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.
We gotta do this.
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.
Grapes of Wrath? Not here.
Before the sun peaked over the horizon,
Carl would be up and crossing the road with two 2-gallon buckets. He was headed for the school house across the county road where he filled each bucket with fresh well water from the hand pump. Then carry Ing both buckets full he slowly started back to his little four room house where he and his young family resided. He sat the buckets in the house for the day’s water needs, exited the house , and climbed into his dusty black Model-T Ford pick-up and drove off to his WPA job. A job as Forman of a road crew grading and laying gravel for a county road.
This routine went on for months and usually six days a week. A job that was a godsend from the Roosevelt administration. In Washington DC, it was known as the Works Project Administration or just WPA. None the less Carl was glad to have the work. His 40-acre parched red dirt farm just didn’t produce much corn crop. It hadn’t rained in months. The wind blew dry red dusty dirt into the air and Carl could look straight up at the noon day sun which on some days be a tinted a dirty orange. Rainless weather causing farming to be almost non-existent. Again, his family had little to live on but the WPA job certainly did helped.
You would think this was some other third-world country. Right? No. Carl’s family lived on the county road between Carter and Love counties in southern rural Oklahoma. It was 1941 and life was not easy for a beginning family.
Then one day, Carl was taken by surprise when he came home from his day’s job and his wife suggested moving to California. “Are you kidding me,” he blurted out.
So, they sold their tiny house, the 40-acres, his mule with plow, a pig and a few chickens. Then bought a reasonably new but used 1937 Ford sedan, packed in what they could take and drove all the way to Los Angeles county and mostly driving on gravel roads. Once there it didn’t take him long to find a reasonable job. Just one look at this farm strong man and employers knew he can work. So, he worked 40-years and retired with full benefits. And in the meantime, my younger sister and I were born in southern California. We all lived between the mountains and the beaches. Oil was pumping in the hills and schools were well staffed and supplied. Life was good to us. No Grapes of wrath here.
I need to occupy my brain with something else.
Senior mind wanderer.
I’m not sure it’s just mindless fantasizing or a sign of getting old. Especially getting old and not wanting it. Mind wondering back to teenage days. Teenage days as in thinking about teenage girls.
Remembering Lucy, Vickie, Pat and Pat, Terry, Mr. Oddi the boy’s vice principal’s daughter Cheryl. What cuties they were. Lips of red and cheeks of blush. Most inviting and soft velvet supple skin. Blond, brunette, and auburn hair. No gray. Just ponytails waving in the breeze. Soft warm Hands to hold and legs so trim and lovely. Yes, I could go back to that.
But wait a minute. All those desirable girls are now as old as me. Late seventies. Good grief. How did they age so rapidly? Gray hair and wrinkled skin like mine. No sir! Not for me. I’ll keep what I have. Goodbye girls. Or rather goodbye old ladies. Whew!
Book Report: I thought they fired him.
After he left the Saturday evening public radio show under a fog of impropriety, Garrison Kiellor really never went away. Still writing his brand of small town prairie humor and taking his show on the road. We noticed his coming appearance on the Brady theater in Tulsa a year or so ago. Never the less he is still writing about his imaginary town of Lake Wobegon. Matter of fact he has authored about a half dozen books since leaving Prairie Home Companion.
Title: Boom Town, A Lake Wobegon novel. By Garrison Kiellor, fiction humor 2022.
Library of Congress annotation:
“Return to America’s most beloved fictional hometown! Lake Wobegon is having a boom year thanks to millennial entrepreneurship–AuntMildred’s.com Gourmet Meatloaf, for example, or Universal Fire, makers of artisanal firewood seasoned with sea salt. Meanwhile, the author flies in to give eulogies at the funerals of five classmates, including a couple whom he disliked, and he finds a wave of narcissism crashing on the rocks of Lutheran stoicism. He is restored by the humor and grace of his old girlfriend Arlene and a visit from his wife, Giselle, who arrives from New York for a big love scene in an old lake cabin.”
Again, Boom Town, A Lake Wobegon novel. If you were not a Prairie Home Companion fan, then this is not your book. This is as small town as it can get. Whispering, rumors, the Brethren versus Lutherans, a favorite meatloaf, and more. For mature readers. Be prepared to laugh out loud. Read it. You might like it.
Book Report. I thought Judy Blume wrote murder mysteries.
Many of you along with myself may have recently heard an NPR Fresh Air interview with Judy Blume. An interview more or less reviewing Ms Blume’s fifty-year-old bestseller “Are you their God. It’s me Margaret” as it was adapted into motion picture form. Ms Blume concurs that the movie adaptation pretty much follows the book. For the past two or three weeks the Are you their God movie has received numerous positive reviews.
However, this is not a movie review but a book report. A report because I had never read the bestselling book. But I had now recently read the book because of the positive reviews of the movie version. Are you following me?
I just wanted to know, out of curiosity, what the big fuss was all about. So, I read Ms Blume’s book.
Title: Are you their God. It’s me Margaret, By Judy Blume growing up fiction 1970. Primarily a primer for preteen girls and their expectations of pre-pubescent bodily changes and its confusion and misinformation. If the movie does indeed follow the book, it should be a most hilarious and entertaining movie.
Library of Congress annotation:
Margaret is lonely after her parents buy a new house in Farbrook, New Jersey. Because she is from the city, the new girls expect her to be more grown up than they are, but Margaret’s body hasn’t begun to mature yet and she’s never kissed a boy. For grades 4-7.
Take your preteen daughter or granddaughter to see this movie. You might even take your preteen son or grandson as well. Or just buy or borrow the book. It is a laugh out loud book. See it or read it. You’ll like it.
Write me a contract like that.
Beverly Hills 1971.
I was working the credit department of a fashionable department store at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax. A professional appearing gentleman wearing a nice tailored suit came to me at the credit desk and said he was turned down for a store credit card. So, I asked him to fill in the necessary information on a credit application and I would call the central credit office. His occupation, as he wrote it on the application, was writer. He said he wrote scrips for TV programs. Now remember this was 1971.
So, I dialed the credit approval office and reading off the information to the credit department associate and came across monthly income. The gentleman wrote $5000 per month. And again, this was 1971. A seemingly huge amount when most of us were making about $650 a month. A writer. Probably a member of the Writers Guild of America or WGA. The same organization now on strike in Hollywood. If his salary is typical for most experienced writers then boys and girls I am in the wrong business.
How do we get things done when the door bell keeps ringing.
2611 D Street, in the rear.
The tiny house in the rear. It was either a guest house or a servants quarters. A standalone bungalow set behind a larger old Victorian house with three rented flats and a broad porch as wide as the big house. Or the house in the front as they called it.
From D Street you could access the tiny rear house via a walk way coming off the D street’s sidewalk passing to the west of the big house. We were told to park our Plymouth Barracuda in the back behind the tiny rear house and accessed by an alley and park near the big pine tree. A tree with one resident squirrel. Having lived in Los Angeles all my life up to that point, I was not accustomed to living in a city place with pine trees and squirrels. How quaint.
I guess you could call this tiny rear house a honeymoon cottage. It was the first place my new wife and I resided after our wedding. And believe me, the house was small, compact, and void of storage. It had one bedroom without closet space or shelves. But the bathroom was inside the single bedroom as if it was added in after the cottage was built years ago. The bathtub stood up on legs with a big shower head like a sunflower. I don’t recall if it had a shower curtain around the edge of the tub. It must have or there would have been puddles of water on the floor. And it had the require toilet and wash basin as well. Also, quaint.
The living room and kitchen was in one main room. Something like 8×10 feet. However, it did have a laundry and storage room off the kitchen. And, that’s it. Tiny, functional, and quaint. A smallish house probably about 500-square feet. But as far as we were concerned as long as there was a bed, we were happy.
When we were engaged in Honeymooning, someone would often come to our front door and ring the bell. I remember a smiling Japanese couple ringing the door bell and wanted to tell us about Buddhism. I must admit their smiles were infectious. But I turned them away with the excuse of being Christian. So, they left thanking me.
At another time when practicing our marriage, two very serious looking police detectives in business suits came to the front door and rang. They introduced themselves and showed me their ID’s and badges and started asking do we know who lives in the front house? I had no clue who lived in the front. Never saw anyone coming or going. Disappointed, the two officers left.
Then another time or two when we were engaged in romancing a bunch of teen kids from our church came to visit. This time we had to let them in. It was obvious to them what was going on before they came in the house. They could see it on our faces. So, we talked a while and they eventually left.
Then again, a few weeks later when we were frolicking, the teen kids came once again. Not really sure what they came for but we let them in again and we talked a while. Mostly about nothing. But then this time they knew exactly what we were up to. None the less, they snickered a bit and eventually left with silly grins on their faces.
So, if it weren’t unexpected guests, it was the guy down the walkway in the apartment to our west practicing on his drums with the window opened. He was pretty good at drumming but most annoying. At that juncture, we decided to postpone engagements to later after the late news. Such was newly wedism and its various practices. And to all, a goodnight. Fade to black.
If Judy Bloom wrote for pre-teen boys.
A close shave.
I grew up in Southern California with clueless Okie parents. It was the dust bowl survivors meet Ozzie and Harriette. Misfits all of us. We had no social skills much less me remembering to not burp when in the cafeteria at lunch.
I would have to admit myself an early teen boy back in junior high the whole experience was thoroughly awful. Dreadful. Just a complete disaster. An experience I wouldn’t wish on any seventh or eighth grade boy or girl. Had the Golden Gate bridge been nearby, I might had jumped. But glad it wasn’t. A brown paper sack over my head would have worked instead.
But anyway, it was my so-called junior high friends that made it so difficult. We all were almost always watching for self-incriminating foibles coming from each other. Habits and gestures a friend could call you down on. Just the way you comb your hair could create a riotous response from your buddies. My dad cut my hair and a bit to close. Looking like a clean cut as if a bowl was placed on my head. Just a bit too much off the back and sides. Others had the funds to go to a barber shop and request a flattop or a buzzcut or an oily swept back ducktail or whatever.
None the less I had this friend in junior high I knew going back to grade school. I will just call him Steve. He was sort of over the top critical. Critical of almost everything I said and did. My self-unawareness of my prepubescent early teen boy starting to grow peach fuzz on my face seemed to be an annoyance to Steve. I was not paying much attention to this. After close examination, long blond random hairs began to grow down my jaws. I really didn’t give it much thought. Just ugly hair growing on my face.
But I guessed it mattered to Steve. He mentioned to me in a very harsh tone, “when are you going to shave?” Then I responded, “me, I don’t shave.” Then he started to pull at some of the random hairs on my cheeks. It did hurt when he picked at them. Never the less, I never gave serious thought of shaving. I hadn’t ever shaved. Only my dad shaved.
Now here is where it really gets bad. When I got home from school, I told my older sister I needed to shave. I never shaved and don’t know where to start. Shave with an electric shaver or with a razor blade. Don’t know. But then my sister said she could shave me. But I told her no. But she kept on insisting she could shave my face. Not sure if she could do it safely. So, after a couple of moments of yes, I can and no you can’t, I gave in. She found my dad’s Remington electric shaver and with great delight she started buzzing it all off. I think it was that moment that prompted her to go to cosmetology school.
All in all, and the next day my shaven face seemed to satisfy my friend Steve. Now, what to do with these black face zits. Don’t know.
But everything is painted a horrid blue.
Yes, I attended Pepperdine University. But not the campus located on the scenic western hills of Malibu, California and just up from the Pacific Coast Highway. Not the one with Spanish architectural designs with adobe and red tile buildings and dormitories. No not the one overlooking the vast expanse of the peaceful Pacific ocean. No not the one with the incredible view of Catalina Island. No not the one with the President’s home atop the hill with the spacious entertaining courtyard. No not the one in Malibu with vast gathering areas. No not the one where surfers come and matriculate.
But in 1967 I did attend the Pepperdine that George Pepperdine had established in south central Los Angeles back in 1937. Located between Vermont Avenue and Normandy. A campus where everything that didn’t move was painted a pale blue. Painted blue as per instructions of Mrs. Pepperdine after her husband the founder had died. So, when I had arrived back in 1967 the campus and its structure, admin building, library, auditorium, dorms, gym, classroom buildings, and all was well over thirty years old and coming apart and painted blue. The school mascot is the mighty fighting Waves. As in blue ocean waves rolling and crashing on the sea shore. Never mind the old campus was miles from the closest beach.
So now that the campus has moved up the coast near the water’s edge and the mascot is still the mighty fighting Waves, there is no need to paint this magnificent Spanish influenced adobe and tile architecture an ugly pail blue. Plus, building codes require the adobe and red tile look. Besides Mrs. Pepperdine had passed on long ago.
So, when people ask me where I went to school, I just say old PU. Proud to be an alumni. Go Waves!
Fill it up and check my tire pressure.
Fill’er up Joe.
It was a tall clear glass cylinder about two-feet tall and about 15-inches across with lined
markings, Markings representing one gallon each mark. The heavy glass cylinder sat on a round red metal frame with a long handle parallel to the metal and glass tank. If you pump the handle a red liquid or gasoline would rise in the glass tank. You would keep pumping until you achieve the amount of gallons you desired then take the attached hose and nozzle and pump the gas into the tank of your Model A Ford. On the metal base of the pump would be painted on something like, Texaco or Standard or Mobile oil companies.
But now days when pumping gas, it comes from an almost computer -like box you shove your credit card into and you press the touch screen for the amount of gallons you wish. Plus, you get a free video with verbiage and music of the benefits of buying your Shell or Phillips gasoline as you pump gas yourself. All blasted at you whether you wanted to hear or not.
But anyway, if you were born after 1973 you missed full-service gas stations. What’s a full-service gas station you might ask. Well, going back several decades and beyond into the fifties, sixties, and early seventies you could have pulled into a Texaco station, rolling over the bell ringing alert hose, and a uniformed station attendant would rush out to the driver’s side of the car and ask how he could help. Allowing the driver to never have to step out of the vehicle. Most often the driver would say, “fill’er up Charlie.” Or others might say one dollars’ worth of regular please. And back in the late fifties and early 1960s a dollar could easily get you four gallons of the stations best petrol. I remember as a mere teenage lad a gallon of gas costing only 23.9 per gallon.
Then the uniformed attendant would grab the nozzled hose, clearer off the previous purchase, flip a lever to start the pump, poke the nozzle into your tank and set it on continuous fill. Then the handsome lad with orange shop towel hanging from his hip pocket would pop the engine hood of your car and start checking fluid levels. Making sure he checks the oil dip stick for a full level and especially take notice the color of the oil on the stick. If greenish and translucent, he would stick it back in it’s dip stick tube. Then check steering, break, and radiator fluids for proper levels. He might even check water level in your windshield wiper cleaner fluid. And if all looks good, then slam the hood down and proceed to spritz and clean your windshield.
Then take a long air compressed air hose and check your tires pressure. And if that’s not enough some stations would take your car trash and using a Wisk broom, sweep out your front floorboard. And most often just for a dollars’ worth of gasoline. Now, that’s full service.
Now sometimes you would just get a teen boy pump jockey coming to your car or possibly a fully trained mechanic to attend to your car needs. Often you would observe a station attendant in full brown or gray uniform with the brand of gas sewn on his uniform shirt. Such as a red star with a white ‘T’ in the middle or a yellow sea shell. Or just maybe wearing a pair of Levi’s and a plain gray collared work shirt.
Now here is where things changed. Back in 1973 when we lived in Honolulu Hawaii, we often frequented the gas and repair station at JC Penny near us. Gasoline was about 29.9 per gallon back then. Teen boys and girls working at the Penny station with matching shorts and Aloha printed polo shirts would be all over your car lickity split. Filling the tank, checking under the hood, and cleaning the car’s windshield. What great service. They often received handsome tips.
Then doomsday came all of a sudden. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC decided to stop shipping crude oil from the middle east to the United States. Creating an oil embargo and a serious oil shortage. Gas prices went way up, full service went way down, and long lines of cars waited for hours to just get no more than five or ten gallons of gasoline at one visit. In our area we could only buy gas on even numbered days according to the first number on your car tag. It got to the point where I would drive the car to the station the evening before and park in line then the next morning run down to get in line for a few gallons of gas. From that time gas prices kept going up. First to 50-cents a gallon. And later up to a dollar. It must had been more than a year later when the embargo was called off. Never understood the point of the embargo in the first place. But anyway, the middle east oil producers figured out how to jerk we gas guzzling Americans around. Not sure why the big American oil companies imported oil from countries who seemed to hate us. But anyway, this was the end of full service and cheap gasoline. Be sure to bring a shop towel with you to wipe hands after wrestling with the gas pump nozzle and hose. And FYI, Electric vehicles had not been thought of back then.