JUST PLAYING SONGS ON A GREAT DAY

JUST PLAYING SONGS ON A GREAT DAY.

It was evening on the Fourth of July, and rain had been falling on and off for an hour or so. It was just a light rain and, as hot as the day was, it kind of felt good. Well, it felt good to anyone who wasn’t involved with putting on the fireworks show. To us, the rain was a definite thorn in the rump. That’s putting it mildly.
As you might easily guess, I was playing songs for the crowd. I had also been trying to webcast the event as well. The first few raindrops ended my webcast on the spot. I had to hurry to cover the computer with my emergency drizzle towel. The rain got just a bit stronger so, I had to reach under the towel and work the buttons and dials into a shutoff. Luckily, the computer stayed dry and I was able to get it into its carrying case. The computer, now safe in its bag went under the passenger side dashboard on the dry side of the closed passenger window.
Now, I had to deal with the dee jay equipment. That stuff can’t get wet either. It’s never happened to me but, I think you can get your hair curled nicely if you grab a microphone the wrong way with wet hands. Rainwater gushing into my mixing board while it’s on could only end in tears. Add to that, the fact that my records and cd’s were getting a nice shower too. The only solution was to stuff it all.
Oh, I don’t mean to imply that it was time to “stuff it all” and quit. I was definitely not about to quit. Heck, the firework guys said that the rockets and bombs were all in their launching tubes. Once the pyrotechnics are in “the hole” it’s a very bad idea to try to take them out by hand unless you like the nickname Crusty. You might get some of them out but, sooner or later something’s going to go horribly wrong. Sure, it might be a spectacular blast but, not if you’re in the middle of it. In other words, the show had to go on and that’s that. The soundman, Bill and I thought that, raining or not, it would really draw a crowd if the fireworks guys just let it be known that they were going to push the master button and let it all go at once. Rain or not, that would really draw a crowd. I would think half the state would come out for that one. Luckily, we were overruled. Cooler heads prevailed and a nuclear disaster was diverted.
No, by “stuff it all,” I simply meant that the sound man and I would have to get busy and stuff everything into our respective vehicles while continuing to play the songs uninterrupted. It ain’t an easy thing to do. We went to work. The turntable, mixing board and cd players were already in the back of my van with the hatch open. I just pushed them back farther away from the roof drips and, put a light towel over the mixing board and microphone. I had the hatch ready to close if the rain got any harder. In that event, I could just start playing an album side for the crowd and put the hatch down.
Earlier that week, I decided that I only needed maybe just a case of albums and maybe a small box or two of cd’s for the entire show. By show day, that theory was totally out the window. I kept deciding how I wanted to play this song or that. One thing led to another.
By the time I left the driveway on the fourth, I think I had five milk crates full of LP’s, nine boxes of cd’s, and four shoeboxes of 45’s. All in all, that would mean that I was bringing something like forty days worth of music to play at best, for a four hour gig. I hate when I do that kind of thing but, I’ll never learn. So, now, records and cd’s totally took up the driver and passenger section of my van with another layer piled up behind the front seats. Each and every one safe and sound behind closed doors and sealed windows. This left no room for my safe haven. About all I could do was make plans to slip under the van if a downpour came. I know that would have been a bad idea. But, by then I wasn’t thinking straight.
The soundman, needed help with his control panel, amps and speakers. We started lugging them into the back of his truck. It took a while but in due time, his speakers were playing and the amps and generators were chugging along safe and dry. During this whole time, the tunes never stopped. The music played on and, not one piece of equipment shorted out. We were both soaked of course and getting wetter. But all was well.
In a way, we both felt kind of proud of our selves. I remember we both slapped five and smiled. About a hundred yards off, the fireworks guys launched a big one. We could hear it hiss as it ascended. We were getting near sundown so a flash of light burst upon us followed by a huge blast. It was one of those blasts that you can feel in your belly. The crowd went nuts and started cheering.
The rain slowed down a bit. This allowed me to open the hatch and front doors to my van. I found a copy of a very early recording of Louis Armstrong’s Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight. There’s a drum solo in the song that puts artillery barrages to shame. I’m not sure who the drummer was but, oh boy. Bill the sound guy, cranked the volume on my suggestion. We stood back and took it in. When the drum solo came, people stopped what they were doing and listened. Some folks cheered. Satchmo would have been proud and smiling that smile of his. It was like machine guns and bombs going off but a whole lot friendlier.
I saw one of the fireworks committee members heading our way. This fellow is a great guy. I think he’s retired from a carrier in the Marines. I think he had some rank there too. He was walking straight for us and smiling.
The way he walked made me think that he had a message from HQ. I could tell he had our orders. Bill and I stood as straight as waterlogged sound people can. We forgot to salute. But, we did smile. The Marine told us that we had fifteen more minutes to play. Then, at exactly, 21 hundred hours, the field lights would go out. That would be our signal for me to play the National Anthem. He paused a minute and looked at me. He asked what version of the Anthem I was planning to play. He looked pretty serious as I told him that I had Whitney Houston’s Super Bowl Performance ready to go. He smiled and said how that was a good one. I told him how the announcer is also on the recording introducing Whitney and saying how after she sings a flyover of F-14 fighter jets will buzz the field. Bless his heart but he really smiled at that news. In fact he laughed out loud grinning from ear to ear. He hollered, “That’s perfect! Good going you two.” I think he was going to put us in for a commendation back at HQ! He said he just couldn’t wait for the show to start. We synchronized our watches and, he went back to headquarters.
There was a bit of time left yet and, I looked out over the fields at all the folks who came to see the fireworks. I saw people young and old, this or that color, rich and poor. All of them sharing their proud heritage of being Americans. They were eating hot dogs and fat pretzels. Some dads were playing catch with their kids. Some young couples were sitting on soaked beach blankets smooching. A few Boy Scouts brought us each a free pretzel and a bottle of water just to say thanks. For that moment as I looked over the crowd I thought how honored I was and lucky to be even just a little part of this wonderful nation and way of life. I felt like I was the luckiest guy on earth and I felt very proud too. I almost started bawling. Now, that I’m older, I do that a lot
Then, suddenly, it hit me that I didn’t have Whitney Houston’s song cued up and ready to go. A wave of panic hit me at the thought of what if I can’t find it in all that mess in the van. I ran to the van and threw up the hatch. Oh God. Where’s that song?
Luckily, it was right where it should be in my special song carrying case. With great care and, before the lights went out, I set the song into my best cd player and double checked all the buttons and dials. It was all ready to go. In a minute or two the lights in the field went out and I was on. Bingo, just like that.
There in the dark, I grabbed the microphone and told everyone that the show was starting. I asked that they all rise for the National Anthem! I didn’t have to ask twice. You could hear people standing in the dark. I hit the button and Whitney’s song rang through the field.
When she got to the part where she sings about the rockets red glare and the bombs bursting in air, the fireworks guys let go with a massive salvo of firepower. The bursts fairly well matched the cadence of the song. The crowd went nuts. Lucky for me it was quite dark now because I finally was crying like a baby. Actually, I think most everyone was but, it was good tears. God Bless America! God Bless us all. It was a great show.

A REFRESHING DRINK

A REFRESHING DRINK
It was the Forth of July and, I was walking down the sidewalk in small town America browbeating myself up one end and down the other. I don’t know if the right side of my brain was mad at the left or vice versa. There were plenty of people around sitting in lawn chairs on the sidewalk watching me. They must have thought I was nuts. I just stood in the shade of a big old tree grumbling. After a minute or two I called a truce with myself and took the time to go over what I had just done.
Let me explain. I was in the town of Washington, NJ to play records for their annual Independence Day Fireworks celebration. That wouldn’t be until sundown. In the meantime, they were having a parade. It had just started about a mile away and was heading to an eventual finish line about where I was standing. Many spectators were choosing just the right spot to see this big parade when it finally came to this neighborhood. There were folks in lawn chairs, kitchen chairs, sitting on beach blankets, kids were up in trees. I even saw two girls in bathing suits up on a roof with their legs dangling off the side of a low building. Further downstream, on the other end of town, the parade was already in full operating mode.
As always, right up front, the parade features a color guard of soldiers proudly presenting Old Glory to the crowd. Usually, a good sized band is right behind them marching tight. You can bet your bottom dollar and then some, that they’ll be playing a nice assortment of very patriotic songs as the flag passes by for all to honor. When the colors approach and pass, everybody and, I do mean everybody stands and cheers till they can cheer no more. Maybe if you had just fallen critically ill on the sidewalk you could get away with not standing. Maybe. That would depend on just how really sick you were. Being drunk is no excuse. I’ve seen some very wobbly winos sober up, come to a sharp salute and stand so straight that you’d think they were General Patton ready to review his troops. It’s amazing what the flag can do.
That great parade moment was coming soon for these good folks. But, right now, they were all busy talking to one another and slathering sunscreen onto their kids. Not many, if any, were watching me as I scratched my head and pondered my next move. I had just allowed finances to get in the way of doing the right thing and, I was pretty mad about it. True, I couldn’t be more broke when you get right down to it than I was that day. Still, fifty lousy cents to do a really good turn is a pretty hot bargain. I consider myself sworn to doing at least one preferably three good deeds each and every day. So, I was embroiled in thought about how to retrace my stupid footsteps and set things right.
You see, just a block and a half away was this little fellow selling lemonade on the sidewalk in front of his house. He couldn’t have been more than four years old. I thought he had a pretty good stand all set up too. There was a neat and clean milk crate on its side. It looked like he took the time to clean it pretty darn good. Trust me, from working in a dairy aisle at a local supermarket, I know when a milk crate is dirty. This one sparkled. On the front of the crate was a kid drawn sign that said, “Ice Cold Lemonade for Sale!!!” I think he also had drawn a crayon picture of a pitcher just under the letters. I think his parents spelled out Lemonade for him. He did the other words, sort of. On top of the crate, were four plastic punch glasses filled to the brim with lemonade. I think I saw a container of one of the popular lemonade mixes lurking in the shadows of his homes front doorway. A pitcher of ice water stood nearby too.
The kid walked up to me as I walked along the curb in front of his home. I thought he looked pretty sharp for a kid his age. Actually, he looked a whole lot sharper than I ever would have at four years old. The little guy’s shorts weren’t all tattered. His tee shirt was all nice and clean and had a business like solid color to it. It might have been a golf shirt. I forget what color but, it was something pastel. There wasn’t any wacko wording on it to alienate a prospective client. His crew cut was recently brushed. I thought I smelled Brylcream. He even went so far as to follow the cardinal rule of salesmanship. Yes friends, he out and out asked me if I wanted a nice glass of lemonade. That’s right, he asked for the sale. He said it well. “Hi Mister! Would you like a nice cold lemonade? Only fifty cents for a full glass.” Darn that kid was good. I should get him to sell my book for me.
Like a rat, I turned him down. Oh, I was nice enough about it. I probably said some dumb lame thing like I was in a hurry or I wasn’t thirsty. All of this was lies. Rotten lies. I had at least four hours until I had to start playing so, I wasn’t in a hurry. To tell the truth, it was hot out and, I was thirsty as could be. Darn but that lemonade looked pretty good but, I was too stupid and cheap to get one. I kept on walking as the kid closed on a good note saying something like, “Well, I’ll be here for the whole parade Mister. Come back if you want one.”
I was so ashamed. As soon as I got far enough away, I started kicking myself. I got to thinking how that little guy probably launched his money making plan days ago. He most likely went to the supermarket to price out the best deal on a good lemonade mix. I can see him checking the total cost per glass figures and running them by his Dad or Mom. They probably worked the calculator for him so that he’d know which mix would be the most cost effective. He probably noted which mix sold the best in the store. He figured, I’ll bet, that a cheap lemonade would do him no good on parade day if the customers hated the taste of it. I can just see him questioning housewives and mothers in the aisle for their opinion. I could see him heading off to bed and saying his prayers for good weather for the forth. He probably wondered if he should put a sign up on his lawn touting the fact that Lemonade, no, make that great and refreshing lemonade would be on sale before, during, and after the parade. He was pretty good at selling so, he figured, I’m sure that a sales force in place might not float the boat unless some other kid put up a stand across the way. He probably considered the concept of Lemonade sold in “pouches to go,” for thirsty tuba players. I could almost see him hugging his piggy bank as his folks tucked him into bed. This kid was good and, I had to help. I just couldn’t let him work so hard and only make just a measly sale or two. I had to do my part.
I bit my lip, said a prayer and turned myself around heading back to his stand. I was about forty feet away when he spotted me and smiled. He could tell he had a sale and, he was gracious about my coming back. He didn’t say a thing like how I didn’t find any cheaper lemonade down the block so I came crawling back because I was dying of thirst. No, this kid had class. All he did was smile and pick up a glass of lemonade and hand it to me saying, “Here you are mister. That’ll be fifty cents please.”
I handed the kid a buck and sipped the lemonade as he figured out my change. His dad helped him by saying that he should give me two quarters. As the kid was working on the change, I asked him what he was going to do with all the money he made today. He told me how he was going to pay back his Mom and Dad for whatever it cost them to provide the stand. Then, he said how he was going to give the rest of the money to the poor.
I don’t know but, that was one great kid. Not a mean bone in his body. I told him to keep the two quarters. He insisted on me having a second glass. I said that I was fine with one glass. But, I did make a point of telling him that he was a good kid. I promised that I’d write a story about him. He smiled about that. Gosh, but that was great lemonade. I don’t think my story can top it.

THE CARSON AVENUE GANG (Thank you Jai and Renee)

THE CARSON AVENUE GANG
Carson Avenue was really a short street that turned off of a main road in a Northwestern Pennsylvania city. The street was not much more than a hundred yards long. It dead ended at an old iron cemetery gate. Tombstones marched down the hillside and depending on if the leaves were on the trees or not, you got a good view of the city stretching out below. It’s been a while since I’ve been there but, I’m guessing there were no more than twenty houses on the street. The houses were from the thirties I’d say. Maybe they were older. They weren’t anything fancy but, over the years those houses held more than their share of families. My Aunt Barb and Uncle Bill lived in the last house on the left and raised five kids there.
I think it was the mid to late sixties or, maybe it was the early seventies when black families started moving on to Carson Avenue. Prior to that, the people living on the street were mostly if not entirely white folks like Uncle Bill, Aunt Barb, and the kids. This was happening all over the country back in those days. A black family would buy a home somewhere and the white neighbors would scatter. As usual, racial tension would escalate and there’d be trouble of one kind of another. Glaring headlines could almost be typeset blindfolded. You just needed words like RIOT or PROPERTY VALUES PLUMMET or DECLINE or CRIME ON THE RISE. The typesetters only had to add a few exclamation points and they could then go on break. The editorial pages or television news specials would scan the country and there’d be a whole lot of wither are we drifting commentaries pro and con.
There’s still trouble even, now. In fact nowadays, things seem to be getting even worse. People, white and black, just can’t seem to figure it out. Folks are dying. The rotten thing is that most of this stuff is nothing new. But, it does seem to be more prevalent than in the old days. Even worse, it’s reported on way more than it used to be. People are getting crazy on the streets and in the legislatures. It’s just not right. To help, I thought you’d like to hear what happened to one family who faced this problem face to face back in the day.
WARNING….WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ IS NOT AT ALL CONTROVERSIAL. YOU MAY FIND THIS BORING COMPARED TO AN ACTUAL NEWPAPER ARTICLE. READ ON AT YOUR OWN RISK.
I only wish that I could have Aunt Barb and Uncle Bill chime in on this story. But, they have both passed away. Aunt Barb’s special secret hamburger sauce was needed in Heaven. Uncle Bill was called because Jesus needed someone to go deer hunting with Him. I have two stories from their family and may get more. Cousin Jai is first followed by her older sister Renee.

JAI’s Story.
I don’t know that there was anything special about how my parents treated our neighbors. They were just that, our neighbors. We looked out for each other and each other’s property. We treated each other no differently. All the neighbor kids black or white were at our house on Wednesday night to watch Lost in Space and to eat bowls of moms chocolate popcorn. Dad would help when needed and the neighbors did likewise. We had a lady next door Mrs Jackson who made the BEST fried chicken. When she made it, she always made extra because dad would show up on her back porch for a leg or two. She finally relinquished her recipe to mom. I think she was tired of feeding the stray neighbor. There was no black and white in our neighborhood when I was young. There was just us…. Neighbors who would hug you and then, just as quickly, report to our parents if we were doing something wrong. Back then, it was the village that raised us.
RENEE’s Story

I can say that, no there was no black or white, just friends. We all played together as friends. Male or female, no matter. One of my best friends back then was a black male who taught me to ride my bike. He was also the one whom I crashed into and flew over my handle bars. I don’t know if he laughed or not. We had some kids black and white in the neighborhood who were “bad” you know smoking, swearing, and such. We all played in the cemetery together. Easy hide and seek there.
Jai is right about the Jackson family. Mrs. J did make the best fried chicken. Mr. J had a garden in the back yard that I helped him plant. And he probably didn’t want my help but he never told me to stop. Mrs. J would yell out the back door “Jackson, dinner”. They were very special neighbors. After they both passed, their daughter Audrey moved into the house. She was such a sweet person. Never a mean word to us. But if you were doing something wrong she would not hesitate to tell you about it. She’d tell mom too.

THE GANG IN ACTION (Jai’s Story)

We did take a few flowers now and then but, only from the graves with lots of flowers!! One day as Smitty the caretaker was digging a new grave, he hit an unmarked grave that had held an old wooden coffin. The side tore away and the bones spilled out. He had to go back to the office to figure out what to do I guess, so we kids were left to guard the scene. My grandmother was needing a hip replacement soon, so my kid brother Bill climbed down into the hole and got the femur for her. Off he went proudly carrying grandmas salvation. Now mind you, not only was it the right leg when she needed the left, but it was obviously from a very tall man and Gram wasn’t close to five foot. But none the less, off he went with the bone on his shoulder to be Grams savior.
He got to the house, so proud of himself only to hear my dad say, ” I never thought I would ever need to say these words, but take that mans leg bone back son and put it where you found it!”
We had such fun times in that cemetery. Dodging tomb stones on our sleds, playing witch on the grave yard which could only be played prior to a funeral. If the witch caught you, you were tossed into the freshly dug grave.
One night there were teenagers parking down by the mausoleum. Mom thought that was disrespectful so she threw a sheet over her head and down the hill she went. I don’t think the Parkers ever returned!!
I’m sure this is just the beginning of the saga of the Carson Avenue Gang.

There you have it friends. I may get more stories of the Carson Avenue Gang back in those troubled times. I’ll add them to this Blurp if I dare. I’m sure folks could send negative stories but, I’m certain that they would be soon outnumbered by the positive stories of real life. Probably, you should send the negative tales straight to the papers. They can use that kind of thing. I can’t.

Isn’t it odd but, enjoying the simple day to day things like good fried chicken, learning to ride a bike, eating chocolate popcorn while watching Lost in Space, or playing hide and seek in a big graveyard, far out does all the laws and riots when it comes to pointing out that folks aren’t so different after all and that they can have a great time living in peace together.

There must be millions of Carson Avenues all over the world. Maybe there’s one near you. I hope there is. Forget about being a big shot, put down the paper and the law book and get out of your recliner. Find the remote and turn off the TV news. Go outside to play.

MATILDA

MATILDA
Boy, I almost goofed. No, really! Thank Heaven that I didn’t act rashly. I would have been really ashamed of myself. It all began a morning or two ago near my potted eggplants out on the back deck.
I may not have mentioned how most Saturdays, on my way to the Chatterbox, I pass this one house where the residents have this wonderful garden in their back yard. This year was no exception, and they look to be well on their way to an abundant crop. The garden itself must measure oh say, thirty feet by maybe forty feet or so. The cool thing is that they don’t need a rake, a hoe, or even a rototiller. The whole garden is above ground. That’s right, above ground. Every plant sits in a flower pot. These folks must have five hundred or more flower pots that make up the entire garden. I love it.
So, I figured that I’d start the same thing on our back deck. I’m new at this kind of thing so, I don’t have that many clay pots. Well, I got nine pots. It’s a start. The nice thing is that if a plant looks like it needs more sun, I move the pot to the sunny side of the deck. A two gallon watering can is really all I need to tend to my crops. With that much water I can soak the potted plants just fine and have water left over for the giant pumpkin out in the front yard. It’s like I’m a gentleman farmer. The plants weren’t much money either. I used a rotten potato to seed the potato pots. That’s all become a regular rain forest of spuds. The tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings were bought for a grand total of two bucks for everything. The Acme had a remnant sale. The plants were looking a little yellow so, I put them in Miracle Grow and now, look out mama.
I did have a bit of a problem tying up the potato vines after they started to spread. You know, I’m not sure if that’s what you call a potato plant branch. All I know is that the plants were growing way too wild. They were beginning to look like hippies. The branches were crawling all over the deck. I got some string and tied the branches in a way that sort of makes them look like Bart Simpsons hair. Now, instead of it being yellow it’s green. That made the leaves wilt for a day or two but, now all is forgiven. The potatoes are doing better than ever. All this from a rotten potato I found in the potato bin back in spring.
Today, when the sun came up I went out to the deck with my big green water bucket to survey my vast land holdings. The sun was quite low on the horizon and very bright. I looked for Matilda the spider that’s been guarding the crops. Usually, in the low angle morning light I can see her web clear as day. She makes a circular web that’s about ten to twelve inches across. It sags in the middle kind of like a radar antenna. Matilda likes to hang upside down right in the webs center. That brings it down about an inch. She’s a big girl. Parking herself there gives her a good shot at the suns warmth in the morning. With a little heat, she’s on to her chores. Her web sits about five inches above the very tops of the eggplants. I’m always careful to not soak her when I put water into the first eggplant pot. She just watches me go about my work. I doubt she’s very harmful. Of course, I’m not a fly and, she’s not crawling up my pant leg.
Most days her web is in a different location when the sun comes up. I guess things happen and, new webs are constructed overnight. This morning though, I was having trouble spotting the new location. So, I moved the water bucket slower than normal and kept my eyes open. Nothing in the potatoes. She must be around somewhere. The tomatoes are clear. Eggplants are……wait a minute, wait a minute! There was some kind of growth on my eggplant leaves. At first glance, it looked like the leaves had hives or, little tiny warts. My eggplants had measles!! Now, I was ticked. They were doing so well too. Darn. Eggplant Measles. Oh man! What a drag. Then I saw one of the measles move just a tiny bit. Crud, those spots aren’t eggplant measles. I got aphids. Eggplant Aphids at that. They’re the worst. My plants are doomed. Soon, the leaves will look like Alpine Lace Swiss Cheese. I could feel that Eggplant Parmesan Sandy was going to make me, once the crops were in, slide right through my fingers and on to my lap.
I went and got a magnifying glass and took a look at my new enemy. I don’t have a clue what aphids look like but these little stinkers sure looked like they were aphids all right. I went and got a fine haired whisk broom and tried to brush them off the leaves. Not many fell off the leaf. In fact none of them fell off the leaf. Just a few used my brush strokes to sail through the air onto my tomato plants. That made me even madder because that meant I had tomato aphids now too. Just one word came to mind….Epidemic. Tomato sandwiches stuffed with red ripe tomatoes and mayonnaise just dissolved right in front of my eyes.
I finally, saw Matilda. She was down in the middle of a curled up eggplant leaf. I don’t know, she just looked at me. She had nothing to say. There were a few aphid pieces around her but, not that many. She’d never get to eat all those critters. Heck, they might eat her first. There was enough of them that’s for sure. For crying out loud.
I realized that I was late for work. So, I left the deck and got into the van. At least maybe I could find some Aphid spray at the Acme. During my whole shift at the dairy aisle, I could just imagine what was happening to my poor eggplants. I pictured armies of Aphids invading my deck then kidnapping my poor eggplants and taking them down to the river for some kind of cruel sadistic ceremony. Then, with one blood curdling squeak, they’d pounce on my eggplants and well, soon the screams of agony would just be a gurgle, then, silence. There’d just be a crowd of overstuffed aphids lounging on the shore line picking their snarly teeth.
On my way home, I decided to take a bath the minute I got in. I do my best thinking in the tub and, I needed a brainstorm. In the tub, I realized that I should get to know my enemy. I needed to know how aphids operate. You know, what makes them tick. So, I hopped out of my tub and ran to the computer. I lit up the screen and searched for images of tiny bugs. You’d be surprised how many tiny bugs there are. I’m not very good with computers but, I searched as best as I could.
Mug files appeared. I scrolled through a mess of data. Suddenly, I saw the stinkers that were on my eggplants. Bulbous butts, little short legs. Two legs in front. Kind of whitish beige. That’s them. That’s them. So what are they, and how do I kill them? I hit identify and my jaw dropped. Then, I smiled.
It turns out that the curled up eggplant leaves weren’t a killing field at all. No, quite the contrary, they were instead, a nursery. It seems that last night Matilda, had babies, about a thousand of them. Gosh, and I thought they were aphids. Her kids actually are kind of cute under the magnifying glass. I don’t know how I’ll come up with a name for every one of them but, I guess I can try. I looked on the web for good spider names.
Then, I read something that suggests that I may only have to come up with just maybe one name or perhaps two. Remember all those crusty bug pieces under Matilda? I think I mentioned them. Well, it turns out that spiders like to eat most of their kids. Evidently, when you pop out of your egg shell as a spider, it’s a great idea to beat feet. All that crusty stuff under Matilda was all that was left of about two hundred of her kids.
Bigger spiders like Tarantulas will care for their young till they get to be the spider equivalent of teenagers. Then, even for Tarantulas, all bets are off. Now that I think about it, when I was a kid, especially a teenager, my parents had moments when my head on a platter probably crossed their minds and seemed like a good idea.
Anyway the eggplants are looking pretty good I guess. So, out on my back deck, it’s dog eat dog. Speaking of dogs, out in the front yard, Millie the Hound has taken a liking for all our blackberries. Now I’ve got to go have a talk with her.

FORTH OF JULY IN THE PARKING LOT

FORTH OF JULY IN THE PARKING LOT

It’s Forth of July weekend and stuff happens. On my way to the Chatterbox, I was passed by a guy in a pickup truck with a giant American flag attached to the back of his truck bed. This had to be bad for his gas mileage. It was a pretty big flag and he had a heavy foot. I think he had the flag pole welded to his trailer hitch. When he drove past a Quick Chek, a bunch of guys in the station lot took a break from pumping gas or drinking coffee and saluted.
At the Chatterbox, the Wanderers table on the patio is bedecked with a red white and blue table cloth. The nice thing is that it’s just windy enough tonight to make the table cloth wave kind of like a flag. Even better than that, is that Arlene from the Wanderers has found a great gift for the door prize drawings we’ll be doing this evening. Somehow, she has come across a whole bunch of battery operated American Flags. These miniature flags sit on a desk and wave in the breeze whether there’s a breeze blowing or not. The best thing is that they wave to your choice of The National Anthem or My Country Tis of Thee. From what Arlene tells me, she found these antiques of the future at Big Lots for $5.00 knocked down from $20.00. They’d look great on a desk or a picnic table.
But wait there’s more. The Wanderers cruise night is on tonight and the early birds arrived early as usual. During the early afternoon there’s regular cars in the Chatterbox lot. So the hot rods coming early have to park where ever they can to get a spot in the main lot. Try as folks might, it would be hard for friends to park together early in the show.
So, a friend of mine, Dan, comes in his Red Corvette and parks along the far side of the south parking lot. A Toyota or something sits next to him for a while. Eventually, the folks who own the Toyota leave with full bellies. As they leave, a blue Corvette pulls in next to Dan’s Vette. After the blue Corvette gets positioned, an old Deuce Coup pulls out to get to a spot in the lot closer to his friends. That leaves a hole next to the two Vettes. A hot rods sees the spot but has gone too far past it and can’t back up and into it. He’ll have to make another pass around the Chatterbox to get to the spot. While he’s doing that, a parent pulls in to the spot next to Dan and his friend to drop off one of their teenagers who’s working as a busser this evening. So, even more hot rods have to flag the spot. The parent waves to their kid and leaves just as a white Corvette sees the spot and pulls in next to Dan and his friend. At the Chatterbox main entrance, the lady selling raffle tickets for the local rescue squad notices that it’s her daughter in the White Corvette and waves at her. The daughter and her boyfriend wave back.
No one notices what has happened at first. But, it was the rescue squad lady who all of a sudden spots something that was very cool. Rescue squad people are trained to notice what is not always that obvious. That’s how they save lives. She hollered for me to come over and take a look. I saw an amazing sight. The three Corvettes parked in a row one next to the other made up our flags colors. Just by sheer random luck there they were, Red, White, and Blue. Only in America!

THE BEST AND EASIEST AND TASTIEST COOKIE RECIPE EVER FOR SUNNY DAY DELIGHTS

THE BEST AND EASIEST AND TASTIEST COOKIE RECIPE EVER FOR SUNNY DAY DELIGHTS
I stumbled upon this cookie recipe just by chance friends. It wasn’t handed down to me by my sainted Grandma. Nope. Mom had nothing to do with it either. I certainly didn’t do a lick of research or spend long hours in a cooking lab. This great idea came to me, like many great discoveries thanks to sheer dumb luck. In fact, some might even say that my own personal stupidity may have brought about this discovery. A discovery that could knock the world of cookies on its ear. I’m telling you, that I turned garbage into gold. Gold you can pig out on.
Here’s what you do. You’ll need to get a few packs of those rectangular sugar filled wafers. Any brand will do. I think Nabisco makes a good quality sugar filled wafer. Like most folks, I’ve eaten my share. Most super markets have their own house brand and they’ll do just fine as well. You can even get various flavored sugar wafer varieties and, I suggest you try this recipe with them too. The choice is yours.
You’ll need a paper plate, lots of napkins and a lobster bib, a nearby sink with running water or, a garden hose, a car, and a sunny pleasant day. The sunnier the day, the better. In fact I’m going to call these cookies. Sunny Day Delights.
Here’s what you do. Take the sugar wafers out of the box and arrange them nicely on the paper plate. It doesn’t matter how you arrange them. Actually, now that I think of it, it wouldn’t hurt to pile a few of the wafers on top of one another. In fact, that might be a great thing to do. Now, go out to your car and park it in a nice sunny spot. You want the car to bask in the sunlight for at least a half hour or more. If you don’t have a car, get a friend to lend you theirs. Get the paper plate full of sugar wafers and, place the plate on the passenger seat. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to cover the seat with an old towel first and, then put the plate full of wafers on the towel. You might be glad you did that. Once you’ve done this, roll up the windows and shut the car doors. Make sure you don’t lock your keys in the car. The best thing to do now would be to go find an hours worth of something to do. There’s no sense in hanging around your car staring in the windows. I guess if you wanted to, you could wash your tires or something but, really it’s best to just go away for a while.
After an hour or more, go back to your car and open it up. You might want an oven mitt handy to handle the plate. It’ll be hot. Especially if you’ve used a ceramic plate instead of paper. The last thing after all this waiting, would be to drop the cookies on the blacktop. If you have heat sensitive fingers, it might be best to wear cooking gloves. Don’t linger in the hot car. Instead, hurry over to the nearest picnic table and prepare for a feast. Bring lots of napkins and maybe a few wet ones.
Once you’re at the picnic table, take a second to admire your work. On the plate before you sits perhaps the greatest treat you will ever know. The sugar wafers have been transformed by the heat of the sun into a kind of feast from God. Sun worshipping civilizations would have reserved these cookies for only their Emperor and his most holy of Priests. Lowly subjects of the realm would have been led to the sacrificial pits for taking even one snickity lick of this most holy and divine morsel from the sun blessed sky.
At first you’ll think like I did and, say how the wafers are ruined. All the filling has turned to goo and has oozed out from between the wafers. Ooh, and they’re hot too. Yucchh! All’s I can say friends is ignore your first impressions and grab one of those sweet little wafers and shove it in your mouth. Don’t worry about how the gooey sugar filling clings to your thumb. Just grab another and yet another and keep eating. Go ahead stuff your cheeks like a chipmunk. Aren’t they great?? Maybe take a sip of lemonade now and then and dive in some more. The neat thing I think is how the filling has become something like how you always wished the filling in a cream filled cupcake would be. It has a thickness to it and, a graininess too. What’s even better is that the wafer is still crunchy and warm.
My advice is to not eat the whole box. You might have a diabetic overload from all that sugar. Control yourself. I wouldn’t eat these around a health food nut. They’ll just make you miserable with all that preaching. Then when your back is turned, they’ll grab one and soon, they’ll be stuffing their face just like you. Pretty soon, you’re both rolling in the dirt fighting over the last cookie. It might be best to not tempt them and corrupt their systems. Live and let live I always say.
Hopefully, you remembered to bring along napkins and wet ones. Use them liberally. Of course, if you have time, just lick your fingers clean and rinse with cold water. If you don’t eat all the wafers in the first feeding, it looks to me like you can just chill them and recook them at a later date. Though, I’m not totally sure if you can recook them. So far, there haven’t been any leftovers. Enjoy.
Rereading this Blurp has revealed to me that I neglected to tell you how I came upon this great discovery. All in all, it was a mistake that happened at the right time in and, the right place. But, it was only a mistake that at first. After that first moment, it wasn’t a wrong turn at all.
One day, I figured some sugar wafers would go well with my coffee on the ride home from work. I was right they went great. Better still, I had plenty left over for the next day. To be sure that I wouldn’t leave them on the refrigerator at home, I left them in the van. Going back to work the next day, I ate some more but, still had more than enough left when I pulled into the parking lot and ran into work.
It was a hot sunny day. I was glad that my job was in the thirty one degree dairy cooler. Work went well and soon enough, I was ready to head home. I almost bought a snack for the ride home until I remembered that I still had plenty of sugar wafers back in the car. In fact I had a three flavor pack pack waiting for me. I had eaten most of the chocolate wafers. Only a few remained and then, I’d be feasting on the vanilla wafers. They were my favorite.
Outside, the sun had been busy. Wow, it was hot! Opening the drivers side door was like kicking open the coal door to an old steam boiler. I figured that the sooner I got rolling, the sooner things would cool off. I gunned the motor and hit the road. Soon I was hungry and so, I reached for my cookies.
The cookie felt kind of odd in my fingers. It was like a kind of warm blooded slug. I’ve never had a cookie drip and slither all over my hands but, this one sure did. I dropped it back on the package and waited until it was safe to look at what was up. At a light, I saw that all the cookies were leaking. The wafer was there but, the filling was spreading out in all directions. Some filling was stuck to my fingers. I licked it and realized heaven was on the phone and they had a message just for me. Long story short, I ate about twenty wafers by the time I was halfway home.
Once home, I sat down at the computer with a great Blurp in my head. The rest you know. Pass the cookies……please.

LIMBERGER OR LIVERWURST?

LIMBERGER OR LIVERWURST?
The other night, after the Goodfellows Cruise Night I was knocking down my gear in the parking lot at Applebees. I was busy coiling up my extension cord when one of the hot rodders walked near me on his way into the restaurant. I was pretty beat from playing records and making announcements. Still, I hadn’t seen that guy in a long time so, I said hello. He owns a nice early T-Bird Convertible. He’s also a doctor. I’ve always known him to be a great person. It didn’t take too long to get into a pretty good catch up on old times conversation. You know, one doctor to another.
After a bit of Chit and a little dab of Chat, I asked the doctor what his medical specialty was. He said he was in family practice. I mentioned how I figured that wouldn’t help me and my tongue. That got his attention. He made some kind of remark about a dee jay with tongue trouble is a man in a bind. He said how he thought I had spoken just fine for the show that evening. I told him that talking wasn’t the problem but, tasting was. He had to know more. I continued describing my plight.
I mentioned how for the past few months my sense of taste was way off. I think I used the technical term “all kerflooey” to best describe what was going on. I told him how if you blindfolded me and put a chuckles in my mouth, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you what flavor it was. I said how jelly donuts tasted like a mouthful of glop. It’s been like my tongue was blind and needed a cane to do its work. I almost needed a Seeing Eye dog to taste my food for me and tell me what it was that I was eating.
He said that a handicapped tongue would probably be a blessing in the hospital cafeteria. But, other than that, your tongue should work and let you know just how good that cheeseburger with raw onion tasted. He wanted to know if I’d stuck out my tongue for any doctors lately. I said how I had an appointment.
Then, the doctor asked me if anything was new or different with my nose. I said no, it’s been sitting in the same place on my face for years now. He wondered if my schnozola had been stuffed lately. Well, it had been quite stuffed for a few months now, maybe longer. Still, I seem to be able to sniff things out ok I figured. I told him how I heard you can tell if you have alhtzhimers by sniffing peanut butter. If you can’t smell a spoonful of it held under your nose, you’re in trouble. I said how I could smell the peanut butter just fine. Of course I neglected to mention that I forgot where I put the lid to the jar.
The doctor said that was all well and good but, if I understood him right he said the nose helping me sniff is one thing and the nose helping me taste is another. At least, I think that’s what he meant. It’s hard to remember all that medical jargon. You know, maybe I should go stick my nose into that peanut butter jar again. I would but, my wife Sandy hid the jar. She’s not really that happy about me sticking my nose in the jar all the time.
He said how the sense of taste requires the tongue to work in conjunction with the nose. If the nose can’t smell the food as you chew it, you won’t taste it. At least, your tasting will be way off or you won’t taste a thing. He put it simply enough. No smell, means no taste. Period! I guess this particular nose function works with the very subtle aromas coming off the food in your mouth. So, he said, if you’ve got a stuffed up nose, you won’t know Limburger, from Liverwurst.
By now, I was shaking with despair. “My nose is always stuffed up, at least a little!!!! I love eating!!! Food is my favorite thing!!! What am I going to do???”
Doc put it simple enough. “Here’s what you do. Go buy some Flonase and stick it in your nose. You’ll be better in about ten minutes. Maybe less.”
I stood there with my jaw down to my ankles. By the way, that’s proof further that I’m a mouth breather. The doctor even said how I could probably get away with generic Flonase or maybe even saline drops. He headed into Applebees saying over his shoulder that he wanted good reports when he talks to me at the cruise night next week.
It was late but, the Walmart near my home was open. I screeched to a stop in the parking lot and jumped out of the van. I ran inside ignoring some couple who were fighting over how to fit a boxed lawnmower into their Mini Cooper. It would have been fun to watch from afar or even give them a hand but, I needed nose drops pretty darn bad. All the way from the cruise night I tried breathing through my nose but, I’d get short of breath. The only way to get a lung full of air was to open my mouth. Bad as that might seem, I felt I was on the trail of an elusive cure. I ran through the front door and headed to the pharmacy department.
At the nose drop section, there wasn’t any Flonaz in stock. I started to shake. That made me afraid that I was in danger of becoming a nose drop junkie. The signs are subtle at first you know. So, I looked for non habit forming nose drops. I’m not sure they exist but, at least, I tried. I finally settled on Afrin Nasal Spray. I had enough money for it and, it didn’t have too many warnings on the box. At checkout, I shook as I counted out loose change. Thank God, I had enough money. By now, if I didn’t have the right amount of money, I’d have bolted and made an around the end run past the greeter. Luckily, that wouldn’t be necessary. I calmly but quickly left the store. I threw the nose drops into the back of the van with all my dee jay gear. That way, I wouldn’t be tempted to snort the drops in my car as I drove. I mean, what if I missed my nostrils and squirted that stuff in my eyes while driving. Wouldn’t that be like driving under the influence in a court of law? I think it would. Ignorance is no excuse.
At home near the kitchen sink I ripped at the packaging. It only took about fifteen minutes to get to the medicine. They really go overboard on packing that nose spray. I threw the instructions into the trash. I didn’t need no stinking instructions. How hard could it be to squirt medicine into your nostrils? It turns out that it’s very hard if you haven’t been shown. I dug through the garbage and found the instructions and read them as fast as I could. Then, I had to go back and read them slowly.
Later than sooner, I squirted that Flonase into my left nostril followed by another squirt into the right. That applicator really worked well. I missed my eyes but, will never have an ear stuffed with mucus ever again. After that, I just stood silently in the kitchen. Nothing seemed to be happening at first. Suddenly, and quietly, I felt an odd and new sensation. Air was traveling down the back of my throat. It was air coming from my nose and not my mouth. Just the day before, if you held my mouth shut so that I couldn’t breathe through it, I’d probably suffocate with what little air made it through my nose. But, now, I could actually fill my lungs with air glorious air, flowing like the north wind in January through my high performance nose. The doctor was right. I was cured!!!
The next thing to do was to activate the mothballed taste control center in my brain and see if I could taste again. I rummaged through the kitchen trying to decide what morsel of food should have the honor of being the crash test dummy for my long out of service taste buds. Should I try Cheezits first? What about some watermelon, or that leftover tuna salad? Maybe an old candy cane would be a better idea. Then, I realized that I had brought home a plain Applebees Cheeseburger for supper. It was in the bag on the sink calling to me. I grabbed it and nuked it. I found some old bags of Ketchup.
I took the first bite in the kitchen just in case nothing happened. I didn’t want to cry in front of Sandy. I chewed like I had sore teeth and slowly moved my tongue around. I sniffed a little. Suddenly, I got this big smile on my face. My brain was receiving signals, strong signals from the taste control center. The message came in loud and clear…..”Cheeseburger in mouth. Repeat. Cheeseburger in mouth. Ketchup coming onto screen. Swallow now. Prepare for second bite…..Chew now…..Cheeseburger confirmed on board and tasting good!!!! Ketchup is very old. Spit it out!! Abort Ketchup!!! Too late. Scrape ketchup from bun and resume eating process. Too late!!!
Oh friends, it felt so good, so darned good to actually taste a cheeseburger again. Who cares if the ketchup was a bit old? I do feel bad cause it was the ketchup Sandy and I saved from that Pancake house in Scranton where we had our first breakfast as man and wife twenty one years ago on or honeymoon.
After the burger, I ran for the ice cream. Then, I stuffed my face with potato chips. Then I gobbled down the tuna salad. I didn’t care if it was a bit too old. Sharks would have been impressed with my feeding frenzy.
Then, I found that lost jar of peanut butter. The peanut butter just about blew my top. God, it was strong. Millie the Hound smelled it all the way out in the living room. The smell woke her up. I called Millie into the kitchen. She and I ate peanut butter crackers till the sun came up on a glorious new day. A day soon to be filled with wonderful and tasty treats.

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.