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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Another Excerpt oomr my Unpubished Memoir, One Place and Another

In the summer of 1939 or 1940, two of my friends and I were playing around the storage building out behind the church house, climbing in and out of the coal bin, which didn't have a roof. Getting tired of that, we checked out the outhouses which were open all the time and read the poetry and such written on the walls in the men's side: "here I sit, all brokenhearted. . .etc." We had a good laugh from the gross humor and went looking around the locked storage area of the building where extra chairs and such were stored. Noticing under the eaves a bird's nest with a couple of young sparrows or finches in it,  my companions boosted me up to take a good look. I reached into the nest and picked up one of the young tweeters that had grown feathers. The problem with this was, the nest was alive with lice and they started crawling up my arm by the hundreds. I dropped to the ground quick and started brushing them off and running toward home. I told my mother I had lice real bad. I took off my shirt and she doused my upper limbs and under arms with kerosene until she couldn't see anymore lice. She told me to go to the canal and wash off the kerosene before I catch on fire. We ran to the canal, where we stood on the bank and I cleaned myself up with fresh water from the stream, one of my friends helping me.

While we were washing off the kerosene, one friend wandered away. We started looking for him and found him floating in the middle of the canal, belly down and head under water. My cousin (the other friend) ran across the canal on a flume and tried to reach him from the bank, but he was too far out in the stream. Fifty yards downstream there was a log across the canal which was used by kids cutting through the fields to attend school. I ran as fast as I could and got in the center of the log where I was able to catch the boy by the shirt collar and arm and hold him until my cousin could help me drag him to the bank. We laid him belly down in the dirt by an old barn wall. He was unconscious, so we decided to push down on his back and ribs to push out the water he had consumed. Luckily, this worked as water started to come out of his mouth. After a couple of minutes, he coughed up some more water and started to get his color back. He laid there a while before he suddenly sat up and thanked us for saving him from drowning. He said he had slipped and fell in and couldn't regain his footing. He rose to his feet finally and said he was going home but wouldn't tell his mother about his narrow escape because she would give him a whipping. He was killed by a horse later on, at least that was what I was told. I never saw my cousin or him again after we moved away.

I didn't get along well with this boy who nearly drowned. He was always hanging around the schoolyard, because his mother told him to go play to get him out of the house. He was an only child, and his widowed mother had a lot of visitors, mainly men. My father hinted one time that she "could make a little money that way," but I didn't understand it at the time. One summer, this kid was playing around the schoolyard and we got into an argument and commenced to discuss the problem physically instead of mentally. I threw him on the ground a couple of times and told him to leave me alone. This got tiresome, so I took off running to get away from him. He caught up with me and I threw him down again and sat on him to teach him a lesson. I got up and started walking away. He tackled me from behind, and before I could turn over he was sitting on my shoulders holding my head between his knees. Try as I might, I couldn't dislodge him. So, I had to give up in disgrace. He finally got off me and took off for home. My ego was a little bruised, so I went home and told my mother about it. She wasn't too sympathetic, saying, "You shouldn't be fighting anyway!"  

Monday, April 13, 2015

Down Memory Lane

Here's an excerpt from my Unpublished Memoirs, One Place and Another, Reflections of a Childhood in the Country and Life in the Navy:

One of my uncles came calling on us one day. He came into town to help someone do some haying or such and stopped to chat with my mother with his two horses in harness. After a short visit, he said he was headed on home. My brother and I (about 6 and 8 years old) begged him to let us ride the horses to his house. He must have grown tired of us begging him for a ride, since we always did when we saw him with a horse. He said, "All right you little devils, you asked for it" and boosted us on to one of the horses. We started off to his farm a couple of miles south in clay basin, happy as we could be. After about a mile, our little hind ends began to get sore from riding bareback and we asked him to let us down, we'd had enough. He said, "No sir. You've been asking for this a long time and you're going to ride right there all the way home."

Another quarter-mile and we were really sore, but he still wouldn't let us off. "You stay there 'til we git home, or I'll whip both of you good," he threatened. We finally made it to his house, but we didn't hang around after he took us off the horse. When we were out of sight of him on our way home, we checked our bottoms and they were blistered and painful.

When we reached home, my father said, "Serves you both right for begging him to let you ride. You should know better than that."

We never asked to ride his horses again and we never forgot his cruelty either. There was some bad blood betwixt my uncle and my father for some reason unbeknownst to us. Now, looking back on it, I think it was the fact that Uncle _______ had his eye on my mother for romantic reasons. In later years, some of the comments from the uncle made it clear to me that it was a fact, him having the eye. He was married to my mother's sister and later on after my aunt and my father had passed away, he married my mother.  After the marriage, he was a little more civil to us as grownups, but I always detected a feeling of dislike for my father that carried over to us.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

An Average Day

Like I indicated a few days ago, some days are better than others and today is not one of those days.
It hasn't been a complete loss, because I've cleared out most of my e-mail. The ones remaining are the important ones that I need to actually read and even do something about possibly. But, I can't get too excited about it. An average day runs something like this:

Roll out of the sack between 4:30 and 6:00 AM.
Drink coffee and watch TV news. I don't want to miss any important happenings, so the TV is on local news for a while before switching to Fox usually until about 7-7:30.
Hit the shower and dress for the day.
Have another cup of coffee, maybe.
Breakfast at Maria's after that, sometime between 8 and 9:30 with a selection of biscuits and gravy half order, waffle, half-waffle with sausage or bacon, Western omelette, or pancakes and bacon, or even a bowl of oatmeal with toast.
Filled to the brim by 10:00 and it's off to the store, nail parlor (wife), grocery store (wife), garage sale (wife), estate sale (wife), yard sale (wife) on occasion or go home and clean house, or turn on the computer.
Lunch sometimes at home or out somewhere between 11 and 1 or 1:30 even 2:00 PM sometimes.
Home again doing computer stuff like writing , e-mail, research, etc.
At 3 or 4 o'clock, break for dinner. Go watch a great-grandson play baseball 'til around 9 PM a couple nights a week.
Home to bed by 9 or ten.

Retirement is exciting isn't it. This weekend will be busy with an HOA lunch on Saturday and our Easter family get-together a week late this year on Sunday.

It's enough to put you to sleep.

  



Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Washington, DC, Building

All a swabby knew of this building back in the 1950's was, it was a Post Office that sat on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Fourteenth Street and where the bus from the Pentagon stopped on its route in and out of town. The building was adjacent to the IRS Building and across the street from the old Smithsonian Museum. This particular, young, handsome swabby removed himself from the bus in front of the Post Office nearly every time he came into town and never paid much attention to the old, gray, marble building. The swabby had his mind on other things as he climbed off the bus, like a cold beer or an occasional movie. The last time he rode that bus was in the early 1960's when he flew in from Miami and visited the Pentagon on a personal errand. He remembered the times he waited on the cold steps to catch the bus. There were a few times after too many quaffs at the beer fountain the sailor missed the last bus to the Pentagon and waited all night, trying to make himself comfortable and catch a short nap or two there on the steps waiting for the first morning bus, the only person around at that time of night.

Now, the old swabby on wobbly sea legs sat in his chair and watched the boob box squawk away about this building that Donald Trump had acquired and was renovating it into one of his fancy hotels. Mister Trump was giving Greta Van Susteren a tour of the renovations from the lobby to the old conference room and a room of the hotel to the tower and up and down. Trump said there were nineteen floors, but having never counted them or didn't give a damn, the building always appeared   smaller. That was the first time the old swabby had ever heard exactly how tall it was and he still didn't give a damn. He did remember going by there early in the morning on a Greyhound Bus, snow about a foot-and-a-half deep on Inauguration Day of President John F. Kennedy. He was on his way to Baltimore to get out of town and the crowds and have a good time drinking some Rolling Rock and flirting with the girls on East Baltimore Street.

Greta cracked a joke about the view you would have from the new hotel of the IRS Building, just what a person would want to see, and they both laughed. Trump's laugh was more of a chuckle, while Greta cracked up.

The Post Office building was the headquarters of the mail system back then. Hell, thought the sailor, he didn't even know that. He actually went into the lobby one time to drop off a letter to someone somewhere, but that was the furthest he got to actually seeing the inside and he wasn't very impressed by what he did see.

When Trump gets his renovation completed and opens up the new hotel, is when the old sailor will be impressed. Now, if he could only afford a room for a week for old times sake. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding

Henry Fielding (1707-1754) was an English writer, author of Joseph Andrews, Tom Thumb,Tom Jones, and Amelia. He also wrote plays that were produced in Drury Lane.

Joseph Andrews is written in the style of Cervantes wherein there are many words of description and twists and turns and discourses that are slight diversions from the main story as he relates the life and times of Joseph and his true love, Fanny Goodwill. The curate, Mister Abraham Adams, is the narrator. Joseph finds himself unemployed after he is released from service as Lady Booby's footman, having been caught in her arms one day.

There is an awful lot of walking as Adams makes his way from one place to another and even finds himself beaten up by highwaymen who lie to the Justice of the Peace in making Adams the culprit who robbed them. Joseph gets robbed by the same highwaymen and left naked in the bushes, and who comes along in her carriage to save him?\None other than Lady Booby who is put in shock when she hears that Joseph was left nekkid and bruised. She won't let him in the carriage in that state. Adams comes along and saves him with some an overcoat from one of the Lady's footmen. They are left to their own devices as the carriage takes off. They run across an inn and the lady offers to take care of the sore Joseph. As the story moves on, Adams gets lost in the country and takes a while to find his way back.

With all the ups and downs, arguments and discussions, and throw Fanny Goodwill into the mix, it's a wonder that the novel ever comes to an end. And before it does, Joseph finds out that Fanny, who he is deeply in love with and she him, may be his long lost sister. Oh, the sorrow on finding this out. Or, is she really his sister? And how about his other sister, Pamela?

Fielding gets this all straightened out finally and Lady Booby lives happily ever after, I think.

I really, really enjoy novels and writing like this, even though it is out of date in style and uses many, too many words with all the looks away and diversions. It reminds me of the Fanny Hill movie even though the movie was based on a John Cleland novel written in about the same time period and The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones movie based on Fielding's novel Tom Jones. Both movies and this book were hilarious to me.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Blogging

Blogging becomes a drag and a chore after a few years. I don't know about you, but I'm getting to the point where it's no longer fun. I think it's because there are so many other things going on around me that taking a few minutes or an hour or two out of the day to compile a blog becomes a hindrance instead of the joy I used to have.  I'm fighting this, because I like to write.

My computer was off Friday and Saturday because we were having a two-day yard sale, as if one day wasn't enough. My wife went through the house and drug out all the crap she didn't want any longer and we set it up in the yard on tables or the cement driveway and I set up my table with used books and the books I've written  and we waited for customers. Oh yes, my stepdaughter drug her stuff over here and displayed it for sale. She had more items than we did, and made more money, too. Afterward,my wife says "This is the last time I'm going to participate in this. I'm tired of it." I wholeheartedly agreed with her, even though I sold eight books and had some good conversation with the customers. And if that wasn't enough, Saturday during the yard sale the County Inspector shows up to check out some electric work we had done. He marked it 'FAILED" because of some oleander bushes in front of the new electric panel. Even though the bushes have been there over twenty years as part of a hedge, I had to cut them out or he wouldn't approve the work. That cost me forty dollars and a couple of hours of cussing. The Electrician says he will get it re-inspected later next week.

I haven't been able to work on my new project for over a week because of things like this, and trying to keep up a blog just twice a week adds to the turmoil. I could stop writing it, but I don't think I will.
It gives me an excuse to get out of the other stuff once in a while. Life goes on, by golly, and I intend to continue what I'm doing, be damned.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Short Story, The Tallest Indian in Toltepec, by Will Henry

Hm-m-m. I saw the title of this story and I said to myself, "Self, with a title like that this has to be a tall tale with many comedy tid-bits in it." And so I began reading it and looking for the first bit of comedy, but. alas, there was none. It was a deadly serious, super-secret, spy story in which Charlie Shonto was the chief spy for the Texas Express Stage outfit. His only mission was to deliver "Item 13" to the train in Toltepec, Mexico, from El Paso, Texas. As part of this fifty-mile journey he had to get passed the Executioner of Camargo, Colonel Ortega, and his band of ruffians. Ortega was a shifty, dangerous, deadly leader of the so-called militia who was tryng to prevent "Item 13" from getting across the Rio Grande and to the train at Toltepec.

Shonto's accomplice in this drama was a young Chihuahua Indian boy who was to lead Shonto over a hidden Apache trail to their destination. The young Indian escaped from Ortega while Ortega was in the process of shooting the boy's father dead because the father measured up exactly to a line on a tree drawn by Ortega. Ortega was looking for an Indian of that height and shot any Indio who met the line, innocent or not, he was that mean.

Shonto, feared on both sides of the border, drives over the crossing in a Texas Express stagecoach and is immediately hailed to a stop by Ortega and his gang of wolves looking for this short Indian. Through a ruse, Shonto gets the drop on Ortega and picks up Item 13 and the boy, who had crossed over in the water and takes off for Toltepec on the unhitched stage horses with the wolves not far behind.

I like Will Henry's writing. This story has suspense, tension, action, and mystery, and I give it five stars since it already won a Spur Award.




Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Sales

Yesterday the temperature reached 86 degrees and today it's likely to be 88. We received nearly a half-inch of rain last Wed or Thur when the temp was only 68. It is supposed to hit 90 tomorrow or the next day then drop a few degrees again.

Now that I have covered the weather, what I set out to say is that yesterday I took a box of books to a church swap meet that is held annually, sometimes it's cold and sometimes it's hot. Last year I barely sold only five or six books but this year it shot up to 15. Anything over ten is fantastic, so I had a good day in warm weather. I thank all those who bought a book, it is encouraging.

Afterward we went to lunch, returned home and watched Arizona whip Ohio State. After that we watched Utah beat Georgetown, Yay!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Killing Patton by Bill O'Reilly

Well, another trip away from the Wild West and into Wild Western Europe during World War II. This book Killing Patton is 352 pages of historical heroism of General George S. Patton and his journey through France, Belgium and Germany with just a touch of Africa. Mister O'Reilly and Martin Dugard follow the Third Army on the heels of Patton across Fance as the story unfolds into Belgium and on to Germany fighting the Nazis all the way. A part of the Third gets surrounded in the area of Bastogne where the Nazis send a message to surrender or be killed and General McAullife tells them "Nuts to you" and the fighting resumes. General Patton sends his men to take the small town with its vital crossroads and free the men holding on to it.

After taking Bastogne, the Third Army races the British General Montgomery to the Rhine River and beats him across it, and Patton is ready to beat the Russians to Berlin but couldn't quite do it. Patton didn't get along well with his boss, General Eisenhower or Montgomery or anyone else who deterred him from his objective. He "lost his head" a couple of times when he took out his frustration on enlisted men who had had enough of the fighting and were combat fatigued. He slapped them with his gloves and he knew he shouldn't have and the upper brass was on his tail about it. And as he gets closer to Berlin and the Russians, he wants to continue fighting and kick the hell out of the Red Army and drive them back to Moscow.

Patton wasn't ready to end the war with the Russians holding Berlin, but that was the way it had to be. He had heard about threats on his life from about everyone, including the Russians who had a price on his head.

Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this fairly detailed review of the war and Patton's life, and O'Reilly left me with the feeling that the authorities should have looked more into Patton's death. There were many questions left unanswered.

I give it 4-and-a-half stars. It has been on the NYT best-seller list for a long time. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Author Interview

I kindly request that you take a look at the blog Ashedit by Elaine Ashe. Please go to the right hand column of this blog and just click on her blog title Ashedit's blog and read the fine interview she posted on yours truly and my doodling. I appreciate the kind words. Thanks, Elaine!