The Posse

One of my fondest memories in life are trips to the movies when I was a kid.  Me and a buddy, would talk Dad into driving us downtown to go to the movies on Saturday.  Always asked my Dad, cause if you asked Mom, she always had the “don’t you let no nasty old man touch you in the bathroom” lecture, and that kind of embarrassed me to no end.  That one, and the “my first bra in High school and the other girls ….”

I really hated that one. Continue reading

Old School …

imagesDo you remember when the Milkman delivered milk to your front door, and you could sneak over to his truck and get a handful of chipped ice.

How about the Ice Cream man, he actually sold Ice Cream and not dope, like they do today. Continue reading

Tommy B. Lemmer

imgresA big portion of my life was spent riding the rails, so railroaders come to mind quickly.  Crazy bunch of guys. 

Tommy B. Lemmer was a guy I worked with on the Santa Fe Railroad.  Knowing full well that there are some six billion people on this planet, I will shamelessly declare that, “Tommy was unique.  He was one of a kind.  He was my friend.  I have not spoken with him in years, don’t even know how to get ahold of him, but he can still make me smile. Continue reading

Hope And A Prayer

flagToday I am dedicating a couple of hundred words to the subject of Faded Dreams.  (If you want to bail on it now, I would understand) 

As I understand it, there is a school of thought that says as we age, we tend to remember things of the past and do not necessarily look ahead to the future. 

This could very well be true in my case, as I have a tendency to look back on life now, instead of wonder what might lie ahead of me, which I have to admit in all honesty, often scares the Be-Jesus out of me.  

The Cracker Boy has said to me, “You ought to start a nostalgia page.”  He could be right.

A friend of mine in Reno, Nevada made a comment the other day that has kind of stuck with me all week long.  “He said that we had most likely lived thru America’s Greatest Moments, and that particular time in history, is now long gone. “

And then he put it this way.  He said it was:  A time that was truly special to him, and most likely would never be seen or experienced again.  Both of us being “Baby Boomers” his comment at the time, made a lot of sense.

We grew up in a time when America was stretching her muscles, reaching for and achieving great heights, as a country and a society.  When Hollywood made a movie that had moral character and backbone, when a politician ran for office because he actually thought he could improve things.  We were growing then, we were making things, and the world bought our goods because they were built with pride by a people who knew who they were.

Bring back any memories?

We didn’t have fast food, we had an occasional trip to the Hamburger Stand and real french fries, not all this pre-cooked frozen crap.  Most of the time, supper was a meal prepared at home by Mom, it wasn’t fast, but generally it was always on time.  And if you didn’t like what was on the menu, you could sit there and think about it until you did.  

At suppertime, you didn’t sit there like zombies, your face planted in some electronic device, you had real conversations.

At that time in life, you had ONE SET of parents.  People who plopped down $10K to buy a house on a government loan, a father that went to school on the GI Bill, who wore jeans on the weekend and never heard of a credit card.

You did not ride to school in a car, you walked, if you were lucky, you had a bike to ride.  Plenty of homework and frustration and fear, I still remember having to get under my desk for a “Nuclear Attack Drills” and wondering, “How in the hell is this going to save me?”

We didn’t have a television in our home until I was around 11 years old, and it was black and white, and the remote was either me or my sister.  Later on came color television, with Hoss, Ben, Little Joe and Adam all of them lost each week on Bonanza.  We had Leave It To Beaver, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny and no MTV Jackass. 

Pizzas were not delivered to our home . . . but milk, bread and fruit and vegetables were.  We used to have an ice cream guy come around, we could not afford the ice cream, but every now and then, he would allow us to scoop up a handful of chipped ice.  Which on a hot summer day was often just as good as the real deal.

All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers. I delivered a newspaper, seven days a week. Had to get up at 6 o’clock every morning and I had to keep up my grades, bad grades, no newspaper route.  

Which meant no movie money, no candy bars, and no frills.

In the summer we played baseball at the park until the sun went down, in the winter it was football or stomp ball in the rain.  We were outside, we were not overweight, we did not have onset diabetes or polio.  We were living the good life and life was being good to us.

What you remember I suppose, reflects how old that you are.  

How many items you recall is the image of what you have become.  Headlight dimming-switches on the floor of the car.  Ignition switches on the dashboard.  Three speed column shifts, four on the floor.  Using hand signals for cars without turn signals.  How about those big old, ca-chunk, tape players, cannot remember the name of them right now (8 tracks?).

Fake Sweet cigarette candy in a box.  Coffee shops with juke boxes right there in the booth, twenty-five cents, and you got three plays.  All of it music your Dad could not stand, an added bonus.  Skating at the Roller Rink, a kiss in the dark at the school dance. 

Home milk delivery in glass bottles and before bottles, poured into a jug that was left at the front door each morning. Party lines on the telephone.  Girl Scouts and Bluebirds hawking cookies at the front door.  News reels before the movie and not being old enough to sit in the balcony.  Your sister practicing tap dance steps on a hardwood floor.  Skates with a skate key and wooden baseball bats.

TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and were there until TV shows started again in the morning. (There were only 2 channels.).  Transistor radios and four D size batteries.  Sling shots.  Vinyl records (33-45-78).  Stereo Hi-Fi’s.  Butch Hair cuts (and lot’s of Jelly Wax to make ‘em stand up).

Metal ice trays with levers, a Dr. Pepper bottle with a silver cap full of holes (Mom’s water bottle because she did not have a steam iron). Long drives on the weekend, just for the fun of it, and 18 cent gas.  Gay meant you were happy.

Blue flashbulbs and Brownie Box cameras.  Dick Clark and American Bandstand.  Wash Tub wringers for the chammy’s at the gas station.  A pack of Marlboro’s rolled up in the sleeve of your T-shirt … And the Viet Nam draft.

Perhaps my friend in Reno is right, it could be that the best of it, is now firmly entrenched behind us.  It has gotten to the point where we cannot find one soul who knows how to (lip sync) sing our National Anthem or anyone of strong moral fiber to step up and say … Stop it, this is not right.

It appears that our means of salvation as a nation now is possibly divine intervention and nothing else.  We seem to be running on a hope and a prayer … and not much more than that.

OOO

Possibly Related:  Red Hill

 

A Ten Year Olds’ Treasure

imgresThe sun beats down and it is hot, unbearably hot, I swing around and check the mirror.  The dust is rising from the roadbed and about half way back the side of the train it sort of just disappears into a brown cloud. The warning bell on the back wall of the cab of the locomotive goes off, and I assume it is the oldest locomotive in the consist, about three back, most likely overheating.

It is going to be a long, hot day on the Oklahoma prairie today, that is for sure.  Running thru the small farm town of Crescent, the sign on the bank reads 106* and the sweat runs down the back of my neck into the small of my back and all I can think of is, “hellava way to make a living, I should have went to school.”  There is no wind, no relief and the rail in front of me stretches out like a long snake to the horizon and a little beyond.  Dust and dirt so thick you could cut it with a knife, and heat that often made you want to lie down and die.

A great many days of my career (such as it was) were spent just like that.

Times such as this are now just a faded memory in my mind, they often still serve to remind me of how hard it was to make a living on some days.  I fondly think of walking into the house, the cool air hitting me like a sweet song at the front door.  Walking down the hallway and into the kitchen to fetch me a cool beer for the freezer, a soak in a tub full of tepid water and sweet release, after toweling off, a half-frozen beer and some quiet.  My reward for making it thru another long day.

This sounds like a plan to me, but it is to no avail.

The wife looks at me and says, “the boy has gotten some more money, he wants to go to the comic book store.”  So I say, “Listen, I am tired, it was a long hot trip and I don’t need any comic book store.”  She then says, “I have to fix dinner, I was counting on you to do this for me.”  Most of the time, it was Mom and the boy, occassionally I would do the duties and drive him around.

At the age of eight or ten, I don’t exactly remember when, the kid started collecting comic books.  I don’t mean he started reading them, he started collecting them.  We would go to one of many comic book stores and there he would work his magic.  He would go thru the stacks of comic books, gather up a handful, walk up to the owner, and at a young age, work the art of the deal.

Sometimes he did well and other times, not so good, but it was interesting watching this youngster doing his thing.

Having done his research beforehand, he would make his decisions.  He would make his purchase, and then we would drive home.  He would explain to me in great detail the positive aspects of ownership and what each publication had to offer, what made it unique, why it was that it caught his fancy. At home, he would not read them, they were far “too precious and valuable to do that Dad, that would spoil them!”  He would gingerly take the books and place them inside a plastic bag and store them away in a box.

This went on for several years, numerous boxes were filled and summarily filed away to the obscurity of a closet or a shelf in the garage.  Over the years, he continued to sporadically add to the collection.  But after high school, came college, and after college came romance and love, then first thing you know … A family.

Over the years we (his mother and I) sat on the old books and boxes like a mother hen on her brood.  We became the caretakers and administrators of the forgotten hobby of youth. One day I finally said, “Load all of ‘em up and take them down to HIS house, I am sick of storing them and moving it all.”  So we loaded it all up and took them to HIS house and HE became the caretaker of the project or hobby.  Which is only right, he was the creator of it all it to begin with.

Let us fast-forward to the present, the boy, the proverbial baby of the family, the last one outta the chute … will be forty years old on May 18th.  Time has a way of slipping by and the years rack up and give new meaning to us all.  Coincidentally, that is quite a long time on a comic book collection too.

After delivering the numerous boxes to him down in Houston … I never gave it much thought after that, until recently I had not even considered their existence at all.

Over the holidays they came up for the annual pilgrimage home and during the conversation he looked at his mother and said, “Hey Mom, y’know all those old comic books you saved for me in the boxes?” And his mother replied, “Oh yeah, I remember them, why?”

He smiled real big, and telegraphed the answer almost before he said it, “We put one on E-Bay in an auction and sold it this week.”

She said, “You sold them all on E-Bay?” and he replied, “Naw, just one.  We only sold the one comic book, guess what it brought?”

She said, “I dunno, whadya get for it?”

And he said “Five thousand dollars Mom.

Incredible, one book, I never dreamed of that amount of money for a comic book.  Some times life just slaps you upside the head just to get your attention.  When I came home from Viet Nam, I asked my mother “Where are all my comic books?” and she answered without so much as looking up by saying …. “They all went to the landfill a long time ago.”

Nuts.

I could have been a millionaire.

OOO

2013 – Here we go.

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Like everyone else who makes the mistake of getting older, I begin each day with coffee and the obituaries.  So I guess I will have to make a concentrated effort to do something different in my life these days.  The coffee is good this morning, I am savoring it and reading the latest offering on the bus boards, where one person is trying to trade two guitars for a bus, this is one reason I am giving up reading bus boards this year.

I am going to drop them and stick with the obits (which I often find more interesting).

It has also been mentioned here lately that I could be complaining too much, so I am going to try and change that part of my life that has become so unsavory here of late.  Lord knows, it is often not easy being me, but something just drives me to keep on pluggin’ away and making the best of it I can.  So I keep on chopping and watch where it is the chips may fly.

Often change is hard to embrace, but we need to try.

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In the past I have written about the things in my life that effect me negatively, but today it is going to be different.  I am going to try and be upbeat about it all.  (Often I have been known to write with a somewhat remorseful tone or sorrowful attitude in salute to the dog days of my life … What other optimistic and positive folks call The Golden Years)

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Here are a few more tid-bits to take with you in 2013:

Don’t lurk around web sites where people comment about your work unless you’re drunk. Don’t use emoticons. You’re too old to communicate like a twelve-year old girl. Don’t forget that you are the product of a culture that went stark raving mad about ten thousand years ago. Adjust your thinking accordingly.

Don’t answer Bus Board or Internet critics questions about the state of your equipment or website.  It’s a trap.   Don’t eat anything bigger than your head. True in the sixties, true today.   Don’t believe that crap that you’re as young as you feel. Your feelings lie.  Any chance you get to watch the Electric Horseman or Lawrence Of Arabia … Go for it. 

Don’t eat at a place named Mom’s.  Don’t hug men while shaking their hand. Enough already with that. The shake/hug (hug?) is probably something Roman guys did when their empire was in decline.  Don’t buy underwear at Garage Sales …

Wow!  2013, I never in my wildest dreams imagined this number … Sixty-five years old, roughly twice as old as my bus. Ironic, isn’t it?  Incidentally, my bus is, most likely in better shape, as it has had regularly scheduled maintenance during its lifetime.

Not long ago, I met an old tymer (sp.), now this guy was OLD (94) and I was amazed at some of the things that he had seen and experienced in his lifetime.  My life pales in comparison.  Soon I will be just like him I am afraid, starting all of my sentences with “back when I was a kid, or back in the day or I remember when.

 Which is of course … A dead give away.

 Happy New Year …

Belle Of The Carnival puts it in perspective here very nicely.

OOO

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