letter. In that case you simply write, ‘PS’, which is an abbreviation for Post Script. The words ‘Post Script’ come from the Latin word postscribere which means something like ‘after-writing’. You get the idea. Latin is an especially useful language for us English speakers.

Well, that’s about all I have to say in this letter. I want to wish you a happy new year. I hope you read lots of books, learn lots of new words, meet some new literary characters, maybe write a little story or two and spend some time polishing your imagination. Please don’t keep your imagination in the garage on those pretty, spring days which are coming. Take your imagination out for a spin around the countryside. Let the top down and maybe sing a silly tune as you drive along. Fill up at every imagination station you pass.

I wish you well in everything and love you dearly,

Your grandfather,



PS. I forgot to tell you that ‘The Amazing Adventure of Carter and the Pie Rats’ won second place in the 2020 New England Book Festival.  Click here for The Amazing Adventure of Carter and the Pie Rats.

PPS. All my books are available on Amazon-Click Here.

PPPS. If you want to receive, “Letters To My Grandchildren” in your email, click the icon that says ‘follow’.  Then type in your email address and every time I write a new blog it will come straight to you.

PPPPS. I write a golf instructional blog.  I tell stories there. You might enjoy them.  If want to check it out CLICK HERE.

Copyright©2020 by Barney Beard.  All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.


You Can Write…Letters to My Grandchildren…Barney Beard

You Can Write

My Dear Grandchildren,

The following is the foreword and first chapter taken from the book I wrote for you, The Amazing Adventure of Carter and the Pie Rats. One of the reasons I like to write is so you will know you can write. Of course you can write. You can do it. I know you can. If you begin writing when you are young you’ll learn to write all kinds of things. Writing is fun. Remember, you can write. Remember, you can write. I said so, twice.

Foreword: This book is about the amazing adventure my grandson and I had with the Pie Rats on the other side of the bow window. You should try writing a story. It doesn’t have to be like this one. It can be about anything at all. You can write about anything you can imagine or you can keep a journal of what you do every day. If you can think it in your thinker, you can write it on paper.

You have ideas. I know you can write. I think you should write, if you want to. Don’t you think so?

If my grandson hadn’t written this story, you wouldn’t know anything about the Pie Rats, Heepicheep, Poly Nomial, the round table, Al G. Zebra, The Pie Plate or the battle with the Number Dragon and that would be a shame. My grandson has a better memory than I do. My thinker is rusty. I have a head like a sieve and the holes are getting bigger. You have a wonderful imagination and a good memory. If you would write the things you think in your thinker, it would be a good story. I know it would. I would love to read your story. Others would read it, too. You can write. I know you can.

Write, please, Barney Barnacle

Cinema for the Mind

Chapter One

     Grandpa wanted me to tell you the story about our ice cream lunch that turned into a bow window adventure with the Pie Rats. He says I have a good memory and I know how to tell an interesting story, a story that is cinema for the mind.

It’s a good thing he wanted me to write this book because Grandfather is hopeless when it comes to remembering. He’s always looking for his glasses, truck keys or hat. He never knows what day it is. He goes to the store and brings home the wrong things. He never remembers my birthday and takes his books back late to the library.

Grandfather enjoys writing but his stories aren’t easy to read. They don’t flow. I keep telling him he should write simply, like a child, but I guess it’s been so long since he was little, he’s forgotten. I’m glad he let me write this book.

As everyone knows, reading is cinema for the mind. A good writer will ‘set the stage’ inside the reader’s head with words instead of props.

A good writer puts images into a reader’s mind like a stage hand puts chairs, tables, windows, doors and back drops on a theater’s stage to help us understand and enjoy a play.

It would be difficult to imagine what was happening in a play if it were performed on a bare stage. The audience needs props and backdrops. You see what I mean? Well-chosen words, sentences and paragraphs create pictures in the reader’s mind. Reading is cinema for the mind.

Reading is a thousand times better than television. When you watch TV you’re allowed only one picture. When you read, your mind can create a thousand different pictures, maybe ten thousand. TV can’t do that. More reading, please.

I’m glad I’m writing this account of our bow window adventure. When Grandpa writes he forgets to tell the reader what color things are and how big or small something is.

I’m much better about helping people see things clearly in their mind when they’re reading my stories. I’m also good at helping the reader feel the emotions of my characters.

Grandfather has written lots of books. Every now and then he’ll go to Amazon to see if he’s sold any but he’s always disappointed. Every time he checks he discovers more and more people aren’t reading his books. Sometimes I feel sorry for him.

He would tell you himself he can be a boring storyteller. That’s why his books don’t sell. Some of his stories put you to sleep on the first page. He meanders all over the place. Please don’t tell him I said that. It would hurt his feelings. He loves to write. He’s my Grandpa and I love him.

His stories would be better if he were to write as if telling a story to a blind friend. That’s how I write.

I pretend my friend who cannot see wants to hear my story. I use words to create pictures in my friend’s mind so my blind friend can SEE. I am my friend’s eyes. I write as if my blind friend and I were on the mountain top and my friend asks me, “What do you see?”

I also want my readers to feel the emotions of the characters as they read. I won’t simply write a person was angry. I’ll tell you what happened to that person and you’ll feel that character’s anger.

I won’t tell you simply ‘John was sad’ and leave it at that. No, I’ll tell you about John’s life. I want you to read about the unfortunate things that happened to John so you can be sad right along with him.

I want you, the reader, to feel the character’s emotions. That’s the kind of thing I mean about clarity in writing. That’s what I mean about helping the reader SEE.

Writing should create brilliant pictures inside your reader’s head as if your reader were in a gigantic movie theatre with a dozen huge screens all the way around. That just about says it all, doesn’t it? Reading should be cinema for the mind.

If Grandpa had listened to his English teachers, he would be a better writer. I guess he was too busy watching TV and playing sports. He told me he wished he had read more books when he was my age.

If you want to be a carpenter, be a carpenter’s apprentice. Learn from the person who knows how. Watch him. Study how he does it.

If you want to become a better writer, read lots of books. Learn how they put their stories together. Read.

Grandpa knows he should have read more books like I have. I read every day. I read a lot of the right books. I hope you read a lot of the right books, too.

Let’s get on with this story. If you’ll read the next chapter, you’ll learn how our amazing adventure with the Pie Rats began. I think it’s a good story. I hope you think so, too.


Remember, you can write.

I love you dearly,

Your grandfather,


PS. Click here for The Amazing Adventure of Carter and the Pie Rats.

PPS. All my books are available on Amazon-Click Here.

PPPS. If you want to receive, “Letters To My Grandchildren” in your email, click the icon that says ‘follow’.  Then type in your email address and every time I write a new blog it will come straight to you.

PPPPS. I write a golf instructional blog.  I tell stories there. You might enjoy them.  If want to check it out CLICK HERE.

Copyright©2020 by Barney Beard.  All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.


My Grandmother’s Gardenias…Barney Beard

My Dear Grandchildren,

Many years ago I remember lying on my parent’s big king-sized bed with my children in the front room on the the north west corner of my mother’s old home place at Lake Weir. My young family and I were watching a movie. My parent’s bed was sitting catty-cornered on the north west corner of the bedroom between two huge sash windows. I remember smelling my grandmother’s gardenias blooming just outside the windows as we watched the movie.

My  parents left their home in north Georgia and moved in with my grandmother and grandfather in 1982 to help my mother’s parents in their declining years. It was a good move.

My father took early retirement from a job as a pipe fitter at Dupont in Chattanooga, a job he hated. My mother promised my father if he would retire early and leave north Georgia and move back to Florida with her, she would take up the slack in their income. I’m sure it took Daddy all of three seconds to think over Momma’s offer.

Daddy worked the first half of their married life and Momma said it was her turn. She would work the second half of their marriage.

My mother is a registered nurse.  She graduated first in her nursing class at her nursing school in Dalton, Georgia. My mother loves the nursing profession. Working is a pleasure for my mother. Both my mother and father made good decisions to move to Florida and care for my mother’s parents.

The front bedroom used to be my grandparent’s bedroom before my parent’s moved in. That same bedroom was my great grandparent’s room before that. My mother and father took over the front bedroom and my grandparent’s moved to the back bedroom, which was near to the kitchen, the bedroom on the east side of the old house.

Somewhere in the past someone with foresight had planted gardenias outside those big, single-pane sash windows which surrounded the front bedroom, windows which were always open in the summertime.

In the summertime my grandparents’ gardenias would bloom just outside the window and the soft summer breeze would waft their heavenly smell across the bed. I don’t believe anyone who smells a gardenia can think, do or be involved in anything bad that day. We should have more gardenias, shouldn’t we?

I have a friend who gave me some cuttings from her huge, lovely and fragrant gardenia. I was at Sam’s Club earlier this year and they had some big gardenias on sale. I bought five. I planted enough of my own cuttings that I successfully rooted and bought enough gardenias from Sam’s so that gardenias surround my little screened in lanai.

The gardenias don’t bloom all year but I take care of them and give them plenty of water and gardenia food. They’ve been blooming for a couple of months now.

If you will permit me to repeat myself, I don’t believe anyone who smells a gardenia blossom can think, do or be involved in anything that day they’ll be ashamed of.

I hope my grandchildren have gardenias around their home. When they bloom I want them to smell that lovely fragrance and remember.

Your grandfather,



PS. Well, I have to boast. I entered some books in a competition this year and my Writer’s Journal won a bronze medal from eLit. I do enjoy writing.

My Dear Grandchildren, read, read, read. Your imagination activates when you read. Reading will provide you with a plethora of images created inside of your own head. Reading is cinema for the mind.

PPS. All my books are available on Amazon-Click Here.

PPPS. If you want to receive, “Letters To My Grandchildren” in your email, click the icon that says ‘follow’.  Then type in your email address and every time I write a new blog it will come straight to you.

PPPPS. I write a golf instructional blog.  I tell stories there. You might enjoy them.  If want to check it out CLICK HERE.

Copyright©2020 by Barney Beard.  All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.


How to Prevent Children from Thinking…Letters From Below…Barney Beard

My Dear Maggott,

We have been fighting the glorious battle for many a long year. We must press on. Ignorance has been our greatest tool, literacy our ultimate enemy. Our noble struggle for mastery is worthy of our finest efforts.

I have good news. At last we are turning the tables on the work of the detestable Gutenberg. We shall fight fire with fire, a brilliant concept, a winning strategy. Instead of opposing their access to knowledge, we shall give them that which they crave in superabundance. We shall drown them in a bottomless sea of trivia, a meaningless quagmire of their own making. They shall choke on their own disgusting vomit. What a brilliant and unexpected outcome this will provide. They themselves will supply the means of our triumph. Oh, I can only imagine our joy as I consider our impending success with our new tool.

We have been tireless in our efforts to stop children from learning to think for themselves and now we have an aid to increase our success. In fact, it may be the ultimate solution. I am beside myself with pleasure. His stupid pets have constructed the vehicle to carry them to their destruction. What a serendipitous tool we have been given. We shall make every use of it and hasten their demise.

In addition to the tried and true methods of insuring their offspring remain vacuous into adulthood, we have personal phones, computers, video games and all kinds of modern digital devices to attract children’s attention, fill their little heads to bursting with nothing of significance and at the same time prevent the little insects from learning even one of his hideous ideas. The crowning glory of this plan is the prevention of the most horrible malady of all, reading.

I can think of no greater ambition than to occupy the hatchlings’ minds with the pursuit of sports, pleasure and frivolity while they listen incessantly to blaring music, view hours and hours of mindless television and intersperse their every day with the consumption of mounds and mounds of meaningless minutiae.

We now have the means at our disposal to turn the detestable creatures attention away from books. The little beasts are disgusting, aren’t they? I would love to crunch them all under my heel.

Joy upon joy. They are finally of their own accord getting rid of their bookshelves and books. They have even begun calling the library the media center. Can you believe our good fortune? I am overjoyed. I can’t express the satisfaction I receive from your news. What a brilliant idea. Unknowingly, they are doing our work for us. They will drown themselves in a sea of nothingness. I didn’t think I would live to see the day.

In my younger days we had to fight tooth and nail to prevent the filthy little beggars from visiting the libraries. We did everything we could to keep them out of school and now, of their own volition, they’re getting rid of their bookshelves. I can’t express my unbounded optimism for our complete success.

As you know, reading used to be the privilege of the ruling classes. That wasn’t so bad. By using the power of class  snobbery, among other wonderful moral attributes, we delayed the advent of widespread literacy for a very long time.

Then he came, curse the day. His coming changed everything. From that moment our work load has been increased infinitely. We will overcome but his horrible interference has greatly increased the difficulty of our task and delayed our victory. Sometimes I feel a kinship with Sisyphus but I have every confidence in the success of our new strategy.

Because of him there are those who believe all our potential subjects should learn to read and think for themselves so they can read and think upon his macabre propaganda. How insipid. We’ve changed a lot of people’s minds about him but have a long way to go to get everyone. Literacy is still a problem. A few are still reading and teaching their detestable spawn to read his book. What a terrible waste.

We can’t stop their curiosity but we can dilute it to the point of meaninglessness. Put a phone in everyone’s hand. Let them believe all knowledge is theirs at the touch of a button or with a simple voice command. Let them believe they never have to observe and think for themselves.

Let me remind you of the central method we have of influencing children. Get them involved as early as possible in the pursuit of pleasure. Make them the slave of instant gratification. Teach them sports, games or immerse them in the electronic twanging they call music. Occupy their mind. Do anything you can to prevent a quiet environment which results in thinking. Stuff their minds full of nonessential trifles during every waking moment. Never give their useless little minds a minute of peace or they might begin observing and thinking for themselves. If they begin using their own minds it can cause a backlash and untold future problems.

Music, chatter, gossip and mindless viewing require no thinking and can dominate them. Rule of thumb: Keep the TV on day and night. Let them gaze and glaze. If they’re not watching the television or playing video games make certain they’re listening to music, do anything to prevent self-cognition. Above all, never give them a moments rest.

Gaze and glaze is our mantra. Be assured it is successful. At all costs, stop them from reading.

As you know, influencing their offspring is made much easier by the pursuit of pleasure, especially mind altering chemicals. Alcohol has been the time honored favorite of mine and continues to be one of our tools at the forefront of battle.

Remember, their destruction is our goal. Our overriding task is to stop them from thinking. Teaching the joy of consuming alcoholic drinks at an early age is unsurpassed in accomplishing our desired result. My work in this area has brought untold success. I expect you to emulate. Of course, you can make available a plethora of mind occupying drugs to the nasty little creatures. They deserve it. We have now a variety of chemical substances we can use with his pets which will prevent them from reading, observing and thinking.

You are doing an excellent job. I applaud your success. Books are increasingly being ignored and even destroyed. The truth is, we don’t have to burn books to ruin his pets, all we have to do is get them to stop reading. We’re doing an excellent job. No need to burn books and be crudely obvious. I don’t have to tell you that when they stop reading there will be no chance of them taking that final terrible step and begin writing. The two go hand in glove.

Stop them from reading and you’ll prevent them from writing.

The above reminds me to warn you to give special effort to bring to an end the activities of that stupid, antiquated old man in your charge who keeps writing books. We have prevented most everyone from reading them but he insists on sending books by the armload to his grandchildren and other relatives. He is a growing nuisance. His infection may spread. He should be silenced. No one is paying him any attention but he is tireless and who knows what horrible eventuality might occur from his misguided attempts to thwart our noble efforts. Stop him at all costs. His premature death would be a boon to our cause. I wish we had that power. Do everything possible to obfuscate his nefarious efforts in the lives of his progeny. He, and all those like him, must be defeated. Be tireless in your efforts.

In closing let me remind you once again, do your best to defeat the antiquated old fool. Quash both him and his love of books. He is quite an anachronism.

Your uncle below,



ps. My Dear Grandchildren, read, read, read. Your imagination activates when you read. Reading will provide you with a plethora of images created inside of your own head. Reading is cinema for the mind.

pps. All my books are available on Amazon-Click Here.

ppps. If you want to receive, “Letters To My Grandchildren” in your email, click the icon that says ‘follow’.  Then type in your email address and every time I write a new blog it will come straight to you.

pppps. I write a golf instructional blog.  I tell stories there. You might enjoy them.  If want to check it out CLICK HERE.

Copyright©2020 by Barney Beard.  All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.


Non-Smelly Gardenias…Letters to My Grandchildren…Barney Beard

Non-Smelly Gardenias



My Dear Grandchildren,

In the middle of the lawn to the west of my little yellow house there are two non-smelly gardenias. In that same west lawn there is a third non-smelly gardenia at the north end of the lawn against the west wall of the laundry room. After three mild winters the three lovely shrubs are huge. Non-smelly gardenias are not to be confused with smelly gardenias. The leaves and blossoms look much the same but they don’t smell the same.

Non-smelly gardenias have a lovely white bloom but no aroma whatsoever. Smelly gardenias have the same lovely white bloom as the non-smelly variety but smelly gardenias have a sweet, romantic, captivating fragrance that makes one think of a sultry summer evening on the back veranda surrounded by live oaks draped in Spanish moss and a scenic view overlooking a peaceful southern lake. One writer described the fragrance of gardenias as settling inside of you and waking the ancient memory of your soul.

If you visit me here in central Florida during the spring, summer or autumn you’ll find the non-smelly gardenias in the west lawn and the smelly gardenias in the secret garden on the east side of the house. I put the smelly gardenias in the secret garden because the garden is small, walled in with a canopy of oak limbs, thus trapping the fragrance.

I love both non-smelly gardenias and smelly gardenias, but the smelly variety is my favorite because of the fragrance. I remember lying on my grandparents’ bed in the front bed room at Lake Weir watching a movie with my family. Their bed was sitting catty-cornered on the north west corner of the front of the house between two huge sash windows. In the summertime my grandparents’ smelly gardenias would bloom just outside the window and the soft summer breeze would waft their heavenly smell across the bed. I don’t believe anyone who smells a gardenia can think, do or be involved in anything bad that day. We should have more gardenias, shouldn’t we? But this letter isn’t about smelly gardenias. It’s about non-smelly gardenias.

I love the non-smelly gardenias, too, but for a different reason. They grow, and grow and grow and bloom and bloom and bloom. They grow and bloom all summer. The gardenia shrubs with their delicate white blossoms and waxy green leaves dominate the west lawn and are filled with blooms and buds the entire summer. I can’t tell you the visual impact they make on the person who has never seen them.

Non-smelly gardenias are perennial. They come back every year. If they were annuals, they would not come back after a freeze. If they were bi-annuals they would last only two years. Since they’re perennial, they come back every spring. If they freeze, the exposed part of the plant above ground will die but the roots remain healthy and will produce new growth every spring. I wish I were perennial. Alas, my time here is limited. I guess you could say I’m multi-annual with a definite sell-by date. Oh well.

Because we have had two consecutive winters here in central Florida without a freeze, the three non-smelly gardenias have grown, grown and grown into huge shrubs, taller than my head and too big to fit in the kitchen. Not only are they huge but from early spring they bloom constantly, a beautiful, pure-white gardenia bloom set against the lovely, waxy-green leaves.

Alas, the non-smelly gardenia blooms don’t have that characteristic aroma of the smelly gardenia variety but they are just as beautiful. The west lawn of my little yellow house with it’s three prolific, gigantic non-smelly gardenias would be a marvelous place for a wedding, wouldn’t it?

Every spring when the three non-smelly gardenias begin to grow taller and wider and put out new leaves and begin to bloom, I enjoy looking at them. I go out every morning with a cup of coffee, walk around the garden and enjoy. When I walk around the non-smelly gardenias in the west lawn, I nip off the yellowing leaves and remove the sagging blooms that have wilted, withered and turned dark. When I’m finished with my minor pruning, I leave the entire shrub in a state of showcase perfection. I can’t describe its breathtaking beauty, a beauty that lasts all summer.

Every morning I take my coffee and walk around the house and observe the garden and think how beautiful it is. Every morning during my walk I observe, think and plan. I’m constantly thinking how I can keep the garden beautiful and what I can do to make it more beautiful. Cicero and I believe the same thing. If you have a garden and a library, you have all you will ever need.

It’s now the middle of May. It’s been about a month since the non-smelly gardenias began producing flowers and the stems began putting out new leaves. When the blooms and new growth began, I also began nipping off the wilting blossoms and yellowed leaves.

I often sit on my tailgate and think. I keep my truck parked in my open carport on the west side of my little yellow house. Yesterday as I was sitting on my tailgate looking at the non-smelly gardenias flourishing just a few feet away, I had a thought. If you, or any stranger were to walk through the west lawn between my little yellow house and the blue trailer, you would immediately be struck by the stunning beauty of those three gorgeous, huge gardenias. Everyone who sees them comments. They are magnificent.

However, my perception of those three gardenias has changed. My eyes don’t see what your eyes see. Since I have been nipping off the yellowed leaves and wilted blossoms, I have begun looking at the three beautiful gardenias with different eyes. Yesterday for the first time I noticed the change in how I view them.

Instead of looking at three stunning plants and seeing them covered in hundreds of pure white blooms, so white and delicate you would think you could eat them and they would taste like nectar, I have been seeing only the yellowed leaves and withered blossoms.

Now when I walk around the non-smelly gardenias, my eyes immediately search for yellowed leaves and discolored blossoms, the imperfections that need to be removed and thrown into the back of the Mexican petunia bed as compost.

Instead of seeing the beautiful plant as a whole in all its glorious perfection, I have taught myself to see only the plant’s flaws.

I have stolen the joy from my eyes.

I was shocked when I realized what had happened in my mind. I was taken aback at how my view of one of the most stunningly beautiful things on earth had changed. I had taught myself to ignore beauty and see defect.

I had a subsequent thought. If I can learn to look at a beautiful gardenia shrub in full bloom and see only its failings, how easy it would be for me to view my fellow man with the same jaundiced eye, to learn to see only the flaws and shortcomings in those around me.

How terrible to go through life and learn to see imperfections and flaws and miss the glory.

Perhaps grandchildren have been given to us so that when we’re older we can avoid the terrible personal fault of seeing only deformity and ugliness in our world. When I think of you, my grandchild, I never think of your flaws or imperfections. When I think of you, I think of the magnificent person you are and the marvelous person you’re going to be. I see only beauty and your measureless potential. You are magnificent, magnificent beyond description.

I promise I’ll never think of you as a shrub and see only your yellowed leaves and wilted blossoms. That would be a terrible thought, wouldn’t it?

Every day when I think of you, I feel you grow and blossom in my heart.

Your grandfather,



ps. My Dear Grandchildren, read, read, read. Your imagination activates when you read. Reading will provide you with a plethora of images created inside of your own head. Reading is cinema for the mind.

pps. All my books are available on Amazon-Click Here.

ppps. If you want to receive, “Letters To My Grandchildren” in your email, click the icon that says ‘follow’.  Then type in your email address and every time I write a new blog it will come straight to you.

pppps. I write a golf instructional blog.  I tell stories there. You might enjoy them.  If want to check it out CLICK HERE.

Copyright©2020 by Barney Beard.  All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.