IT AIN’T OPERA

IT AIN’T OPERA

The winning hot rod was chosen for the night. In fact, two hot rods were chosen. One bomb got the Chatterbox Trophy and, a 70 Chevy got the Wanderer’s trophy. As the Dee Jay for the night I announced their arrival in the winner’s rectangle. That was a mistake. Don, the High Exhaulted Grand Poobah of the Chatterbox hollered from curb side that I should call it a Winner’s Circle. I hollered back that it was a rectangle. John, who was standing between us, looked at me and said how he painted the pattern on the blacktop back in May. I think he said that a circle wouldn’t fit in the space. I figured that proved my point and angled to get John to back my observation.
“So what shape is it John?” I asked.
My victory was assured until John asked what shape Don said it was. Head bowed, I have to admit that’s one really great Winner’s Circle on the blacktop over near the patio.
Three hundred and fifty wonderful cars and hot rods came by last night. They didn’t just come and go. Bless their hearts, they all stayed. There were probably at any given time, at least a few hundred spectator cars out in the fields. Somehow with very little guidance or marked spaces in a line, they all fit just fine thank you. I don’t think even one bumper got scratched.
Hundreds upon hundreds of meals were cooked and served by a serving staff that just doesn’t stop running from morning to night. Someone dropped a tray of drinks in the lobby. It was mopped up as people walked by the carnage. None of the staff complained. They just jumped on the massive puddle of cola and crushed ice and poof it was gone. No one slipped.
Chef Reyes and his kitchen crew work right next to flames to barbeque the burgers. One guy or gal in all that heat does nothing but deep fry all day. I saw one cook deal with at least a bushel of chopped onions all on the grill at once. Nothing fell off the grill to the floor. Nothing! There’s one guy in the kitchen that double checks all the orders for accuracy before they go out to the patrons. I think he has an error count of maybe 0.0000001 percent. With all that work and all that heat, the whole crew is in there grinning from ear to ear like they’re sailors on shore leave.
The Wanderers, bless their hearts, tend to the cruise in and keep it running just fine. Mostly, they just let it happen. Everyone seems to jump in where needed. If it looks like a fifty fifty needs more ticket sellers, one of the girls volunteers. If a section of space needs a bit of parking supervision, you don’t have to wait long and someone’s at the field entrance waving their hands and pointing out an empty slot.
Some folks bring dogs. Even the dogs get along. Heck, brothers and sisters actually walk hand in hand. It’s very rare to notice them tearing each other’s hair out.
Viewed from above, the Chatterbox during cruise night, must look like it’s made of sugar and covered with ants. Just like an ant colony digs at a sugar cube with a vengeance, but never really fights over it, so goes Saturday night at my favorite place, the Chatterbox.
If ever there’s disorder and confusion at the Chatterbox, it’s got to be with me the Saturday night Dee Jay. Trying to play for both the crowd and my web audience is just asking for trouble. My records and CD’s are never in order. Never. Sometimes it seems to take weeks for me to find a song for a request. I must have to announce at least two dozen upcoming car shows or events. Request’s come in from all over the world and from people standing at my table. Some folks like to chat with me while I’m on. This is fine as long as I don’t forget to close the microphone while I’m yakking. I love the attention and want to give back all I get from my wonderful fans. Still, it’s so hard to keep it all under control. By the end of the night, I find myself tangled in wires, with cramped knee joints, and covered in ketchup from trying to eat French fries while webcasting. I’m literally surrounded by mountains of records and coffee cups. By the way, I never get through a gig without spilling at least one cup of coffee.
Funny too but we play the National Anthem every Saturday at 6pm. As noisy and confused as the place can be, every one stops in mid French Fry and faces the flag to honor our great country. I’ve even seen crippled people fight to get on their feet. Sometimes, it takes the whole song for them to rise. There’s always a cheer for the good old USA when the anthem ends and I holler God Bless America.
Last night, word got out that it was my birthday. The rumors were true. My brother and his wife Helen came up and surprised me with cake, balloons and gifts. I just couldn’t eat the cake with all that icing on it and dee jay too. That didn’t faze Helen and Ed. Helen went in to the main dining room and let the staff know it was my birthday. The secret was out. Soon, the whole crew was coming out of the lobby in procession heading for my table singing Happy Birthday at the top of their lungs. The Wanderers along with Helen and Ed joined in as well. Cameras were rolling as I lost the battle to fight off the tears.
I stopped bawling when the ice cream sundae they brought me started dripping into my mixing board. Don’t worry it still works just fine. The sprinkles formed a dam and shunted the ice cream flood out of harm’s way. I just sat there with molten ice cream all over my beard as a nice lady brought me a napkin.
This kind of thing happens one way or another every Saturday night. It never fails. Don Hall has created a miracle if you ask me.
Don came over and sat across from my table last night. He just sighed into the chair. Don is quite the perfectionist and is one of the smartest people I know. He’d have been a great general. He looked to me like he was sitting for a second to just go over something that needed doing or could have been done better. He was lost in thought.
I let him dwell a bit and then, I don’t know, I just said it. I’m not even sure my statement made any real sense. But, it hit home nicely. I just said. “Don, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s not an opera. It’s the Chatterbox. Don looked at me and, I figure he sort of agreed.
One of my records started to skip and I fumbled for the controls. Don jumped up and went to see if there was enough fried onions on the grill.

MY KID BROTHER ED

MY KID BROTHER ED.
My kid brother Ed is getting pretty old I guess. I hate to think what that makes me. We’re both getting our free membership into the Older than Dirt Club. At least we’re not in the dirt yet. That’s a plus. So far, every day we’ve woke up breathing. That always calls for a smile. As you might guess, we go back a long way.
I knew something was up when Mom got this big belly. She gave me the low down saying how I’d soon have a kid brother. That was fine with me. I asked Mom when I’d be able to play with him. She said how he wouldn’t be quite ready to play with right off the bat. Still, he’d be fun to have around and, there’d be lots of ways for me to help her and Dick to show Ed the ropes.
My Father’s name was Dick. That’s what I called him. That was his name as far as I was concerned. You see, he was a traveling salesman when I went from infant to toddler. He spent a lot of his time on the road. I sat with Mom and the other grownup friends and relatives when they’d have their bull sessions. When they spoke of my Father, they used his regular name, Dick. No one called him Dad. So, I didn’t either. Actually, I think my Father sort of liked the arrangement. He called me Mike.
So, one night I was sound asleep when my bedroom light flashed on. My Granddad walked into the room. He was smiling. Granddad told me to get dressed. He said that I was going over to his house to visit with him and Grandma. That sounded ok to me. Their house was cool. He sure didn’t have to ask me twice. I started to get into my clothes. The bedroom door was open and I could sort of see into the hallway. Everyone was up and throwing on their clothes. Except for Mom. She was in her bathrobe. My Father was stumbling all around the bedroom. Every now and then, Mom would clutch her belly and go “Ooooooh!” Then my Father would tie his shoes even faster.
Dick was holding Mom by the shoulder as they walked slowly by me in the hallway. Mom blew me a kiss and did another “Ooooooh!” They both patted me on the head and said something about how my brother would be here soon. I was supposed to be a big boy and go with Granddad and I’d be able to see my new brother in a day or two. With that they went out the front door and down the apartment building steps thanking my Granddad. Dick hollered one more time for me to be a big boy and he’d see me soon. Big boy Schmig Boy. I started crying my eyes out.
Granddad waved a goodbye to my folks and, then squatted down next to me. We had a heart to heart. He said how Moms were supposed to go the hospital to have babies. It’s better that way he said. He told me how I wouldn’t like the hospital because there’s nowhere to play and the foods no good. He figured I’d want to have some real fun over at his and Grandmas house. Then, he hit me with the real zinger. “You know,” he said, “There’s a White Castle on the way over to my house. I’m hungry. How about you?” He told me how it’s open all through the night and we could sit there and watch for night trains. The Jersey Central and B&O lines ran right by the place. My tears just vanished and, off we went. We each had four sliders. Two freights pulled by steam locomotives passed as we ate.
I woke up the next day in my Uncle Dons room. He had twin beds. I could hear him snoring in his bed up against the far wall. I hopped out of my bed and ran over and pounced on him. We wrestled a bit. I can hear him still. “Charlie! What are you doing here? Go easy on me kid. I got a hangover something awful!” His nickname for me was Charlie. He always said I was like that Jackie Gleason character Charlie Bratton the loudmouth. Soon as I heard that his head hurt from a hangover, I hollered as loud as I could in his ear. “Wake up!!! Mom’s having a baby!!!”
Uncle Don groaned and said how he remembered hearing something to that effect last night. Then, he tucked the pillow over his head and said something about how he hoped the new kid would be maybe a little bit quieter. He told me that he heard breakfast was ready. I ran out the door and slammed it real hard just to be rotten and ran down the stairs.
Oddly enough, breakfast was ready. Grandma was making toast and bacon. The Shredded Wheat was already in the bowl. Milk was in the little milk door to the left of the kitchen sink down hear the floor. The milk man had just dropped it off. The milk door was the coolest thing ever. It was a small hole in the wall with a door on the inside and another on the outside. The milkman would bring milk to the house. He’d open the outside door and stick in the milk. Then, he’d close the door and go on his way. Later, in the kitchen, Grandma would open the inside door and snag the milk. When there was no milk or empty bottles in the hatch, us kids would forget about the back door and use the milk door to come in or go out. Granddad once tried it but, he got stuck.
While I was eating my Shredded Wheat, the phone rang. Grandma ran for it. It was my Father on the other end. Mom was doing fine. She had a baby boy. Grandma never hollered much at all but, she was hollering now. Whooping it up might be a better word for it. She hollered to Granddad and half the block. It’s a boy!!! They’re naming him Ed!!!!! He’s being named after you! His name is Ed!!! They we’re dancing around the kitchen. I went back to my Shredded Wheat.
Granddad and Grandma looked at me and could see I had a question or two. Mostly, I wanted to know when I could play with my new brother. “What’s his name again? Ed, huh!?”
Grandma told me that Mom would be in the hospital a bit longer and, then she’d bring Ed to his new home and family. She said that my Father was going to be over for supper later this evening. Granddad said we were going to cook a steak. Grandma said she was going to cook au gratin potatoes and onion rings. Things were looking up. Boy they were happy. Me too.
Later, I found Granddad in his office. He was digging through his address book. He looked at me and asked if I’d like to ride around with him and tell folks about my new baby brother. That sounded great to me and, we hopped into his old Ford to spread the news. Oh gosh, but we went everywhere. I think we dropped into the tavern and pizza place where my Father, Granddad, and Uncle Don placed their bets on ball games and horses. Grand Dad called it a bookie joint. I never saw even one book there. Not even one. Though there was this odd looking calendar in the kitchen. The lady in the picture looked like she forgot to get dressed. I always wondered why she didn’t at least put on a bathrobe.
When Granddad told the good news, it was pizza’s all around with beer for the grownups and a soda for me. This getting a kid brother stuff was starting to show promise. Paulene the cook, asked me to come help her in the kitchen with making the pizzas. I was happy to help. We piled on the pepperoni and sausages. She even let me stick one of the pies in the oven. I looked over towards the door where the calendar hung. The side with the lady on it was turned to the wall.
After pizzas, Granddad and I went to the old neighborhood to spread some more good news. We stopped at the McCoys. They were old neighbors of my folks and me. Granddad let me break the news. It was fun to see Mrs. McCoy laughing and clapping. I was kind of laughing and clapping too. I stuck out my chest and said how proud I was and, happy too. Soon, she and Granddad were talking details as I walked around the driveway looking for my old friend Jackie. He must have been down the street. I kind of stretched my neck out to look down the street.
Suddenly, Mrs. McCoy and Granddad stopped talking. I looked back at them. They were both looking kind of serious. Worse than that, they were looking at me. Granddad called me over. I walked over. Mrs. McCoy asked me to turn around. She was like my second Mom so, I didn’t think it at all odd that she and Granddad lifted my tee shirt off my back. Maybe I had a bug on my neck so, I stood still. Granddad and Mrs. McCoy both whistled and looked at each other. They both spoke at once. “Measles! Look at his back. He’s got Measles.”
We went right home. Grandma who was a nurse in WWI was waiting. I guess you could say it was sort my first trip to an ER. Grandma already had Uncle Dons room converted into a sick room. There were blankets over the windows to shut out harmful rays of light. Measle patients had to be kept in the dark back then. Maybe they still do. I really didn’t feel sick so, I at least got to eat some of the steak dinner they were having downstairs. Sure sounded like everyone was having a ball. Me, I was just sitting in the dark with the vaporizer blowing steam. Worse than that, it was going to be this way for a week. A whole week! Heck!
Mom got out of the hospital with my kid brother Ed a whole four days before I could leave Grandmas Infirmary. I just sat there in the dark listening to Uncle Dons Radio. Uncle Don would sometimes come to the door and ask how I was doing. Sometimes I had to throw his socks or underwear out the door to him. At least there were good shows on the radio but, it wasn’t a whole lot of fun to listen to The Shadow in the dark. I resigned myself to my fate and tried not to scratch much. Grandma kept checking on me and said I was a good patient.
One morning I woke up and it was light in the room. The radio was off. My father, and Grandma and Granddad were all standing in the room smiling. Grandma said the measles were gone and that I shouldn’t scratch the scabs. Dick stepped forward and said it was time for me to go home with him and meet my new brother. It didn’t take me long to dress and run down the steps.
Dick and I didn’t even stop for White Castles. Though we did pick up a dozen donuts at the donut wagon on North Avenue. Mom wanted some so, we left her two. My father laughed as I suggested we save a donut for Ed. It just seemed like the right thing to do so, I stuck one in my pocket.
Finally, we got back to the apartment. It was good to be home. I ran up the steps ahead of my father and pounded on the door. Mom hollered for me to come in. I blasted through the door.
There, in the living room was this white wicker tiny bed. It looked like a big picnic basket on legs with wheels. Mom was in her white bathrobe. She looked tired but, she sure was smiling. She was thin again. She put her finger up to her mouth for me to be quiet. Then, she motioned for me to come closer. I walked as quiet as I could and looked into the basket.
There, laying on his belly with a soft blanket up to his skinny shoulders was my new friend. His arms were folded upwards and his little hands just kind of scratched at his ears. Mom said I should see if I could get him to hold my pinky. I told Mom that I had just had Measles. Mom said I was better now. It would be ok. So, I put my hand right near Eds hand. Darned if he didn’t grab my pinky. He wouldn’t let go so, I just stood there and smiled. Our mom and dad just smiled. Mom ate her donuts. Eventually, I figured Ed wouldn’t mind if I ate the one I saved for him. I decided I’d eat it soon as he let go.

THE NEW PLAN

THE NEW PLAN
After a lot of dwelling on it, I’ve decided to try something new to get my book into more hands. From here on in, I’ll let you decide what to pay for it. You can pay a little. You can also pay a lot. You can even get a copy of Blurps the Starter Set for free. You decide.
Just go to www.docsouth.net and click on the blue banner ad. That will take you to my gofundme sight. Put in what you will. By the way, I don’t think donating to my efforts is tax deductible. Once I see your donation, I will contact you for an address. I will still have to ask you to help me with the books postage. We can go with priority or the cheaper book rate. Handling fees won’t be necessary. For now, I’m going to stop the one book for every $25.00 donated. Unless you say otherwise, I’ll just figure you want one book. Of course you can get more books if you wish but, most folks seem happy with getting just one. I’m thinking that no one will abuse this good deal but, I do reserve the right to refuse any offer that might throw me into the poorhouse.
That said, please do not feel bad about asking to get a book for free. Just email me at docsouthshow@yahoo.com for your own privacy. I often give out my book to folks who can’t afford one and, I’m happy to do it. The Book of Doc was written to make people happier. It’s especially written for those who are down on their luck. The kind folks, who send me large donations, help me to pay for that book in your hands. You can always send out a big bucket of money when your ship comes in. Knowing me, I’ll need money later just as much as I need it now. So, don’t feel bad if you can’t pay me at just this moment. For all you know the guy from Publishers Clearing House might be googling your address this very evening in his hotel room, for his visit to your front door tomorrow morning. Life is funny that way. Just remember your old pal Doc if that guy shows up.
The money coming in will go towards paying down some bills, getting more books printed, eliminating debt, and operating my free web station. It doesn’t take avalanches of cold hard cash to fund my efforts. But, I must admit that doing all I do does give the moths in my wallet lots of breathing room. They’re actually thinking about putting in a small recreation room where my folding money used to be. If a large amount of money rolled in, I would probably be tempted to start printing Blurp number two….The Son and Daughter of Blurp!!! Self publishing a book takes about three thousand dollars or so to do right. I think I have enough Blurps written at the moment to fill two more books.
If you ask me, the world is getting way too cranky and is sinking into a veritable sludge pit of frowns and self pity. People need to calm down a bit and get back into the good habit of noticing and loving this wonderful world God gave us. I think we were put on this isolated far off rock, far from the true civilization, to practice our smiles and to help each other become good hearted and worthy souls. If we can do that, I think we will become worthy of the real life that’s waiting for us. I could be real wrong here but, looking around, I think I’m right or, at least close to the target.
I intend to keep up the good work but, I also really do need your help. Thanks folks.

NAILING IT

NAILING IT
Have you ever heard that song by Gladys Knight and the Pips called I Heard It Thru the Grapevine? It’s one of the two hundred songs in my all time top ten hits. I know that doesn’t add up mathematically but, there’s no way I could pick only ten favorite songs. For most of us, squeezing a paltry ten songs into a box just ain’t going to happen. It makes me crazy just thinking about it. All the same, Gladys and the Pips have a great version of Marvin Gayes classic.
They do an up tempo version that starts out just digging into a groove and ends up like a riot for your ears. I’ve seen videos of the song. By the end, they’ve just gone completely insane dancing and hollering and singing their hearts out. Everyone in the audience is up and writhing. Chairs are just in the way. The Pips have the crowd by the tail. It is so cool to see. It would be suicide to follow them.
Me, I love to think what it must be like to be Gladys or one of the Pips on show night. There you are, walking from the dressing room to the stage with Grapevine in your pocket nice and tight. The curtain is still closed, and you can hear the crowd rumbling on the other side. You listen and just kind of shake your bones into place. Maybe you pray. You smile at each other as the band goes into action out front. There’s no doubt that Grapevine is going to do it again and you’re going to be the ones to sing it. You got it down and the folks out front are going to get it right between the ears. The curtains part. The crowd spots you. There’s the applause. There’s your cue…..and…..BANG!!!! It’s show time.
I don’t know about you but, I think that to know that what you are about to do to make one person or many persons wild with delight, has got to be one of lifes greatest feelings. To have that kind of talent for good has got to be what heaven is made of.
This feeling or knowledge isn’t just for performers. Actually, didn’t Shakespeare say something about all the worlds a stage? If so, then, we all have a talent somehow and we all should entertain with it. I think my Mom was the Gladys Knight of the supper table. Her suppers were the stuff legends were made of. Funny too because Mom in many ways was a quiet person and somewhat shy and often thought the less of herself at times. But, she ruled the kitchen like Washington ruled the Continental Army. In the kitchen she never met defeat. At the stove, she could only win. The supper table for her, was Broadway. Her spaghetti and meatballs was her way of being Ginger Rogers. Her fried chicken was the stuff of marquees saying “Sold Out”. Beethoven conducting a symphony orchestra had nothing on Mom working three deep fryers full of eggplant, French fries, and doughnuts. Every night, the curtain went up on suppertime and Mom got rave reviews and thunderous applause. She’d just smile and bow.
I guess Gladys Knight has a microphone and Mom had an electric frying pan. For both women, each and every performance was a winner. They knew they’d be nailing it.

GOOD OLD ED THE CAT

GOOD OLD ED THE CAT

I once had a great friend named Ed. He was quite the cat. No, Ed actually was a cat and, a darned good one at that. I actually helped him to be born. He was in his mom’s first litter. She had a bit of trouble figuring out what to do so, I did the cord cutting on Ed and all his brothers and sisters. I had to call the vet and get the instructions. Well, it was my first litter too. Mama cat and I got it all pretty straight and before we knew it, Ed and all the rest, were nursing away while their mom purred and slept.
For the first year of Ed’s life, we lived where there was a lot of traffic on our street. We didn’t want a grey furry cat pizza out on the road in front of our house so, Ed was mostly an indoor cat. That didn’t stop Ed from being a show off and a fool. One day, I brought a twig in from outside and just put it on the living room rug. Ed’s brothers and sisters just ignored it. Ed didn’t. He sniffed the twig and looked it over a bit. Then, he held one end in his mouth while he tried to swat the far end of the twig with his front paws. Of course he couldn’t reach the far end but that didn’t stop him. Soon, with the twig in his mouth, he was running up and down the hallway trying to catch the far end of the stick. I’m not sure if he realized that he’d never catch the other end. I’ve got to hand it to him, he never stopped trying.
When he wasn’t chasing sticks, Ed honed his jumping skills. In all my life I’ve never seen a better jumper. Inch for inch all I can say is, Vladimir Yashchenko, eat your heart out. Ed the Cat has you beat. Ed wasn’t the biggest cat you’ll ever see but, I’m sure he could easily leap over the head of a six foot man and laugh or purr about it all the way home. He used to spend hours jumping from the floor to the top of our china closet. He’d jump for hours if need be. I used to check him for wings but, never found any.
Eventually, we moved from New Jersey and out into the deep forests of northern Pennsylvania. There, in our little town, it was safe to let Ed out into the yard and the word. It didn’t take long before he made friends with every person and domestic critter on our block. He was fixed so, the tom cats let him be. He was a pretty big guy so, the dogs left him alone. Ed was pretty good in a fight if it came to that but, it seldom did. The neighbors said that he’d just walk into their homes and make himself comfortable on the sofa and start purring for a scratch or a treat. All in all, he was the coolest cat in town. In a way, he was more dog than cat.
There was this beautiful creek that ran through our town. It’s called Loyalsock Creek and, there’s no better trout stream on this planet. Frankly, it’s more a river than a creek. The Loyalsock can get pretty ugly during the spring floods or, during a period of heavy rain. Mostly, though it’s just a gorgeous wide stream coming down the valley out of the mountains. It then, passes our town and flows under a red covered bridge. It rolls a bit further into the distance and goes under a highway bridge. Then, it bends to the south for the thirty mile run to the Susquehanna. Even if you didn’t have a worm or lure on your line it was just fun to put on your waders and stand out in the middle of that creek and just take in the glory of it all. One day, I was doing just that very thing.
Of course, I had a lure on the line with worm attached. I could see cigarette smoke wafting out one of the windows on the covered bridge. The only three teenagers in town must have decided to hang out on the bridge and have a smoke. You’d have thought the bridge was on fire. Maybe they had a cigar. Who knows? Besides, I was way more interested in catching a nice juicy trout. Heck, the other day one of my neighbors caught a three foot long Rainbow Trout just a hundred yards upstream from where I was standing. You be surprised how a week later that trout grew to more like four feet long and at least ten pounds heavier. It’s great when you catch a fish that just keeps growing like that. I got to admit it was a pretty cool fish for a two and a half footer.
I was lost in thought thinking about the scrawny two footer that neighbor of mine caught just upstream from where I was standing. Shame it was just a brown trout and not a rainbow. Well, that’s alright because I’m going to catch me a whale any second now. Easy on the line now. Not too tight. Let it drift. Let it drift. Watch that bobber. Easy now. Darn Mosquitos! Wish I had a cigar. Suddenly and right out of nowhere, I hear screaming. Inhuman screaming at that. It was coming from shore. Right near my bait bucket. There on the shore was my old pal Ed.
Ed the Cat was standing on my bait bucket so that I could see him. The weeds were pretty thick on shore. Ed was meowing like he was nuts. He was sporting the face of a tiger. Of course a tiger would have alarmed the jungle with his growls shaking the very leaves on the trees. Ed’s yowling wasn’t anywhere near that strong but, it was more than enough of a yell to scare fish for miles around.
I hollered at him to calm down. That just made the hollering worse. I mean if Ed was a Collie, I’d have thought maybe Timmy fell down the well again. But, this was just Ed and, he wouldn’t shut up. I started to wade ashore. As I got closer, Ed toned it down a bit but, only a little. Now, he could still be heard in only two counties instead of the whole Keystone State.
I was about four feet from shore when Ed finally shut up with the yowling and just started to pace back and forth. Then, he got this odd look on his face. It was a look of determination. He backed up just a little. He made eye contact with me and then just took off running my way. I didn’t know it but, I was standing on the end of a feline runway. Ed went airborne sailing out over the river edge higher and higher and landed with a plop right on my shoulder. He sunk his claws deep into my jacket and vibrated back and forth like a tree limb in the wind. That kept him from tumbling off my shoulder and into the drink.
With the perfect dive and a precise landing behind him, Ed curled himself around my neck and purred his best purr right in my ear. I thanked Heaven it wasn’t August as he locked his claws deeper into my jacket. One thing for certain Ed wasn’t going ashore. It was like I had a second head. There was only one thing I could do. I waded out to the old spot to fish some more. Of course now, I had the help of a fishing buddy.
From that time on, when Ed the Cat, would see me grab my fishing pole, he’d drop whatever he was doing and stand right next to me. We’d walk side by side to the shore line. I never trained him to carry the bait bucket but, I should have. On the shore, I’d put on my waders, and go out about a foot into the stream. Then, I’d turn my back to the shore and Ed would fly through the air and land on my lumber jacket. Then, he’d slink up to my shoulders and lock himself in place. I knew he was set to go when his tail swished past my ears and got me on the nose.
He never fell in.

MY JOURNEY TO A FAR OFF AND FROZEN REALM

MY JOURNEY TO A FAR OFF AND FROZEN REALM
As you might know, I work just part time in the dairy section of a local supermarket. I enjoy the work. I kind of like the cold. Truthfully, the exercise won’t hurt me a bit. The customers, for the most part are, wonderful people. I enjoy helping them. They never really ask for much. Some want to know if we have a particular style of butter. In some cases a lady might want to know if a product that’s missing from the shelf might be hiding in the cooler. I’m always happy to go and look. You never know.
I guess the biggest plea from a customer is, do I know where such and such product might hiding in the store. The dairy section for the average customer is the last department they visit. People tend to walk counter clockwise around a supermarket. I have no idea why. If the floor plan was a clock face and you could look from above at it, the dairy section sits at say seven o’clock on the dial. Usually, a dairy worker will be the last staff person a customer sees before checking out. There’s days when standing in front of them wearing my jacket, apron, gloves, knee pads and a smile, I’m their last hope. If I can’t help them, they’ll be going home without that can of French fried onion rings and, the string bean casserole won’t be on the table for Sunday dinner.
It’s a big responsibility that I gladly embrace. I’m always ready to search. Now and then, even I can’t find an item. Raisins and prunes are always being moved around by the floor planners. Their meddling with the floor plan, drives me nuts. Why can’t they keep the raisins in one spot and just stick with it? There could almost be an Indiana Jones movie on the topic. Coming soon to a theater near you. Filmed in 3D and Sense Around! Raiders of the Lost Prune!
Really, I shouldn’t get so worked up over dried fruit. One should eat dried fruit and not have a cow over it. Besides, most of the products that I have to hunt down aren’t that hard to find. Take Mrs. Smiths Pies for instance. They’re a snap to find and pretty tasty too. In almost any of our super markets, you’ll find them over in our Frozen Food Department in the left hand glass cabinet about two thirds back from the front. They generally, are placed on the three bottom most shelves. They get kind of mixed up what with folks rooting through them so, I always escort a customer to their spot just to be safe. A day or two ago, I was escorting a young husband whose wife sent him out on a solo shopping mission. His objective was to come back home with a large Mrs. Smith’s Cherry Pie.
He was pretty much a rookie at this kind of thing. I figured him to be a newlywed. When we got to the Mrs. Smith section, the only pies left were apple. The wife wanted Cherry. I could see the desperation on his face. He would have been happy with a Cauliflower Pie at this point. There must have been a big game on TV back home. He was catching on to married life, and instead of just taking the Apple Pie, he called home to check with the boss. Smart young man.
It took a bit of wrangling and whining but, he never really lost his cool. His bride back at the kitchen, went for the Apple Pie. I was standing nearby so, he mumbled a faint I love you into the phone. Then, he picked a nice big apple pie out of the frozen cabinet and put it into the cart. He puffed on his fingers. Those cabinets are set at five below zero. He thanked me and rolled down the aisle in search of a gallon of milk. He said he knew where that was.
Me, I just stood there for a second or two and felt good that I could help the guy. I could see my reflection in the frozen food cabinet’s glass door. With my black ball cap, black apron and jacket on, I almost looked like I was from the middle ages. The leather knee pads and my beard along with balding long hair just added to the style of maybe an old fashioned wise man. I thought if they’d let me carry a large knurled staff with me, I could almost come across as a wandering wizard.
I stood there daydreaming of my next quest. Perhaps my next journey would be to the far off realm they call Produce to find the holiest of mushrooms, the elusive Portobello. It would be a journey of some distance and peril, to the far corners of a distant land.
My daydream was shattered by our stores loud speakers. It turned out that my next quest would be to aisle six to clean up a broken jar of spaghetti sauce. I went to seek out…..I mean find….the mop.

BABIES AND BIRTHDAYS EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK

BABIES AND BIRTHDAYS EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK.
Today is my son Burgess’s birthday. The poor guy is hitting middle age which, means I’m hitting Methusalaville. I remember many years ago, when I hit the big four-oh, my father called up to wish me a happy birthday. I can still hear him on the phone saying something like, “Oh my God, I’ve got a kid who’s forty.” Then, he burst out with something kind of guttural. After that, there was silence and then he said happy birthday. I think he meant it but, I’m sure martini time couldn’t come fast enough.
To tell you the truth, I really didn’t get it back then. Now, with both my kids past that magic number, oh I do get it and, then some. The cool thing is that, if my old man was still among the Earthbound, he’d be laughing his tail off at the squeamish look on my kisser now that those days have hit his first born. Oh, I can just feel the slap on my back he’d be giving me. I can almost hear his laugh too. He’d be having a ball.
Burg decided to come here on Mother’s Day back in 1975. He was a hard delivery for my first wife. She really went through a rough moment or two. But that was forgotten when the sun came up and she and Burgess went past me on their out of the delivery room. I’m trying to remember the first time I saw Burgess. He was in his Moms arms and looking a little dazed as you might guess. She said something about him being my new fishing buddy. The mere mention of fishing shook him out of his doldrums and even though his eyes were closed, he looked around just for a second or two and then he got sleepy and went back to relaxing. I was very happy to meet him. I knew he’d be a great person to know. That feeling turned out to be true.
My daughter Sunshine came to us a few years before Burgess popped onto the scene. She was a pretty easy delivery mostly because she didn’t weigh that much. Another ounce or two lighter and she would have been considered a premie. My first time seeing her was right after she was born and she too had her eyes open with that look of where the heck am I and why is it so cold out here? She had a kind of vibrato to her cry. If I remember right, she almost sounded like a lamb. Her two sets of grandparents saw her later that day. By that time, Sunny was already trying to look her best. I thought she almost seemed to be posing. The grandparents were all so happy that they just stood looking in the nursery window crying. I thought that was pretty cool of them. Sunny was eating it up. Right from the start, she had the Grandparents under control.
Then in due time when Sadie decided to come around, I too got into the old Grandpa game. I don’t believe that Sadie was in a nursery bassinet when I first saw her. I believe her first days were spent actually in the hospital room with her Mom and Dad. I seem to remember that the lights were dim but, not her. If a blind person walked into the room, they would see Sadie. You can feel her in the room. Gosh, now she’s in her early teens. Time flies when you’re having fun. Sadie will have a great effect on the people she meets. It was her gift of four leaf clovers that got me going on writing blurps. May her quote always stand. “Pop Pop! If you want to find four leaf clovers, you have to look for them!” Case closed. I started looking. Thank you Sadie.
As they say in the late night commercials, “But wait, there’s more!!” Indeed there is. There’s always more kids to love. Two good friends of mine Maria and Evan work at the Chatterbox. Their eyes must have met one day while setting out the brown mustard squeezers. However it happened, they became one about a year and a half or so ago. Most married couples are quite content to have one kid at a time but not Evan and Maria. They went for the gusto and had twins. Twin girls. Oh and they’re so pretty. I haven’t actually seen them yet. They just got here a month or so ago. But, there’s a million or two postings on facebook. By the time you read this, there might be three million postings and five or six videos. Reports are coming in that the girls are already signed to Paramount Pictures. One looks a bit like Evan and one looks a bit like Maria. Go figure. I love hearing the stories about dealing with doubles on everything. Mom and Dad can forget about a full nights sleep for the next twenty years or so.
But wait there’s still more. This just in. The grandson of one of my cousins out in western Pennsylvania is doing pretty good thank you very much God. I won’t use his name. A number of months ago he and his sister were born very early. Too early. Sadly, this fellows little sister passed away. She just couldn’t stay here. Her brother carried on the fight for both of them. It was quite the battle. I remember seeing a photo of him at a month or so old, holding what appeared to be a large silver bracelet in his little hand. That bracelet was a simple wedding ring. It would have been too big for his wrist. Everyone was worried of course, myself included. Still, somehow, I saw a fighting kind of spirit in the little guy. It was like he already had his black belt for living. I could have been wrong but, I pictured him as not the kind to give up easily. I kept saying how I felt that in fifteen or sixteen years he’d be winning the big game for New Castle High. I also felt that his appetite for New Castle Coney Island hot dogs would be the stuff of legends. You have to be tough to knock down a dozen Coney’s. You don’t hold these tube steaks in your hand. You clutch them in your fist. Darn, but they’re good hot dogs. Mustard, chopped onions and the hottest chili this side of you know where. I know he’s little now but, give that kid a little time and a big heavy hammer and stand back. Of course, right now, he’s cute as pie.

BLURP BLOCK

BLURP BLOCK
Darned if I didn’t get a bad case of writers block this past Saturday. I couldn’t seem to come up with a good idea for one of my Blurps. You know! Blurps. Those things I like to write. I call them blurps. They’re little observations written down in a kind of positive, happy, and informal kind of style. Blurps! Last Saturday came and went. I couldn’t come up with a thing. I went to bed blurpless. Good thing I didn’t have a deadline. I just couldn’t seem to spot anything.
Well, on Saturday, I woke up breathing. That’s always a plus. It’s now that time of year when the sun gets up before most of us and has the lights and heat on. That’s always a plus too. It’s easier to wake up when the outdoors is lit. Yet, with all the light, no blurps were in sight.
I got dressed struggling for an idea as a bit of drizzle and fog played in the yard. I was glad I’d mowed the lawn a day or two before. It would have been hard to mow now if I hadn’t gotten it done. Actually, it would have been a death march out in the side lawn hilly as it is. I looked out the window and pictured me slipping on the tall wet grass and rolling down the hill with a revved up lawn mower tumbling right along with me into the river. I could just picture the paramedics wadding around in midstream trying to find my leg, arms, and a head that just couldn’t seem to come up with a wild story to tell for the Saturday Blurp.
In the kitchen, my wife Sandy had left just a little bit of peanut butter in the jar. I had to surgically extract the rest of the spread with a long butter knife just to get enough to cover a small toasted end crust from the loaf on the fridge. The last of my coffee spilled on the floor. Somehow, I knocked the cup over. Luckily, we had a brand new sponge in the house. I salvaged what I could from the floor and put it back in the cup. All the while I just couldn’t come up with anything funny for Saturday’s blurp. Biting my tongue on the first bite of toast didn’t help a bit. I hardly noticed the pain because I was so engrossed in trying to get out of this writers block.
I was finally in the car and on my way to The Chatterbox. A light rain was falling and mist rolled around the hills. The plowed fields were kind of striped with water reflecting the grey sky. Some of the fields were sprouting their crops. It was a little hard to tell but, when I crossed the one stretch of active rail along the journey. I thought I saw a far off train in the distance approaching from the west. It was hard to see in the mist. The Delaware Water Gap can be seen at one point along the way. Fog was covering the top ledges. For all someone could tell, the mountain could have gone up into that mist for miles. That mountain and all the far off hills near it were painted battleship grey. God does creative work I thought to myself. But, when am I going to create a simple measly blurp?
I pulled into The Chatterbox. I’d be playing all sorts of great oldies there and webcasting the show out to anyone in the world who cared to log on. It still floors me that I can sit in north Jersey and someone in China or Australia can hear me as if they had headphones attached to my mixing board. In fact they might even hear the show better than I do because my headphones are getting a bit old. I had to admit that this internet stuff is pretty darn cool. I wouldn’t mind writing something about it for a blurp but, what could a cyber moron like me have to say that would interest any Techy?
I love watching the young folks getting ready for their day at the Chatterbox. Both the kitchen staff and serving staff have an awful lot to do to get ready. I shook hands with one of the cooks. He was grilling about a bushel of fried onions. Chef Reyes waved hello with one hand and tasted gravy from a spoon in his other hand. Lemon chicken was simmering on a neighboring grill. The Kitchen crew was hi fiving one another as if they were going into a playoff game. In truth, they were. I thought about maybe having some of that lemon chicken for my supper later. But, I made myself promise to write a blurp first. If I could just only come up with one.
The serving staff was out in the dining room. Many of them bring a buttered bagel in to munch on as they do their prep. I saw the coffee was ready so, I got my cup while I could. That would be my first of many. The waiting staff, bussers, and hostesses with a half hour to go act more like ants than humans. Someone’s refilling the brown mustard jars, two or three others are folding the paper kiddie plates that look like hot rods. Someone is always sweeping. The bussers are giving last minute wipe downs to the kiddie chairs. Windows are being turned spotless. I so admire those kids. Don tells me that some of them have worked with him since 8th Grade. Now, some of them have kids of their own. They’re an amazing bunch. I’d write a blurp about them but, they’d probably get embarrassed.
Don, the owner manager walks into the dining room from the kitchen. He’s just checked out the kitchen and the crew has their orders and assignments. Don then talks to individuals from the serving staff. He often takes a moment to give a bit of a pep talk to a new person. Usually, that will be a busser. I know the Chatterbox is a restaurant but Don runs it more like a football game or maybe, it would be better to say more like a kind of friendly battle. I think in a past life Don was a civil war general. It’s probably a good thing that big white horses aren’t allowed in dining rooms. Although, I’m pretty sure Don’s horse would be house trained.
As I hooked up my equipment, I thought about how I wished I could house train my brain to come up with a blurp. I guess it just wasn’t going to be a good day for blurps. I hate when that happens. I went to bed later that night figuring that sooner or later something would come my way if I could just keep my eyes open and think. Unfortunately, I fell asleep blurpless and dreamt of missing boats and trains.

WHAT LIST?

WHAT LIST?

I guess it was about two weeks ago. I got out of bed ready to hit the silk. I sort of had the day off but, not really. Sure, I didn’t have to go to work but, there was more than enough to do at home. Some folks might say that there was too much to get done and, they’d have been right.
As I made myself an extra large and way too strong coffee, I got to thinking. If I was going to get everything done, I’d have to plan like a general. A day like this called desperately for my making a list. So, I sat down with my English muffin and that coffee I’d just made. I grabbed a pen and found some paper and, the scribbling began. The whole day stretched out ahead of me in scribbled print. It was all there on paper. I wasn’t going to miss a thing. It felt good to be so prepared. I even allowed time to fix once and for all that pesky and loose toilet paper wall dispenser. It was hanging by a thread right next to the toilet. It could fall at any moment and leave some poor soul stranded on the throne. I wouldn’t care if it happened to me. But, if it happened to my wife Sandy, I’d never hear the end of it.
I was all set to start the day with list in hand, when Millie our hound woke up and wanted to go out…..now! I was still in my pajamas but Millie was in a hurry. So, all I had time to do was put down the list and grab some socks from the sock and underwear pile at the foot of the bed and put my shoes on as Millie whined and butt slid across the living room rug. Soon, we were outside. Millie sniffed and did her thing as I day dreamed about all I was going to achieve on this soon to be high gear great and busy day.
Millie finished up and just sat in the middle of the yard sniffing the neighborhood. For a dog, that’s like a human reading the morning news. She was just catching up on who may have walked through the yard overnight. That kind of stuff is important to a dog. After a while, she looked like she was almost done with the dog funnies. I decided it was time to go back inside. Besides, I had lots to get done.
Once inside, I remembered that I hadn’t checked my emails. It wasn’t on the list but, I still had to check them. While going over the spam and deleting it, I could hear something on the news that caught my interest. I don’t know, it was something about an eighty mile back up for the inbound Holland Tunnel. Traffic was backed up to Harrisburg. They had film about it from a traffic plane. People were fist fighting in the East bound lane out near Allentown. I had to go look.
During the commercial break I realized that I had to hit the can. I was in there a while and, when I came out Millie wanted breakfast. So, I cut up some cheese, chicken, and salami, and put a dab of tuna salad on top. Millie wouldn’t eat it until I put two cheese crackers on the side as an appetizer. That did it. She went for it. While she was eating, I went back to the computer and deleted a few things. That done, I was ready to go after that list and hit it hard. Just one little problem got in my way. I couldn’t find the list.
It had to be right where I left it. Sure, it was right over…..over…uhh…right next to uhhh!!! Darn it friends. It was nowhere to be seen. I tore the house apart. Sandy came in from errands and couldn’t believe my panic. When she came in, I was ripping apart a pile of laundry that was lying on the floor in the living room. A tee shirt flew through the air and got stuck on the spinning ceiling fan. It eventually flew off and draped itself on the TV. I was going nuts. Sandy decided to watch Wendy on TV. She snatched the tee shirt from off the TV screen and used the remote to turn up the volume so she wouldn’t have to hear me.
Man, I was getting ticked off at that stupid list. Where was it? I had to have that list. I looked everywhere. I had absolutely no luck finding it. It just disappeared. It was gone. I just sat on the edge of the bed and stewed. Writing a new list wouldn’t really help. The original list was right on target. It was the perfect list. That’s the one I needed to get all this stuff done. I gave up and went listless. The chores would just have to be done at random. I’d never get everything done. At least though some of the work would be out of the way by days end. My work began and, failure loomed ahead of me. Crud.
Well, the day went ok I guess. By bedtime at least I had made a dent. I worked pretty hard and I sure was tired. Sleep came fast and the morning light took its sweet time getting into my room for the start of yet another new day. I got up and went about my business. It was to be a good day. The list from yesterday was old news and forgotten. I had other and newer fish to fry.
That was about two weeks ago. Today, I woke up and was scuffling around the bedroom looking for my socks and underwear. My clean clothes pile at the foot of the bed was low on socks and underwear so, I went to my second choice for finding such things, the sock and underwear drawer. I couldn’t find two socks that matched. Some of the socks had holes in the toes. The underwear at the top of the drawer pile was my unlucky underwear. So, with a bit of optimism, I dug deeper into the drawer. As I dug deeper, I could hear crinkling. There was something under my tidy whiteys. Darned if it wasn’t that doggone list from two weeks ago.
I sort of remember now. It all came flooding back. Right after I wrote the list that day, I wanted to change from my pajamas to my work clothes. The sock and underwear pile was at the foot of my bed. Again, I had trouble matching the socks. I put the list down on the bed started rooting around. That’s when Millie woke up and wanted to go out. She was in such a hurry that I wasn’t about to get dressed just yet. I just grabbed some socks and ran for the door. The list went out of sight and somehow got mixed in with all the underwear. I never noticed it was there as I stuffed everything in to the dresser before walking Millie. Well, mystery solved.
I looked at the old list a bit and then, got an idea. I had gotten a lot done that day. I wondered just how much of the list I had gotten to on that day from hell. I sat down with pencil and old list in hand and started checking off what I completed that day two weeks ago. It’s funny friends but, even with all that aggravation, I had gotten pretty much everything done. Everything on that paper got checked off. Everything and all with no list. Gosh that felt good. I wasn’t such a dummy after all. Oh, sorry. I did miss one thing. I didn’t get to reattaching the toilet paper holder. But, then, I never seem to get around to fixing that darn thing. I keep meaning to get to it but, I keep forgetting. I’d put it on the to do list but, I think I’m through with lists for now.

PROGRESS REPORT (NOT A BLURP)

Hi friends. I’m glad to report that the station is up and running pretty well. I can’t complain. I’ve been doing about thirty live shows per month. These shows are done in the old style where as the host, I actually speak to my audience and do what I can to make their day a bit brighter. My shows are never negative.
When the live shows aren’t on, a large and ever growing random playlist comes into play. I’ve been adding to it as much as I can. It will take time, but eventually, it will hold about three months worth of tunes.
By the way, present day musicians are welcome to send me samples of their work for the playlist. Their music should be compatible with the older stuff I feature. New can be every bit as good as old. I’m royalty compliant too.
The station has been operating at a loss. Still, at least with the new system, it’s less of a loss.
My station is dedicated to making each and every listener a bit happier.
My book sales have slowed down a bit but,he writing efforts continue full steam. All that I write can be found on my website to view for free. If I get enough donations to do so, I’ll put out as many books as possible. Right now there’s not enough money for publishing. It cost’s about $3000 to self publish a book. That’s about $3500 more than I have.
You’re donations have allowed me to give some books away to needy people and deserving organizations.
Like my station, the book was conceived to cheer folks up and see life in a better light.
Any amount you can donate will go to good use. I still offer my deal of one book going out to you or the needy for every $25 donated. That’s been working well.
Please do what you can to help my efforts. It does get tough at times to carry on. Anything you can do will be welcome.
Please remember that if you can not donate, you are still welcome to enjoy the shows and read the stories. If you’re broke but would like a book perhaps I can send one out to you for free. Let me know. Maybe I can help.
Thanks again to all of you for your support and please share this and talk things up when you can.