It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of—oops, wrong story—I’ll start over:
I’m posting this letter in its entirety, just as it was written, mailed and received more than 15 years ago, on the off-chance that the relationship at that time between me and two of my older sisters might be of interest. Fifteen years ago we were the only members left from a family comprised of two parents, one step-father and seven children (two boys and five girls). Not all at the same time, of course, because the total fluctuated with new births and deaths. Now the family has dwindled to one—I’m the last one standing—that’s not too unusual, since I was the last one to join the family. It’s a classic case of “last one out, last one standing.”
San Antonio Int’l Airport
February 22, 1994
Schwesters is German for sisters. It gets worse. You are schwesters to me, but to Alta you are schwesterschafts, or sisters-in-law. And you thought being a schwester was tough! So that’s our German lesson for today and will probably be our only German lesson, because I’ve forgotten almost everything else (except for a few of the naughty words).
President’s Day has come and gone, and I’m sure we are all the better for it. A school teacher was telling her class about George Washington, and how he was “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” A kid in the back row (probably little Johnny) hollered, “Yeah, but he married a widow.” That was funny when I was a kid. I never really figured out just why, but it was funny. We told it over and over, and it got funnier every time we told it.
It’s 7:30 in the evening and I’m at work, waiting on a flight from Mexico City. I worked 8-5 today, but stayed to work the 6:30 flight on overtime. So the 6:30 flight is now an 8:00 flight. I guess they had a maintenance problem and left Mexico City late. I sure wouldn’t have stayed if I had known it would be late. I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open and my mouth shut.
Hey, the Lotto jackpot for tomorrow is up to 40 million dollars, so maybe by the time you read this I’ll be up to my ears in money. Don’t really know what I would do with it. Can only drive one car at a time, or live in one house at a time, or wear more than one pair of pants or one pair of shoes at a time. I guess I could have more than one wife at a time, except Alta would take a very dim view of that. Speaking of wives, Oscar Wilde has been quoted as saying, “Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same.” No doubt about it, that Oscar was a clever fellow with words.
A guy who recently won $7 million here in Texas was told that $7 million won’t buy happiness. He said, “Maybe not, but it’ll make one helluva down payment.” Or as Jackie Gleason said when told that money won’t buy happiness, “Just give me the money and I’ll do my own shopping.”
February 25, 1994
Well, I’ve been gone 3 days but now I’m back, and I’ll bet you didn’t even miss me! It’s Friday now, about 3 p.m., and I’m working the day shift. And I’m NOT up to my ears in lottery winnings. The $40 million was won by a black 36-year-old female city bus driver in Houston, Texas. Only one winner. Her first check was for $2,100,000, and she gets one just like that one every year for the next 19 years. Pretty hard to take, huh!
The lady I work with (Doris) went home with me for lunch and we stopped at a garage sale. I bought a large (14 inch wide) Fostoria punch bowl with 15 cups for $30. I asked the lady before I bought it if it had any chips, and she said no. I got to the car with it and found a chipped place on the rim, under the piece of masking tape that had the price marked on it. So I took it back, pointed out the chipped place, and she gave back my money. I wanted to tell her what Mama always said, that “You’ll go to the bad place just as quick for lying as for stealing,” but I didn’t. Maybe it was just coincidence that the tape was placed exactly over the chip. Yeah, sure it was! If you believe that, you’ll believe anything, right?
We had lunch with Alta, got back to work, and Doris had a new price list on Fostoria that came in the mail while we were at lunch. The bowl is listed for $240 and the cups are $14 each. In other words, I could have bought $450 worth of Fostoria for $30, and didn’t because of a teeny-tiny chip! So I called Alta, gave her directions to the garage sale and told her to go buy the bowl and cups, and to play ignorant and try to get them cheaper because of the chipped place. It’s probably been sold by now, but she is going by there just in case. I’ll let you know how this turns out, probably in a few minutes. Isn’t this exciting? See how bored I am? And I don’t even like Fostoria!
Told you it would just be a few minutes. Alta just called. She bought the Fostoria, but didn’t have any luck trying to jack down the price. So I now have an extensive collection of Fostoria – 16 pieces! Are either of you interested? That doesn’t look right. Is either of you interested? Still doesn’t look right. Anyway, if either of you is/are interested, I’ll make you a great deal – just $300 for all 16 pieces. You’ll get a 33 percent discount of the estimated value and I’ll make a profit of 900 percent—such a deal! Just don’t look under that piece of masking tape!
I’m kidding, of course. I’ll let either of you have the set for $250. And if that’s too much, I’ll give it to either of you, but you’ll have to pick it up in person at our house. And if you both show up, I, with the wisdom of King Solomon, will divide the 16 pieces equally – one half of the bowl for each of you, and seven and one-half cups for each of you. That way you’ll have to get together when you want to party. You can stick the bowl and one cup back together, then split them up again afterward.
February 26, 1994
Looks like I’ll never finish this one. Just to bring you up to date on the Fostoria punch bowl—I had a time finding the chipped place on the rim when I got home. Seems like the “lady” sanded down the rough spot after I left, and told Alta it didn’t have any chipped places. I guess I’m going to have to add garage sales people to my list of less than trustworthy persons. They rank right up there with used-car salesmen, insurance agents and realtors.
The Winter Olympics are over, and I’m sure you’re as happy as I am. I’ve had enough of figure skaters to last me forever. Did you hear about the commercial Tonya Harding has with a baton company? “Who says nothing beats a great pair of L’Eggs?”
All the medal winners in figure skating are coming to the Alamodome in San Antonio in June. Alta wants to get tickets, but she’ll have to get someone else to go with her. Too many people, and too much hassle getting into town and back out again. They built the Alamodome right in the middle of downtown San Antonio where parking was already at a premium. People use Park and Ride areas, then take a city bus to the Dome. And they wait sometimes for two hours and more for transportation after the game is over. Not me. No way. I’ll stay home and watch it on television.
Did I mention that I got a scanner for my computer? Well, I did, about two weeks ago. I now have the capability to scan in just about anything, change it in just about any way I want, then print it out. Maybe I’ll add a few photos to this letter— a picture of the house perhaps, so you’ll be able to tell the taxi driver where to stop when you come to visit. Lauren just had some really nice school pictures made so I’ll try a shot of her also, and maybe one of Landen.
The scanner is a lot of fun. I put in a recent snapshot of some friends, a couple we knew in Donna, and spruced them up a little—took all the lines from the lady’s face and neck, touched up her hairdo a bit, de-wrinkled him and took the light reflections out of his glasses, straightened his eyebrows and gave him a full head of hair (he is nearly bald). Boy, they look great! Yep, I’m having fun with the scanner, but I’m not making any money with it, naturally.
It’s about 3 p.m., and I’m at work. Nothing to do, as usual. We have three flights from 9 to 11, 1 at 3 p.m., then nothing else until 6:30 p.m. Saturdays are nothing days, because we do no administrative functions, just work international arrivals, and since they drop down to almost nothing on Saturday, our biggest problem is staying awake. I guess I’ll stay and work the 6:30 flight—not because I want to and not necessarily because I’m needed—it’s mostly because I get paid double-time for the overtime and it counts on retirement, so I’m not turning any of it down.
Did I mention I bought a barbecue grill? Did. Didn’t want to but I did. The results are not worth the effort of getting ready and cooking and cleaning afterward. But I got out-voted on the matter. Alta wanted me to get one, so I did. I feel a bit better about it because I discovered a great way to clean the grill. No muss, no fuss. We grilled two nights ago and I put the cooking grate between newspapers, hosed them down and left the grate in the yard overnight. My dog Mikki got the paper off and you wouldn’t believe how clean she left that grate—it was ready for the next cookout.
What is it they say about necessity being the mother of invention? I have accidently invented a no-cost hands-off way to clean barbecue grill grates. Well, there would be some initial cost to my system if a person didn’t already have a dog, because they’d have to go out and buy one – unless they could borrow one from a neighbor. Come to think of it, that might well be an ideal entrepreneurial enterprise, renting out dogs overnight to serve as barbecue grate cleaners, with special rates for a full weekend. I know there are some companies which have rental guard dogs, so maybe the guard dogs could be utilized for my system and do double duty for the renter.
Hey, don’t laugh! Just look how much money the hula-hoop and the slinky and the pet rock made for the people who invented them. And I saw on television that some people in a small town near San Antonio have begun selling manure—no, not artificial manure but real manure, bono fide manure, as in horse-apples and cow-pies (dried, of course) sculpted in the shapes of animals. They give them such names as turdles (get it?), doo-doo birds (get it?), barnyard bagels (get it?), cow-pie pigeons and other shapes and names I don’t remember.
The odiferous objects d’art are intended to be placed in flower and vegetable gardens to enrich the soil as they slowly dissolve in the rain and sun and wind. I know – you’re wondering who did the sculpting, and how. So am I, but I don’t want to know bad enough to call the station and ask. Anyway, I believe if people will go for manure in the shape of animals, my COMBINATION BARBECUE CLEANER AND BURGLAR CHASER should be a winner.
Guess I better wind this thing down. I’ll take it home, add some photos on Sunday and mail it on Monday.
Lots of love, from all of us and ours to all of you and yours.