About Ezra

Ed writing essays in 2000 with Shannon P Cat

Ezra Edgar Carr at the spry young age of 80 or so, writing an essay in longhand with favorite pet Shannon P Cat.

I am thoroughly flattered that as I begin my 91st year on this vale of tears a website has been created for the publication of my essays.  My undertakings always rely on absolute truth.  Until recently, I didn’t know what a website or a blog was.  Perhaps the most charitable explanation of my position is that I still have only a faint grasp of these two terms.  But be that as it may, I repeat that as I enter my 91st year, a website has been created whose sole purpose is the dissemination of the essays that I have written during the past 15 years.

The director general of this project is a young fellow named Kevin Shepherd, who seems intent upon going to work to spread the gospel according to Ezra’s Essays.  I have agreed to participate because it might bring favorable attention when I present myself at the golden gates of Heaven for the purpose of entering.

At the outset, Generalissimo Kevin has directed that it would be well if I answered two questions.  The first is, “Who is Ezra Carr?”  And the second is, “How did you come to write these essays?”  Being a humble contrarian, I will answer the second half of the inquiry about how I came to write these essays, which will be followed by a lavish description of the virtue of Ezra Carr.  In this description of my virtue, I warn you that there is a certain amount of bullshit that goes with the answer.  I may even put asterisks on those portions having to do with my accomplishments.  But on second thought, that would be a self-defeating proposition.


So let’s get on with, “How did you come to write these essays?” over the past 15 years.

I suppose the answer could more easily be found in the medical history that I have compiled since reaching the golden age of 65 years.  To begin at the beginning, Andrew Beamer,MD a noted cardiologist whom I trust, told me that I needed an aortic valve replacement.  So I went to see a specialist in aortic valve replacement named Alfred Casale, MD.  I did not look forward to having my chest re-opened where earlier a surgeon, Eric Rose MD, had performed a quadruple coronary bypass.

Casale was an engaging fellow who assured me that he could work around the transplanted veins from my leg and that, in the end, he could accomplish the aortic valve replacement.  The problem was that I was taking a low dose of coumadin, which tends to thin the blood.  Casale directed that I should lay off taking coumadin for five days before the operation.  I made a mistake there in that operations are not called operations anymore but rather they are called procedures.  I will try to avoid such mistakes in the future.

It was in the fall of the year 1997.  So I laid off the coumadin and devoted my energies, together with my wife, to raking leaves in our very generous back yard.  After the leaves were raked into a pile on a tarp, I transported the leaves by pulling and tugging to the street.  Mind you, this was four days into Casale’s directive to lay off the coumadin for five days.  When I came into the house, I took a shower and sooner or later perhaps my wife suggested or maybe I suggested that we should turn the mattress.  This was a king-size bed and turning the mattress Miss Chicka, my wife, noticed something erratic and called the doctor.  Within minutes I was in the parking lot of Overlook Hospital where technicians who formed the rescue squad here in Millburn, New Jersey, announced that I had had a stroke.  Hospitalization at Overlook started with the intensive care unit and eventually I was assigned to a bed in a private room in the section where they take care of stroke victims.

As far as I knew, I received the best of care.  There was one departure from normal in that I was approached by a woman or two women who, I found out later, were attempting to start their own practice.  Their practice had to do with postoperative care of stroke patients.  They had me writing down all of the things I could remember from food groups, such as okra and zucchini.  Then they concentrated on having me write down all of the brands of automobiles that I could remember.  I considered those women as frauds.  As soon as I could escape Overlook Hospital, I went to the Kessler Rehabilitation Institute located in West Orange.

Now here comes Shirley Morganstein, who played a leading part in my recovery.  And she has a starring role in this introduction to Ezra’s Essays.

Shirley Morganstein was the Director of Speech Therapy.  As it happened, the stroke spared my limbs but left me with what I always call “a galloping case of aphasia.”  Aphasia has a number of aspects.  In some cases, it results in muteness.  In other cases, it results in the use of the wrong word.  Nouns are the principle problem with aphasia.  For example, at income tax time, perhaps two or three years after the stroke, my wife took the returns to the post office.  When she returned, I asked her, “Did you mail the umbrella?”  Of course that made no sense whatsoever, but my wife understood.  Stroke patients with aphasia make this sort of mistake.  It lasts for years, or maybe forever.

Shirley Morganstein was a small-sized woman.  But she was ferocious.  She got on one woman who had not completed her assignment and I quickly figured out that Ms. Morganstein was not a woman to be trifled with.  Shortly after rehab efforts with Shirley Morganstein started, she told me that perhaps it would be well if I tried to write an essay.  Remember that this was in the fall of 1997.  The day that I was to deliver my first essay was December 8.

December 8 is a monumental day in my memory because it marks the anniversary of my having been shot down in northern Italy in 1943.  Beyond that, it is the day that my wife at the time and I picked up an infant from foster care whom we planned to adopt.  And finally, December 8 is my younger daughter’s birthday.  So it is clear that Shirley Morganstein had picked an auspicious day.  So if you are looking for the start of Ezra’s Essays, go back to December 8, 1997.  Shirley Morgenstein was the midwife who caused me to write Ezra’s Essays.  When I was discharged from Kessler Institute because the Medicare payments had run out, Shirley Morganstein told me to keep on writing essays.

Now here in 2012, after 15 years, I have completed about 700 such essays.  The fact of the matter is that I seem to enjoy writing these essays.  I am my own boss.  I write on every subject that attracts my attention.  Because I am the boss of Ezra’s Essays, there is no one to challenge the outcome of those essays.  There is no father figure hovering over the essays who would say, “Why don’t you try to soften this or emphasize some other point?”

So you see, the essays represent my view of things.  Perhaps I should have said, “my uncensored view of things.”  The essays themselves are dictated.  In 2005, my eyesight came to an end.  This was the result of glaucoma, which is an inherited disease.  My father, my older brother, and now I have come to blindness as a result of glaucoma.  I regret to report that I have passed the scourge of glaucoma on to my daughter.  But she is being attended to by a good ophthalmologist and it seems to be under control.

When Ezra’s Essays have been dictated, we physically carry them to Mrs. Eva Baker, who transcribes them.  She sends the transcription back to us via email.  The first eight years of Ezra’s Essays were hand-written one.  It may be that the hand-written ones are superior to the dictated ones.  I have not made a calculation but I suspect that about half of these essays were hand-written and the rest were dictated.  The dictated ones are done without reference to notes.  The fact is that I could not ever read the notes.  And when I want to work in a reference from notes, it becomes thoroughly confusing to me.

So that is a long-winded description of how Ezra’s Essays came into being.  If there are any complaints, they should be taken to Shirley Morganstein, who was the midwife of this project.



Now we turn to Kevin’s other question, “Who is Ezra Carr?”  I must say that this a daunting challenge, because I have never been asked to describe who I am.  The vital statistics are that I am six feet tall, that I weigh 230 pounds, and I am extremely good-looking.*  Because I am blind, this is my own self-evaluation.  I have no hair on the top of my noggin but otherwise I am a fairly normal human being who has survived 90 years on this vale of tears.

All of Ezra’s Essays are written without apologies to anyone.  I have been a Democrat all of my life and my only complaint about Barack Obama is that he lacks balls.  Now, is that clear enough?

When I reached the age of six, in 1928, my mother took me to a grove of trees near our home in a suburb of St. Louis and told me that, having reached the “age of accountability,” I should kneel down in this grove of trees and ask for God to come save me.  As I knelt, I wondered why I needed to be saved.  My mother believed that Jesus would come save me.  I was struck by the thought, “Come save me from what?”  This went on for about 15 or 20 minutes and the rocks were hurting my knees.

At this point, I decided that the way out of this mess was to announce that indeed Jesus had come to save me.  My mother was elated at this grand news and I was free to go play baseball with Charlie Baldridge, my pal.  My mother saved the sunsuit that I was wearing on that day and kept it in a trunk in her bedroom.  On that same day at age six, I became a total nonbeliever in religious affairs.

The fact of the matter is that I am no Christian.  At heart, I believe that the concept of God is the product of man’s beliefs.  I do not believe that God was roaming around in the heavens and somehow yelled down to earth, “Hey, I am God and you should worship me.”  I simply believe that man invented God.

Some would call me a nonbeliever.  There are others who would consider me an atheist or an agnostic or, even worse, an infidel.  I clearly accept all of those designations as long as they are accompanied by the thought that I am a non-believer in religious affairs.  You will find that reading my essays reflects these beliefs.  My contention is that non-believers have a right to state their case.  Calling me an infidel or an atheist bothers me not at all.  I do wish that the term non-believer was more descriptive of my views on religious matters.

So I am a 90 years old with wavy hair* who has found that attending church services was an abominable experience in my young life.  When I reached the age of 13, I told my parents that I was done with church services.  I told them that I was going to wipe windshields at Carl Schroth’s filling station instead of attending church services.  So at that point my parents gave up on me.

When I entered high school in January of 1936, a counselor or some other official asked me whether I would be going to college.  My father had been laid off at the start of the Depression in 1929 or 1930 and there was no way that I could ever aspire to being a collegial student.  I suppose that the counselor concluded that I was never to attend college, so she assigned me to a general course of studies while I was attending Clayton High School.  This included a good bit of shop and drafting.  The study of higher mathematics was reserved for those who were going on to college.  In effect, my four years of attending high school were sort of wasted years.

There is one compensation in that I took four years of drafting under the tutelage of Don Zoerb, the teacher.  As a result of taking drafting, I was able to end my career as a filling station attendant and at the age of 19, my career with AT&T started.

In all, I worked 47 years; 43 of those years were spent working for AT&T.  In 1941, on December 7, we were attacked by the Japanese and the Second World War started.  The rule at AT&T was that if an employee had spent his first year with AT&T, at the conclusion of that year he would be given a $2 raise and would be made a permanent employee.  A permanent employee is entitled to a leave of absence.  When I completed my year in August or September of 1942, I got my $2 raise, but AT&T told me that becoming a permanent employee was out of the question because they had suspended the practice.  Actually they had suspended the practice for those who wished to enlist in the Army but not for those who had been drafted.  In any event, when I left my work as a draftsman in St. Louis, I was considered a former employee of AT&T.  A former employee is one to whom the corporation owes nothing.  In 1944, Congress passed a law that those in my situation would be eligible to return to work with full service credit.  And so it was that I returned to AT&T.

Like most returning veterans, I was angry at John Lewis, the president of the United Mine Workers Union.  He was continually threatening strikes to get more money from the coal owners and was holding those who used coal as hostages.  But shortly after I returned to AT&T, I discovered that returning veterans were being short-changed.  And so it was that I joined the Federation of Long Lines Telephone Employees, an independent union.  For the next six years, I was a union representative, and eventually became the Vice President and then President of the local union in St. Louis.  Looking back, it may have been one of the happiest experiences in my life in that I was able to argue with the big shots at AT&T to treat their employees a bit more fairly.

In 1951, I was a member of the union team that bargained with AT&T.  At the conclusion of those proceedings, I was offered a job in the management of AT&T.  While I was a management employee, I was determined to see to it that the fellows who do the heavy lifting were never cheated.  Near the end of my career, I was given the job of promoting relations with all of the telephone companies around the world.  Then in September of 1984, I decided that enough was enough and I took a pension.

This may give you some idea of who the author, who uses the name of Ezra, might be.  In summary, I am a Democrat who wishes that we should do more progressive things.  I am a non-believer in religious affairs but I have never, never tried to convert anyone to my belief.  I write essays in an effort to improve my stroke-damaged brain.  Whether this is the case remains for my readers to judge.  But in the final analysis, the two most important influences in my life were the Depression of 1929 and the war designated as the Second World War.

There are three subjects that I decline to discuss in the essays. The first one is the Depression, which leaves me with very unpleasant memories even to this day, 70 years later.  The second thing is to never discuss my experiences in combat.  However, fifty years later I violated this rule as a means of telling my daughters what had happened before they were born.  The third thing that I never ever discuss is the divorce of 1983.


Well, I hope this may give you an idea of who this fellow Ezra Carr might be.  I am flattered by the thought that Kevin Shepherd, my grandson, thought that a website ought to be established for the purpose of propagating my essays.  And so, on this very hopeful note, I leave you with full confidence that the gospel of Ezra Carr will be spread throughout the world.


Addendum (8/23):

In describing who is Ezra, I overlooked one of the most important aspects of my life which is that I was a volunteer to the American Army.  I served I believe about 38 months, about half of that being in actual combat.  I rose to the lofty heights of being a Buck Sergeant.

There may be hope for the world in that after 70 years, I could not recall having been a soldier.  I view that as a pretty good sign.



August 19, 2012

Essay 684


Addendum by Kevin Shepherd:

Pop passed away on June 11th, 2014. You can find his obituary here.

7 Responses to 'About Ezra'

  1. Hi Ed,

    Ross directed me to your web site. I am glad we can now find a compilation of your essays in one convenient spot. I still remember your letter “Sing no Sad Songs for This Old Geezer” which made me puzzled if I should utter a good laugh or what. I still remember your grandson, the toddler with the frizz on his head. Many years ago, he came to stay with you for a few days and I ran into him in your kitchen. You did mention about catching fireflies.

    I also want to take this opportunity to thank you, and Judy, for the rich experiences you have bestowed on us, the family next door. Thank you for the many little presents, your wise cracks, and your delightful presence at the 3 kids’ music recitals in our house. Best of all, your stories given to Tyler during his interview of you for his high school English assignment inspired his love for the language and the literature all his life. As a molecular biophysicis and biochem major, he devoted his time and stamina to endure the grueling English course, Daily Theme at Yale.

    Ross, too, has a fond memory of you. He enjoyed his service cat-sitting Shannon while you were away. May I say that his love for nature and wild life started with the interactions with you? I was not surprised when he changed his concentration of study from math and computer to his graduate work in Atmospheric Sciences.

    As for Allison, words cannot describe how much love and inspiration she feels all these years. She especially felt motivated and proud when Judy gave her the best high school graduation gift of all, a handmade collage of newspaper cuttings, her concert programs, and her photos.

    So I don’t want to take up so much of your space, besides I don’t write as well as you. I hope the simple words of “THANK YOU” will convey how much you have touched our lives.


  2. Ed Carr says:

    Hey Joanna,
    Judy read your comments to me about my essays. I can only say that I am genuinely humbled. If over the years I have brought joy to my friends and neighbors, I am delighted to have done so. Nonetheless, your comments leave me genuinely humbled.
    It has been an inspiration to both Judy and myself to live next door to the talented and accomplished Cheung family. On many occasions I recall the concerts with Allison playing the harp, Tyler on cello, and Ross playing the trumpet. As I say, living next door to the Cheung family has been an inspiration for both of us. Judy says that she always felt that we were privileged to participate in so many of your children’s events. We thank you for including us.
    I hope that before life ends we will be able to hear Nim, who has been a spectator, sing “Old Man River” or some other inspirational song. We will await that day.
    Stay strong…

  3. JIM HURLEY says:

    Hey Ed
    I don’t know how in the hell I found this site today, but I am glad I did. I read and read and read and laughed my ass off.

    I started to do a Google search and messed up my typing so much that when looked at the results after hitting “enter” I was stunned at first and then amazed at what came up. It was a full page of items on E E Carr and related things.

    Number one was on you and your address in Short Hills.
    Number two was J A CHICKA with similar phone number.
    Number three was an ENDLESS PAGE of essays by none other that Ezra. Daggummitt . . . I hit a gold mine.

    I stopped searching for what I was looking for and read for almost an hour with amazement and an inner peace. It was as if you were talking with me again. What a wonderful thing to have happen out of the blue. I am sure that some how it was meant to be that I flubbed my search words so badly. Can you imagine my surprise.

    Your essay on music hit a chord in my heart. I was an early in life many year student of music from grade school through HS and into college with private lessons and all. Then working ambitions and Sharron’s “honey do list” took over and ended my musical ambitions until about six years ago. I joined our church choir then organized a trio and joined a men’s quartet. The fires started burning again and I purchased a guitar, then a banjo and then a mandolin. Each is strung differently so it works my mind overtime keeping up with the fingering of the fret boards.

    Enough of this dribble. I will try to get an update to you on things here very soon.

    Love ya buddy.


  4. Robert Schneider says:

    I was very sorry to learn of Ezra’s death. Ezra Edgar Carr Jr. was my uncle. I only met him once. That was at my gr grandmother’s funeral. I was at their house when they lived in MD. That was sometime in the 1960s. That was when I met the two girls and his wife Eileen.

    I just learned of his death yesterday on a genealogy posting. That was how I came to this set of essays.

    One thing. He was determined, so relatives told me, that the family was Irish and came as refugees from the Potato Famine. That isn’t true. Ancestors can be documented in SC as early as 1800. The family moved to AL and from there to southeast Il and Stone County, MO and Carroll County AR. Now it’s possible that the Carrs did come as Irish Protestants in the mid 18th century, landing in Charleston, SC. But I have no firm evidence. It’s also possible that they landed in Monmouth County NJ in 1685, part of a group of Presbyterian Scottish settlers who had been run out of the country. If that is the case, our first ancestor was one Walter Ker. His ancestors started moving south in the early 18th century.

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