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.
Years and years ago I went to the Mabee Center in Tulsa to see and hear Mac Davis and his country band. He was more of a song writer than country singer. However, his opening act was Olivia Newton John. She was in a long soft white flowing gown and was most lovely. A gentleman in the front row stepped up and handed her a long stem rose which she took and put her nose close to sniff the floral fragrance. Then she proceeded to wow the audience with her current hit songs. She was smiley, graceful, and the hit of the concert. Never mind Mac Davis was the headliner. I fell in love with Olivia.
A few years later we took our nine-year-old daughter to see the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical, ‘Grease.’ Starring Olivia Newton John and John Travolta. As we entered the theater our daughter ran down front to join other girls her age. Once the movie started and the songs began to be sung all the pre-teen girls in the theater began to sing along as a chorus. Witnessing this was a bit hilarious. Half the theater was engaged in the Grease music. It was fun to watch and listen to. Again, Olivia was just lovely and played a teen girl while actually being in her early thirties. The movie turned out to be the smash hit of the summer movie season.
Unfortunately, breast cancer recently took her from us. God rest her soul.
My gearhead dad.
My dad had to quit school in the eighth-grade. He said he’d would rather have stayed in school and play baseball for the school team and continue his studies. But his family needed him to work the farm because His father was down in north Texas working on a drilling rig in order to support the family and help keep the farm going.
However, with my dad’s education cut short he made the best of it and seemed to possess a good learned knowledge of farming. With his youthful strength and acquired maturity managing the farm at age fifteen still wasn’t easy. He had about a half dozen siblings to supervise as well.
One attribute he had in his farming resume he developed a good mechanical sense. My dad later was Able to take apart and fix most things and to my utter amazement make them work. Case in point. Twice my dad asked my brother and I back in 1957 then again, a few years later to help pull out an engine from an old 1937 Ford that our older sister had abandoned. The old Ford had an old flat-head V8 motor. Then we would disassemble the engine block, the manifolds, carburetor, all it’s wires hoses tubes and linkage and overhauled the entire engine.
Including replacing gaskets, boring the cylinders, replacing rings, and draining the old dirty oil. The complete ‘taking apart’ first started with rigging up an engine hoist in our garage in order the pull the heavy thing up and out. We would have to reenforce the overhead 2×6 wood ceiling-joist with two-four by four vertical wooden supports. Then hang the hoist mechanism and push the car into place and remove its engine hood and removable side panels.
But honestly, I was not too sure how this car and engine overhaul would turn out. But after pulling the engine out, disassembling it, doing all the necessary boring buffing and grinding, we managed to reassemble the engine and lower it back into the engine compartment of the old Ford. Put in the key, flip the start switch, and pushed the starter button and it started. It ran. And again, to my amazement. How did my dad know how to do this Years ago, he had lived on a farm with no tractors of trucks. But with one exception. My dad and his brother had jointly bought an old ‘Model A’ flatbed Ford, fixed it up, and got it running. And one would have to ask, how did they do that? They had no repair manuals back then.
But in the case of my sisters old abandoned car my dad had access of some manuals at the auto parts store. But still, one must have some kind of mechanical sense or mental concept of motor physics. An innate ability to envision how things ran. But I had to surmise he was just an Okie gearhead. He came with An inborn understanding of how mechanical things work. But I would have to admit automobile engines back then were a bit simpler and easier to repair. In retrospect we should had inscribed on his head stone, “I alone can fix it.” Well, not really. LOL
Those of you who have flown recently have notice and perhaps used one of several seat-back entertainment devices. Video games, movies, music, audio books, and more. However, back in the 1970s you might remember inflight movies. Movies shown on three or four pull-down screens overhead of the center aisle. Screens about six or eight feet from an ole Bell and Howell 16 mm projector. What was unique about this multiple projector system was the 16 mm film spooled along a track assisted by several cogs starting from the rear projector on to another projector. So, one reel of film would traveled all along the overhead spooling pass and through the lighted projection lens from projector to the next interim projector. Ending up in the
First Class section. A good system when it worked. But it had many weaknesses. Just the film itself traveling from the rear of the aircraft all the way to the front of the plane could catch or break anywhere along the way. A good sixty-feet or so. If one projector broke down or its projection lamp blew, the whole operation would shut down. A sprocket or track could stick ending in a film jumbled wad. All the while each projector sent the audio to each viewing section. But when it all work, and I have witnessed this, a person from the rear of the plane could watch the same scene three or four times as the film progresses overhead from screen to screen. Inflight entertainment in itself. I viewed the original ‘Topgun’ on a flight to Honolulu from L A.
Now all that brings me to this recollection. A flight from Honolulu to Vancouver, BC back in 1973. It was going to be an overnight six-hour flight. Some call it a red-eye. Leave in the afternoon and arrive early the next morning. But let me mention this first. Wife and I were flying what they call non-rev. Space available for airline employees. We were flying on Canadian-Pacific airlines. When we fly non-rev, we must do our best to represent our airline, American Airlines. Which means we must dress in business attire. Sport coat, tie, and slacks for me and a nice dress for my wife. Our three-year-old daughter something appropriate for school wear. Shortly after going through all check points, we boarded the plane and sat together. My guess we were one of the last to board the plane. So, we sat down, buckled up, and stowed our carry-on under the seat in front of us. After we got comfortable in our seats, I thought it be nice to ask for either a complimentary magazine or newspaper. The nice flight attendant told us all reading material has been distributed and had neither mag or a paper left. But since we were basically flying for almost nothing we did not complain. Our daughter had a few play items brought with her. None the less, we just sat there in anticipation of leaving soon. I had noticed that air was not yet flowing from the overhead air nozzle. I twisted it but no air came. We sat for a few more moments and still no air flow. In the meantime, the air temperature in the main cabin began to rise. I began to perspire a bit around my shirt collar. So, I dare loosen my tie a bit and took off my sport jacket and put it in the overhead bin. It took a good hour to get air flowing the main cabin and we had not yet taxied to the tarmac. Just before backing out of our plane’s parking spot the air start to blow from the overhead air nozzle. All in all, it was about an hour and a half after we boarded and then took off. Once in the air at cruising altitude we became comfortable and the sun on the horizon began to set. What a view! It was mentioned by the way there would be no movie onboard.
Since it was not quite sleeping time for all I had ask the flight attendant for a pack of playing cards. Anything to do while waiting for sleeping time. She apologetically mentioned there was only one deck of cards on the plane and another family was using them. But would ask them when they finish to pass them on to us. About fifteen minutes elapsed and the kind attendant handed me the playing cards with this caveat to just use them for about fifteen or twenty minutes and she would pass them on to the next passengers. So, we all played a quick game of books. Drawing and matching numbers. A game our three years ole daughter could play. We played about fifteen minutes a handed the deck back to the attendant and we prepared for an overnight sleep. So much for inflight entertainment.
However, at about six AM the cabin crew was preparing breakfast and it was served. It was a magnificent Canadian breakfast; eggs, Canadian bacon, English muffin, coffee and juice. One of the best inflight meals I’ve ever had. Thank you, Canadian Pacific. We touched down in Vancouver about eight AM.
I am crushed. Twitter has suspended my account. What for? Why? What did I say? I have never resorted to profane language nor threats or wish anyone harm. I never post questionable images or photos. No images at all. None. Nada. However,
on occasion I use cartoonish metaphors. For example, for the words meaning BS, I say Ooze from the boy cow’s rear. Or he is a donkey’s anus meaning that naughty word I won’t say.
So, with no explanation from the Twittermeisters my feelings are truly hurt. It’s like your mom coming to you with a switch off a peach tree and whacking you across the legs without offering reason why she is doing this. What recourse do I have? Can I appeal this? Is there a governing tribunal to beg before?
Perhaps I didn’t use the right punctuation or misspelled some crucial words. What? Why me?
Perhaps it was when I hoped Trump would be fitted for an orange jump suit. Was that it? How about when I thought Trump should sit in an electric chair. How about that? I know a few people who feel the same.
None the less, no explanation was given for my Twitter suspension. Guilty until proven innocent I suppose. Oh well, this too shall pass. I still have my Facebook account to bloviate on.
Now try to follow with me on this. Back in about 1958 something possessed my parents to buy a big blond stereo from Sears and put it in the Livingroom. A blond wood stereo with an array of different size speakers that a 14-year-old teen boy only could wish for. Previous we had only a clock-radio in the kitchen and an old mahogany single speaker AM radio/record player. Not really sure why they bought that old dark mahogany thing either.
But anyway, I discovered the FM side of the dial on this new stereo and started listening to jazz and big band. It was so cool and loud. High fidelity out the wah-zoo. You know what I mean huh?
Then about that same time the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and while waiting for a new stadium to be built, the Dodgers started played in the L A Coliseum. A venue meant for football or track and field competition. A sporting place where the 1932 Olympics were held.
However, for a year or two, the Dodgers played major league baseball in the coliseum. A place a bit far to go and watch a NLB ball game. Then someone mentioned I should tune in my new big radio to KFI AM640 and listen to a Dodger ball game. So, I switched back to the AM dialed one afternoon and tuned in a Dodger game.
Hey, I thought, who is this guy announcing the play-by-play? Then I listened on and eventually he mentioned his name. Hello everybody, this is Vin Scully with Dodger baseball. I was intrigued with his smooth delivery and he was so knowledgeable as well. Mr. Sculley sounded like he was talking only to me. So, I listened on. His voice projected confidence along with a casual manner as if he came to our house to talk baseball. I continued to listen to many games into the future and enjoyed Vin’s colorful play by play. How did he get that soothing voice? What did he have to do to gain all that baseball knowledge? This may seem dumb but I could listen to Vin Scully all day and not tire of listening to him. Only if my teachers at school could sound like Vin Scully as well.
I could go on and on but my point here is this; Vin Scully died yesterday. He was 94. And as far as I am concerned, the world’s best sports caster and human being. God rest his soul. Amen.
1973 was the year full-service gas stations came to an abrupt end. It stopped ‘snap’ just like that! Swift without any means of restoration to full service. No one could reverse this sudden inconvenience. Gas stations or service stations flipped to a self-service or DIY service.
But first let me explain what full-service gas stations were to those of you who weren’t either paying attention back then or were born after1970 or later. Once upon a time an American motorist was able to easily drive his or her VW bug or Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud into most any corner gas station, drive over the bell-ringing trip hose, then immediately a gas station attendant would rush out to the driver’s side of the vehicle and offer his help. “Fill’er-up” driver might say. Then the attendant would commence to pick up the gasoline nozzle from the gas pump, stick in the gas tank cap opening, and fill your car with the gasoline dealer’s best petrol. All done without the driver ever getting out of the car. Then the attendant would ‘pop’ your car’s hood and check the oil level, radiator water level, and fill up your windshield washer water container. All for the price of a filling. If the oil dipstick indicated low oil, then the attendant could pour in additional oil into the oil cap intake for an additional cost. Usually about fifty-cents per quart back then. I might add when I started driving back in 1960, gasoline per gallon was about 15-cents. But anyway, all the dirty work of filling up and checking oil was done by the red rag carrying and brown uniformed station attendant. It kept our hands clean and the only thing we had to do is give the man cash or a credit card. Those were the days.
My favorite gas station to frequent when living in Honolulu was the station run by JC Penny Price per gallon of gas was about 25-cents at that time. Then on top of that the gas attendants were young high school boys and girls in cute shorts and Hawaiian print polo shirts. I must confess the girls could handle the job as well as the boys. Which to my way of thinking was preferable. Nothing like a cute teen girl with bubble gum breath at the driver’s window asking how she could help.
Then came like an unexpected air raid siren, the bad news. Here came an oil embargo from OPEC. Oil producing Exporting consortium or something like that. It was unabashedly an oil cartel of middle east oil producing nations. In other words, OPEC either cut off all oil exports or a significant percentage. If I recall, the middle east oil producing nations had some disagreement with the American government. Resulting in a man-made oil shortage that ended up in limited gasoline availability. America’s own oil production was limited at that time. Then it induced panic and long lines at gas stations. Cutting profits for big oil companies and their retailers. We consumers had to wait int long lines and sometimes for hours to get to the pump for a few gallons of gas. Some late evenings we had to drive down to our favorite gas station and park our car in line in order to fill it up the next morning. Riding a bicycle became an option. All this went on for many months. Then OPEC decided to lift the embargo. More gas became available but full service never came back. On top of that gas prices at that time doubled or some places tripled. Adding angst to oil anxiety. So goodbye full-service. Hello to inflated prices. But since that time gas prices have fluctuated up and down no matter who was the President in Washington. As a result of all the above, gasoline sales had shifted from the typical gas station over to mostly being sold at convenient stores at a reduced price. Four to six bucks per gallon is a reduced price? Give me a break. Where’s my electric car?
The big red machine.
It was big as a Frigidaire refrigerator. But with one exception. It wasn’t white like the one in my mom’s kitchen. It was a bit bigger but very red. Often found outside on the curbing around a gas station. And scribed across its front in large white lettering was ‘CokeOfCola.’ The front panel operation was most easy to follow. Even me a first-grader could understand what it was trying to tell me. First, Over to one side was a coin slot for purchase. I first remember way back when depositing just one nickel. Five-cents. Then a bit towards the middle was a big gray lever one would shove downwards and suddenly just below in a larger opening with a flap door would come an eight-ounce green tinted glass bottle of Coke. The frosty bottle came with a splined edge bottle cap. Tightly sealed to retain carbonation and coolness. Then one would have to remove the cap in order to drink directly from the green tinted bottle. To facilitate such an operation a person/myself would insert the cap side end into a bottle cap remover just below where it says ‘Bottle Opener.’ Then just after popping the bottle cap one could eagerly drink with poise and panache straight from the bottle. Just like John Wane did in his favorite saloon. Which I did with boyish gusto. Sometimes a frothy foam will rise to the top and you would have to drink the Coke immediately or loose some of the precious liquid. Then when the Coke contents was consumed one would either put the bottle into a slotted wire rack on the side of the big red machine or pay an additional two-cents deposit. Only if you wish to take the bottle with you. I usually didn’t because I seldom had the extra two-cents.
The ‘Big Red Machine” was an icon of refreshment and an oasis found at most gas stations we stopped at on our summer road trip from Los Angeles to Oklahoma and back. Each station stop was just a few minutes. My dad didn’t want to waste time with too much fiddling at each gas stop. In addition to buying a bottled Coke we had to first use the station’s restroom and then rush to the Big Red Machine. Quickly make the Coke purchase, drink it down with in a matter of seconds, put the bottle in to the bottle rack and get back in to the already running car. “Get in now” my dad would command. However, we became accustomed to the routine. Never mind all the slurping, hick-upping, and belching that would occur when drinking a carbonated drink too fast.
One summer about a year later disaster occurred when I discovered a price increase on one of the Big Red Machines. Pasted over the Five-cents price was a piece of paper scotched taped with the bad news. Ten-cents the sign demanded. I had only a nickel. Then I heard my dad yelling, “Get in the car, now! So, off we went with me sullen and distraught. What a way to spoil a summer vacation.
From the Confessional.
I have these habits and foibles I must confess. Just to get it off my gray hairy chest. Please understand. I’m trying to be good.
I love a good bowl of cereal. Especially if it is some of that homemade granola we buy at Sprouts. Sprinkle it with raisins and sunflower seeds. Then top with Braums best 2-percent milk. I love to flood the bowl with 2-percent. But when I get down to the dregs of the granola leaving a half-inch of milk. It is too much time wasted dipping spoon after spoon the remaining milk into my mouth. I just tip the bowl up and slurp it down like from a cup. Just tip and down it goes Remember, the Queen does not participate in repast here. Only Sheba witnesses this barbaric procedure. Again, I do this to save time and motion.
Likewise, after my wife cuts open and sections out a good juicy grapefruit and after scooping out with a spoon the fruit meat, I like to squeeze the remaining juice from the grapefruit into my bowl and once again, I drink the remaining juice straight from the bowl the grapefruit half sits in. Often it is so good to drink good sweet grapefruit juice. So good and once again a sign of barbarism. Well, it’s too much trouble to go to the cabinet and get a juice glass. You know what I mean?
Then there is this: Something I learned from my Okie dad. My red dirt farmer dad loved his biscuits. Biscuits accompanied with good eggs over easy. Paying close attention to not over-cook the yoke. The sunny yellow yoke must be left a bit ‘runny.’ Salt and pepper to taste.’ Then after engaging the egg with knife and fork one must decide what to do with the remaining yoke runnage. Then it is time to pick out of the biscuit pan a good warm and buttered biscuit. This is the art of sopping. You take a good fluffy buttered biscuit and sop the remains. Absorbing the yellow yoke remains into the biscuit and place in mouth and enjoy. It is oh so delicious. Try it. You’ll like it.
But anyway, I’m not going to talk to you about, licking fingers or wiping them on my jeans. No sir. It’s too gross. So there. That’s my confession.
Red Dirt Poetry.
By Okie beyond borders
Dusty winds whistled about Through the baren leafless trees.
The rusty sandpaper sky hung over the horizon like a theater backdrop
As if In a John Steinbeck novel.
Shuffling and searching in the foreground for whatever meager sustenance there possibly could be
Were silhouettes of three searchers. Billy, Bob, and Bartholomew.
A trio of feathered Rhode Island Reds. Roosters in search
Of digestible skittering groundlings scurrying about in every direction.
Skittering groundlings in the dusty red gritty sand trying not too
he hopelessly devoured by the three-scratching auburn feathered peckers.
Pecking cocks famished from hours and endless hours
And pecking. Pecking, scratching, and mournfully crowing their despair.
Drive her to Oklahoma
It wasn’t but a few days after I finished my sophomore year in high school June 1960 and my Aunt Elsie came and asked to drive her to Oklahoma. Well, to be fair she would share the driving duties as well.
However, I had not taken my final driver’s test. I was 16-years old but was not fully licensed. Just had a learner’s permit. Hadn’t at that time gotten my driver’s license even though I turned sixteen back in February. Had nothing to drive so hadn’t thought about it.
But now I had a driving challenge. Drive my red headed Aunt in her 1956 orange Mercury very long boat-car from Los Angeles all the way to Wilson Oklahoma. A 1500-mile trek. Just me and my short fused cantankerous Old Maid auntie.
First let me give you a biographical sketch of my aunt Elsie. She was the youngest of seven siblings. Baby of the family. Perhaps a tiny bit spoiled. Her parents, my grandparents, had died before Aunt Elsie had finished high school and she ended up living on an Oklahoma farm with her middle sister, Jessi Mae and Jessie’s husband Kelly. None the less, when Aunt Elsie graduated in either 1942 or 43, she decided to move to California and lived with my parents who had already moved to the L A area in 1941. And I might mention here Aunt Elsie at a young age thought of herself as her own boss. Code for difficult to get along with.
She lived for a short while with my parents until she had enough. Her short fuse was oh so easy to trigger. Then, Aunt Elsie found work at a local ice cream parlor just up the street and then found a very small cracker box apartment to start her independent life. And it continues on from there. Later on, my dad helped Elsie find a better paying job at the food processing plant where my dad worked in the meat-packing district of L A. Unfortunately, her sausage packing job came to a sudden end when the company decided to move the process out of state. Then another resourceful friend helped Aunt Elsie apply for a job in a warehouse as an office clerk earning even better wages and benefits. All the while Elsie was a bit self-possessed and head strong with a red headed old maid’s short temper. Never knew why she didn’t marry. Oh well
So back to this driving to Oklahoma thing. It started with my aunt and me driving to the DMV to take the drivers test in her big orange boat-car. All went well and Aunt Elsie and I were off to southern red dirt Oklahoma. And I might mention the Interstate highway system was just beginning. If I recall correctly, we drove on two-lane highways almost all the way to southern Oklahoma. And some of that driving was through Interstate highway construction and gravel roads. Taken the southern route we drove down through humid El Centro, Yuma Arizona, Tucson, over the southern Rockys of New Mexico, on through Lubbock Texas, into Wichita Falls, crossing north over the Red River on a very narrow bridge, and north into the teeming Geomegalopous of Wilson, Oklahoma. A former oil and gas boomtown gone bust. But a most quaint and very friendly little rural dusty red dirt town where my grandmother and other relatives lived. So, Auntie and I finally arrived there with little serious argument and without even killing each other. The driving gods must had been with us. Boy Howdy! You’ve got that right.