TUNA AND EGG SALAD ON RYE PLEASE

TUNA AND EGG SALAD ON RYE PLEASE

It was a long time ago and, believe it or not I had a job as a radio deejay. No really, I actually got paid to be on the air. Go figure. I liked doing the show quite a bit. The station oversaw a small North Jersey town. I had lots of good listeners and plenty of happy sponsors. Life was good. There was more than enough to talk about and I never had a shortage of guests to interview. The shows I did were, in a way, the start of what I now do on the web. In fact, it just hit me that the commercials, I was called on to write and perform were really the embryonic start of these blurps I now write.
I never lacked for fans either. There were quite a few folks who listened to every minute of every show. Bless their hearts. They made the show fun. I had so many of them glued to the other end of the beam. If I had a contest, they’d get in it full bore. Sometimes they’d win. Sometimes, they wouldn’t. Those great people would always try. Every time, they’d be in it tooth and nail. I have to say that I sure had some great fans.
One day, if I remember correctly, I was interviewing a guest. God knows how the topic came up but, the guest and I got on the topic of sandwiches. It may well be that we started out talking about my guests new book on roadside stops along Route 95. But, as with most of my interviews we wandered off topic just a tad. It never took too long to do that kind of thing. It may be that I got to talking about how much fun it was when my Mom Dad and younger brother Ed and I would go on a road trip. Mom had this Scotch Cooler Bucket. It had a plaid pattern on the outside. They might still be around but, they were very popular in the early fifties. All families had at least two. She’d fill the bottom with ice. Then she’d stuff it with one beer for our father. Then, in would go soda, and all sorts of sandwiches. Tuna salad was the sandwich of choice. Salami sandwiches on white bread with mustard came in second. Mom could feed a small army out of that tin.
My show’s guest had pretty much the same experiences as me. Though, he or she said that in his or her family’s case the main sandwich was bologna on crusty rye with mayonnaise and that egg salad sandwiches we’re in for second choice. And then, a big smile came over my face. The guest could see I was on to something.
I was late for a commercial break but, money would have to wait. I raised both my hands in the air and shouted totally off topic. “This just hit me. What if you took crusty rye bread and on one slice cover it with tuna salad? Then, on the other slice of bread, you lathered it up with egg salad? You’d have a fish egg salad sandwich. Oh my God! That would be delicious!!!!”
I started to froth at the mouth. The guest looked a little pale. I was running around the control booth tearing at my tee shirt. I couldn’t control myself. “Think of how great that would be!!!” We broke for commercial.
I may be embellishing just a bit here. But, the idea did indeed hit me while I was on the air. I vowed to make that very sandwich the first chance I got. There was just one problem, I had to host a cruise night that evening. It was at a Wendy’s. My balloon popped as I realized that I’d have to wait till I got home late that evening. Gosh, it would take forever to hard boil an egg when I got home. What if we were out of tuna and bread too? Worse than that, what if we were out of mayonnaise? That would mean I’d have to wait to try my dream sandwich until breakfast at least. I went from joy to agony in record time. Drat the luck.
I went through the motions of setting up my equipment at the Wendy’s Cruise night. Sure, they had fine sandwiches all dripping with cheese and really great chili there. But, you could sure bet that they didn’t have tuna and egg salad sandwiches on hand. I choked down a burger or two and maybe a bag of fries. Good as they were, it just wasn’t the same.
Hot rods were arriving as the music played. I hardly noticed. I felt like if you’ve seen one 57 Ford, you’ve seen them all. Roadsters…Schmodsters. Big deal! I so wanted that sandwich.
In due time, the sun was going down and it was getting dark. I turned from the crowd to choose the next record. With my back to the crowd, I didn’t notice a super large pickup truck pull right up to my table. I jumped a foot when its air horn went off. I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
I whirled to see this giant diesel Dodge Pickup right in my face. All its lights were on and the engine was growling. I couldn’t really see the driver with the high beams in my eyes. Thankfully, the engine shut off and the drivers side door opened. A guy climbed out of the drivers side and, his feet hit the ground with a thud. The guy was carrying a bag and a coffee.
It was listener Steve. He was one of my steady listeners. Well he would be one of my steady listeners until I played a polka. Then, all bets were off and he’d turn off the station till the song was over. No big deal. You don’t like polkas then, you shouldn’t listen when they’re on. Steve held the bag out to me and said it was for me.
I opened the bag and I could smell right away that my prayers were answered. In the bag was a tuna salad and egg salad sandwich on crusty rye bread. Pickle slice included. Steve’s smile stretched between two counties.
The sandwich didn’t stand a chance. It’s next of kin would have been horrified. Gluttony reigned supreme for about five seconds. Then it was gone but, not forgotten. Oh, Lord was that ever a great sandwich. My hunch was right. Quite right indeed.
One shouldn’t eat egg and tuna salad sandwiches too fast on an empty stomach. I spent a bit of time belching as Steve explained that he and the deli owner got into a pretty good fight when Steve placed the order. It was just a war of words. No knives or guns came into play and Steve and the Counter guys didn’t wind up punching each other as they rolled on the floor. Mostly Steve held his ground and said he wasn’t giving up his “next” number until the guy made that sandwich. The line was starting to grow so, the deli guy gave in. People were starting to get mad. Of course a few patrons thought the sandwich was a good idea and wanted one too. That deli, I would think, must now have that sandwich as a steady number. It would only be right if they call it the “Steve”. It wouldn’t be right to name it after me. I don’t need the honor. This is a case of inspiration over shadowing good hard grunt work.
Steve was always up to one thing or another back then. I guess he still is. You got to keep an eye on him. Just the same, he is good people and just one of the many great listeners I’m lucky enough to have.

SANDY IN SPRING, SWEET SPRING

SANDY IN SPRING, SWEET SPRING
Oh, it’s just one of those really nice spring days friends. Correct me if I’m wrong but, there hasn’t been too many warm mornings so far this year. Somehow, this day is getting the juices flowing like crazy. Even nicer, it’s a Saturday, and lots of folks can sleep in a bit or at least, don’t have to head off to work. Me, I got up just a little bit late. Not much but, just a little. I woke up around seven or so.
By the time I crawled out of bed my wife Sandy, had been up for about three hours. Spring is hitting her like a vitamin shot. She does outdoor flea markets. Spring is her time to get busy and, she’s doing just that. Before the sun came up, I could hear her dragging last night’s auction buys out of her van and into the house. For a while, it sounded like a very large dump truck had backed up to our front door or maybe a box car was backed into a siding on our front lawn. There was all this beeping and a far off steam whistle and then I could hear a dump bed lift and stevedores cussing. Then there was all this rumbling noise. I just figured that the bidding went well.
Now that I’m up, she’s in the living room sitting alongside this giant mound of stuff with a thirty gallon spray drum of Windex. She’s squirting all the treasures and, wiping them down. I can see that she’s daydreaming about selling tomorrow out at her favorite flea market in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania. Little bubble like dollar signs are popping out the top of her head and floating around the living room. The smaller stuff is just getting a quick lick and a promise with the Windex. The dirty greasier items are in the tub. I guess I’ll have to pass on a bath this morning. She’s got the top turret to a Sherman tank in the tub soaking in degreaser. Sandy said she got it at the auction last night and had a bit of trouble lashing it to the roof of her van.
The Wind Gap Outdoor Flea Market opened for the season not that long ago. Unfortunately, Old Man Winter hadn’t left the neighborhood yet. Sandy went on the first Sunday of the season and was greeted with sixty mile an hour winds and subfreezing wind chills oh, and sleet. One guy selling baseball cards spent the day chasing after his stuff as it blew up and off the mountain and into the jet stream heading for Cooperstown. The hills echoed with his screams of despair. Collectible plates were sited over Binghamton. Air defense was scrambled. Lucky for Sandy she was selling old tools. She sold quite a few hammers and screw drivers when people went to the parking lot and found their cars iced over. Her antique jumper cables did pretty good too.
There’s not much meat on Sandy’s bones but, when she finishes dressing for a winter outdoor market, she looks like she’s doubled her weight. She starts with a toasty covering of those chemical heating pads the hunters wear. They fit different body parts. I got her a bunch of them for Christmas. Then, she puts on about three layers of long johns. Dungarees and sweaters come next. Then a couple of flannel shirts and scarfs. She’s has this pair of down quilted snow pants that makes her butt look about three feet wide. She then puts on a massive duck cloth coat with lots of zippered pockets for money. I think I’ve seen her stick on a kind of pilots cloth helmet with goggles. A few more scarfs and heavy insulated boots with laces finish of the job and, she’s heads out to warm up her van. You’ve heard of the dance of the seven veils. Well, Sandy could do that dance four or five times and still be a proper lady. I just pray that when she comes back inside that she doesn’t have to hit the bathroom before she heads off. That could get a bit frantic.
Even with all those clothes on, she’ll be freezing after about two minutes in front of her booth. I’ve heard that Neanderthals roamed the frozen glaciers of the ice age barefoot and wearing a fur or two and they got along just fine feeling great. That wouldn’t be my Sandy. She’d be much happier back in those days in Ethiopia trudging through the dessert in the buff.
That’s how it was for the first few weekends of market season. That first day was the worst but nothing really improved until today. Today, the sun is shining upon singing birds perched on sprouting tree limbs towering above blossoming daffodils alongside a driveway that’s finally free of snow opening onto an ice free lane to a road with all its potholes repaired that leads past a coffee shop with great jelly donuts ripe for munching as the radio plays Tiny Tim singing Tip Toe Thru the Tulips.
Sandy’s already counting her money. I’m sure I’ll never quite find out just how much she took in for the day but, I know she’ll do just fine. Now that it’s Spring.

GODZILLA’S KID AWAKENS

GODZILLA’S KID AWAKENS

Millie our hound was sleeping and snoring at Sandy’s feet when I came out of the bedroom. That hound of ours was out cold when I stepped into the room. I hadn’t even said good morning yet when Millie’s tail started thumping on the floor. I’m sure she was still asleep. I think dogs don’t so much hear your approach as they smell you coming. A hound’s nose must always be on high alert. In any case, the closer I tip toed to Millie the faster her tail thwacked the rug. When I finally snuck up right next to her, that tail was going like a humming birds wings. There was actually a cloud of dust rising out of the rug and hovering a foot or two above the floor. She had been asleep but, at that point, those sleepy old hound eyes of hers were sleepy no more.
She got all pop eyed and rolled onto her back for the first of many morning belly rubs. When Basset Hounds roll on their back, their ears fall flat to the floor as if they were a rolled out brown dust carpet. Gravity pulls their floppy skin back tight turning their face into that of maybe a fox or a lizard. When Basset Hounds lie on their backs, their dog lips fall back too, exposing the teeth and fangs you’ll never see when they’re standing upright and the jowls are in the proper position.
Millie had a lot of pups before we got her so, she has a bit of a belly too. Like any big belly, hers just spreads outwards when she’s on her back. Picture a base fiddle with fur. While she’s on her back, her forelegs rise out of her shoulders and kind of curl. Two legged movie dinosaurs have that same forearm posture when you see them out in the pre historic fern forests searching for tasty cave men.
Her stubby rear legs just curl up and fall to the side as far as they can go which isn’t that far. They do get into a kind of trot that somehow coincides with the intensity of the belly rub. I think there’s some surface nerve on both sides of her rib cage that causes this to happen. With practice, I can get her legs to air trot fast or slow. It’s funny to watch.
It’s odd but, during the whole belly rub ritual, her tail, which has the ability to outpace the fastest of supersonic pendulums, doesn’t move much at all. Millie mostly but not always just curls it up onto her belly. I guess she’s being modest.
With her lips off her teeth, her breathing has a hiss to it as she slowly moves her head left and right. I don’t know but this bug eyed look of utter abandon and joy just engulfs her. Except for the flaming breath, it’s kind of like I’m giving a belly rub to one of Godzilla’s kids.
Some will say that a dogs morning breath is potentially flammable. That could be true but, who am I to talk? Still, to be safe we never do belly rubs near our woodstove when it’s running.

THE HOUND AWAKENS…A TALL TALE OF PEPPERONI PIZZA AND HOUNDS RUNNING WILD

THE HOUND AWAKENS….A TALL TALE OF PEPPERONI PIZZA AND HOUNDS RUNNING WILD
My wife Sandy and I have a funny looking dog. She has really big ears and a big fat nose that’s rather large for her size. She’s actually a big dog but, doesn’t seem that large because her legs are so short. When she wants attention, she makes more noise with her bark, than two old sailing ships firing broad sides at each other. Belly rubs and naps are two of her favorite things as is taking over my old easy chair and hogging the bed at night. If she could take over the bed and easy chair and get belly rubs while napping, her life would be complete. In short, Millie is a typical Basset Hound. Of course my wife Sandy and I love her to death. Still, that doesn’t mean that she isn’t a pill.
I work very hard in the dairy section of a nearby supermarket. Most of the time, I enjoy my chores there except for one day not too long ago. That day, in the dairy aisle, there was no napping for me. Oh God, what a day. You name it, someone spilled it. Every uboat I picked for loading had those special wheels with the welded ball bearings. Pushing quarried stones up the side of the pyramid at Giza would have been childs play compared to shoving these fiendish sledges into place.
Someone at the egg packing plant must have been on break when the egg crates coming to our store passed by the gluing station. I’d grab an egg crate by the handles like anyone else would do but, you’d be surprised just how fast and how hard cartons of eggs will fall out the bottom of the crate if the bottom flaps weren’t glued. By the way, jumping up and down on the rest of the egg boxes and yelling a very cruel oath to the powers that be, is no way to clean up the spill. Of course getting egg goo on shoe bottoms, is no way to maintain ones balance in the cooler. Remember too, that in the dairy cooler, no one can hear you scream.
Thankfully and mercifully, quitting time came. The day from hell was over or, should I say extinguished? In any case, I did have some shopping to do. Supper was waiting for me somewhere on the shelves but, where and what would it be?
I walked the aisles of the market, much like Daniel Boone stalking a nice tasty deer. Like that great pioneer, I wanted the modern day equivalent of venison. I didn’t want to settle for a possum. Down the soup aisle I went only to find nothing that peaked my interest. The canned meat department almost got me with a good deal on corned beef hash. Hash, eggs, and toast makes for a tasty feast especially with a little pepper and a liberal sprinkle of Worcestershire Sauce. I figured maybe that would be good for Sunday breakfast instead of tonight’s supper. I continued on. Gosh, there had to be something but, what and where? I turned into the frozen food section and then it hit me right between the ears.
There, in the front bin, was a big sale tag proudly proclaiming that we were having a big mark down on our new special line of Frozen Pizzas! The case was stuffed with one type of these pizzas after another. I hollered “YES!!!” Frantically, I dug through the pile of pizzas trying to decide which one would be mine. There were so many and, then I saw it. Right under my quivering nose there was every frozen pizza fans first and favorite choice. I had found the Holy Grail of tomato pies. It was the flat crust, double pepperoni pie. I touched the box much like those high priced models stroke a car door handle in the fancy car commercials. If only the frozen food manager could have been there to gently play a violin, the moment would have been complete.
As it turns out the Frozen Food Manager somehow was standing right next to me. She didn’t have a violin but, she did speak quietly. “I see you found it. The Double Pepperoni. It’s our best one. Go ahead. Sniff the box.”
I did just that. I know the pie was sealed in plastic but, you know friends, I could smell a faint hint of pepperoni wafting into my nostrils from deep within the box. Any pepperoni fanatic will tell you if he or she is worth their spice, that the aroma of any true pepperoni cannot be held back from an experts whiff by mere plastic wrap. It’s a hard test that only the best pepperonis can pass. When the aroma hit me, the Frozen Manager and I just nodded at each other.
I asked about the sauce. She said unlike a lot of frozen pies these new and improved Pizzas even though the sauce is excellent well, they aren’t over sauced. My eyes glazed a little. I don’t know but, it was such a beautiful moment. I got a bit choked up. Calmly, she spoke to me. “They’re two for Six Forty Nine. That’s a good deal. You better get two. One won’t be enough.”
I jumped at that deal. Purchasing the Hope Diamond for a quarter couldn’t have pleased me more. I had security escort me through check out. We put the pizzas into a double bag to make sure no one saw the treasure that was soon to be mine all mine. The security guy walked me to my van just to be safe. There was a bit of a crowd forming. You never know. I mean what if I just got the last two pies?
The drive home seemed to take forever. I almost got a ticket for speeding. Actually, I got stopped four times. Lucky for me most cops are frozen pizza fanatics just like me. It was smart of me to tell them that they might be able to get their own Flat Crust Double Pepperoni if it was still in stock back at the store. Eventually, one of the cops pulled a few strings and I got a police escort home. Policemen like a hot tip. I figured it was my way of thanking them for their service. If anyone deserves such a good frozen pizza it’s them.
Once I was back in my own driveway, I ran into the house. Sandy wanted to know what all the police cars were doing in our yard. Before I could explain they were peeling out 10-33 with lights and siren to get their own pie. As the sound of the sirens faded off into the night, I held the shopping bags out for Sandy to see. I hollered out loud.
“Sandy, I got them two for Six Forty Nine!!! I don’t believe my good luck! Light the oven. Set it for four hundred!!! Tonight we eat like kings!!!!”
Sandy ran into the kitchen hollering. I looked over at our sleeping hound Millie. Oh she was out cold lying in what used to be my easy chair. I went over to her and just stood there. She was still as death so, I slightly exposed just an inch or two of just one pizza box as I hovered the box about three feet above her.
It only took a second, maybe two seconds for the pepperoni effect to take place. Bassets are known for one special trait besides napping. They are born with one of the strongest noses in all of Dogdom. Though she was asleep, Millies nose just wiggled ever so slightly. It was much like a gnat landed on her schnozzola. She was still asleep but, her tail started to wag. It wagged slowly at first. As I lowered the pizza box closer to her nose, her tail started to wag just a bit faster. By the time the bag was almost down to her nose, her tail was snapping like it belonged on a poodle. If I lifted the bag away, her tail wagging would slow down. It was like her nose and tail were kind of like a Geiger counter for pizza.
Suddenly, Millie’s eyes opened wide. In a flash, she went from being a Basset to becoming a Mets fan at the start of last years World Series. In a millisecond, she was standing straight up with her eyes wide open and her nose pointed skyward sniffing round the room almost like radar. I had the box behind my back and out of sight. Millies muzzle and nose assembly swept back and forth as it scanned the living room. In just seconds, it locked onto me. Millie stiffened as much as a Basset Hound can stiffen. They have very loose skin.
Her eyes met mine and there was a perceptible but short pause. Then, the barking started. It got very loud and quite intense. Ceramic mugs were shaking on the wall shelves with each bark. Some vibrated off the shelves and crashed to the floor. Millie wouldn’t stop barking. She was off the easy chair now and running in circles around my legs. I did my best to make my way to the kitchen. I don’t like to think what would have happened if somehow Millie caused me to trip and fall. What if her ancient canine instincts took over? How would I explain to Saint Peter that I was torn apart by a pizza crazed Basset Hound? Sandy hollered that the oven was up to temp. I handed off the box to Sandy as Mille without missing a beat want to running circles around both Sandy and me. The hound was in a kind of crazed figure eight pattern.
You can’t explain waiting to a dog. I wish it could be done but, there’s nothing you can say or do to ease their agony. Millie did eventually get tired. With a big sigh, she plopped herself down on the kitchen floor right in front of the stove. Now and then, her head would pop up to see if there were any new developments or reports. This would happen about every forty seconds. There was nothing new to tell her so, she’d just put her head down with a sigh. Double pepperoni pizza scent filled our home. With that nose of hers, she must have been going nuts. To tell the truth the aroma was getting to me as well. So, I laid down next to Millie and sighed right along with her. When she’d stick her head up, I’d do the same. Then we’d both sigh and put our heads back on the floor. Sandy thought we were both nuts. She was right.
Eventually, even eternity passes. The oven buzzed loudly. Millie and I jumped a foot. I didn’t open the oven door right away. Instead, I turned on the oven light and looked through the glass oven door window. Millie looked with me. Ahhh, there it was, in the dim oven light a beautiful square golden brown pizza with lots of pepperonis all in rows and nestled in bubbly cheese. The pizza was done to a turn. Millie started barking again.
I opened the oven door and welcomed the finished pizza into our home. The aroma filled every room. Millie must have gotten an extremely large dose of scent. Her ears went back as her eyes just popped. In some circles, you’d call that a rush. She made a kind of guttural groan. It was a kind of happy growl that hounds do. I put the pizza on a cutting board and used my pearl handled cutting wheel to slice it into neat little squares.
Now, the pie had to cool just a little so, we wouldn’t burn our tongues. Try explaining that to a dog. Millie was going ape. She was doing her world famous butt slide from one end of the tile kitchen floor to the other. Panic was starting to set in.
Sandy went and turned on the television out in the living room. Millie figured that was a good sign and galloped after her. Then she galloped back to me. The howling was getting pretty loud as I held the pie high on a platter and tried to make my way to the living room. And, then it happened.
Basset Hounds weigh around sixty pounds. They also have a low center of gravity and, they can run very fast when they want to. Millie was heading top speed right down the narrow pathway that runs between our living room and the kitchen. The Broadway Limited at full steam highballing from Philly to Newark couldn’t have had more pound for pound momentum that our “little” girl steaming and howling right for me. For me, there was nowhere to go. I was trapped.
The rest is a kind of a blur. Millie ran right into both of my shins. The tray went flying. I went flying. The slices landed everywhere you can imagine. I remember a scuffle on the floor. Sandy and I tried to get to the slices first. But, boy I was hurt real bad and wasn’t much help. I still have to wear a back brace and, my knees don’t feel so good on rainy days. All I could do was snatch the couple of slices that were on my chest and stick them in my shirt pocket. Sandy grabbed what she could. Millie gobbled down three slices right on the spot. Heaven help you if you were to try and snatch them from her. She wouldn’t have been able to control her instincts. A human could have lost a thumb. Chances like this for dogs only come once in a life time and she was ready.
Luckily, we had the second pie in the fridge. Once my ribs stopped hurting, I hobbled and limped into the kitchen and turned the oven back on. Sandy and I eventually got to enjoy our Flatbread Double Pepperoni. We held hands and ate it while watching television. Goldfinger was playing again. I love that movie. Sandy got three slices. I had five. Millie woke up from her slumber and only begged for one more slice. Then, she went and found one of the lost slices under a throw rug. She knocked over a floor lamp getting to the slice. We tried to get the slice from her but, she was too fast. I’m surprised that she didn’t explode.

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PRETTY MUCH BACK IN THE SADDLE

Very good friends. Thanks to the kindness of so many cyber good Samaritans, my station is once again riding the web. The web casts have been on for about a month now and, if you don’t consider the deejay, the whole thing sounds pretty darn nice. The station still needs a bell or whistle tinkered with here and there but, it’ll do just fine for now. Feel free to check it out at www.docsouth.net Click on the black spinning record and you’ll go to the station start page. Once there, follow the instructions. They’re not too hard for most people. Let me know if you have a problem getting in.
I’ve also gotten a few Blurps written during the ordeal. You can find them on the web site too. Enjoy.
Once again, I’m able to either web cast or write blurps each and every day and, that’s a great thing. In both cases, I’m doing this to cheer people up. There’s a lot of folks out in the world who just aren’t happy enough and, I aim to fight the problem as best I can.
Please, if you have some loot to spare, consider donating a bit to my efforts at turning frowns upside down. Any amount you can spare will be welcome.
Remember that for every $25 you donate, I’ll be happy to send you an autographed copy of my first book in return for your kindness. If you donate more, then you’ll get an equivalent amount of books in return. For instance, if you send $100, that would entitle you to four books. If for some reason, you don’t need four books, then I’ll still send you the one for you and, give the other three away to charity.
I don’t know just what I’d do if someone sent $10,000. I guess after I came to, I’d have to rent a truck and ride around behind the overnight newspaper delivery guy. Well, I’ll worry about that when it happens.
But please do what you can friends. Running the webcast and writing the blurps does take a fair amount of time and money. I’m happy to do all I can to make the world a bit better. The more help that comes in, the more I can do in return. Thanks to all of you.
One last thing, if you can’t donate, please don’t feel bad about it. My station is there for everyone rich or poor. It would really hurt me to think that people who are broke at the moment, would feel like they didn’t have a right to enjoy the shows. Please keep that in mind.

SOMETIMES, EVEN A FOOL HAS A QUESTION

SOMETIMES, EVEN A FOOL HAS A QUESTION
The other afternoon I was playing tunes and web casting from the Chatterbox. If you were to ask the people gobbling down their cheeseburgers and, those listening on the web from home, how the show sounded, I’m sure most would have said it sounded just fine. Requests were coming in from cyber space. The National Anthem went very well and got its usual thunderous applause. There was even a young fellow signing autographs near the podium of honor right near his kid sized monster truck which was going to be on display in the dining room for the next few weeks. For his age, well actually for any age, he’s an expert behind the wheel of this particular kind of vehicle. He’s a good kid too. Not full of himself at all. Just a good kid who can drive rings around just about anyone. So, all in all it was yet another night of golden memories and fun at one of my favorite places, The Chatterbox. Still, I couldn’t shake the idea that my show wasn’t sounding right and that it was somehow my fault.
By the way, I’ve listened to a recording of the show since that evening. It came out just fine. I’d never say that the shows I do are perfect ever but, they’ll do just fine in most cases. Still, while I was at the controls early last Saturday night, I felt like a fool somehow and, I was getting madder and madder at myself over nothing. I found myself disliking my voice. I felt like I was talking too loud. Onetime, I didn’t have the microphone on as I tried to talk over the beginning of a song. I thought maybe I’d talked up a favorite charity twice when I should have done it just once. Oh my God, I was just singing along to a song under my breath and forgot to close the microphone. In mid intro, I forgot the name of the song I was going to play, and then I forgot the artist. Why didn’t I blow my nose before I went on air? Now, I’m sounding too nasal. Didn’t I realize that I shouldn’t say words with “N’ in them when my nose needs blowing? Why am I make a mockery of this web cast? Why can’t I be more like Casey Kasem? I’m just an idiot and nothing but a FOOL!!! Worse than that, God help me, I’m a fool in front of a microphone.
I think this kind of thing happens to just about anyone who gets in front of an audience. DJ’s, Singers, Actors, Politicians and I’m sure even Clergy come down with this problem from time to time. Heaven knows why it happens but, it does. We become our own worst critic and, I had a bad case of it the other night. But, maybe I found a cure.
Here’s what I did. I often do this kind of thing and you’d be surprised how good it works. Plus, it often works faster than Anacin. I decided that I didn’t like feeling this way and I asked God if he’d throw some advice my way. I put on a long song and talked under my breath quietly. I made sure the microphone was off. Mostly, I simply said how I felt like I was goofing up badly and needed an attitude adjustment. God, can you give me a bit of advice. Am I really such a moron? I’ll wait for your answer. What can you tell me about my being such a fool?
With that, I realized that the song I was playing was about to end. I didn’t have another song ready. Typical right? When this kind of thing happens, I just hit the first button I can find. Anything will do. Without knowing what song was on the player to my right, I punched the button. Luckily the song started ok.
It was a song by Brook Benton. First there were this really great rush of violins and then Brook sang. “Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread. And so, I come to you my love. My heart above my head. Though I see the danger there. If there’s a chance for me, then I don’t care. Fools rush in where wise men never go. But, wise men never fall in love. So, how are they to know? When we met, I felt my life begin. So open up your heart and let this fool rush in.”
I didn’t think my answer would come that quick. It was less than five seconds. Heaven works in mysterious ways. Somehow, those lyrics coming at that specific time told me that the term fool isn’t that big a drawback if your hearts in the right place. Fools might even be very necessary to the grand scheme. What would existence be without them and their wonderful escapades and blunders? Sure fools make all kinds of mistakes. That’s their job.
The rest of the night went just fine. I made plenty of blunders and goof ups and you know something, take it from this fool, the show sounded better than ever.

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A NAP FOR GETTING AHEAD IN LIFE

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A NAP FOR GETTING AHEAD IN LIFE.

Sometimes a nap is the best thing you can do. The old phrase, “Sleep on it” is good advice almost anytime or anywhere. This was never so true as it was in the case of a friend of mine, Paul who lives in Australia.
Back in the day, Paul was a member of the Australian Air Force. Paul was a flight mechanic and worked on the big, really big, transport planes. I believe they’re called C-130 Herks. I might be exaggerating but, they could probably stuff a few steam locomotives into the cargo bay and have room left over for the rest of the train. Oh sure, it would be a bit of a chore stuffing all those cars into the plane just right. But, if they took care how they did it, they’d have plenty of room for the trains passengers too. Anything is possible for a C-130.
I’m sure Paul would be the first to say that there are many great things about being in the service. A typical enlisted man gets fed and housed pretty much for free. You got good clothes to wear. You’re young and in good shape. Best of all, most evenings once your work is done, you can go off base and raise the devil. Bars surround any base and most girls love the uniform. Life is good.
Paul told me that on one of those magic evenings, he stayed a bit longer than he might otherwise normally do. Maybe there were too many redheads in the bar. Maybe there was a two for one special on mugs of beer. Oh, there could have been a hot band or a great soccer match on TV. Whatever the cause, Paul lost track of the time and staggered back to the base just in time to muster early for duty. You can do that kind of thing when you’re young. At least he still had his uniform on. He was also wearing one heck of a grin.
The sun wasn’t even up yet as the duty sergeant read the assignments. The sergeant pointed to a C-130 just outside the hangar and told Paul to check out its instrument panel and perform standard maintenance. Like most sergeant’s this one cussed a bit and told the men to quit being dead beats and snap to and get moving. Paul and his fellow mechanics came to attention and were dismissed with a shower of words only sergeants know. As they approached the plane, Paul and his mates felt that the Sarge was in a particularly good mood for a Tuesday.
Paul climbed the ladder into the C-130 and made his way to the flight control center. I’m not sure if they’re called cockpits anymore. It was still long before sun up. The passages were dark as Paul made his way to the cabin alone. The others in his crew were working elsewhere on the plane. He could hear them off in the distance tripping over wires and hitting their heads as they approached their spot for the day.
Paul felt pretty good about not hitting his head on anything as he opened the flight cabin door. Like the rest of the plane, it was dark. He turned on the cabin light, set down his tool box, and looked around. He had a decision to make. It would be tough but, he had to make the call. He stroked his chin and pondered, was he going to take a nap in the Captains seat or the Copilots seat? He had to choose wisely.
Paul looked the situation over and decided that the Captains seat was way more comfortable. Plus, it would be harder for the Sarge to spot him from his usual spot on the flight deck. Paul figured that he’d be a sitting duck in the Copilots chair. Satisfied that the logistics were in place, Paul scrunched into the Captains seat and set sail for a short but necessary voyage to dream land.
Two redheads at the bar were whispering something very wild and somewhat naughty into Pauls ear when all of a sudden he woke up back in the flight cabin. He came to back to consciousness with a snap and a click. He was really out but, luckily, no one spotted him goofing off. Seeing no sign of the Sarge, he settled back into the seat to shake the cobwebs.
As he stared off into space like we all do after we awaken for the day, Paul noticed a funny kind of sparkle coming off the pilots side window. It caught his attention and, he came to life. He looked closer. The morning sun was just dawning on a bright and new Australian morning. Its brightness revealed that the sparkle was being caused by a tiny crack in the window glass. Paul touched the crack. It was getting harder to see the crack as the sun moved along its course but, Paul could feel it now with his fingernails. This was a bad sign. Truly a very dangerous thing indeed.
You might say what’s so big a deal about a little crack in a window. What could something like that do to an aircraft, especially a C-130? I have one word to describe the problem. One word is all that’s needed. Here it is. “GOLDFINGER”!!!! Remember what happened to Auric Goldfinger when he shot that hole in Pussy Galore’s private jet? Much as Goldfinger deserved a grisly end, it sure wasn’t pretty. Well, if the crack in that C-130’s window gave way at altitude, much the same thing would have happened to the crew in that cabin. Maybe they might have been able to stay inside if they were belted into their seats but, most pilots generally are such optimists that I’m sure they’d unbuckle the second they hit cruising altitude. That would leave a plane full of stuff and no one to fly it. There wouldn’t even be anyone to holler May Day!! There’s other potential scenarios. Not one of them is a good one.
Paul saw the flaw for what it was and in the early morning sunshine, he immediately went to the Sarge and reported the crack. Then, he and the Sarge went to the Lieutenant, and they went to the Captain. Eventually, this big crowd is in the base commanders office yakking back and forth. It was a mob scene. Long story short all eyes turned to Paul and, said he was a hero and a sharp eyed hero at that.
When the next issue of the Australian Air Force Magazine came out, guess who was on the cover? Yep. There was Paul up in the flight cabin knowingly pointing at the window right where the crack was. Of course, as a result of his actions, Paul got a commendation or two but, better than that, many red heads flocked to his ears for a nibble and, beer in the pub never tasted better.
Sometimes a nap is simply the right thing to do.

BEING A BRIDGE

BEING A BRIDGE

I was on my way to work yesterday and, as usual, was keeping my eyes open for a new blurp. I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a series of blurps about the wonderful commute I have from Port Murray to Blairstown. The route I take and any other road I might chose for my trip, has a wonderful story or two around each and every bend and along each and every straightaway. If I kept my eyes open, I think there might be enough stories for a good sized book and it’s just a twenty to twenty five mile trip one way. Even, cooler, the return trip, coming from a different direction, reveals new subjects and its own sights and things of note, which could be book number two.
I was running into the Route 46, Route 80, and Route 94 junction, and looking to see the old ruined bridge over the Paulins Kill River. It’s an old broken down concrete bridge off to the right if you’re heading north along the Delaware. It’s hidden from view when the leaves come out for summer. Even in winter, you have to be quick to see it. Nowadays, it wouldn’t even get you all the way across the Paulins Kill. Parts of the bridge have caved in. It’s a scene that oil paintings are spawned from but, most people miss it. Further upstream, the great Paulins Kill Viaduct stands guard waiting for its chance to once again carry freight and passengers over its river if the rails ever lie on its roadbed once again. Old as it is, those in the know say it could take the traffic load easy.
One other great treat for the trip to work is that my vans radio gets excellent reception every inch of the way. Well, there’s one spot along Route 94 where the power lines emit some static but that’s only for a mile or so. With luck, the stations are in commercial break when I hit the squawk zone. Mostly, I have my choice of about three or four great morning shows to go hand in hand with my road coffee. I often switch from show to show searching for a topic of interest. I’m never disappointed. There’s always something. That was especially true yesterday.
I clicked onto the signal from a station out of the Allentown, Pennsylvania area. The host had two guests and the topic was the heroin epidemic in their particular area. Of course, heroin use is and has been for some time now a very serious and complicated issue. Epidemic is almost not the right word for it. Maybe adding the word, blight might help describe it better. The host and his two guests were trying to make sense of the problem and were offering solutions.
Listening, I thought of how just recently someone I work with lost their son. The young man went into the city one night and tried to score some dope. I don’t know all the details, they aren’t that important but, he wound up getting shot and killed by the dealer. This fellow had a long standing problem and just couldn’t or wouldn’t shake loose. Now, he’s gone. The saddest part of this is that I could overload my computer with similar stories.
As the show went on, I remembered how when I worked with a rescue squad down south and helped with a rescue at a train wreck. The train had hit a car full of kids. I think the kids were playing chicken with the train at a crossing. The car stalled at the last second and the train won. In typical kid fashion and luckily, the kids survived. Still, some of them were hurt pretty bad and were trapped in the crumpled up sub compact. The car was almost like a big sardine can where teenagers took the place of sardines. We got them out ok. It was a scary moment. I mean what if the car caught fire? Our hearts were in our throats. One young girl wound up in the back of my ambulance. I was new to rescue work but well trained. She was my first seriously hurt patient. I don’t know who was scared more. She kept asking if she was going to die. I kept telling her no. It was a good thing she couldn’t see me shaking. It turns out that I was right. Bad as she was hurt, she did make it and after a long recovery she was back to work at a local breakfast spot in town.
I used to drop in and even if she wasn’t my waitress, she’d come by and say hey. Nice girl. Always had a pretty smile. On the one year anniversary of the wreck, I asked her if she and her boyfriend would like to go have a pizza with me to celebrate. There was this great New York Pizza place in my town. An Italian guy from Long Island ran it and the pizza was top notch. The girl didn’t bring her fellow, but sat with me as we knocked down a great pie. Her friends saw me and kidded her about being out with an old geezer. She gave them what for saying how I was the guy who got her out of that train wreck last year. Her friends shut up and left us alone.
Funny how things come to happen. On an Easter Sunday I walked into the rescue squad hall ready for a duty shift when one of the guys from the night duty crew came over to me. He asked if I remembered that young girl from the train wreck. I said sure I did and what a nice girl she happened to be. My friend said that he had bad news and, that last evening on his shift they picked her up dead at her boyfriend’s house. She was lying on the floor with a needle in her arm. She had died on the spot. She, or her boyfriend had evidently gotten hold of either very strong heroin or perhaps by mistake a heart slowing agent. Her heart stopped instantly before she could remove the needle. The boyfriend was up on charges.
All I could think of that Easter morning was how she survived getting hit by a train weighing countless tons and yet a few drops of some stupid liquid killed her. If she were still alive, that girl would have been in her fifties by now maybe with grand kids.
The guys on the radio were talking. I think one of them was a medical examiner. The group was talking about a recent drug related death in the area. I believe a young girl overdosed and died. I think the man on the air had done her autopsy. He was crying about it. Pretty soon the host and the other guest who was a drug councilor were pretty choked up too. Come to think of it so was I. I think that the medical examiner said how he had a granddaughter that girls age. Me, I was remembering that girl from the train wreck. I don’t believe he mentioned it, but I’m sure that poor medical examiner has to do similar autopsies more than he might care to say. They’re never that exciting like on TV. Pulling body parts out of someone to see what killed them isn’t fun at all. Especially if it’s someone who just a day or two ago had a big beautiful life ahead of them. A life filled with beauty and loved ones. At that moment, on the air, it just hit that caring and brave man very hard.
Hearing that kind soul break up on the air, got me to thinking about all the folks fighting drug abuse. The police, doctors, parents, grandparents, medical examiners, AA, NA, paramedics, the nurses and orderlies at rehab centers, friends, clergy, and so many more wonderful people and organizations do all they can. You can bet that every person in the fight finds a moment when, like the Coroner, it just hits them like a train. When it does, they’ll cry a bit and get back into the ring for the big fight. When you pray for the addicted, it’s a good idea as well to pray for those who are trying to help.
I know this blurp started out all happy and went dark pretty quick. It felt right to do it this way. It’s kind of like how the addicted life becomes. It starts out like one wonderful world of magic with pretty lights shining on cool things to see and do. Then, the clouds and darkness come and there’s a demon behind every demon. This was my life for a while. I may have only had a light case but, with luck, I got out of the not so magic forest. It might seem too simple but, I just one day I saw the monsters hiding in the woods. I stopped in my tracks and went the other way. That was twenty eight years ago. It wasn’t that hard and it wasn’t that easy. Mostly, I just started to forget the demons and look for the angels.
Luckily, there’s more angels than demons. You’d be surprised as to how many of them are out there. They come in all shapes and sizes and they all want to help. Sometimes they cry but, mostly, they help. You can be one too. It’s easy to join. Just knock on the door and go in. With your heart in the right place you’ll find something you can do.
Anyway, I can’t wait till we get a real hard spring rain and the Paulins Kill River gets real full of itself. When it does, I’m going to pay a visit to the Paulins Kill Viaduct and watch it stand guard over the flood water as it waits for a train to hold.

THE BIG FIRE

THE BIG FIRE
My father and I had a kind of love-argue relationship. I’m sure we loved each other. But, a day didn’t go by where we didn’t argue about one thing or another. One day, we got in trouble for all of our stupid fussing. Who did we get in trouble with you ask? The police? The town? Maybe the neighbors? Nope, no one like that but, one dark day we tugged on the very wrong end of superman’s cape. Actually, we both pulled hard on superwomans cape and paid the price. It was bound to happen that all of our fussing and fuming would sooner or later land us in hot water with the most powerful woman I ever knew. Yep, we ticked off Mom.
We were all just sitting in the kitchen having a beer. Mom kept a TV on the kitchen counter. We were probably watching the news as Mom fried some chicken for supper. I’m sure my father and I were arguing about some kind of politics. If I liked the left, he’d like the right. That is, until I liked the right and then he’d like the left and say how he always liked the left for as long as he could remember. Oh these were such stupid arguments.
Suddenly the grease in the frying pan caught fire. Mom always believed in the old adage, skimp on the grease and spoil the chicken. Her chicken was the best. But, right now, it was getting a little too crispy. The flames were about a foot high and the smoke alarm was screeching almost right away.
The old man and I dropped the beers and ran to the other end of the counter with our imaginary fire hats on. Mom backed away from the fire as the two of us grabbed the frying pan. Now, I may have the details a bit wrong as to who had exactly what plan to put out the fire. Suffice it to say that neither one of us was right. Let’s say I said to put water on the flames. Let’s also say that my father wanted to pour salt on the pan. We were, of course, both really wrong. In fact water on a grease fire is about the worst thing you can do. In any case, there we were yanking the frying pan back and forth sloshing flaming grease onto the kitchen table. Both of us yelling and in pain from burns as we wrestled with the flaming frying pan and hollering at each other. God, but our hands hurt.
Let me just pause the action a moment to say that if God was watching the two of us, He’d have been laughing his tail off. He’d have probably put us on the Heaven Jumbotron. I can hear him telling his angels to let those two idiots keep fighting. If the house catches fire or if they get hurt rescue them but for now, let them have at each other. Maybe lower the volume when the cussing gets too loud or much bluer.
My father held the pan hand grip with one charred hand as he struggled to get the salt shaker with his free hand. Me, by stretching to the sink, I almost had my water glass three quarters full. There were blisters all over my pan hand. Hot hunks of fried chicken batter were dripping off my charred pinky finger. Smoke was everywhere. We were both yelling for Mom to get outside.
Mom stood her ground watching us with her hands on her hips. She walked over to the counter and picked up the frying pans lid. She then got between us and put the lid on the pan. Like an obedient puppy who sits down quietly after being told calmly to be quiet, the fire just peacefully went out. My father and I just stood there with nerve damaged fingers looking at the pan. Mom went to the kitchen exhaust fan and turned it on. She then looked at us both and told us to put the pan on the table and go sit in the dining room. She’d be in to talk to us in a minute. We both left for the dining room as the fan started to remove the smoke. Boy our hands hurt. They hurt real bad.
My father and I just sat in silence. We were worn out. Mom came in shortly with a martini for my father and a rum and coke for me. Mom also had a martini for herself. It was half gone. She just looked at us and said, “Down the hatch you two.” She looked at my father. “We’re all going out for dinner, right!?” My father shook his head yes. Then mom looked at me. “How’s your hand?” I said it didn’t hurt too bad. “Good,” she said, “You can go and clean up that mess in the kitchen. You’re both sorry right?” We both kind of looked at the floor. Mom went on. “I’m not going to ask you two to shake hands but, you should. At least you’re both looking at the floor. That’s a start.”
The night went well and after a few drinks the burned fingers didn’t hurt a bit. We had a good meal. Seafood I think. I imagine by noon the next day, my father and I were arguing just as much as ever. Though we never argued about frying pan grease fires ever again. If one caught fire we just put a lid on it. It just made sense to do that.

THE PINK HIPPO (FOR DOUG)

THE PINK HIPPO (FOR DOUG)
The winter snows are melting and the rainy season is upon us. The Musconetcong River is flowing high right now. Geese are gathering for the mating season. The ganders and gooses take the occasional time out from courtship and find a fast river current to ride. They do this much like human kids ride their sleds out at parks. You’ll see a small flock gather in a quiet slowly swirling pool. They’ll honk at each other a bit and maybe scarf down a wayward slug. All of a sudden one of them takes the lead and swims into a wavy current of rushing water. You can see that he’s paddling pretty hard to stay in place as he gets himself facing upstream. Once he’s got himself set just right you can see that the paddling stops as he starts rushing backwards downstream with a squawk. All this time, the bird leans left or right so as to stay in the current as the river washes him away. He eventually hits a slow spot and paddles over to a calm pool and waits as the next goose sets him or herself into the jump off point upstream. The birds seem happy to take turns. Though sometimes, the birds ride all together in a knot or crowded gaggle of flapping wings and honking. Watching them makes me wish that humans came equipped with oily feathers and fat paddle feet.
Of course these birds are no dummies. Somewhere perched high on a large river bank boulder overlooking their playground you might be able to see a single and ever vigilant sentinel goose with his two beady eyes on constant lookout for approaching danger. You can never be too careful on the Musky. Only the watchful live to see another day. These sentinel geese learn at an early age to honk with a vengeance at even the slightest hint of danger. Perhaps it might be a fox or coyote slinking towards the rivers edge and maybe then perching out on a grouping of shore line boulders hidden from the sight of the birds splashing in the main current. All’s it would take is for one bird chasing a worm to get close enough to snag and then…POW! Dinner is served.
Snapping turtles are a constant danger in the watery jungle known as the Mighty Musky. Just ask a tube rider with a big bandage on his butt. At least the tuber has lived to recant the tale of that awful day and how he could have lost even more than a hunk of skin from his derriere. The poor guy could have had it much worse. But, for a goose, it’s even worse than that. There they are just minding their own business floating in the predawn current and waking up anyone within a half a mile. They notice a bumpy rock nearby. Funny, it wasn’t there just a minute ago. Their last thoughts might be, “Odd, I didn’t know rocks floated. Curious. Very very curious indeed.” Then with a sudden burst and a glomp it’s all over. The next thing they know they’re setting up shop in that great corporate headquarters manicured campus pond in the sky.
Well, there is one guardian of justice and security in the Musky and the geese often make a daily pilgrimage to it for solace and thanksgiving. The waters around this champion of the goose world are always deep and calm. Coyotes and snapping turtles flee in terror from its very presence. Of course, the snapping turtles flee a lot slower. They need about an hour to really get out of its way. I’m talking about the all powerful Pink Hippo of the Mighty Musconetcong River. Fear it thy self ye mere mortal disbelievers. Bow, deeply in its presence. Also, don’t litter near it. That litter attracts deer flies and the Hippo is powerless against them.
Pilgrims can seek the Pink Hippo by driving West about a mile past Stephensburg Road along route 57 between Hackettstown and Washington in Northwestern New Jersey. The Hippo is indeed pink and sports a benevolent wide smile for all to see. Some say it brings good luck to those who wave at this river deity. I’m sure it couldn’t hurt.
Scientists are at a loss to explain the dietys mysterious pink color. Of course no scientist has been asked to explain much of anything about the Pink Hippo. Oddly enough, anyone who has had too much alcohol, claims that they can’t see it. As a result many partially full bottles of various alcoholic beverages are found to be littering the area. A bin has been provided by the state for their disposal. It is often filled to its capacity. During the sixties, various witnesses reported seeing the Pink Hippo walking down
Route 57. Some said it sat on the guard rails and played an emerald green saxophone. These rumors were never confirmed. The Hippo was spotted, according to some back then, along the Golden Gate Bridge thumbing a ride into Frisco. Again, who knows?
Some will say that the Hippo is nothing but a big rock in the river that is painted pink. There are rumors that in an effort to curb drunk driving along route 57, the local police gather under cover of darkness and along with Boy Scout volunteers paint the Hippo each Spring. No one seems to know anything about this rumor. Lips are sealed.
But, the geese know otherwise. They will often spend an entire sunny day basking on the Hippo’s back. If one could ask them, they say this pilgrimage to the Hippo keeps itchy feather mites from plaguing them. The geese will also will be glad to point out the lack of coyotes and foxes in the area. The feathered pilgrims also find the food that the humans bring to the swimming hole around the Hippo to be a great source of nourishment.
At night, it is said in hushed tones, that the Pink Hippo rises and walks the river. Parents, both feathered and human, tell their little goslings to listen carefully to see if they can hear him tip toeing in the deep channel just making sure everything is OK and that all is well along the Mighty Musky. So far, the river and those living along it have done just fine.