Freemason Tim Bryce.

A Simpler Time

Were the good old days really better?

As we grow older, we tend to get aggravated by the complexities of the world and yearn for simpler times. You suddenly recognize the complications caused by technology, overcrowding, government bureaucracy, and changes in moral values, thereby causing you to fondly think back to less stressful times, particularly in childhood. I happened to mention this to some of my older friends recently who began to reminisce about the simpler times they experienced growing up. Their descriptions make for an interesting tapestry of images.

At home it was not uncommon to have two newspapers delivered daily, a morning paper and another for the evening. Yes, back then people would read habitually as they wanted to know what was going on in the world and, believe it or not, actually trusted the press. You would also listen to the radio routinely and use your imagination. When television came along, there would be just three channels representing the major networks and possibly a fourth channel for a local independent which feature classic monster movies on Saturday nights hosted by such people as the “Cool Ghoul.” Somehow the programming seemed better as we enjoyed the golden age of television which included comedies, dramas (particularly Westerns and detective series), talk shows, soap operas, and variety shows. Only the cream of the crop made it to the television screen, and, No, there were no reality shows. Remote controls were a rarity. If you wanted to change the channel, you had to get out of your chair to do so. Not surprising, you became a devotee of a single network. Instead of cable we strapped bizarre looking antennas to chimneys and grounded them in fear of lightning strikes.

Party phones were common in many households whereby two or more parties shared a line, thereby saving costs. It wasn’t uncommon to pick up the phone and hear your neighbor talking with someone else. If this happened, common courtesy dictated you hang up quietly as opposed to listening in.

Only the very rich had remote controls to open garage doors. Most people had to get out of their car to open the door, or dispatch their children to do so.

If your neighbor needed help, you didn’t think twice to lend a helping hand, be it to shovel snow, cut their grass, run an errand for them, lend your car, deliver a meal, or help any way you could. Everyone instinctively watched out for each other and you could keep the front door unlocked.

Kids kept busy by cutting grass, raking, sweeping, and other chores around the house. For entertainment they would play baseball, fishing, swimming or outdoor games like tag, hide and seek, Red Rover, Dodge Ball, Johnny on the Pony (aka Buck Buck), etc. You also built a lot of forts to hide in and plot skullduggery. In the winter you would skate, sled, make snow forts, and a snowball fight was always imminent. You would also collect and trade baseball cards, shoot marbles, and play with yo-yos, tops, Super Balls, even Hula Hoops. Only if it rained, were you allowed to stay inside. If you were really lucky, you went to a double feature on a Saturday afternoon.

Sundays were used to bring the family together. After church you would go to either the home of your grandparents or that of an aunt or uncle, where you enjoyed a large dinner. You might also go to a nearby park where you could barbecue. Such festivities would be concluded late in the afternoon so people could get home to watch Disney, Lassie, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, or Ed Sullivan.

As to humor, it seemed everyone knew how to tell a joke and, no, they were not always politically correct. Kids told knock-knock jokes and puns. Parents gravitated to burlesque or vaudeville type of jokes. Groucho Marx would make you think, Jack Benny’s “cheap” persona was always good for a laugh, and “Uncle Miltie” and the “Great One” ruled the airwaves in the early days of television.

The focal point of the neighborhood was the corner store where you would purchase items for the household, be it food or sundries. If they didn’t have it, they could order it for you. They were the precursors of today’s convenience stores, only better. Proprietors were well known and respected in the neighborhood. It wasn’t uncommon for customers to stop in simply to chat and gossip about what was going on in the community. Before air conditioning, such stores had ceiling fans to circulate the air, wooden floors, and the front door was screened with a retracting spring to keep it closed. When it swung shut it made a distinctive snapping sound. Old cash registers were behind the counter, built of brass and had brilliant designs etched into them. When a sale was made, a small bell would ring and the cash drawer would pop open. Items purchased at the corner store were often done so “on credit.” The proprietor would keep tab of everything and at the end of the month you were expected to “settle up.” The store smelled heavenly of fresh ground coffee, bead, and there was a pickle barrel with a delicious brine.

For kids, stores offered “penny candy” which was an array of sweets consisting of such delicacies as rock candy, paper strips with dots, root beer barrels, fireballs, licorice, gum drops, pixie sticks, etc. For a mere dime you would have more than enough sweets to satisfy you. Soft drink machines came as horizontal chests, not “uprights”, where you would slide a glass bottle by its neck across an inside track and into the dispenser where you deposited your coins. I never saw a fat kid, probably because we either ran everywhere or rode bicycles which represented freedom. We would drive our bikes for miles, either to school, the store, a fishing spot, a camp site, a baseball field, or wherever. As kids, we would camp out, cook over a camp fire, and cleaned up afterwards. We also carried swimming suits with us in case we found an inviting pond or stream to jump into. A rope swing into the water was heavenly. Occasionally we would experience an accident, but you learned to take your medicine. Crying was natural but if you did so too long, you were a “spazz.”

Many items were delivered to your home. The milk man would deliver glass bottles to galvanized metal boxes by the kitchen door. If they sat there for awhile, you could watch the cream rise to the top. Bread was delivered, as were eggs, butter and cheese. The ice man would deliver large chunks to keep your “ice box” cold (not refrigerator). Coal was delivered through chutes going into the furnace room of your basement. It was normally the responsibility of the children to keep the furnace stoked during winter time. A popcorn man would make the rounds, selling bags for pennies. Ice cream was sold likewise. The fish man would also visit regularly, usually announcing his presence with a cowbell or some other audio attraction. There was also a person to sharpen knives and cutlery. The Fuller Brush man visited your home with a wide variety of brushes for sale, and Avon called frequently. Peddlers also went door-to-door selling medicines, salves, spices, concentrated flavors for cooking, and just about anything else. In other words, the vendors came to the customer, just the antithesis of today. And before trucks, there were pushcarts and horse drawn wagons.

Libraries played an important role in society where reading was stressed. They too traveled to the public in mobile libraries. Children were encouraged by parents to read. Before bedtime parents would read classics to their offspring like “Peter Pan,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Moby Dick,” and the Dr. Seuss classics. Kids have a natural attraction to story telling, and it was a great way to wind up the day.

To get to school, you either walked, rode a bike, took a bus, or went in a carpool. Walking offered you freedom to take your time, talk to your friend, and investigate every shortcut. Yes, it seemed like we walked for miles, but it wasn’t really that bad. If you took the bus, you could make last minute adjustments to your homework or prep for a test. Taking your bike was the most fun as you were proud to show off your bike and, No, you didn’t have to lock your bike with a chain. In Connecticut, we participated in a carpool where the mothers took turns driving the kids to school and pick them up afterwards.

Most kids took a brown bag to school for lunch which included sandwiches wrapped in wax paper, and some fruit. Lunch boxes were a luxury. During my time, you longed for a lunch box featuring Davy Crockett, the Lone Ranger, or Superman. Inside would be a thermos filled with either hot soup or a cold drink. You paid pennies for milk. Cafeteria lunches were also available, which were both delicious and inexpensive (as cheap as a dime). Personally, I loved the meatloaf the Polish women made at my Chicago Junior High School.

Kids would go to school equipped with a pencil box which included fresh pencils, erasers, a ruler and a sharpener. Before ball point pens there were fountain pens. At your desk was a bottle where you would draw the ink into the pen. This was later replaced by pens with ink cartridges. No matter what you did though, you would somehow find a way to get ink on your shirt pocket. And just about everyone had a box of Crayola crayons.

You would go to school well dressed and properly groomed. Boys wore collared shirts, slacks and street shoes were the norm. T-shirts, blue jeans, shorts, and sneakers were verboten. Girls wore dresses or skirts with blouses. You were sent home if the dress was too short or looked inappropriate. Likewise, hair had to be cut to specific lengths (off the collar), and facial hair was not allowed.

The school day would begin with the pledge of allegiance to the flag and a patriotic song. Some schools also followed this with a nondenominational prayer. To be selected to the school’s Safety Patrol was considered an honor, as well as to raise the flag in the morning and strike the colors at the end of the day.

Classes included reading, writing, and arithmetic, with a lot of penmanship thrown in for good measure. You had to memorize the preambles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, if not more. Both American and World history were stressed, as well as civics. We also took speech classes, Earth Science, and learned the various branches of mathematics, not to mention typing.

In High School you were offered the opportunity to learn new skills in Wood Shop, Metal Shop or Mechanical Drawing. In such shops you built a variety of things, particularly a wide array of book shelves and bird houses. In the drawing class, you learned to master t-squares, compasses, and my personal favorite, the French curve.

Everyone knew not to fight in school as you could expect corporal punishment with a paddle. Instead, if somebody had a beef with another, you arranged to meet off campus and duke it out. At the end of the fight, when both boys were exhausted, they shook hands and consoled each other. Whatever they had been fighting over had been forgotten.

Teachers and parents were allowed to bring home-baked goods to school, such as donuts, pies, and cakes. Nothing was brought in from the store. During Halloween you would receive regular sized candy bars, popcorn balls, and candied apples. There was no such thing as “fun size.” I still remember Mrs. Derdarian’s fabulous caramel apples on a stick.

Time seemed to crawl along at a snail’s pace. You couldn’t wait for the bell to ring to go back outside. Today it seems time moves at a much faster pace and we are required to multitask everything. I wonder if we have forgotten to relax.

There was a genuine respect for the law. When a police officer asked you to move along, you did so as you trusted his judgment. There was no thought of talking back to him. He was your friend and you knew him by name, as he knew yours as well as your parents. He knew who the good kids were, as well as the trouble makers.

In business, you were expected to work hard regardless of your job, and put forth your best effort to produce quality work products, and take on a professional attitude. Instead of working at odds with your co-workers and boss, you tried to get along and work together. As in school, you dressed neatly and bathed regularly. You were charged to use your head and find a way to get the job done. And the customer was always right.

This is not so much about nostalgia as it is about how society seems to have made life more complicated than it needs to be. The world depicted herein is how many of us like to remember yesteryear. As a kid, you learned to innovate, adapt, and be resourceful. You also learned life was full of consequences, for every action there was a reaction. The emphasis back then was to work and play outdoors, be it summer or winter, but the kids today stay indoors hooked to their technology and now possess a sense of entitlement. They cannot possibly relate to the world of yesteryear where you were adventurous and took responsibility for your actions. Government at all levels has evolved into an incredible bureaucracy with a mind-boggling number of laws, rules and regulations aimed at stifling business and frustrating ambition. And our morality has shifted to the point where a person’s word is no longer their bond and we are suspicious of the motives of others.

So, were things really simpler in the good old days? Our predecessors probably asked the same question years ago. With every new technology comes another level of complexity which youth can more readily adapt to than their elders. Although technology may simplify some things, it complicates others. While today’s computers and smart phones have enhanced communications and expedited administrative tasks, people have developed an addiction which seems to have altered their personalities, interpersonal relationships and priorities. There is even a lack of concern regarding current events, and our youth has no interest in news.

As we grow older the differences between then and now becomes more apparent, but it is too late to change it back, you must go forward. I have also learned you do not truly appreciate the simplicity of the past until you’ve survived into the future. If you have no knowledge of the past, you have nothing to compare the present to and no appreciation of simpler times. To today’s youth, these are the good old days. Anything before is lost on them. They may be proficient in social media and computer games, but they will never appreciate the sheer joy of capturing a firefly, whittling, building a campfire, reading a book, or running a “pickle.” It’s the little things that make life enjoyable, not its complexities. The older generation may not be as proficient in the use of technology, but they didn’t suffer from all of today’s anxieties, allergies, obsessions and disorders either. Back then, there was no such thing as OCD, PTSD, BDD, bulimia, Prozac or Cialis. Instead, we had such things as Scouting, 4H, dime stores, Tarzan, J.C. Higgins, Louisville Sluggers, the YMCA, and God.

Keep the Faith!

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Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He is also the Secretary of Dunedin Lodge No. 192 F.& A.M. in Florida.  He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Freemason Tim Bryce.

Billy Mitchell – The Original Whistle Blower

What we can learn from a famous whistle blower from yesteryear.

We’ve been hearing a lot about whistle blowers lately, particularly Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who ignited the U.S. surveillance program scandal. There are also the whistle blowers involved with the Benghazi scandal and the IRS intimidation program. Whistle blowers have actually been with us a long time. In my life, it goes back to Daniel Ellsberg who in 1969 released the “Pentagon Papers” to the “New York Times,” detailing the military activity in Viet Nam under LBJ and Nixon. This, of course, ultimately triggered Watergate. However, let’s go a little further back in time to 1925 when the Army instigated a court-martial against Colonel Billy Mitchell, an episode which has quickly been forgotten in history, but has an important bearing on the whistle blowers of today.

Although Mitchell is primarily credited for building Air Power in this country, his military history goes as far back as the Spanish-American War where he served as the youngest Army officer (at age 18). Mitchell’s notoriety though began during “The Great War” (WWI) where, as Major, he became the first American officer to come under fire in the trenches of France. During the war, he earned several decorations and citations. More importantly, it was in France where he developed his fascination and passion for the airplane as a military weapon.

Mitchell understood the potential of the airplane. His superiors did not, and saw it as nothing more than a trivial instrument for observing enemy forces. They laughed at him when he claimed airplanes could sink a ship by dropping bombs on it. At the time, battleships were considered invincible. He finally got an opportunity to prove his claims and sank the German battleship “Ostfriesland” which was to be scuttled following the war. Nonetheless, the military was unimpressed. Following the war, in peacetime, there was an emphasis on shrinking the military. Even though Mitchell begged for money for research and development, he was ignored. He even urged the military to form a separate branch dedicated to an air service, but was denied. Consequently, American Air Power diminished almost to obscurity. The English, French, Italians, even the Germans had far superior airships than the Americans, and Mitchell made sure the newspapers knew about it.

Knowing Mitchell’s image was growing larger in the press, the military sent him on assignments in order to make him disappear. In 1924 he was sent to study military defenses in the Pacific. During this time, he visited Japan and witnessed firsthand how the Japanese were embracing Air Power and realized America was far behind their counterparts. Following his tour he produced an extensive 323 page report on his assessment of American defenses in the Pacific. It was in this prophetic report that he predicted how Japan would attack Pearl Harbor with remarkable accuracy. Even though the military dismissed his report as ridiculous, Mitchell’s predictions would come true 17 years later. Nonetheless, he was buried again by the military.

One year later, in 1925, the Navy dirigible “Shenandoah” was destroyed in a storm in Ohio, with a loss of thirteen lives. Mitchell was outraged as he knew the ship was archaic and denounced the Navy for its “almost treasonable” attitude towards aviation:

As a patriotic American citizen, I can stand by no longer and see these disgusting performances…at the expense of the lives of our people and the delusion of the American public. We may all make mistakes but the criminal mistakes made by armies and navies, whenever they have been allowed to handle aeronautics, show their incompetence…This, then, is what I have to say on the subject, and I hope that every American will hear.(1)

Although Mitchell became a hero to the American people for his bold statements, his superiors felt otherwise and was given a court-martial for insubordination. Actually, the court-martial was what Mitchell was hoping for as he figured it was the best way to bring attention to the problem and create change. The case garnered a lot of attention in the press, and many notable proponents of Air Power testified on his behalf. In the end though, Mitchell was suspended from the Army for five years. Instead, Mitchell resigned in 1926 and spent the remainder of his life speaking on behalf of Air Power. He would die in 1936 never knowing how accurate his predictions would become in World War II. In 1942, President Roosevelt, recognized Mitchell’s contributions to Air Power by restoring his status and elevating him to the rank of Major General. In 1946, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, “in recognition of his outstanding pioneer service and foresight in the field of American military aviation”…10 years after his death.

Read: Seeing Ghosts in Lodge

There are some similarities, as well as differences, between Billy Mitchell and Edward Snowden. Both tried to do what they perceived to be right. Mitchell was a visionary who used his court-martial to draw public attention to the problems of Air Power. Snowden is not a visionary. He just stumbled on a problem and reported it. Whereas Mitchell stood and took his medicine as a military officer, thereby garnering the support of the American people, Snowden took flight as he didn’t want to suffer through a career ending court case as Mitchell did.

The big problem with becoming a whistle blower is that it doesn’t pay well. You might earn the admiration of the American people, but you must also face the wrath of the establishment. For example, State Department witnesses in the Congressional hearing on Benghazi have reported their career is essentially over. Likewise, Cincinnati IRS witnesses have allegedly been intimidated. It takes someone with a lot of character to stand up and report a problem, whether it be in the corporate world or government. The prime difference between Billy Mitchell and Ed Snowden is simple: Mitchell stood and took his medicine; Snowden has not. Understand this though, the American Air Power we knew today can be directly attributed to the efforts of Billy Mitchell. Had he not spoken up when he did, our air defenses would have been primitive by the start of World War II. Mitchell knew what he was talking about and would not be intimidated by the powers in authority.

Keep the Faith!

1-“The Billy Mitchell Story” by Burke Davis, page 102

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Be All You Can Be in Occult America

Occult America by Mitch Horowitz

I just had the pleasure of finishing Mitch Horowitz’s book Occult America and am a bit surprised at the story it tells, and some of what it doesn’t.

Only recently did I come across the 2010 Bantum Books edition, (the first edition published in hardback in 2009) and it was the sub headline of the books title Occult America: White House Seances, Ouija Circles, Masons, and the Secret Mystic History of Our Nation, that grabbed me, making an interesting premise to open the cover and start reading the book.

Once started, it delivers – developing a body of ideas creating an evolution of thought influenced in an era before the Catholic witch trials of Cagliostro and began in the new world with the voyage of the Quaking Shaker Ann Lee (later to re-dubbed Mother Ann) who traveled from Manchester in 1774 to New York with a cohort of 8 followers who together cobbled resources to form a small religious colony in Niskayuna near Albany.

Horowitz takes on a daunting task, the challenge of not sounding encyclopedic and pulling a variety of disparate pieces of Americana together to tease this occult history out from the facts.  In some ways, the telling of Occult America mirrors the troubled story of Mother Ann that Horowitz introduces us to in the opening of the book, inauspiciously to the unintentional spread of ideas everywhere.

So as not to ruin the fun of discovering the secret history for yourself Occult America links together a progression of thought, in an age not known for its wide degree of communication, that at its present day apex has shaped the widest segment of religious and spiritual thought to such a degree that, Horowitz suggests, shaped the 1980 to 2001 “Be all you can be” slogan of the U.S. Army as a mantra of sorts to the ultimate of New Thought self development.  His suggestion is that many aspects of the New Age philosophy (what was at first called “New Thought”) have become integral to much (if not most) of out day to day life.

Sydney Omarr, son of a grocer and housewife, was at one time dubed by Time magazne Astrology’s “most skillful and sober public protagonist.” In Occult America, Horowitz explores how Omarr went from magic shop cruiser and Atlantic City fortune teller to the grandfather of modern newspaper astrology still published in newspapers today.

How so, you might be wondering?

Just a few of the ideas that were at one point considered occult include the evolution of human consciousness, the connection of the mind-body-spirit health, and the ever growing trend of people moving (which data supports) away from organized religion to pursue instead a spirituality.  All of these various aspects, he says, have a root in the developments of the past 200 years through this subculture of Americana.  For those who may not remember, even the Scottish Rite Journal was titled the New Age for many years and represented a fraternal flag ship to the movement.

In some respects, you could bookend Occult America with Jeff Sharlet’s The Family because as the Family chronicles the rise of the Fundamentalist religious right, Horowitz traces a line through the various sub culture movements that transmitted one idea to the next movement and so on.  As a Masonic reader you will be interested to know that at points he acknowledges the presence of Freemasonry as well as other esoteric/occult groups as major players to the dissemination of ideas.

What the book doesn’t do, which might be a product of necessitating many more pages, is chronicle the earlier presence of occult ideas that at the time were a regular part of the American landscape.  For instance, it’s impossible to look at the early American development without seeing Freemasonry (Washington was inaugurated on a Masonic bible which speaks to its presence) as a major contributor in many earlier instances.  Horowitz does touch on this earlier history, but he starts his telling with the founding of Mother Ann’s religious Shaker colony and its promulgation of ideas forward.

Ouija Board, talking board

One of the more entertaining chapters that I enjoyed was the lineage of the Ouija Board, started in the age of séances and the selling of spiritualism.  He makes a very good case for how the rapping tables and automatic-writers of the burgeoning psychic era moved from formalized sitting room sessions to game boards made by Hasbro (now Glow in the Dark) to sit between two kanoodling lovers knees playing slide the planchette.

(I did stumble across a cool glass topped octagonal Tree Of Life Ouija board that’s worth looking at here.)

You can almost sum up the history of the Occult in America in the story of the Ouija Board, from the home spun to the highly processed and manufactured message, but to do so would omit so much of the rich history that the Occult has traced through America, and Horowitz has really captured in an album of snapshots of our esoteric landscape starting with Mother Ann, who was at the time called by her followers “Christ returned in female form.”

I definitely recommend Occult America: White House Seances, Ouija Circles, Masons, and the Secret Mystic History of Our Nation as a fun and light read into the heavy and often deeply woven history of the New Thought/New Age America we live in today.

Freemason Tim Bryce.

Bryce American History Quiz

Last week I asked my readers to take a simple quiz regarding American government and history. I wanted to see just how well we knew some of the basics, such as our governing docs and some historical events. Nothing elaborate, I just wanted to take a pulse of our knowledge in general. 134 brave souls took the quiz for which I give my thanks. I didn’t want the quiz to be complicated which is why I tried to keep it as simple as possible. I could have asked for such things as age and political party affiliation, but I didn’t want to muddy the waters and turn people off.

Out of those who took the test, probably 25 people got a perfect score. I was not surprised by this as I didn’t try to invent a complicated quiz, just something that could give us some fundamental idea of what we know and what we don’t.

The quiz was far from scientific, yet I believe I can draw some conclusions from it based on the input. But first, let’s review the responses to each question. I’ll show both the number of responses and the percentage of the total, followed by my comments.


1. Signed in 1620, it is the first governing document of Plymouth Colony as written by the colonists, later known to history as the Pilgrims. It was in essence a social contract in which the settlers consented to follow the document’s rules and regulations for the sake of survival.

22 – 17% – Magna Carta
92 – 69% – Mayflower Compact (CORRECT)
06 – 04% – Pilgrim Declaration
12 – 09% – Plymouth Compact
02 – 01% – Standish Consent and Decree

Comment: I considered this a tricky question as most people are unaware of any American history prior to 1776. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people got it right. Those that answered “Magna Carta” disappointed me; even though it is an important document that influenced others, it was still developed in England, not America. I consider it significant that people recognized its name though. By the way, the last three, Pilgrim Declaration, Plymouth Compact, and Standish Consent and Degree were figments of my imagination.

2. How many “separate but equal” branches are there in the U.S. Federal Government?

000 – 00% – 1
002 – 01% – 2
131 – 98% – 3 (CORRECT)
001 – 01% – 4
000 – 00% – 50

Comment: People may have gotten other parts of the quiz wrong, but somehow the concept of “three separate but equal branches of government” representing the checks and balances of government has been successfully stamped into our brains. Only three people missed this.

3. What is the following quote from?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

27 – 20% – Bill of Rights
94 – 70% – Declaration of Independence (CORRECT)
06 – 05% – Gettysburg Address
00 – 00% – Oath of Office
07 – 05% – US Constitution

Comment: The lion’s share of answers went correctly to the Declaration of Independence, but I was surprised to see how many people picked the Bill of Rights. As an aside, many of us had to memorize this section of the Declaration in elementary school.

4. Which U.S. President was NOT impeached?

34 – 25% – Bill Clinton
20 – 15% – Andrew Johnson
80 – 60% – Richard Nixon (CORRECT)

Comment: I expected this kind of response to the question. Richard Nixon resigned before impeachment proceedings could begin. The other two were impeached, meaning to hold trial in the Senate, yet were found not guilty. No U.S. President has ever been forcibly removed from office through peaceful means (assassination is another matter altogether).

5. What is the following quote from?
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,…”

04 – 03% – Bill of Rights
32 – 24% – Declaration of Independence
02 – 01% – Gettysburg Address
00 – 00% – Oath of Office
96 – 72% – US Constitution (CORRECT)

Comment: Most people got this correct, but notice how many confused it for the Declaration of Independence. This particular quote is from the Preamble of the Constitution. Like the Declaration, many of us had to memorize this in grade school, but I don’t think they do so anymore.

6. What U.S. President served as commander-in-chief during World War I?

11 – 08% – Calvin Coolidge
07 – 05% – Warren Harding
18 – 13% – Theodore Roosevelt
03 – 03% – William Howard Taft
95 – 71% – Woodrow Wilson (CORRECT)

Comment: I expected this question to be a little tougher as a lot of us have forgotten the events of nearly 100 years ago. Baby boomers may still be familiar with World War II, but I thought they would surely have problems with the first war, “The War to end all Wars.” I wasn’t surprised that Teddy Roosevelt captured the number of responses that he did simply because of his strong name recognition. By the way, William Howard Taft was the only President who also became Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (and the first to throw out a baseball on opening day).

7. What is the following quote from?
“…and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

001 – 01% – Bill of Rights
000 – 00% – Declaration of Independence
000 – 00% – Gettysburg Address
127 – 95% – Oath of Office (CORRECT)
006 – 04% – US Constitution

Comment: I was flabbergasted that anyone got this wrong. The six who answered “US Constitution” should have read the question more carefully.

8. What is the following quote from?
“…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

005 – 04% – Bill of Rights
002 – 01% – Declaration of Independence
122 – 91% – Gettysburg Address (CORRECT)
000 – 00% – Oath of Office
005 – 04% – US Constitution

Comment: I was pleased to see most people remembered Lincoln’s speech. Interestingly, Lincoln was not the keynote speaker that day and, because of this, his words were almost overlooked by reporters in attendance. Thank God somebody was paying attention.

9. It stated that further efforts by European countries to colonize land or interfere with states in the Americas would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention. It asserted that the Western Hemisphere was not to be further colonized by European countries but that the United States would neither interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries.

009 – 07% – Emancipation Proclamation
002 – 01% – Kansas-Nebraska Act
000 – 00% – Kennedy Doctrine
116 – 87% – Monroe Doctrine (CORRECT)
007 – 05% – NATO Accord

Comment: I was pleasantly surprised by this one as I had assumed many people had forgotten about the Monroe doctrine, an important document which, to this day, is still in effect. I wonder if those who answered “Emancipation Proclamation” really understood the significance of that document. Probably not.

10. Which U.S. President was NOT directly involved with the Vietnam War?

81 – 60% – Dwight Eisenhower (CORRECT)
49 – 27% – Gerald Ford
01 – 01% – Lyndon Johnson
03 – 02% – John Kennedy
00 – 00% – Richard Nixon

Comment: This was perhaps my most controversial question as some of you argued that Eisenhower sent advisers to Viet Nam. True, but we send advisors to a lot of places. Viet Nam was Kennedy’s “line in the sand” to stop the proliferation of Communism. As to Ford, he inherited the Paris Peace talks from Nixon following his resignation and was in charge when we finally pulled out in 1975. Interestingly, I find younger people have no clue about this war whatsoever.


A few things occurred to me as I was compiling the results. First, the Gettysburg Address is better known than the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The Gettysburg Address is a moving speech but it certainly doesn’t bear the significance of our governing documents.

Second, it seemed to me that a lot of people cannot distinguish between the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. They view them as synonymous documents. For what it’s worth, the Declaration was used to sever Britain’s authority over its American colonies. The U.S. Constitution specifies how the government is to operate. The Bill of Rights is an attachment to the Constitution and specifies the basic rights of the citizens, specifically the first ten amendments. It was greatly influenced by such documents as the “Magna Carta.” All three documents, the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, are important reads that all citizens should be familiar with, not just students in grade school.

Finally, here are the number of correct answers versus incorrect answers submitted on the quiz:

1034 – 77% – Correct Answers
0306 – 23% – Incorrect Answers

In most schools, a 77% would represent a “C” which is probably not as bad as we think. Actually, this number is probably higher than the national average as I like to believe my readers are smarter than most.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

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Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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What is “Right” with America?

Now that we have survived the elections, where we were incessantly told what is wrong with America, perhaps it is time to reflect on what is right with it. I realize there are still hard feelings on both sides of the political spectrum, but we should shake it off and begin by thanking God we had a peaceful transition and not a bloody military coup like some countries experience. It proves the system works. We have had more than enough scurrilous rhetoric which shows how embarrassingly barbaric we can become, let’s try something more positive instead.

Many people see our cultural diversity as our weakness, particularly our opponents. Actually, it is our strength. First, it proves people of all religious, ethnic and racial types can live and work together. We may have disagreements because of our cultural backgrounds but it also brings a lot of ideas and innovations to the table. It is remarkable to see people of diversity work together be it in the classroom, playing field, workplace, or to defend their country. Frankly, this mystifies our enemies.

One American trait that is often overlooked or taken for granted is our philanthropy. When havoc strikes, people look to the United States first for help. We are generous to a fault and I believe this is again due to our cultural diversity. Not only do we contribute with our pocketbooks, but with our hearts and hands. How many times have you seen Americans drop what they are doing and rush to the aid of someone else? It is in our DNA. In 2010 alone we made substantial contributions in the Chilean miner rescue, the Haitian earthquake disaster, as well as the earthquake in Peru; all of this while we simultaneously cleaned up after the Gulf coast oil spill, and continued to fight the War on Terrorism.

We are a country with plenty of natural and man-made resources. Some would say we foolishly waste our resources, and they may very well be right. Our record for waste and pollution is well known, but so is our ability to overcome such problems and do what is right, not just for the United States, but the world overall.

We have some of the most intelligent, energetic, and creative people on the planet. Why? Because our free enterprise system encourages people to take risks, express themselves, and encourages innovation and exploration.

It all comes down to the U.S. Constitution, a brilliant document which defines how we are governed. Without this document, God knows where this country would be. In all likelihood, there would be no “checks and balances,” there would be no individual liberties, and no sense of empowerment in its citizens. Consequently, we would probably not be as philanthropic as we have been, nor would we be the defenders of freedom in the world.

As a country, we are certainly not perfect. For example, we are much too reactive as opposed to proactive for my liking; we still struggle between social classes, and; we are too tolerant of injustice, not to mention our social graces are lacking. Regardless, I have seen a lot of systems in other countries, and we look pretty darn good when you compare us to others.

What is right with America? Our freedoms and liberties, our people, and our system, thanks in large part to a little piece of paper called the U.S. Constitution. This is why all of us, not just our officials, must always be vigilant to preserve, protect and defend it.

Now if we could just do something about common sense…

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.