My dad received a letter in the mail from the county health department. It was 1953 in East Los Angeles and the letter informed my dad he had to get rid of all his chickens. Obviously, a neighbor had complained of the chicken noise and ruckus. Lots of hen clucking and roosters crowing. Crowing perhaps too early in the morning. Back in the chicken yard we had about fifty Rhode island reds. Mostly hens and two or three roosters. Chickens that enabled our three peach trees to flourish and produce huge peaches. Peaches the size of softballs and oh so juicy and sweet. Peach trees we kids loved to climb up in. Peachtree’s that provided shade for the chickens in the summer. Between the chickens and the trees, it was a mutual admiration society. Ecology at its best.
But back to this letter. It stated there could be a health hazard associated with many chickens in our backyard. The only hazard I could think of was eating too much fried chicken. Fried chicken with smashed potatoes with chicken gravy. My mother did a superb job of cooking up all these Sunday after church meals. Yes, those were the days. Absolutely finger licking good.
It was conjectured that our new German neighbors must had complained. In retrospect it must had been the times on Saturdays when we rendered a chicken. It would go like this:
It would all take place in the backyard just behind our house. We would fill up a galvanized wash tub with boiling water Then my dad would grab by the neck his chicken of choice and start twirling it around and around until its head disconnected from the chicken’s body. Once the chicken body hit the ground it would toss and thrash about. Something like a chicken with its head cut off. That’s what they do. Toss and thrash. Then my dad would pick up the thrashing chicken by its feet and dip it in the boiling water in order to relieve the chicken of its feathers. Once that was accomplished my dad would remove its feet and Waa Laa, it was finished and sent off to my mom’s kitchen for further dressing and processing.
All of the aforementioned in plain view of our German neighbors back window. A method repeated many times on Saturday mornings. If all this had been posted on Facebook it would have photos of the boiling water tub, the chicken being twirled about, the chicken’s headless body tossing about, and the chicken floating the boiling water with feathers being plucked off. Then finally photo of chicken parts being fried in a large cast iron fry pan. Like, react, or comment.
A mowing distraction.
When we lived on Joplin Avenue in Tulsa, we had a large grassy lawn area in front of the house. Possibly about 3000-square feet or more of Bermuda and crab grass. Enough room to build another house on top of. Lots of lawn to mow none the less.
Our adult daughter, who lived a few blocks away, would sometimes come and mow our lawn. Both her mom and I were working full-time jobs so our daughter felt compelled to mow our lawn for us. So very nice of her.
This goes back about twenty-years ago. Putting our daughter at about thirty-something years old. Young, healthy looking, tall and red hair. Someone who would catch the eye of any passer-by when she was out mowing in the front yard.
I was okay with her mowing our lawn and paid her for doing that but, what I was in fear of was she insisted on maximizing her tan time. So, her gardening uniform was a skimpy bikini. So here we have a tall, shapely red head pushing our Toro with lots of her flesh exposed.
I didn’t mention Joplin Avenue which our house faced out on was sometimes a busy street. Lots of traffic And I’m almost certain drivers would notice the tall red head pushing the lawn mower. Especially the men passersby. Some of the same might had driven by several times. Turning around at the end of the block and making another pass just to confirm what they had just seen on the first pass. As a result, I told her she needed to cover up. So, she went inside the house and came out with a big floppy hat. Right! Oh well. Beware of slow passing cars.
My recording studio.
For about ten years I owned and operated a recording studio. Recording almost anything from a girl laughing and up to a big band playing old standards. And of course, everything in between. Pop, country, rock, and jazz vocalist. Church choirs and rap groups. Harmonicas, multi-string Harp players, and harpsichordists. Clarinetists, saxophonist, flutists, trumpeters, and trombonists. Guitarists, slide guitarists, banjo players, mandolinists, violinists, fiddlests, cellists, bassists, electric guitars, electric bass, electric steel guitar, and all kinds of electric keyboards and pianos. Acoustic piano, acoustic drums and electric drums and drum machines. Jazz bands, old rock and roll bands, hard rock bands, pop bands, Mexican rock bands, Laotion bands, country bands, gospel bands, western swing bands, computerized bands, and a few undefined experimental bands. Recording Oldies, old standards, up to current rock and pop. Recorded narrations for audio and video production. Voice over for radio and TV ads Song writers needing demos with musicians and vocals. Recorded folk music and gospel music. R and B, blues, and Reggae. Many bands and musicians had no idea what it took to record a song with instruments and vocals. . Thinking they all could just come in and sit, pick, and sing. Then waa laa, all is done. No siree. It requires many takes and overdubbing and mixing down rhythm tracks. Many bands came in unprepared and unrehearsed. Expensive studio time is not a good place to rehearse. You should know your stuff before coming to the studio. Most bands just wanted a demo cassette tape with three or four of their best cover tunes. Demo tapes given to prospective music venues. Restaurants, bars, night clubs, small performance theaters, etc.
Now There was this one girl/ lady who wanted to form a band only to quickly lose the interests of musicians invited to participate in her new band. She had no idea what she was doing. Finally, it boiled down to just her. My opinion was she had no talent. I had to deliver the bad news. I told her she needs to go back to her day-job or go back to school. She was crushed. None the less, she was wasting hers and my time.
Fortunately, the studio morphed into a specialty advertising company. So, no more hopeful want-to-be country, pop, and rock superstars to deal with and disappoint. Recording production for marketing and advertising clients paid the best. Besides, I was too old to put up any more with crazy and unreliable dirt bands and it’s attending rowdy yahoos and nare-do-wells. I’ll take a short session with a voice over client any time. Okay, take two…
What’s in that bucket pops?
Looking back over my Okie heritage, a summer had never passed without the turning-churning handle of the coveted ice cream maker. Possibly a wooden sided hand-cranked ‘White Mountain.’ And my Okie parents were in to this Heart and Soul. It was a big part of their Oklahoma heritage. A summer ritual pass time never to be delayed or ignored.
The sacred sacraments were: Vanilla, eggs milk, bananas, and the list goes on. “Carl go find the ice cream maker and will take it down to the church tonight” my mom would command with the ritual intent of a creamery High Priestess.
In order to prepare for the making of the “cream” was like Holy work was about to begin. First you have to get all your sacred ducks in a row. Eggs, sugar, whole milk, vanilla, and a few cooked ingredients I didn’t know much about.
But anyway, if you weren’t part of the liturgy then, you must stay out of the way. Elbows will certainly fly and feet will shuffle to-and-fro. Blenders will churn. And then, the Okie Ice Cream magic will begin.
To observe this from a distance, you would think The Arch Bishop of Haagen-Daz was coming to the creaming ceremony himself in full Good Humor regalia. Putting on the dog doesn’t hardly describe this High sacred Okie event. This is performed only by vested Okie ice cream handlers. Only the family creamery patriarchs can handle the revered liturgy. Ice cream maker. Crushed ice. And Rock Salt. It’s delicate and practiced work. Work only tribal Okie elders can do.
So, here it comes. Delivered and handled as if in a silver chalice. A metallic vessel filled with the summer nectar. Taken by the elders and placed in an oaken bucket and buried in crystal shards of ice. Then anointed with small pellets of rock salt. Yes. It is that most hallowed time.
Gentlemen! Start your ice cream makers. Do it slow and steadily. Never stop. Crank it as long as you can without someone sitting atop the iced revolving stainless-steel bucket. But, when necessary, when the cream stiffens, find your sitting partner. Place him or her atop the hand-cranked contrivance and it will give you better cranking leverage. May the best man win. And, when he does, give me a bowl full. I prefer fresh banana ice cream thank you.
Back in my youthful days there were Oklahoma picknicks south in Lakewood or Long Beach. Dozens and dozens if not hundreds of Okies shuffling about with bowl and spoon. Enjoying reunions with other Oklahomans that migrated to California in the 1930s and 40s. Happy Okie picknick days y’all.
Almost every summer our family made a road trip from Los Angeles all the way to Wilson, Oklahoma. Non-stop. Approximately 1500-miles. Usually during the month of August. The hottest month of the summer. August was the only time available for my dad’s vacation. He was low man on the seniority totem pole at his work. We made several trips starting back in 1948 each summer until 1964. My dad for the most part was the only driver. Yes, for approximately 24-hours straight he drove us to Oklahoma from L A. Wilson was my parents ‘motherland.’ They moved from there march of 1941 to southern California. Okie migrants looking for new and different opportunities. Yep, they found it.
These August road trips took us mostly southeast crossing the Colorado River at Yuma and followed a southern route along the lower routing of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and making a left turn north at Brownfield Texas headed northeast to Wichita Falls Texas then north over the narrow Red River bridge up into Wilson, Oklahoma.
Sounds easy? Seems routine? That’s a big Nope! First of all, there were six of us and sometimes seven in our little 1950 Ford four-door sedan. A car with absolutely no air conditioning. Just lots of open window time. We kids would be packed in amongst bags of food and jugs of water. A bit cramp. My older brother and sister would take possession of the window seats leaving my younger sister and myself to just make the best of it. Trying not to touch my older siblings or suffer loud complaint.
Next, there were NO Interstate highways back then. Mainly narrow two lane roads. Sometimes driving over gravel roads where they were constructing some wider Interstate highways. Slow driving and a bit dusty.
Did I mention driving the southern route? August was the month of monsoon rains. Heavy rains with lots of lightning. When it wasn’t raining there would often be dust storms. So dusty you couldn’t see two feet in front of the car. Cool huh?
Arizona and Texas must have generated toll revenue by issuing speeding tickets. I can remember my dad being pulled over on occasion by some state trooper claiming excessive speed. And once a ticket was issued the trooper said it had to be paid before leaving the county. Paid in cash none the less. So, we had to drive back into town to the
courthouse and pay the fine.
I mentioned these trips were non-stop. Right? So, the only stopping was at the gas station and just enough time to use the bathroom, my dad get another cup of coffee, myself quickly guzzle down a very fizzy Coke, jump back into the car, and begin to belch for the next mile or so.
Then there was this, my dad must had become a bit bored with the long trip himself. Out on a lonesome stretch of road he would say, “I wonder if this car would really get up to a hundred-MPH?” So off we went into Indy-500 mode. Then my mom would say, now Carl slow this thing down before you get another ticket. It would be two in the morning and we couldn’t see anything for twenty miles ahead.
But anyway, we would drive through the southern deserts of Arizona, through the southern mountains of New Mexico, and drive through the very humid cotton fields of west Texas. We never drove the northern route over the famed Route-66 because it took us too far north of our destination, Wilson, Oklahoma. Home of my grandmother and her terrific cooking and nearby Lake Murray. The visits to Lake Murray almost always included ample picknicks and a big ice-cold watermelon. So, Such were our summers.
California has a water problem. A three-year drought. People are asked to cut back on water usage by about twenty percent. Leave the water off when brushing teeth. Don’t use the water hose to wash leaves and grass off the driveway. Take shorter showers. Water the lawn only twice a week for about thirty minutes per watering. Better yet remove the lawn from front yards and replace area with rock, cactus, and lizards. If I lived in Los Angeles, I would replace the front lawn with my favorite, concrete and paint in lines for a Pickleball court.
Now far east of Los Angeles in the hills near Whittier is a beautiful ramble of grass and chapels known as ‘Rose Hills.’ Identified from afar with Rose Hills spelled out with huge lighted letters. Big red letters larger than the ones in the hills of Hollywood. Acres and acres of Bermuda grass and landscaping. I think Rose Hills said they have about 1500-acres to be approximate. That’s lots of grass to keep green. Lots of water to keep the thirsty grass green. But basically, their business is mostly grass. Grass and flat headstones with a dozen or so chapels.
My mom and dad along with my aunt Elsie and older sister Peggy are interred there. Beneath the ample irrigated grass. Grass by the way watered by reclaimed water. Water processed from water run-off, from storm sewers, bath and basin waters. In other words, used water filtered and purified then returned to the city water system. Potable water safe to drink but tastes yucky. Tastes like water with a slight mix of soda or salt. Near by neighborhoods often subscribe to bottled water to drink.
But back to Rose Hills. The water reclamation plant is right next door to Rose Hills. Oh, so convenient. Other cemeteries and golf courses with vast acres are not so lucky. Possibly to the point of slightly brown grasses. Blending in with the smogy haze. In the meantime, L A is doing what it can do to capture more water run-off from the nearby mountain snows and occasional rain falls. Digging and building water reservoirs. Glad I live in Oklahoma with dozens of lakes nearby. Plenty of water to drink and hose down my driveway. Well, actually I have no driveway to hose. I live in a Cohousing community and I have no front lawn. Boy howdy, am I lucky.
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.