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Listen up, Toyota—relocate the brake pedal!

Listen up, Toyota—relocate the brake pedal to save lives!

This is my suggestion to Toyota and to all the world’s automakers. The first company that accepts my concept and converts its models in accordance with that concept has a unique opportunity to make a quantum leap ahead of every other automaker in the world. There should be no more sticking accelerators, and claims that the accelerator malfunctioned and contributed to an accident should be reduced or completely eliminated. Also it is my sincere belief that my suggestion, if adopted by all the automakers, would significantly reduce the number of rear-end collisions.

Move the brake pedal to the left side of the steering post, just as the gas pedal is to the right side of the steering post, then institute the go, no-no concept for controlling automobiles. Color the pedals red and green, with dashboard lights prominently reflecting the use of each—the brake pedal red for stop and the gas pedal green for go, just as traffic is controlled as directed by red and green traffic light signals.

Simple, huh? Make those dashboard lights prominent enough to alert any driver that the wrong pedal is being used. If you want to stop or slow down an auto and the green light is on, you are using the wrong pedal, and conversely if the red light is on and you want to go, you are using the wrong pedal. And car makers perhaps should consider adding a warning horn system and voice announcements similar to those used on commercial planes to alert the pilots in situations such as landing gear not down and locked, or airspeed is too high for landing.

And on the subject of airplanes, in the absence of an autopilot system the pilots of those conveyances use their hands on the controls to manipulate the ailerons left or right to tilt the plane to one side or the other. They also use their hands on the controls to manipulate the elevators, pushing forward to push the nose of the plane down and pulling back to put the nose of the plane up—can you guess what they use to manipulate the rudder to make a turn, either to the left or the right?

If you guessed that they use their feet to manipulate the plane’s rudder, you win the stuffed teddy bear. Yep, they push in with the left foot to turn left, and push in with the right foot to turn right. I feel that we can equate the functions of foot pedals on a plane to an automobile’s brake and accelerator pedals.

Our government apparently believes at least some of such accidents were caused because the driver confused the accelerator with the brake, and accelerated the car’s forward motion instead of slowing it, a conclusion that in my opinion appears valid.

One needs only to observe the proximity of the accelerator and the brake pedal. In a case of a runaway automobile, the first instinct is to get off the accelerator and hit the brake. In such cases the driver gets off the gas and goes for the brake, but because of the proximity of the brake pedal to the gas pedal, the driver simply hits the accelerator again and thinking that the foot is on the brake, holds it firmly on the accelerator up to the point of impact.

The error is caused by the fact that the right foot is used both for slowing and stopping and for achieving, maintaining and reducing the vehicle’s speed. In a case of a runaway auto, the driver takes the right foot off the gas pedal to change to the brake pedal then, under extreme stress, simply returns the right foot to the accelerator instead of the brake.

And at this point I must note that throughout all this action, the left foot is available but doing nothing to help out—oh, if an accident is imminent the left foot is probably exerting tons of frantic foot-pounds (get it?) of energy against the floorboard but it’s energy wasted, and that pressure will probably result in major damage to that stiffened left foot, leg and hip of the driver if a major accident occurs, plus extra stress on various related internal organs if a major accident occurs.

I am passing my suggestion on to the automakers in an effort to bring the auto industry into the twenty-first century—yes, it’s still in the early twentieth century.

Before I continue let me establish my right to speak on this subject. I began driving at the age of 12 and have been driving motor vehicles of every size, weight, color, horsepower and style including personal cars and trucks, US military and US Civil Service government vehicles for the past 66 years. For the first eight years of that 66 years I used my right foot to accelerate, maintain and reduce speed and to slow and stop vehicles with manual transmissions—the left foot was reserved exclusively for the clutch operation.

For the past 58 years I have used my right foot for go and my left foot for no-go, and I intend to use my feet in like manner for whatever number of years I retain the privilege of driving before being curtailed by old age—or otherwise.

In those 58 years I have never had an accident involving an attempt to occupy the same space as another object, whether the object was mobile or immobile. Conversely, in the first 20 years and in my first automobile, I had a head-on collision with an immovable object, namely the corner of a concrete retaining wall on a beach in Jacksonville, Florida.

I was alone and the hour was late and the night was dark and I was in strange surroundings, and I missed a turn and found myself on the beach. And on that dark night and at that late hour on a beach I learned an immutable truth of physics, namely that no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. I had a head-on collision with the corner of a concrete retaining wall on a beach in Jacksonville, Florida.

Traveling along beside the high concrete retaining wall that overlooked the beach, I saw a break in the wall ahead and I started a right turn in order to leave the beach and return to the highway. In retrospect, I don’t believe I reduced my speed before beginning the turn, and I saw the 10-foot high wall rushing toward me at a high rate of speed. As I went into the turn my lightweight high-center-of gravity 1948 Chevrolet coupe raised up on its two left wheels, so I spun the wheel left to get all four tires on the ground, intending to stay on the beach instead of turning over or hitting the wall. Yes, spun—my steering wheel boasted a suicide knob, an add-on that enabled young punks such as I to spin the wheel swiftly with one hand. Read on, and you’ll learn why it was labeled a suicide knob.

I was partially successful with my spinning the wheel to the left. I managed to avoid rolling over, but I hit that wall right at the 90-degree point. Whatever my right foot did, whether it hit the brake, stayed on the accelerator, or left the brake and returned to the accelerator was not enough to avert significant structural damage to the auto and to me—the  retaining wall suffered only minor scratches.

I struck the wall at the corner point where it came down to the beach from the highway, and there the wall made a 90-degree turn to the right. I would have been satisfied—nay, happy even—with side-scraping it, either to the left or to the right but preferably to the left, so the contact with the wall would be on the opposite side from where I sat.

The only other part of my anatomy that could possibly have been instrumental in preventing the accident or reducing the damage wrought was my left foot, and I have no recollection of any helpful action taken by that worthy. I had a habit of resting my left foot on the clutch pedal and may have been doing that just before I hit the wall, so the only action the left foot could have taken would have been to push the clutch pedal to the floor, thereby disengaging the gears, decreasing the drag of the transmission and thus increasing the speed of the car en route to the retaining wall.

My 1948 Chevrolet business coupe with a vacuum-shift manual transmission survived the collision. Both the coupe and I suffered front-end damage, major damage to the coupe but relatively minor to me. I unwittingly— and unwillingly—used the bridge of my nose against the steering wheel to slow my forward motion, and managed to break both the wheel and my nose on impact. I suspect that chest impalement and other significant—perhaps fatal—injuries were prevented by my habit of leaning to the left while driving—when everything stopped moving my body was wedged between the left door and the steering column with its broken steering wheel.

A few weeks after eliminating my paltry accumulated savings to recover the Chevrolet coupe from the body shop, I immediately traded it for a sky-blue 1951 Ford convertible with an automatic transmission, and a whole new world opened up for me. I quickly learned that rather than using the time-honored and time-wasting two-part action of lifting the right foot off the accelerator and placing the same foot on the brake to slow or stop the car, I could use my left foot on the brake and needed only to reduce the weight of my right foot on the gas.

Yep, that’s my suggestion. Simply move the brake pedal to the left and teach drivers to use the left foot for braking and the right foot to control speed. As Sophia of Golden Girls fame would say, picture this:

When an accident is apparently imminent the driver must lift the right foot off the gas, move it over to the brake pedal and push hard, and perhaps avoid an accident. But what if the foot when lifted is not lifted high enough and moved far enough to the left, and the sole of the shoe hooks on the side of the accelerator, or the sole of the shoe is not placed squarely on the brake pedal and slips off to the right and back on the accelerator? Disaster is imminent, and even milliseconds saved could mean the difference between life and death.

In summary the crux of my suggestion, and this rambling post in support of it, is that the left leg and foot do nothing to assist a driver in operating a motor vehicle. It remains idle while the right foot is constantly at work, moving from gas pedal to brake, and from brake to gas pedal, ad nauseam.

If the left legs and feet of drivers could speak, they would probably say that they would like to be involved in the vehicle’s operation, and would probably claim that they could do a better job than the right, much as the political left in our nation feels about the political right.

And furthermore, I’ll bet that an atrophy study of the legs and feet of drivers would show that the left is far more susceptible to the disease than the right caused by lack of use, simply because it is allowed to stagnate while the right does all the work—and there again it appears that a parallel can be seen in our political parties.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Postscript: There’s more to the story, including my involvement with a sheriff’s deputy, the US Navy’s Shore Patrol, the people that returned my 1948 Chevrolet coupe to service, and what happened in Jacksonville the night I recovered my car and entered the city over a high bridge and lost my brakes on the way down to street level, and I’m even less proud of that than I am of my bout with the retaining wall. However, I’ve rambled on too long already, so I’ll save the rest of the story for a later post—stay tuned.

 

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Re: 60 miles on one gallon of diesel . . .

Earlier this month I posted a story about a rabbit that thrived on diesel fuel—not a real rabbit, of course—this was a Volkswagen Rabbit that performed heroically for our family in the years between 1978 and 1984. I would like to believe that it is still performing, some 26 years after I donated it to the Salvation Army in McAllen, Texas—could be—who knows?

Click here to read about the Rabbit’s ability to travel 60 miles on one gallon of diesel fuel.

For a related story about the car, A Rabbit with an attitude, click here.

What follows is a comment from one of my three daughters, the princess that lives in a Dallas suburb with her husband, her son, her daughter and a Blue-heeled Australian Shepherd named Wrigley, along with various insects and other creepy-crawly specimens collected by her daughter. I felt that my daughter’s comment, combined with my response, qualified for a separate posting. My daughter also has a WordPress blog. She started off at top speed then came to an abrupt stop, but the initial posting is well worth the read. Click here for her posting about the Easter bunny.

This is my daughter’s comment:

What I remember most about this car was driving to San Antonio to buy the car. You and mom dumped—okay, dropped—us off at the movies to see “Jaws.” Cindy and I sat through one showing and you didn’t show up—we sat through another showing and you still hadn’t come back to pick us up. Halfway through the third showing you proudly came into the theater with the great news that you had bought the car. I am sure that seeing Jaws two and one-half times has something to do with my fear of being ripped to shreds by a shark—that and my overactive imagination.

This is my response to her comment:

Sorry about that, but thanks for your comment. It taught me a new word—galeophobia. Had I been asked the meaning of that word before now, I would have guessed that it meant a fear of strong winds—tornados, hurricanes, summer breezes wafting o’er the meadows, etc. For your edification—if needed—and that of the hordes of viewers stampeding and elbowing one another in their efforts to gain access to my blog, I am including Wikipedia’s take on fear of sharks—click here for the Wikipedia web site.

From Wikipedia:

Fear of sharks: Excessive and persistent fear of sharks is termed galeophobia. Sufferers from this phobia experience anxiety even though they may be safe on a boat or in an aquarium or on a beach. Hollywood films depicting sharks as calculating, vengeful diabolical monsters have no doubt enkindled the fear of sharks in many persons. So have validated reports of sharks venturing into rivers and lakes.

Most of the more than 300 species of sharks rarely attack swimmers and scuba divers. However, great white sharks, hammerhead sharks and tiger sharks will attack on occasion, especially if they detect blood in the water. More than 60 percent of the victims of shark attacks survive. Oddly, the largest of all sharks, the whale shark, feeds on plankton and has no appetite for human flesh.

The term “galeophobia” is derived from the Greek words “galeos” (shark with markings resembling those on a weasel) and “phobos” (fear). “Galeophobia” is also sometimes used as alternate term for ailurophobia, fear of cats, because the Greek word “galeos” is derived from “galee,” a Greek meaning “polecat” and “weasel.”

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Postscript: I stumbled upon a website that featured a Panama-brown Rabbit owned by a lover of Panama-brown Rabbits. Click here to view multiple photos—this car differs from my rabbit only in the number of doors—mine had four—and its fuel requirements. The owner doesn’t say, but I believe this is a gasoline model. My Rabbit was configured for diesel fuel.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in cars, drivers, Family

 

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Betty and Super Suds . . .

Betty lived with her mother and father in a Carry Homes duplex in Suitland, Maryland, the same duplex in which I lived with my brother and his family. The units were identical with living room, combination kitchen and dining, two bedrooms and one bath. I was an underdeveloped lad of barely fourteen years, and she was an overdeveloped lass of twelve, but well on the way to thirteen. She had black hair and blue eyes, with a face and figure that—well, let’s just say that she was twelve going on twenty-one.

She spoke with a pronounced lisp, and I teased her unmercifully about it. She seemed to tolerate the teasing, but at some point I went too far with it—that is the subject of this posting.

A fateful day came to pass in my relationship—make that my friendship—with Betty, a day during which I learned an important lesson, namely that if one pushes another too often and too hard something bad may happen, similar to the adage that tells us that even a rat will fight when cornered.

My sister-in-law asked me to go next door and see if our neighbor, Betty’s mother, could spare a cup of laundry powder. I dutifully went next door, rang the bell, stepped back and sat down on the hip-height railing of the small covered porch. Betty came out, slammed the door behind her and told me forcefully in an angry tone, “My teacher thed I do not lithp, tho there!”

I was taken aback by her tone and the words but I recovered nicely, and mindful of my assignment to borrow washing powder I said, “My thister-in-law wanth to borrow thum Thuper Thudth,” and Betty hit me. I never knew whether she slapped me or used her fist, but it made no difference. I flipped over the railing and landed on the ground, shaken but unhurt, extremely remorseful and mortified knowing what a spectacle I made. I looked around carefully but my discomfiture had apparently gone unnoticed. I told my sister-in-law that nobody was home next door.

It took some time to restore my friendship with Betty, with me making all the overtures, but after awhile she forgave me. Her forgiveness was based on my cross my heart and hope to die statement that I would never again mention her lisp, the one that she did not have. We even managed to tolerate each other through a full-length black-and-white movie starring a Hollywood cowboy that many years later would become president of the United States. This would be our one and only sojourn away from the watchful eyes of her mother and father.

Yep, we saw Ronald Reagan in one of his better appearances on-screen—King’s Row, a film in which Reagan is crushed by a boxcar and loses both his legs, amputated needlessly by a surgeon that hated him. Cutting the legs from under Ronald Reagan was quite an accomplishment, something that the Democrats could not accomplish in the eight years that Reagan was president, and they tried very hard over those eight years.

But I digress—Betty wanted to see a certain movie, and my brother allowed me to use his Chevrolet two-ton dump truck to take her to the theater in downtown Washington, D.C. A full-grown dump truck—a really romantic touch, huh?

Thinking back on that evening I am reminded of a little ditty my brother used to sing—I have forgotten the last line of that little ditty, and I can’t think of a word that rhymes with front, and that’s probably a good thing. This is just one stanza of a very long string of stanzas of the same ilk—I’ll share others whenever the opportunity arises. One of them involves an elephant at the circus—that’s one of my favorites.

I took my girl to the movies,
We sat away down in front,
And every time the lights went out,
I’d grab her by the (I’ve forgotten the last word).

Tickets for children under thirteen were half price. I bought two half-price tickets, gave Betty hers and we entered the theater. The old grouch taking tickets inside asked me how old I was, and I said twelve. He sneered and said something on the order of, Yeah, right, twelve years old with a voice like that, sure you are. However, he halved my ticket and returned the stub. He obviously had no problem with Betty’s age, although he lingered long in looking at her, then took her ticket and halved it without comment. The old fellow was obviously biased in favor of young females.

Over the years I have come to suspect that Betty was born to her parents out of wedlock, at least three years before they married—well at least two years and nine months—so they waited almost three years before they started counting her age. Given that supposition, that would make Betty at least fifteen years old when I knew her.

Hey, it sounds plausible to me—I have not seen another twelve year old girl in the ensuing sixty-four years that could hold a candle to Betty in grown-up looks. Evidently the years between twelve and fifteen are quite favorable to the female of the species—the same span of years did very little for me.

More on Betty in a later posting, a rousing tale—so to speak—of the monthly physical exams to which she was required to submit, examinations performed by her father—I’ll bet that got your attention!

Stay tuned—I’ll get back to you later with more details, but just as a teaser, had there been a child protective service in those days the family would be broken up, leaving Betty with her mother and her father in jail.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2010 in Childhood, Family, friends, Humor

 

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60 miles to the gallon on diesel . . .

In 1977 I began the year as a journeyman Customs inspector at the port of Progreso, Texas at the international border with Mexico, just as I had done for the past six years since beginning my employment with the U.S. Customs Service in December of 1971, just six months after my retirement from the U.S. Air Force in July of that year.

In the summer of 1977 I applied for a supervisory position at the port of Roma, some 75 miles farther upstream on the Rio Grande River, and I was selected in the competition for the position of a first-level supervisor at that location. I went to Roma in October of 1977 and remained there two and one-half years until 1980. Early in 1980 I was promoted to a second-level supervisory position at the port of Brownsville, Texas and I relocated there in April of that year.

My home was in Donna, Texas, a small town in the lower Rio Grande Valley some 60 miles distant from my duties at the port of Roma. At the time I was driving a 1972 Ford LTD that used a considerable amount of gas per mile, so I searched for a more economical vehicle. I sold the Ford and bought a 1978 Chevrolet that turned out to be a gas hog, so I traveled to San Antonio is search of a vehicle a bit easier on fuel.

I returned to the Valley with a Panama Brown 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit equipped with the original Rabbit gasoline engine that had been modified to run on diesel fuel. Diesel in Mexico was selling for a whopping 12 cents a gallon at that time, and the station was a mere one-eighth of a mile from the Customhouse, across the river in Miguel Aleman, Mexico. I gave the Chevrolet to one of my daughters in Donna, Texas.

The Rabbit had four doors and seated four passengers in relative comfort considering its diminutive size, with front bucket seats and a floor-mounted manual gear shift. It had the basic required dashboard instruments, but the only extras were a radio and air conditioning. Its color was called Panama Brown, but it could only be considered a rather bright shade of orange.

I started making the 120 mile round trip between home and work and soon realized that I was getting excellent mileage, but I wanted to know exactly how far the little car would run on a full tank of diesel. The tank held 10 gallons—I told the station attendant in Mexico to pack it in, and filled a one gallon can with diesel to carry in the car. I intended to run until the tank was empty—I couldn’t think of a better way to get an accurate picture of the performance of a gasoline engine configured to run on diesel.

I decided to run without air conditioning for the test because I knew that the compressor took a toll on the engine’s power. I zeroed out the mile indicator and maintained a steady maximum speed of 60-65 miles per hours for the duration of the test. I drove until the engine stopped running and then let the car coast to a stop. The coasting didn’t gain much, because the terrain between home and work was flat, with no hills and no curves.

Including the one hundred feet or so covered in the coasting when the tank ran dry, I recorded exactly 600 miles. With a ten-gallon tank that means the little orange Rabbit averaged 60 miles for each gallon of diesel—I sure wish I had it now!

I drove the Rabbit for the two and one-half years I  worked at Roma, then for another three and one-half years that I worked at the port of Brownsville, a round-trip distance of 100 miles between my home in Donna and my work site in Brownsville. In October of 1983 I passed the Rabbit to my daughter that at the time was living in Donna and making the same 100-mile round trip in the gas-guzzling 1978 Chevrolet. She parked the Chevrolet and I donated it to the Salvation Army in McAllen, Texas and took a decent tax write-off for the donation.

Now for the kicker: My daughter drove the Rabbit for another two years, then she parked it and came to live with us in Washington, D.C. I donated the little car to the same charity and took another decent write-off for the donation.

Its speedometer showed an honest 186, 000 miles, and here is the clincher—I never changed the glow plugs nor ever replaced a tire—never even had a flat. The only maintenance performed on that magnificent automobile during that 186,000 miles was the replacement of the fan belt—it broke at exactly 100,000 miles while I was on the way to work, still with about 30 miles to go. I lost all electrical power, but a diesel doesn’t need electricity—the heat of the glow plugs keeps it running. I drove directly to the Volkswagen dealer in Brownsville and had the belt replaced.

That’s my story of my 1978 Panama Brown diesel Rabbit, and I’m sticking to it!

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2010 in bridge, cars, taxes, Travel

 

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Redux—Chihuahuas, ham hocks & butter beans . . .

I originally posted this story on May 24, 2009. It has languished there ever since—only one vote has been cast, albeit a vote for excellence and albeit cast by my mother’s youngest son—me.

This redux is for the benefit of those that do not delve into the past in search of blog baubles. Not that this posting is a bauble—I unashamedly and with all humility consider it to be a jewel, a true story with no equal—oh, alright, I’ll concede that some tales may equal it, but none will surpass its innate humor and pathos.

Enjoy!

Chihuahuas, ham hocks & butter beans . . .

A recipe for disaster:

Assemble one medium-size ham hock, one pound of dry butter beans, a medium-size cooking pot, a reasonable amount of water, and one Chihuahua.

Place ham hock, butter beans and water in pot. Cook over medium heat until meal is done (beans should be soft, ham should strip easily from the bone). Have the Chihuahua stand by while meal is cooking (don’t worry—when he smells it cooking he won’t stray very far).

When meal is done, strip most of ham from the bone (leave a little for the Chihuahua) and serve with butter beans and such other vegetables, drinks and breads as desired. Place leftovers (minus the ham bone) in refrigerator.

When ham bone is properly cooled, give a few beans and the ham bone, with bits of meat still attached, to Chihuahua for his enjoyment. Allow him to gnaw on the bone to his heart’s content for the next two days

After his two days of enjoyment, patiently (and very carefully) separate the snarling Chihuahua from his ham bone and place him, full of butter beans and ham cooked with butter beans, into the car for the 800-mile return trip to San Antonio, Texas.

The end result? (pun intended)

DISASTER!

My mother used the above recipe with devastating effectiveness in the summer of 1966. My wife and I took a vacation with our three daughters and Bimbo, an adult Chihuahua with a voracious appetite. En route to South Georgia to visit my wife’s relatives, we made a brief stop in Alabama to visit my mother, my brother and his family.

Mama loved animals—she and Bimbo became instant friends, and she prevailed on us to let her look after Bimbo while we were in Georgia, pointing out that we could pick him up on our way back home. We readily obliged—Bimbo had a strong predilection for intestinal gas, with its accumulation and discharge not restricted to any particular type of food. In short, we were happy to leave him in Alabama.

On any automobile outing, seating for our family, including the Chihuahua, rarely varied—elder daughter in front seat, two younger daughters on opposite sides of the back seat and their mother in the center, strategically placed to keep the two girls separated, father behind the wheel and Bimbo standing, rear feet in father’s lap and front feet placed on the door’s cushioned armrest—the little dog loved watching the scenery pass by, and barked at most of it.

I feel that I have effectively laid the groundwork and prepared the reader for the rest of this narrative—I’m fairly certain that most readers by this point are far ahead of me, so I will try to be brief in my finishing remarks (good luck there!).

At numerous times during the long trip home, anyone who happened to be watching would have seen a black-and-white 4-door automobile swerve off the highway onto its shoulder and screech to a halt—then all four doors would fly open and all the car’s occupants would stumble out, coughing and retching with eyes streaming tears—all, that is, except the Chihuahua—obviously he wasn’t as bothered by the results wrought by Mama’s recipe for ham hock and butter beans.

We made it safely back home, and in retrospect we found that part of the trip to be hilarious, but it was definitely not funny at the time.

Bimbo had a good life and a fairly long life—born in 1964, he lived until 1972 and enjoyed good health throughout those years. The little fellow met his demise while fighting another male dog over the affections of a female dog—had he known that he was no match for the other dogs, neither for fighting the male nor for (insert 4-letter verb with gerund) the female, he may not have been as quick to vie for the female’s favors, but he had no way of knowing that the other dogs, both male and female, were full-grown German Shepherds. However, I believe that had he known, he would have still persisted—he was, above all, a Chihuahua and backing away from a fight or a (insert 4-letter word here) was not in his nature.

I’ll get back to you later with more details.

Postscript (not in the original posting):

My youngest daughter and I took Bimbo to the vet immediately when we learned of the brutal attack, and we said our goodbyes after the doctor gave us the results of his examination—our little lover had suffered terrible damage to his heart and lungs, damage that could not possibly be repaired—relieving him of his pain was the most humane action to take, and we gave our consent.

My daughter and I drove around for awhile before returning home—we needed some fresh country air and time to collect our thoughts, and our tears flowed freely. Bimbo had been an honored member of our family for nine years, and we loved him in spite of—or perhaps because of—his many faults, frailties and freakish actions, performances such as standing at the patio door, shivering uncontrollably on the hottest summer day in Texas’ history, begging to be allowed to come into the house.

Bimbo also did all the things that dogs do when they have not been relieved of any of their internal or external body parts, acts that should need no clarification. Bimbo seemed to do such things more frequently and with more delight than other dogs we have known and loved. A prime example was his frequent abuse of a small brown Teddy Bear, a child’s toy that was stuffed and sewn into a prostrate position, a pose that readily lent itself to abuse by our diminutive canine Lothario.

Thirty-eight years have hurtled by since Bimbo left us—I still miss him.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!


 
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Posted by on February 28, 2010 in Childhood, Family, food, Humor, pets, Travel, Writing

 

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CHIHUAHUAS, HAM HOCKS & BUTTER BEANS

CHIHUAHUAS, HAM HOCKS & BUTTER BEANS

RECIPE FOR DISASTER:

Assemble one medium-size ham hock, one pound of dry butter beans, a medium-size cooking pot, a reasonable amount of water, and one Chihuahua.

Place ham hock, butter beans and water in pot. Cook over medium heat until meal is done (beans should be soft, ham should strip easily from the bone). Have the Chihuahua stand by while meal is cooking (don’t worry—when he smells it cooking he won’t stray very far).

When meal is done, strip most of ham from the bone (leave a little for the Chihuahua) and serve with butter beans and such other vegetables, drinks and breads as desired. Place leftovers (minus the ham bone) in refrigerator.

When ham bone is properly cooled, give a few beans and the ham bone, with bits of meat still attached, to Chihuahua for his enjoyment. Allow him to gnaw on the bone to his heart’s content for the next two days

After his two days of enjoyment, patiently (and very carefully) separate the snarling Chihuahua from his ham bone and place him, full of butter beans and ham cooked with butter beans, into the car for the 800-mile return trip to San Antonio, Texas.

The end result? (pun intended)

DISASTER!

My mother used the above recipe with devastating effectiveness in the summer of 1966. My wife and I took a vacation with our three daughters and Bimbo, an adult Chihuahua with a voracious appetite. En route to South Georgia to visit my wife’s relatives, we made a brief stop in Alabama to visit my mother, my brother and his family.

Mama loved animals—she and Bimbo became instant friends, and she prevailed on us to let her look after Bimbo while we were in Georgia, pointing out that we could pick him up on our way back home. We readily obliged—Bimbo had a strong predilection for intestinal gas, with its accumulation and discharge not restricted to any particular type of food. In short, we were happy to leave him in Alabama.

On any automobile outing, seating for our family, including the Chihuahua, rarely varied—elder daughter in front seat, two younger daughters on opposite sides of the back seat and their mother in the center, strategically placed to keep the two girls separated, father behind the wheel and Bimbo standing, rear feet in father’s lap and front feet placed on the door’s cushioned armrest—the little dog loved watching the scenery pass by, and barked at most of it.

I feel that I have effectively laid the groundwork and prepared the reader for the rest of this narrative—I’m fairly certain that most readers by this point are far ahead of me, so I will try to be brief in my finishing remarks (good luck there!).

At numerous times during the long trip home, anyone who happened to be watching would have seen a black-and-white 4-door automobile swerve off the highway onto its shoulder and screech to a halt—then all four doors would fly open and all the car’s occupants would stumble out, coughing and retching with eyes streaming tears—all, that is, except the Chihuahua—obviously he wasn’t as bothered by the results wrought by Mama’s recipe for ham hock and butter beans.

We made it safely back home, and in retrospect we found that part of the trip to be hilarious, but it was definitely not funny at the time.

Bimbo had a good life and a fairly long life—born in 1964, he lived until 1972 and enjoyed good health throughout those years. The little fellow met his demise while fighting another male dog over the affections of a female dog—had he known that he was no match for the other dogs, neither for fighting the male nor for (insert verb with gerund hereother than fighting) the female, he may not have been as quick to vie for the female’s favors, but he had no way of knowing that the other dogs, both male and female, were full-grown German Shepherds. However, I believe that had he known, he would have still persisted—he was, above all, a Chihuahua and backing away from a fight or a (insert noun here—sans gerund) was not in his nature.

I’ll get back to you later with more details.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2009 in Family, Humor, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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