THE TATTOOED BACK

THE TATTOOED BACK

The other day I was playing oldies at the Chatterbox. It was the usual busy Sunday. People were everywhere. This is always fine with me as I love watching people do their thing. It’s also nice to be at a place that’s running full tilt like the Chatterbox does.

There was a young girl near the ice cream counter. I think she was waiting for a to go order.   I said she was young. At my age, all girls are young. Old ladies are young compared to me nowadays. Methusila is a mere child from my view point. So, this girl then, was very young. I’d say she was maybe seventeen or so. Like all girls her age she was very pretty.  This past Sunday was the first warm Sunday in months so, she was dressed nicely in shorts and a halter top. On her, it looked good. She was with friends. They all seemed to me to be nice young people.

This girl, like many her age, had tattoos. They were pretty enough. I’m certainly not at all against tattoos. At my age, they’re not for me. I don’t need an eagle on my chest anymore. With my sagging old skin, the darn thing would wind up looking like a sick old buzzard sooner or later. I’d have to forget going to the beach. But, on young folks, they look good and very creative.

The young lady, had a few tattoos on her here and there. They were the usual kind. But, one in particular caught my eye. On her back, running along her spinal column from the top of her rump to the base of her neck was a single row of letters. I’m assuming it was a sentence. It was done in really nice old fashioned script. I have no idea what it said. I’m sure if I ran over and tried to read what was written, I’d get a well deserved slap. Mostly because her halter top would have to be shifted to see all the words. I can see me trying to explain my black eye to my wife Sandy. Whatever my explanation, I’m sure I’d soon be sporting two shiners, stitches, and a big swollen bruised nose. Did I mention that my wife Sandy is a third degree black belt? Well, she is.

But still, I sure wanted to know what would a person inscribe permanently on their back? Something to be there for an entire lifetime. What would be an appropriate inscription for an entire lifetime? Try as I might, I can’t think of what I would write if it were me.

So I leave it to you. Do you have sentence styled inscriptions tattooed on you somewhere? Send me the details.  Mostly, I want to know what you had the artist write. No photos please. Are you planning to do such a thing? What will you say? Where will you put it? I may use your reply in my next book but, I will only use first names and maybe your age. I’ll just delete photo’s so, please don’t send them. I’m going to try and think what and where I would stick a word tattoo on me. Maybe, with luck, I’ll come up with a good idea or two.

I know that when I was young, I wanted to get a staring eye on the middle of my forehead just above the bridge of my nose. I also wanted an ace of spades on my left palm.  All I can say, it was the sixties.

AL JOLSON WOULD BE PROUD

AL JOLSON WOULD BE PROUD

Millie the Hound and I were walking a bit early this morning. We had been through a bit of a rough night. I had to get up early but, didn’t get to bed till quite late.   Millie had a stomach bug.   She needed walking more than a few times overnight. I couldn’t find my jacket in the dark so I had to stand outside in the cold foggy yard waiting for her to find just the right spot. Of course, when I got back in bed I’d lay there in the dark and go over every problem on earth at least eight times. Eventually, I would drift off to sleep and, as soon as I did, Millie would pop into the room needing to go out again. It was one of those nights.

I was somewhat dreading the busy day I had ahead of me as I crawled out of bed. It was going to be one of those days where I had to be especially alert and upbeat. Meanwhile I felt kind of beaten down to say the least. I kind of felt like one of those tomatoe halves you see stuck to the bottom of a garbage can in the summer after the garbage man came and went. See it? It’s right next to the moldy clam. Yeah, that’s it, with the half eaten hot wing stuck between the two of ‘em. That’s how I felt. I didn’t have high hopes for the day.

I can’t say how Millie felt. Bassett Hounds are just naturally droopy. That down demeanor of theirs doesn’t mean that they’re feeling bad or good. A tail dragging the ground means that they’ve got the blues. A tail held high and wagging a bit means bring on the day. Millie’s tail was kind of in the middle. So, I guess the jury was out on her opinion of the day in front of her.   Then it happened and he day changed.

We were at the end of the driveway in Millie’s puppy squatting territory. I had my eyes cast downward for safety sake. Well, I have these shoes with deep traction knobs on the sole. You have to be careful where you step. It would take all day to clean one of those shoes after a misstep. Suddenly, Millie stopped dead in her tracks. I stopped too. She was watching something and wanted me to see it. She’d look at whatever it was, then look over her shoulder at me and, then, look back at a clump of dried weeds from last summer. The weeds were hiding something. I figured it was a bunny. There’s been a few around. I didn’t have long to wonder. A robin hopped from behind the clump and into view. The first robin of the year.

I felt pretty good about that and it got me to remembering a great song Al Jolson used to sing. I let that song play in my head as the scene unfolded. In my minds ear I gave the robin, Millie, and me good singing voices. Here’s how it went in my head.   Pretend this is a scene from one of those musicals from the fifties.

Doc (Speaking)….. Hey girl! Look at that! We’re in luck. There’s the first robin of Spring.” A band off screen starts to play and, now I’m singing.   “When the red red robin comes bob bob bobbing along….along!

Millie (Singing) There’ll be no more sobbin when he starts throbbin his old sweet song!

Robin(Singing) Wake up! Wake up you sleepy heads. Get up! Get up! Get out of bed. Cheer up! Cheer up! The sun is red.

Chorus (That’s the three of us) Live! Laugh! Love and be happy!

(Now we’re dancing down the driveway)

Doc   What if I’ve been blue. Now, I’m walking through fields of flowers!

Millie Rain may glisten but, still I’ll listen for hours and hours.

Doc  I’m just a kid again. Doing what I did again

Millie Singing a song.

Robin   When the red red robin comes bob bob bobbin along.     (Repeat to fade as the robin flies off to a distant nest as Millie and I wave goodbye.)   (Curtain!)

I know it’s a crazy scenario. But, I’ll bet that I probably got you to sing that most cheerful of songs. If I did, then my work here is done for today.

Up Up and Away!!!!!!

 

 

 

A ROUGH NIGHT

A ROUGH NIGHT

Millie the Hound had a bit of a bug last night. I think it may have been that tick medicine I put on her neck early yesterday or, it could have been the pizza she had for supper the night before. Whatever the cause, she had to go out about once every half hour for a quick puppy squat. Since my wife Sandy had to be up very early to get to her flea market booth, I was elected to escort Millie out into the yard. There was hardly a spot out in the yard that Millie didn’t hit at least twice. It was wise to bring along a flashlight.

The fun didn’t stop just because I went to bed. In fact, the visits outside may have increased their frequency. Gosh, it was cold out there in the night in my pajamas. Back in bed, I’d just start to doze off and you know who would come into my room and give out with a low whine. Over and over this happened.  I’m ashamed to say I was getting miffed as I became a bit of a sore head. I was mad at Sandy for sleeping through all this. I was mad at Millie for being sick. Worse than that, I was really mad at myself for being mad. Some sorry excuse for an apprentice kind soul I was proving out to be. I don’t think it’s physically possible to kick yourself but, I sure wanted to do so.

During about the seventh walk out into the yard, I got to thinking how this was getting to be like my old days at the rescue squad.   Some nights, the duty crew never got to bed. Sometimes, you never even got to see the squad hall till sun up. Back then, I’d just take it in stride and figure it was part of the deal. Sometimes this stuff happens. Grow up. I did all that rescue work as a volunteer and never expected a penny or a thank you for my effort. I was a sworn in volunteer. That was the deal I agreed to. I did it to show some kindness for a change.

Then, it hit me. I’m always saying how I want to make the world a better place without seeking reward for my efforts. Well there’s my wonderful dog who’s feeling sick and needs my help to feel better. There’s my wife who needs a few hours sleep before she goes out to a hard days work.   That leaves me to get the job done. Sure no one’s watching from the front row. No one would know if I just let the dogs belly hurt or, if I stormed around the house till the wife woke up. No one would know but me.

Oh, God would know, but maybe when He got after me for the evening foul up, I could point out some other great thing I did. Maybe he’d let me off the hook. God’s pretty forgiving I hear. But, even if I took the dog out and let the wife sleep but, did it begrudgingly my stupid attitude would come back to haunt me. No matter what, I would know that I was, that night, a jerk. A mean one at that too.

I remembered that back in the squad days, we would just look at the exhaustion as a given and kind of take pride in ourselves about how we took the licking and kept on ticking. (Timex Watches were big back then.) We did it to show to ourselves what we were made of. We wanted to be right so, we tried to do the right things even if we were the only ones who knew we did them. It didn’t matter that anyone else saw. We were watching and judging ourselves.

I thought about this while lying in bed waiting for Millie to whine and butt slide up to the bed. Pretty soon sure enough, here she came. Well, I got out of bed stubbed my toe on a case of records as I put on my slippers. I groped for Millie’s leash and the flashlight. I patted Millie on the noggin and out we went.

As Millie anointed the yard once again, I stood there in the cold darkness and didn’t feel bad at all. In fact, I felt great and kind of young again.

By the way, when we got back in, Millie hopped into bed with me and slept down near my feet. I wrapped her up in a blanket and put a pillow against her back. She started snoring immediately and didn’t wake up till seven AM. She feels much better today and, so do I.

 

 

RETURN WITH ME NOW TO THOSE THRILLING DAYS OF YESTERYEAR

RETURN WITH ME NOW TO THOSE THRILLING DAYS OF YESTER YEAR.

I just had me a fine few hours the other day. I did a live broadcast on my web station from a nearby senior assisted care center. It was a blast. In fact, it was a blast from the past.  On my way to the center, I was kind of down listening to all the doom and gloom stations. They all have such an itinerary of awful scenarios for the future. Listening to these shows is almost like picking your poison and having a sip. They seem to make us all stars in our own personal Tales from the Crypt.

Sadly, I’ve got to admit that I too listen to each and every one of these nail biters almost every day. If I do it long enough, like everyone else, I get crazy.   I’d listen to something else if I could but, what’s left on the dial just doesn’t do it for me. Show’s nowadays are just trying to outdo each other for shock value or, they’re automated playlists firing out one same song after another. As I drove along, I found myself missing Jean Shepard, Tex and Jinx, Wolfman Jack, Cousin Brucie, Big Dan, Gunsmoke, or even, Arthur Godfrey.

I pulled into the care center and decided to forget the blues and concentrate on doing a nice show for the residents. I’m not the greatest air personality ever by a long shot but, I wanted to do the best I could for these good folks. With that thought in mind, I set myself to the task of setting up my equipment. It’s a lot of lugging but, sometimes, lugging is a good thing. It shakes out the cobwebs and starts the juices flowing.

The receptionist was happy to show me where I’d be doing the show. It was a nice little room. My spot was in the corner near a piano. There was coffee and graham crackers in the kitchenette next room over. Things were looking up. Usually, a senior scout will come over when I’m setting up. It almost always happens at a care center. Today was no exception. This time an older gentleman popped his head in the door and asked if I was going to play some music. I told him that I sure as heck was planning to do just that.

I got my first smile out of the day from this fellow by saying that I was planning to play music that he was too young to know about. I mentioned that he probably never heard of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, or Frank Sinatra. I did say that he’d most likely enjoy these singers if he’d give them a chance. I asked him if his folks ever told him about big band music.

He knew I was kidding and, he hit back with a comment or two. “Too young to know about Glenn Miller? Like Heck! Boy, I used to go into New York to the Hotel Pennsylvania to see those guys every chance I got. Oh, you should have seen the girls there. Wow! I danced all night.”

I told him I’d be starting soon after lunch. He went off to tell the others.   He used a walker but, he was going pretty fast out to the dining room.   Soon, some ladies came by to ask the same questions. By then, I had the equipment set up so, I asked them if they’d like to listen to a sample. They sat right down and were all ears. I played a song for them by Tommy Dorsey, the Pied Pipers, and Frank Sinatra called Blue Skies. They swayed in their chairs and believe it or not started to sing along. Yes, they knew the song by heart. I put an album on and let everyone enjoy it as others came into the room. It was still an hour till airtime. I felt great and, so did they.

When show time came, I put us live on the web and started playing songs and telling stories. And of course, I always like to ask questions. I asked stuff like did anyone in the room ever meet Glenn Miller or any of the old singers. Quite a few had. One lady knew Frank Sinatra when he was pretty young. I guess she ran into him in a deli now and then.   Another lady told us how she was so dressed up outside a Benny Goodman concert that some traveling salesman tried to pick her up. They all knew how to do the dances of the day like the Lindy, Jitterbug, or the Big Apple. They remembered being poor during the Great Depression. They laughed when I told them how my Mom was banned from going to a Rudy Vallee movie by herself because she would scream and swoon whenever he appeared in a scene. Some of the ladies said that they’d scream in the theater too, especially for Dick Powell.

The greatest thing is that many of them sang along to whatever song I played almost every time. Some sang quietly. Some let it rip at the top of their lungs. Some got sleepy and nodded off but, were smiling.

They knew who the “Schnozz” was. Of course for the uninitiated, that was, Jimmy Durante. The story I told of Jimmy picking the winners of an entire days card of horseraces at Santa Anita back in the day gave them a charge. They knew about the sport of horseracing and seemed to love it.

The show ended all too soon and I got a nice round of applause. It was me who should have applauded for them. They were such a nice audience.

As I was finishing my packing up. One resident brought me an apple and a lemon cookie from the break room. Two ladies remembered hearing my shows on regular radio. One was a resident and the other was a hair dresser there. It was great to hear the good things they said. The Activity Director seemed quite pleased which is always a plus. We talked about an upcoming Sock Hop.

On my way out, I walked past a fellow who was a resident. He was sitting in the hallway and said how he really enjoyed the songs. He said how the ship he was on in the Navy during World War Two only had a record player and maybe 20 records to go with it. He said they were great songs but, after a while, they kind of drove him and the crew nuts. I asked what kind of a ship he served on. He told me he was on a LST out in the Pacific. I’m pretty sure that’s a Landing Ship Tank (or Transport). They would hit the invasion beaches fully loaded with supplies. He said how he was at the battle for Okinawa. By then the Japanese were in heavy suicide mode. He said how word came that a flight of Kamikazies were about ten miles away coming down the beach looking for targets. He looked and spotted them on the far horizon approaching his ship. No sooner did he see them coming in low then, everything the ships off shore had, opened fire. Battleships, Cruisers, Tin Cans and shore units did all they could and got most of the squadron. But one was still up and flying zig zagging all over the sky flying low and heading right for this fellows ship. With just a few hundred yards to go and, only seconds left, some lucky battery got the suicide planes bomb and it exploded. The plane went into the surf.

The guy told me that after that day and when he finally got home, whenever some problem came up, he’d remember that day off Okinawa and just forget about worrying. He said it would have to be a pretty wild problem to get him rattled after that day. I agreed and shook his hand. He was a nice fellow.

They were all nice at this assisted living center. Many of those residents lived through the Great Depression and then World War II. Sure it was tough but, they took it in stride. They got down to business when necessary and when they could, they’d enjoy a tune or a show. Sounds like a plan. Bless them.

 

REPAIRING MY GLASSES

REPAIRING MY GLASSES

My glasses were acting up and making it hard for me to see.   What happened was that one of the nose pads fell off and made the glasses tilt funny off my nose. That, in turn, goofed up the aim of the lenses. So, whatever I was seeing, was distorted.   Not to mention the fact that when the glasses fell off my nose, it pulled the ear hooks down onto the front of my ears. That kind of made my ears itch and hurt. Worse than any of that was when my glasses were in the right position, the spot where the pad used to be was sharp and, it dug into the bridge of my nose. I had to choose between mild blindness or a kind of ancient self- inflicted Chinese water torture. I’d be standing there in front of folks scratching, tugging, and squinting like a nut. I wasn’t a pretty sight and that’s that. All this because of a stupid little left handed nose pad.

So, I found my self today at the box store down the street. It was rough hunting for what I needed. I needed a brake light for the van. I must have looked like Methusila squinting and scratching my nose and ears as I tried to find the right bulb. A manager actually came over to help me. Maybe he thought I had fleas. He was very helpful but, he kept his distance. I don’t blame him. You can’t be too carful nowadays.

Still, he read the old number on the bulb and found the right replacement in a flash. I needed to get some one month tick repellant for Millie our hound. So, I asked him where the flea stuff would be. Scratching my nose and ears at that time was not the best thing to do. He backed up a bit more and gave me the aisle number. He said that I’d spot it ok because it was done in real big numbers. I went on my way.

In the pet supply aisle, I decided to pick the best bargain for tick juice. That stuff can get pretty expensive. It comes in those little pipettes. You snap off the top and squirt the fluid onto the back of your dogs neck. Then your dog shakes his or her head and, you get more medicine sloshed into your face than the dog gets under their fur. At least, neither one of you will have fleas for a month or so. They had different types and brands of repellant. I picked one that was $15.00. Then, I strolled down the moon pie aisle.

At the checkout, I expected that the total would be about $22.00 for everything. The cashier hit the total button and said I owed $45.00. I said that had to be wrong. She informed me that the tick stuff was $30.00 all by itself. Thanks to these darned glasses I must have grabbed the wrong package. Well, what was I going to do? If I went back to the tick stuff display with someone in charge, I’d of probably been seen as a crabby old fool when we both observed that there was no $15.00 tick stuff on the rack. I can just see them all pointing out that I was looking at the price of a flea collar.   With my luck, just then, I’d probably turn to walk away and trip over a step stool. So, I just paid the bill. Then I saw a ray of hope only twenty feet away.

There was an eyeglass store attached to this big box store. Maybe, just maybe they could help me. I walked over and stepped inside. There was a girl in a white lab coat putting away some paper work. She was sitting behind a kind of examination table. I asked if she did eyeglass repair. She said heck yeah. Now, things were looking up. I took off my glasses and looked in her direction. She was just a big blur with a nice voice. I pointed out that my left nose pad was gone and said how I hoped she could fix it somehow. She held the glasses in her hands I think. Well, everything was so blurry.

It took only a second or two for this Goddess of Mercy to say that she could and would easily fix my glasses. She said it would only cost about two bucks and I should take a seat because she’ll be right back. I okay’d the deal and decided to stand.

It took about five minutes in the back room. I think I could see her and another technician discussing the situation. They had to find a matching pad. The right sized screw had to be determined. Oh look, his lens binder needed tightening and a drop, maybe two, of locktite. Be careful not to over torque the set screw. Gosh, it sounded like it was brain surgery going on in there. Still, I was happy they were working all options. Soon, they were done.

The girl came out of the back room and presented my glasses to me with a flourish.   “Here you are sir. That’ll be $2.01” With a big and loud thank you, I handed her $3 figuring on some change. Ever the professional and probably figuring I’d be good for more repairs someday in the future, she handed back the dollar bill saying, “That’s OK! Two will do.”

I was so happy to see without itching and tugging. The glasses fit like a soft tight glove and at this moment, hours later, still feel great. I left the eyeglass place happy as a clam with the eyes of an eagle.

As luck would have it not ten feet down the hall from the eyeglass store, I was walking past a pallet of rock salt. There, lodged under a pallet board and, hidden from the view of many passersby was an almost invisible penny. I stopped and picked it up and marched right back into the eyeglass place. I handed the penny to the young lady. She thought that maybe I felt for some change in my front pocket and got lucky. I told her how, thanks to her good work, and a little good luck, this hopelessly lost penny was found and is going back into the currency stream that makes this country the economic envy of this entire planet. She said it was a nice penny and she’d be glad to put it in the stores spare change jar. I left with my head held high and didn’t trip over a thing…..this time.

BIG ED

BIG ED

I was browsing through facebook today when a posting from a friend caught my eye. It was a long tribute to his father on the anniversary of his Dads death sixteen years ago. It was done very well and any Dad worth his salt would have been just happy as a clam to hear the wonderful things that were said.

There were all the wonderful word pictures of a Dad who stayed up late working on a special train set for his boys on Christmas morning. This was a Dad who put family first. He loved showing his kids how to fix everything from worn out brakes to leaky water heaters. This Dad was into everything and was always up to something good. Mostly though he was always up for his family.

In this tribute, the son wrote of his own regret for maybe, not always wanting to go fishing with his Dad. Sometimes he had other kid things to do and just didn’t have the time to learn how to install drywall at the moment. The young man was worried that maybe he didn’t say I love you enough. I’m sure he did. Then, it hit me. I checked to be sure and, I was right. It turns out that I knew this fellows Dad. He was a friend of mine. I called him Big Ed.

Big Ed worked the popcorn machine at a great cruise night I used to host for an auto parts company. It was one of the best cruise nights I ever had the pleasure of doing. The main reason this one was so special was the enthusiasm that powered it. Everyone at the store, Big Ed included was beyond fired up for this thing every Thursday night. As a result, the parking lot was always full of wonderful hot rods every time from early spring to deep fall. I loved that gig.

On those nights, Big Ed helped at the sales counter and ran the popcorn machine. He’d get pretty busy but, I never saw the smile fall from his face on those wonderful nights. He welcomed the bedlam. Sometimes he’d get a break and come out to my spot on the sidewalk in front of the store. Maybe he’d bring me a popcorn. We’d talk a bit. Those talks convinced me that Big Ed was one of the happiest people I ever knew. I’m sure his family was one of the main reasons for the joy he had in him.

I just had to take a break and walk Millie the Hound. It’s hard to write when your dog is doing the butt slide and whining right behind you. She and I walked down to the river off our back yard. Millie finished doing her thing and promptly walked over to the river. She waded in a little and started to drink her fill. She loves getting her drink right from the source. The river has been around for millions of years. It runs clear, cool, and clean. It can’t be beat for refreshment and, it’s a wonderful spot to take a break.   It’s also kind of like Big Ed.

Humans are mostly spirit. Human form may be the well spring of our eternal existence. We learn our way much like a river finds its way to the sea.   Rivers do a lot of good along their way. So did Big Ed. Millie took in a refreshing drink courtesy of the river and, I enjoyed just looking at the water flow by. Like the river, Big Ed nourished his family with plenty of unlimited love to go around.   Just like Millie couldn’t drink the river dry, his family could never run his river of love dry either.   Just staring at the river made my day a bit brighter and, Big Ed did the same to all who came his way especially his family. People like Big Ed don’t need a constant flow of love coming in to their hearts. They just don’t need it. They already have enough love in them much like a flooded stream. Big Ed had no regrets and, anyone who knew him shouldn’t have any regrets either.

I’m not an expert on life by any stretch of the imagination and, I certainly don’t know it all. But, I think that Big Ed’s son will have many smiles on his face as time goes by.   All courtesy of Big Ed his Dad. Big Ed, had plenty of love in him, just like the river has water. I’m sure all the members of his family were like springs bringing more oomph to the flow. I am certain though, that Big Ed is just fine being part of the sea of life and existence.  It would be hard to find anyone more pleased with his time on Earth.

 

 

 

 

ON THE TRAIN OUT OF WASHINGTON

ON THE TRAIN OUT OF WASHINGTON

It was so long ago but, it seems like yesterday. I was just a dumb college student and, I don’t think I was getting any brighter. It might be that college isn’t meant to make you smart. It might be meant more to make you learn to open your eyes, ears, and connect them to your soul. Then, when you’ve seen and heard enough, it’s alright to open your mouth and talk, write, and build, a bit.

Well, I was keeping my eyes open at the Union Station in Washington, DC. Back in 1965 that was a good idea. The once proud station was a pretty rough place. I think the waiting room seats were steam heated back then and, the homeless folks were steady customers. They were pretty smart because those seats were nice and warm. Even if the steam was off, sleeping in the waiting room was way better than sleeping under newspapers outside.

There was one funny thing about the mens room at the Union Station. If you were doing your thing at the urinals, you could look outside at the Capital Building. It was probably the best view of the Capital Building in town. I’ll bet postcards of the dome taken from that vantage point sell like crazy. I discovered this view early and never missed a chance to take it in. I finished my business and was heading out to the main station lobby when a very drunk old timer staggered out of one of the stalls.

Oh, was he ever loaded. I figured him to be over sixty five years old. He wasn’t a big man. I remember that he wore a beat up old hat that had seen better days. It was one of those hats everyone wore in the movies you see of the 1930’s. He wore a suit and tie. It was a stripped and kind of blue grey suit. The tie hung more like a noose. That suit hadn’t been pressed in years.   Even though it was chilly, he was pretty sweaty. Still, there was something about him. Even though he smelled of urine, I really didn’t think the worst of him. He seemed like, perhaps in better days, he was a decent guy. I don’t know.

I said, “Hello”

He tipped his hat sort of and staggered over to the sink to wash his face. There was a bottle in his coat pocket.   Out in the lobby, the police were trying to keep him off the heated seats and away from the passengers. He did stink to high heaven. They had to do something. They did their best to be nice. Maybe they knew him. He might have been a regular. I wondered if he was a Congressman.   I guess he wasn’t.

My train got its boarding call and, I went to trackside. Guess who was right behind me. Yep. I kind of made sure from a distance that he didn’t fall off the platform. It wasn’t that far a drop but, still. Somehow he got up the steps and into the coach seats ahead of me. The porter wasn’t that happy to see him and just shook his head and, kind of whisked his hand past his nose for relief. The porter checked my ticket and said there was plenty of seats just pick one. I found a nice window seat.

My older friend didn’t have much luck choosing a seat. He kept wanting to sit with one person or another and they just wouldn’t have it. I guess he wanted to be sociable and, they didn’t. Some folks were polite about it and, some weren’t. Eventually, he got to me. I’m just not the one to be rude so, he sat down next to me. The train started to back out of the station on its way to the switch track spur that would set us on the west bound B&O rails to Ohio.

He offered me a swig but, was glad when I passed on the offer. We got to talking. It was the usual small talk. He was heading for West Virginia. I think my hair was longer than usual and, he wanted to know if I was one of those hippies he’d been hearing about. I told him I didn’t really think I was much of anything truth be known. I just kind of liked my hair long. I felt it looked better long. We talked like that for quite a while.

It was getting near sundown and we’d been talking for almost an hour. We’d passed through Harpers Ferry and, he was telling me how relatives of his attacked the town during the Civil War. I didn’t get what side they were on. He said he’d been in WW I. Then, all of a sudden his voice got kind of quiet. He stopped talking and, in a minute or two, he started crying. Between sobs he said how he had killed so many people. He was really shaking.

I told him how he really shouldn’t feel so bad because war is just that way right? He was having none of my viewpoint and just kept crying. I didn’t quite see it then, but now, I think he was right and I was very wrong. He was reaching into his pants pocket. He pulled out a fistful of you name it.

There, in his open palm was a couple of used tissues, a cork, a few small coins, a piece of a pencil, a paperclip, and maybe a lucky pebble. Underneath it all was a medal. He told me to look at it.

I held it in my hand and brushed some gunk off it. I’ll never for as long as I live, forget what it was. I had in my hand the Congressional Medal of Honor! “Is this what I think it is? Did you get this in the War?” He said between sobs that it belonged to him and cried all the harder.   I asked him what he did to earn this highest of medals. I remember saying, “You’ve got to be a real hero.”

He just pointed at the medal and said that he killed a lot of people to get that thing. Then, he just cried all the harder in the dark. It was almost to him that the medal was a kind of curse. I gave it back to him. He put it back into his pocket. Soon, he fell asleep. I didn’t know what his stop was. I fell asleep too. I hear he slept past his station stop in the night and they had to let him off in the next town with a return trip ticket.

For your information, I got his name and looked up his war record. I won’t tell you his name but, I will say that he actually got that medal not for killing but, for saving a dozen or so of his injured squad members when they were all ambushed by Germans holding the high ground with machine guns. He went out of cover into a scathing hail of bullets and pulled injured soldiers to safety. He did this at least a dozen times maybe more.

In other actions, he may have done some killing. I could tell he did. Those were very real tears he was crying. But, the medal came from extreme kindness in the face of horror and the hate of war. God Bless that guy.

 

 

 

 

THOUGHTS FOR APRIL FOOLS DAY SHENANIGANS

THOUGHTS FOR APRL FOOLS DAY SHENANIGANS

I don’t think people are that crazy for April Fools Day anymore. It’s kind of a shame but, maybe tricking people for fun is an idea that’s come and gone. It could be that we’ve “evolved” into tricking people for personal gain and profit and, a simple little nothing trick for a laugh just doesn’t seem worth it anymore.

Maybe people are so thin skinned that pranksters worry for their safety. I mean, the old wallet on a string trick could wind you up in jail for the riot you started. Or worse, I can just hear the lawyers now, ripping you a new one for that “kick me” note you taped on the copier repairman. There he is, sitting, no wait, he’s standing, with his lawyer over at the plaintiffs table looking at travel brochures for the vacations you’ll soon be paying for. A jokester just can’t be too careful with what they pull. I have some examples.

These April Fools Day Pranks may be a bit out of line. They should be avoided.

  1. Never joke around at a firing squad. “Ready…..Aim…….April Fools!!!” Is just not nice.
  2. Never paste little guided missile stickers on a NORAD radar screen.
  3. If a sailor is out at sea when his wife has a one baby on the 6th. Please remember that it’s just wrong to send a telegram informing him that she had six babies on the 1st.
  4. I’d still like to catch the clown that installed that 400 rpm electric motor into one of my turntables when I wasn’t looking.
  5. As far back as 1000 BC, you could get in big trouble for moving a sundial into the shade. Don’t think things have changed.   It’s still a rotten thing to do.     Be careful too that your trick doesn’t backfire on you. Case in point, I know a guy who put on a gorilla suit. He didn’t pay much needed attention to the stuck zipper. I guess he figured he could get it unstuck later at a friend’s house.   He strolled leisurely into a local zoo. Sure people ran away screaming. The guards didn’t run though. One of them had a tranquilizer gun. Just one shot in the rump did it. Next, thing the guy was waking up next to his new girlfriend Moogumba Queen of the Apes. They had their own private cage. Call it a love nest.
  6.    All he could do was run from one corner to the other as Moogumba did her most seductive of mating dances. His screams for help we’re muffled by the suit. He was slipping on the bananas people were throwing at the two love birds.   Moogumba had him cornered. She approached closer and closer. Just as she was a kiss away, she stopped, and stood straight up and removed her head revealing a zoo guard shouting April Fools!!!!! Pranksters beware!!! This, or something even worse, could happen to you. Take heed.

 

 

 

 

GOT A REPRIEVE

GOT A REPRIEVE

I called the court house last night.  The recording let us all off the hook.  I guess this being The Easter and Passover holiday week, they didn’t need any jurors.  They told all of us to not even bother to come in.  Oh, this is such a relief.  I feel like I was just found to be not guilty.

It’s not that I think the court system is a bad idea. Trial by an impartial jury of one’s peers, is perhaps the best way ever found to sort out right from wrong and guilty from innocent. We’re lucky to have this system in America. It would be awful if all’s we had was a captain wearing a monocle and sitting at a desk along the roadside deciding if we should or should not be shot for wearing sideburns. Our system is the best but, oh God, I dread jury duty. A colonoscopy is more fun.

You all know me, right? Sure, I’ve made mistakes. Many of them we’re doozies. But, all in all, I try my best to go through life with the best of intentions. I really do try my best. I don’t think I’ve ever been on trial for anything. But, I always get in trouble in court even though I’ve always been there as a friend of the court. It’s somehow inevitable. There’s just no stopping it.

Just walking into the courthouse lights the fuse. Twice now, and there won’t be a third time, I’ve been stopped at the metal detector. The first time, I did as they said and removed all the metal I could think of. Still, the darn thing sounded the alarm every time I went through. The guard had no sense of humor to say the least. Meaner ones than him we’re starting to gather as I went through again and again. I think they were going to throw me into the bomb truck and detonate me. It turns out that I was wearing steel tipped shoes.

Another time I forgot about my A&P box cutter sitting in my back pocket. It was a good thing that I was a witness for the state or, I think I might have become a guest of the state.

Worse than anything, I find it so hard to stay awake in the juror box.  Those chairs are so comfortable, the lawyers are droning on and on hypnotically.  There’s no fresh air and, it’s just a little too warm.  I start to feel like I’m wrapped in a cozy soft baby blanket of stale air.  The council for the defense puts up this chart of his clients past twenty five years of tax refunds.  He begins speaking in hushed tones. He may as well be singing a lullaby.

Soon, I’m on the warm beach at Lavalette and there’s this real pretty bikini clad pizza delivery girl bringing me a large half pepperoni pie. Suddenly, I hear the pounding of the gavel and the judge telling the bailiff to wake me up. Then comes the stern lecture and warning about contempt of court and a week in the slammer.

After all that, I’m even sleepier. You think some kind soul would bring a coffee to a guy but, no. After that dress down from the judge, I’d pay a lot for a coffee. But, heaven forbid. So, I sit there in the jury box as the room swirls and dances. My eye lids creep heavily downward every so often and, it takes the strength of Hercules to get them back up where they belong.

I look over at the judge. He’s staring right at me gavel in hand. That’s when it hits me. Suddenly, without warning, it comes.   It makes its presence more and more known to only me. Sitting in the jury box in front of all assembled for this great trial, I realize that I really and, with a passion known only to God and His Angels, am getting horribly gassy.

Court adjourned.

 

DOGS AREN’T DUMMIES

It was singer Lindy Gravelles birthday yesterday. She does a fine job of singing a song called “I LOVE MY DOG”. It’s an especially great tune about something near and dear to all of us. That thing being the thing we have for canines. I know it’s a mutual love affair.
It might even be a lopsided love affair when you get right down to it. I’m beginning to think that dogs hold the patent rights in this thing called love. They could be better lovers than we will ever be. That, or perhaps, they have the right idea about love. Maybe, they know and do something with love that we don’t quite yet understand.
Oh sure, we humans love our dogs as much as we can for the most part. With our bigger brains, we spoil and care for our wonderful mutts doing all we can to make them happy. We know a good thing when we see one. So, I’m not saying we should do better than we already are doing. I’m just wondering why we go so crazy for dogs.
I once saw a grizzled patrol officer walking his beat. He was having a bad day and, you’d be wise to avoid him at all costs. I approached him while walking Millie our hound. I was thinking that maybe we should give the guy some room. Millie wouldn’t hear of it. She tugged on her leash and went into low gear for traction and pulled us, with all her might, up to the officer. Her tail was in high gear as she put on her cutest face. The officer saw her and stopped in his tracks. He looked down at her. You have to look down at Basset Hounds. At first he scowled. Then, that frown he was wearing started to crack like a dam about to break. Soon, that big guy, who I’m sure had seen his share of trouble that morning, was kneeling down to pet Millie. She rolled over for a belly rub. He just started laughing. Millie’s belly is the eighth wonder of the world. Those big old hands of his relaxed as he gave her a bit of a rub. Millie got to her feet and gave the now smiling officer a shot at doing ear rubs. Hound ears are very therapeutic.
The policeman was scratching Millie’s chin. I told him that he ought to watch out. Hound chins are pretty stinky. He said he didn’t care. He was so happy. Millie was happy too. It seemed that an eternity went by. The patrolman stood up, brushed the dog hairs from his trousers. He shook hands with me and walked away with a smile and a whistle. His day was now brighter and, Millie had another pal.
I think dogs have a way of giving love to most of the folks they meet long before they get anything in return. They pay the love forward. They also seem to give it back to the best of their ability, in double portions. In other words, they give two kisses for one received. It’s not a way to make a profit, but it is a way to live. Isn’t it. You can learn a lot from a dog.