If you remember the last time we got together I mentioned to you I was a chicken whisperer. I chose this vocation because wearing cheap wire rim glasses disqualifies me to be what I really wanted to be. Roy Rogers. Roy Rogers does not wear glasses. I wear glasses. And yes, broke them three or four times. Mostly in a tussle with another second grader. My folks were furious. Not with the other tussler but with me. Me someone who THINKS he should be Roy Rogers but a skilled chicken whisperer. So my tussling capabilities are limited. So off to Dr. Downs’s optic office for another pair. But the bottom line was I never wanted glasses in the first place. MY dad didn’t wear glasses. Tarzan didn’t wear glasses. Only Mrs. Block, my second grade teacher wore glasses. But she was over sixty-years old. Just a granny person needing glasses.
But when I wasn’t chicken whispering, me and my neighborhood friend Donnie were collection agents. A quick and dirty way to make easy money. Back then we collected glass soda bottles and traded them for hard cash. The twelve ounce glass bottle fetched and easy 2-cents. The quart size glass bottle gained us a nickel per bottle. This process would start early on Saturday mornings going house to house asking for empty soda bottles. At first we rang doorbells starting about 7-AM and quickly discovered people didn’t like coming to the door at seven Saturday morning. SLAM! The doors went. Some asked to go around the back in the alley and look in the trash bins. So Donnie and me did. Usually with some success. So we would collect enough bottles to make about 30-cents apiece. Then it was off to our personal banker. Joe Miller ran Miller’s Market on Olympic Boulevard and there we made our financial transactions. We would roll in a red wagon full of empty pop bottles and he would immediately pull out the correct change and place it firmly in our hands. Then We quickly went to the comic book section of Miller’s and chose one comic, two Double Bubble gums, a Snickers bar, and would hand back the hard earned cash to Joe Miller. He must have thought we were just financial wizards. “Firm but even handed”. No one would ever take advantage of me and Donnie for sure.
More about Butchy the Chicken Whisperer next time.
It takes a village.
Actually it takes a significant population to do the heavy lifting. It takes a significant number of people to fund a benevolent charity. It takes money and volunteers to run a helping organization like the Red Cross or to support research for diabetes.
None the less, it will take a little bit from all of us to help the working poor and their children, the homeless, people with pre-existing medical conditions and the disabled to be able to afford health care. It’s up to us to do the heavy lifting for those who are unable to help themselves. It’s our moral responsibility. America needs either Medicare for all or a single pay health care system. Tell your congressperson we need this. We all can help do this. It’s not a political issue. But we can do this together. Millions of us can pitch in and do the heavy lifting. Probably doing without a monthly pedicure, couple of streaming movies and a dinner out could pay for this.
July fourth memories
Many years ago, and back around 1963 and 1964 I would drive from my parent’s L A home down I-5 to visit my cousin in Anaheim, California. His community which dead ended in a cul-de-sac would have an annual Independent Day celebration along with kid games, a generous potluck, and end up with a softball game between neighbors. After the potluck we would make our way to a nearby baseball diamond over the back fence behind a neighbor’s house. Possibly there would be a couple of dozen players on each team. What was interesting one of the adult neighbors did all the pitching for both teams. He would pitch a ball that was as firm as a ripe grapefruit. I would bat at the ball with a mighty swing but hit something like hitting a firm Nerf ball. Creating a frump sound instead a loud crack of the bat. Driving it almost straight to the ground. Rolling no more than about eight feet out from home plate. Bunting the ball might had been a better strategic option. To say the least hardly anyone could hit a line-drive or homerun. Not a chance.
But wait, here is what made the annual game most interesting. Remember the one neighbor guy pitched for both teams. There was no argument on this. Each year I participated the pitcher guy was almost always loopy snookered. Inebriated. Certainly, a drunk man with a wobbly windup. The batter was not sure from which angle the ball would come. Good thing it was slow pitch. The batter could easily have been hit in the arm or leg. Which turned out to be the better option. “Take your base” the neighbor umpire would call. Citing rules from major league baseball. Well, of course.
No one seemed to count innings. The game would end up with a score like 36 to 32. Ending the game when neighbor players began to drift off due to wavering interest. By then it was dark enough to start the fireworks. Boom crackle pop pop pop. Happy Independence Day.
Just so you won’t think I fell into a black hole and will never return, I am on holiday in the Land of Enchantment. Sometimes called New Mexico. My bluetooth keyboard and iPhone is too slow to compose anything of a serious magnatude. Just short dopey statements like this. So enjoy the blather break. Chuck.
We were not great communicators.
We often responded to others inquiries with volumes of silence. Few words would come from our lips spontaneously. We Okies were slow to think and slow to reply. Mostly because we seldom spoke out loud to say anything. All of which is characteristic of southern Oklahoma red dirt Okies. Our vocabulary came from the backs of Bisquik boxes and Texaco oil cans. The New York Times certainly was not delivered in southern rural Oklahoma. Not even the church bulletin. None the less my folks were third-world Dirt plowing farmers that wouldn’t say more than ten words a day. Just dust bowl survivors who seldom spoke to anyone out on the Plaines. Never mind no person to converse with except a boney gray mule.
Had anyone driven by in their Ford automobile asking for direction, we would say nothing and just point in the direction they should go. Silence spoke louder than words.
However, shoulder shrugs and raised eyebrows were not enough body language for the local Angelenos after my parents migrated to southern California. Californians were more use to speaking words rather than observing hand and facial gestures. So, this is the way it went through my formative years and well into adulthood. Few thoughts. Few words spoken.
Then it all caught up with me in a moment of frustration and panic. Silence caught me by the throat. So here is what had happened. It had been a blissful spring day in southern California. I was about fourteen-years-old and visiting Disneyland. A place I had visited several times since it’s opening in 1955. I loved this place and it only cost 50-cents to gain admission back in 1958. However, if I wished to ride on the many amusement rides, I had to buy a $2.50 coupon book. A coupon book with coupons from A to E. And A being the cheaper rides and E being the more expensive rides. And all the rest in-between. B through E
I had used all my more expensive coupons and was down to just one or two A-rides. One ride was a horse drawn trolly going down Main Street USA. Or the Merry-go-round near Sleeping Beauty’s castle. I chose the Main Street Trolly. As I approached the trolly the horseman was adjusting the horse’s bridal. Then I climbed onboard and sat in one of the trolly’s bench seats. The horseman was still trying to adjust the bridal. In the meantime, two gentlemen climb onboard and sat next to me. Both in very expensive business suits. Not something one would normally wear to a family theme park. But as the one gentleman was about to sit next to me, I recognized him as Walt Disney. No mistake about it. Having watched him on the Disneyland TV program it was him. The main guy. Everybody’s dream uncle. Uncle Walt! The progenitor of Mickey Mouse. And what did I do? In typical Okie fashion, I said absolutely nothing. Frozen cold silent. Nothing. No words came from my mouth. Stun. Shocked might be more like it. Not only that frozen in place but I looked away as if to not recognize the great imagineer and creator of all things fun for kids and adults. It would be like thinking ho-hum when winning the Powerball lottery.
But Mr. Disney and his companion noticing the horseman still working the horse’s bridal decided to step off and go visit another site.
But once again and after the fact, I thought of something to say. Only hours after the encounter.
Oh Mr. Disney I really love your place.
I am so pleased to be here at Disneyland enjoying your wonderful place.
Thank you very much for building this place for we kid.
All too little too late. Missed my chance to speak to greatness. Opportunity gone. Lost. Evaporated in a brief moment of wrapped Okie silence.
However later I discovered the library and many more words to use. To this date I probably have read about three-hundred books and counting. And as a result, I use big words. Words like existential and mesmerize. How cool is that?
Continuing my drunk persons series.
Before we get started you remember last time a week or so back about the drunk woman at a casino lounge show who kept shouting her request for Lobamba? Play Lobamba! Then a month or so back the drunk man at a Dodger game who had a tray full of roasted peanuts and was tossing willy-nilly to anyone who was sitting down stadium. Free roasted peanuts! So here we go again……
We boarded an American Airlines flight from O’Hare Chicago Heading to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This was back when a passenger actually had space for one’s own legs. Plus, American was still serving in-flight food. Such as it was.
Sitting behind us was a younger couple with, what sounded like a two- or three-year-old child. Possibly a little girl. Certainly, a bit excited about flying somewhere. Its always entertaining to listen to a toddler chatter along with rustling paper and whatever as the parents attempt to entertain the child. Let me mention here this was years before today’s inflight ‘seatback’ touch screen entertainment. Movies, video games, music, and more. What the child had to entertain herself was brought by the mother. Coloring book crayons, and possible colorful stickers. Probably enough for a two-hour flight. I’m certain the parents also counted on the child falling asleep in a short while.
Directly across the aisle sitting on an aisle seat was a gentleman amused with the small child and her playfulness. So, he too wanted to join in the fun. He quickly got the child’s attention a engaged her in a ‘finger-action’ game of “The itsie Bitsie spider went up the water spout.” So, the girl joined and did the same with her little fingers. When the lymric ended the gentleman continued one more time. The itsy-bitsy spider went up… the water spout” Once that was finished, the aisle seat gentleman started over. After about three or four rounds of the lymric it became clear the man was inebriated. DUI without a steering wheel. Drunk as they say. Yet he kept on with the finger game. After about six or seven rounds then the child grew weary and sat back and fell asleep. Leaving the man with no one to entertain. So, he wabbled forward and obtained an ‘Air-phone.’ An in-flight cell phone provided by the airline. Then very quickly he dialed someone and got engaged in a very loud conversation. Listening to him we all discovered he was the hearing aid battery magnate of Pittsburg. By the time he disconnected his call we were almost to Harrisburg and the flight crew was collecting items, including Airphones and preparing for landing. Who needs in-flight entertainment when we have drunk men to entertain us all? Flight attendants; prepare for arrival.
Most of us had followed this woman’s career ever since the early days of PBS and NPR. A woman who knew Washington inside out and all around. Up until her recent death she was heard each week explaining politics on NPR’s Morning Edition. Earlier in her career she was seen on weekends ‘talking-head’ news shows as well on ABC’s Nightline with Ted Copple. Some may have thought she grew up living in the Capitol building itself. Born to two distinguished politicians and author of “I am my mothers’ daughter.” So why did she not follow their public service example as a representative. She could have easily become the first female President while raising her own kids and doing the laundry while briefing a cabinet meeting. She was the consummate friend and observer of American legislative politics. She was daughter, wife, mother, friend, and savvy political commentator. All the while thinking of herself as mother first and promoter of her husband’s journalist career. My own personal observation, is she was pretty darn good looking but not full of herself. TV camera-ready. She was well prepared, calm, confident, and most knowledgeable.
The book title: Cokie, a life well lived by Steven B Roberts, biography, family, politics and the news media. 2021
Library of Congress annotation:
“The author explores the life and legacy of trailblazing female journalist Cokie Roberts. He discusses her many career accomplishments, her personal life, and her commitment to living each day with a devotion to helping others.”
If you obtain the audiobook version, Steve Roberts reads the book and does a very good job. Read it. You’ll like it.
It was the best of times and the worst of times. It all started out in our little working class community in East Los Angeles. Located between the B. F. Goodrich tire factory on the west end and the Edison high tension power lines on the east. About two miles from end to end. See my story titled “Little House on the Avenue.”
Our community was a mix of blue and pink collar workers with a few small business owners tossed in. I lived there during the first ten years of my life and as far as I am concerned the Best of Times. We lived in a neighborhood where people knew us and we spoke to them often. We played in their front yards and their kids played in ours. We had a large sycamore tree in our front yard that was home base when playing Hide and Seek on Saturday afternoons. We played and played until our folks called us in for our Saturday night bath. See the story: Splish-splash I was taking a bath.
My favorite playmate was Donnie who had moved here from Milwaukee along with his older brother Dickie. Dickie who became my older brother’s best friend. Donnie and I as mentioned in previous stories collected pop bottles and redeemed then for cash at the nearby Joe Miller grocery store. Way back when there was a two-cent deposit on each 12-ounce Coke and Pepsi glass bottle. So, cash flow was reasonable as long as we worked at our collection business. My brother had a twice a week paper route and I think I made more money than he. However, Donnie and I spent most of our earnings on comic books and bubble gum and my brother saved his earnings to buy a three-speed Schwinn racer. Big deal.
Our neighborhood was a mixed bag of ethnics and colors. Russians, Germans, Hispanics, Irish, Italians, Scotch, and many other ethnics along with us Okies. There were Catholics, Baptist, Greek Orthodox, Jews, and almost every religious belief. Donnie and Dickie were Catholics and attended Catholic school. The rest of us attended the local public schools. All of which worked out fine.
Living next door to the north were the Smiths. Mr. Smith was a white guy married to a Latina lady. They had to Latina-looking daughters Janet and Josephine (very cute) and Mrs. Smith with her Latina non-English speaking Latina mother. Mrs. Smith’s mother didn’t need to speak English when she rolled out her pan fried flour tortillas. She would fry up a tortilla, slather it with real butter, roll it up and hand one to each one of us. My oh my. Oh so delicious.
And just up the street were Donnie and Dickie’s family. Mr. Short a tall redhead beer drinking Irish man and Mrs. Short. Donnie’s mom to me looked German or Norwegian. Mr. Short was a carpenter and a very good one. He built on a really nice patio in the back and later an extra room addition for an expected new baby sister for Dickie and Donnie. Mrs. Short to say the least was a stay at home mom. And a very nice one. Not too long after the Shorts moved into our neighborhood Dickie came down with Polio and was in the hospital for several weeks then later came home to a regimen of rehab exercises. Then after their new baby sister was born, Donnie and I would stroll his new baby sister up and down Simmons Avenue in her shaded carriage.
To the south of us was the Snyder’s. A retired German couple. I seldom spoke to them but my mom must had since our clothe line was almost in their backyard. My mom was hanging out clothes almost daily. Just washing for us siblings was a full-time job.
Now, directly across the street was an empty lot with a worn foot path we used to get to my sisters friends trailers in the trailer court on the other side of the back alley. Anyway a vacant lot which gave a clear view of the Willard Battery water tower. The water tower formed an interesting silhouette in the evening setting sun. But to the south of the empty lot was a six-unit apartment building. I would often see a professionally dressed woman with hills and hat coming out the front apartment door walking briskly to the bus on her way to work. Never spoke to her but she was very pretty. Also in the same apartment was a highway patrolman who often parked his Harley motorcycle in the adjacent vacant lot when home on lunch break.
To the north of the apartment was playmates Kenny and Sheila. They had a nice looking reddish colored cocker spaniel. We had our own mutts that would come and go. Plus a black cat named Porkchops.
North of Kenny and Sheila was a guy we just called Kirby. A man who sat out on his front porch after getting home from work and sat in his tank top looking undershirt with a beer in hand. Kirby worked at Union Pacific railroad. My brother would often be over there talking with him after work. Kirby drove an ancient black 1932 Model A ford sedan to work and back.
But anyway, to make a long story a bit shorter there was Gary Beeler and Georgy Hernandez up the street and Jimmy Vasquez down the street. All of whom I played with and had in my class at school. Plus there were about a dozen or more kids I knew and played with after school around the block and a few blocks over. And this is not to mention my sister’s friends; Cheryl, Maryanne, Diane, Dorothy, and others.
Living in East L A back then was for the most part a delight. But it all came to an end one day. Living in a two bedroom smallish adobe house was becoming cramp for we six people. So we bought a new house and moved about ten-miles to the east. For my younger sister and me we had to transfer to another elementary school after Easter break. A school with a few problem kids living on the other side of the Rio Hondo River. It was mid-April and I was in the fourth grade and transferred into a very crowded fourth grade class. And as far as I could tell not welcomed. There was this portly pugnacious Latina girl with coke bottle glasses and buck teeth named Lupe who kept threatening to beat me up after school. I did however see Lupe pick fights with other girls. And pretty much the first time I had ever seen girls fight. Lots of hair pulling. Whew! However I managed to stay away from Lupe. Anyway summer vacation came quickly after moving to a new town and then we were out of school for the summer.
Meanwhile back in our new neighborhood and the start of the worst of times my two sisters and I were the only kids attending public schools. Almost every kid up and down our street went to Catholic school. So to say the least I was the odd kid out. One boy my age a few doors down who was often in trouble with his parents or with the Catholic school he attended. No great friendship there for me. Same for my younger sister Sharron. We never did fit in. Mr Massaro next door seemed to always be on my case so I tried to avoid him. A girl and her parents next door to the south and her cousin across the street both went to Catholic school. There were others up and down the street but all Catholic school kids. But let me say this, I have no problem with kids in private religious schools. I just had nothing in common with most of them. Nor were we ever invited to visit their homes. But as I progressed into junior and senior high school all that didn’t matter. My social life revolved around those two institutions and its student body instead. But looking back almost for six more years I had no street friends to chum with. Certainly nothing like I had in East L A. No bottle collecting. No delicious hot-out-of-pan flour tortillas. No big empty lot to fly a kite. No Joe Miller’s market to buy bubble gum and comic books. No nearby train station to watch passenger trains come and go. No horse at the end of the street to rub a soft fuzzy nose. No recycle center to sell old collected newspapers to. No partner enterprises and no street friends. We were just public school going California Okie Protestants. Trying our best to just fit in when we really didn’t. Welcome to the neighborhood you Okies. Howdy y’all
Free casino shows.
So, wife and I were up in Lake Tahoe several years back visiting a number of casinos. Walking from place to place observing and listening to various free lounge acts. However, we were not gambling our hard-earned monies. No sir! Not us.
One act that we stood back from the performance stage and listen to was a trio of musicians. They called themselves “The Jets.” An act we later discovered had played as a warm up act for the yet to be discovered Steve Martin. One guy absolutely knew how to play the guitar, another was either playing a bass guitar or maybe an upright bass, and their lead singer and drummer. Part of their act was little inserted humorous stories or jokes. All performed by the rubber faced drummer. Projecting a variety of funny faces. There was this one joke about a one-eyed rooster I totally forgot. But the drummer portrayed the rooster quite well.
But anyway, here is what happened during their brief lounge performance. There was about a couple dozen of us enjoying the Jets play. Standing among us was a woman completely overcome by alcohol. A woman beginning to shout requests. “Play Lobamba for me. But the trio continued on with their act. Play Lobamba she continued to shout. Never the less the band played on. But the woman doggedly persisted. “Play Lobamba!” So, this continued for about five more minutes. Then suddenly the drummer shouted back we have no arrangement for Lobamba. I don’t exactly remember but the woman was taken away. Possibly her husband grabbed her and pulled her out of the standing lounge audience. Play Lobamba for me as she faded into the recesses of the lounge.
It’s what you put up with listening to a free lounge show in a Nevada casino. Sometimes the audience is more entertaining than the hired musical act. None the less Lake Tahoe is a beautiful place to spend a few days away from the dull and normal
They call it shrinkflation. Ever hear of it? It’s when a packaged product is reduced in size or weight but sold at the old price. No price reduction but quantity reduction instead.
For a recent example you probably have noticed a roll of toilet paper has become a half inch narrower but sold at its previous price. Smaller product at the same old price. A 12-ounce can of soft drink has been reduced to 10.5-ounces but sold at its old price. Less product and no price change. Are you following me?
Now here is something that just pisses me off. The fashion industry has zip this up. Especially in men’s fashion. Specifically, men’s trousers. Men’s pant zippers use to be about eleven or twelve inches from top to bottom. But the smart asses have chosen to shorten the zipper by about four to five inches. Leaving very little space to conduct one’s business Creating a serious logistical problem. If you know what I mean. Leaving men, no choice but to unbuckle one’s belt, unbutton the waist button, and open out the pants when using a men’s urinal. Risking dropping one’s pants to the floor and possible mooning the man standing in line behind. All in all, creating a frustrating and embarrassing moment for the guy with the short zipper. Enough trauma to cause one to wet his pants. You know what I mean? Do they still make those Levi 505 jeans? You know the Levi’s with five brad buttons down the front. Or are they now 404’s? Saving money for the manufacturer by reducing size and men’s options. and sparing the stockholder any reduction in stock dividends. Shrinkflation? Kiss my caboose!
The skill of a suspense writer co-authors with a country music legend who has been there and done that. She certainly knows of which she speaks. For any country music want-to-be, for the reader this book could possibly offer some advice on navigating the basics of “making it big” in country music. Maybe. But first the reader must follow the story step by step. Picking out here and there the nuggets of wisdom from the country music celebrity’s spoken experience. However, this book is like going to ‘Dollywood’ and riding the most fearsome and ferocious roller coaster then living to tell about it. Experiencing the great soaring heights but quickly free falling to a near death experience. Part of the coaster ride is making your way through a weed patch of character’s lies and suppressed hidden pasts. Suspenseful, danger filled, and for those who really need it, romance.
Title: Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson. Suspense fiction. Bestseller 2022
Library of Congress annotation:
“AnnieLee Keyes is hitchhiking her way to Nashville, determined to make it in the music industry. But she’s fleeing her past, and her rise as a country music star is dogged by the dark secrets trying to destroy her. Violence and strong language.”
I am almost sure the print version is compelling but the audiobook has a full cast of voice actors giving this book great depth. My recommendation: Read it or listen to it. You’ll like it.