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.
Mars or bust.
Why are we in such a fever to go to Mars? Couldn’t we be just as happy going to the Moon? The Moon is so much closer. Just think of all the money that could be saved by only flying to the Moon. Possibly we might find Martians on the Moon. Is that who we are looking for? Or is Mars the only science experiment we are interested in.
But anyway, who really is interested in Mars exploration? Rocket scientist? Geologists? Archeologists? Climatologist? Mineralogists? Network news anchors? Or maybe just land developers? Who knows? What would we expect to find when we get to Mars
It has been estimated it would take at least 75 to 100 different specialized scientists and engineers in one trip to create a livable environment in order to inhabit Mars. Along with medical doctors and other medical professionals. Plus a few individuals willing to procreate and colonize Mars. Read the book Dr. Strangelove.
As far as I know at this time there is no current engineered rocketing means of coming back to Earth. No such returning rocket or space shuttle. But I have been known to be in error about subjects like this.
This is all to not mention it will take approximately six months just to get to Mars. Could you imagine being stuck in the middle seat for six months? However, it takes less than a week rocketing to the Moon. To me the Moon has more commercial possibilities.
Both planets have a somewhat hostile environment. Low gravity, no breathable air, and depending how you face the sun a person can freeze on one side facing away from the Sun and burn up facing the sun. So, wearing a heavily insulated suit would be required to travel alfresco outside an artificial environment.
Now tell me, who really would want to go to Maars anyway? Young unattached scientifically trained adults I guess. People who are focused on exploration and experiment and not too attached family left behind. Again, they might not ever come back to Earth. But think about it, most of the folks traveling on the Mayflower away from the motherland way back when never returned.
But before you head off into deep space consider these possible scenarios, where would you go to buy your Starbucks white lattes and stale pastry on Mars? There is no cell-phone coverage on Mars either. It might be a few years before a Super-cuts opens for business on Mars. What would anybody on Mars do without a Trader Joes? However, all of this could easily be constructed on the Moon. Perhaps the Moon will need a Chamber of Commerce in order to lure visitors to the Moon instead. “Take advantage of our special two-week round trip offer for only $375,000. Includes hotel with complimentary breakfast. Ground transportation and gratuities not included.”
‘Fly me to the Moon. Let me play among the stars.’
Our very first television.
It was 1952 on Simmons Avenue in East L A not that far from the Willard Battery factory water tower and just downwind from the B. F. Goodrich tire factory. The latest electronic marvels had entered our Okie home. Once television was brought into our tiny East Los Angeles Livingroom entertainment quickly transitioned from radio listening to the new watch-it-now visual format of T V.
It took the better part of a Saturday afternoon for my dad and my older brother to rig this thing up. Lots of shouting through the roof to “turn it to the right. No, stop. Turn it back the other way.” And what they were doing is rotating the rooftop antenna mast back and forth to hone in on the best TV signal And hopefully a signal without double images. A single image is best. All of this was after running a flat brown wire from the antenna, down the side of the house, into the window, and attach it to the televisions antenna screw down connection on the back of the TV set. An engineering feat equal to doing a load of laundry. But anyway, my brother and dad got the job done. There it was. A single image picture on the screen but a bit ill defined. It was like taking a black and white photograph and laying wax paper over the image resulting in reducing the detail of the picture. Just a bit fuzzy but discernable none the less. Sometimes an Indian feather headdress test pattern would appear or sometimes a tall hatted cowboy on a spotted horse would be shown on the fuzzy screen. All this magic coming from the television transmitter farm up on Mount Wilson near the observatory. TV technology in Los Angeles was just amazing back then.
What we had here in our Livingroom was a 12-inch simi-round Sears black and white TV screen set into a square mahogany wooden box set atop for mahogany legs. There was a big channel selector knob and an on/off switch below. A volume knob, a contrast knob, a horizontal hold control knob, and a vertical hold control knob along with several smaller tweaking settings on the back panel. Probably weighed about fifty pounds. Not sure how much it cost. My dad never told us.
But anyway, I as an eight-year-old boy when alone in the living room loved to tweak the many knobs. The fuzzy picture would lean to the left. Then lean to the right. Then the image would start to rolling like a slow reel of film. If I couldn’t achieve a steady picture, I would just turn it off and go listen to our less complicated radio. “Hi Ho Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again.”
Radio comes full circle.
I must had been about four-years-old when I became aware of radio. Radio mostly broadcast live from New York, Chicago, and from my hometown of Los Angeles or Hollywood. And back then it was not referred to as “Old-time radio.” Or as some call it today, ‘OTR.’ Some programs were broadcast with a live studio audience. Never mind the voice characters were just standing there reading straight from a scrip on a music stand with a sound effects man behind them. Radio back then was just Dragnet or The Lone Ranger or The Great Gildersleeve. Just as some refer today to TV programs as just Sixty-minutes or Monday night football or Americas Got Talent.
Back then I liked listening to Sky King, You Bet your life, Fibber McGee and Molly, and the Jack Benny show. It was all current and entertaining. Not Old Time Radio. No sir!
My family had in our tiny Livingroom a Sears mahogany flip-top radio/record player combo console. Just a single speaker AM radio with a two-speed record player changer up top. About the size of a Maytag automatic washer.
Down below was a separated section for recorded albums and singles. A space intended for forty-five RPM and 78 RPM records. However, in our house this space below was taken up mostly with the World Book Encyclopedia. About eight volumes. So many early evenings I would be sitting on the living room floor cross leg listening to Dragnet with Jack Webb while flipping through the encyclopedia looking at photos of old train steam engines or looking at the broad view of Hoover Dam.
My mom was a stay-at-home mom She listened only in the day time hours. Her preference was listening to soap operas and the Breakfast Club out of Chicago each morning. Helping her kitchen duties speed along. None the less, soap opera was her most listened to radio program. Young Widder Brown, Lorenzo Jones, My true Story, Young man’s family, Back Stage Wife, and others. Then later radio was an important part of my teenage years. As in Rock and Roll music. L A, where I grew up, had good R-N-R stations. KFWB, KHJ, and KRLA.
Then came Television. We bought our first TV in 1952. It too was a Sears model. A 12-inch black and white fuzzy round picture screen set in a square mahogany box cabinet. It would be best described as looking at a black and white photo covered with wax paper.
So then came I Love Lucy, Dragnet the TV show, Milton Burl, Howdy Doody, and the occasional diagonal and rolling lines. My mom’s favorite was watching men’s professional wrestling. Don’t ask me why. Then in 1952 the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. And away went radio listening from our attention. I could only speculate it was the promoters of TV that began calling radio, Old Time Radio. Just to push it back as a has-been relic. Never the less, I still love radio. I love exploring other radio markets. This is done late at night on an AM receiver when the ionosphere royals and flows. Causing radio waves to bounce and made easier to capture on most AM radio receivers. I have listened to late at night radio stations from Chicago, Cincinnati, Saint Louis, Denver, Dallas, and sometimes as far away as Los Angeles and San Francisco. But now days I use an app on my iPhone called ‘Tune-in Radio’ and listen to almost any radio station around the world. But limited by listening to stations speaking only English. One of my new favorites to listen to is CBC Radio 1 in Halifax Nova Scotia. Home of the famed Marconi Towers. And Marconi being the inventor of the process called radio. How cool is that?
I was sitting at the kitchen table while mindlessly eating breakfast when listening to Morning Edition early one September day. Bob Edwards had just introduced Susan Standberg with an NPR piece she had produced. She started talking but suddenly was faded down and Bob Edwards came back on the air and said it seems that a commercial jet had just hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Early speculation was a jetliner must had gone off course and collided with the trade center tower. This moment of mine was about 8:45 AM central time in Tulsa Oklahoma. I was hunch over our round glass top kitchen table eating whatever it was while listening to NPR. So, I turned up the volume and listen to the horrible event unfold. Thinking how could a jetliner veer off course that much as to hit a Manhattan tower. Then just moments later another jetliner hit the second WTC tower. Realizing this was more than just a coincidence but a planned plot to highjack jetliners and blow up the trade center. More than likely by terrorists. It was terrorists back when who had attempted once before to blow up one tower with a car bomb in a delivery van as it went into the underground parking garage. Creating minimal damage to the famed hundred-plus story skyscraper. But they were back again with death and destruction on their minds
At that point I new my brother in California, two hours behind us, needs to hear this incredible news and switch on his TV. So, I called him with the horrific news.
And you know the rest of the story. It was beyond tragic. It was like the bombing and sinking of the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor or worse.
Dear readers of this blog. For the next ten days or so I will be out of office. Out of pocket. Away from this blogmafacation. My wife, Sheba, and myself will be away on vacation. We will be gone to protect our grandkids from their abusive parents. How dare they expect our tender little grandies to pick up and straighten their rooms. How dare their parents expect our little darlings to close the toilet lid and feed the kitties? So, from time to time, we must go and intervene on their behalf. Therefore, I must bear the sad news there will not be any erudite and meaningful bits of wisdom on this blog for a few short days, Bloggerchuck.
Audios and take care.
Okie Beyond Borders.
Fall 1962 I started my freshman year
at East Los Angeles College. A community college under the oversite of the Los Angeles Unified School District. At that time the total enrollment of students for both day and night classes at ELAC were about 10K.After filling out the required forms and papers then selecting my desired classes, totaling 15-credithours, I handed the person in the school’s bursars office a total of ten-dollars. Yes, the entire semester of five classes cost me only $10. Just ten bucks. Handed the lady two five-dollar bills. Caching the register rang paid in full.
At that time an all-new administrative building was finished along with the expanse of a center plaza. The campus was most welcoming and collegial. Every amenity one would expect of a metropolitan college setting was close at hand. Student center, canteen, auditorium, etc.
Had I enrolled at one of the California State colleges the total cost would have been $200 per semester. Two hundred dollars for a full load of classes. Still not a bad deal.
Then came governor elect Ronald Reagan. Reagan ended the affordability of the state’s community and state colleges and universities. Creating a significant increase and shifting the cost of education from the state to the student. Was this suppose to be a positive for Californians? It didn’t appear to be so.
And now America is talking about free colleges or community colleges. Wondering how to pay for this. Well, we’ve did it before. We could certainly do it again.
Junior high boys
are the most peculiar barbaric animals observed in the human world. And I am speaking boys of my own generation. Not middle school boys of the recent generations. And speaking of middle school I’m not really sure why we went from junior high designation to middle school classification. We societal wonks are always trying to revarnish a concept or institution. When in doubt or just tired of the same old words, change its name or label.
But anyway, we are talking about 1950s junior high males. Preteen and teen boys. Boys in the change of life. Boys with pimples and hair growing in secret places. Boys who do not like to touch each other or show any kind of sympathy resulting from insult or injury. Doing whatever it takes to slam or put down each other. It seems like a constant rebuke or rebuff coming from so-called friends about our own status or integrity. “Your face reminds me of a chimpanzee with zits. Or, you have body odor like a pig wallowing in cow poop.”
Plus, you do not want to be seen in public with your parents by your teen guy friends. And especially not to be seen in public playing with your younger siblings. And most of all not be seen with a younger little sister. Just isn’t cool. Looks bad and gives you a “kissypooh” girlyboy image. The type of image your teen friends would disparage and avoid at all costs. “Charly is a weeneyboy babysitter.”
So, one day I was walking home from junior high all alone and thinking about what might be in our home refrigerator. I came to a corner and if I go either straight on or turn the corner, I end up at my house in the same amount of time. So, I chose to turn the corner and go up to Madison and go east all the way to Sixth street and go north. It’s basically a mindless slog. Walked it hundreds of times.
Then I suddenly came up on something I would prefer to have avoided. A little girl looking about nine years old and crying. Tears were flowing down her sorrowful face. She cried out to me that she was lost and couldn’t find her way home. So here I was standing near a little grade school girl crying and she rubbing her eyes with the backs of her hands and appearing to be lost forever. Or so it seemed. And I’m standing there hoping none of my junior high friends would be nearby observing this drama. Possibly would be guffawing and speaking in besmirching nattering grumbles. “Look guys it’s Charley and his new little girlfriend.” However, and fortunately none of my so-called friends were close by.
The little girl mentioned this was the first day at her school and had just moved from another faraway place. And I was thinking how could I get out of this situation. Then I had the presents of mind to ask her if she knew her home address. And to my surprise she did. I knew actually where she lived. Then I told her I might know how to get there and follow me. I mean follow me at a fair distance. I tried my best to be a few steps ahead of her so if some of my bone head friends saw me, they wouldn’t shout out any disparaging remarks. So, the two of us trudged on in hopes of quickly finding the little girl’s home. She was, where I found her, about a mile or so from the address she gave me. Then after crossing a few busy streets, we came to the main Boulevard that intersect her street. I walked to her corner and pointed and said, “you live just a short distance that way. She yelped, “I see it” and took off running. Then I felt relieved and walked the rest of way home by myself while looking about to see if I could see any of my goofy friends. Whew! I was finally home free.
Thou Shall not dance.
Especially with the opposite sex. Boys and girls were forbidden to dance with each other. At least this was the doctrinaire of our fundamentalist church.
However, the first Monday evening of each month way back when we kids would go with an older couple in their twenties to Pasadena at the Moonlight Roller Drome. Roller skating on a rink is what it was. Round and round the skating oval while an old guy behind a big glass window at one end of the rink played the huge zillion key Wurlitzer organ. Early on after arriving and renting our skates everybody would just roll along the main skateway either with some proficiency or holding on to the outer rails just as I did. It took a while for me to become confident enough to skate out in the mix of things.
Then it would happen. The lights would dim and the reflecting mirror ball over the center of the rink would start to revolve and a million twinkling lights would shower the skating floor. The high pitch voice of the organ player would announce “couples skate only.” So only older teen and young adult couples took the floor holding crossed hand as couple skaters would do. Holding one hand behind the female skater and one hand in front of the couple. The older couple who drove us to the rink had their own skates and skating outfits. He in black tuxedo-looking pants with a wide vertical red stripe down the side with a white long-sleeved party-looking design shirt. And she in her woman’s short mini-skirt skating outfit. So, all skaters danced with varying degrees of performance and proficiency. Some were good skaters whirling and twirling all around the oval skating floor. Dancing and twirling ballroom style as they progressed around the oval. And others just hanging on to each other trying not to fall down.
Then a most dreaded thing happened, the lady who brought we kids to the roller rink asked me to skate with her at the next couples only session. Leaping lizards! Why me. I tried my best to beg her off but she would not relent. So, when the organ guy announced couples skate only, I prayed the power would go off. But it did not and we shakily strolled out on the skateway and she literally had to hold me up while held each other’s hands and arms in couple skate style. It seemed like forever the dance tune played on and on. And as soon as the couple skate session ending. Zip! Off I went to embrace the side hand rail. Never looking back at my couple’s skate partner. What a freaking embarrassment.
Now here is where the rubber meets the road. My dad decided to come with we kid to one of the monthly Monday skating’s. But he came as an observer only. Watching for about an hour or so. And as a prominent member of our church he surmised, “All this is just dancing. Dancing on roller skates. “So, I stood up on my rented skates and rolled into the men’s room. Fade to black.
I don’t know if it was intended to happen this way by the author but the book, I just finished listening to had an extraordinary reader. Voice actor he is best described as. Coupled that with good writing was a voice so matched to the story it brought an almost third dimension to a two-dimensional book. Or maybe it would be best described as bringing technicolor to black and white pages. But anyway, I strongly recommend ‘listening’ to this story on audiobook. Allen Lewis Rickman is the reader. He easily pours over the words with a most convincing Russian accent. One must have lived in Russia for a while to accomplish such a proletariat brogue.
The title of the book is “The Kitchen Boy” A novel of the last Tsar by Robert Alexander, historical fiction 2022
Here is the Library of Congress annotation:
Drawing from decades of work, travel, and research in Russia, Robert Alexander re-creates the story of the final days of Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov as seen through the eyes of their young kitchen boy, Leonka. You will like this audiobook. I liked it. It will amaze you. Go on a road trip and listen. Or get out your coloring book and listen to The Kitchen Boy.