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.
I’m too big for my britches. I pull my pants up around my stomach and tighten my belt and it quickly slips down under my pregnant-looking belly. So I keep pulling them up and once again they slip down under the fatso protrudance. The frontal bumper. The belly that looks like a pot.
None the less, I do not want to wear suspenders. Makes me look like Larry King or Charlie Weaver. Just a cartoon of a fat guy needing over the shoulder trouser suspension. Never cared for the look.
Here is what I would like. I would like a pair of designer bib overalls. Bib overalls made of either jean or corduroy with lots of fancy stitching with cargo pockets and a zipper pocket on the bib for a cell phone. But possibly with Levi-looking front slit pockets in front and patch pockets in the back. But no loops or hooks for hammer or measuring tapes. Just smooth and cool looking. The darker the color the better. Something that will hide my cornbread and beans gut. But anyway, bib overalls worn over a nice looking polo shirt or a Hawaiian shirt worn over the bib. All looking very manly and skillful without seeming like suspender wearing dork of the month. Never the less holding up my pants with over the shoulder straps. Perhaps Ralph Lauren has such a design. More likely Eddie Bauer would have a cool looking pair of designer bib overalls. I would take a pair in a walking short style as well. I think the Germans have something called Lederhosen they use to hike the Alps. Wearing Lederhosen, long socks, and hiking boots. Yes, that’s it. Get me that look.
Maybe it’s the free public libraries you don’t like. All those people reading books for free. Just get your library card and check out a book or two. Your taxes pay for it. Maybe it’s all those free public schools. Kids going to local schools at no charge. Your property taxes usually pay for public schools. How can we trust the police and fire departments when we call them for help and we get no bills for their services? City taxes pay the bills. Maybe it’s the health clinics you don’t like. Giving out free shots for covid-19 and prenatal advice for pregnant women. All these freebies paid for by our taxes. Well, why not? Churches, United way, VFW, Shriners, Elks Club, and many other NGO’s have not the resource to fund all the local road, school, library, health clinics, fire and safety, parks and recreation, golf and tennis facilities, airports, express ways and county roads, county hospitals, water reservoirs and purification, and it goes on and on. We the people are the ones with big enough shoulders to do the heavy lifting. All the churches in a city combined wouldn’t and couldn’t do this. They have not the money and would rather build church buildings instead.
Remember, socialism is you and me. We have been doing this for dozens of decades. The tax payer. And most of us glad to pay for all these state, county, and local amenities. We all benefit in the long run. We should be proud of what we have accomplished over the decades. However, our job is to make sure the state and local governments spend the monies wisely. Just don’t let anti-socialism folks scare you. Again, socialism has been a big part of America for a couple of centuries. Take it away and you might lose your Medicare or Social Security.
Take them off or leave them on.
It’s really interesting when I take off my glasses I look just like Gene Autry. You know the singing
Cowboy. But some say I sometimes look like Mr. McGoo. But with my glasses off I have a tendency to walk in to closed doors or step in dog peeyuck. But when I put my glasses back on, Waalaa I’m the Chicken Whisperer once again. Just like that. Some others have said with my glasses off I look like Clark Kent without glasses. Just a glassesless newspaper reporter for the Daily Planet. Most unextraordinary. But I seldom wear a business suit with a reporter’s fedora with press pass tucked in the hat band. Never mind looking like Superman. In the meantime, I’ve been practicing the song, ‘Back in the saddle again.’ Getting my hopes up.
However, as mentioned before, my best friend Donnie from Milwaukee and me have a collections agency. We collect pop bottles redeemable at Joe Millers market on Olympic boulevard. We collect, we redeemed for cash, and then buy comic book and candy. Plus we will go around to houses collecting newspapers and rags. We’ll do that until Donnie’s Radio Flyer red wagon is so full we can hardly pull it to the recycle place down on Ferguson Avenue. Then off to Joe Millers for our Saturday morning comic book and candy transaction. Life doesn’t get any better than that.
Never the less, no thought was ever given to just saving the money for some future big purchase. A purchase like a Mr. Potatohead or a cap gun and holster. But our Saturday routine and redemption went on none the less. Until one day.
One day at school a person from the Bank of America came and introduced we kids to ‘Bank Day.’ Yes, actually sending money to the bank via a paper pouch with bank pass book in it. The idea was to put money i.e., fifty cents or a dollar in the pouch one day of the week, give to our teacher, and it would be sent to the bank for deposit. Early the next week we would get the pouch back with a bank deposit stamped in the pass book and duly registered as being in our own bank account. All the while drawing a measly four and a quarter percent interest. Which meant for every dollar we accumulate in our bank account we get four and a quarter cents. Never understood the quarter of a penny. How did they do that? My mom and dad got four and three-quarter percent. Not much but better than my measly four and a quarter percent. Banks seem to be so stingy.
(In retrospect, I would take four and a quarter percent right away. Compared to the 0.05 percent we are now making. Making is certainly an over statement these days. Banks absolutely suck.)
And when I say you, I really mean me. I do stupid more often than not. However I got it all out of the way early in my college and part-time working career.
It all happened one Christmas. Christmas of 1962. While still attending class at a local community college in East Los Angeles I took on a part-time job at Sears in their toy warehouse at their west coast catalogue distribution center. A temporary Christmas job that started at 3:00 in the afternoon up to 9:00 in the evening and all day on Saturdays. So far so good. It was good Christmas money. But wait. Then I started another job about 10:00 later in the evenings. I then would go to work at a large warehouse and Post Office distribution center. Backing up a bit I didn’t have good transportation. My dad would drop me off at Sears on his way to his evening job. Then by dumb luck a couple of sisters I knew from church got off work at Sears and was headed in the same direction of the Post Office job and the sisters dropped me off. I generally would work until about four or five in the morning. Mostly unloading railroad box cars of mail and packages and then loading it on to smaller trucks. So stupidity was still with me.
Now let me remind you. I was in class about three to four hours each day starting at 8:00 AM. Then went off to work. Leaving about four hours a day to eat, study, and sleep. How stupid was that?
So, early January I took my finals and was ill prepared and didn’t do so well. Leaving me somewhat disappointed in my college progress. But ever since that experience I had reoccurring dreams of only showing up the last day of a class and not knowing anything. Functioning in a fog of fatigue and wondering why I was here. Thinking how stupid I was. Wake up Chuck!
It was a thick cotton string. Well worn and looked as if passed down from generation to generation. It had one purpose only. To connect from corner to opposite corner up above in our little East L A living room. The string was taken out of the Christmas paraphernalia box each year to hang across the living room ceiling to hang Christmas cards over like fresh washed laundry. Cards from as far away as Wilson Oklahoma, Portland Oregon, Bakersfield California, and nearby Long Beach California. Cards depicting scenes like little houses in a field of snow with wafting smoke from the chimney. Cards with either three wise men silhouetted on camels by a bright evening star or a baby lying in a manger amongst mother Mary and his father Joseph. Some cards were hand signed or a few were printed with the family names. My favorite cards showed a snow covered home with sled and reindeer atop the roof with Santa with bag of toys stepping down into the chimney.
But I will have to admit me being about eight-years old couldn’t easily read the names on the inside of each card. Just too high above for me to read.
So, my next best thing to do was to grab the Sears Roebuck Christmas Catalogue and find the pages showing all the electric train sets. Just wishing and hoping I might get a train set for Christmas. It worked. Christmas of 1952 Santa brought me a set with oval track, an engine with coal car, boxcar, cattlecar, flatcar, and caboose, and an electric transformer. It was all set up under the Christmas tree that morning and it was a big Christmas surprise. Merry Christmas!
Let’s see a show of hands. If you do many rights and privileges will be taken away. Russia is an autocratic governed country. A political system some here recently would like to switch to. Getting rid of democracy as a result. Speak ill of the autocratic government and you might be poisoned or put in prison. Just as they do in Russia or maybe China and possibly Iran or North Korea.
I’ll stick with American democracy. Our former president, who says the election was stolen, would prefer a total autocratic government. Only he and his butt kissing lackeys would have privileges. The rest of us would lose many rights and freedoms. The Money Class would rule the working class. To hell with the Constitution. We would return to building big beautiful walls. Immigration from any country would come to a halt. Diversity would be a thing of the past. Social benefits would be taken away. No thought would be given to taking children from their parents at the southern border.
Is this what we want? Do we want autocracy? Would we rather live in Russia? How about living in China where they have millions of facial recognition cameras watching your every move and listening to every word. Autocracy is not fun. More like oppressive. No more we the people. Get rid of that Liberty statue in New York Harbor. Does this sound to alarmist? Move to Russia and discover it all for yourself. None the less Russia would be better off under the old Soviet system.
The fickle ‘Fashion Police’ is out on patrol. Do you remember the old TV police program titled “1-Adam-12? It was produced by Jack Webb(of Dragnet fame). It was about two LAPD patrol officers seemingly on perpetual patrol. But one distinguishing feature was their navy blue uniform accented by a white crew neck T-shirt under their dark blue uniform shirt. I had witnessed this when I use to stop at McDonalds in L A. McDonalds was the go-to-place for L A Cops. “To Serve and Protect.”
But anyway, I always noticed their white crew neck T-shirts. And the point here is my wife told me I must wear a crew neck T-shirt under my Polo and button up shirts. I did this as directed by her. She wanted me to cover up my gnarly looking gray chest hair that coils from my chest like a briar patch as described in the story of Brer Rabbit.
So, I bought a big package of white crew neck T-shirts and wore one under my shirt to cover my woolyman chest hairs. Doing what she had instructed.
Then just recently she was horrified by the appearance of a white T-shirt under my outer shirt. No no no she sternly enunciated. “You must wear black crew neck T-shirts. Black crew neck T-shirts? What do I do with all these white T-shirts?Black! Black! It’s what all the men are wearing these days. No more white! No more white? Does fashion ever settle on one thing and stay there? NO!!! Fashion is forever changing. It is what it does. And fashion has a sufficient police force. “You have the right to remain silent.” So, just shut-up! Fashion belongs to the police. Not to the wearer.
“They were like uninvited foreign aliens. Undocumented people looking for food and a place to live. They came with no papers or visas. They don’t even speak our language or know our social customs. Where did they come from and why are they here? They seem smelly and diseased. Is there anyway we can deport them or send them back from where they came? Oh so disgusting. Why would people of a different color come here? They certainly don’t look like us and whats with those stupid looking buckles on their moccasins? The neighbors call them undocumented Pilgrims. Mama, take the kids inside and lock the doors.”
There wasn’t one of her grandkids who just couldn’t help but love her. And the reason being was she loved all her grandkids unconditionally. Whenever they came she would drop whatever she was doing and fix them a sandwich or waffle or pour them a bowl of cereal. She had peanut and M&M dispensers all over the house. An endless supply of cookies on top of the refrigerator. She had toys for the younger grandkids to play with. Grandma would do the laundry and iron for the older adult kids. Plus babysit the great grandkids. She did Grandmothering with all her energy.
Every once in a while she would ask me if I would like to go to Sam’s Club with her. Going to Sam’s Club was her ‘outreach’ program. We would drive to Sam’s Club and she wanted to show me everything they had in the store. Most of all she liked to visit with the ‘Sample Ladies.’ You know the older women who would be slicing cheese and giving out samples. Or frying up little sausages and handing them out on a tooth pick. And at any given time there would be at least a dozen sample ladies doling out eatable wares all over the store. No, she didn’t go there for the free samples but to visit the ladies who were mostly her age. She just wanted to chat. Talk about the ladies kids or grandkids. Any subject would do. She just wanted to know what women her age were doing and saying. And without question she really did want to know. This was her personal social club and social hour. If churches wanted to attract more older people they would recruit ‘Sample Ladies’ and place them all over the church.
Anyway our visits to Sam’s took a good hour or more. But I was happy to go because it made her feel good about herself. Glad to tag along.
Being a Chicken Whisperer that wears glasses I am often speckling up my lenses. I hate to stop and clean my lenses. It’s troublesome. I have to go inside and hold them under running warm water and moosh in some hand soap. Then rinse them off and dry them off. So to say the least I wait until I can barely see through the speckled spots and blowing chicken yard debris. Therefore I wouldn’t have to do this laborious work if I were a singing cowboy like Roy Rogers or Hoop Gibson. Those guys don’t wear glasses. My older but meaner sister doesn’t wear glasses. Clarabelle the clown doesn’t wear glasses. So, why should I? But my mom told me I had to wear glasses. Dang it all anyway!
Never the less, speaking of soap, I was playing with Jimmy Vasquez a few days ago. Jimmy is in my second grade at school. He lives down at the end of the street near the railroad tracks. So he often comes up to my house to play soldiers. We sometimes push and shove each other. Wrestle each other to the ground. But with wearing glasses they sometimes fall off. And sometimes break. But this time my glasses fell off but didn’t break. So I push Jimmy very hard and he pushes me back very hard. All of which made me very mad. So I called Jimmy a stupid Jackass. My go to word when I’m very angry. However the unfortunate thing at that time my mom was on the porch and heard me say the word, “Jackass.” So she calls out my real name. “Charles Ronald, come inside now!” At that moment I knew I was in big trouble. So Jimmy went home and I went inside.
My mom says I’m going to teach you to never say naughty words. At which point I thought she was going out to the backyard and get a switch off the peach tree but takes me into the bathroom instead. There she takes me to the bathroom sink and turns on the cold water. Then grabs a bar of Ivory soap, commands me to open my mouth, and proceeds to stick the soapy bar in my mouth. ‘I’ll teach you to not speak naughty words, she barks. So I am bubbling and gagging all the while she’s telling me she is washing out my mouth to get rid of the bad words I recently had spoken. “Don’t you ever say that word again,” she continues. “Just you wait until your daddy hears about this.” He’ll whip you good with his belt.” I’d be ashamed of you young man” she rails on. So I am hunched over the sink bubbling and spitting. All the while my glasses are soapy and smudged. Dang! I blurt. I just cleaned my glasses. Now look at them. But before I can pull away from the sink, my mom once again inserts the soap back into my mouth. “Don’t you ever say Dang again. You hear me boy. Bubble, gag, spit I respond. “Now clean up your mess young man,” she insists.
Jumping jingle bells! Have you ever eaten a bar of soap? If you had, you must have said something bad yourself. Right?