ROBERT STEAD TELLS DOC ABOUT PICKETTS CHARGE

Historian and researcher Robert Stead has studied the entire Battle of Gettysburg extensively.   One of the most costly events of that battle occurred on the third day July 3rd 1863.  It’s known as Picketts Charge.  Many from both sides we’re killed in just a couple of hours.  The South would never recover.  It was the beginning of the end for them.   For the North, it was the start of a long costly march to eventual victory.   The third day of battle was more than just a frontal attack of one side against the other.  Robert will try to explain the ins and outs of this terrible day in American history.  You might consider that in the time it takes to listen to this podcast, at the height of the fighting thousands died from both sides.  In one short and awful hour, they we’re gone.

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A CEREAL BOX NEAR THE DAIRY CASE

I don’t eat much cold cereal and, I may not have this observation totally committed to memory.  But, the other day while working in the dairy aisle I noticed a display of Post Cereal Mini Shredded Wheats.   The boxes caught my eye for some reason.  I don’t know why.  I know my mom and I used to lightly butter shredded wheat biscuits, toast them and salt them a little.  Then, we’d put ‘em in a bowl with milk for our breakfast.    I always thought it was  a very tasty treat.  It sure beat scrambled eggs.

     I had a second or two and picked up the cereal box to check it out.  There was the usual heart healthy information.  It was good to see that there was fiber galore encased in each and every small biscuit.  Sodium was pretty low it seemed.  There was the usual pictures of wheat on the stem.  I think I noticed that nine out of ten doctors agreed that eating this cereal was a good idea.  That’s always a good thing to know.   Except, I sort of hope I don’t ever get that one doctor who thinks eating cereal is a bad for you.  I mean, what does he know that we don’t.  Or, is he one of those guys who’d tell you it’s ok to eat gobs of lard  as you knock down a pint of whiskey and smoke a pack of cigarettes to start your day.  I would be really uncomfortable being in the exam room in my underwear as that doctor sat me down and told me that I really had to cut back on eating whole grain cereal and that I should increase my daily intake of cold cuts.   It would be just my luck to get that one doctor.
     Here’s the great thing I noticed on the back of the box.  I hope this is a trend starting in our world.  There was health tips on the back of the box.  It was the usual good advice, telling us to  exercise, sleep more, take time to relax.  It was all good common sense stuff.  But, here’s the real kicker.  I was so tickled to read it.  The people at Post also saw fit to have a section devoted to living a happier life.  They we’re really great tips.
     Now, I may not have them exactly right so, I won’t try to give them to you word for word.  Rest assured there was nothing on the box telling you that to be truly happy you need to get to Monte Carlos finest Hotel as soon as you can.  There wasn’t one tip saying happiness is gone forever if you don’t have designer drapes and the family cat clashes with the color scheme of the upholstery.  I didn’t see one tip that said nirvana will be yours when you hold at least ten percent of your body weight in precious metal bars.  Nope there was nothing like that.
     In fact it was pretty much the opposite.  Now, I don’t remember the tips exactly but I can give you a general idea.  The section suggested things like taking time to do something nice for a friend who is having a difficult time at the moment. It suggested doing something like bringing over a nice meal or maybe spend time with them watching TV or playing a game of cards.   I think one tip was to pick a section of sidewalk and pick up the litter.  I think another idea was to take a little of the money that you were saving for yourself and spend just a bit of it on someone else.  These may not have been the exact ideas but, they had all one thing in common.  That idea was to go out of your way to give a bit of your time to making someone else happy.  Makes sense to me.
     In this world of me first and me only.  In this time of scandals and deceit.  With the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse breaking out of the stable, I thought the Post Cereal company is doing the right thing.  I may just get me a box of cereal and read it all over.

YONDER COMES THE ROBERT E LEE

Early this morning I was half asleep, half awake and kind of in a dream like state.   It’s my favorite kind of reality.  Being in that morning trance and, with a bit of good luck, anyone can just flit around from cold facts to plush fantasy.   The frozen Muscontecong River out back, becomes the Mighty Mississippi. The snow covered mini bluff out back becomes the stately and green cliffs leading from Vicksburg down to the river wharfs below.   My sloppy bedroom and studio becomes the immaculate master suite in the Grand Oaks Hotel  That’s Vicksburgs finest hotel you know.  The card game in the ballroom went to all hours and, I got to bed late and rich. Looks like I overslept.  The servants must have opened the windows to let in some of the cool morning air.  I could hear dogs barking and the morning birds calling on that gentle cool breeze.  I welcomed the cool breeze.  It was going to be a warm day by noon.  Not that far away, I could hear the Robert E. Lee’s steam horn calling to the wharf.  She was signaling that she’d be calling on Vicksburg for passengers and freight.  I wondered if breakfast was still being served as I kicked off the covers and reached for my slippers with my toes.

     In truth, when I snapped back to the present day and reality.  It was a different story.  The Robert E Lee’s horn was nothing more than my wife Sandy blowing her nose.  She has a cold.  The cool morning breeze coming through the windows meant that the woodstove went out.  There was only one dog barking.  That would be Millie our hound whining and doing the butt slide along the rug because she has to go real bad right now!    When I reached with my toes for my slippers, I stubbed my toe real bad on a trunk.  There might be blood.  The check book ledger lying open on the desk showed a balance that was a far cry from rich and I sure didn’t find any gambling winnings from the night before in my trousers.  In fact I couldn’t find my trousers.  Turns out I washed them last night and forgot to hang them up to dry.  So, they’re a little bit squishy.
     A fellow could get discouraged I guess.  But reality isn’t so bad.  Sandy smiled when I asked how she was feeling.  Her colds starting to go away.   When she blows her nose, it’s so loud, that I could die laughing.  It wasn’t the Vicksburg river walk but, the three of us did walk down our lane, squishy trousers and all, and no one slipped on the ice.  It was kind of fun to see the cold air make my pants look like they were belching steam.   Millie the Hound was a hoot to watch on our walk.  She kept skidding on the ice and howling at birds.  When we got back in, Millie and I shared peanut butter toast and cheese.  I couldn’t have had a better breakfast partner.  Then, she went over to Sandy for a big belly rub.  Instead of slippers I’ve now have a nice new pair of hiking shoes that I just got yesterday with a Christmas gift card.   The walk was a test run for them.  They feel great on my feet.
     It’s not Antebellum Vicksburg.  It’s Ruth Lane in the winter and, it’s ok with me.  Maybe I’m dreaming.

FREEZE POP FRENZY

I noticed an odd buying trend last night while working at the A&P.  It was kind of strange and yet, interesting too.  In the middle of a rough winter, with snow falling and parking lots slippery with slush there was a run on freeze pops.  These are those tubes of flavored and colored water that you stick in the freezer and, in time, the water turns to soft ice.   You can then take them out of the freezer, snip off the top and presto a nice cooling snack.  Kids and grownups alike, love these things.  They’re a cheap and tasty treat.  I think they cost somewhere around ten cents each.  We sell a lot of them but, only in the summer.

     Last night, I was putting cheese on the shelf, when a lady comes up to me and asks for freeze pops.  She’d been looking for them and couldn’t seem to find any.   When a customer can’t locate an item, it’s our policy at the A&P to drop what we’re doing and help them find that item. I think you can actually get ten lashes if you get caught not helping with the search.  I might be wrong but, I’m not going to take a chance.   So, I walked and searched all over the store.  Our girl at the Courtesy Desk actually knew right where they were.  Like an idiot, I didn’t believe her and went on with my search.  (Remind me that I owe her an apology.)  Eventually, I threw in the towel and gave up.  The customer thanked me and went on her way.  I went back to the dairy aisle and, darned if right across from the greek yogurt, on the bottom shelf, under the cocoa mixes, there they were a whole bunch of freeze pops.  The Courtesy Desk had it right.
     I was staring right at ten packs of freeze pop tubes for a dollar fifty nine.  Well, I grabbed a few and ran to find the shopper.  I caught up to her as she was checking out.  She was really tickled.  Giving credit where credit was due, I told her how the girl at the Courtesy Desk knew right where they we’re and helped me find them.   As I see it, I’d be a big fat rat if I took full credit.  Anyway, I accepted the woman’s thank you for the entire team and, not just myself.
     I was walking back to the cheese shelf much like a batter who just hit a home run walks back to the dugout except, there was no thunderous applause, when another customer approached me.  Guess what he was looking for.  That’s right, freeze pops.
     I looked at him and asked if he was  shopping with a young lady?  He said he wasn’t and wondered why in heaven I’d even want to know something like that.  I told him that a nice lady about his age, was looking for freeze pops and, I just helped her find them.  I said how if he was shopping with her, well, she got the freeze pops and probably wouldn’t need anymore.
     Turns out that he was shopping alone and just thought a freeze pop would taste good.  So, where are they?  Lucky for me, if they were a snake, they would of bit him.  He was standing right in front of them with his back turned to the shelf.  I told him to just turn around and look down.  When he saw them sitting there, he kind of jumped.  He bought quite a few.  We’re going to have to order a fresh case from the warehouse.
     I have no idea why, in the middle of a slush storm, with howling winds, people would want to snack on freeze pops but, now I want one.  Maybe I should get one for the girl at the Courtesy Desk too.

SAVED

For a while there I thought folks coming to our home, we’re going to find Sandy, Millie, and me frozen stiff where we fell.  Millie’s cold carcass would be found slumped even more so in her big easy chair.  Sandy, would be found reaching for some raw broccoli.  Me, I’d be in the broadcast studio, with my cold blue fingers wrapped around a half eaten salami sandwich with mustard and my beard full of frozen coffeecicles.     Investigators would find that we froze to death because we ran out of heating oil.   That could of happened friends.   But it didn’t.  Thank God.

     Our fuel tank was running very low down in the basement.  It wasn’t looking good.  Lower and lower, the level fell to the bottom.  I called the oil company the other day, and they came right out.  To our horror, they couldn’t get up our lane.  It was just too icy.  I had to agree with their call.  Our lane was just too thick with wet and slippery ice.  No one would enjoy seeing a flaming oil truck careening into the Musconetcong River. I could just see par boiled trout floating downstream.  The relief effort had to be called off.  The wife, hound, and I were stranded on the hill top.   We were in a jam and, it was looking bad.  We had two, maybe three days of oil left.   Maybe even less if the weather turned colder.  Worse than that, more ice was predicted to make the road even less passable.  Sandy and I went to defcon 2 and broke out the winter underwear.  We put Millie into her walking jacket as we huddled and waited for the end as cold winter air crept through the cracks in our little bungalow as the oil burner starved.
     As we sat there huddled, we realized we were being stupid.  Millie figured it out first and started barking at the wood stove.  It was sort of like watching RinTin Tin realizing that he could get past the Navajo Renegades and make it to Fort Apache.  “That’s it girl!!!”  I hollered.  “There’s ashes in the wood stove.  Of course!  We’ll get them out of the stove and spread them up and down the lane…..and our driveway too!!!  That way the Oil Truck can break through!!!  We’re saved!!!!  Sandy,  Break up the TV Stand and throw it in the fire.  We need more ashes if we’re to survive.!!!!”   No one mentioned anything about just going to Home Depot and getting a bag of sand.  We were too busy breaking up the dining room table.
     Well, it didn’t take long and the ashes were all over the road, and the driveway, and the walk, and the carpet.  I ran to the phone and called the oil company with the good news.  They said they’d be by at first light at sunrise right after coffee.  Sounded good to us.  That night we slept pretty darn good secure in the knowledge that relief was just a mere few hours away.   Later that night I went to the fridge to make maybe a half of a salami sandwich, when I heard an ominous sound at the window.  To my horror, I saw that it was raining.  It was worse than that even.  The rain was freezing where it fell.  It was almost dawn and the oil truck was on his way for sure.  He’d never make the hill.  It would be a catastrophe.  All our efforts were for nothing.  I woke Sandy up and told her to start burning our pillows for the ashes while I took the blankets and threw them over the lane to keep the roadbed dry.  The rain stung like crazed insects as I ran out the front door in my pajamas.   I spread ashes as fast as I could.  Sandy wouldn’t let me have the blankets.  She said something about my being nuts.  Well, I didn’t let that stop me.  No sir!!!   I kept spreading into the night.
     Exhausted, I rested as the sun came up.  I surveyed the scene.  A smoldering layer of ashes blanketed Ruth Lane.   The smoke blended with the river mist as a new day dawned.   In the distance, I heard the lonesome whistle of a far off commuter train, or was it?  No, great God!  It was the air horn of the oil truck!!  Our oil truck!!!   I couldn’t help myself and started to dance in the lane right in front of our driveway.  Tear’s of joy filled my eyes.   My God it’s here!!!  The tanker rolled like a Sherman Tank, rampaging right up Ruth Lane like it was nothing.   Like it was an ant hill. Ice be damned.  The driver rolled down his window and hollered,  “You guys need oil here pal?”
     “Sure do!!!”  I hollered back fists held high.  “You need to back in there fella?”
     “Not when we got a 150 foot hose on board!!!   We’ll be fine right here.”  He locked the air brakes with a hiss and climbed down from the cab.  He wore cleats on his shoes.  This driver thought of everything.  They clanged like spurs  as he strode to the nozzle port.  We were saved.  Right in the knick of time.
     The filler port hissed and whistled as precious life giving number 2 grade oil flowed into our tank. We stood in the snow as we both chewed on toothpicks.   We talked about manly stuff.  You know tattoos, fishing, Oprah.   You know, manly stuff.   The guy wondered why our lane was so dirty with soot and ashes.  He said he might have to go wash the truck after the fill.  The bosses don’t like their oil tankers getting filthy.   I kept my mouth shut and just nodded in agreement saying something about how road crews should be more careful where they spread all that soot.
     It was time for him to be off.  There were others down that big lane called life and, they needed fuel oil too.  It was kind of like saying good bye to the Lone Ranger only, no Tonto.   Before he could shut the door I hollered over the roar of the engine that I had a little something for him.  It was a token of appreciation from the little woman and me.  I said how I thought maybe he’d want a nice coffee and buttered roll a little later on.  Maybe this would cover it.  Buttered rolls and coffee are usually a buck, right?   Well, I hope he takes time to enjoy that treat.  He deserved it.
    I’ve got to go.  Got to reset the thermostat higher before Sandy sees it.   She won’t like it being set on 40 degrees.  She sees that and, I’m dead.

A THRIFTY AND WISE CUPID

I heard from one of your fellow listeners.   He was able to save on Valentines Day cards and score romance points at the same time.   This is what he did.   Years ago he got a valentines day card for his new bride.  He signed it with love and gave her the card.  When Valentines Day was over he got the card and put it away in a safe place.  The next year, he got out of the desk drawer and signed and dated it and gave the card to her again.  He’s repeated this every year since then.  There are now 47, no make that 48, dates and signatures on this old and very precious card.  Pretty cool huh?

I WANT A QUART OF MILK YOUNG MAN

Oh my gosh.  I just love some of the folks I meet in the dairy aisle.  Take Old Bob for instance.  The other evening I was almost done with my shift and was just sticking some more bottles of milk on the shelf.   This gets us through the night and leaves a fair amount of milk on the shelf for first thing in the morning next day.  It’s quite a chore.  Sometimes I’ll have to put out ten to fifteen cases or more.  I was glad that the chore was almost done.   But, little did I realize that my work was just beginning.

      Up to my left came an elderly gent.  I’ll call him Old Bob.  I don’t know his real name and wouldn’t say it if I did.  He was probably younger than me, which makes me Very Old Doc.  So us two old guys were at the dairy case. Each of us doing his thing.  Bob was looking the milk over and getting angry.  He waved  his hand at the milk shelf in disgust.  “Where the heck is the whole milk?  I don’t see it!”  Where did you hide it?”
     I pointed to the whole milk gallons.  They were right at his knees.  I said, “Right there at your knees.  I just put them out.”
     “That isn’t whole milk.  I want whole milk!”  He hollered.  I tried to answer but, he was already pointing at the top shelf.  He went on pointing at the quarts of whole milk on the top shelf.  “See, there’s the whole milk.  Right there but, I want a quart.  Where’s the quarts?  Don’t you got any?  What kind of store is this?
     “Sir that’s the quarts.  Those are quarts of whole milk right there.  You’re pointing right at them.  Take one.  They’re as fresh as can be.”  I don’t think he believed me.
     He was getting hot and on a roll.  “Well, those sure aren’t quarts.  Here’s the quarts right here.”  He picked up a half gallon bottle of two percent milk.  “Don’t you know nothing?”
     “Well, I know that’s a half gallon of two percent milk you just picked up sir.  The whole milk is right next to it.  But, it’s a half gallon”  He just looked at me scowling.
     “What’s the two percent doing where the whole milks supposed to be?”  He handed me the bottle.  “Put that where it belongs.  I’ll just take one of these whole milk quarts.  Everyone knows there’s two quarts to the gallon.  That means a half gallon’s a quart.”  He walked away muttering something about how I should take more time to learn my trade.
I guess he was having a bad year.  I had a feeling he might have been in politics somehow.   At least someone who only came into buy a quart talked himself into buying two quarts.   Score one for the dairy case

DID THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE USE CREAM AND SUGAR?

It may have been awhile ago when a listener sent me an email praising the virtues of coffee.  Ahh, coffee, the bean of our dreams.   Where would we be without it?  Well, we’d probably be sleeping better but, would we be happy?  Without coffee, I can’t imagine any of us being very happy at all.  We’d most likely be slumping around all groggy eyed and grouchy crashing into things and stuff.

      Heck, without our morning jolt of caffeine, we’d have all started World War III by now.   I can just see the worlds armies descending on the last coffee warehouse in Bolivia. Maxwell House security forces are getting nervous.  They know that they’re in trouble but, they’re sworn to hold out to the last drop.   No one in the attacking army has had coffee in days and, it’s getting ugly.  First, negotiators try to sort things out.  Ration plans are bandied about but, none of the diplomats have had their morning cup.   It’s so hard to wake up and think.   Soon, they’re punching and kicking each other on top of the peace table.  The French diplomat slumps out of his chair.  He’s gotten a bad laceration from a flying serving tray.  Soon, NORAD gets the call to launch.   Nothing is left but Postum.    Drinking cocoa,the crews hit the buttons.  The world awaits the first strikes.  Without coffee, no one evens cares anymore.  Let the end come.  Some just walk to slowly to their town squares around our once proud globe.  Once in their particular park, they just find an empty bench or a nice spot of lawn and lie down and cross their arms over their hearts with a coffee cup resting on their chest.  In that resigned manner, they await the end allowing the coffee mug, the one maybe they got when they visited Coney Island during happier days, to be the last thing they see when the flash ignites the sky.  Perhaps they’re praying that Chock Full of Nuts is indeed that Heavenly Coffee.
     Whew!  Boy, I’m glad that story’s done.  I’m gonna go get me a cup.  Want one too?

WHOOPS, HERE’S A THOUGHT

I’ve just realized something.  Here I am asking for donations to my station which is like making the listeners the sponsors and, I’ve overlooked one basic rule of broadcasting.   Here’s that rule.  Sponsors should have at least some say in what goes on the air.   That’s a pretty big rule of thumb and, I’ve just noticed it.  I’m sorry.

     So, I put this to you my listeners and readers.  What would you like to hear from my station?  What might you like me to try and write about?  I have music of practically any style from the 20’s through the 70’s.  Is there some style or era you would like to hear more of?  Is there a better time of day to provide such a show for you?   What kind of talk shows would you enjoy?   Would you like more expert shows like the Bob Barry Financial Planner Show?   If so, what kind of topics would you find interesting?    Would you want more Psychic Sunny type broadcasts?    I’m planning to go out and aid guardian angel type local charities.  These groups tend to be the smaller organizations.   I want to help those who help those who need help.   Do you have some groups in mind that I might support with my station?  What form should that support take?
     Please send me your suggestions.   A donation is not your ticket to ride in this case.  This is especially true if your money is tight right now.  Send me your thoughts first if that’s all you have.  Your money can always come later when you have some.  (Just keep buttering up that rich uncle.)   If you have enough to make a donation, I can use it for sure.  But, please, don’t send what you can’t afford to give.   My station is for anyone, poor or rich, who enjoys it.
     I will take all well meant suggestions into consideration.  Some ideas I’ll like and put into effect.  Some, I won’t.  Other ideas may not be possible to do at this time.  All suggestions will get lots of consideration.
     I do have some basic rules.   I do not want to be part of a negative, complaining, and critical  broadcast.  I want any show I do to be ok for kids to hear.  Most of all, I will not say anything bad about God or America.   Other than that, I’m open to your ideas.
     I’d love to hear your thoughts.  If you can donate now, great.  If you can’t, don’t worry.  Maybe you can send something later.   Many thanks to all of you.  (One last thing, if you know of someone in your circle of friends who might want to see this message.  Please feel free to forward it to them.  Thanks

LOST AND FOUND….. FOUND AND LOST

Ahh, Good News at last!   I just found my phone number book.  I lost it the other day and tore the house apart looking for it.  I needed it because I had to call the billing department at Blue Cross because I lost the most recent bill.  Well, today while looking for the credit card bill that I guess I’ve just lost, I found the phone number book.  The phone number book was somehow under some record albums I was looking for and spotted under a few memo pages I couldn’t find.  Lucky me, I’ve just found my credit card bill.  It was in the bathroom.  I find it best to open the credit card bill in the bathroom.  The credit card bill was in a pile of towels which we’re covering my doo wop reference  book, that I’ve been looking for.  I hit pay dirt there, because my favorite tee shirt that I’ve been missing was in with the towels.  Well, if I can find the car keys, Sandy and I are off to Cabellas to buy shoes.  Just got to find the gift card we got for Christmas.  I hope while we’re looking we’ll find last years gift card.   I shouldn’t have much trouble finding Cabellas.  I don’t think it’s moved.   Just got to find my shoes and, we’re ready to go.