In January of this year I sent an e-mail containing John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem, Barbara Frietchie, to a friend that lives in Alabama. She acknowledged receipt of the e-mail and replied as follows:
Wow! What a beautiful story of pride, loyalty and courage! Thank you for sharing this poem. I’m sending it on to several of my friends up in Northern Virginia.
She also asked who commanded the troops that entered Frederick, Maryland during the War between the States—I use that title because as yet I have learned nothing about the war that could be considered civil.
I responded to my friend with this e-mail:
Subject: Barbara Frietchie . . . . .
The troops in Whittier’s poem were General Robert E. Lee’s Confederates, led by General Stonewall Jackson. I was introduced to Barbara Frietchie in elementary school—not the real Barbara, just the poem—somewhere around the fourth grade. I’ve forgotten most of the poem, but for some reason these two verses took root: Shoot if you must this old gray head . . . and, Who touches a hair of yon gray head . . .
And now for the benefit of anyone not familiar with the poem, here it is:
Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,
The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.
Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach tree fruited deep,
Fair as the garden of the Lord,
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde.
On that pleasant morn of the early fall,
When Lee marched over the mountain wall,
Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.
Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars,
Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one.
Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;
Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down;
In her attic window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet.
Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead,
Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced; the old flag met his sight.
“Halt!”—the dust-brown ranks stood fast,
“Fire!”—out blazed the rifle-blast.
It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash.
Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf.
She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.
“Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country’s flag,” she said.
A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;
The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman’s deed and word;
“Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on!” he said.
All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet:
All day long that free flag tost
Over the heads of the rebel host.
Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;
And through the hill-gaps sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good-night.
Barbara Frietchie’s work is o’er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.
Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall’s bier.
Over Barbara Frietchie’s grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!
Peace and order and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law;
And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807—1892)
Some final notes:
Given the present demographics of Maryland, Barbara Frietchie could well have been an African-American. Could be—so much of our history is being rewritten that anything is possible (click here for George Orwell’s 1984). Future research online may find that the lady that made the first flag was an African-American—whether true or untrue, that would become part of our revisions of American history.
If the revisions continue, eventually George Santayana’s time-worn statement that Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it will take on new meaning—learning and repeating revisionist history will do little to advance civilization and our standing in the world order.
If I fail to learn history and I am doomed to repeat it, I prefer to repeat the history of the founding of our nation. I do not wish to fail to learn and repeat history that has been revised, and in the revision process has cast aside many of our basic values, and distorted and diluted others.
That’s my opinion—what’s yours?
Tags: African-American, Alabama, american, civilization, courage, demographics, elementary, flag, frederick, frietchie, garden, george orwell, grave, history, january, Lord, loyalty, Maryland, Northern Virginia, orchard, orwell, peach, poem, pride, rebel, revisionist, rifle, robert e lee, santayana, scarf, union, whittier, world order
In the early days of 1949 I joined the Mississippi Army National Guard, not for any urge to serve my state or my country, but simply because the Guard promised to pay me ten dollars each month if I would attend training for one 8-hour day each month. I was a tenth-grade high school dropout and was at loose ends, with no parental supervision and nothing to do except shoot pool and scheme on ways of coming into some cash—any amount of cash, with very little regard as to how it could be gained. That ten dollars was a pittance, of course, but with pool games just ten cents a rack, it meant that I could lose a hundred games and pay for the racks—ten dollars traveled a lot farther in those days.
This will be a brief posting, just long enough to cover the three items in the above title. I just covered the MS National Guard part, so on to the Dixie Division and the Korean War. As for the Korean War, I have several postings relating to my unwilling participation in that fracas. Google the war and you’ll find me somewhere in the wealth of information available.
As for the Dixie Division, that organization has a long and illustrious history, with ream after ream of information available online. My connection with it is somewhat nebulous—I was involved with it only on a could have been, and probably would have been basis. The division was activated during the Korean War and segments of it were shipped off to Korea at the height of the war.
Those segments incurred tremendous losses in battle. I vividly remember reading an article in the Pacific Stars and Stripes, an article in which one of our generals in Korea made the following statement concerning the Dixie Division in reference to their casualties:
They arrived in Korea expecting to ride into battle on pneumatic tires.
That sounds rather callous, but it’s true. Had I not joined the Air Force before the war, and had I stayed in the Mississippi Army National Guard, the odds are very high that I would have arrived in Korea as a foot soldier, and you may be assured that my expectations would have included riding into battle on pneumatic tires. That’s how it was in training—we never marched—and that’s how it should have been in battles.
The odds are also very high that had I gone to Korea with the Dixie Division, the name of my mother’s youngest son—mine—would be etched on the wall of the Korean War monument on the Washington mall, just one of more than 40,000 Americans that died in an unnecessary and futile war, a war officially considered a truce but one that I consider a war lost. It could have been won, just as honorably and just as conclusively as World War II was won.
That’s my opinion—what’s yours?
I said this would be a brief posting—remember?
Tags: Air Force, dixie division, foot soldier, Korea, Korean War, korean war monument, mall, Mississippi, National Guard, opinion, pneumatic, pool, posting, stars and stripes, Washington, World War II
The year 1948 was a really busy one for me. I began the year in high school in the second semester of the tenth grade, but I left school to travel with my family—stepfather, mother and sister—from Mississippi to Midland, Texas. Although dropping out was not my decision, I must honestly say that I was not too upset.
As a preteen and teenager, I was a voracious reader of adventure novels—Zane Grey was and still is one of my favorite authors. I looked forward to being in the land of wild Indians and cowboys, horses and rustlers, crooked bankers and comely maidens, cattle drives to the rail head, stampedes and shoot-outs, fast-draw sheriffs and outlaws, snake-oil peddlers and bible-thumping circuit riders—I was not obsessed with all things western, but I was an avid—okay, rabid—fan.
I spent the rest of the year, at various times traveling, living and working in Midland, Texas and El Paso, Texas. In September of that year I traveled by auto with my older brother from El Paso to New York City, with a Sunday overnight stay in jail in Valley Park, Missouri, a small city a few miles west of St. Louis—it has probably grown a lot since then. On release from jail, we paid a brief visit in St. Louis to my stepfather’s sister and her husband in an effort to borrow gas money to get to New York.
They declined to help out, saying they couldn’t be certain that we were who we said we were—some really cautious people there. We only asked for $20 (gas was twenty-six cents a gallon in 1948) but they were adamant and refused. And here I will be just as cautious as they were by offering my apologies in advance if some are offended when I say that their refusal to help two people adrift on a sea of uncertainty may have been based on the husband being of a certain ethnic persuasion—if you catch my drift. Hey, give me a bit of credit—I’ve already apologized for the slut—oops, I meant slur.
The fact that my stepfather’s sister and her husband apologized to my stepfather and my mother at a later date does little to soften their refusal to finance the remainder of our trip to New York. Twenty dollars? The couple owned and operated an upscale coffee shop in one of the finest hotels in St. Louis. They could not possibly have believed that my brother and I were anyone other than who we professed to be—I told them things about my stepfather, both pro and con, that I could only know from having lived under his rule for some seven years.
Here’s a not-so-brief discussion of our futile chase of a wife, a bus and a train enroute to New York City. While my brother was at work at the El Paso Smelting Works (we lived in one of the company houses on-site), his wife took his wallet, his car and their two children to town, ostensibly on a shopping trip. Around noon on that day, a Friday, we received a call from a parking lot attendant in downtown El Paso. He said the woman that left it there told him to call her husband to pick up the car. My brother called a taxi and asked me to go with him to pick up the car. I unwisely agreed to go—big mistake.
We retrieved the car and immediately headed east. My brother had checked the Greyhound bus schedules and said that she had probably taken the bus and we could catch her in Dallas, more than 600 miles distant. He neglected to ask me if I wanted to go with him—he simply pointed his 1942 Mercury coupe, the one with the steering wheel lock hack-sawed off and the ignition system hooked up to the fog lights—yep, it was hot wired—turn on the fog lights and the engine could be started. We left El Paso and headed for Dallas with my brother driving—I was riding shotgun.
The Greyhound had a fair start on us, but we arrived in Dallas before it did. His wife and children were not on it. My brother then checked the train schedules out of El Paso and decided that she must have taken the train to New York. He said that we could beat the train to St. Louis, so we headed for St. Louis, another 6oo miles away.
A funny thing happened to us on that leg of our journey. We were only 27 miles from St. Louis, and had our forward motion not been impeded, we would have beaten the train from El Paso. However, around noon on that Sunday in Valley Park, Missouri, a small town (then) just 27 miles west of St. Louis, we passed a drive-in restaurant where two uniformed city police officers were having lunch in their police cruiser, with an attractive young short-skirted female carhop leaning into the driver’s window. We were in slow-moving city traffic as we passed, so we had time to admire the rear view of the carhop, and that was probably a fatal mistake. The cops dismissed her and scattered gravel as they dug out in hot pursuit of us, siren blaring, red lights flashing and a bullhorn roaring Pull over! Just as in the old black-and-white Boston Blackie, Charlie Chan and James Cagney movies.
Following the stop and a few questions and answers, my brother and I were arrested, patted down and placed in the city jail. We were suspected of auto theft, and the police posed the probability that we were guilty and possibly had kidnapped and murdered the owner of the car—yes, they used those words, and repeatedly asked us what we did with the gun and where had we hidden the body of the person we murdered after stealing the car.
I hasten to add that the only thing we were guilty of was being stupid enough to first race a Greyhound bus from El Paso to Dallas, and then race a cross-country passenger train from El Paso to St. Louis, all the while driving a hot-wired car with the steering wheel lock hack-sawed off, three different sets of license plates in the trunk, no personal identification and no luggage. Add to that the fact that neither my brother nor I had a scrap of identification on us, and I had a handful of .22 caliber long-rifle cartridges in a pocket of my jeans. We were arrested on Sunday, and after our overnight jailing we were released just before noon on Monday. We were told that we could only be held 24 hours without being formally charged with a crime and booked. We were released after 23 hours in jail, with no apology offered, just an emphatic, Get out of town and don’t come back—just as in those old-time western movies.
We had valid explanations for the hot-wiring, multiple sets of license plates, no identification, no luggage and a pocketful of rifle cartridges, but the officers obviously did not believe us, and told us that none of our story could be checked on Sunday because the offices that could verify our story were closed and inquires could not be made until Monday. We asked them to call our mother in El Paso and she could verify our story. We also asked them to call the parking lot attendant, but they had no interest in calling either. No computers could be checked, of course, because computers had not yet been invented—well, invented perhaps, but none were in use at the time.
The police station boasted two cells in a metal cage, constructed with flat metal strips rather than bars, located in a back room. Apparently the two sections were bolted together after being placed in the room. Each section was approximately 6 x 10 feet, and each had a steel bunk bolted to the middle partition—just the flat knee-high steel platform—no mattress, no pillow, nothing in the way of bedding.
The only other furnishing was a ceramic toilet with no seat and no lid, filled nearly to the brim with things that defied descripti0n. My brother’s cell was similarly equipped and similarly filled to the point of overflowing. I had a faucet on my side, and early in our stay my brother asked our captors for a drink of water. One of those worthies retrieved a pint milk bottle from a pile of rubbish in a corner, passed it to me and told me to get my brother a drink. The bottle was dirty, so I filled it partially and then shook it in an effort to get it clean, then poured the contents into the toilet, and that was a huge mistake. It stirred up the contents of the toilet and unleashed odors that filled the air and our nostrils for the rest of our stay. I told my brother that I couldn’t get the bottle clean and he wisely decided that he wasn’t really thirsty after all.
The cells were separated by a metal partition—I was placed on one side of the partition and my brother was secured on the other side. We could talk but could not see each other. The room had no lighting—daytime lighting was furnished by one double-sash window on my side, with the lower sash raised and no screen—the back side of my cell was against the wall with the window. Flies, mosquitoes, sounds and odors entered with ease—sounds and odors seemed to come and go, but the flies and mosquitoes only came and never left. A single overhead naked light bulb mounted near the room’s ceiling far above the top of our cells served for night lighting—it was never turned off while we were incarcerated.
My brother and I were smokers—I had the matches and he had the cigarettes, but we were able to improvise. There were several small holes drilled through the partition, just large enough to pass a cigarette through, so he would pass me a cigarette and after lighting it, I would pass the lighted match through the hole so he could light his cigarette—we thus confirmed the adage that necessity is the mother of invention.
Late in the afternoon nearing dusk, I glanced out and saw a young boy standing outside the window and staring at me—he was probably twelve or so—I asked him if he would run an errand for me, and if he would I would reward him for it. He agreed, so I gave him fifty cents and asked him to bring back two packs of Camel cigarettes. Don’t laugh—in those days with cigarettes at eighteen cents a pack, a half-dollar would buy two packs with fourteen cents left over. With an apology in advance for using the word bastard, the little bastard took my fifty cents and never came back—hey, I said I apologized!
The cops came to us at about dark-thirty and asked what we wanted for supper, saying that sandwiches were available at a nearby restaurant. My brother and I asked for milk and two cheeseburgers each, and I must admit that the burgers were first-rate. As an aside, burger buns and burgers came in one size in those days—small—nothing even approaching the huge ones we enjoy today. We learned later that the food was not furnished by the city—our suppers were paid for with the few dollars they took when they searched us before placing us in our cells. If there was any change left over they kept it, because no money was returned to us.
There’s lots more to tell about our trip, but I’ll save it for another posting—this one has rambled on long enough. I tried to make it brief, but posting is closely akin to eating peanuts, running downhill and having sex—once started it’s hard to stop. Stay tuned for additional information regarding our jail stay, including a discussion involving a length of rubber hose.
That’s my story—partially—and I’m sticking to it!
I’ll get back to you later with more details.
Tags: bastard, Boston Blackie, bullhorn, burgers, camel, carhop, cell, Charlie Chan, coffee, coffee shop, cruiser, Dallas, El Paso, ethnic, faucet, female, greyhound, hot wired, jail, james cagney, Midland, Missouri, New York, sex, shotgun, siren, St. Louis, supper, taxi, Texas, toilet, train, Valley Park, water, wheel, Zane Grey
Tattooed lady and Battle of the Century
Early in my military career I was privileged to spend some 15 months in one of the most beautiful countries in the exotic far East—well, actually my time there was mandated by the US Department of Defense because of the Korean War, a conflict that began in June of 1950 and was in full swing throughout my sojourn there.
My superiors told me that I was there to help South Korea resist a takeover by North Korea and others, specifically communist China, a northern neighbor that was in turn assisted by Russia, a nation that obligingly provided war weapons and other materials. I did the best I could to help win the war, but the outcome was not completely successful—it raged on for some four years and ended in a draw. The truce that ended the war still exists, and the possibility of renewal of the conflict ebbs and flows.
My memories of my time in South Korea are plentiful and vivid. Among those memories is one of a small RCA portable record player and two vinyl records, one 45 RPM (revolutions per minute) and the other an LP (long play, 33 1/3 revolutions per minute)—yes, Virginia, vinyl records—cassette tapes, CDs and DVDs were many years into the future. I don’t remember who claimed ownership of the records or the record player, but the two records and their contents still loom large in my memory, and for good reason—I listened to them so many times that I still retain most of the lines. They were the only records we had, so they had a lot of play.
The 45 RPM had the song below—I don’t remember the flip side because we rarely played it. I don’t remember the artist, but internet research indicates that the artist was probably Skeets McDonald, a county singer prominent in the 1950s and 1960s. There are numerous versions available online, all differing in some respect, but the one below is the real McCoy–trust me—I’ve been carrying it around in my mind for some 60 years or so—hey, I sometimes use it to lull myself to sleep! These are the words I remember:
Once I married a tattooed lady
It was on a cold winter day
And tattooed all around her body
Was a map of the good old USA.
Upon her leg was Minnesota
On her shoulder Tennessee
And tattooed on her back
Was good old Hackensack
The place where I longed to be.
Upon her chest was West Virginia
Through those hills I did love to roam
And when the moonlight starts to shine
Down on her Wabash
That’s when I recognized my Indiana home.
Special note: There are two words in this posting that are generally considered vulgar—both words basically consist of four letters and one syllable. Either may be used as a noun, whether singular or plural, and both may be conjugated under the prevailing rules of conjugation and used as verbs—present, past, future and all the more subtle tenses allowed—and both may be used as descriptive adjectives.
Of the two records available, the LP record was the one most often played. It was titled The battle of the century, a championship contest waged between the US world champion and his challenger from Australia, a fighter that trained for the competition by traveling from his native country to the United States on a boat loaded with raw cabbages—a fighter on a freighter from a far-flung land, so to speak (I really love alliteration!).
Is the light beginning to dawn? Can you guess the nature of the contest? Huh? Huh? Can ya? I’ll give you this much of a hint—the operative words are raw cabbages.
If you have ever listened to a radio announcer’s description of a world champion boxer defending his title against a challenger, you’ll understand how the record sounded. The contest took place in a circular arena with elevated spectator seats arranged around 360 degrees. In the exact center of the ring was a post, gripped by the contestants to provide stability as they competed. The announcer described in detail the ring and its contents, the spectators including introductions of important personages attending, the contestants and their costumes—highly important items in the contest. Their fight statistics, records and titles won were given, as were many of their personal attributes and most important, the point system used to determine the winner was described in minute detail.
The contestants were fully and colorfully clothed, their costumes festooned with bangles and beads and sponsor’s ads, similar to NASCAR vehicles, all shimmering in the bright kleig lights. The only exception to being fully clothed was that a circular piece of each costume was missing at a strategic point, basically at the lower part of each contestant’s heine (my word, not the announcer’s). The challenger’s cutout circle was very basic and strictly functional, but the champion’s circle was festooned with ribbons that fluttered gaily at times during the competition, depending on the point value of his performance.
The point system included several judges, each scoring points separately and those points averaged to add to the total for each contestant. Points available ranged from a low of two points to a high of 15 points. The nomenclature of the two-pointer escapes me for now, but when I recover it —if I recover it—I will add it to this posting. The 15 pointer was called a triple flutter-blast, a triumphal feat equal to a grand-slam home run in major league baseball, a very rear—oops, I mean very rare feat that virtually always earned a standing applause from spectators. The only triple flutter-blast in this contest was generated by the champion, illustrating and emphasizing the talents that vaulted him—so to speak—to the world championship.
At several times during the fight, the judges found it necessary to examine the cutout to determine the presence of any wetness, the presence of which would nullify any points earned for that particular effort.
Okay, let me wrap this up—I’m sure you’ve deduced by now that The Battle of the Century was a f – – ting contest. I know, I know—I could have called it a flatulence contest, but somehow that word doesn’t ring true, so I used the word that punctuated—so to speak—the announcer’s account of the battle—I mean lots and lots and lots of times during the contest. Please note that I have used it only once, and that time as an adjective in order to identify the nature of the contest—the addition of the gerund, the ing, was necessary in order to create the adjective. And also I camouflaged it by using a couple of dashes because I didn’t want to sully this posting by spelling out the word
The point score at the end—so to speak—placed the challenger ahead of the champion by only one point, and all the champion needed was a simple two-pointer to retain his title. He preened and pranced at a leisurely pace toward the post, bowing repeatedly to his cheering fans, waving and pointing and smiling and giving the thumbs-up signal. He confidently grasped the pole, squatted, took a deep breath and grunted, and a sound reverberated in the arena, a sound magnified by the sensors strategically placed near the post, a sound not heard even once during the competition—a sound that impinged on the hearing of judges, spectators and contestants alike.
Although everyone suspected the worst, there was a prolonged silence while the judges made a close-up visual examination of the cutout area in the champion’s costume, and at their signal the announcer shouted,
Oh, my God! The champion s – – t! He’s disqualified! We have a new world champion! Here, as in f – – ting, I have used dashes to avoid tarnishing my posting, my reputation and my future with Word Press.
From that point the record produced nothing but silence.
And then we played it over.
Both records were still being played by replacements when I exercised my right, after 15 months in Korea, to return to the land of big Post Exchanges and round doorknobs.
I must admit that I was glad the champion lost, if for no other reason for his taunting of the challenger when the contestants were first introduced to the spectators. When the champion stood to acknowledge the applause, he strolled over to the challenger, turned his back to him, bent over and expelled a single two-pointer then jauntily walked away, and the spectators roared their approval.
The announcer gushed thusly: Wow, I can’t believe that! What a champion, and what control! That was only a two-pointer, of course, but for the champion to waste even two points merely as a gesture of defiance, he has demonstrated his ultimate confidence in his ability to retain his world championship.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Tags: 45 rpm, announcer, battle of the century, cassette, cd, century, champion, communist, dvd, flatulence, grand slam, hackensack, indiana, Korea, minnesota, moonlight, nascar, post exchanges, rca, record player, spectator, tattoo, tattoos, Tennessee, wabash, war, west virginia
I received this item in an e-mail from a friend, and I am posting it on my blog for the same reason the author, or authors, stated in the first paragraph—to add some perspective for our friends who subscribe to the “eat-the-rich” mentality so prevalent among liberals.
My first act on reading the e-mail was to check it out at snopes.com by using the phrase To all my valued employees, but found nothing conclusive on that site—nothing either denying or affirming the letter. The writing—punctuation, paragraphing, sentence construction, etc.—could stand a teeny weeny tiny bit of tweaking, but for just this once I chose to post it exactly as I received it—en toto.
This is the original e-mail I received:
Here’s a gem that’s been making the rounds on the Web. We post it here to add some perspective for our friends who subscribe to the “eat-the-rich” mentality so prevalent among liberals:
To All My Valued Employees
There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country.
First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You’ve seen my big home at last year’s Christmas party.
However, what you don’t see is the BACK STORY: I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire living apartment was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.
My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn’t have time to date. I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business—hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of buying the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the discount store extracting any clothing item that didn’t look like it was birthed in the 70’s. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.
So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9 A.M., mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5 P.M., I don’t. There is no “off” button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1 year old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden—the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations… you never realize the Back Story and the sacrifices I’ve made.
Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail out all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.
Yes, business ownership has its benefits, but the price I’ve paid is steep and not without wounds. Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:
I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don’t pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my “stimulus” check was? Zero.. Nada. Zilch. The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.
The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you’d quit and you wouldn’t work here. I agree, which is why your job is in jeopardy. Here is what many of you don’t understand … to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had suddenly government mandated to me that I didn’t need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries.
Business is at the heart of America as it has always been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. The power brokers in Washington believe the poor of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep. So where am I going with all this? It’s quite simple.
If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I’ll fire you. I’ll fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child’s future. Frankly, it isn’t my problem any more.
Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I’m done. I’m done with a country that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship.
So, if you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about….
Tags: beach, boss, Christmas, corolla, discipline, future, hurricane, landscape, mercedes, office, ramen noodles, rhetoric, sacrifice, studio, suv, transmission toyota
My initial enlistment in the United States Air Force required perjury on the part of three people. The recruiting sergeant, my mother and I all lied about my age. I lacked six months and 12 days before my seventeenth birthday, the mandatory minimum age for enlistment with parental or guardian permission. The recruiting sergeant used ink eradicator on a certified copy of my birth certificate to change my year of birth and my mother perjured herself by signing the required parental consent form, and I was off on a great adventure—all 16 years, 110 pounds and 66 and three-fourths inches of me.
Speaking of height—I was unable to comply with the very first order given by an Air Force officer. Several of us, all new enlistees, were ushered into a room furnished with one desk, one chair and two flags—the U.S. flag and the official U.S. Air Force flag. The NCO that took us to the room told us the captain would be there in a few minutes to administer the oath of enlistment. A bit later the captain came in, said good morning, looked at his watch and said, Stand tall, men. I’ll be right back. I lacked one-fourth of an inch being five feet, seven inches tall, and I was dwarfed by the NBA wanna-bees with whom I was to share the oath of enlistment. Need I say more?
For those that have never had the pleasure of being sworn into the United States Air Force, here is the complete text of the oath I took:
US AIR FORCE OATH OF ENLISTMENT
I, (state your name), swear to sign away 4 years of my life to the UNITED STATES AIR FORCE because I know I couldn’t hack it in the Army, because the Marines frighten me, and because I am afraid of water over waist-deep. I swear to sit behind a desk. I also swear not to do any form of real exercise, but promise to defend our bike-riding test as a valid form of exercise. I promise to walk around calling everyone by their first name because I find it amusing to annoy the other services. I will have a better quality of life than those around me and will, at all times, be sure to make them aware of that fact. After completion of Basic Training I will be a lean, mean, donut-eating, Lazy-Boy sitting, civilian-wearing-blue-clothes, a Chair-borne Ranger. I will believe I am superior to all others and will make an effort to clean the knife before stabbing the next person in the back. I will annoy those around me, and will go home early every day. So Help Me God!
Hey, I’m just kidding! That oath came from the internet—you can check it and other hilarious pseudo military service oaths out here. That site is well worth a visit—trust me, you’ll like it!
The real oath of enlistment, the one that is administered by all services except the National Guard follows—this oath differs from the National Guard only because it includes the name of the state of enlistment. Click here for a history of the real oath of enlistment.
In the Armed Forces EXCEPT the National Guard (Army or Air)
I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
The months and days between enlistment and the attainment of the required age of 17 were considered minority time, and had the law governing minority time in service not been changed, it would not have been counted in determining the time required for retirement from the military. The law was changed, I believe, in the 1950s through congressional action—my minority time was counted in my total service for retirement purposes.
Re: Minority time:
A funny thing happened to me on the way to retirement from the U.S. Air Force. About a month after I began basic training, our training NCO told one of the trainees to break formation following breakfast and report to the commanding officer. He then took a long look at me and said, You might as well go with him—you’re not seventeen either.
The two of us were ushered into the commander’s office and told to be seated. In addition to the commander, a military chaplain was present. The chaplain told my fellow trainee that his mother had contacted him, saying that her son was underage and she missed him and wanted him back home with her. Following that information, the commander told the trainee that it was his choice—he could be released from his oath of enlistment and be separated from the Air Force immediately without prejudice, or if he chose, he could continue his training and his enlistment.
When my fellow trainee elected to remain in service against his mother’s wishes, the commander told me that nobody believed that I was 17 years old, but that he would give me the same option. I could continue my training, or I could choose to be released from the military without prejudice. He didn’t bother to ask me if I was underage, and I didn’t admit that I was—he probably figured I would lie if he asked me. I guess the commander and I were well ahead of the curve on the don’t ask, don’t tell option—mind you, this pertained to age only.
And the rest is history—I elected to remain in service. I managed to successfully complete basic training and I continued to reenlist over a period of 22 years plus before retiring. My retirement was based purely on years completed—no percentage for disability—no lower back pain, no loss of hearing, no bad feet, 20-20 eyesight, good teeth, etc.
I mention the absence of disabilities because some retirees feign medical problems in an effort to retire with a disability percentage—yes, Virginia, it’s true, some do—it’s only a few perhaps, but still some do try to fake it. Any percentage of disability will reduce taxes on their retirement pay and give them a leg up for employment in federal service—a disability of just five percent qualifies one for employment preferences and a reduction in federal taxes—a slight reduction, perhaps, but still a reduction. In many cases the full amount of retired pay is exempted from federal tax.
A bit of advice for future retirees—only the claim of lower back pain has even a slight chance to fool the medics. If one holds one’s ground, a disability may be given, probably the minimum five percent. Don’t even consider trying to fool the machines used to determine loss of hearing—it can’t be done. I’m not speaking from personal experience—had I known the ins and outs of faking medical problems I may have made the attempt, but I learned all this only after I completed my retirement physical. The doctor told me that my case was unusual—I took that as a compliment.
That’s it—that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Pee Ess: I subsequently retired from a second career as a United States federal law enforcement officer after 26 years of spotless service, and still with no disability percentage, not even five percent—damn it!
Tags: Air Force, chaplain, commander, constitution, disability, don"t ask don't tell, feet, knife, lazy-boy, lower back pain, Military, minority, mother guardian, National Guard, NBA, perjury, pseudo, ranger, sergeant, teeth, United States, Virginia
I awaken quite early every morning, regardless of the time I retire. I am a news freak, but since most of the news on television is a repetition of the day before, I use the wee small hours of the morning to cruise the internet and write. This morning at some time around 3:00 AM I found a very interesting web site—click here to learn how to never again need to use toilet tissue—well, perhaps just a bit of toilet tissue as opposed to reams of it.
I’m certain that most everyone is familiar with the adage admonishing us that The job’s not finished until the paperwork’s done. That slogan is true, particularly when considering the necessary clean-up job required following the elimination of our body wastes, specifically urine and fecal matter.
The web site shown above extols the virtues of using a patented version of the bidet to accomplish the necessary clean-up. Its makers claim that it is more effective, more sanitary and less expensive than using toilet paper, and that it will save an infinite number of trees, thus continuing the fight against global warming—shades of Al Gore!
In the interests of full disclosure, I must reveal that I have no female parts—nope, all male, so I am not restricted to any directions in which to move the paper—so to speak. I can go any direction I choose—forward, backward, inward, outward, left, right or in a circular motion. I can blot, rub, pat, scour, crush, or squeeze, or I can do a combination of any or all of the above, and when the paper comes up clean, I can be certain that the job has been well done.
I must digress here to ask the question, with due apologies to all, that I first heard voiced by the late comedian George Carlin: How does a blind person know when the job is done?
I have spent considerable time in thoughtful speculation on the subject, and have come up with several possibilities, none of which I consider completely successful or acceptable. I suppose that the best substitutes for sight would involve a blind person’s tactile or olfactory sense, or a combination of both senses.
But enough of the digression—I must return to my solution for saving the trees, a solution that will negate the need for toilet tissue or for any other materials, whether kleenex, catalogues, newspapers, calendars, receipts, oak leaves, or other materials such as wash cloths, towels, shirt tails, corn cobs or currency.
Most of us are familiar with the term gastric bypass surgery, a surgical alternative to dieting in order for one to lose weight. The several bypass surgeries available include rouxeny, biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch, lap-band adjustable gastric banding, vertical banded gastroplasty and sleeve gastrectomy. Click here to learn more about each procedure.
Once again in the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that I am neither a medical doctor nor a body mechanic—the procedure that I am suggesting in order to save the trees by eliminating the use of toilet paper must be developed by others such as the brilliant medical personnel that perfected the different gastric bypass surgeries—I am limited to offering suggestions that could possibly enhance our quality of life—suggestions made possible by my innate capacity to think outside the box.
This is my suggestion for saving the trees:
When we swallow, whether solid food or liquid, the epiglottis closes off the passage to our trachea and directs the swallowed material to our esophagus and thence to the stomach—click here for an explanation of the process. My suggestion is so simple that I wonder why it hasn’t been suggested—I suspect that someone, somewhere, may well be working on the same idea.
This is my simple suggestion, admittedly submitted by a simple person. Given the various definitions of the word simple, I would prefer that the positive ones be applied to me—some of the negative ones are quite depressing.
Here it comes—I call it the FourM process—Master Mike’s Matter Manipulation.
The user—the sitter, so to speak—simply holds the business end of a water hose in the mouth, with pressure controls manipulated by the sitter, and flow of water being swallowed will be diverted through a surgical bypass system and routed directly to the intestines. The resulting pressure will force the intestines’ contents downward and outward. The user needs only to release the sphincter muscle periodically and contract it as required to allow the passage of the intestine’s contents out and into the toilet bowl—much as the sphincter muscle is controlled when one has inserted a suppository or is taking an enema. And here it must be noted that both in the case of a suppository and an enema, the user may sometimes inadvertently lose control of the sphincter muscle.
The stream should be made to swirl in a circular motion as it traverses the small intestine in order to thoroughly cleanse the passageway, and such swirling should also cleanse the immediate outer area of skin surrounding the final opening, the medical term for which, of course, is the anus—see diagram above.
I offer my suggestion with full recognition of the difficulties researchers will face in developing a procedure to divert water under pressure directly to the small intestine, but I believe that it can be done, given the miraculous bypasses that have been developed in other areas of the body, including the heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other vital organs and areas of the body.
A warning: Precautions must be taken to control the pressure and volume of the flushing element, with attention paid to a system of overrides in case a user decides to experiment with higher pressures than necessary. Given the fact that the elimination of such body wastes is normally a pleasant experience, such attempts may be expected.
So there you have it. This is my gift to medical science. I offer it freely with no thought or hope of remuneration or recognition, although I consider it to be, potentially, one of the great medical discoveries of the world, comparable to the discovery of penicillin. Had I been immersed in my bathtub when I thought of this, I would probably have exclaimed, as did the great Pythagoras when he formulated the 47th Problem of Euclid, and upon on the discovery of which he is said to have exclaimed, Eureka!, in the Grecian language signifying, I have found it! You can read about his discovery here.
In fact, he was so proud of his find that he is said to have sacrificed a hecatomb of cattle to celebrate—to those that may not be aware of it, a hecatomb is 100. I have only one problem with such sacrifices—ostensibly in various religions, the flesh of animals sacrificed for religious reasons is not to be eaten. If that really happened, I would like to believe that the flesh was not wasted—with 100 head of cattle sacrificed, the ancient Greeks could have had the mother of all barbeques!
Tags: 47th problem of euclid, anus, barbeque, bidet, body, bowl, catalogues, cattle, diversion duodenal switch lap band, esophagus, eureka, fecal matter, flesh, gastrectomy, gastric bypass, gastroplasty, greece, greecian, heart, hecatomb, intestine, kidneys, kleenes, manipulation, matter, muscle, olfactory sense, paper work, pythagoras, sphincter, stomach, tactile sense, Television, tissue, toilet, trachea, urine, waste
Hey, since you’re already on my site, why not click here to check out my About the King of Texas? As I promised when I began blogging in March of 2009, I have expanded it, and I welcome comments on that expansion. And if you’ll click here, you’ll find lots of stuff about me that you really wanted to know but were afraid to ask.
Now on to this posting featuring a purple delphinium and Al Gore:
Earlier this year one of my three princesses, the one that lives, loves and works in Virginia, posted a gorgeous image of a purple delphinium to her Word Press blog. The photo was so beautiful and I liked it so much that I spent a goodly amount of time composing a comment to express my liking, and I used the comment to express my opinion on a certain figure that looms large in our political scene, so large that at times it raises my ire and restricts my view. I’m unsure why the delphinium directed my thoughts to global warming—perhaps I felt that if global warming is a reality, there may be no purple delphiniums in our future.
Click here to view a delightful delphinium with a plethora of pulchritudinous purple petals (I really love alliteration!) http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/fridays-eye-candy/#comments.
With full realization that one’s memory tends to wane as one ages, I do not believe my daughter has read my comment, so I am making it a separate posting on my blog. I’m bringing it out of the shadows of comments and into the bright light of its own posting. My humble opinion is that my comment deserves wider dissemination, and my ego requires it—nay, demands it!
Here is my original comment on the purple delphinium, and I welcome comments on my comment:
Your photographic representation of a purple delphinium finds me and leaves me at a loss for words adequate enough to praise its beauty. I can only say that it is NOT disgusting, grotesque, hideous, homely, offensive, plain, repulsive, ugly or unattractive.
As an afterthought, I suppose I could say that it is admirable, alluring, angelic, appealing, beauteous, bewitching, charming, classy, comely, cute, dazzling, delicate, delightful, divine, elegant, enticing, excellent, exquisite, fair, fascinating, fine, foxy, good-looking, gorgeous, graceful, grand, handsome, ideal, lovely, magnificent, marvelous, nice, pleasing, pretty, pulchritudinous, radiant, ravishing, refined, resplendent, shapely, sightly, splendid, statuesque, stunning, sublime, superb, symmetrical, taking, well-formed, and wonderful, so I will say it—in fact, I just said it.
As you well know, I face the East every morning and bow in homage to a giant, one that resides in the East—no, not the sun. I bow to a giant that is normally quite garrulous, a towering presence in all our media sources, but for some strange reason has fallen silent in recent weeks, a silence coincidental, perhaps, to the nation’s recent record snowfalls. Be that as it may, while bowing I repeatedly chant, “Al, baby, you’da most!”
My humble bow to that giant and my paying homage to Him (note the capital H) is in recognition of the fact that He is a giant that, for various actions ranging from beneficial to nefarious with all impinging on our society, will remain a giant unless discredited, and will be firmly ensconced in future annals of American history.
That giant is Al Gore, of course, the One (note the capital O) that foretold the extinction of our planet due to global warming caused by mankind, and for that prescience, that foresight, that knowledge of things before they exist or happen, had a Hollywood Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize bestowed on Him.
Let’s face it—in his prophecies, Al Gore rivals Nicodemus!
In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that I am deeply indebted to Al Gore for his invention of the internet—were it not for that prodigious discovery, I would really be at a loss for words—my comments on your blog postings would be reduced to words and phrases such as oh boy, great, nice, wow, okay, right on, you go girl, keep it up, make it happen, give us more, etc., etc., etc.
And also in the interests of full disclosure, I must reveal to your visitors from across the world that my compensation from you is based on the word counts of my comments praising your work, and varies in direct proportion to the number of words—fewer words less money, more words more money.
“N’uff said, or is that more than enough? Can you really afford me? Have your people call my people to discuss different terms of compensation.
I know, I know—I have far too much time on my hands!
Tags: Al Gore, alliteration, capital, delphinium, foresight, giant, global warming, history, Hollywood, homage, image, Internet, invention, knowledge, mankind, Nobel Peace Prize, Oscar, planet, prescience, purple, society, Virginia
In my posting on March 20, 2010 regarding parched peanuts and skin crawling, I told how I left the farm for a few days to visit my mother and sister in Mississippi, some 30 miles west of the farm, and in my absence my cousin Ruby’s husband killed my dog, an American Pit Bull Terrier. I never learned how he was killed but I know why, and the purpose of this posting is to tell the heart wrenching story of Buster’s untimely demise. Click here to see the relationship between parched peanuts and crawling skin, and how my dog and I became farmers.
My most heartfelt hope at the time—a hope that has consistently remained with me over the intervening years—that hope was, and still is, that before the deed was done Buster was able to remove a few chunks of meat from his killer. Please don’t fault me too much for that hope—Bonnie had considerable meat to spare, and I have never wished that Buster could have reached his throat, even if just for a few seconds. Oh, okay, if it will make the reader happy, I probably would have been very sad had Buster taken him out—hey, I disliked the farmer, but I really loved that dog.
Buster was valuable, and several purchase offers had been made for him by surrounding farmers, all of which I declined. Bonnie knew that the dog was valuable, and I would like to believe he sold Buster to some kind farmer that needed him for watch dog services, or perhaps for breeding purposes, and that he—Buster, not the farmer—enjoyed a long and pleasant life, whether barking or breeding or both. Of course I wish the same for the farmer, provided that he had the same proclivity for similar activities.
Shortly after I left the farm to visit my family for Christmas, Bonnie—I’ll call him Bonnie because that was his name—killed my dog. I suppose it’s alright to out Bonnie now. Sixty-two years have passed since the hog/dog/ear/Bonnie incident. My guess would be that by this time Bonnie has gone to that heavenly farm where all farmers go, a place where no crop ever fails and market prices are always sky high (so to speak). Whether he was received or rejected on his arrival to that heavenly farm is, of course, a matter for conjecture. Whether received or rejected, I wish him well.
On a cool cloudless day in October of 1948—a day typical for west central Alabama in the fall—Bonnie and I walked a short distance from the house to cut wood for the kitchen stove. We found a suitable pine tree, felled it and cut it into stove-length blocks, and returned to the house to hitch up the mules and use the wagon to haul the blocks to the house. There they would be chopped into pieces suitable for stoking the kitchen stove.
Yep, that’s how it was done in those days—no electric or gas stoves or heaters because neither gas nor electricity had found their way to that rural area. Cooking and heating homes was strictly a wood-burning process. Our work in the woods was accomplished with a crosscut saw, a two-man-power item in use at the time. I am not aware whether power saws, electric or gas-powered, were available at the time. They may have been, but we would have needed a really long extension cord because the nearest plug–in was several miles distant. Ah, those were the good old days!
As we approached the house, Bonnie’s prized Poland China sow—a female pig— entered the picture. She had managed to escape her pen, and was apparently enjoying her new-found freedom, probably searching for acorns among the fall leaves covering the ground. Leaving her enclosure was a big mistake, both for Buster and for her—she should have stayed in the pen.
This was a young hog, not a piglet but a hog approaching adulthood, a hog probably somewhere in its teens. This was an attractive pig, attractive at least as pigs go, that Bonnie intended to show at county fairs and perhaps breed to raise pigs for the market. The Poland China breed, then and now, fetches good prices at auctions, and some say that its meat is superior to other breeds.
Buster went with us to fell the tree. Everywhere I went, my dog went. I always felt that he was looking out for me, protecting me. I could leave him for any length of time, telling him to stay, and he would faithfully remain at that spot until I returned. I only needed to leave something of mine with him, anything—it could be my bike or cap or jacket, anything with my scent on it, and heaven help anyone that tried to relieve him of his guard duties. My dog and I understood each other, and he responded to a variety of commands from me.
Just as an aside, Buster had a strong dislike for cats and he periodically brought them home for my approval—dead, of course. Any neighborhood in which we lived had very few roaming cats, at least not after we had lived there for a significant length of time.
On this day he was ranging a short distance in front of us as we walked up the hill toward the house, and the hog was rooting in the leaves just ahead. Startled when she saw the dog, she squealed, snorted and took off through the leaves, obviously frightened by the dog. Buster reacted to the sights and sounds and charged, clamping down on her right ear and pulling her off her feet.
Bonnie and I tried to pull him off—I applied pressure to the pads of his feet with no effect, then actually put both hands around his neck trying to cut off enough air to make him release the hog. Bonnie picked up a fairly good sized limb from the ground and struck him with it several times, without any apparent effect.
Buster never released the ear—with the precision of a surgeon he separated the ear from it owner, leaving a smooth but bloody head on the right side. Then he seemed to lose all interest in the animal, and the hog did likewise—she ran several yards away, stopped and looked back wondering, I suppose, what part the dog might decide to remove next. Bonnie stopped beating him and I stopped trying to choke him, and after the surgery Buster was as docile as I had ever seen him.
I can’t say the same for Bonnie. I fear he lost some, perhaps most, of his religion given the string of expletives that followed, along with statements such as I’ll kill that #&*(@! dog—I should have already killed him.
I tried to reason with him but he stalked off to find some medication for the hog, after ordering me to lock the dog up in the corn crib. I did as I was ordered, and kept him there for several days before leaving the farm for my visit with family for Christmas—the rest is history.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: acorns, Alabama, Christmas, corn, crib, crop, crosscut saw, dog, farm, farmer, market, medication, Mississippi, mules, peanuts, pen, pine, pit bull, Poland china, sow, stove, surgeon, terrier, tree, wagon house
The following posting is by a fellow blogger, a professor and gentleman in Carmel, California. In this posting he is thanking his many friends for remembering his birthday, saying that It warms the cockles of my heart. He and his musings can be found here: http://www.oldprof.com./. A visit to his blog can be very rewarding—he has many stories to tell and many thoughts to share, and you may be assured that he tells the stories well and shares them freely, spiced with heart and soul and humor. Try his blog—you’ll like it—I guarantee it.
This is a recent posting by The Old Professor at 7:52 AM on Mar 27, 2010:
Thanks to the thousands—hundreds—many—friends who wished us well on our birthday. It warms the cockles of my heart even though I have no idea what cockles actually are. (I think I’m beginning to talk like Groucho Marx.)
Who is Groucho Marx? Use Google to look it up and while you’re there, look up cockles and you’ll find that no one else seems to know what the word cockles, as it’s used in that expression, actually means either.
Thanks again, and by the way, don’t let anyone kid you. Being 87 isn’t all that bad, especially when one considers the alternatives for people born in 1923.
And now on to my posting for a definition of cockles and introductions to Sweet Molly Malone, Shell Scott, Richard S. Prather, Reverend William Archibald Spooner and something known as spoonerisms.
From Wikipedia: Warms the cockles of my heart refers to the ventricles of the heart. In medieval Latin, the ventricles of the heart were at times called cochleae cordis, where the second word is an inflected form of cor, heart. They are frequently heart-shaped (their formal zoological genus was at one time Cardium, of the heart), with ribbed shells. Those unversed in Latin could have misinterpreted cochleae as cockles, or it might have started out as a university in-joke.
In England cockle refers to an edible mollusk. An old British song says that a girl named Sweet Molly Malone wheels her wheelbarrow through streets wide and narrow, crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive oh! Sweet Molly Malone was probably a seller of fish as well as other marine edibles, and her song may have changed when cockles and mussels were out of season—who knows? You can find her at http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-coc2.htm).
Also from Wikipedia: A spoonerism is an error in speech or a deliberate play on words in which corresponding consonants, vowels, or morphemes are switched. It is named after the Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930), warden of New College, Oxford, who was notoriously prone to this tendency.
Most of the quotations attributed to Spooner in literature were probably never uttered by William Spooner himself, but rather were made up by colleagues and students as a pastime. Here are a few examples:
Three cheers for our queer old dean.
It is kisstomary to cuss the bride.
A blushing crow.
A well-boiled icicle.
You were fighting a liar.
Is the bean dizzy?
Someone is occupewing my pie.
Please sew me to another sheet.
You have hissed all my mystery lectures.
You have tasted a whole worm.
A nosey little cook.
And now I come to the real reason for this posting: Please allow me to introduce two of my all-time favorite literary personalties—Shell Scott, a hard-boiled Hollywood private detective, and his creator, author Richard S. Prather. Read about Richard and Shell here: http://www.thrillingdetective.com/scott.html.
In one of the Shell Scott novels the protagonist (Scott) exclaims, “That really warms the cockles of my heart.” However, he deliberately voiced it as a spoonerism, one that, at least for me, was clever and very funny. I’ll leave it up to the reader to convert the sentence to a spoonerism. I must admit that I’ve used the conversion a few times over the years—it’s a great ice-breaker, whether in the rocker loom or at pocktail carties. Oh, and just a tiny hint as to how to convert Scott’s remark to a spoonerism—not that I think many readers will have trouble with the conversion, but for the one in a million that might not get it. The key words are cockles and heart, so here is a push towards the conversion: warms the harkles of my . . . .
One of the best known spoonerisms is one that a marrying minister says to the groom—And now it is kisstomary to cuss the bride. I first heard that one as a little boy, told to me by my mother. She occasionally uttered spoonerisms (or sputtered unerrisms) of her own, such as Okay, kids, put on your japs and cackets. She once sent me to the store for a package of blazor rades.
During my tour of duty in wartime Korea we used a similar reversal of terms to show the difference between being there rather than back home by saying, “Back home I would come in at night and remove my jacket and jumper, but over here I come in at night and remove my jumper and jacket.”
That one is a bit naughty, perhaps, and not a true spoonerism, although reversing the terms paints a very different picture, as do most spoonerisms—and it is pretty funny—don’t ya think?
Well, anyway, it was at the time. Humor in combat zones is a scarce commodity, and we took it wherever we could find it.
Okay, I can’t resist it—I can’t help it—it’s in my nature, and I must tell a spoonerism joke—please forgive me! Here it is: How does a magician’s act differ from the Radio City Rockettes? Give up? The magician has a cunning line of stunts, and Radio City has a stunning line of . . . .
Tags: bride, california, carmel, cockles, combat, egntleman, england, fish, google, groucho marx, heart, jussels, literature, magician, marine, molly malone, Oxford, professor, radio city, reverend, richard prather, rockettes, sones, spooner, spoonerism, stunts, ventricles, wheelbrow, william archibald
This posting is a letter to Ann Landers and her response to the letter writer. Robert J. Hastings’ The Station may be found on the internet with some variations, but the story and its message are always the same. The date it was published in Newsday is unknown, but I’ve had my typewritten copy (remember typewriters?) for twenty years or more—it’s pretty faded and smudged now, but its pertinence and its heartfelt pathos are still there, and it still tugs at my heartstrings when I read it. I’m posting it here for those that may have missed the publication at the time, and for the multitudes that have come along since it was published. There is a lesson to be learned here, if one will only take the time time to read it and digest its message—and then, perhaps, to apply the message to one’s own life.
The Newsday header for Ann Landers reply was:
Life must be lived one day at a time
Dear Ann Landers,
In July of 1985, my wife was diagnosed as having terminal cancer. Shortly afterward, your column on The Station by R. J. Hastings appeared in Newsday. For years, we had talked of some day going to Paris, a city I fell in love with as a GI. The day after I read the poem, I realized that it was time to pull into the station.
As soon as the doctor ok’d the trip, we went to Paris and had the most beautiful vacation of our 43 years. My lovely wife passed away a year and a half after the diagnosis.
I have since taken the liberty of passing copies of that column to friends. One purchased his some day car. Another went on a long-delayed trip. But the station also can mean visiting a sick friend, and that some day should be now. There is so much hurt in looking back and remembering those things we intended to do and didn’t.
Thank you, Ann Landers, for Paris.
Irv Gaiptman, Plainview, NY.
You were dear to let me know what The Station meant to your life. Here it is for all the others who haven’t as yet learned that lesson:
Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are traveling by train. Out the windows we bring in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.
But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a complete jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering—waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
When we reach the station, that will be it, we cry. When I’m 18. When I buy a new 450SL Mercedes Benz. When I put the last kid through college. When I have paid off the mortgage. When I get a promotion. When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after.
Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.
Relish the moment is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24: This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.
So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more and cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.
By Robert J. Hastings
Tags: aisles, Ann Landers, college, college mortgage, column, destination, dream, flags, friend, hastings, heartstrings, jigsaw puzzle, lesson, letter, mercedes benz, motto, multitudes, New York, newsday, paris, plainview, poem, promotion, retirement, station, train, typewriters, village halls, writer
I remember Earl Wilson . . .
The purpose of this posting is to introduce Earl Wilson to the multitudes of people that were not around to enjoy his contributions to our society through his varied writings, and in a small way to bring him back, even if only for a brief time to a brief few.
From Wikipedia: Earl Wilson (May 3, 1907 in Rockford, Ohio—January 16, 1987 in Yonkers, New York) was an American journalist, gossip columnist and author, perhaps best known for his nationally syndicated column, It Happened Last Night. Wilson’s column originated from the New York Post and ran from 1942 until 1983. For a biographical sketch of the famous columnist, click here:
I read Earl Wilson’s column faithfully over a period of many years, and I still remember many of the quotations attributed to him. For a comprehensive listing of those quotes, click here: http://creativequotations.com/one/2506.htm.
Earl sometimes referred to his Earl’s Pearls as Oil’s Poils—Brooklynese, perhaps, for the term. An internet search for that expression was fruitless, as was my memory of Wilson’s treatment of Thirty days hath September . . .
The following web site has 73 variations of Thirty days hath September—http://www.leapyearday.com/30Days.htm, but it does not include the one I remember best—the one I have parroted frequently over the years—this one:
Thirty days hath Septober,
April, June and Octember,
All the rest eat peanut butter,
And she drives a Cadillac.
Did I mention that I read Earl Wilson’s columns over a period of many years? Well, I did, and I still remember many of the quotations attributed to him. As a starter for those not familiar with Wilson’s wit, here’s a sampling of his quotes:
An exhaustive study of police records shows that no woman has ever shot her husband while he was doing the dishes.
Poise: the ability to be ill at ease inconspicuously.
Benjamin Franklin may have discovered electricity, but it was the man who invented the meter who made the money.
Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.
This would be a much better world if more married couples were as deeply in love as they are in debt.
Saying Gesundheit doesn’t really help the common cold, but its about as good as anything the doctors have come up with.
Success is simply a matter of luck—ask any failure.
Somebody figured it out—we have 35 million laws trying to enforce Ten Commandments.
Always remember, money isn’t everything, but also remember to make a lot of it before talking such fool nonsense.
Spend enough time on the quotations site, and I promise you that you’ll garner enough one-liners to dominate almost any cocktail party, reunion, pajama party or any other gathering—the younger people there will have never heard of Earl Wilson, and the older people there will have forgotten both him and his prodigious output of Earl’s Pearls.
Trust me on my analysis of people at cocktail parties, reunions, pajama parties and any other gathering—I was a younger person for a considerable length of time, and I’ve been an older person for an even longer length of time—I know whereof I speak and therefore have earned the right to advise—so trust me!
Tags: adolescence, author, benjamin franklin, Cadillac, cocktail, cold, column, debt, dishes, doctors, Earl wilson, earls pearls, electricity, franklin, gesundheit, it happened last night, meter, money, new york journalist columnist, new york post, Ohio, pajama party, peanut butter, poise, police, quotations, quote, reunion, rockford, snow, success, ten commandments, thirty days hath september, trust, wikipedia, yonkers
Thee and me, and they and fleas . . .
The purpose of this posting is to share a comment that a viewer—a spammer—posted to my tale of snipe hunting. Well, actually I have another purpose, but if I reveal it at this point I may lose a few arrivals to this posting. I will therefore hold the other purpose in reserve for awhile. The snipe tale with the comment and my response can be viewed here:
This is the viewer’s comment that I retrieved from the trash:
Good evening, Happy Fool’s Day!
Two winkies went on a hunting trip. After it began to get dark, they thought it was about time to go home. They unfortunately got lost.One winkie said to the other, “I read that if you get lost in the woods you should fire three shots in the air. It is supposed to be an “S.O.S.” So, the second winkie shot three times into the air. After waiting for a few hours, they repeated the signal. They tried it over and over, but nobody came to help them. Finally, the second winkie said, “O.K., I’ll try again, but we’re running out of arrows!”
Happy April Fool’s Day!
This is my reply to the comment:
My response to your comment is somewhat belated because WordPress identified it as spam and trashed it, and I overlooked it until this moment. I agree with WordPress—it is spam, intended to attract viewers to a commercial website. However, I enjoyed the April Fool’s joke you sent so I recovered your comment in order to share the joke with others. And yes, your ploy worked beautifully—I’ll include a link to that commercial site in this posting, just to say thanks for the joke—all’s well that ends well!
And now on with this posting:
I may have been the last person online to be exposed to the joke about two lost winkies firing shots into the air to attract rescuers. It’s very likely—I tend to live a rather sheltered life, and I am not prone either to telling or listening to jokes that malign others (I can hear my three daughters laughing already). In this instance the maligned appear to be toys called winkies, so there should be no reprisals involved. I promised the April Fool’s Day jokester—the spammer—that I would post the commercial site just to say thanks for the joke.
The is the commercial site for Winkies—enjoy! http://www.winkies.com/
The joke could have involved someone or some group other than winkies, but our nation’s requirements to maintain political correctness should be followed at all costs. However, in support of those requirements I will suggest a few alternatives for the joke other than winkies, and in doing so I will strive mightily to maintain a balance—to spread the wealth equally, so to speak—I urge my viewers to refrain from using any of these suggestions in retelling the winkies joke—please!
The hunters could just as easily have been identified simply as two hunters, whether male, female or mixed, or as blondes, little morons, Aggies, Texans, Minnesotans, Mississippians, Californians, Floridians, Native Americans, African Americans, persons of Polish extraction, Irishmen, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Tea Baggers, members of various Black Cacuses whether at the state or national level, Ku Klux Klan members, NAACP members, members of the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the IRS, members of ICE, DEA, EPA, NRA and any other of the multitude of alphabet organizations—federal, state, city, county and private that seem to have the ability to multiply on command, Tiger Woods and the star of Deep Throat (she’s dead, rest her soul, but the joke would still work), ad infinitum.
The joke could also have identified couples known nationally and internationally, whether of the same gender or mixed. Some examples would be Joe Biden and Dick Chaney, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison, Hillary Clinton and her spouse what’s his name, John McCain and Sarah Palin, Obama and his closest advisor on nuclear matters, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Benjamin Netanayhu, Barney Frank and anybody, Mutt and Jeff, Blondie and Dagwood —the possibilities here, as in the preceding paragraph, extend also to infinity.
I am including two poems, the first penned by Jonathan Swift, a 17th century writer, and the second an expansion of that poem by Augustus De Morgan, a Victorian mathematician. I consider these poems particularly pertinent (I really love alliteration!) to the relationship between government and the governed in our nation.
So nat’ralists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas that on him prey,
And these have smaller fleas that bite ’em,
And so proceed ad infinitum.
De Morgan’s expansion of Swift’s poem:
Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on,
While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.
Special note: You and I are the great fleas in these poems. They are us—you and I and more than 300 million other U.S. citizens. These poems represent upside down pyramids, with government at the top and us at the bottom. Our government and our constitution are moving in opposite directions—government is expanding and our constitution is shrinking accordingly.
In relation to fleas, government is the biter fleas and we are the bitten, and the pyramid continues to grow wider at the top and narrower at the bottom. Let’s face it—we are staggering and bowing under the weight of all those fleas, and unless that weight is lifted, or at least lessened, it will eventually bring us to our knees, a national position that may possibly be the desired goal of the upper echelons of biter fleas, or government.
That’s my story and that’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to both!
Tags: Ahmadinejad, alphabet, April Fool, April Fool's Day, Augustus De Morgan, Barney Frank, Black Causus, Blondie and Dagwood, constitution, DEA, EPA, flea, fleas, government, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, House of Representatives, Hutchison, ICE, IRS, John McCain, Jonathan Swift, Mutt and Jeff, NAACP, Nancy Pelosi, netanayhu, ploy, pyramids, RA, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin Obame, senate, snipe, spam, spammer, Supreme Court, Tea Baggers, tiger woods, trash, Victoria, winkie, winkies
Postscript to “Mayhem on Delaware campus” . . .
A six-year old boy in a Delaware school was recently sentenced to a five-day suspension and 45 days in a reform school for bringing a Cub Scout camping knife to class. The item was given to him when he joined the Cub Scouts. It combines a fork, spoon and knife in one tool, a tool indispensable to every Cub Scout and Boy Scout—I’m uncertain whether such tool is given to Girl Scouts and/or Brownies, and if given, whether it would be indispensable to them.
Click here to view my original posting. It prompted the following response from a viewer:
“Significantly reduced the boy’s sentence—impressive. Schools have become such odd places. Being an older father of elementary students, I am shocked at how far schools go to assert their dominance over students. But then, I look at the parents of some of my children’s classmates and understand why.”
The viewer’s response was highly cogent—clear, logical and convincing, and obviously heartfelt. His comment about the dominance exerted on students by today’s schools was insightful and accurate. We daily abdicate our responsibilities and surrender our children to schools at every level—faculty members are in full charge of the students. In effect, the students become charges of the institution (note the definition of charge below).
I responded to the viewer’s comment as follows:
Thanks for the comment—I appreciate your interest. I realize that in your case the thoughts expressed below constitute “preaching to the choir,” but perhaps some wayward readers will be influenced by them, one way or another—we need all the help we can get!
This is the definition of CHARGE (from Wikipedia):
“During the European Middle Ages, a charge often meant an underage person placed under the supervision of a nobleman. Charges were the responsibility of the nobleman they were charged to, and they were usually expected to be treated as guests or as members of the household. Charges were at times more or less used openly as hostages, ensuring that the parents were kept in line.
The nuclear family is fast disappearing from the American scene. Our families have become splintered because of government intrusion by local, state and national authorities, intrusions that we appear to welcome.
I abhor the appellation of Chicken Little, but in this instance I embrace it—the sky is falling, and telling the king won’t stop its downward spiral because the king is, in many ways, responsible for the accelerated pace.
I fear that our slide down that slippery slope will continue.
Tags: brownies, charge, chicken little, choir, deleware, european, Express-News, Family, fork, girl scouts, knife, letter to the editor, mayhem, middle ages, nobleman, nuclear, parents, San Antonio, school cub scout, slippery slope, spiral, spoon, tool
The immediate reason I joined the U.S. Air Force rather than the Army was because the U.S. Army recruiting office in my town had reached its quota for March, 1949. The Army recruiting sergeant said his quota was filled for the month, so he offered me a position in the Air Force—yes, Virginia, the armed forces had fixed quotas in those days.
There were openings in the U.S. Navy for March, but that service held no attractions for me. I’m not a strong swimmer, and I also feared that the Navy’s uniform whites with the thirteen trouser buttons might be a bit unwieldy. I know, I know—I can swim far better than I can fly, but I joined the Air Force anyway—I liked the khaki uniforms and the Air Force was immediately available. Added to that was the fact that I needed to get out of town quickly.
The events leading up to my enlistment in the active duty military were numerous and varied. Some of those events were pleasant, but others were harrowing. I was enlisted in the Mississippi National Guard at the time, purely in order to get the $10 per month I was paid for training on one Saturday of each month—big money! I lied about my age in order to join—either the Guard recruiter believed me or really didn’t care whether I was old enough to join. I also lied about my age in order to join the Air Force—click here for a brief autobiographical dissertation that includes my underage enlistment. It’s a long read but I can unblushingly assure you, with no hint of personal bias or prejudice, that the read is worth your time and effort.
Now on to the real reason I joined the U.S. Air Force:
Picture this: A billiard hall on the second floor of a building that also housed a market, located a five-minute walk from the city’s combination high school and junior high school. The pool room was a favorite with young men and boys, particularly at noon during school hours, in the evenings (it closed at six pm), and on Saturdays. The proprietor served no alcoholic beverages and had strict rules for conduct in his establishment. Our local police officers came in occasionally for a free Coke and hot dog, and military recruiters made frequent visits to the pool room to discuss the benefits of military enlistments. Many students, including my mother’s youngest son, spend their lunch hour there every day during school terms—shooting pool, eating hot dogs and drinking cokes.
Special notes: A hot dog with all the trimmings cost a whopping ten cents, and the Mae West-shaped Coke was five cents, with no sales tax involved. Pool games cost ten cents each, paid by the players before the balls were racked by a rack boy. Most games were Eight Ball, played between two players and the loser paid for the rack before the next game began. One only needed to approach a table with two shooters and say, “I’ll play the winner.”
And so it was—the loser paid for the new rack, and the next shooter took on the winner. That process was normally honored, and if any shooter balked at giving up the table, the proprietor was called into action to arbitrate—the loser always lost in the arbitration. At least in theory, a proficient shooter could hold sway over a table for the full hour and never have to pay for a game.
I was a proficient shooter. On many school days I arrived at the poolroom with twenty-five cents, no more and no less. I bought a coke and a hot dog with fifteen cents and pocketed the other dime in the somewhat unlikely chance that I lost a game—it happened, of course, but not very often. If I still had the dime when it was time to return to school, I picked up a second hot dog and coke and finished them off on the way back to school. Ah, those were the days!
My encounter with the Army recruiter took place as I was shooting pool with two friends—the three of us were high-school dropouts, and the recruiter painted such a rosy picture of life in the Army that two of us accepted his invitation to appear at his office the following Monday for testing.
The third person at the pool table was physically unfit for military service—while sound in mind and body in most respects, his back was severely hunched, or humped—I’m unsure of the proper term to use. His deformity was so severe that he resembled a fiddler crab in his forward progress—he wore a sports jacket year-round, regardless of the weather. Before feeling too much pity, one needs to know that he was very much favored by the girls—we were never told what made him so attractive but we had our suspicions, and it sure wasn’t his intellect, his good looks or his conversational charm!
With all necessary apologies to our soldiers, both active duty and veterans, whether discharged or retired, I must state that the U.S. Army’s written test was ridiculously easy for me, but my friend made such a low score that the recruiting sergeant suggested that he not bother asking for a retest—statistics showed that he would never be able to pass the test, no matter how many times he tried. I have long harbored a suspicion that he deliberately failed the exam, but at this late date it is a matter of no importance—at that time he was out and I was in, and that’s all that counted.
Aside from the fact that I was at loose ends, bobbing about on a sea of endless days and nights with no particular feelings or expectations concerning the future, I admit that I was involved in some activities that did not bode well for my future. I passed the written exam and the physical, and I accepted the Army recruiter’s offer of allowing me to enlist in the Air Force rather than waiting for the following month to go into the U.S. Army. Mine was a wise choice, and I have never looked back—well, perhaps a few times during my 15 months in Korea at the height of the Korean War. In my looking back, I am thankful that I did not enlist in the army—had I waited another month I would probably have been in Korea anyway, but fighting on the front lines instead of maintaining aircraft in the rear echelon of troops in country.
I managed to hang on to my sanity through 13 weeks of basic training—click here for some thoughts on that period. Following graduation from basic training, I was treated to a two-week excursion on a U.S. Army troop ship bound for Japan, all expenses paid. I was fine until the third day out, but on that day I was so seasick I seriously considered jumping ship, right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. However, being fully aware of my swimming capabilities and the lack thereof, I turned myself inside out over a 24-hour period and survived my bout with seasickness—a monumental turnaround, especially considering the quality of food served by the Army cooks.
Tags: Air Force, billiard, Coke, cooks, deformity, echelon, eight ball, exam, fiddler crab, hot dog, intellect, khaki, Korea, Korean War, loser, Mae West, Military, Mississippi, National Guard, Navy, Pacific Ocean, pool room, quota, recruiter, saturday, sergeant, soldiers, statistics, swimmer, throry shooter, troop ship, uniforms, veterans, Virginia, winner
In May of 2007, early in my blogging efforts, I posted a dissertation on the rights (or lack thereof) of homosexual couples—gays, if you will—to be married under the same rights granted to heterosexual couples—straights, if you will. The complete posting can be found here: https://thekingoftexas.wordpress.com/2009/05/07/on-the-question-of-gay-marriage-rights/. I will say, in all humility, that a trip to that posting is well worth your time and effort.
In spite of the fact that the question of marriage rights for gays is one of the most divisive discussions in our society, my original posting has garnered only one response, a comment made by a heterosexual person. I am tempted to conclude that homosexuals do not frequent WordPress, or if they do, they never search for another person’s take on the problem. Or they find a discussion, one that I unblushingly believe to be an original approach to the problem, whether humorous or helpful, and they find it neither—otherwise I should think that they would comment on the posting.
Hey, people! This is an example of thinking outside the box, a technique that was developed and published many years ago, intended to stimulate discussion and perhaps arrive at solutions to problems, regardless of their nature.
I am therefore bringing the lone comment out of the closet of comments and into the bright sunlight of its own posting. The original comment, along with my initial response, the commenter’s reply and my final response to that reply follows. My purpose is to make our give-and-take discussion available to others. I spent a considerable amount of time formulating my out of the box solution to the problem, and I expected considerably more than one comment—if I’m being unreasonable, so be it!
This is the original comment:
Yours is a long-winded and overly simplified analysis based on a faulty starting premise. Other than that, it was entertaining to read but will change no one’s opinion.
Viewer comments to a blog posting can be approved as submitted, approved and edited, deleted or ignored. My first reaction was to delete yours, but I reconsidered and decided to approve it, unedited, because I felt that your reaction to the posting would be of interest to other viewers.
Thanks for viewing this posting, and thanks for the comment. I regret that you found my analysis long-winded and overly simplified, and I was doubly disappointed that you felt my analysis was based on a faulty starting premise. However, it pleases me that you found it entertaining—such was my intent. I placed the posting in the humor category because it was intended to be humorous, satirical and entertaining. The fact that it entertained you means that, in the opinion of at least one viewer, I achieved my objective.
Fair enough. I seldom mock anyone’s view in a blog and I hope I did not give that impression. The issue has caused hurt in my own family as my closest cousin has tried to get me to accept that she is married to her longtime companion (who I dearly love, as well). However, as you are the King of our great state, I think it is imperative that I continue to read you.
My final reply:
Please accept my sincerest thanks for your follow-up comment, and I also tender my heartfelt thanks for your sharing an issue that has caused hurt in your family.
My wife (the Queen) and my three daughters (the three Princesses) claim that I have an opinion on virtually everything, and they think that I believe I can effectively advise others on virtually everything. They are right, of course, but I try to avoid doing either because I am skeptical of other people’s opinions and have difficulty accepting any advice they may give. I expose these faults only to let you know that the thoughts below are not my opinions and are not given as advice—they are nothing more than random thoughts prompted by your posting.
My first thought on reading your response was a phrase that can be found somewhere in the Holy Bible, the King James version (a fellow king), a passage that says, “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder,” or something to that effect. The phrase varies in construction and purpose, but is widely used in marriage ceremonies. Many people, perhaps most, believe that it refers to the sanctity of the marriage.
An immediate afterthought was that the phrase places no restrictions on the participants in any way regarding age, race, religion, political affiliation, physical attributes such as height, weight, or fairness of face (or lack thereof), or gender.
My second thought was one of a prayer known worldwide, probably published and spoken in every language imaginable—some who read this prayer feel that it embodies the wisdom of the ages. Others consider it trite and dismiss it. I believe that each of us should at least make a stab at living by this maxim, this fundamental rule of conduct. It should be easy, because it requires only three attributes: serenity, courage and wisdom, attributes inherent in everyone.
This is the prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. —Reinhold Niebuhr
At the risk of repeating myself I will repeat myself. These are not my opinions and are not given as advice—they are nothing more than random thoughts prompted by your posting, and should be regarded as such—unless, of course, you find them applicable in any way, and in that case you are on your own.
Good luck, and best regards.
Tags: advice, age, category, couples, courage, cousin, discussion, erenity, gay, gays, gender, God, height, heterosexual, hole bible, homosexual, homosexuals, Humor, king, King James, marriage, niebuhr, objective, outside the box, person, phrase, political affitlation, posting, prayer, premise, princesses, problem, queen, race, religion, sanctity, straight, straights, sunlight, viewer, weight, wisdom
This is the first of what may be many postings concerning my 13 weeks of basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. The training was a lifetime crowded into a mere ninety-one days. A related posting covering my enlistment and arrival in San Antonio can be seen here. That posting also has some interesting insights on Boy Scouts, rattlesnakes, John Wayne, Mississippi’s National Guard, tortoises, snipes and bacon and eggs and wieners and various other unrelated items—trust me, a visit is well worth your time!
And now on to the first day of my 13 weeks of basic training:
I entered the United States Air Force’s basic training course on March 7, 1949 exactly 61 years, one month and 29 days ago as of this date. I was there for 13 weeks, and to this day the sights and sounds and smells and events, whether positive or negative—and there were plenty of both—of that 13 weeks are just as strong as they were then, more than 61 years later. I can successfully recreate in my mind—and as one will see, in print—the tiniest happenings and recall of the faces and many of the names of most of the people involved—fellow trainees, training instructors, commanding officers, chaplains, cooks and Red Cross representatives. I can vividly recall my first day at Lackland Air Force Base here in San Antonio, Texas, a day of whirlwind events involved in the requirements of first-day processing.
We started by stripping to the buff—off with shirts, pants, shoes, socks, undershirts and shorts. Our clothing and shoes were picked up and placed in a container labeled with our names. We were told they would be held and returned to us at the conclusion of basic training—unless we indicated that we did not want them back, and in that case we were told they would be donated to various charities. I cheerfully abandoned my T-shirt, shorts, jeans, socks and scuffed sneakers. They were called tennis shoes back in those days, even though nobody played tennis, at least not in my level of society—come to think of it, nobody plays tennis in my current level of society either—not much change there.
In return for giving up our garments and our modesty, we were issued a Towel, bath, olive drab, 1, an item that we dutifully wrapped around our waists—unrolled, of course, to provide a modicum of cover both front and rear. There were several people that had to hang on to both ends of their towel at all times—their ample waistlines prohibited knotting the corners together at one side or the other to provide cover.
From there we submitted to the official ministrations of barbers, gentlemen that were proficient in rendering one unrecognizable to one’s mother or any other person, with just a few strokes of an electric clipper. The barber shop was a large room with multiple barber chairs, each with a long wooden bench directly in line with each barber’s chair. We straddled the benches and hitched our way from the rear to the front as the work progressed, and then from the front position to the chair. The hitching along generated lots of jokes, most obscene but all funny, many involving splinters and sitting too close to the man ahead, or for lagging behind (so to speak) and not putting enough distance between one’s self and the man directly behind (again so to speak).
When the barbers finished with us, not a hair was left standing—one could see where the hair had been but could only speculate as to the nature of the departed coiffures. For many of the trainees, ears that had been invisible—including mine– were now quite prominent. We were directed from there to the shower room, a huge area with multiple shower heads on both sides, closely spaced, and once there we doffed our towels and showered. Here, as in the barber shop, there were many jokes, most off color but most were funny depending, of course, on whether one was the butt of one or more jokes—and I’ll have no more to say on that subject!
After showering, we girded our loins with our towels, now quite wet, and joined a line to pick up military clothing—olive drab undershirts, olive drab shorts, olive drab one-piece fatigues, an olive drab fatigue cap, kakii shirts and trousers, collar brass, an olive drab web belt and brass buckle, hat brass and a garrison hat, a stiff-brimmed hat that was issued in two pieces—the hat cover was separate but was not available. We wore the hats to our quarters with no covers, nothing to protect our bald pates from the merciless summer sun of South Texas. Our issue of clothing included four sheets and two pillowcases, one pair of brown low-quarter (dress) shoes and two pairs of brown brogans (work shoes), a laundry bag and and a duffel bag—both olive drab—carriers in which we stuffed our newly acquired wardrobe.
Yep, I joined the Brown Shoe Air Force—black shoes and blue uniforms came in 1951—I was in Japan when the first GIs arrived with the blue winter uniforms and the blue accessories for the summer kakis. When any of the Japanese girls asked why the others wore blue, we told them that the blue uniforms identified men that were afflicted with a social disease, men that should be avoided at all costs. It worked for a little while, but it was too good to last.
As an aside, I must state that I was the only trainee that was issued white T-shirts instead of the olive-drab wife-beater undershirts. The smallest size available was too large for me, so I was given a supply of T-shirt, white, round neck, 7. At first I felt special because I had always worn T-shirts, but as basic training progressed I would come to hate those T-shirts—more details on that later.
We marched several blocks to our barracks, a two-story edifice built before World War II began, constructed of wood with asbestos siding and standard roofing. Our home for the next 13 weeks was identical to all the others in that area, differing only in the building numbers—ours was numbered 4029, just one of many in Lackland’s 3724th Basic Military Training Squadron (BMTS). I said we marched, but it wasn’t much of a march—our combined movements were simply pitiful attempts to keep in step to the cadence voiced by our training instructor (our TI).
We entered the barracks, picked out a spot on the lower floor of the building, put down our bags and sat on them while our TI briefed us on things to come in the next 13 weeks. His first words on entering the building, after taking a long look at the group, a prolonged look at each man, some of the looks prolonged to the point of nervousness on the individual’s part. After staring at each trainee, his gaze returned to me, and he held that gaze while he said “Well, you look like a pretty good group—with a few exceptions.”
As one might expect, I took that to mean that I would find some obstacles in the road ahead—and I did. However, although I took some pretty hard hits none stopped me—I encountered rocks frequently in the 13 weeks, but one by one I conquered them by ignoring them, climbing over them or going around them. I graduated successfully in spite of being one of a few exceptions. At the end of the 13 weeks I proudly sewed on the single stripes of a Private First Class in the world’s greatest air force, a promotion after only 13 weeks in service! I accepted my pay raise of $2.50 a month, making my total compensation a whopping $75 per month and left for home, with a ten-day delay authorized while en route to technical training at Chanute Air Force Base at Rantoul, Illinois.
Hey, don’t laugh about my salary! My food, lodging, clothing, cleaning, laundry, medical care and dental care were all free, and all I had to do was follow orders and say sir to everybody with more than one stripe. I was just 16 years old and I had the world by the tail with a downhill pull—a veritable bird’s nest on the ground. And I was no longer under the watchful eye of a certain Salvation Army captain, the duly empowered truant officer in my small Mississippi town. I was free at last, and all I had to do was go to places such as Japan and Korea and Germany and Vietnam whenever I was told to go—I figured that was not too bad a deal, except when wars were being fought in such places. Since none were being fought at the time, I felt little concern about future wars—perhaps I should have, but I didn’t.
I’ll get back to you later with more details.
Tags: bacon, bags, barbersm ckuooer barber, basic, basic training, brogans, buff, building, butt, Chanute, clothing, eggs, fatigue, Germany, Illinois, instructor, Japan, Korea, lackland san antonio, march, Mississippi, modicum, National Guard, olive drab, pants, Rantoul, Red Cross, salary, salvation army, shirts, shoes, shorts, snipes, social disease, socks, t-shirt, tortoise, towel, trainees, truant officer, u s air force, undershirts, Vietnam, visit, wieners
Below is a recent post from my daughter’s blog at cindydyer.wordpress.com. The posting features a poem, An apology to the wood anemone. Her poem pays tribute to a beautiful flower, one she thought was long dead but survived last winter’s record snowfalls in Alexandria, Virginia. Not only did it survive—it appears to have thrived following its burial under snow throughout the fierce snowstorms last winter.
This is her tribute to the wood anemone:
An apology to the wood anemone
Lovely eight petal wood anemone
please accept my apology
More plants, I surely did not need any
but your price was reduced to a hundred pennies
Relegated to your preferred shady spot
remembering to plant you, I most certainly did not
Lost in the shuffle of spring and summer
as the King of Texas says, “what a bummer!”
you braved well over two feet of snow
yet still come spring, you put on a show
Please accept my apology
lovely eight petal wood anemone
© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.
Her posting continues:
I must preface my father’s poem by explaining why he felt the urge to wax so eloquently about a cheesecake. In February we hosted a very scaled back Chocoholic Party for friends—aptly renamed the “Cabin Fever with Chocolate Party.” It was scaled back from our annual soiree because of the unprecedented piles of snow in our area, obstructions that resulted in limited parking for guests from outside the neighborhood—our annual party usually brings in 35 or more chocoholics, so ample parking is necessary! This year, our guests needed to be able to walk to our house through some 30 inches of snow! As for the cheesecake, earlier in the week we bought a huge one from Costco during our rounds to gather food for this semi-potluck party. I was sitting at the computer working a few days before the party when Michael came downstairs—a brown wrapped package in one hand and a shovel in the other—and unlocked the patio door. I watched him, wondering if he was going to dig a path through the almost three feet of snow to the back gate (and why?). He dug a hole into the snow bank just outside the door and buried the package. I then asked, “What in the world did you just bury?” “Cheesecake!” he exclaimed. “There wasn’t any room for it in the refrigerator and since the party is just two days away, I figured it would keep.” And it kept—such a resourceful man—I think I’ll keep him.
My poem, An apology to the wood anemone, inspired my father to write his own poem, a work related to my Apology. Bravo, bravo, King of Texas! His comments to my original posting include his wonderfully crafted poem, Ode to a cheesecake.
Here are my comments to my daughter’s posting of her poem:
In advance of posting this comment, I humbly offer my abject apologies to the preacher John Donne, to the poet Joyce Kilmer and to the author of An apology to the wood anemone . . . It’s not my fault—it’s in my nature—it’s something I cannot control. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa maxima.
Ode to a cheesecake
Breathes there one with soul so dead
That never to one’s self hath said
Methinks that I shall never see
A word so lovely as anemone.
Offed from my tongue it rolls
Sadly as the bell that tolls
Nor for thee and nor for me
Nor for the lovely anemone.
But for the cheesecake ‘neath its bower
Nor ‘neath trees nor plants nor showers
Nay, ‘neath snowstorms full of power
Lying ‘neath the snow for hours
In wait for the chocolate party
To be eaten by guests so hearty.
But wait, what do I see
Beside the cheesecake ‘neath the snow
The anemone arises ready to go
With the cheesecake to the table
Petals eight to be divided
Among the diners so excited
A ‘nemone to see.
They smell the petals
They hear the bell
They’ll come to know
As time will tell
Whether snow and cheesecake
Sounds their knell
Or leaves them alive
H.M. Dyer (1932- )—All rights reserved.
I neglected to give credit to Sir Walter Scott for his poem ‘The lay of the last minstrel’ in my ‘Ode to a cheesecake’—credit is now given. I also neglected to say that I loved your poem, An apology to the wood anemone. It is well crafted and exceptionally well done!
Your anemone arising from the snow in the spring is reminiscent of Thoreau’s “Walden,” in which he tells of a golden bug that in the spring gnawed its way out of a table after being entombed in the wood for many years.
See more of my father’s pondering, hypothesizing and philosophizing, musings, comments, lectures, diatribes, royal reflections and revelations, essays, memoirs, biographies and autobiographies, tall tales, fables, childhood memories, yarns, jokes, poems, political and social commentary, and my favorite of his topics—excellent grammatical lessons—on his website, thekingoftexas.wordpress.com.
Tags: alexandria, anemone, apology, bell, blog, bower, bug, burial, cabin fever, cheesecake, chocolae, costco, diners, donne, golden, guests, joyce, kilmer, knell, minstrel, nature, ode, party, petals, poem, shuffle spring, soul, spot, summer, table, Thoreau, tongue, Virginia, Walden, walter scott, winter snow
The purpose of this posting is to formally offer my congratulations—somewhat belated—to my daughter Cindy and her husband Michael on their conversion, during my reign, of some 19 years of conjugal bliss to the status of a lawfully wedded couple under the auspices of the Great State of Texas, and to thank the many family members and friends that gathered for their wedding at a lakeside home in a rural province near San Antonio, Texas (the city of Seguin) in October of 2009. My expression of thanks is also somewhat belated—hey, being the King of Texas is not an easy job—I’m sure you’ve all heard the expression, Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown!
Check out my Royal Reflections here:
Beautiful photos and a cogent analysis of details—intelligent even—of the wedding may be found at:
http://cindyandmichael.wordpress.com/ (Come on, join the party—a trip to Seguin is well worth your while).
And you owe it to yourselves to view and enjoy some of the world’s finest photography here:
A letter to my daughter
I have never seen, nor do I expect to see in the future, a more beautiful assemblage of people than those you brought together for your wedding, regardless of the venue. The beauty of that event—the families of the bride and groom, their guests and their families and the many unrelated friends that came from far and wide to honor the event—has no parallel, at least not for me, and not at this point in my lifetime of memories.
A parallel may appear at some time in the future, but I doubt it. In my learned opinion the assemblage of people at your wedding ranks right up there—nay, surpasses—that of Hollywood’s Academy Awards, the Cannes film festival, the Country Music Awards, People magazine’s Most Beautiful People issue, and any other ranking of beautiful people that may exist.
For the benefit of any doubters that may find their way to this posting, I hasten to add that beauty, as applied to people, begins internally—it comes from the inner being and appears to others as a mirrored reflection of one’s soul (dang, I love it when I talk like that!).
As for Photoshop’s contribution to the event, I give it a total of one percent with the remaining 99 percent attributed to the talents and superhuman work you and Michael and others expended to make your wedding a success. Had I worn a vest, I would probably take that one percent contribution away from Photoshop and give you the full one hundred percent.
Your wedding gathering was—and in memories and printed images still is—a wondrous assemblage of a royal family and others. It showcases the bride and groom, the king and queen, the royal minister and his wife, the royal family’s members including our princesses and princes and their families, the bride groom’s family, and other friends and families from near and far, both in time and distance.
The assemblage included court jesters and noble knights, lovely and loving couples, cruel temptresses and impossible loves. I won’t linger on the cruel temptresses and impossible loves, but you can be assured that such may have been present—they can be found in any significant gathering of people, beautiful and otherwise.
I used the term assemblage because its definition best describes your wedding. I only added the term event to a machine or object: Assemblage: a machine or object or event made of pieces fitted together, as in a vast assemblage of gears and cogs, a work of art made by grouping found or unrelated objects—the action of gathering or fitting things together. The phrase a work of art says it all—that definition satisfies the most exacting critic of all—the King of Texas!
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: academy awards, analysis, country music, court, crown, groom, jester, king, magazine, minister, october, people, PHOTOGRAPHY, photoshop, queen, royal, seguin, temptresses, Texas, wedding