This will be one of the shortest—or less lengthy, if you will, of my rants on Word Press. This quote was on the front of a card I received, unbidden, from a company called Neptune, giving me the opportunity to complete a form and submit it to be included in a drawing for a prepaid cremation and information on obtaining a space in our National Cemetery based on my veteran status. I couldn’t help but speculate, considering the extent to which our government is delving into our private affairs, on whether they know something related to my health that I don’t know, some ort of information to which I am not privy.
No, that’s not a typo—I didn’t mean to say some sort of information. Ort is a real word and properly used in that sentence.
I declined Neptune’s offer to participate in the drawing but I kept the card with the quote—I found it pithy, proper and provocative and decided to share it with any wayfarer that may pass this way—please read and heed!
“Yesterday is history,
tomorrow is a mystery
and today is a gift;
that’s why they call it the present.”
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962)
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Tags: card, company, drawing, eleanor, eleanor roosevelt, form cremation, gift, government, history, information, mystery, neptune, ort, pithy, present, privy, proper, provocative, quote, roosevelt, space national cemetery, tomorrow, veteren, wayfarer, Word Press, yesterday
The word goose in the above title is not intended to be a verb, one that refers to the application of one’s hand, normally using the middle digit, to the derriere of another person, a motion that can be applied lightly, forcefully, brutally, playfully, laughingly, meaningfully or enjoyably but never accidentally. If one has goosed or has been goosed, both gooses were delivered purposefully and received unwittingly without choice—no, in this usage the plural of goose is not geese.
The word goose in the above title is a noun, the name for a large bird that exists in large numbers in the wild, but a bird that is also domesticated and raised for its food and feathers. In this case the plural of goose is geese—the birds shown on the right are geese.
When I was a child in Columbus, Mississippi we lived some thirty miles from our relatives in Alabama, and on Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays we traveled to Alabama to celebrate the day or they traveled to Columbus for the same reason. I can vividly remember a Thanksgiving that was celebrated at our house. a celebration that featured a large cast-iron wash pot and a large not-cast-iron goose.
On the day before Thanksgiving the men fashioned a tripod using lengths of 2×4 lumber similar to the method used by Indians to erect a tepee (also spelled tipi). A fire was laid in the center of the circle formed by the structure but not immediately lighted, the iron tub was firmly suspended from the apex of the tripod and filled with water and the goose, nicely cleaned of everything deemed not edible, went into the pot along with requisite other items—onions, potatoes, carrots and everything else that goes good with goose, and the fire was lighted and the goose was cooked—in fact, one could say truthfully that the goose’s goose was cooked—-just a bit of humor there!
The fire was tended for the remainder of that day and far into the night while the goose cooked and we children played, but never beyond the light supplied by the fire and by lights mounted on the sides of the house. The women sat and talked about everything and everybody except themselves and sang gospel songs, and the men talked about hunting and farming and fishing—occasionally one of the men would walk away just outside the circle of light and tilt a bottle up toward the moon to take a quick swig of its contents—they seemed to be taking turns at that—I’m unsure whether it was the same bottle, but I imagine there was more than one among the group
I was away from the scene and tucked in for the night long before the contents of the pot were removed and taken to the kitchen to await the next day’s carving and dining, kids playing, women gossiping and singing more church hymns and the men taking frequent short walks behind the house with a not-so-mysterious bulge in their shirt or hip pocket.
That goose—the bird, not the verb—was gifted by one of the visiting Alabama relatives that kept a flock of geese around the house for food purposes and to a lesser extent for watch purposes—yep, geese make good watchdogs and will sound the alarm when necessary—actually sound the alarm when anyone is near, whether friend or foe—it’s in their nature.
We lived next door to one of my mother’s sisters, a family of four—counting that four, our five and the relatives from Alabama there was a real gaggle of people gathered for Thanksgiving dinner, and we needed a lot of goose. To emphasize the number of people, picture a flatbed two-ton truck with no sideboards and its flatbed covered with passengers, folks lined on three sides with legs dangling and with more riders seated in the center plus several standing at the rear of the truck’s cab and several more in the cab. The dangling legs belonged to adults—the children were safely ensconced in the center of the flatbed.
The image above shows the actual gathering on that Thanksgiving day. It’s a painting made from a quick sketch by one of my uncles and later put on canvas—acrylic, I believe. The other image, by the same uncle, is a painting of my mother presenting the cooked goose to the diners—the fellow behind her is her boyfriend.
Hey, I knew I couldn’t fool my readers—you’re right—that image is a painting of the first Thanksgiving created by American artist Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930), and that is not my mother in the other image, nor is that her boy friend. That’s a painting by Norman Rockwell (1894–1978), one of the Four Freedoms series painted by one of America’s best-loved and most-collected artists—this is his conception of Freedom from Want. The others are Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Fear and Freedom of Worship.
The truck was overloaded when it arrived, but somehow when it left late in the afternoon on Thanksgiving day it accommodated all that had arrived on it plus me and my youngest sister and all the leftovers from our Thanksgiving dinner, including a considerable amount of goose and goose dressing—yes, that was one large goose and a monumental amount of goose dressing.
That’s my story of a memorable Thanksgiving day when I was a boy, and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: acrylic, Alabama, apex onions, bird, bottle, carrots, Christmas, church, Columbus, fear, flatbed, flock, FOE, four freedoms, friend, geese, goose, goose dressing, gospel, Humor, hymns, Indians, leftovers, Mississippi, moon, nature, painting, potatoes, relatives, sketch, speech, tepee, thanksgiving, tipi, title, tripod, truck, tub, want, wash pot, worship
I have a ridiculous affliction, one that in my memory has always existed. I do not have the ability to tune out, to avoid or ignore activities and conversations that are within my sight and hearing. I am acutely aware of such, whether I am reading, talking to others or trying to snooze—I am constantly and vividly aware of the conversations and activities of other people’s speech and actions.
As an example, we sometimes dine at one of the local Luby’s cafeterias—not as often as in the past because Luby’s has made changes to their operation without my input, and dining with them is not as pleasant as before and is considerably more costly. While dining there I am always near other diners, sometimes almost surrounded by other diners, and I inadvertently listen in on several discussions simultaneously, but not through choice—I can’t help it—it’s in my nature.
And now to the crux of this posting:
For a considerable number of years I have spent considerable time in waiting rooms of chemotherapy units and kidney dialysis units, and as a result of my affliction I have accumulated enough thoughts to write several books, and made enough friends to populate a small town. A few examples follow:
Two male patients were waiting to be seen by their doctors, and while they waited they discussed their medical problems and this is what I heard one man say: “We can’t last forever, even though we were made by a good person.” Brief, cogent and to the point—with one fell swoop he admitted his own mortality and acknowledged his belief in the deity.
I listened in on a conversation between two elderly ladies that were waiting for their chemotherapy treatments. One said that she had been in the United States for fifty years, that she was now a citizen, but had not been able to dump her British accent. I interjected myself into the conversation—interrupted, if you will—and reminded her of what President George W. Bush said in reply to a reporter’s question concerning the president’s pending visit to England to meet the queen. The reporter asked him what he felt would be his greatest challenge on the visit. The president said something to the effect that, “Well, they speak English over there so I may have some problems with the language.”
The lady from Great Britain was still laughing when she left for her treatment, laughter shared by everyone present, presumably regardless of political affiliation. Again brief, cogent and to the point. The president in one fell swoop answered the question and acknowledged that he was well aware of being a target of derision for his unique use of the English language, and that he was alright with that.
As an aside, I believe that President George W. Bush followed a path laid down by my mother for me long ago. She always said that I shouldn’t be bothered when others talked about me, because when they were talking about me they were letting everyone else rest—brief, cogent and to the point. I have a drawer full of Momisms that I plan to dump on Word Press in the near future. Stay tuned!
I have often been charged with being too long-winded in my postings, to which I delightedly plead guilty. However, in the interests of brevity I’ll close this for now, with the admonition that if you and I are anywhere near each other and you do not want me to hear your conversation, don’t bother to whisper because I’ll still hear you. You’ll need to put some distance between us to be safe!
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: affliction, brevity, cafeteria, chemotherapy, citizen, cogenet, deity, dialysis, diners, English, george w bush, Great Britain, kidney, Lub's, mortality, mother, nature, president, queen, snooze, treatment
I’ll begin this posting by referring viewers to an outstanding blog, one recommended by a friend in Wales. Click here for Sentence First, An Irishman’s blog about the English language. If you have a question, ask Stan—if he can’t answer it, then there’s something wrong with your question. For Stan’s stance on the correct color to use for corrections, click here to read his posting of The Red Pen Effect.
I also recommend the blog hosted by my friend in Wales—click here for Duck Billed Platitudes, an adventure in art and ornithology and a touch of everything else.
I misspent 22 years in the US military and retired, then misspent 26 years in USCS, the United States Custom Service, an organization that has been melded into ICE—Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A quick exercise in arithmetic shows a total of 48 years misspent in government service. I say misspent because I could have entered politics and perhaps have attained the highest office in the land—a quick glance at recent occupants of that office leads me to believe that in comparison I would have been an outstanding president, a shoe-in candidate for placement on Mount Rushmore. Please note that I’m not claiming I would have been outstanding. That’s pure conjecture on my part—I’m saying only that I might have been an outstanding president had I been nominated and elected to that lofty office—and I firmly believe I would have been elected if only I had submitted the proper documents and campaigned—if fact, based on a recent election to select a Democratic nominee for the Senate in South Carolina, I probably could have skipped the campaign.
Or I could have entered the medical profession and perhaps perfected a miraculous serum that with a single injection would cure those afflicted with one or more of any existing diseases. The cure would guarantee no recurrence and provide immunity to any new disease that might appear, regardless of its nature—and if given at birth the serum would provide total immunity to new-borns for life. Here as above, please note that I’m not claiming that I would have perfected such a serum. That also is conjecture on my part. I’m saying only that I might have perfected such a serum had I chosen to enter the medical profession and properly applied myself to my studies.
As an aside, as a youngster I came to a fork in the road and over the years I’ve oft speculated that I may have chosen the wrong fork. By chance I have a remarkably readable and interesting posting dealing with that choice, one that I can share with you—just cut and paste the following URL:
Now on to the reason for this posting:
I began life in the Customs Service as an inspector trainee at a small port of entry on the Texas-Mexico border and quickly progressed to the journeyman level. I was promoted to a first-level supervisory position in good time and relocated to a different small port of entry on the Texas-Mexico border. I was promoted to a second-level supervisory position shortly thereafter and relocated to a much larger port of entry on the Texas-Mexico border. For purposes of anonymity I will not reveal the name of that port, but for reference I will say that it is the port located at the tip of Texas near the junction of the Rio Grande River with the Gulf of Mexico.
Before I reported for duty at that anonymous port I was given an extensive and intensive briefing by the person in charge of the district that included my new duty station. I was briefed on several defective procedures that existed among the work force and told to do everything possible to effect change—to correct the defects. One of the procedures considered defective was the excessive overtime reported, ostensibly needed to accomplish the mission. Another was the deplorable documentation of searches, seizures and arrests made by enforcement personnel, documents that were used in criminal prosecution and were vital to statistical studies of port activities. The reports, almost without exception, showed serious deficiencies in basis English writing skills. They were deficient in every aspect of the English language including spelling, sentence construction, punctuation and grammar and in most cases were either too lengthy or too brief.
All enforcement documents were prepared in longhand by the inspectors and routed to clerical personnel for typing before being presented for supervisory approval. The reports were routinely approved without corrections and then moved up the chain of command for archival, to be used for statistical and prosecution purposes. I used my supervisory prerogative to have the documents routed to me before being typed, and armed myself with a supply of red ink pens.
I noted the errors in red for each document, indicated the correction to be made and returned each document to the error-maker, requesting that the errors be corrected and returned to me before submission to the typing pool. My intent was to inform—to educate, if you will—the inspectors in order to improve their writing skills and thus to upgrade our submissions to headquarters.
I stirred up a hornets’ nest that produced stings that I can still feel and I have the scars to prove it, although I left that hornets’ nest 27 years ago. In 1980 I became the target of every inspector in a force of fifty. From the moment I returned the first document rife with red ink, liberally spotted and resembling an extreme case of measles, I became a target for every inspector in a force of fifty, and the official grievance forms, a procedure authorized by Customs’ contract with a national union to which the inspectors belonged, began to pile up on my desk, a situation that existed for the three and one-half years.
The rules for grievances allowed the one ostensibly grieved to file the grievance with any supervisor, ranging from the most junior first-level supervisor to the top level supervisor at that border location, without regard to the action or the individual supervisor that prompted the so-called grievance. Our cadre of supervisors totaled nine—five first-level, two at my secondary level, one chief supervisor and the top dog with the upstairs office and a private secretary. As an aside, I was one of two second-level supervisors—the other second-level supervisor was one with no horns and no huevos—you can Google huevos if you like—I don’t mind.
There is absolutely no doubt that the order to put my name on every grievance came from union headquarters. As a result of that order, I achieved considerable notoriety and became a legend in my own time. I received more grievances than any other supervisor in the Service, and I answered every grievance and every one was found in my favor—no exceptions!
I mentioned overtime usage at the beginning of this posting—under the direction of the chief supervisor we significantly reduced the cost of overtime at the station—in short, we changed the deep pockets of overtime to shallow pockets and in some instances no pockets. The myriad grievances on changes in overtime practices, regardless of which supervisor caused the alleged grievance, bore my name—all of those were also ultimately found in my favor.
All this commotion was apparently caused by my using a red ink pen to mark the documents, rather than blue or pink or purple, anything other than red. A great hue and cry arose. I was accused and charged with returning the inspection force to the classroom, claiming that I was treating them like children, exposing them to ridicule, embarrassing them by calling attention to unimportant items such as spelling, subject and object agreement, paragraphing, ad nauseum. In retrospect, had I been authorized to return them to school it would have been to the elementary level—correct grammar should have been learned somewhere around the fourth-grade level.
Just one final note: I left that cantankerous force in the rear view mirror on my way to the U. S. Customs national headquarters following my promotion to the Civil Service grade of GM-13, a grade equal to that of a Lieutenant Colonel in the military forces, with equal pay and equal responsibilities.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
PeeEss: If I had that three-and-one-half-year ordeal to do over again, I would cheerfully accept the challenge, even though it may have shortened my life. However, I’m approaching the octogenarian mark in longevity and I feel great, so there—take that, southernmost border crossing on the Texas-Mexico border! The southernmost legal crossing, that is. Many much-used illegal crossings exist along our border with Mexico, including some on the Arizona border that appear to be condoned and supported by various levels of the present administration in our nation’s capital.
Tags: arithmetic, arrests, cantankerous, Civil Service, colonel, custom service, customs, democratic, duck billed platitudes, english spelling ppunctuation, government service, grammar, grievance, gulf of mexico, headquarters chief, horns, huevos, ICE, Immigration, measles, medical, Mexico, mount rushmore, ornithology, president, red ink pens, Rio Grande, river, searches, secretary, seizures, senate, serum profession, South Carolina, supervisor, target, Texas, top dog, union, USCL, wales
For a brief period of several months I lived with my family—mother, stepfather and youngest sister—in a one room kitchenette in a small motel on East US Highway 82 in Columbus, Mississippi. This was in the latter years of World War II—although the term motel had been around since 1925, our establishment called itself the Columbus Tourist Court, the word court suggesting a more comfortable kind of accommodation—it was actually a stand-alone cabin in a line of other stand-alone cabins backed by an ages-old cemetery that historically was limited to black burials but was no longer in use.
Just as an aside, our stepfather frequently told people that the owner of the Columbus Tourist Court was a close personal and business friend of many years standing, and that if one mentioned his name—my stepfather’s name—the owner would cut some slack on the price of the accommodations. I tried that some years later and got nothing but a blank stare from the owner—he opined that he was not familiar with the gentleman—so much for slack, right?
The cemetery was in total disrepair, with tombstones missing, broken and fallen, graves sadly sunken and the ground strewn with remnants of urns and flower vases and leaves and rubbish, even a cast-off mattress or two. My sister and I roamed that cemetery picking up bits of colored glass and retrieving unbroken receptacles for flowers, some almost buried in the ground. This was the equivalent of a nature park for us, a place to linger in the evening after school and on weekends. It was also a place that prompted us to make up ghost stories, sometimes so scary that we scared ourselves.
But I digress—this story is not about cemeteries—it’s about the two pets, dogs, that our stepfather promised one day near Christmas as he and our mother headed for town in his four-door black 1939 Plymouth sedan. I mention the auto because it was never, not even once, not even on days of rain or snow or heat or cold, used to transport me and my sister to school. Had our tourist court been on a numbered thoroughfare, it would have been somewhere around Twenty-fifth Street. Our high school was located at Seventh Street and Third Avenue North—city blocks usually run 12 to the mile, so our walk to school covered some 21 blocks, almost two miles, and we walked it barefoot regardless of rain or snow or heat or cold, and it was uphill in both directions. Okay, I’m stretching it a bit, but the fact remains that we walked the distance five days a week while we lived at the Columbus Tourist Court—bummer!
When our mother and our stepfather returned that day shortly before Christmas, our stepfather gave me and my sister separate packages that we hurriedly unwrapped. My sister’s package contained a beautiful Collie, colored identically as Lassie of the movies. My package yielded a gorgeous Pekingese with the cutest face ever seen on a dog.
These were the two dogs he promised us for Christmas, and he had followed through with his promise. However, there was a hitch—my sister’s Collie was mounted on the side of a large tabletop ashtray and my Pekingese was a lead-weighted plaster dog intended to be used as a doorstop. We expected pets, of course, but we were given functional replicas of dogs instead. Mental torture? Child abuse? Of course, but in those days there was no Child Protective Service or any other service to accept complaints, even if we had been endowed with the courage and the willingness to complain.
We were between trips to the atom bomb project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee where our stepfather worked. He was laid off for awhile and we had left a government trailer village in Gamble Valley, Tennessee to return to Columbus, and we were now returning to that area to another trailer village called Happy Valley, Tennessee—both locations are subjects for future postings. Stay tuned!
A funny thing happened to us when we were loading the car for the return trip to Tennessee. I had an armful of funny books—they were actually comic books but nobody called them comic books in those days. They were funny books, even the ones picturing the most violent mayhem, and the comic strips in newspapers were also referred to as the funnies.
Our stepfather told me I could not take my funny books because the car was already overloaded. My sister promptly spoke up and told him, in a completely serious tone, that she would carry them in her lap. That was one of the very few times that our little family laughed together—for a brief shining moment we were a happy family, albeit caused by friction. The moment was brief—the stack of comics was consigned to the trash, we climbed into the car and were off on another great adventure.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: atom bomb project, auto, cemetery, child abuse, child protective service, Christmas, collie, Columbus, comic books, dogs, door stop, Family, friction, funny books, ghost, ghost stories, happy valley, kitchenette, lassie, mattress, Mississippi, Oak Ridge, pekingese, pets, plymouth, school, sedan, sister, stepfather, Tennessee, tourist court, trailer village gamble valley, trash
Christmas morning dawned clear and bright in my town in 1939. I was seven years old that year, an adventurous second-grader that had wished for a cowboy outfit from the Sears catalog, one complete with a gun belt hosting rows of silver bullets and two guns in their holsters, tied down at mid-thigh to facilitate quick draws, sheepskin chaps, a colorful bandana, genuine imitation leather cowboy boots and a genuine high-crowned western sombrero that would shield me from the heat of the western sun and serve as a tool to beat dust from my clothing after an arduous trail drive of cattle to the rail head for shipment to the hordes of people in Chicago longing for western beef and also serve as a drinking vessel for my horse as shown in Hollywood movies.
Evidently Santa was unaware of my wish, or else he mistakenly gave my cowboy outfit to some other kid. Instead I got a drum and a toy train and mumps. Yep, mumps—I awoke Christmas morning with a headache and two serious lumps, one behind each ear. I don’t remember going to a doctor for diagnosis and treatment recommendations. In those days mumps, measles, whooping cough, chicken pox and a host of other childhood diseases were diagnosed by elder family members, relatives, friends and neighbors. Given the fact that I was at one time or another afflicted with most of those conditions and survived, that system apparently worked, at least in my case.
Each of my two gifts had problems. The drum arrived sans drum sticks. We searched frantically through the discarded Christmas wrappings and boxes but found no drum sticks, not even one.
I improvised with a pair of kitchen spoons, but the substitutes lacked any semblance of authenticity. When I wielded those spoons I neither felt like nor looked like Gene Krupa or Spike Jones—I felt like a dork and looked like a dork. Or perhaps I did look like Spike Jones—that’s Spike on the left, the one with the dorky hat.
Now on to my train and its deficits—it consisted of a really small locomotive with a coal tender, one passenger car, a little red caboose and a rather truncated circular track, one estimated to be no more than 18 inches in diameter. The locomotive was not powered by electricity, not the plug-in kind or the kind produced by dry-cell batteries—nope, not my train.
My train was a windup train—one held the locomotive in one hand and with one’s other hand wound up a steel spring that was inside with a key that projected from its side, similar to opening a can of sardines, then one placed it on the tracks and released it and clickety clack, clickety clack, until the spring wound down. Clickety clack is the sound that real trains made in those days as they traversed narrowly spaced rail joints,but my train never made that sound.
Nope, no clickety clacks for my train—the key was already wound tight and could not be budged. It arrived tight and remained in that condition as long as I had the train. I was reduced to pushing it along and vocally sounding the clickety clacks. Bummer!
Nowadays train rails run seamless for a mile or more—passengers still hear an occasional clickety but the clack is still a mile away. The rhythm is gone—rather than lulling one to sleep, the anticipation of the next clickety and clack denies fulfillment to passengers longing for and reaching for the arms of Morpheus—the unrhythmic sounds of modern rails actually prevent sleep. Note: Unrhythmic may not be a real word, but it looks good and sounds good so I’ll use it.
I spent the Christmas of 1939 incarcerated in my own home, playing a drum with two kitchen spoons and pushing a toy train around a small circular track, writhing in pain produced by an extreme case of double mumps—not really—I had no pain at all, just lumps, and they vanished a few days later.
In retrospect, I suppose I should feel blessed. While I was housebound with mumps—double mumps, so to speak—I heard a phrase several times, whispered between the adults in my family, something similar to this: I hope they don’t go down on him. It sounded so sinister that I also hoped that they would not go down on me—they didn’t. Fast forwarding to today’s medical terminology, I imagine that parents probably whisper to one another that they hope the mumps will not descend—sounds a bit better, right? Right? Right!
That’s my Christmas story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: beef, boots, bulets, can, catalog, Chicago, chicken pox, Christmas, cowboy sears, dork, Family, friends, gene krupa, gun, headache, Hollywood, key, leather, locomotive, mesles, morpheus, neighbors, outfit, passengers, rail head, relatives, santa, sardines, sleep, somgrero western, spike jones, spoons, spring, srum drum sticks, track, trail drive cattle, train, whooping cough
I lived with my family in the house on Nineteenth Street South in Columbus, Mississippi for an estimated four years with my mother and three sisters, one just eighteen months older than I, one about ten years older and the eldest sister some seventeen years older.
Neither I nor any of the other children on the block were ever allowed in the house next door to our house on the north side, nor was the only child in that family allowed into our house. It never bothered us, and I don’t remember whether my family ever discussed it, but in retrospect it seems a bit strange. This posting may shed some light on the subject.
The family’s name was Berryhill, a family that was comprised of the mother, the father and a young daughter named Sue, a cute girl around my age, with blond pigtails and a really nice wardrobe. Her mother was always dressed in, I suppose, the latest fashions—I remember the women in my family discussing Sue’s mother and how she dressed. I know nothing of the father’s profession, but judging by their clothing and the fact that the mother always left the house in a taxi and returned in a taxi they had money to burn. Very few people on our street owned cars, and a limited number ever used taxi cabs—they walked, whether to the grocery, the picture show, to church, to visit, to the doctor, to the barbershop, etc. The late 1930s and early 1940s were lean years in our nation but especially in Mississippi, a state still reeling from the War Between the States and the resultant reconstruction era.
Sue was allowed to come outside and play games with us, always with the stern admonition to not soil her clothing ensemble. Sometimes she was allowed to stay outside while her mother took a taxi to some unknown point, probably to the local Black-and-White department store on shopping trip for the latest styles in women’s clothing. Speaking of that store, its name and it storefront were black and white, but the store sold clothing and accessories of all colors. I’ve always wondered whether the name was intended to inform the public during those days of segregation in the South that the store welcomed people of both races—perhaps—could be—who knows? I got no help from Google on this one—I found a White House–Black Market store that sold only white and black clothing, but also sold many accessories in color. However, no reference to a Black and White Department Store—it may possibly have been a partnership between Mr. Black and Mr. White—again, who knows?
On one memorable occasion while she was away from home Mrs. Berryhill’s daughter and I and several other kids from homes on our block played games, one of which was called Pussy in the Corner, and that was the one we were playing in her front yard when she returned in a taxi.
Ordinarily we would have delayed our game to watch her dismount from the taxi and stroll up the sidewalk and into her house, slowly and deliberately, looking to the left and to the right with the steps of a runway model as she progressed, dressed in the latest fashions—or so I gleaned by listening to my mother and my older sisters. However on this day our game was at a really exciting point and as she passed us someone shouted Pussy in the corner! and all of us shifted positions as required by the rules of the game, none of which I remember.
Sue’s mother stopped her runway walk abruptly and turned toward us and we froze in our Pussy in the Corner positions. She faced us and said in strong forceful tones, “Children, I feel that it would be much better if you would say Kitty in the corner, so please do.” She then resumed her strut to the front door and into her house.
We tried mightily to do as we were told—for the remainder of the game we laughingly shouted Kitty in the corner when the game demanded it, but our fun was ruined. A short time later the kids dispersed and went in search of pastimes that posed fewer restrictions, games such as Kick the can, Ring around the roses, Pop the whip and Hide and seek, but the thrill was gone—taking out the term pussy took out the fun in the game.
And speaking of thrill—one of the most popular songs of that day was by Fats Domino, a haunting melody in which the singer would say, I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill, the moon stood still, etc., etc. Without exception, every little boy on my block and probably all the big boys and the men, had at one time or another sang Fat’s song as, I found my thrill on Mrs. Berryhill, etc., etc. Speaking strictly for myself, I had no idea why the corruption of the song was so funny—I just played along with a joke that I didn’t understand.
I’m serious—I was probably the world’s least knowledgeable kid in matters of sex and all its ins and outs—so to speak. The sister seventeen years my senior birthed her first child in the house on Nineteenth Street. I was at home when the baby was born—I remember my sister making lots of noise on the day my niece arrived, but I was out playing when the doctor came to our house. After he left and I returned home, I learned that I now had a niece—I questioned her source, and I was told that the doctor delivered her. Since I was not present when he arrived, I had no reason to believe otherwise. I didn’t really care where the doctor got the baby—the place from whence she came was of no particular interest to me.
I am totally serious. While living in the house on Nineteenth Street, I spent a long summer with one of my sisters, the second oldest of my three sisters, and when I returned home my mother asked me if my sister was going to have a baby. I told her that I didn’t know, and that if she was going to have a baby she said nothing about it to me.
In retrospect I remember going to a nearby creek several times with my sister and her toddler son to bathe—the toddler skinny-dipped, I wore undershorts and my sister wore a one-piece bathing suit, and I clearly remember that she had gained a tremendous amount of weight, most of which seemed to be centered in her abdomen. The big boys always explained such a condition as the result of the woman swallowing watermelon seeds—I suppose I believed that just as I believed the doctor delivered my first niece—hey, nobody ever told me the difference between delivered and delivered.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: baby, barbershop, berryhill, black market, chirch, Columbus, delivered, doctor, fats domino, Flack and White department store, game, grocery, hidde and seek, House, kick the can, Mississippi, pop the whip, pussy, pussy in the corner, reconstruction, ring around the roses, segregation, senior, sex, sidewalk, sister, south, taxi, war between the states, watermelon
As a retired military person I subscribe to the Air Force Retiree web site at www.retirees.af.mil. I received the following e-mail on Friday, June 25, 2010 at 11:27 AM. I am posting the e-mail in its entirety—the sixtieth anniversary of the Korean War highlights a significant milepost in my life and I wanted to share it with any viewers that may pass this way–if the posting strikes a positive chord in only one viewer it will be justified.
When the Korean War began I was stationed at Yakota Air Force Base in northern Japan and had been there for three months when the North Koreans invaded South Korea. Soon after the war began I was sent to Itazuke Air Force Base on the southern island of Kyushu. I celebrated my eighteenth birthday at Itazuke, then on to South Korea for an additional 15 months before rotation back to the states. I celebrated my nineteenth birthday in Korea at Kimpo Air Force Base near Seoul and arrived back in the states eight months before my twentieth birthday.
I mention all the above dates simply to show that my latter teen years do not reflect the usual rite of passage enjoyed by most young men in the US, and because of that I do not need a reminder of the Korean War—my experiences during those years are indelibly stamped in my phyche, and I will take them with me when I depart this vale of tears.
The Korean War claimed the lives of almost 40,000 of America’s best and brightest, yet the war has been forgotten by many and is unknown to a host of others—I’m posting this item as a gentle reminder—nay, a stern reminder for those that fail to remember, and a strong admonition for those that have never known to learn about the war—it is vital history.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Postcript: Viewers will find numerous posts on my blog that deal directly or indirectly with Japan and Korea—I find them well-written and well-worth the time required for reading (nothing strange about that, right?). Below are several on which you might like to pass some of your leisure time—one involves a tattooed lady, another a salute to drive-in theaters, and one concerns the Dixie Division and the Mississippi Army National Guard. Others include my first airplane ride, and a three-day R & R pass that lasted seven days—enjoy!
This is the e-mail, exactly as I received it:
Nation marks Korean War’s 60th anniversary
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON (AFRNS) — Sixty years ago this week, North Korean troops stormed across the 38th parallel into South Korea, launching a three-year conflict that culminated in an armistice in 1953, but never officially ended.
The North Koreans launched a massive, coordinated air-land invasion in the early-morning hours of June 25, 1950, with more than 230,000 troops, fighter jets, attack bombers, reconnaissance aircraft, tanks and artillery.
The ferocity of the offensive caught the South Korean army by surprise. With fewer than 100,000 troops, no tanks and limited aircraft, they were unprepared to halt the invasion force.
Seoul, the South Korean capital, fell June 28. Then-President Harry S. Truman, concerned after World War II about the spread of communism, recognized the importance of repelling military aggression on the Korean peninsula.
“I felt certain that if South Korea was allowed to fall, communist leaders would be emboldened to override nations closer to our own shores,” Truman wrote in his autobiography. “If the communists were permitted to force their way into the Republic of Korea without opposition from the free world, no small nation would have the courage to resist threat and aggression by stronger communist neighbors.”
President Truman ordered U.S. air and naval forces to defend South Korea, and committed ground troops as part of a combined United Nations effort. The 16-member coalition formed under the auspices of the U.S.-led United Nations Command, with President Truman naming Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur as its commander.
The 24th Infantry Division, part of the U.S. occupation forces in Japan under General MacArthur’s command following World War II, deployed the first U.S. troops to Korea. Advanced elements of the 24th Infantry Division rushed to Korea on transport planes to block the enemy advance.
As they awaited follow-on deployments, the 24th Infantry Division troops, known as Task Force Smith, suffered heavy losses and ultimately, defeat during their first significant engagement of the war, the Battle of Osan.
Outgunned and overpowered, the division ultimately lost more than 3,600 dead and wounded and almost 3,000 captured as the North Korean progressed south.
By September, the U.N. Command controlled only about 10 percent of Korea in a small southeastern corner of the country around Pusan.
The Battle of Pusan Perimeter raged from August to September 1950, with the U.S. Air Force and Navy air forces attacking North Korean logistics operations and transportation hubs. Meanwhile, troops from the 7th Infantry Division, 25th Infantry Division, 1st Cavalry Division and other 8th Army supporting units poured into South Korea.
The Inchon Landing, a massive amphibious landing in September 1950, ultimately turned the tide in the fighting by breaking the North Korean army’s supply lines. This prompted China to enter the war on North Korea’s behalf, ending hope, as General MacArthur had predicted, that the war would end soon and the troops would be home for Christmas.
The conflict raged for three more Christmases, with neither side achieving a decisive military victory.
Ultimately, two years of negotiations led to an armistice agreement signed July 27, 1953. Representatives of the North Korean army, the Chinese volunteers and the U.N. Command signed the agreement, but South Korea refused to participate.
The United States lost more than 36,000 servicemembers during the Korean War, with more than 92,000 wounded, more than 8,000 missing in action and more than 7,000 taken prisoner of war.
Since the signing of the armistice, South Korea has emerged as an economic powerhouse, with the world’s 11th-largest economy and a gross domestic product approaching $1 trillion. North Korea, in contrast, remains militarily powerful, but economically isolated.
In its most recent act of provocation, North Korea sank the frigate Cheonan on March 26, killing 46 South Korean sailors.
Related Sites: Remembering the Korean War
Tags: Air Force, aircraft, airplane, armistice, artillery, China, Christmas, communism, dixie division, domestic, douglas macArthur, drive-in theater, economy, frigate, Harry Truman, inchon, infantry division, Itazuke, Japan, Kimpo, Korean War, Kyushu, Military, Mississippi, nation, osan, phyche, prisoner of war, product, pusan, r & r, retiree, sailors, Seoul, south korea, tanks, task force smith, tattoed lady, troops, vale, yakota
Mede is the name of a woman that was at one time a neighbor of our family, a lady with two daughters. The elder was named Zona Belle and the younger was Louise. Zona Belle was tall and thin and dark-haired, and Louise was short and fair-haired and very nicely proportioned—I was younger than they were, but I was old enough to appreciate females and their proportions.
In fairness to their mother, I will only say that she was amply proportioned, so ample that in all the years I knew her she had considerable difficulty negotiating stairs—in fact, she was challenged by the height of street curbs. I’m unsure of the spelling of her name, but it was pronounced Mee’de, two syllables with the accent on the first syllable—that spelling appears a bit awkward so I settled on Mede.
I know nothing more about Zona Belle and how she fared later in life, but I certainly hope that life has been, or perhaps was, good for her. Both she and her sister were somewhat reticent in conversations, but in one instance the sisters comported themselves in ways that exposed more of themselves than should have been exposed to a young lad of tender years—a memorable event, one that lingers on, quite favorably, in the memory of that young fellow. I hasten to add that I will neither acknowledge nor respond to any request from anyone to elaborate on that event—I do not even remember it, so don’t bother to ask.
But I digress—back to the younger sister. Louise married, birthed several children and settled down to a nice middle-class existence with her family in a house near her husband’s business of a combination service station and restaurant. At some point in their relationship, the husband became a philanderer and engaged in various infidelities.
Louise did not approve of his activities so she summarily shot and killed him. An investigation was conducted, a charge of murder was filed, a trial followed and Louise was acquitted of all charges. The jury based their acquittal on self-defense, justifiable homicide following long periods of spousal abuse including mental and physical cruelty. All this is hearsay, knowledge that I gleaned while on leave from military service shortly after the trial. The local gossips—specifically my mother and my older sisters—speculated that some, perhaps most, of the spousal abuse charge was inflated and unfair to the deceased husband.
I know nothing more of Louise and her family—I trust they fared well. As for her husband, if he was in fact guilty of long periods of spousal abuse including mental and physical cruelty shame on him, and if he was guilty only of infidelities, then shame on the jury and shame on Louise.
And now for Mede—I lived with my mother, my youngest sister and our stepfather on a Mississippi farm some 15 miles outside the city limits of Columbus, Mississippi. I was enrolled in junior high school in town and rode a bright yellow county school bus to and from school. I abhorred brown-bag lunches and shunned the school cafeteria, primarily because we country bumpkins were the objects of derision for snooty and snotty city-dwelling students, especially those in the upper echelons of society—the sons and daughters of bankers, merchants, car dealers, civil service workers and the like.
Mede at the time lived and worked as a self-employed seamstress in a spacious second-story loft in the business district near my school. My mother worked out a deal with her for me to have lunch there on school days. I don’t know the details of the deal, and I don’t remember the lunches, neither their quality nor their quantity. The arrangement lasted only a few weeks, and I began taking my lunches elsewhere, either at an uptown poolroom or on the river bank where a lady purveyed hamburgers for five cents each. If you like, you can read about the poolroom here, and about the five-cent hamburgers here. Both are worth reading!
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: abuse, brown-bag, children, curbs, daughters, exposed, Family, hamburgers, homicide, husband philanderer, infedelity, jury, lad, lunch, mental cruelty, mother, murder, neighbor, poolroom, relationship, river, seamstress, service station restaurant, shame, spousal, stairs, trial, woman
Although I doubt that few people other than I, the King of Texas, will read this posting I will submit it anyway. I will submit it because I am afflicted with a Narcissus complex—I love myself and although I have unrealistic views of my qualities and abilities and little regard for those of others, I require constant reinforcement that can only be gained by comments on my postings.
In addition to my inflated self-image, my narcissism is characterized by an unusual coolness and composure, which is shaken only when my narcissistic confidence is threatened, ergo, my confidence is threatened by the lack of comments on my About the King of Texas page, on my It’s all about ME, ME, ME! page and on my numerous postings, all beautifully composed and presented and all supremely worthy of comments, laudatory or otherwise.
In the interest of full disclosure, I cheerfully admit that much of the above rant was plagiarized from YAHOO! I realize that plagiarism is illegal, unfair, unjust, immoral and probably fattening but the penalty is lessened when the plagiarizer is truthful up front—and I am stuffed with truthfulness!
For any viewer that may not believe that I would actually plagiarize, I can prove that I did—it can be verified here:
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: complex, composure, coolness, illegal, immoral, king, Narcissus, page, plagiarism, Texas, unfair, unjust, yahoo
Kudos to the author for the emotion expressed in Jlmccoy86’s Blog. It effectively captures and transmits the sights and sounds of Mississippi, an oft maligned state, one that in far too many categories lands at the bottom or near the bottom in a list of our fifty states. The love for Mississippi and the personal observations expressed in this posting add emotions and thoughts to those sights and sounds.
I was born in Alabama but I left there as soon as I could, and have claimed Mississippian status since the age of five, a period spanning more than seven decades. Many of my blog postings include references to Mississippi, including discussions of executions, drive-in theaters, drive-up restaurants, gravel pits and orphan homes, Mississippi’s Army National Guard, elementary schools and high schools, squirrel nests, honey bees and summer vacations, ad infinitum.
Click here—https://thekingoftexas.wordpress.com/ to travel from Alabama to Mississippi and from there to various other states and foreign countries including Viet Nam, South Africa, Germany, Mexico, Canada and England—when you get there tell ’em the King of Texas sent you!
This is a preview of Paint a Picture, Mississippi:
When you first think of Mississippi, what comes to mind? Could it be the idea of racist rednecks or cotton? Do you think about the poverty rate or how Mississippi is the most obese state in the Union? Maybe you are thinking that this state has nothing and is just but a big wasteland. But Mississippi is not this big wasteland that everyone believes she is. She is unique. What makes Mississippi what she is is not in the big high rise building … Read More
via Jlmccoy86’s Blog
Tags: Alabama, army, author, blog, Canada, drive-in theathrs, elementary, emotion, england, Germany, gravel pits, King of Texas, kudos, Mexico, Mississippi, National Guard, obese, poverty, racist, rednecks, schools, south afftice, state, unique, Viet Nam, wasteland
When I was a young boy in my early teens in the Mississippi town of Columbus, an East Central city located a few miles from the Alabama state line, people knew when an execution was scheduled. Executions were not common events and they were well publicized by our local papers and radio—no television, of course—that was still some years in the future. The news spread far and wide by mouth when the portable electric chair arrived in town from the Mississippi State Penitentiary, located in Sunflower County in the Mississippi delta.
The chair was housed at the penitentiary, the state prison known as Parchman, named after the first warden J. M. Jim Parchman. When the need for an execution arose, the chair was transported in a truck to the county in which the condemned had committed the crime. The citizens of Sunflower County tolerated the convicts in their county but objected to executions being carried out there fearing that it would stigmatize Sunflower as the death county.
Mississippi went from hanging to the electric chair in 1940, then to the gas chamber in 1954 and finally to lethal injection, with the first execution in 2002. For a brief history of Mississippi’s methods of execution over the years, click here to read an overview of capital punishment in Mississippi, written by Donald A. Cabana, superintendent of the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman and author of Death at Midnight: Confessions of an Executioner.
I made my way uptown to the courthouse when I learned that the truck from Parchman had arrived. It was parked on the street in front of the courthouse. The back was open and I could see a huge generator, the source of power for the execution—a long black cable snaked over the sidewalk up to the courthouse and disappeared inside. Apparently the chair had already been taken to the place of execution. I found nothing really remarkable about a truck, a generator and a cable, so after a few minutes I left the throng that had gathered in the area and sought more interesting and beneficial things to do.
Okay, I didn’t see the execution, but I saw the truck that brought it to Columbus, the generator that furnished the electricity and the cable that carried it to the room in which the chair was housed, and that’s getting pretty close to the actual execution—not that I especially wanted to see it, of course.
Mississippi is one of many states that, in search of a more humane method of executing those condemned to die, have progressed from hanging to electrocution to gassing and finally to death by lethal injection, a process in which the condemned person is strapped to a gurney and a lethal cocktail of drugs is administered.
Humane? You make the call—as of this date we have not heard from anyone that was relieved of life by one of the above methods. The late Steve Allen—actor, author and late-night television host—wrote a short story titled The Public Hating, the account of an execution in which a prisoner was placed in the center of a stadium filled with people and was hated to death by the spectators, shriveling and dying from their combined intense hatred focused on the condemned. Click here to read a synopsis of the story, one somewhat biased but still an excellent analysis. Here, as in the various methods of execution, you make the call!
The image at right shows the actual electric chair that was used by the state of Mississippi—the man standing on the left is the executioner, Jimmy Young, and that’s me on the right—I’m the good looking kid with the school books under his arm.
Okay, that’s not really me—that kid looks very much as I looked at the time, but it isn’t me—honest! I never carried school books home, and as a result I was frequently required to submit to corporal punishment, administered because of my failure to submit the homework prescribed by various teachers.
Click here for current information on corporal punishment in the United States—yes, Mississippi is in the forefront of states that still allow application of a paddle to the mid-aft section of the bodies of wayward students. As one that has been there on multiple occasions, please know that I bear no scars from corporal discipline applied to that portion of my anatomy, neither physical nor psychological, at least none of which I am aware.
No, that’s not me in the image at right. In my school, punishment was meted out in the teacher’s lounge—in those years it was called the teacher’s cloakroom—with the aggriever bending over the arm of a stuffed lounge chair with a firm grip on the opposite arm while the aggrieved applied a wooden paddle to the nicely exposed and legally authorized area for retribution—I mean, punishment! Besides, it couldn’t be me—in my school days, bell bottom trousers had not yet been invented.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: cable, chair, Columbus, courthouse, delta, electric chair, execution, executioner, generator, Mississippi, parchman, penitentiary, sunflower county, throng, truck
The Varsity Theater was, and perhaps may still be, located at the intersection of Main and First Street. Main Street was the dividing line between north and south in Columbus, the county seat of Lowndes County, Mississippi. The first block of First Street South was called Catfish Alley, a block that was comprised mostly of black businesses—grocery stores, beer joints, rooming houses, eating places, clothing stores and other businesses—most, but not all, were owned and operated by blacks. Catfish Alley was the the prime gathering place for blacks, a mecca for those living inside and outside the city and from the countryside and from neighboring towns and cities. Shoppers and diners and gatherings included entire families during the daytime, but the block took on a different tone and attracted a different crowd after dark—rumors had it that more than one house of ill repute existed among the businesses in Catfish Alley, usually on the second floor of the two-story buildings.
Note that I use the term black—in those days there was no such term as African-American, at least not in the circles in which I moved. There were numerous terms used in those days to describe black people, used openly without fear of ridicule or persecution. The term most used was the same one used by black rappers today, a word that is never enunciated but identified only as the N-word, and at this point I will say, without hesitation, without rancor, without one ounce of racialism in my body and soul, an absence that was created many years ago through education, understanding and just plain living, that if one is going to say the N-word, one may as well use the real word. And in support of that choice I will quote the bard from Romeo and Juliet, followed by a well-known and oft-used religious homily:
That which we call a rose, by any other name will smell as sweet.
The thought is as bad as the deed.
I would add a third saying but this one is a no-no—it suggests that we should call a spade a spade, a phrase that has been around for more than 500 years. It means that we should speak honestly and directly about topics that others may avoid speaking about due to their sensitivity or embarrassing nature. According to Wikipedia, The phrase predates the use of the word “spade” as an ethnic slur against African-Americans, which was not recorded until 1928; however, in contemporary U.S. society, the idiom is often avoided due to potential confusion with the slur. Click here to read more about the history of the phrase, call a spade a spade.
The N-word is a substitute for the word Negro, its pronunciation corrupted, of course, by the southerners’ predilection to pronounce words ending in an O, or with the sound of an O, by replacing the O sound with er. Window, for example, becomes winder, pillow becomes piller, tallow becomes taller, shallow becomes shaller, fellow becomes feller, hollow becomes holler, ad infinitum.
Can you guess how Negro is pronounced? Yep, for many southerners the N-word is not tainted with racialism—it is simply a descriptive term, just as other persons are described as white. The N-word ends with an O, so the O is dropped and an er is added. And I’ll grant you that others use the word in all its pejorative sense, expressing contempt, disapproval and hatred with all the pent-up passion and racism that has in the past plunged our nation into civil war and which still exists, and such use of the word is not limited to southerners. Our nation has come a long way, especially since 1964 and the civil rights movement, but we still have a long way to go.
Check out this sentence: That N-word feller that lives across the holler in that house with no winders has to wade across a shaller creek to get to the store to buy a new piller and some animal taller to make candles. Now please be honest—to thine own self be true, so to speak—do you understand how some southerners pronounce words ending in O, and do you understand how the word Negro became, to a southerner, the N-word?
With full knowledge that I have convinced nobody—not even one person—with my explanation of the N-word as used by southerners, I will continue with my dissertation—or posting if you insist—on Catfish Alley and ten-cent hamburgers:
First Street in Columbus is on a bluff overlooking the Tombigbee River, a stream that in those days was teeming with fresh-water catfish, a choice item in the diet of southerners regardless of their race—fried catfish was a staple. Local fishermen kept the cafes and fish stands along Catfish Alley well supplied, and people came from near and far to buy fresh catfish for home cooking and consumption, hence the name Catfish Alley.
The going rate for hamburgers on Catfish Alley when I was a boy was ten cents. Hamburger buns came only in one size in those days—small. The huge ones we have today either did not exist or had not yet come to our town, perhaps late as so many changes were—drive-in theaters, for example. Click here for a posting on the ins and outs of drive-in theaters. The ten-centers stood head-and-shoulders above today’s What-a-Burger and its Just a burger with its thin patty, one pickle slice, a bit of minced onions and a smear of mustard—the ten-cent patties were ample and came, if wanted, with lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion and one’s choice of mustard, ketchup or mayo in any combination.
But it gets better, because Catfish Alley had a competitor. Just a brief walk brought me and my fellow students from our high school at noon to the river’s edge where a lady dispensed five-cent burgers from a portable kitchen on wheels, burgers that had no tomato or lettuce or pickles or onions but featured a substantial hamburger patty—fifteen cents would get a student two burgers and a Pepsi or RC Cola or a Coke or a Grapette—most of us went for the 12-ounce sodas rather than the 6-ounce brands, an easy choice since the cost was the same. Ah, for the good old days!
Does anyone remember this jingle?
Pepsi Cola hits the spot
Twelve full ounces, that’s a lot
Twice as much for a nickel, too,
Pepsi Cola is the drink for you!
I make no apology, neither for myself nor for fellow southerners for past or present use of the N-word. My only point is that the real word is sometimes used without any thought of hatred or disliking, without a trace of racialism in the speaker’s mind or heart. I abhor its use when it involves prejudice, hatred, contempt, disdain, disgust or any other contemptible emotion on the part of the speaker. And one more thought—look at the use of F-word in place of the real word—a listener hears F-word, but can you guess which word forms in the listener’s mind? Yep, that word, the one with the letters U, C and K following the F, just as the phrase N-word is converted to a word that adds an I, a couple of Gs, an E and an R, a word that resounds in the listener’s brain with far more resonance than N-word to the ears.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Tags: African-American, bard, black, cafes, catfish, catfish alley, Civil War, Coke, fishermen, Grapette, hamburger, hollow, jingle, ketchup, lettuce, Lowndes county, mayo, Mississippi, n-word, nation, negro, onion mustard, pepse, pickles, pillow, r c cola, race, racialism, rose, shallow, slur, southerner, spade, substitute, tomato, tombigbee river, What a burger, window
I was away from the United States for two years on a mission to the Far East, beginning early in 1950. I left the United States as a teenager of 17 years, and returned as a 19-year old still almost two years short of voting age—back then the minimum age for voting was 21, not 18. I left because I was called on—commanded—to assist the US Army in its occupation of Japan, an occupation by our armed forces still in place five years after Japan’s surrender.
Shortly after arriving in Japan I was given the opportunity to assist our armed forces in the Korean War. I unwisely volunteered and spent fifteen months there at the height of the war, returning to the US early in 1952. On my return I found many changes—life in Mississippi moved much slower than in other sections of the country, perhaps because repercussions of the War Between the States—that’s our U. S. Civil War—still echoed in that area and era, and recovery through reconstruction was slow in coming.
Columbus was slow to accept change and was far behind the times in many ways. The most fascinating change for me was the addition of a drive-in theater, a place where couples, young and not-so-young, could legally park at night, to watch the movie, of course, without fear of those dreaded red lights and sirens operated by local law-enforcement personnel. I was challenged by many changes on my return to the city, but I have vivid memories of successfully adapting, with the assistance of a schoolmate’s sister, to the challenges posed by the drive-in theater—the ins and outs of the process, so to speak.
I quickly mastered actions such as moving the speaker from its post to the car’s interior and keeping my foot off the brake pedal. I learned the latter from the cacophony of horns blowing behind me because the red brake lights were obscuring the screen for others. In later years—much later—I accidentally—honest, it was an accident—drove away with the speaker still in the car. Fearing that I would be prosecuted, I hesitated to report the damage and I kept the speaker—I cleverly wired it to my radio and used it as a backseat sound source. Voila! Stereo!
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Tags: brake, cacophony, Civil War, couples, drive-in theater, far east, Japan, Korean War, Mississippi, pedal, schoolmate, speaker, voting age
At some time in my preteen years, one of my sisters—the pretty one, the one named Lorene—married a man named Elmer, a tall slow-walking slow-talking quick-thinking fellow that would come to figure prominently in my life. The newly-weds lived for awhile in the city within walking distance from our house on Nineteenth Street South, then later went to live with his parent’s in south Mississippi. Elmer’s father was minister to a small church just a short walk from his home. I spent a summer vacation with them as a small boy, and another summer vacation with Elmer and Lorene after they bought a small farm, built a house on it and began farming. Those two vacations include thoughts and events that will be the subjects of numerous postings, each of which should be of vital interest to any viewer—honest—stay tuned!
This posting is all about me and Elmer and a hamburger steak—except for the lack of rhyming, that could be developed into a parody of Lobo’s song from the 1970s, Me and you and a dog named Boo. Maybe I should work on that—it could well be something for Ray Stevens to consider, similar to his songs about The streak—don’t look, Ethel—and Ahab, the Arab and others. I may work on the lyrics for a future posting—stay tuned!
Eating out was a rarity for me when I was a kid—we didn’t eat out because we couldn’t afford the cost—in fact, there were a few times that we didn’t eat in either, and many times that we ate sparingly—besides, the walk to a cafe would have been prohibitive. Although everything in Columbus, Mississippi in those days was within walking distance, we would have been hungry again by the time we returned home. There was no MacDonald’s, no Burger King, no Jack-in-the-Box, no Sonic and no Dairy Queen. In my town there were only two drive-in restaurants, only remotely related to those we have today. The two establishments had no drive-through services. People simply drove up and parked near the building and a carhop would come out, take the order and return with food and drinks.
Trust me when I say that my town had only two eat-outside-in-your-car restaurants—I should know, because I worked as a carhop at both of them for varying periods. Believe it or not, in those days Mississippi state law prohibited girls from working as carhops. I suppose our legislators felt that young girls would be subjected to harassment, up to and including suffering—shudder, shudder—a fate worse than death. You know, like loonies and flashers exposing themselves and showing pornographic photos through the window and committing various lewd acts and raping and beating carhops and similar untoward actions following arousal caused by a young girl in a low-cut blouse and French-cut shorts, leaning through an open car door window tempting men, usually dirty old men—-I think I’ll stop there—I’m becoming a bit excited just thinking about it.
In retrospect, I have decided that our legislators thought that young boys would never fall prey to such predators—either that or they considered it and discarded it—perhaps none of them had young sons, or perhaps they had sons but none needed or wanted to work. I am a living witness to the fact that young boys were and are far too often targeted by predators, even in the long ago of my preteen and teen years—I hasten to add that in my case they never were successful—they never hit the target. And yes, that’s a subject for a future posting if I ever manage to get around to it—stay tuned!
I have digressed from my subject, and I apologize—back to Elmer and my very first hamburger steak:
Elmer had business in town and invited me to go with him. Around noontime he suggested that we have lunch at a local eatery. I remember the place clearly—it was located near the top of the river bluff on which Columbus is built, within sight of the bridge spanning the Tombigbee river. The restaurant was Garoffa’s Blue Front Cafe. The proprietor’s son, Johnny, was a senior in our high school, a first string football player that suffered a serious injury that left him crippled in one leg. He walked with a decided limp, but his deformity neither lessened the number of girls that seemed to always be around him nor his ability to make the most of their attentions—Johnny was, as was Wyatt Earp, a legend in his own time.
Kids in my day, at least in the circles in which I moved, were never asked what they wanted in a cafe. The adults pored over the menu and eventually selected the items that provided the most food at the lowest cost—in effect, they ordered from the price list rather than from the list of entrees. We kids were simply asked what we wanted on our burger. I didn’t care what they put on my burger, just so it had plenty of mayo slathered on, looking like ocean waves or rows of sand dunes.
Elmer was different—before that day I liked him—after that day I loved him. We entered the cafe and he said, Hey, Mikey, let’s belly up to the counter. We did, and he took a menu and handed me one, and following a brief glance at the menu he said Hey, that hamburger steak looks good–think you might want to try one?
My heart swelled, my pulse accelerated accordingly and when I finally found my voice I replied as nonchalantly as I could, and said something on the order of Yeah, why not, might as well. I had been spinning around on my stool soaking in my surroundings, and I purt near fell off when Elmer gave me the choice of a hamburger steak instead of asking me what I wanted on my burger.
The woman behind the counter smilingly placed a full-grown hamburger steak before me, served on a full-grown platter, covered with gravy and mushrooms and onions with a full-grown pile of french fries on the side. I tried mightily to transfer the entire load on that platter from outside me to inside me—I made a Herculean effort but try as I might I couldn’t handle that mountain of fries. I reluctantly left a few fries on the plate, but I walked out with every ounce of that huge hamburger steak—and none of it was in a doggy-bag.
That hamburger steak moment and that day qualify as one of the happiest days of my life. I was treated as an equal by Elmer, and in later years I received that same treatment throughout two summer vacations I spent with him and my sister.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: ahab the arab, burger, Burger King, carhop, church, Columbus, counter, dairy queen, drinks, farm, flsers, food, french fries, gravy mushrooms, hamburger, herculean doggy bag, jack in the box, loonie, Macdonalds, menu, minister, Mississippi, ocean sand dunes, pornographic, predators, preteen, Ray stevens, song, sonic, steak, summer, the streak, vacation, wyatt earp
For a few weeks during the second World War I lived in a boarding house with my mother, stepfather and an older sister, a young girl that was a complex assortment of tissue, fluids and organs with a brilliant mind and a tendency to manufacture, from whole cloth, tales that were told as true but believed by none. Eighteen months older than I, she was from birth in 1931 to her death in 1992 at the age of sixty-one, a teller of tall tales.
We were together constantly in our early years, but beginning in our early teenage years we grew apart and were together for brief periods only when our paths crossed. She married a military man and moved with him to various assignments, including stateside and oversea locations. I was also in the military, but our paths crossed only once in Germany.
But I digress—this posting deals with our living for several weeks during the summer at an address in uptown Columbus, Mississippi in Mrs. Cooper’s Boarding House, a mini-hotel that occupied the second floor of a building on College Street—several blocks east of the boarding house was the Mississippi State College for Women, thus the name College Street. It was the procedure at that time to give the one-half designation to identify the second floor of a building. I don’t remember what sort of business occupied the lower part of the building, but it must have been something that held no interest for a young boy.
The building’s mailing address was 301 College Street. Mrs Cooper’s Boarding House was 301 1/2 College Street. Had the building sported a third floor I suppose its address would have been 301 3/4 College Street, and it follows that a fourth floor would have been 301 4/4. I know that buildings with multiple side-by-side units—duplexes, triplexes and such—are identified by adding letters, such as 301-A, 301-B, 301-C and so on, normally from left to right when one is facing the building. Perhaps fractions were used rather than letters because letters were already taken to indicate side-by-side units.
As with many of our domiciles were during the years we were with our mother and our stepfather, we lived in one room. Toilet facilities were always down at the end of the hall, or down the hall and left or right to the end of that hall, depending on one’s room number. The rooms did not include cooking or eating—Mrs. Cooper cooked and served three meals daily at a long table in a cavernous room with windows facing the street. Meals were served punctually—breakfast at seven in the morning, dinner at twelve noon and supper at six in the evening.
Yes, dinner was at noon—to my knowledge nobody in the south at that time ate lunch—we didn’t even know the term. If someone got the best of us, we never said Wow, he really ate my lunch! Nope, we said Wow, he really got the best of me!
I have learned since then that the difference between lunch and dinner and between dinner and supper depends on which of the two is the more important meal. If the big meal is served and eaten at noon, it’s dinner and the meal served and eaten in the evening is supper—we dine at noon and we sup in the evening. Conversely, if the big meal is served and eaten in the evening it’s dinner, and the meal at noon becomes lunch. Then of course we have brunch, a meal enjoyed between breakfast and lunch. I suppose a meal enjoyed in mid-afternoon would therefore be a combination of lunch and dinner—linner—or perhaps a combination of dinner and supper—dupper—if one has dinner at noon and supper in the evening.
Enough of that, so back to my original subject, namely Mrs. Cooper’s Boarding House. Meals there were always interesting. We comprised a motley assortment of people representing diverse occupations and all races, all that is except blacks, a group now known as African-Americans—the term was unknown in my childhood. Mrs. Cooper employed such persons in her establishment but none ever lived there and none ever sat at the table, at least not when paying guests were seated there. This was deep in the segregated south sometime during the Second World War, long before Lynden Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights marches and the cattle prods, snarling dogs and snarling policemen in Selma, Alabama.
As an aside, I’ll say that I was stationed at Craig Air Force Base in Selma for some six years, from 1955 to 1961, and I was therefore familiar with Alabama and Dallas County’s system of segregation of the races. Stay tuned, because I plan to discuss Craig AFB, Selma, Alabama, fishing and segregation in future postings.
I have no memories of Mrs. Cooper’s Boarding House that are worthy of sharing with my viewers, but I remember a cute story told to me by a lady in a different town and in a different but similar setting. My mother was an LVN, a licensed vocational nurse and for a year or so she tended a bedridden wheelchair-bound elderly widow in Durant, Mississippi. a small town northeast of Jackson. Her compensation for that task was the income generated by a large house owned by the invalid, a house that had been converted into several apartments. Our family had a furnished apartment at no cost with all utilities paid, and my mother managed the facility, renting and collecting the rents and maintaining the house—anything left over was her salary. Her patient also lived there and my mother furnished around-the-clock nursing care for her. Incidentally, this was during a period of a forced separation from our stepfather, one created by him as were all the other times we were thrown out to continue our lives in whatever way we could.
Click here for that story—it features a violent incident, a threat, a shotgun and two children hiding in the woods—shades of Hansel and Gretel!
That’s about it—I posted this item for no other reason than to discuss the oddity of an address ending in a fraction. I haven’t seen it anywhere else, but of course I have never really tried to find another fractioned address.
Oh, I’ve decided to save the story told by the invalid lady in the apartment house my mother managed, but stay tuned—it’ll show up in a future posting, and it’s really funny! Sadly though, it’s a clean joke—not even the suggestion of a bad word or thought in it, not one double entendre in it, single, double or otherwise—bummer!
Speaking of a double entendre, the image on the right is an 1814 engraving of one such. The balloons above their heads read as follows:
He: “My sweet honey, I hope you are to be let with the lodgings!
She: No, sir, I am to be let alone!
The term let, of course, means rent. It refers to lodgings for let, or rooms for rent. The gentleman is hoping that the girl comes with the lodging. I mean, like, hey, those folks in the Victorian era were really raunchy, huh! Just consider the dissolution, dissipation and disintegration of acceptable social mores during that time, the sexual overtones in that conversation, all reflecting a time in history of debauched living, and look—they’re even touching! Ostensibly in an attempt to chuck her under the chin, a move that she is warding off, his hand is perilously near her breast—horrors! It’s sad to think that young children were exposed to such filth during the Victorian period. You’ll never find anything like that in one of my postings—except for this time, of course.
Tags: african-americans, Alabama, boarding house, cattle prods, college street, Columbus, craig AFB, dinner, duplexes, facility, Germany, girl, gretel, hansel, lunch, lvn, Lynden Johnson, Martin luther king, Military, Mississippi, Mississippi college for women, Second World War, Selma, separation, shotgun, sister, snarling dogs, snarling policemen, stepfather, supper, triplexes, woods
This is a reposting from April 2009, the second of more than 200 ramblings I have created and passed on to an admiring public. I am resurrecting this one, bringing it out from the Stygian darkness into the light of day because I believe it has value, certainly more value than is evidenced by the two votes and the lone comment it has garnered over the past fourteen months. In the interest of full disclosure I confess that both votes are mine—yes, I vote for my postings when I return to them, either to correct or modify with deletions or additions or to simply admire them, and I click on excellent each time.
Hey, political candidates never vote for their opponent—they vote for themselves, right? Click here for the original posting.
This is the complete text of the original:
When I began blogging I was determined to not enter the political fray. With this posting I have moved into it, but I will step out and away from it immediately afterward. Viewers should note that this posting takes no side in the current political fracas—it simply calls attention to the utter folly of investigating certain methods of interrogation which were used by the past administration in its efforts to protect our nation from terrorist attacks.
For anyone unfamiliar with its definition, a fly speck is a piece of organic waste material excreted by a fly. A fly speck is small, very small, tiny—really, really, really tiny. Granted, it could potentially impede the forward movement of an ambulatory organism (of an amoeba, perhaps), but it’s so small that it could not, or at least it should not, in anyway impede the forward movement of any person, group of people or organization, especially the forward movement of our president and his administration in the quest to bring change—needed change—to our country and to our planet.
Many highly-placed officials in the present administration, up to and including our 44th president, are tripping over a fly speck. That speck is the current discussion over whether to investigate and perhaps charge, indict, bring to trial and if found guilty in any degree, punish officials of the previous administration who authorized certain methods of interrogation of known or suspected terrorists.
I wish fervently that all who are involved in this matter would stop, take a good long look at what confronts them and desist—it’s a fly speck, nothing more. Step over it, step around it or step on it, but don’t trip over it. Be aware of it but ignore it and keep moving forward. Get on with your work in areas which have real meaning—keeping our country free from harm by those who would destroy us, fighting global warming, improving health care, reviving the economy, and improving the nation’s schools are several which come to mind.
The lone comment on the original posting was contributed by a lovely southern belle, a recent transplant from Virginia to Alabama and a lady suffused with cogent thoughts and opinions—cogent as in clear, logical, compelling, convincing and timely—thoughts, opinions and ideas to which she readily gives voice, unflinchingly and without fear of retribution—hear, hear!
This is her comment:
Hear, hear! I agree—the question now is, “How much is this political folly going to cost each of us as American tax payers?” I don’t care what it takes to extract information from those who desire to kill and harm us in this great free nation. Let us move forward, not backwards.
And this my response to her comment:
Hi, Sue—I removed the inadvertent second el in “political” in your comment, but then I took a long look at that extra el and did some deep thinking. By adding an extra el to political, we get “politicall.” With just one keystroke we convert the word from an adjective to a noun (accent on the last syllable). As a noun this new word, “politicall,” can be defined as “an attempt by one political party to oust another political party from power, either by impeachment or by voting the rascals out.”
Tags: alabama lady, amoeba, belle, cogent, darkness, economy, excrement, fly, global warming, health care, interrogation, lady, material, organic, organism, planet, president, retribution, stygian, transplant virginia, tripping
For a few brief months I lived on Fifth Avenue South in Columbus, Mississippi with my mother, stepfather and my youngest sister, a female enigma some eighteen months older than I. We lived in a small one-story frame house, home for us between moves to and from Tennessee in the Oak Ridge area—my stepfather, Papa John, was employed as a construction superintendent with the J. A. Jones Construction Company, one of the entities engaged in the atom-bomb project during World War II—his employment rose and fell with the company’s need for his services. This was the second house we lived in on Fifth Avenue South. The other house was a two-story antebellum home that was converted to apartments to provide additional housing during the war. Click here for a posting of notable activities at that location.
Our family included a small Spitz dog, a beautiful female identical to the image pictured here. My mother claimed ownership of the dog, but my stepfather had severe reservations about the animal—he had neither patience nor liking for any animal or any person that made no contribution to the family, and that little dog definitely made none. It’s a wonder that he tolerated the dog, and its ultimate abrupt and final separation from the family came as no surprise to us.
Our next-door neighbor to the east kept chickens, something that may or may not have been in accordance with city regulations—not that it would have mattered. In our neighborhood, as in most neighborhoods on the south side of the city, very few regulations were enforced.
The image on the left shows a male and a female chicken—a rooster and a hen—the hen is the smaller one to the right. Our little dog had the speed and strength and the urge to waylay a hen that had flown over the fence that separated our houses, and she managed to kill the bird. Papa John expressed his disapproval vocally with words that can only be described as other than appropriate for the ears of his two stepchildren, apologized to the neighbors and made some sort of remunerative reparation for their loss of an egg-laying hen in the prime of its life. He also vocalized the future action he would take should the act be repeated—he said he would kill the dog.
Our little Spitz female had drawn blood and I believe she lay in wait for another victim to fly over the fence, and predictably one did, on a bright summer Sunday noon while we were having lunch. Papa John heard the commotion in the backyard and took in the situation at a glance—dog growling and mangling hen and hen squawking, literally, for dear life. The image on the right is probably how the dog viewed the hen.
Our stepfather hastened to the bedroom for his US Army regulation .45 caliber semi-automatic firearm, secured it, returned to the kitchen, ripped open the kitchen screen door and ran full-tilt down the steps and across the yard toward the corner where the Spitz had the hen down.
The pistol was always ready to fire—Papa said that if everyone knew it was ready to fire they would not be tempted to handle it—he was wrong—in his absence I handled it many times, sighting and making the sounds young boys make to simulate gunshots—I even simulated ricochets, the sound made when the bullets hit a rock instead of the outlaw.
In this instance the pistol was already pointed at the dog as Papa ran, and we knew how this would turn out. We were wrong. Papa John returned to the house with the weapon unfired. There was a wire clothesline strung across the yard between the hen’s death struggle with the dog and the swiftly moving would-be dog killer. Papa John met the tightly drawn clothesline wire at the bridge of his nose, a very prominent member, a proboscis that some might classify as Romanesque—others might consider it bulbous, similar to the one sported by the late W. C. Fields—see image at right.
The wire stopped Papa, but not in his tracks. It stopped his nose but his feet kept going and he fell flat on his back with a grunt that was audible to us from our vantage point on the kitchen steps.
My mother screamed and my sister and I giggled, but the giggling stopped abruptly as Papa John struggled to his feet and slowly, haltingly, returned to the house, bleeding profusely from the point where the wire made contact and the pistol unfired. There was very little discussion from that point on. My mother applied makeshift first-aid to the damaged member and Papa John spent most of the afternoon abed.
This story is almost over—stay with me for the finale. The incident took place on Sunday, and the good news is that the hen survived—the little dog released her when he saw Papa John hit the wire—actually the dog heard rather than saw the encounter. The next day was a school day, and my sister and I dutifully attended school, and when we returned home at the end of our school day we immediately checked the backyard to see about the little dog.
As the reader has probably surmised, there was no dog, not in the backyard nor in the house. Our normally garrulous mother told us, in terse words and somber tones that she had inadvertently left the gate open and that the little dog apparently ran away. We knew that was untrue, and she knew that we knew it was untrue, but we accepted her story on its face—we had no other choice. We knew that Papa John had, in one way or another, completed the action that the clothesline wire had temporarily averted. The incident and the missing canine were never subjects for conversation from that point on, at least not while Papa John was within earshot of such conversations.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: bird, blood, chicken, clothesline, Columbus, company, construction, dog, hen, house J A Jones, Mississippi, pistol, spitz, superintendent, World War II
This posting is based purely on a description of an incident in which a dog named Buster—my dog, a full grown sixty–pound American Pit Bull Terrier, a dog sporting a bobbed tail and surgically pointed ears, the marks of a fighting dog—caused worshipers to end a Saturday night gathering earlier than usual. Buster was christened at birth by the American Kennel Club as Mars but my brother, his first master, named him Buster in memory of his boyhood pet.
I was not there—my mother and my sister described the incident to me in considerable detail on the same night that it took place. I hasten to add that my sister was given to extreme exaggeration in her story-telling, and in such instances my mother would confirm the story as told by my sister, purely to avoid confrontation with her. This posting therefore, should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt.
When we lived on 19th Street South there was a small church down the street from our house, just across the Big Ditch—I have capitalized Big Ditch because it figured so prominently in my life while we lived on that street, and it is definitely a subject for a future posting—stay tuned!
I don’t remember the name or the denomination of the church, but I do remember my mother and my older sisters occasionally strolling down to the church in the evening, usually on Saturday nights. I am hesitant to use the term holy rollers, but in my memory that would describe the assembly. On summer Saturday nights in the absence of air conditioning, the doors and windows of the church were left wide open to provide relief from the summer heat. The sounds that I remember coming from the church reinforce that memory—no, I wasn’t invited but I sometimes sneaked down the street and listened and watched through the open door of the church.
Holy Roller as defined by Wikipedia:
Holy Roller is a term in American English used to describe Pentecostal Christian churchgoers. The term is commonly used derisively, as if to describe people literally rolling on the floor or speaking in tongues in an uncontrolled manner. For this usage, the Oxford English Dictionary Charles G. Leland, in which he says “When the Holy Spirit seized them..the Holy Rollers..rolled over and over on the floor.” It is generally considered pejorative, but some have reclaimed it as a badge of honor, e.g. William Branham’s statement “And what the world calls today holy-roller, that’s the way I worship Jesus Christ.” Similar disparaging terms directed at outspoken Christians include Jesus freaks and Bible bashers. The name Shakers was created as a portmanteau of shaking Quakers. Gospel singer Andrae Crouch stated, “They call us holy rollers, and what they say is true. But if they knew what we were rollin’ about, they’d be rollin’ too.”
Now fast forward some eight years later to a time when I lived for several months with my mother and my youngest sister on Seventh Avenue South—yep, I intend to devote some time and effort to pulling aside the curtain of time and revealing some interesting facts about life on Seventh Avenue South, life in a small three-room house just fifty feet from railroad tracks, a house with running water and electricity but no bathroom. Strategically placed several yards behind the house was a small tin-roofed two-hole wooden privy that served quite well for toilet purposes.
Our sojourn in that house, immediately adjacent to an active railroad lasted several months, an interim period during one of various times that we were separated from our stepfather and on our own, living life as best we could with the resources we had—spare resources, indeed!
Buster was my dog, a left-over from the time I lived with my brother in Maryland—yep, that is also a future posting—is there no end to this?!! Buster spent his early years as my brother’s dog, but was inherited by me when my brother returned to military service with the United States army. Click here to learn how Buster fared during my service as an indentured servant on an Alabama farm.
Now on to Buster’s breakup of a Saturday night worship service. On a special summer Saturday evening my mother and my sister walked several blocks to the church on Nineteenth StreetSouth to join the assembled worshipers—well, they really went to observe—and Buster, as always when anyone left the house, walked with them. He was a well-trained and obedient animal and stayed outside the church as ordered. However, he could see much of the activities and could hear the sounds, and at a moment when the sounds of the worshipers reached a crescendo he broke and charged through the open door and down the aisle to the altar where those that had been entered by the spirit were demonstrating the spirit’s presence, both physically and vocally. Apparently some of the sounds consisted of keening, high-pitched tones that aroused the bulldog to action—he joined the group gathered near the altar, howling mightily in tune with the worshipers, and pandemonium ensued.
Hey, I’m not making this up—I’m relating the incident strictly as I remember it from the tale told to me by my mother and my sister, with no embellishments other than those that may have been added by my sister—I wasn’t there so I can’t vouch for its truthfulness. I do believe, however, that the basic facts are true. My mother tended to go along with my sister’s embellishments, but she was not prone to supporting details that were obviously untrue.
The way my sister told it, some worshipers abandoned the church through the two open doors. Others climbed up on benches and crawled under benches, and still others exited through open windows leaving the bulldog at the altar, still howling. He made no effort to attack anyone. There was no biting or attempts to bite, but his presence and his howling was enough to empty the church.
After my sister calmed the dog and the congregation returned with its sanity restored—not all returned, but some did—the pastor politely but forcefully asked my mother if she planned to return for future services and if so, to please refrain from bringing the bulldog. I have no recollection of my mother or my sister or my bulldog attending later assemblies of worshipers.
So there—I’ve related the incident as told to me, succinctly and completely as possible—in fine (that’s Latin for at the end), that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: Alabama, altar, american kennel club, army, assembly, badge, big ditch, bulldog, buster, chrch, Christian, churchgoers, concrete-block, confrontation, cresendo, dog, evening, farm, grain of salt, holy spirit, honor, in fine, Latin, mars, Maryland, mother, pentecostal, pet, pit bull, privy, railroad, sanity, saturday, sister, stepfather, summer, terrier, toilet, worshipers
In a recent posting I outed a boy that lived next door to my house on Eleventh Street South. His name was Edward Earl but he responded to Tootie, a justifiable moniker that he could easily demonstrate—Edward Earl could, with little or no urging toot at will, hence the nickname Tootie.
Tootie and I were friends and we rambled together all over town and country, but I don’t remember whether he attended my school. There was another elementary school nearby and he may have been enrolled there. I say may have been, but in retrospect I suspect that he was not enrolled anywhere. I have no memories of walking to or from school with him—I usually walked with my sister, eighteen months older than I and one grade ahead of me. She constantly lorded over me in our elementary school because she was ahead, and I spend a lot of time dreaming and hoping and praying that she would fail at least one grade—two grades if the good Lord could manage it.
But I digress—back to Tootie and the watermelon party.
Early one sunny summer Saturday morning Tootie and I decided to go uptown to check out the flood waters of the Tombigbee River, a normally peaceful stream that was in flood mode at the time and was the subject of much conversation. We walked the eleven blocks east to First Street, then eleven blocks north to Main Street, a distance of some two miles—city blocks usually run about twelve blocks to the mile.
Most of the homes on First Street were, and I suppose still are, owned and occupied by the upper crust of Columbus—the wealthy, the near wealthy and a few wannabees. All the homes fronted First Street and backed up to the bluff overlooking the river. We checked out the flood waters from several backyards along the street, and at one point the water had risen so high that we were able to walk out over the flooded area on a limb of a huge tree near the bluff.
Our destination was the high bridge over the Tombigbee River. We traversed the length of the bridge, marveling at the flotsam and jetsam moving down the river, did the uptown thing, checked out the marques and the black-and-white lobby cards posted at the town’s three movie houses, rambled through Woolworth’s and McClellan’s Five and Dime stores—didn’t shoplift anything—and sometime in mid-afternoon we headed for home, primarily because we had no money and we were hungry—considerable time has passed since breakfast.
We made it home safely but not under our own power. Several blocks from home on Eleventh Street was an ice plant, a business that operated five and one-half days a week. The plant’s loading dock was near the street and as we drew near we noticed numerous watermelon halves on the dock and walked over to take a look. Apparently the workers had a watermelon party after their shift was over. The plant was silent, no vehicles or people anywhere in sight.
Evidently the workers had just left because the melons were still cold. In most of the melons only the heart, the part with no seeds, had been gouged out, so one can guess the rest of this story. Tootie and I feasted on cold watermelon, digging out melon bites with one hand, swatting flies with the other hand and competing to see how far we could spit seeds—for two tired and hungry little boys it was heavenly!
We were still enjoying our find when a city police cruiser, a black-and-white with two patrolmen, drew up and stopped at the loading dock. The driver asked us what we were doing and we told him the honest truth—we told him we were eating watermelon. He asked us for our names and we told the truth to that question also. He suggested that we hop into the rear seat so he could give us a ride home. Tootie said that it was not far and that we would rather walk, that we were going home and only stopped to eat some watermelon.
Both patrolmen exited the car and each opened a rear door. The same officer repeated his suggestion, but couched it in different terms and in a different tone—we scrambled off the dock and into the rear seat. As the doors closed Tootie whispered to me that yeah, they’re taking us home alright—home to jail. I made no response because I was so scared that I couldn’t even swallow, let alone talk.
When we got home we were met by some very relieved and very angry family members. Calls had been made to the city police around mid-morning and the search had been going on ever since. I don’t know what sort of system they had at the time—obviously there was no Amber Alert system in place. I imagine the search was simply a call to local law enforcement personnel to be on the lookout for two wayward boys, one named Mikey and one that was called Tootie.
I have every reason to believe that some sort of corporeal punishment was meted out to us. There was no doubt that we deserved it—we had earned it. However, I do not remember what transpired following our triumphant homecoming. My punishment may have been so severe and so traumatic that I blotted it from my memory. I may awaken some night screaming, drenched with perspiration, reeling from a whip lashing and recalling threats of being drawn and quartered, but I may have suffered nothing more than a few bear hugs and kisses.
At least seventy years have gone by since that day, and I have never had such dreams and what scars I have were earned in other places and in other ways. I have serious doubts that I will ever have such dreams, but hey, anything is possible. The punishment may be so deeply buried in my subconscious that nothing can bring it to the surface—I hope!
I am honest enough to admit the possibility that I may have—may have, mind you—embellished this story a tiny teeny weeny little bit along the way in my efforts and desire to enlighten and entertain those that may pass this way, but the story is true—honest! I can prove it by demonstrating that I can still eat watermelon with one hand and swat flies with the other hand.
It’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Tags: Amber alert, bridge, Columbus, corporeal, country, elementary, Family, flood, ice plant, main street, mcclellan, melons, Mississippi, movie, nickname, officer, party, patrolmen, perspiration, punishment, river stream, school, subconscious, system, Tombigbee, town, watermelon, woolworth
At some point during the time I resided at the house on Eleventh Street South with my family—three older sisters and one older mother—I stole a Payday candy bar. Yep, I casually strolled into Mr. Fuqua’s corner grocery store at the opposite end of my block, cruised around pretending to shop and purloined a full-grown Payday, perhaps the most exotic and tastiest candy bar in existence both then and now, and casually strolled out of the store undetected.
I stuffed the Payday into my pocket while the proprietor was busy with a paying customer and exited the store. Calendar points—days, weeks, months and years have dimmed considerably over time, but I can say with confidence that I was either six or seven years old when I stole the Payday, an age that most would consider a bit early for one to begin a life of crime. I hasten to add that shortly after the theft, on the same day in which I committed the theft, I reluctantly but firmly renounced that life—read on for the details.
I researched the history of Payday candy bars in preparation for this posting and learned that the Payday candy bar and I were born in the same year, an amazing coincidence. We’ve both grown since that time, but in opposite directions—I’m considerably larger—Payday, conversely, is considerably smaller and considerably more expensive—for a brief history of the storied candy bar, click here: Can’t get enough peanuts? Try a PAYDAY Peanut Caramel Bar, with sweet caramel and tons of salty peanuts.
As was Macaulay Culkin, the child actor in the Home Alone movies, I was alone at home that day and thus free to roam at will. My roaming took me to the store and started me on a life of crime, albeit short-lived. On that day I became a criminal—small time and insignificant in the overall history of crime in the United States but a criminal nonetheless, a doer of a bad deed—a lawbreaker and a thief.
I’ll fast-forward and confess that after hiding the candy bar, still in its original wrapper, its sweet caramel and tons of salty peanuts untouched by fingers, lips, teeth or tongue—at least untouched while in my possession. In retrospect, I felt that if my theft was discovered I could return the item, virginal in every respect and thus avoid prosecution and subsequent incarceration. I probably planned to plead guilty and hope for probation and community service at some place other than grocery stores with extensive candy displays.
I hid my purloined Payday in several places in my house. Each seemed logical at first but doubt soon set in and the hiding place was changed—none was satisfactory. I briefly considered hiding it in our outdoor toilet, but wisely rejected that location. At one point it spent some time beneath a bush in the vacant lot across the street from my house, craftily hidden under dry leaves.
I finally returned the Payday candy bar, that concoction of sweet caramel and tons of salty peanuts, to its original display shelf in Mr. Fuqua’s corner store, its wrapper a bit wrinkled from its unauthorized and illegal sojourn and covered with my fingerprints but with its innards pristine, ready for sale to and consumption by anyone with the necessary nickel.
I would like to believe that the proprietor of that corner store, a long-time friend of my family, was aware of my criminal act—that he witnessed its departure from and its return to the candy shelf and decided to overlook the incident, to consider it insignificant in the greater scheme of things but resolving to keep a sharp lookout any time I entered the store in the future. If he did reason in that manner, it was a good choice—I never took another item from his establishment—I was tempted, but I never again succumbed to that temptation.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Oops, I forgot something—a few years later at some time during the conflagration of World War II, I rescued a turtle, a teeny tiny real live baby turtle with its one-inch-diameter shell sporting a painting of the American flag. I’ll save that story for a future posting, but as a teaser I’ll say that by my action I mercifully released the turtle from its display case in a five-and-ten-cent store, one of a chain that is now defunct. That little guy—or little girl, perhaps—such determination with turtles is quite difficult—lived a long and varied life following his—or her—release, rescued from and no longer subjected to the stares, giggles, anti-turtle comments and unlimited handling by untold numbers of an uncaring public. McLellan Stores were a 20th-century chain of five-and-dime stores in the United States. You can click here to read McLellan’s history.
The first image above shows the size of my turtle—no, that’s not my hand—I didn’t steal three turtles—I stole only one. The second image is a somewhat expensive representation of a turtle, size unknown—it’s available online for anyone with $995 to spare.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: candy, candy bar, caramel, crime, culkin, customer, fingers, five and dime store, grocery, home alone, lawbreaker, lips, McLellan, Payday, peanut, probation, proprietor, prosecution, teeth, theft, thief, toilet, tongue, turtle
My mother smoked cigarettes from my earliest memories all the way to her eightieth birthday, and periodically during those years she said, I’ll stop smoking when I’m eighty. On her eightieth birthday, just as she had promised, she stopped smoking and she stopped cold turkey—no dependence on any system designed to control the habit. She lived another three years, then died following bypass surgery for an aneurysm near the heart—the doctors said that her lungs were in remarkably good condition, especially considering her past history of smoking.
Hers was one of the surgical situations in which the operation was a success but the patient died.
In my early years she smoked Kool cigarettes, those with mentholated tobacco and a cork-tip for filtration—smokers addicted to that brand probably believed that although they were damaging their body they were being medicated for the damage at the same time. As far as I know the maker never claimed that, but there is no doubt that some smokers believed it to be true—my mother was one of those believers. For those not familiar with the brand, it was represented by Willie the Kool Penguin, beginning in 1934 and ending in 1960, and there is no doubt that Willie sold a lot of Kool cigarettes.
The first cigarette I smoked was a Kool—well, it was the first cigarette I attempted to smoke—I couldn’t make it go. My mistake was in trying to set fire to the filter-tipped end instead of the tobacco filled end, the part that was supposed to be lighted. All I got was a really nasty taste and a really bad smell in the area where I tried to light the cigarette, a smell composed of burning cork, burning tobacco and burning mentholatum, a real bummer. I was a first-grader somewhere along in my first year of schooling at Miss Mary Stokes’ Elementary School in Columbus, Mississippi. Click here for an excellent posting, even if I say so myself!
You can also find the information on Miss Mary Stokes’ school by clicking here.
Following my failure to light the cigarette I quickly consigned it and the burned match to our outdoor privy—toilet—and opened doors and windows throughout the house and fanned a magazine all through the house in an attempt at fumigation. It must have been effective, because none ever knew about my first attempt to smoke—my family may be learning about it with this posting.
I hate to admit it, but my next attempt to smoke was highly successful, accomplished at age fourteen, establishing a habit that continued for more than twenty years. I ran out of cigarettes one night and simply never bothered to ever smoke again—I never bought another carton or another package of cigarettes, nor did I ever bum a smoke from another smoker—I simply quit—cold turkey. I’m unsure why I stopped, but I may have heard a silent voice saying ominously—it is time—shudder, shudder!
Now travel with me back to Eleventh Street South, a street block on which I lived at one end and Fuqua’s Grocery stood at the other end. Back in those days—the good old days—one could purchase a cigarette with one penny—any brand of cigarette. If the proprietor had no open package of the brand desired, he would open a new pack in order to satisfy the customer and make the sale. There was no prohibition on children smoking—it was a practice generally frowned on, but nobody ranted and railed at seeing children smoking, nothing more than a tsk, tsk, perhaps.
I had the requisite penny and I decided to buy a cigarette. My mother had often given me a penny and asked me to go to the store and get her a Kool cigarette, so my request for a Kool came as no surprise to Mr. Fuqua. Of course, I took no chances—I lied and told him that my mother had sent me for the cigarette, and he had no reason to think I was being somewhat untruthful.
As an aside, in those days the owner also maintained a supply of saltine crackers available for purchase by the piece—for the price of one penny, a customers could get sausage or cheese and two crackers. Five cents for an eight-ounce Coke, a 12-ounce Pepsi or a 12-ounce RC Cola, then five cents more for ten crackers and five slices of cheese or sausage made a sumptuous meal for many people, including workers, during the days of the Great Depression—a depression that lasted far longer in the southern part of our nation than in other parts.
That’s it—that’s the story of my first attempt to smoke. I can pinpoint the year and almost to the month and day when I smoked the last cigarette. It was definitely in 1967 in the wee small hours of a Saturday morning in the spring—it was a filtered Winston cigarette that I huffed and puffed right down to the filter while fishing on Medina Lake, a fisherman’s paradise some thirty miles northwest of San Antonio, Texas. My fishing companion was Charley, a friend from work that smoked Swisher Sweet cigars and—-well, I’ll stop there and finish the story in a later posting. Stay tuned!
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: anuerism, body, brand, carton, cheese, children, cigaarettes, cigars, companion, cork, crackers, doctors, durgery, fuqua, great depression, grocery, habit, heart, history, Kool, lungs, magazine, memories birthday, mentholatum, mother, nation, package, privy, saltine, sausage, swisher sweets, system, tobacco cork tip, turkey, winston, years
I recently regaled—or bored, as the case may be—everyone with a story about a gravel pit near where I lived as a boy, a first-grader with, apparently, a wish to be a fish. Much as the proverbial moth drawn to a flame, I was drawn to water in all its habitats—well, almost all—I wasn’t particularly fond of bathwater whether tub, shower or wash pan. Up to this point my ablutions were limited to tubs and wash pans, with zero experience with showers, at least not with indoor showers. I discussed my affinity for water, other than bathing, in a recent posting—click here for a bit of background on my affliction.
Following my public humiliation from being popped frequently with a belt wielded by my mother as I trotted home from the gravel pit sans clothing—nude—naked—I managed to quell my longing for returning to the gravel pit for awhile, but predictably I managed to slough off the effects of the punishment meted out by my mother. On a bright sunny afternoon I slipped out the back door preparing to climb the fence and head for the gravel pit. I had one leg over the fence when I heard my mother’s voice from the back door. Had I ignored it I would have been on my way to an afternoon of pleasure, but I hesitated, and as everyone knows, He that hesitates is lost. With one leg over the fence and the other one dangling, I stopped and listened. This is what I heard:
Go on. Don’t stop. Go on to the gravel pit. I won’t come looking for you, not this time or any other time. Perhaps not this time, not today, but if you keep going there a day will come that I will no longer need to worry about you. I’ll know exactly where you are, and I will visit you and talk to you any time I like. You might not be able to hear me, but if you can, you won’t be able to talk back—you can only listen.
You’ll be in the cemetery, and you’ll will be there forever—no more sneaking off to the gravel pit, no more playing with your friends, no more anything. You’ll be dead and buried. Go on—go!
Well, as they say, the rest is history—in my mind I envisioned myself looking up, trying to see through the casket lid and several feet of dirt, searching for blue sky and white clouds and light and life. I burst into tears and returned to the house, tinged with remorse and far more than a tinge of fear and dread, embued with a firm resolve to change my wayward ways and never return to the gravel pit.
I regret to report that the remorse and fear dissipated rather quickly, and I did return to the gravel pit—it was in my nature, just as a moth craves for a flame or a baby craves for its mother’s breast or a pig craves for its slop or a dog for its bacon bits or a cat for its catnip—I could go on and on but you get the picture. I tried—I really tried, but desire overcame reason. My mother’s resolve never crumbled, and in the coming years she delighted in telling the story of how she broke me from sneaking off to the gravel pit, and I always backed her up when I was present to hear her story.
However, I did return to the gravel pit several times before we moved to another house more distant from the gravel pit, but I was never caught again. My mother and my two older sisters were at work during the day, and during the summer and non-school days, my younger sister and I were alone with no supervision—times were much gentler in those pre-Amber Alert days. I was free to ramble anywhere I pleased and I did ramble. My younger sister, some two years older than I, wisely supported me, primarily because I had about as much dirt on her as she had on me.
Incidentally if you like, you can click here to see nude adults on parade, but I can state categorically that I have never and will never participate in any such activity. Given the opportunity I will cheerfully—and gratefully—watch such parades but under no circumstances will I participate. My lone appearance nude in public was enough—throughout the intervening years I have had neither the impulse nor the desire for an encore. Oh, and one more thought— the nude adults on parade are pictured in a previous posting and you’ll need to scroll down to the image near the bottom—so to speak. And it wouldn’t hurt to read the posting on the way.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: alert, amber, Amber alert, baby moth, bottom, breast, casket, cat, cemetery, dog, fear, fence, fish, flame, gravel pit, moth, nude adults, nude boy, orphanage, parade, pig, remorse, shower, sky, tub, water
Eleventh Street South is where I lived for a couple of years that included my first year in elementary school. It was the second house we lived in following our migration from Vernon, Alabama to Columbus, Mississippi. That first house, located on Fifth Street South, has some vivid memories I intend to share with my visitors, memories that are just as fresh as when they were acquired. The house was where I and my youngest sister were administered to by our mother—medicated—when she became convinced that we both had or soon would have scabies—the itch. Click here for that story—it’s worth the visit!
I lived on Eleventh Street with my mother and three older sisters in a small frame house, a three-room shot-gun house, so called because it was said that one could fire a shotgun through the front door and the shot would go straight through the house and out the back door. The house boasted electricity and running water but had no bathroom. The necessary, a one-hole privy or outhouse, was located a few yards from the back door. Ours was the next-to-last on the block, and Fuqua’s Grocery was located at the other end of the block, a mercantile that figured prominently in our lives, especially mine—it’s a fit subject for a posting, and deserves individual attention. It’s mentioned in a previous posting, and among other things includes a discussion of my first job and my first firing—click here for that posting.
The last house was the residence wherein resided my best friend Tootie—his name was Edward Earl but he was nicknamed Tootie and for good reason—he had a predeliction for producing gas—flatulence—he would have been more aptly named Flatus—that has a nice Roman ring to it—a Latin lilt, so to speak. Tootie figures prominently in this posting and will be featured in a future story concerning a significant Saturday, a day when Tootie and I were privileged to ride in a city police car for a short distance and a day on which in current times would have warranted an Amber Alert.
Just as a harbinger of tales to come, Tootie once nailed the door to our privy shut—I’m unsure why, but the act was probably his revenge for something I had said or done. My mother had to borrow a hammer from a neighbor in order to pull the nails and put the family back in business.
Just as an aside, back in the 1980s while living in the Washington, D.C. area, I spotted an auto license plate that read FLATUS. I was traveling to my job in downtown D.C. with a friend and his wife. I laughed when I saw the plate and they asked me what was so funny. I told them and they both laughed, but after a short pause the wife said, “What does that mean?” Her husband unashamedly admitted that he didn’t know, so I had to explain. In their defense, I must tell you that they were from Minnesota, born and bred there—that should be adequate explanation for anyone that remembers Rose Nylund on TV’s Golden Girls, portrayed by Betty White as a typical native of Minnesota.
The asphalt pavement ended at our house, and the two-lane gravel road continued straight for a short distance and then made a sharp left turn, almost ninety degrees, before continuing on into rural areas, outside city limits. If, instead of turning left, a driver or pedestrian continued straight on a two-rut road for a mile or so, they would come to a large gravel pit filled with water—cool, clear, blue and deep water, a magnet for the boys from a nearby orphanage, the Palmer Home—and for me. Click here for a brief history of the home. Over the years the orphanage has grown and is now known as the Palmer Home for Children. Click here for an update.
My mother often threatened to send me to the Palmer Home unless I changed my ways, specifically concerning my frequent trips to the gravel pit. I never told her that I would welcome the transfer because I envied the kids there. They had all sorts of animals—cows and horses and dogs and goats and a farm where they grew vegetables—they were allowed to feed the animals and milk the cows and work in the garden and had what appeared to be unrestricted access to the gravel pit—in fact, the gravel pit was on property owned by the Home.
For those unfamiliar with the term, gravel pits are created when material—gravel—for use in road building and construction, is mined in an open pit. Because the water table was high in my area, a grand swimming pool was formed—a pool of cool, clear, blue and deep water, a magnet for the boys that lived at Palmer Orphanage, and of course for me.
On a memorable day in a hot summer, memorable for the heat and the cooling effect of gravel pit water, but most memorable for me a day in which my mother came to the gravel pit looking for me and found me. I was blissfully floating around on my back in the middle of the pit, face upturned to the sun and eyes closed, and a clamor arose. I looked around and watched my friends from the orphanage scramble for their clothes and head away from the pit towards the orphanage in considerable haste. And I saw my mother standing on the bank, my short pants in one hand and my leather belt in the other.
With the departure of the other boys the area grew silent, a silence broken only by my efforts to stay afloat and offshore as long as I could. After awhile my mother told me I might as well come on in because she wasn’t leaving without me. I stayed out in that cold clear deep water until my lips turned blue and everything I had shriveled up—you know, like fingertips, toes, etc. When I finally came out my mother refused to let me have my shorts, but instead pointed me in the direction of home and ordered me to march.
And march I did, driven on by frequent pops on my bare derierre. With each pop I accelerated my pace a bit, but each time my mother told me not to run, that it would be even worse when she caught me. The blows from the narrow belt were not delivered in anger—I would like to believe they were delivered with love, but with repetition they began to take a toll, much as does the fabled Chinese water torture process. She whipped me for the full mile, all the way to our house, along the two-rut road and into the middle of the street, past Tootie’s house where that worthy was standing on the front porch, laughing and pointing at me as I hopped, skipped and jumped along, and finally after an eternity, through the front door of our house.
No, that derierre above is not mine—that’s a plastic replica of Donatello’s sculpture of David. The colorful ones on the right are those of naked cyclists, presented here only because the colors are as fascinating as they are functional.
I learned a lesson that day, not to stay away from the gravel pit, but to be far more furtive—sneaky, so to speak—in planning my trips to the gravel pit. I couldn’t help it—it was in my nature—as a child I was a vagabond and probably would have been well served with around-the-clock supervision. Had I been a a few years older I would have been riding the rails with the multitude of others during the Great Depression.
As a child I was inexorably drawn to water in all its locations, whether pond, lake, creek, river, swimming pool, mud puddle or sewage ditch—yes, sewage ditch—our next home, also located on the south side of town, was adjacent to an open sewage ditch where I spent many blissful hours. Because of water’s attraction I had great difficulty staying at home, a trait—call it a fault if you will, but I consider it a trait—less admirable than others but nevertheless a trait rather than a fault. There will be additional postings in reference to my fascination with water in all its aspects. That’s a threat as well as a promise, so be forewarned and govern yourselves accordingly.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Tags: Alabama, Amber alert, bathroom, children, cows, David, ditch, donatello, driver, electricity, flatulence, flatus, garden, golden girls, gravel, gravel pit, great depression, grocery, horses, magnet, mercantile, minnesota, Mississippi, naked cyclists, outhouse, palmer home, pedestrian, predeliction, privy, prphanage, roman, rose nylund, sewage, shotgun, washingtin dc
Yesterday I received an e-mail from a friend in Arizona, an e-mail that he asked me to pass it along. It’s a very uncomplicated survey posted by one of the best-known (but less watched) cable news channels—MSNBC, often referred to as PMSNBC by Rush Limbaugh. The survey asks for viewers to answer a question by voting on it.
The survey consists of just one question, and you will be asked to vote yes or no—up or down, so to speak, depending on your political priorities. When you cast your vote you’ll immediately be shown the total number of votes cast, including yours, and the percentages of each answer in relation to the total votes cast. I was amazed by the results and trust me—you will be also. Oh, and one more thought—don’t bother trying to vote multiple times as some do in our national elections—in this case it can’t be done, at least not with the same e-mail name—I know because I tried it!
The e-mail subject: Please answer this ONE QUESTION, then pass it along!
The e-mail text: A left-leaning, questionable meta-news site but worth a vote.
That concludes my friend’s e-mail—that which follows is mine:
Click the above URL in order to vote. Just in case you choose to not join the discussion and vote, here’s how the totals looked following my vote—now tell me you’re not amazed!
Newsvine is msnbc.com’s social-news community where you can discuss stories, publish your own column, and connect with other news lovers. I’m not shilling for MSNBC but it has some positive attributes, and if you like you can sign up for a free account here.
Here are the results of voting following my vote—that final 5 in the total is mine!
Tags: account, Arizona, cable news, channels, law, limbaugh, MSNBC, news, newsvine, number, PMSNBC, question, rush, social, survey, viewers, vote
I first posted this item in July, 2009. I reposted it in March, 2010 because I felt that it had failed to connect with very many readers. The reposting brought a comment that should be of interest to others. It reproduces the original posting in its entirety, and I must say with all humility that it’s well worth the read. I welcome comments on the original posting, on the reposting, and on this addendum—nay, I urge viewers to make comments, whether positive or negative. Time is a precious and finite resource—time spent on a posting is wasted if a reader neglects to comment on items that consumed some of their time, however brief. A comment should be forthcoming, if for no other reason than to justify spending time on the posting.
This is the viewer’s comment, exactly as received:
My family owns and operates Security Equipment Corporation which manufacturers SABRE pepper sprays. I appreciate that web-sites like this one are sharing proactive safety ideas. That’s very good. However, there is an issue with WASP spray. WASP sprays’ labels state, “It’s a violation of federal law to use in any manner inconsistent with this label. Never Use Indoors!” Police departments worldwide use pepper spray because the inflammatory effects of this agent work on those which cannot feel pain (very important). The inflammatory effects of pepper spray cause eyes to close involuntarily and produce a loss of breath sensation. Pepper spray has been proven effective on deterring and incapacitating aggressive, combative, intoxicated and drug induced individuals for over 20 years.
To date, no human testing has been conducted on WASP spray and it’s a violation of federal law to use in self defense. There are pepper spray options which will deploy up to 25 feet and unlike WASP sprays, these pepper sprays require the user to be less accurate because they will cover an entire doorway. It’s probably not a good idea to use WASP spray for home protection since it is against the law and WASP spray labels themselves state “NEVER USE INDOORS”. Pepper spray is a safe, proven option which is trusted and relied upon by police officers worldwide.
Thanks for reading this.
This is my reply:
Thanks for visiting and thanks for the comment. I’ll pass this information on to my daughter and to my readers. As for wasp spray used for self-defense being a violation of federal law, I opine that one should use anything and everything available to defend one’s self. The use of knives, guns, hammers and baseball bats for self-defense may also be violations of federal law, but they can be highly effective in such instances. And I must add that when one is under attack, it could be quite difficult to determine whether the need for self-defense is lethal or non-lethal—in such instances the doubt must be resolved in favor of the defender—not in favor of the attacker.
An addition to my reply:
In any situation in which my well-being and/or that of my family is threatened, I will depend on something that has a much higher deterrent factor than wasp spray or pepper spray and is effective at a range greater than 25 feet.
That’s my story and that’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to both!
Tags: amongst, attacker, avian, bikini, bird, birdhouse, birds, catalogs, Colony, conservative, corn cobs, corncobs, coup de grace, dreampt, fan, intruder, Leaning Tower of Pisa, liberal, Mamma and Papas, misspell, newspaper, outdoor privy, patio, San Antonio Express-news, Sears, unbeknownst, video, Virginia, wasp, wasp spray, whilst
I received the following e-mail just over a year ago from a friend in Arizona, a friend that I have never met but a friend nevertheless. Although written one year ago, his analysis of our relationship with Mexico is accurate and is mirrored by current events.
Witness the current situation in Arizona, a sovereign state with all the rights of a sovereign state, rights guaranteed by our constitution—its rights are being trampled by those that enter our country in violation of federal law, and their illegal actions are blatantly supported and encouraged by our present administration. This photo is that of the Arizona governor following a meeting with President Obama—I have little hope that their meeting will affect the president’s stand on the rights of Arizona to try to stem the tide of illegal aliens flowing across the borders of her state.
As a nation and as a people, we are under constant attack by invaders from the south, and we need to wake up and smell the coffee. Or should I say café, perhaps?
This is my friend’s e-mail, presented exactly as I received it:
Hey, BD, (I know who you are…)
I know you have enjoyed my rants in the past. Cindy always asks if I sent something to you that I sent to her. This time I can say, “yes.”
This runs long. You may need coffee or an intermission so you can go get popcorn and some jujubees. If you make it all the way through you can get a prize at the end: high blood pressure.
This is his analysis of our relationship with Mexico:
Mexican illegal alien invaders represent the U.S. State Department’s elephant in the room. They all know he’s there but nobody wants to talk about what it means.
As home to the unwanted illegal alien invader, the United States of America is Mexico’s only real economic and political relief-valve. By allowing the 20 to 30 million illegal alien invaders into the United States, Mexico gains in a multitude of ways. As the illegal alien invader progresses through life in Estados Unidos, the benefits multiply.
Firstly, by breaching our borders and crossing from citizen of Mexico to criminal of the United States, each illegal alien invader voluntarily removes himself or herself from the unemployed Mexican workforce. The levels of unemployment, illiteracy (they are not just unable to read and write English, they cannot read and write Mexican) and homegrown crime in Mexico are at crisis proportions. The lack of a middle class and the absence of protections for private property (the Mexican government will rob everyone of their property if it is shown to have value), and the collection of real economic power in the hands of the political elite have assured a national poverty rate that must be an embarrassment to anyone who defends the criminal government in Mexico City.
Every time a Mexican crosses the border into the United States, Mexico City breathes a sigh of relief. This represents one more mouth they do not have to feed, one more voice that will not shout its disapproval, and one more set of hands that will not fight against the police/drug-lord/federal corruption triumvirate of organized crime in Mexico. Everyone in Mexico is relieved as each illegal alien invader leaves Mexico.
Secondly, the majority of illegal alien invaders will find work in the United States and they will start the transfer of wealth from the United States to their meager homes in the Mexican interior. Like sticking a tube in our national economic artery, this economic “bleeding” parasitically consumes U.S. Dollars that should be used internally and sends them into Mexico. These transfers are Mexico’s second largest economic benefit, directly behind PEMEX, the nationalized (can you say, “Maxine Waters”) Mexican petroleum company. Those transfers are estimated to be worth $20 billion annually.
It was, perhaps, Milton Friedman who showed how a dollar, earned in a community, would be cycled through that same community seven times, on average. Earning the dollar at the plant, a worker would spend it at the butcher, who would spend it at the grocer, who would spend it at the gas pump. And on it goes until that dollar would be spent outside of the community and the cycle would continue. Whether it was Dr. Friedman or another economist, the principle is easy to understand.
It is just as easy to understand that a wire transfer of an estimated $20 billion would have an equivalent impact of the loss of over $140 billion to the communities where illegal alien invaders sucked the economic life-blood from one nation and transported it to another. In this way, the appearance of cheap illegal alien invader wages must be multiplied to account for the total loss of local currency. It is, therefore, possible that a $20/hour wage translates to a cost of $140/hour.
Thirdly, the unaccounted costs of welfare, free services (especially for health care) and education have been estimated by border states for years. Now, states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania are trying to accrue some tab on these costs as their expenses grow ever higher at the state capitol and the taxpayer burden is becoming painful. These are costs duly attributable to the Mexico City government, not any local or state or federal government in the United States. Yet, each dollar expended on the welfare and benefit of an illegal alien invader is a dollar (10.325 pesos) that is not a necessary expenditure in Mexico City. Those 10.325 pesos go directly into the pockets of the ruling elite or into the graft and corruption machine that fuels the drug cartels that operate with impunity inside Mexico.
Fourthly, the self-protective imprisonment of the felonious criminal Mexican who walked across the United States border with his petty criminal amigo is like the icing on the Mexico City cake. It is estimated that almost 30 percent of those incarcerated in federal and many state prisons are illegal alien invaders who have come here to commit their crimes.
The Mexican government could not be given a better present. Imagine having the most disruptive and violent criminals removed from the Mexican streets, jailed and fed, and even protected somewhere else, and the government of Mexico doesn’t have to pay a dime. The estimated federal and local cost of incarceration for one year is about $1 billion. There is no way to estimate the loss of property through crime, the loss of life because of murderous or drunken and irresponsible actions by these same illegal alien invaders for whom we pay an annual $1 billion to incarcerate, just to keep them away from our streets (because if we deport them, they’ll just come back).
With a porous border, what can be done? Almost nothing. Sheriffs across the United States, and some local police forces have decided to aggressively pursue illegal alien invaders in their jurisdictions and deport them or get them out of town. This is the illegal alien invader shell game. The only real cure is a complete, forceful, and physically closed border with Mexico.
What will we, the United States, promote by closing the border and aggressively campaigning to keep new invaders out?
Mexico does not have a historically stable government. The political and economic infrastructure is brittle, and incapable of absorbing the additional insult now borne by the United States in our ineffectual remedies to the constant stream of illegal alien invasion. Stability for the Mexican government, then, depends on the constant leak of their national woes northward. Plugging that leak means all Mexico’s problems remain inside Mexico.
We will be sealing the pressure lid on the gently simmering economic and political bean pot that is Mexico. The combination of an overnight increase in unemployment, increase in social services load (while Mexico City provides none, the community must), the loss of wire transfers, and the criminal costs will slowly or quickly bring the nation to an explosive internal pressure. We would assure, if not outright condemn, the government in Mexico City to an ugly, bloody, civil war.
Unlike our own civil war where the Union had not succeeded in disarming the southern states prior to acts of aggression, the only segments of the Mexican population armed sufficiently to affect an effective civil war are the military (who would love more power) and the drug cartels (who are tired of sharing profits and benefits of the drug trade with their sycophantic governmental pet Chihuahuas).
Winners of a Mexican Civil War would either be the cruel and dangerous military or the cruel, dangerous, and connected drug king-pins.
The United States’ only alternative would be to line these already-closed southern borders with thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of troops, ready to protect the southern states when the inevitable civil war erupts. Indeed, the best, most secure option is to wait for the first sign of conflict and invade the nation Mexico with all our military forces, not stopping until we ride into Mexico City.
And unlike the previous failures after the Mexican American wars, the United States Congress and its military will only find peace and a lasting solution to the problems created by Mexican governmental and military corruption if the United States accepts unconditional surrender and applies the same policies toward Mexico that we did after defeating Japan and Germany in the Second World War.
The war in Iraq was triggered by national security, but extended by an altruistic intention to deliver a democratic future to a people who have never known it. What makes Iraq such a precious ally and commodity that we would shed our blood in their favor when we would not do the same for ourselves and our Mexican neighbor?
The third option, and one that strikes at the very heart of socialism in our own United States, is to create working opportunities for Mexicans while closing the spigot of social and welfare services to these immigrant workers. This is, in effect, the bracero program for the 21st century.
Amnesty is a travesty. No immigrant worker program can offer or entice workers with amnesty. Rather, the workers want work and the United States has an appetite for laborers. Giving companies liberty to recruit and transport workers, while granting ICE and the State Department extraordinary latitude in rejecting and policing these laborers could have a positive effect on both sides of the border.
The challenges of this approach includes the following:
There can be no public services or resources benefit to any temporary Mexican worker.
ICE, local authorities, and the sponsoring company must be able to return the Mexican worker without any process, except those that may involve criminal justice charges.
Direct family members could be allowed to join the worker, but multiple issues of education and health must be addressed before this is allowed.
Wire transfers of earnings must be limited, or outright denied as part of this program. The United States is not an economic donor for tyrannies.
The sponsor company must bear all financial and other burden for the taxes, health care, education, transportation, housing, or immigration process.
The community must have some input regarding the good stewardship of the companies participating in this program: are they working for the benefit of the community; are they fair and just toward both workers and the community; are they complying with all appropriate immigration requirements; etc?
Automatically granting citizenship to persons born within the borders of the United States, as specified in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, must be addressed. Both those “anchor babies” already born to illegal alien invaders inside the United States and any future children born to Mexican workers participating in any work program must be denied United States citizenship. This will require a Constitutional Convention and further defining this one section of the 14th amendment to affect those children born to citizens of countries other than the United States.
The first two immigration solutions available to the United States with regard to Mexico are both frightening. The first is invasion and slow poisoning by an illiterate, violent, consuming, foreign force. The second is to precipitate and then capitalize on a bloody civil war in Mexico.
The first choice relegates the United States to a state of subjugation under the invader. The second, while more immediately costly and painful, retains our national and individual sovereignty and creates a democratic ally to the south.
The third solution requires a federal and state government dedicated primarily to the security and sovereignty of the United States and the US citizen. This has not been evidenced in the recent past. All indicators point to a federal and to state governments that seek political expediency, appeasement of Mexican tyrants, expansion of amnesty, and the destruction of the southern border. For this reason, the third solution should only be attempted if there is a fundamental shift toward border security in the measurable goals of our government.
One clear and measurable goal would be to change the 14th Amendment. This would demonstrate the right attitude by our federal representatives. Otherwise, any program will be nothing more than some flavor of capitulation to Mexico or treason to the Constitution and to the citizens of the United States.
To sum up: our choices with regard to Mexico are:
3—Foxes in the henhouse.
It’s a tough choice. Can I have “none of the above?”
That ends A Rant from Arizona—what follows is my personal postcript:
The photo below shows people crossing from Mexico to the United States with a raft, usually consisting of inflated inner tubes—does anyone remember inner tubes?—loaded with plastic bags filled with contraband. Take it from one that has seen this many times. I spent 12 years on the Texas/Mexico border as a U.S. Customs inspector and supevisor. My first assignment was at the port of Progreso, a crossing point located ten miles from the city of Weslaco in the lower Rio Grande Valley. More than once, in the wee small hours of the morning, I have been on the bridge that spans the river between the port of entry and the Mexican town of Las Flores—Nuevo Progresso—and watched similar flotillas passing under the bridge, staffed with illegal aliens drifting and paddling towards a bend in the river that would take them to the U.S. side, along with their load of contraband.
When I hailed the smugglers they cheerfully waved and said things such as Buenos Dios, jefe—good morning, boss—and sometimes Chinga tu madre, pendejo, an insult in Spanish suggesting that I sexually assault my mother and labeling me with a two syllable noun beginning with the letter A, a synonym for rectum—affable fellows, huh?
Other than responding with similar epithets, my only recourse was to alert the Border Patrol and US Customs agents, but the smugglers were always out of the river and gone with their load long before the agents arrived on the scene. The agents were not at fault—they arrived as quickly as possible—our border with Mexico is 2,000 miles of wilderness, and smugglers and illegal aliens far outnumber our federal agents. Our agents number in the thousands while the illegals number in the millions, both then and now.
Now for a brief tip for Bill O’Reilly of Fox News fame: It is useless to send the military to guard the border, useless even if they joined hands and lined up from Brownsville, Texas to San Ysidro, California. It’s useless even if the Mexican military formed a similar line on the Mexican side from the city of Matamoras in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico to the city of Tijuana in the Mexican state of Baja California Norte.
And why, you may ask, would it be useless? It’s useless because the smugglers of people and contraband seek wealth and the people that are smuggled seek employment. They will go over, or under, or through or around any obstacle placed in their path. It’s trite but it’s true—build a 50-foot fence and the illegals will build a 51-foot ladder.
Only two actions can stem the flood of illegal entries:
Deny illegal employment by penalizing the employer—if they can’t work they won’t come. Eliminate the profits to be gained by legalizing the drugs that are smuggled—if they can’t make a profit they won’t smuggle. Will that increase the presence of illegal drugs? In what way? They are already available on every street corner and neighborhood and school in this country, available to everyone from the very young to the very old.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: 14th amendment, alien, Arizona, Arizona Governor, Bill O'Reilly, bracero, breach, brewer, Brownsville, Civil War, coffee, constitution, contraband, drug cartel, Fox News, friedman, graft corruption, high blood pressure, ICE, illegal, Immigration, Iraq, jan brewer, Juarez, ladder, las flores, matamoros, Mexico, Mexico City, nuevo progreso, peso, popcorn, President Obama, Progreso, Rio Grande Valley, san ysidro, spigot, weslaco
The second born of my three princesses, the one that lives, loves and works in Alexandria, Virginia recently posted a series of photos of an animal that was grazing early one evening in the common area behind her townhouse. In her narrative she says the animal was in the company of a robin and two squirrels—I suspect that was a meeting of WANNA, her neighborhood’s local chapter of the national Wild Animal Northern Neighborhood Association, an organization that was formed to ensure and protect the rights of neighborhood animals, both wild and domestic—sister national chapters are WASNA, WAENA and WAWNA denoting chapters in the southern, eastern and western sections of the United States.
Her neighborhood has a similar association for humans—my daughter and her husband were active in that association for a considerable time, but finally withdrew their support because of the constant conflict created by board members.
Click here for her original posting. These are her photos, and her narrative introduction follows:
I was scrounging around the refrigerator earlier this evening, hunting for something interesting to eat for dinner. I glanced out the window and saw this large rabbit (about the size of a normal-sized cat, actually!) grazing in the grass on the common area strip in front of our townhouse, alongside two squirrels and a robin. He was out earlier than I normally see them in the neighborhood (still daylight at about 7 p.m.). I grabbed my camera with a 105mm lens and ran outside, slowly approaching him. He let me get within five or six feet of him before slowly turning away, and even then he didn’t go very far. I was able to fire off almost 20 shots—these are the cream of the crop.
I was intrigued by the photos so I did a bit of research on rabbits, specifically on the differences between rabbits and hares. I learned that hares have longer ears, longer legs, bigger feet and prefer to live above ground. I learned that hares have black markings in their fur, and those that live in northern climes turn white in winter, a protective measure provided by nature to make them less vulnerable to predators. And finally I learned that one female rabbit can conceivably, so to speak, birth as many as 36 babies each year—at that rate my daughter may soon be up to her uh-huh in rabbits. The results of my research were inconclusive—the animal in the photos may or may not be a rabbit, and conversely it may or may not be a hare.
I made a rather lengthy comment on her posting, but before I bring that into this posting I will share a comment I found during my research. I would credit the writer but I could not identify a name, e-mail, blog post, etc. I found it hilarious—enjoy!
This was very helpful in settling a trivia question with a friend. However, it has also exposed a very ugly and troubling issue. Now that we know a “bunny” is specifically defined as an immature “rabbit,” this can only mean that employing the “Easter Bunny” to deliver swag baskets and hide eggs on Easter Eve violates a whole host of state, federal, and UN Child Labor Laws. Inexcusable child exploitation! This means there is no difference between our traditional Easter festivities and an El Salvadoran sweat shop full of hungry orphans making Nikes. We are just lucky we haven’t been caught yet. The only solution is to quietly change the job description to “Easter Rabbit,” purge all history books and greeting cards of incriminating “bunny” references, and never speak of this again. Furthermore, to ensure political correctness, diversity, and ethnic inclusiveness, in alternate years the contract for Easter Eve responsibilities must be awarded to the “Easter Hare.”
I mean, like, hey, is that funny or what!
The real reason for this posting was to share my comment on my daughter’s rabbit photos with other bloggers, and finally this is it, exactly as posted:
This is a great series of shots, no matter how domesticated or how wild this animal may be. Evidently this one is accustomed to posing—or perhaps it’s because of your facility in foreign languages. I know that you have accumulated a working knowledge of Spanish, but when and where did you learn to speak the language of rabbits?
And don’t bother to deny it—only with a working proficiency in the rabbit’s language could you have recorded these poses.
I realize that in your case I am preaching to the choir, but perhaps a brief (?) briefing of rabbit language and poses will be of some benefit to your blog visitors, so I’ll be brief—as always.
Rabbits speak Arabbitian, a language that originated in ancient—prebiblical—Arabia and for thousands of years was restricted to rabbits. Very few humans have mastered the language—obviously you are one of those rare exceptions. The others are photographers, mostly, with just a smattering of hunters. That’s because the IQ of most hunters is severely limited and cannot handle the intricacies of the language.
Arabbitian is pronounced air-ruh-be-she-un with the accent on be, the center syllable. Every rabbit world-wide speaks the same language—they are fluent in it from the moment of birth—it’s innate in their DNA.
There are different dialects, of course, just as there are in other languages, particularly in English. Very few natives of the deep South can follow the staccato speech of a Yankee speaker, and conversely southern speakers—Mississippians, for example, especially Mississippi girls—speak so slowly that the listener has ample time to refer to a dictionary for clarification on pronunciation and definition.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the southern girl and her Yankee date. They were parked on Lover’s Lane and the boy, as boys are wont to do, posed a question to her involving a certain activity, and before she could tell him that she had never done that—she had.
And that was not an isolated incident—it’s happened countless times and will happen countless more times, happily, perhaps, for both participants. Some day a brilliant dialectologist may develop a system to speed up the word production of southern girls, but that’s doubtful, so in such instances they will continue to produce—so to speak.
I knew you could speak Arabbitian when I saw the sequence of poses presented by the rabbit. A rabbit—any rabbit, regardless of its origin, will only offer five poses to a viewer—rabbits will pose at a 45-degree angle facing the viewer facing slightly to the right or to the left, at full side view facing right, a full side view facing left, and a backside view with its backside rapidly shrinking into the distance, because the only time a rabbit would turn his back on someone is to run away.
The one pose a rabbit will never assume, not even for a centerfold spread in PlayGirlBunny or PentBurrowBunny—that pose is one of facing a viewer squarely to the front. Rabbits will readily present a rear view, but it will be a fast-disappearing view as discussed earlier.
These restrictions rabbits place on photographers’ photo shoots is for a good reason. Rabbits’ eyes, as are those of most herbivorous animals, are placed on opposite sides of their head and each eye rotates in its socket independently of the other eye, enabling the rabbit to spot danger in a circle approaching a full 360 degrees, except directly ahead or directly behind. Contrast the herbivorous animal with the carnivorous animal. All carnivores are predators, and in most circumstances have no fear of what may be outside their field of vision—their eyes are fixed on their prey.
And as an afterthought, one should never crop a rabbit’s ears as many well-meaning owners do with show rabbits or with pet rabbits. Rabbits’ ears also rotate in opposite directions in order to detect sounds coming from all directions and thus perhaps avoid becoming dinner for a carnivore, whether the carnivore is bird or cat or photographer. Crop a rabbit’s ears and if it gets away or is turned loose in the wild, it cannot effectively pinpoint the source of danger and will become road kill or dinner for a carnivore, either human or animal.
There—I was not as brief as I hoped to be, but apparently I had a lot to say—so I said it.
Great photography—keep up the good work.
Tags: alexndria, arabia, bird, bunny, camera, carnivore, cat, child labor laws, choir, danger, easter rabbit, female, hare, hares, herbivorous, IQ, language, lens, lover's lane, mississippi girls, neighborhood, nikes, photographer, predators, prey, Rabbit, refridgerator, robin, Spanish, speaker, squirrels, syllable, townhouse, Virginia, Yankee
The letter that follows below is from my original posting dated November 25, 2009, entitled Dear Abby poem, a letter from beyond . . . Click here to read the original post. I am re–posting it now for the benefit of a recent subscriber to my blog, a nephew, the first of two sons born to my sister. His mother was the penultimate—the second to the last—family member to shuffle off this mortal coil. I am the ultimate, the last of seven children born to our mother and father and the last one still standing.
The poem below appeared in the San Antonio, Texas Express-News daily on Sunday, July 11, 1993, in Dear Abby’s column. It’s a moving message from one and all that, as voiced by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, have shuffled off this mortal coil, and is for us a solemn reminder of our own mortality.
These are the words of Hamlet:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.
Several years after her husband died, I sent this letter to my sister:
July 11, 1993
It’s Sunday morning here and I just finished wading my way through the Sunday issue of San Antonio’s Express-News. This poem was in Dear Abby. I know it’s very sad, and I know it won’t be easy for you to read. But I’ve read it over and over and I found that, at least for me, it becomes more uplifting and less sad with each reading. It was untitled, so I guess we are supposed to furnish our own title.
Nice touch, that. We can simply leave it untitled, or we can dedicate it to someone or something we’ve loved and lost, whether it be a person or pet or place or idea. Or we can title it We are not dead and attribute the poem to be from all those we’ve loved and lost.
Whether the voice of one or the voices of all, and regardless of the title, the poem must give us pause:
Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awake in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
In the seven months since I posted the poem it has garnered ten votes, all excellent, but no viewer has taken the time to post a comment. I realize that many of us, perhaps most, are reluctant to focus our thoughts on those that are no longer with us, but when they are in our thoughts they are not dead—they live, if only for a brief moment, and the finest tribute we can pay is to never forget—always remember.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Tags: Ann Landers, autumn, coil, dear abby, death, diamond, grain, grave, Iowa, Jewish, Morningside College, mortal, San Antonio, Sioux City, snow, star, Texas, twin, wikipedia
I am repeating this posting because change has come about, the change that our president promised in his 2008 campaign—well, actually he has been preparing for the job throughout his adult life, particularly during his education under the auspices of several ivy league schools. And just as change has been effected by our president in our country, so has change been effected in me.
Please note the final paragraph in the original and in this reposting:
In that paragraph I said that I’m a reluctant Republican, and that I will follow Obama, but only as long as he carries that big stick and uses it, when circumstances dictate, to maintain and enhance (not restore) America’s position among the world’s nations.
My rather humble Republican opinion is that although the president did carry a big stick in the Somalia situation, he seems to have discarded it. Over the past year he has not enhanced America’s position among the world’s nations nor has he even maintained it—he has weakened it through his pacifist policies and his drive to change our country and our society from capitalism to socialism.
I took a stand when the president ordered the highly successful rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, the American ship’s captain held captive by Somalian pirates, and now I am changing my stance. I will still follow, but with dragging feet and praying heartily for a change in direction. If enough of us drag our feet, and if we fall far enough behind the leader, perhaps he will look over his shoulder and realize he has brought us to a fork in the road and has taken the wrong fork. It’s not too late to change direction, but we are fast approaching the point of no return, and the instant that point is reached we will pass it. Ask any pilot what that means and you’ll be told that, at that point, a crash is inevitable.
I know, I know—Custer also took a stand, and history tells us that he did not fare well. Near mid–19th century the South took a stand and fared almost as badly as did Custer. Texas history tells of the stand that the people at the Alamo made by stepping across a line drawn in the sand, with predictable results. That line in the sand part of the battle of the Alamo is perhaps—nay, is probably—apocryphal, but it paints a positive picture of people standing on principle—so should we. Yes, I do love alliteration!
I have stepped across that line—that’s my stand and I’m sticking to it!
This is the original posting dated April 16, 2009—click here to read the original.
Petulant political posturing . . .
Hispanics have a saying: “Quien no se atreve no pasa el mar,” loosely interpreted as, “Those who want to cross the ocean must first throw themselves in.” A similar proverb in English, used often by my mother, would be, “The longest journey begins with the first step.”
In his efforts to maintain our country’s position among the world’s nations, President Obama has taken the first step and embarked on that journey. I use the word “maintain” rather than “restore” because, contrary to the current petulant political posturing, the United States is still the freest, richest and most powerful nation on Earth.
The following was gleaned from the Internet: “In a letter written in 1900, a year before he became president, Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “I have always been fond of the West African proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” He repeated what he called this “homely old adage” in a speech as president in Chicago in 1903, and twice again in his writings after that.”
Apparently Obama is heeding Teddy Roosevelt’s advice to “speak softly and carry a big stick,” as evidenced by his actions in a recent international incident. Three Somalians were killed in the successful rescue of Richard Phillips, an American ship’s captain held captive by the so-called “pirates” (read “terrorists”). The president used that “big stick” with remarkable effectiveness.
Our president is trying, and with none of the “bring it on!” mentality which pervaded the last administration. I pray that he will succeed. Yes, I’m a Reluctant Republican, unable to accept the direction in which my party is moving (a direction it seems determined to continue) but reluctant to criticize it. If everything continues “as is,” the United States will become a nation with only one political party. To this observer, the GOP’s efforts appear largely defensive, with little emphasis on an offensive to slow the party’s descent into nothingness.
I will follow Obama, but only as long as he carries that big stick and uses it, when circumstances dictate, to maintain and enhance (not restore) America’s position among the world’s nations.
Tags: big stick, captain, Democrat, Hispanic, Obama, Phillips, proverbs, Republican, rescue, Somalia, Teddy Roosevelt, terrorist, West Africa