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Revisit: A letter to my brother Larry (1919-1983) . . . (via The King of Texas)

Dear Larry, I know this will surprise you because the only other letter you’ve received from me was dated 64 years ago. Yep, I was only 12 years old when I asked you to take pity on an exhausted, skinny, lightweight newspaper delivery boy by helping him buy a motorcycle—well, actually I was hoping you would spring for the entire amount, a mere pittance of $125 plus delivery charges. You were doing a brisk business hauling coal for the federal buildings—Read More here. . .

via The King of Texas

Concerning comments and replies thereto:

Astute readers will note that in this posting I have placed the cart before the horse—what follows below is a comment on the original post and my reply to that comment. In order to fully appreciate the reader’s comment and my reply, one should first read the original posting by clicking on the Read More above, or by clicking here if you like.

I like to consider my postings on Word Press as travels and travails through life, both for me and for my family members and others about whom I write. The actual postings are the interstate highways, and reader’s comments and my replies to those comments are the blue highways, the roads traveled by the author of the book Blue Highways, a forever memorable journey—read a review here. The following is excerpted from the Amazon.com review:

First published in 1982, William Least Heat-Moon’s account of his journey along the back roads of the United States (marked with the color blue on old highway maps) has become something of a classic. When he loses his job and his wife on the same cold February day, he is struck by inspiration: “A man who couldn’t make things go right could at least go. He could quit trying to get out of the way of life. Chuck routine. Live the real jeopardy of circumstance. It was a question of dignity.

I assure you that Blue Highways is difficult to put down once you have started reading it, comparable to running downhill, eating peanuts or having sex. I beg forgiveness for having used those hoary similes, but they are so expressive I cannot pass up an opportunity to voice them—I’m sorry, but it’s in my nature! And continuing in that same vein, comments to postings and the author’s replies are, at the end of the day, where the rubber meets the road, a couple of metaphors that, although quite descriptive, are tremendously overused.

But I digress—this is a revisit to my July 2010 posting of a letter I wrote to my brother some 23 years after his  death (I assume that it was received, because it was not returned). I have extracted a reader’s comment and my reply to that comment—I felt that they were far too cogent to remain in Stygian darkness so I brought them out into the  bright light of today.

This is a comment from my niece:

Thanks to Vicki I found your blog earlier this week. To say the least I have spent several hours strolling down memory lane (memories of tales told to me by my mother, grandmother, and aunts) and other hours traveling new and foreign fields. Once when I was visiting your “prettiest sister” she shared the letter you had written her, the one I found here that was written to both sisters. You have always had a way with words. Make that 7 favorite granddaughters—I never could count.

And this is my reply:

Hi—it’s a real pleasure to hear from you. The first name was familiar but the Argo stumped me. I believe that your married name is a harbinger of things to come—good things. Cindy is archiving all this drivel to which I’m subjecting viewers in the remote possibility that she will one day publish said drivel in book form. She already has my first book standing by in the wings, ready to publish. It’s a compendium of jokes, and some—well, many of them—okay, okay, all of them—are of the type that would require the book to be displayed on the top shelf, out of reach for children. In our current motion picture rating system, it would probably be labeled MA15+, Not suitable for persons younger than 15. I’m mulling over that provision and so far have withheld permission to publish—not that Cindy is all that eager to publish  it—she’s pretty busy, deeply engrossed in the process of making a living.

As you well know, Argo is the name of Jason’s craft in Greek mythology, the vessel that sailed in search of the Golden Fleece. I know it’s a stretch but that’s what I’m doing—if it should come to pass, a book of my postings, my pseudo autobiography, will be my Golden Fleece. The term pseudo has many meanings—one of those meanings, perhaps the one most applicable to my efforts is, something old and useless that is paraded around in order to evoke irony.

I hasten to say that I do not profess to be a modern Jason. I humbly admit, with all humility aside, that I am merely an Argonaut, one of the band of heroes that assisted Jason in his quest. I’ll also admit that I’ve never understood why anyone would risk life and limb in search of a stinky old sheepskin.

Thanks for visiting, and thanks for the comment, and I promise I’ll keep posting if you will continue visiting and commenting—as we sailors are wont to say, “I like the cut of your jib!”

Oh, and one more thought—you and I are in emphatic agreement on your label of my prettiest sister, but please don’t tell the others! That’s what your Grandma Hester did each time we visited—one by one she would take the girls aside and tell each that she was the prettiest and that she loved her more than the others but please don’t tell them. That worked for several years until one of the girls—we’re unsure which—finally spilled the beans, whether deliberately or inadvertently is unknown.

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

 
 

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Death, an indentured servant, Ruby Lee, Bonnie and me . . .

From Wikipedia:

Indentured servant: A worker, typically a laborer or tradesman, under contract to an employer for a fixed period of time, typically three to seven years, in exchange for their transportation, food, clothing, lodging and other necessities.

In my sixteenth year I was subjected to the duties of an indentured servant. I lived and worked on an Alabama farm owned by a man that was married to my first cousin. My home was broken, just as it had been periodically for the previous nine years, ever since my mother took a second husband. I had just returned to Mississippi after a circuitous journey that took me from Mississippi to Midland, Texas and on to El Paso, Texas and from there to jail in Valley Park, Missouri then to New York City for several weeks and then back to Mississippi, all in a period of less than one year. Click here for a comprehensive rendition of that Jason-like search for the Golden Fleece!

I did not voluntarily enter into indentured service—I had no choice. My mother had once again severed ties with my stepfather and Ruby Lee, my first cousin, was the only relative that was willing to shoulder the burden of looking after me. I would be remiss if I did not reveal that one of my sisters agreed to take me in, but became incensed when my mother offered the princely sum of $5 to assist in buying school clothes for the coming semester. The offer offended my sister and she scolded my mother, saying that my place was with my mother, and she should not pass that responsibility on to others. I hasten to add that my mother’s request for my sister to accept the somewhat difficult task of taking me in, her offer of $5 to assist the process, and my sister’s refusal to accept either the offer of money or the request to take me in aroused no animosity in me—the request to take me in, the offer of money and the ultimate refusal of both did not matter to me then and are of no consequence to me now. Not only have I survived—I have actually thrived in spite of all the hurdles placed in my path. I soared over all of them and landed safely.

Ruby Lee and her husband, Bonnie, agreed to take me in and provide a home for me and continue my schooling, and in return I would assist her and her husband in working a small farm, doing all the things that any farmer does—mind you, this was in the days of two-mule farms—we’re not talking about diesel tractors and milking barns and mile-long rows of crops and a cadre of hired hands. We’re talking about a hard-scrabble existence with two mules, one wagon, one cow, some chickens, a few pigs, a house cat and a yard dog and virtually no future, aside from decades of living from hand to mouth dependent on fair weather and good crops. With my addition to the family, the farm now had a cadre of one hired hand. Yes, that’s me in the image above, trying to dig my way to China just to get away from the farm! No, I’m kidding—that’s a photo I found online and I used it just for fun—at my age I’ve learned that one cannot dig all the way to China!

I left the farm after several short months. Click here to see the relationship between parched peanuts and crawling skin, and how my dog and I became farmers. That posting will also detail the reasons why I left the farm.

Now to the crux of this posting—it’s about Ruby and her life in later years, and most of what I know about her is hearsay, information gleaned from various relatives during infrequent visits, several that were generated by deaths and the requisite attendance at funerals. I never saw or heard anything about her husband Bonnie or her two young sons after I left the farm, and in all the intervening years I saw Ruby only once—we were together at a brother-in-law’s funeral in Mississippi.

I was there with my wife, and Ruby was there with her domestic partner. That relationship was all the buzz among her relatives attending the funeral—not that the buzzing took place within her hearing, of course. Ruby seemed very happy and secure in her relationship and showed no indication of what her future held. Several years later, I learned from one of my sisters that Ruby had taken her own life, although nobody was certain of the method she used. The consensus was that she had died from a gunshot wound. There was lots of speculation about her suicide among relatives and friends, but nothing concrete was ever known.

An interesting point about conversation at the funeral between Ruby and her erstwhile indentured servant—neither of us touched, even lightly, about our time together on the farm. I was filled with curiosity but I refused to broach the subject. She volunteered nothing concerning her husband killing my dog in my absence, nothing about their failure to enroll me in school per their agreement with my mother, nothing about her husband’s whereabouts and life since their divorce, and nothing about her two sons that went with her husband when they divorced. The absence of her speaking of those details is telling—I firmly believe that she had buried the details of those events deeply in the recesses of her mind, either inadvertently or deliberately.

No matter—whatever her thoughts may have been of the details of those events, whether negative or positive, she took them to her grave, at least as far as I am concerned. She may have discussed them with others over the years but if so, the discussions never reached me.

Many years have passed since my employment as an indentured servant, and many of my memories of that time are pleasant. I feel no rancor, none for Ruby nor for her husband. They are fixed in my memory, and when my thoughts turn to those days I tend to remember the good times and push the bad times away. I discuss them now only in order to provide the information to my children, and of course to any others that may find the facts interesting, for whatever reason or reasons. Quite aside from the fact that I enjoy writing about various facets of my life, these postings to Word Press are in nature autobiographical, thoughts that I can leave for posterity—ooooh, I just had shivers run up and down my spine!

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

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2010 in death, education, Family, farming, Humor, pets

 

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Texting kills + A repost of Quickies, cashews and conjugations . . .

Quickies, cashews and conjugations . . .

I first posted this subject four months ago on January 22, 2010. That posting is primarily a dissertation on conjugation, specifically on the past tense of the word text when used as a verb. The posting has been available for four months on Word Press and has garnered zero comments and only one vote, and in the interest of full disclosure I must admit that the one vote is mine—hey, I realize that shows partiality on my part, but I enjoy reading my own writing. Nothing improper about that, right? Right? Right!

Texting while driving is under fire all across our nation. Here in San Antonio the use of cell phones is banned in school zones, and our city commissioners are now considering a city–wide law outlawing texting while driving. I have serious doubts that it will happen, but hope springs eternal—it’s the right thing to do.

Texting is killing people. Let me rephrase that—texters are killing people, killing them just as surely as if they had held a gun to another person’s head and pulled the trigger. Texting while driving, whether reading a message or sending a message, should be outlawed nation-wide—nay, world wide! Both practices are distractions, and both kill people.

Click here for Car Accident Cell Phone statistics.

This is an excerpt from that web site:

In 2008, at any given moment, over 800,000 Americans were texting, making calls, or using a handheld cell phone while driving during the daytime. With distracted driving killing nearly 6,000 Americans in the same year, it’s no mystery that cell phone use is risky for drivers.

How many of those 6,000 Americans died as the result of a driver texting while operating a motor vehicle? Some of the distractions that caused 6,000 deaths in one year were unavoidable—as the saying goes, stuff happens, and some of that stuff is beyond a driver’s control. Texting, however,  is well within the driver’s control—all the driver needs do is don’t.  The number of cell phone users and the number of text messages sent and received has increased astronomically since 22008. If distractions killed 6,000 people in 2008, how many will die in 2010?

Please read the statistics on cell phone use carefully, and be afraid—be very afraid. The driver behind the wheel of that vehicle approaching you on a undivided two-lane highway is traveling at 60 miles per hour—both hands on the wheel, but the driver is holding a cell phone and using both thumbs to text messages by typing on a minuscule keyboard and all the while supposedly in control of  several tons of extremely hard materials—steel, rubber, aluminum, fiberglass and glass—lots and lots of glass.

Accept the fact that the other driver is not in control of that vehicle—that driver is wearing a shroud, holding a cell phone in one hand and a scythe in the other. In far too many instances—even one is too many—that driver is the Grim Reaper, a potential killer. So do yourself a favor—if you text while driving, stop. If your friends text while driving, implore them to stop, and don’t ride with them if they continue that deadly practice.

Contact your city officials—police, city commissioners, mayors, city managers, and state and national lawmakers and representatives and demand that texting while driving be outlawed.

I know, I know—it ain’t gonna happen.

This is my original posting of Quickies, cashews and conjugations . . .

I have been chastised by a viewer that finds my postings far too lengthy and reading them in their entirety requires extended absences from some of life’s more important activities, including such vital ones as texting and watching television (I would surmise that the viewer does not read books or periodicals for the same reason).

In response to that criticism I am introducing the ‘quickie’ posting. The use of that term necessarily mandates a definition. From Wikipedia: A quickie is defined as ‘a thing done or made quickly or hastily, in particular a rapidly consumed alcoholic drink or a brief act of sexual intercourse.’ The word may legitimately be used as a noun or an adjective to describe an infinite number of situations other than those involving drinks or sexual intercourse.

At this point I must note that a quickie (the noun) may be either given or received. Examples would be, for instance, ‘The featured speaker gave a quickie to the members,’ and ‘The members received a quickie from the featured speaker.’

Got it?

This quickie will not involve alcoholic drinks or sex (not that I’m opposed to either). My intent is to post a quickie (noun) from time to time, and such entries will be quickie (adjective) postings.

Now for my first quickie:

Texting is a relatively new word in our language. Virtually everyone is aware of its meaning, so no definition should be required. However, since the word is a verb it is subject to the rules of conjugation (no relation to the adjective conjugal as used in conjugal visits).

Incidentally, the generally recognized basis for permitting such visits (conjugal) in modern times is to preserve family bonds and increase the chances of success for a prisoner’s eventual return to life outside prison. The visit will usually take place in a structure provided for that purpose, such as a trailer or small cabin. Supplies such as soap, condoms, tissues, sheets, pillows, and towels may be provided (bold emphasis is mine).

Hey, I didn’t make that up—it came straight from Wikipedia! Check it out at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conjugal_visit

I haven’t seen an official conjugation of the verb text, but I assume the verb as presently used would be conjugated for the present, past and future tenses as follows:

I text on my phone daily (present tense)—the gerund of text would be texting, of course. I texted on it yesterday (past tense) and tomorrow I will text again (future tense). The conjugation would be text, texted, text, similar to the verb run (run, ran, run).

My assumption is based on the fact that all those that text use texted to indicate past tense, namely, ‘I texted the schedule to everyone.’

And now, to quote the bard, ‘Ay, there’s the rub.’

If texted is the proper past tense for the verb text, the sequence of a batter’s performance in baseball games would be, ‘He hit the ball on the first pitch, and he hitted the ball on the first pitch yesterday, and he will probably hit the ball on the first pitch tomorrow.’ The gerund in this case would be, ‘He is hitting 500 ( fifty percent) this season.’

There you have it—I rest my case. If text, texted, text is correct then it logically follows that hit, hitted, hit would be correct, rather than the current conjugation of hit, hit, hit.

I boldly, with all semblance of humility aside, suggest that the past tense of text should not be texted—it should be simply text. The verbs hit and text are both one syllable, both end in ‘T’ and should therefore be voiced as, ‘I text her yesterday’ rather than ‘I texted her yesterday.’ The verb text should be conjugated as text, text, text. Try it—voice the past tense as presently used—texted, two syllables with equal emphasis on both syllables. Then voice the past tense as text, a word that is considered one syllable, but when voiced comes across as two syllables. Unless you omit the ‘t’ sound at the end of texttex, you’ll pronounce the ‘t’ as a second syllable—try it! (Note that ‘it‘ is also pronounced with two syllables).

Come on, admit it—texted is awkward. It’s completely unwieldy and should be banned.

If my viewers will admit that it’s awkward, then I will in turn admit that this posting does not qualify as a quickie because it ran amok, completely out of control. If it’s a quickie, then it’s a quickie on steroids. Posting can legitimately be compared to such mundane activities as running down hill, eating peanuts (or cashews) and sex. Once started, it may be difficult to stop—nay, in extreme cases it may be impossible.

Postcript: I did not intend to involve alcoholic drinks or sex in this first quickie. I kept my promise on the drinks, but the serpent reared its ugly head in the above paragraph. I offer an abject apology to any viewer that may have found the word offensive. I did not delete it (behead the serpent, so to speak) because the thought was applicable and the word fit well.

Or should I say it fitted well, as in texted?

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

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Buster, a pit bull, or why I left the farm . . .

In my posting on March 20, 2010 regarding parched peanuts and skin crawling, I told how I left the farm for a few days to visit my mother and sister in Mississippi, some 30 miles west of the farm, and in my absence my cousin Ruby’s husband killed my dog, an American Pit Bull Terrier. I never learned how he was killed but I know why, and the purpose of this posting is to tell the heart wrenching story of Buster’s untimely demise. Click here to see the relationship between parched peanuts and crawling skin, and how my dog and I became farmers.

My most heartfelt hope at the time—a hope that has consistently remained with me over the intervening years—that hope was, and still is, that before the deed was done Buster was able to remove a few chunks of meat from his killer. Please don’t fault me too much for that hope—Bonnie had considerable meat to spare, and I have never wished that Buster could have reached his throat, even if just for a few seconds. Oh, okay, if it will make the reader happy, I probably would have been very sad had Buster taken him out—hey, I disliked the farmer, but I really loved that dog.

Buster was valuable, and several purchase offers had been made for him by surrounding farmers, all of which I declined. Bonnie knew that the dog was valuable, and I would like to believe he sold Buster to some kind farmer that needed him for watch dog services, or perhaps for breeding purposes, and that he—Buster, not the farmer—enjoyed a long and pleasant life, whether barking or breeding or both. Of course I wish the same for the farmer, provided that he had the same proclivity for similar activities.

Shortly after I left the farm to visit my family for Christmas, Bonnie—I’ll call him Bonnie because that was his name—killed my dog. I suppose it’s alright to out Bonnie now. Sixty-two years have passed since the hog/dog/ear/Bonnie incident. My guess would be that by this time Bonnie has gone to that heavenly farm where all farmers go, a place where no crop ever fails and market prices are always sky high (so to speak). Whether he was received or rejected on his arrival to that heavenly farm is, of course, a matter for conjecture. Whether received or rejected, I wish him well.

On a cool cloudless day in October of 1948—a day typical for west central Alabama in the fall—Bonnie and I walked a short distance from the house to cut wood for the kitchen stove. We found a suitable pine tree, felled it and cut it into stove-length blocks, and returned to the house to hitch up the mules and use the wagon to haul the blocks to the house. There they would be chopped into pieces suitable for stoking the kitchen stove.

Yep, that’s how it was done in those days—no electric or gas stoves or heaters because neither gas nor electricity had found their way to that rural area. Cooking and heating homes was strictly a wood-burning process. Our work in the woods was accomplished with a crosscut saw, a two-man-power item in use at the time. I am not aware whether power saws, electric or gas-powered, were available at the time. They may have been, but we would have needed a really long extension cord because the nearest plug–in was several miles distant. Ah, those were the good old days!

As we approached the house, Bonnie’s prized Poland China sow—a female pig— entered the picture. She had managed to escape her pen, and was apparently enjoying her new-found freedom, probably searching for acorns among the fall leaves covering the ground. Leaving her enclosure was a big mistake, both for Buster and for her—she should have stayed in the pen.

This was a young hog, not a piglet but a hog approaching adulthood, a hog probably somewhere in its teens. This was an attractive pig, attractive at least as pigs go, that Bonnie intended to show at county fairs and perhaps breed to raise pigs for the market. The Poland China breed, then and now, fetches good prices at  auctions, and some say that its meat is superior to other breeds.

Buster went with us to fell the tree. Everywhere I went, my dog went. I always felt that he was looking out for me, protecting me. I could leave him for any length of time, telling him to stay, and he would faithfully remain at that spot until I returned. I only needed to leave something of mine with him, anything—it could be my bike or cap or jacket, anything with my scent on it, and heaven help anyone that tried to relieve him of his guard duties. My dog and I understood each other, and he responded to a variety of commands from me.

Just as an aside, Buster had a strong dislike for cats and he periodically brought them home for my approval—dead, of course. Any neighborhood in which we lived had very few roaming cats, at least not after we had lived there for a significant length of time.

On this day he was ranging a short distance in front of us as we walked up the hill toward the house, and the hog was rooting in the leaves just ahead. Startled when she saw the dog, she squealed, snorted and took off through the leaves, obviously frightened by the dog. Buster reacted to the sights and sounds and charged, clamping down on her right ear and pulling her off her feet.

Bonnie and I tried to pull him off—I applied pressure to the pads of his feet with no effect, then actually put both hands around his neck trying to cut off enough air to make him release the hog. Bonnie picked up a fairly good sized limb from the ground and struck him with it several times, without any apparent effect.

Buster never released the ear—with the precision of a surgeon he separated the ear from it owner, leaving a smooth but bloody head on the right side. Then he seemed to lose all interest in the animal, and the hog did likewise—she ran several yards away, stopped and looked back wondering, I suppose, what part the dog might decide to remove next. Bonnie stopped beating him and I stopped trying to choke him, and after the surgery Buster was as docile as I had ever seen him.

I can’t say the same for Bonnie. I fear he lost some, perhaps most, of his religion given the string of expletives that followed, along with statements such as I’ll kill that #&*(@! dogI should have already killed him.

I tried to reason with him but he stalked off to find some medication for the hog, after ordering me to lock the dog up in the corn crib. I did as I was ordered, and kept him there for several days before leaving the farm for my visit with family for Christmas—the rest is history.

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

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2010 in Humor, pets, Uncategorized

 

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Parched peanuts and skin crawling . . .

In the fall of my sixteenth year I lived with a farm family in the rural western central area of Alabama. Their farm was one of the Reconstruction era land parcels that were passed out after the end of the Civil War. It originally consisted of 40 acres and a mule, and in 1948, having passed down through some four generations (not of the same family, of course), still boasted the same 40 acres and a mule—not the same mule but one that, without a doubt, remarkably resembled the original, with the same long ears and same surly disposition, but with the same desirable work traits.

The family was comprised of four souls—the wife (my first cousin), the husband (not related to me or to his wife, other than by marriage) and two sons, both under the age of five years. My mother had decided that it would be beneficial for me to live with them and help out around the house and the 40 acres, and in return for that help the family would house me, feed me, clothe me and educate me.

Such a deal!

I arrived on the farm with a small metal trunk, a pitifully small amount of clothing and a pedigreed  pit bulldog named Buster, a fine and faithful companion, registered with the American Kennel Club as Mars but my brother, the original owner, had named him Buster. I inherited Buster when my brother returned to active duty with the U. S. Army after an absence of several years. My trunk, my dog and I joined the family on the farm in September after the school term had begun.

No mention was made of my being enrolled in the eleventh grade, and I happily maintained my silence. The helping out, however, began immediately. A trip to the nearest town some five miles distant to a dry goods store outfitted me with two pairs of overalls—one pair to wear and one pair to spare, and a pair of sturdy work shoes known as brogans. Some folks referred to them as clodhoppers, and some applied the same term to the wearers of such shoes. Perhaps some of my readers are unfortunate enough to have never worn overalls and therefore may be unfamiliar with such garments. If that be the case, those readers can click here for a detailed description. That posting also tells a story featuring a blue-eyed snake.

And now to my original reason for this posting, namely the parching of peanuts and situations related thereto. The term parched in regard to peanuts may be unfamiliar to some—perhaps roasted would be a more familiar term. On many cool fall evenings and cold winter evenings, the family gathered around an open fireplace and ate parched peanuts. The peanuts, having dried since harvested, were placed on a shallow metal roasting pan and roasted in the shell in the kitchen stove oven, and afterward the pan was placed on the fireplace hearth to keep the peanuts warm and accessible. One needed only to scoop up a handful of peanuts, then sit back, shell and enjoy.

The lady of the house, my first cousin, had a habit of rustling among the peanuts searching for those with scorched shells, saying that they had more flavor. Her moving the peanuts around on metal, with her fingernails sometimes coming in contact with the metal, produced a really irritating sound, one that, as the saying goes, made one’s flesh crawl, a phenomenon that I communicated to my cousin.

I told her that I wished she wouldn’t do that, and she said, “Why not?’ And I took the bait she offered—nay, I took the bait and hook and line and sinker. I said, “Because it makes my flesh crawl.” Her immediate response was, “How did your butt smell when it passed your face?”

Bummer!

Pretty funny, huh? I plotted and schemed for the next several weeks, doing anything and everything I could to produce a sound that would make her flesh crawl, and I finally hit on one. I was cleaning a mirror—voluntarily, and by briskly rubbing the clean glass I made a loud screeching sound and she reacted as I hoped she would. She told me to stop doing that, and I asked her the same question she had asked me. I said “Why?” and she predictably said that it made her flesh crawl.

Oh, boy, oh boy! I said, “How did your butt smell when it passed your face?” She snapped back, “It smelled like it had been licked—how did it taste?”

Bummer again!

I left the family and the farm in late December and traveled some 35 miles by bus to visit my mother and sister in Mississippi. I returned early in January, and en route on my two-mile walk on the graveled road from the paved highway to the farm, I stopped to visit an aunt that lived in the house of my birth. She told me that my cousin’s husband had killed my dog soon after I left for Mississippi.

None of the family was home when I arrived. I packed my belongings and started dragging the trunk  back to the paved highway to wait for the next interstate bus. Luckily a neighboring farmer came along in his Model T Ford and gave me and my trunk a ride to the highway—had he not come by I would probably still be walking—that trunk was pretty heavy, what with the brogans and overalls.

There was a reason my cousin’s husband killed my dog—not a reasonable reason—but I’ll save it for a later posting of some of my exploits—and my exploitation—while playing the part of a farm boy. I have never been back to the house since that day, and I never saw the husband or the two boys again. I trust that they fared well and are still faring well—unless they grew up to be like their father.

I know he died many years ago, but I never knew how the boys may have fared in their lives. Many years later I saw my cousin briefly, just long enough to learn that she had divorced her husband  shortly after I left, and a few years later met and bonded closely—I mean, like really closely—with another woman and eventually became a suicide, taking her own life with a firearm. I don’t know how the other woman fared, nor am I curious about it.

There are many more titillating, interesting, educational, emotional, humorous and fascinating tales I will tell concerning my brief sojourn as an indentured servant on an Alabama farm, but I’ll save them for later postings.

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

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2010 in Childhood, Family, Humor, Writing

 

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Quickies, cashews and conjugations . . .

I have been chastised by a viewer who finds my postings far too lengthy and reading them in their entirety requires extended absences from some of life’s more important activities, including such vital ones as texting and watching television (I would surmise that the viewer does not read books or periodicals for the same reason).

In response to that criticism I am introducing the ‘quickie’ posting. The use of that term necessarily mandates a definition. From Wikipedia: A quickie is defined as ‘a thing done or made quickly or hastily, in particular a rapidly consumed alcoholic drink or a brief act of sexual intercourse.’ The word may legitimately be used as a noun or an adjective to describe an infinite number of situations other than those involving drinks or sexual intercourse.

At this point I must note that a quickie (the noun) may be either given or received. Examples would be, for instance, ‘The featured speaker gave a quickie to the members,’ and ‘The members received a quickie from the featured speaker.’

Got it?

This quickie will not involve alcoholic drinks or sex (not that I’m opposed to either). My intent is to post a quickie (noun) from time to time, and such entries will be quickie (adjective) postings.

Now for my first quickie:

Texting is a relatively new word in our language. Virtually everyone is aware of its meaning, so no definition should be required. However, since the word is a verb it is subject to the rules of conjugation (no relation to the adjective conjugal as used in conjugal visits).

Incidentally, the generally recognized basis for permitting such visits (conjugal) in modern times is to preserve family bonds and increase the chances of success for a prisoner’s eventual return to life outside prison. The visit will usually take place in a structure provided for that purpose, such as a trailer or small cabin. Supplies such as soap, condoms, tissues, sheets, pillows, and towels may be provided (bold emphasis is mine).

Hey, I didn’t make that up—it came straight from Wikipedia! Check it out at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conjugal_visit

I haven’t seen an official conjugation of the verb text, but I assume the verb as presently used would be conjugated for the present, past and future tenses as follows:

I text on my phone daily (present tense)—the gerund of text would be texting, of course. I texted on it yesterday (past tense) and tomorrow I will text again (future tense). The conjugation would be text, texted, text, similar to the verb run (run, ran, run).

My assumption is based on the fact that all those that text use texted to indicate past tense, namely, ‘I texted the schedule to everyone.’

And now, to quote the bard, ‘Ay, there’s the rub.’

If texted is the proper past tense for the verb text, the sequence of a batter’s performance in baseball games would be, ‘He hit the ball on the first pitch, and he hitted the ball on the first pitch yesterday, and he will probably hit the ball on the first pitch tomorrow.’ The gerund in this case would be, ‘He is hitting 500 ( fifty percent) this season.’

There you have it—I rest my case. If text, texted, text is correct then it logically follows that hit, hitted, hit would be correct, rather than the current conjugation of hit, hit, hit.

I boldly, with all semblance of humility aside, suggest that the past tense of text should not be texted—it should be simply text. The verbs hit and text are both one syllable, both end in ‘T’ and should therefore be voiced as, ‘I text her yesterday’ rather than ‘I texted her yesterday.’ The verb text should be conjugated as text, text, text. Try it—voice the past tense as presently used—texted, two syllables with equal emphasis on both syllables. Then voice the past tense as text, a word that is considered one syllable, but when voiced comes across as two syllables. Unless you omit the ‘t’ sound at the end of text and pronounce it as tex, you’ll pronounce the ‘t’ as a second syllable—try it! (Note that ‘it‘ is also pronounced with two syllables).

Come on, admit it—texted is awkward. It’s completely unwieldy and should be banned.

If my viewers will admit that it’s awkward, then I will in turn admit that this posting does not qualify as a quickie because it ran amok, completely out of control. If it’s a quickie, then it’s a quickie on steroids. Posting can legitimately be compared to such mundane activities as running down hill, eating peanuts (or cashews) and sex. Once started, it may be difficult to stop—nay, in extreme cases it may be impossible.

Postcript: I did not intend to involve alcoholic drinks or sex in this first quickie. I kept my promise on the drinks, but the serpent reared its ugly head in the above paragraph. I offer an abject apology to any viewer that may have found the word offensive. I did not delete it (behead the serpent, so to speak) because the thought was applicable and the word fit well.

Or should I say it fitted well, as in texted?

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

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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