Stories about Mom, Dad, Joe, Izzy, Chuck, and Myra

I remember a bunch of stories that Chuck told me about his childhood, and I would like to share them here. I hope others recall stories which they also would like to share.

There is a danger here. There was some real pathology in the family. It may be that there are stories which need to be told, but that this is not the place to tell them.

Another danger is that of transmitting hurts from their generation to ours. If A's child tells a story about B having been unkind to A (where A and B are in the set {Joe, Izzy, Chuck, Myra}), then B's kids today may feel great irritation toward A's kid. A possible solution is for A's kid to get B's kid's permission to tell the story here.

And then what fun we will have when two or more people remember the same event differently.

I am going to try to list the stories in chronological order, but in places this is, of course, a completely fanciful effort.

year?  Contributed by             Title/Topic

1900   Bill Collier                Dad's Sister Dies.
1913   Bill Collier                Chuck Salutes.
1914   Bill Collier                Chuck Wants a Drum.
1915   Bill Collier                Joe Goes Sledding.
1919   Bill Collier                Mom's Pictures.
1920   Sally Collier               Dad Reads Uncle Remus
1920   Bill Collier                Dad's Love.
1921   Bill Collier                Colored Marbles.
1922   Bill Collier                Cold Tongue.
1923   Bill Collier                William P. ???
1925   Bill Collier                Hamburger.
1926   Bill Collier                Masonic Birthdays.
1927   Bill Collier                Trumpet Solo.
1928   Bill Collier                Dad and His Pipe.
1928   Bill Collier                Chuck and the Trombone.
1929   Sally Collier               Bouquet.
1930   Bill Collier                Chuck Walks down the Street.
1930   Bill Collier                Blue Ribbon Vegetables.
1932   Bill Collier                Peter Lorre.
1934   Bill Collier                Dad Appears Illiterate.
1938   Bill Collier                Buddy Shang.
1949   Bill Collier                By His Death Bed.
1949   David Stickler, Joe         Dad's Eulogy.
       Stickler, Jo Kaestner
1981   David Stickler, Joe         Myra's Letter to David.
       Stickler, Jo Kaestner
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1900. Dad's Sister Dies.

Chuck told me that Dad had a sister whom he greatly loved and another whom he greatly hated. The first one got sick, and eventually died. The second one would not allow Dad to visit the first one, because she was thrashing around, and Dad might see something he was not supposed to see.

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1913. Chuck Salutes.

Chuck was about four years old and was standing on the front porch of the house on Forest Street in Sidney. An impressive looking, well dressed man came walking alone along the sidewalk. His face was recognizable from the front page of the newspapers. Chuck's grandmother (whose house it was, I believe) shouted to Chuck, "Salute." Chuck saluted in the way he had seen soldiers preparing for World War I salute. President of the United States William Howard Taft nodded his head and raised his cane in response, but did not turn his head and did not slow his stride. Apparently his train had stopped in Sidney (the station was only a few blocks away) and he had wanted to get out for a breath of air.

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1913. Chuck Wants a Drum.

The Presbyterian Church had a Chrismas gift exchange. Everyone brought a present and put it in a bag and then everyone took out a present. Chuck wanted a drum. Mom told him he was sure to get one (what was she thinking?). Chuck did not get a drum. He left the church kicking and screaming, "I wanted a drum, and you said I'd get a drum, and I didn't get a drum, and I still want a drum." For Christmas friends and relatives gave Chuck a total of five drums. I think he was embarrassed about that for the rest of his life (when he might better have been angry at Mom for deficient parenting).

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1915. Joe Goes Sledding.

The Collier house in Sidney was two doors away from North West Avenue. North West Avenue was long, not too steep, and paved in brick. There were not a lot of cars or buggies in those days, and so in the winter a light coating of snow made for perfect sledding. There is bad news and there is good news in this story. The bad news is that at the bottom of North West Avenue there was a railroad track. The good news is that the track was only very rarely used. More bad news is that a train did in fact come along once while Joe was sledding down the street and he tried to stop but couldn't. But the good news is that Joe went right under a slow moving box car and came out untouched on the other side. Izzy, Chuck, and Myra were hysterical with fear one moment and then hysterical with relief and laughter the next. Chuck said none of them ever forgot the day that Joe sledded under a train.

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1919. Mom's Pictures.

Some of Mom's pictures were sold to an insurance company for use in their annual calendars. (I would strongly suspect that the company was Provident Mutual, the company for which Dad sold insurance for many years.) Doughboys returning to Sidney after World War I reported seeing Mom's pictures on calenders in France, China, and Australia (at least that is what I remember Chuck saying).

(Personal note: Chuck and Dad took out a life insurance policy on me for $1000 some time in the late '30's. I cashed it in a few years go when it reached maturity. That experience and applying for social security finally forced home the point that I was now officially an old man. --wwc)

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1920. Dad Reads Uncle Remus.

When Ruth was a little girl at the Pemberton school in maybe 2nd or 3rd grade, (1919-20), the kids all looked out the window one day and shouted, "Oh here comes Mr. Collier!" They knew that classes would be suspended while Mr. Collier was welcomed to come in and read Uncle Remus stories to them. Little did she know that in 14 or 15 years she'd marry the man's son. And imagine any school today allowing a guy like that into their classroom. But apparently he stopped at many schools to read to the kids when he got tired of selling life insurance.

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1920. Dad's Love.

Dad once told Chuck that Dad loved Chuck the best of the four children. Chuck was happy. When the kids were older, they compared notes and found that Dad had told each of them the same thing.

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1921. Colored Marbles.

Chuck said that the family referred to constipation as 'colored marbles' which is a funny corruption of the Latin term for the condition.

I searched for the phrase on Google. It is one of the few times Google has let me down. Does anyone know the phrase?

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1922. Cold Tongue.

Oh his way to school one bitterly cold winter morning Chuck met a couple of kids who told him that if he licked the railing in front of this woman's house, it would taste like honey. Chuck had some misgivings, but licked the railing anyway. His tongue froze to the railing and he was completely helpless. The kids laughed and went off. Fortunately, the woman of the house had been watching, and she came out with a tea kettle of hot water which she poured on the railing to warm it up and thereby to release Chuck's tongue. =========================================================================================

1923. William P. ???.

Dad was an excellent athlete when he was young. He was good enough to receive an invitation to try out for the Cincinnati Reds (though not good enough to make the team). He played tennis into his sixties, until his doctor told him that people his age should not indulge in exercise that strenuous. He was an excellent bridge player and an outstanding billiards player. But as a high school Latin teacher he was perhaps not so patient with those less gifted than he.

One day Dad was playing billiards (when he probably should have been out selling life insurance). The game grew tense. Dad had a very difficult shot to make to win the game. The entire pool hall grew silent. Everyone gathered around to watch.

As Dad was about to shoot, one of his former Latin students, apparently not a great admirer of Dad's, broke the silence with, "William P. Collier, huh? I think it should be William Peculiar." Everyone laughed. Dad missed.

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1925. Hamburger.

There was a story about Mom calling Dad and asking him to bring home a pound of hamburger. The words got mixed up, and Dad was indignant and outraged, but he showed up at home with, as he understood the request, FIVE pounds of hamburger. There was something amusing about the words that led to the mixup, but I have totally forgotten what they were, and so this story is pretty lame. Sorry. Does anyone remember the story correctly?

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1926. Masonic Birthdays.

At a Masonic Lodge meeting Dad offerred to bet that he could tell every man in the room his birth date. The bet was taken. What the other fellow did not realize is that Dad, as a life insurance salesman, had tried to sell an insurance policy to every man there, and in so doing Dad had learned each man's birth date. Dad delivered and won the bet.

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1927. Trumpet Solo.

If a trumpeter's mouth is too dry, he/she cannot move the tongue smoothly. If it is too wet, the saliva will get in the mouthpiece and distort the sound.

There was a concert in Sidney, Ohio, during which a prominent player was to perform a trumpet solo. Chuck and two of his friends got front row seats and just as the trumpeteer began his solo, they pulled halves of lemons from their pockets and bit into them, while looking straight at the player. He was a pro; they failed to induce the expected catastrophic surge of saliva.

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1928. Dad and his pipe.

Someone told Dad that Dad was addicted to tobacco. Dad denied it. The man said the only way to prove that he was not addicted to tobacco was to give it up for two years. Dad said he could do that easily. The man said he would bet that Dad couldn't. Dad took the bet, put out his pipe, and did not smoke for two years. The following day he lit up his pipe and cursed himself for ever having made such a stupid bet.

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1928. Chuck and the Trombone.

Chuck played the trombone in the Sidney High School Band. He told me once that he loved the instrument and spent hours and hours every day practicing. One morning when I was in high school my friend John Uncapher stopped by to pick me up on the way to school. He was carrying his trombone. I asked Chuck if he could still play. He said, "Sure" and asked John if he could borrow it. Chuck then played the Sidney High School marching song perfectly, after having not played for at least 20 years.

Chuck went to Ohio University for a couple of years before the Depression got too bad and forced him to quit. While there he supported himself in part by playing in a dance band. One night they were playing at an outside dance very late in the fall. The weather had become very cold. Chuck had large ears and they were getting cold. He had this trick where he could fold his ears (along a vertical axis) and then fold them down and then tuck the tip of the fold into his ear canal. There was a rest in the music for the four person trombone section before the trombones were to come back in fortissimo. During the rest Chuck folded his ears in in order to get them warm. He then picked up his trombone and attacked the music smartly. The conductor looked up in surprise. Instead of a united attack only Chuck was playing. The other trombonists had seen what Chuch had done and were all too busy trying to fold their ears into their ear canals to pay attention to the music.

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1929. Bouquet.

Unkie was going to give a speech at a Masonic Lodge meeting and was a bit nervous, and so he practiced beforehand in front of Dad. In the talk he spoke of "a bouquet of roses", pronouncing the first word "boe-kay". Dad corrected Unkie, saying that the word should be pronounced "boo-kay". For some reason this was very difficult for Unkie, but he worked on it and eventually got it right, maybe too right. When the time came for the talk, he spoke of a "boo-kay of ruses."

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1930. Chuck Walks down the Street in Athens, Ohio.

Dad went to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, before later going to Harvard for a second bachelors degree, graduating in 1902. Chuck also went to Ohio University, but had to drop out after two years because of the Depression.

One day while walking down the street, Chuck heard an old woman say, "Collier! Parker Collier! Come back here." Chuck turned around and came back, and the woman said, "You are Parker Collier's son, aren't you?" Chuck said that he was and asked how she knew. She said, "You walk just like your father."

Chuck aspired for me to attend Ohio University and to join the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He said that I would then be a fourth generation BTP, and that while there had been other fourth generation BTP's, there had never been the case of all four generations being BTP's at the same school.

It would appear from this story that Dad followed in his father's footsteps, first going to Ohio University and then to Harvard.

Dad was born in 1873 (according to the LDS) or 1875 (according to Walter). So he was either 27 or 29 when he graduated from Harvard. What happened between the time he graduated from OU (around 1893?) and from Harvard in 1902? Was that the time during which he was in Georgia, that Myra mentions?

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1930's. Blue Ribbon Vegetables.

Dad consistently won blue ribbons at the Shelby County Fair for the vegetables that he grew. The vegetable garden was right out the front door of the house on the Collier farm. Chuck explained to me how Dad was so successful. On the site of the garden plot there had once stood a barn which housed sheep. The sheep had worked for many years to generate the nutrients that later grew prize-winning vegetables.

When Chuck told me this story, he laughed a hollow, triumphant laugh as if he had destroyed any claim Dad might have had to excellence in growing vegetables. I pointed out that a fortuitous choice of garden location did not invalidate the fact that one was a success in gardening. Chuck appeared deflated. I have wondered since then about what was going on in him.

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1932. Peter Lorre.

Chuck was at a movie. It was really scary. Equally entertaining were the reactions of the two women sitting behind him who were totally terrified. When the newest nefarious character appeared on screen, one of them said, "Oh, there's Peter Lorre". The other responded, "Oh, Thank God, you know someone in this theater".

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1934. Dad Appears Illiterate.

Ruth told me that one evening she was invited to the Collier family house for dinner. (In my mind this was at the little farm, but I am not certain of that.) Dad said, "Come here, Ruth, I want to read you a story." So she sat by him and he read, but he read in a sometimes halting manner. She wondered why that was, because he had a reputation for being a very learned person. Later she found out that he was reading a story written in classical Greek and was translating as he went along.

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1938. Buddy Shang.

Buddy Shang was a former slave who moved from down South to Sidney after the Civil War. Mom painted Buddy. The painting shows him with a slave shackle still on his right wrist; it was never removed. He carries a tin bucket in his right hand and a cane in his left hand. The bucket was known to hold beer at times. Other times it held fishing worms, and his cane served as a fishing pole. A red and yellow fishing fly is hooked on his vest.

Mom sold the painting to a local jeweler who displayed it in his store window for many years. When Buddy first saw the painting, he exclaimed, "Well, bless my soul. There's Shadrack Meshack Abednego White." It was the only time anyone ever heard him speak his full given name.

Chuck tried to buy the painting back after Mom died, but the jeweler set too high a price. Then one night the jewelry store burned. Chuck went down the next day and poked through the rubble until he found the painting. He took it home. I have it today.

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1949. By his death bed.

Dad got a bachelors degree at Ohio University and then went two years at Harvard to get a second bachelors degree, graduating in 1902. (Chuck told me that Dad had gotten a masters degree at Harvard; I later discovered it was only a bachelors degree. While at Harvard he studied with Kittredge, the great Shakespearean scholar. Dad remained a student of Shakespeare throughout his life. Chuck said that on Dad's nightstand when he died there was a brand new set of the collected works of Shakespeare.

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1949. Dad's Eulogy.

Myra saved a typed copy of the eulogy delivered at Dad's funeral. She passed it to Joe Stickler who passed it to Jo Kaestner who passed it to me. In this age of spellcheck, variable-width fonts, and 600 dpi printers there is something nostalgic and touching about old typescript. Therefore, I have reproduced the typed page as closely as I could, including typos, spacing, and dropped characters.

I knew Jack Meister. He was the minister who confirmed me into the Presbyterian Church. Dad regularly ranted to Rev. Meister about the outdatedness of the Apostle's Creed and the inappropriateness of reciting it every Sunday in church. (Now I recognize where I got the orneriness to refuse to say the Lord's Prayer or Salute the Flag in high school.) The eulogy seems to me to be a little bookish and a little lacking in feeling. But then I am judging an event of a different time and a different culture by what I have become today. --wwc

                     The First Presbyterian Church
                   Corner of Miami and North Streets
                            Sidney, Ohio
        
John W. Meister, Pastor


                       In Memoriam
                 
                     William Collier
               
       One of the delights of my life during the past four years has
been the privilege of coming to know Bill Collier.  Next to the
members of the pulpit committee, he was the first person I met in
Sidney.  From our first meeting until his death my days were frequent-
ly brightened by a stimulating conversation with Bill or by the re-
ceipt of what he chose to call one of his "jeremiads."  The last of
his jeremiads came into my hands two days after his death.
       
       With that as a background you will understand why I think I
know something of Bill Collier's faith.  His mind was too adventurous
to be constrained; his soul was too much alive to be bound by  dogma;
his faith was too daring to be satisfied with any formal creed.  So
he became an ardent and intelligent and zealous foe of tradition and
convention and dogma; and the only creeds he would recite were the
creeds born in the home of his personal experience.
       
       Bill was so far ahead of the crowd spiritually that he could keep
company only with the spiritually elite.  One of the blessed company of
his spiritual friends was Rufus Jones, the greatest Quaker of our gener-
ation, who was a ten year old boy on a farm in Maine when Bill was born,                       
but they were friends nevertheless---friends in Christ.  Rufus Jones wrote
56 books during 86 years and Bill read avidly all of them he could find--
and he agreed with Rufus Jones.
       
       So I want to conclude this testimony to the faith of Bill Collier
with an excerpt from one of Rufus Jones writings.  It is entitled:
       
                       A FINAL FAITH
               
          "New Eyes for Invisibles" -----Rufus Jones
           
       My deepest faith is in life.  And by life I do not mean merely
conjugating the verb to eat, or just being one more biological speci-
men with broad flat nails.  I mean that main miracle that thou art thou.
The most amazing thing about life is the fact that very early it start-
ed changing upward and showing a tendency to mutate into higher forms.

               A fire-mist and a planet,
               A crystal and a cell,
               A jelly-fish and a saurian,
               And caves where the cavemen dwell,
               Then a sense of law and order,
               And a face turned toward the sod.
               
        That was a most unpredictable mutation, the "face turned from
the sod," which means the coming of a being with ideal vision.  With
that event our kind of life began.  When we pass over from what has
to be by the drive of nature to a clear vision of what ought to be we
cross one of the greatest "divides" in the universe---a momentous water-
shed.

        The Bible asks the recurrent question, "What is your life?"
In one form or another it is asked 50 times.  Many of the answers dwell
on the brevity of it---it fleetingness.  It is like a fading flower,
like grass that is today and tomorrow is cut down, like a weaver's
shuttle, like a swift mail-post, like a vapor, like a watch in the night,
like yesterday when it is past.  It does not seem brief and fleeting to
me.  As I look back on the slow-moving years and the crowded events, it
feels like an immense stretch of time since the doctor help me up and
said to Mother, "It's a little boy."

        But, in any case, mere length of time has very little significance
in this business of life.  The person who achieved the great record of
length of life has the most pathetic of all biographies.  There are only
two items in his biography: "Methuselah lived 969 years and he died."
It is hard to beat that for pathos.  Jesus Christ lived not much more than
thirty years.  The recorded active mission of his life covers not much more
than one year.  And yet we reckon all our calendars from the date of his
birth, and he has transformed more lives upward than any other person who
has ever been on this planet.

        No, it is not the length that matters; it is the quality.  The
heroic attitude, the power to stand the universe, the discovery of inward
resources that tinge life with joy and radiance, the conquest of fear, and
the insight that the sense of direction is more important than speed---
these are the tests by which the high quality of life stands revealed.
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1981. Myra's Letter to David.

Along with Dad's eulogy came this letter from Myra to her son David. Again, I have sought to preserve the flavor of the original typing. --wwc

                                                June 81 

Dear David, 

    I think you misunderstood my letter.  I was simply telling
you my observatixons which were completely objective.  I 's
seldom that someone who has been a mother can divorce herself
from that role and pe mit he  former children to live their
own lives.  I think I have accomplished this. 

     I made no suggesti ns and found that it wasn't even diff-
icult to take this attitude.  In fact I rather enjoyed sitting
back and watching the drama unfold right before my eyes and
even agree with some of their determinations.  That is the
funof being a mother although it is a delayed reward. 

     About the work.  I like it and if I didn't I wouldn't do it.
Just yesterday I read a out my mother and f the  being married.
He had only arrived in Sidney a short time before after being
hired by the board of education to teach Latin.  My mother
was beautiful but I didn't know she was quite that fast a
worker. She really nabbed him.  He had taught in Georgia
for three years after his graduation from Harvard and that 
must have been where he picked up Joel Chanler Harris.
Anyway afte  he landed in Sidney he apparently didn't have a
chance. 

      Mother had spent most of her life in Sidney and with
her adopted mother, and she must have been tired of that kind
of life.  Her mother never liked Dad and m de it very clear
always th t he was an interloper. She expected to keep
mother under her wings for the rest xx of her life.  She lived
with us for the remainder of her life which was long and
troublesome. She died when I was a teenager. 

      The reason I'  telling you all of this is because I
didn't listen when I was young and they tried to tell me.  I
thought that was old stuff and what did I want to know that 
for.  Mother always claimed that her ancestors dated back to
the French Revolution.  She could be right because her real
mother was an Earle from Pennsylvania (Gov. Earle) All I know
for sure is that her real mother's name was Retta Earle
and she married a brother of my adopted grandmother who was 
a Shaw.  He was killed in a bank robbery while they lived in
Missouri and she was left with no money and two small children,
mother and a brother, who died if pneumonia when he was 17
years old.  He was ice skating and fell through the ice.
Pneumonia developed and he died at age 17.  He and Retta
are both buried in DeGraff cemetery.  Myra xxxxx Shaw Black
made a deal.  S e agreed to bring Retta and the two children
back to Ohio but she demanded her pound of flesh.  She wanted
mother for her daughter because she was married to an old
man Joseph Fleming Black who had served in the Civil War and
was probably unable to conceive a child.  He owned a lumber
company and plannn planing mill in Sidney at the corne  of
West avenue and North street and had quite a bit of money.
He also owned the farm we knew and another farm south of 
Sidney, which was sold when the Miami Conse vancy took over
land back of the Lockington Dam.  The house on that farm
still stands and is one of the oldest in Shelby county
in fact it's listed in the historical spots.  I remember
it slightly from childhood but have since visited  it and
it is a beauty.  Now for Dad.  He was one of seven children
Charles William and Dora ? Collier and he is listed in the
Famous Men  f West Virginia.  This book is available through
the Famous Men of West Virginia at the West Virginia State 
library.  His life paralells that of Dad's.  He taught Latin
for a time and also graduated from Harvard.  Then he sold
life insurance. 

       Now for the other side.  As much as I know Jim and Emma
Stickler came to Ohio from Pennsylbania and wound up in Brown
township, Miami  ounty.  Stick was the only son but there 
were three sisters, Mary, Ellen and anot er who died if
dipthe ia.  Georgianna was a Franz, and one of seven children
She was born in Piqua and baptized in St. Boniface Church,
Piqua.  When she was in the fourth grade she contracted a
nerve disease which made it impossible for her to continue
her education.  I do not know her mother's maiden name but
could find it out. 

      You see I'm even becoming interested in geneaology. 
      
      Yesterday I had a call from a Cincinnati woman whose
nephew runs an antique store in Connecticut.  He had a picture
signed by a Bulle who probably originated in Shelby county
around the 1870's.  I looked in my book and found a ton of
Bulle's but since in those years they did not print births
and since she did not have the first name I could give her
no help.  He apparently was a portrait painter. 

       Now the great question is how did Sidney and the rest
of the world become such a mess. 

        I'm up to 1905 and the German American Bank is Sidney
has just failed.  The cashier by the name of Reed was guilty
is misuse of funds.  He used the embezzled funds to build a
hotel at Orchard Island on Russells Point which still stands
and he made a fortune but he went to the penitentiary.  Many
prominent people in Sidney sold all their posessions to pay back
the money and even at that they only paid the creditors five
 cents on the dollar.  Shortly  fter th t the Citizens Bank
became a Nati nal Bank. 

       Please do write again.  If yo  have any questions about
your family background I'll try to answer whatever I know. 

                                 Love, 
                                 
                                                                  
                                       mother. 
                                  
Last updated May 28, 2003.