Who was Judge Wapner?

Whether you can answer this question comes instantly down to precisely how old you are.  Be advised:  Your answer is critical and probably casts a long shadow as to how you view the world today.

Judge Joseph WapnerJudge Wapner was the first televised judge and the precursor to Judge Judy, whom you’ve probably heard of.  They are or were terrific teachers if you cared to listen carefully.



judyJudge Judy is still filled to overflowing with “piss and vinegar.”  One of her quotes:  “Beauty is temporary…but stupid is forever.”

Wapner, however, was more avuncular, grandfatherly.  I swear, he didn’t appear to have a malicious bone in his body…something I have always attempted to emulate, successfully at times while failing badly at others.  Where am I going with this?  I think it’s an important distinction.  Read on if you dare.

As like most of you, there are moments in time…pivotal moments where you realize your mind has just taken a fork in the road.  One of mine occurred during a seemingly innocuous episode with Wapner.  It was classic:  On one side of the aisle, a genuinely pretty and sweet teenage girl, the sort of gal you’d be happy to have as a daughter.  On the other side of the aisle:  a young punk kid with a leather jacket, myriad tattoos, and an attitude that made you want to spit. And yet………

I can’t quote word-for-word but he admitted something intimate and important that day.  He said, “This is particularly difficult for me.  Susan, you’re young and pretty and I’m sure you are a very nice and sweet girl.  Barry… if I were to judge you on your appearance, I’d give you 80-20 odds you’ll be in juvey court inside of a year.”  BUT…..  And here’s where things got interesting.  “Despite all of that, the law is the law.  Susan, from what I can deduce, you’ve broken the law.  Judgment is for the defendant.”   Something in my young impressionable brain shifted gears at that moment.  Sometimes what’s right isn’t always pretty and doesn’t make you feel good.

flag burnYears later, stationed overseas during the Vietnam War, there was a generational outbreak by young punk, hippy protesters who were burning the American flag.  A part of me wanted to slip on some brass knuckles and bust some heads.  But then…  Ole Judge Wapner flashed into my mind.  At the officer’s club at Yokota AFB, Japan, the question came into crystal clarity.  The mutterings around the table were,  “Goddamn, hippies.  They should take ’em out and shoot ’em.  They’re cowards.  They’re shits…” and on it went.

I remained quiet as everyone vented their spleen, that’s what America is supposed to be about.  But then, I suggested that as odious and assholedly they were acting, it was the entire point of being American that they can say what they think and not get dragged off and shot in some gulag.  In fact, this was and continues to be the one incredible thing that continues to define America:  Freedom of speech for each of us, freedom to worship whomever you want, vote for whomever you believe in….and a couple more rather basic rights.

So far as I know and until something changes, those are still the rules of our country. Whichever side you are for, whichever religion you are, whatever politician you feel is right, you have a right to choose.  That goes BOTH ways as it should and as it always should be.

If and when it ever comes to the point where one side tries to gag the other, by denying their right to vote…or worse…denying their right to live free and worship and say what they want……at that point we have lost the very thing it is to be an American.

Tempers and emotions are running high right now.  You may or may not agree with your neighbor, your friend, your family, or your spouse.  The fact that you can do that…and sleep safely at night says something wonderful about our country.  Democrat or Republican, Catholic, Jew, Protestant and anyone else,  those are the rules.  If you don’t accept them, it’s your right and your duty to try to change them… not with bullets but with your vote.

missileI am rapidly approaching seven decades on this planet and a part of me vividly feels like I’m still in college, dating and studying what’s right and what’s not right.  With all those years under my belt, this period…right now, is seriously scary.  The fracturing of a country.  This time is second only to the Cuban Crisis, where we came a thread width away from a nuclear war.  And…there was a similar moment, the attempt by Senator Joseph McCarthy to take over the country.  The term, witch-hunt was appropriate and feels a lot like what’s going on between our parties.  Trust is down to zero.  The finger pointing must stop for all our sakes and for the sake of our children and grandchildren.  Enough…..

Yes, I am a veteran.  Yes, I love my country.  Yes, I was an LES, (Launch Enable) officer for the Titan II missile, and I want our country to remain a country I can be proud of.

Sorry for the soapbox, but these are scary times.  Look to see what is real and what is not.

B&W Henry flipped  copyHenry

P.S.   There is an idea floating around that if one party can remove the 19th Amendment to our Constitution, then one candidate can easily win.  The Nineteenth Amendment is what gives women the right to vote.

19th amendment I’d suggest that changing our Constitution so that one candidate can win…and 52% of America can no longer vote…is a pretty piss-poor idea.  I remain very, very loyal to our softer, prettier, more empathetic and often more common-sensical gender.   Yaay women.  Brava.  Bravisima, we need you to help us right now.  Seriously.  You are NOT a minority.  Don’t act like one.


8 Responses to "Who was Judge Wapner?"

  1. Debbie says:

    The Golden Rule has always been an inspiration, I distinctly remember the very first time I read and and thought, “That is exactly what should be in this world.” I was around 5 years old.

    I still keep that in mind, every single day

    • Henry Harvey says:

      Hey Deb,
      Yeah, it’s sort of like a golden parachute. If all else fails and you’re thinking, What do I do now?, treat people the way you’d like to be treated and you’ll at least be pretty close.

  2. mo says:

    Hi dear Henry
    I remember when you were a young A.F. officer ( 2nd Lt ), you had the same attitude, brave, honest, and patriot. Also you believed very distinctly on Golden Rule. If you were a candidate I would vote for you. But over all things will turn in right way, it is the nature of life thank you for your nice webs.

    take care and be happy

    old friend Mo.

    • Henry Harvey says:

      Hi Mo! and hello to your family as well!

      What amazes me regarding the situation in the world now is: We’ve come so incredibly far in the field of technology…we can actually grow an ear, or a kidney or heart valve artificially. We can create micro-chips that are beyond comprehension in their speed and we can send a robot past our solar system into deep space. And yet, emotionally, as a species, we haven’t succeeded in climbing out of the swamp. I think there are some mice and turtles that are kinder (in general) than mankind.
      And so terribly little time and money is spent trying to correct that.
      Best to you and your family!
      Henry and Pam.

  3. Henry Harvey says:

    Yeh for you HENRY, my thoughts completely,with yours and with that in mindI will tell you that I have never seen fewer signs up for a candidate, the People are afraid to say who they are voting for. Well between you and me I am voting for the lessor of two evils.
    We were at the yearly horse races last Saturday and my friend has a large booth and she and her husband have a great party with wonderful food. They always have an ice sculpture in front of their space, usually horses, ect. This year it simply said VOTE. So that is we can do. Thanks for your articles, I always learn something,it is almost like you are my brother!!! Love to Pam, Phyllis

  4. Henry Harvey says:

    Hi Phyllis!
    I feel like the entire country is just finishing up a year-long and terribly annoying/ painful marathon. Somewhere along the line, I think we need to trim that time back to a month and with a monetary cap on the $$$$ spent. If you really concentrate, you can figure out who you want to vote in that amount of time…and maybe take the money that is saved and help battered women and children who need operations. I believe everyone could get behind that.

  5. Henry Harvey says:

    Dear Henry;

    A long time ago I subscribed to your newsletter. I have also purchased your book “A Passion for Metal”. I find you a very interesting man who has had a very interesting life. I don’t always agree with what you say, but do respect the fact that you have the right to think and say it. I would just expect you to have the same respect for my thoughts as well. I just read your article that you sent to me about the 19th amendment and you advocating women to be able to vote and run for office. I agree with you 100%, but I also believe it is the right of all people, regardless of race or gender to do same. Just being a woman running for office does not make it right if that person has proven to be seeking office to represent the people and turns out to only be representing a select few as well as her-self. I am sure there are a lot of dedicated women who will one day step forth and become the POTUS, but maybe this just isn’t the right time or person.

    I am a little older than you are. I will soon have been on this earth for eight decades and have much experience in life, just as you have. Not necessarily in the same things or ways; but a lot of living just the same. I have spent most of my adult life in business for myself as an entrepreneur and I know what it is like to earn my own way in life. I didn’t sign the back of a pay check; I wrote pay checks to my employees. It was not always easy when times really got tough, but I just worked harder and became a little tougher than my competition, as well as a little more creative. No one ever gave me anything and I never relied on the government to help me out. I have also lived in this Great Country of ours long enough to know what it was like to not worry about someone shooting me or blowing me or my businesses up just to prove a point. It has only been more recently (the past eight years) that I have become aware of a life with lack of innocence as it used to be. It has only been the past year that I have become more aware of how corrupt the political system and the main stream media are. Also how they influence our lives on a daily bases as though we, the public citizens, are like sheep being led to slaughter. It has only been recently that I am no longer proud of America because it is no longer like I always thought of it. However, it is not America that I am ashamed of, because it is not her fault and the people that live here for the most part are wonderful honest people. However, it is the people running the government that are changing the way it used to be. Politicians used to serve their positions because they loved their country and the people in it, today they make a career out of changing things to work for themselves and they are in it for the money. I am writing to you because of what happened this morning. I will tell you what it was in just a minute, but first I want to tell you about going to South America in 1974.

    I was going with my brother to Lima, Peru and from there over the mountains and into the jungle with our destination Iquitos, Peru and ultimately down the Marañón Riverto the tributary of the Chambeira river to locate Grande Topa trees, to build a balsa raft to take an adventure down the Amazon River. We lived with the Urarina/Shimaku Indians for several weeks and paid them to take us into the jungle and find the large balsa trees and cut them down and help build our raft (15’X30’) with 24” diameter balsa logs. Since money has no value to them living primitively in the jungle, we paid the governor of that region and he hired the men and paid them in goods. Okay, here is my point. When I was in Chicago preparing for the trip and buying the necessary 16mm movie gear to make a movie of all of this adventure, I bought some sneakers with a small area of red, white and blue stripes on the side of each shoe. Later I was advised not to wear the shoes because Peru was a Communist government and they would not take favor to me wearing the shoes with red, white and blue on them. This morning I was leaving to run some errands and started to grab my hat with an Eagle in red white and blue on it and decided to wear a hat with camo instead because I have grown to be aware of this same resentful feelings of the people who are coming into my own country that I was born and reared in. Obama has convinced me that to wear any kind of apparel with the symbol of our America is not “politically correct” and might offend someone who doesn’t like us. That is really bad when I can’t even fly an American flag on my house without fear of someone burning down my home. This is what has happened because of Obama and to vote for this woman who is running for President would only be more of the same thing, only worse. This is defeating the very purpose so many of our young men have died to protect. I am a veteran also and have served my country as well, but I think it is a shame that we cannot live in peace any longer just because of the quality of people that are allowed to come into our country who hate what we stand for. You see Henry, this is all new to me, because I grew up in the conservative Midwest where neighbors watched out for neighbors and it was safe for a child to go back in the woods and spend the day alone with his little dog and not be afraid of being attacked by someone who was hiding out in the woods.

    My vote will be cast for someone who can help to change America back to the way it was when we were not so divided and when it was safe to walk the streets. I don’t care if it is a man or a woman, and I also don’t care if they are a little crude and rough in their ways, as long as they are a Warrior and will fight for what is right for me and my family and all of the good American families like mine and not just want to build wealth for their own pocket and those who they are indebted to.

    Back in 1974 when I was in Peru, SA, I saw military patrol everywhere in public with machine guns and it made me nervous. Even in the jungle town of Iquitos, the military were on every corner dressed in uniforms with machine guns (weapons). I was so relieved to come back to my wonderful free country where I felt safe. Now I am beginning to not only see, but feel the same as I did when I was in South America and they had a corrupt banana run government. Due to our current political system our (once free) America is becoming the same. It is indeed important that we change that.

    My concern is not about me and my life, but for my children and grandchildren and for those coming along in the future. I have had a wonderful and fulfilling life. I graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA back in the 60’s. I owned portrait and commercial studios up north and also a one hour lab, video rental store and tuxedo shop. I did professional photography for over 40 years and have retired on a lake in SW Florida. I am very comfortable and like my life the way it is and has been, but I worked hard to make it that way. I am just glad I was born when I was and since I don’t have that many years left on this earth, whoever wins the election is not going to make a lot of difference in how I live.
    Dick R.

  6. Henry Harvey says:

    Hey Dick!
    I usually edit the responses we get down to a paragraph or two. But, your response was well-thought out and…I’m making an exception this time.
    I am hoping that America can continue to keep things glued together after the election. Things are drastically out of hand right now. I think the campaigning is out of control as well. Way too long, way too much money spent, waaaay too corrosive. We have serious enemies in the world. We don’t need to shoot ourselves in our collective feet.

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