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MUSCATINE — Man, if this isn’t the toughest winter – all things considered – in my lifetime, I don’t know what is. Below-zero temps, lots of snow, and then an ice storm to top it all off.

It’s a year that has put the road crews everywhere to the test. And, though I live in Illinois, it’s quite easy for me to say, the winner in terms of road care, is easily Iowa.

U.S. 61 was even in decent shape during the ice storm earlier this week. I cannot say the same a few miles later when I crossed into Illinois from the Interstate 280 Bridge. The ice was hardening, due to a lack of attention from road crews, I would say, making it far more challenging to drive. And there was plenty of it. Of course, I was apprehensive driving. But as many of you know, once you set out on any road out of town, anywhere, it’s hard to turn back.

Anyway, thanks to the road crews in Iowa for doing a good job. Same goes for Muscatine, as I had no trouble leaving downtown and getting out to U.S. 61.

I do want to make one more observation. Since I clearly travel daily during the week, I’ve, of course, noted the various cars, SUVs and trucks in ditches.

I am surprised to see that often, it’s an SUV or a truck in such a situation. I know luck is a factor. But I also find myself wondering if over-confidence, with a bigger car or SUV, also isn’t playing a role. It’s best to drive in as wise a fashion as one can out on these roads. Think safe and be safe. It does take an effort.

Here’s also hoping, I have no need to write a column regarding the snowy or icy roads the rest of the winter.

The blackface issue

Like many of the younger set, or even those in my plus-60 age bracket, I had little knowledge of what blackface was all about.

So when we received an opportunity to run a half page explaining its history, I figured why not.

I read the material, and after doing so, found it’s easy to see why people are making such a big deal about the Governor of Virginia appearing in blackface sometime during 1984. The origins of blackface were clearly a put-down on black people, and a form of making fun of them with the various stereotypes that were trotted out in performances.

I graduated from college in 1977, so when I read that this governor in Virginia, as a medical student, apparently at least once, dressed in blackface in 1984, there simply is no defending him. I mean racial prejudice was around in that era, and still is, but I have to say at my school, we knew nothing of blackface. Same goes for my high school a few years earlier.

I invite you to find Wednesday’s A5 and give it a read. It’s on the bottom half of the page. It will be eye-opening.

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