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Three score and ten or more

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Home again, jiggety--------

I spent three or four days in Florida last week.  It was an interesting experience.

Getting there was about a five and one half hour trip, and we discovered that Janet still hasn’t healed enough( especially her shattered femur) to have a comfortable travel even un the Cadillac I bought especially for here travel.  We are scheduled to go out and see the family in Washington State right after Christmas, and I expect a miserable trip for her.

We went to a time share in Orlando for three days and two nights, in return for which we had to sit through a session promoting an upgrade of some stuff we own.  We have been to Orlando many times and have some favorite places to go, and didn’t get to any of them.  We sat in our unit a fairly long time, had dinner out a couple of times and spent some profitable time doing aerobics in one of the pools there.  The lodge had unsecured wireless internet but when one tried to use it an ATT logo  popped up asking for subscription time.  I didn’t use it, but I played a couple of computer games.

I was really impressed that many of the grocery items in the store were almost double the price of the same items in Georgia.  I had thought that with almost twenty percent unemployment  in Florida the prices would be lower.  (That’s what I get for thinking with seventy plus year old brains)

On the way home we stopped for most of a day and visited with my daughter and her family (which includes three grandchildren and four of our great grandchildren) and we had quite a lovely visit.  We would like to have  spent more time but Janet was in such pain that we determined to come home that evening.

I have been wearing a heart monitor for the last three weeks.  My cardiologist worried about all the weight I lost a while ago, and wanted things checked out.  The heart monitor is connected with a “smart” cell phone and blue tooth stuff, and having carried it witih me for three weeks I am beginning to feel cell phone envy.  (My phone is primarily just a phone.)  I think I get to take the monitor off (gizmo hanging around neck with wire contacts to my chest) and send it back tomorrow.  It hasn’t really been much trouble, but I am tired of it.

Anyway, we are home and trying to deal with our mutual physical unpleasantness's, as well as trying to help our oldest son who is in pretty dire straights.  He needs a liver transplant but by the time it is available he may be too rundown to qualify for it.  There are things about growing old that are really quite wonderful, and other things that just suck.

We celebrated Halloween last evening, though this is the real day.  It was wonderful to greet the kids, give out the calories, and watch them smile.   We are far enough from the University that we didn’t have any college age trick or treaters, but we had some really interestingly costumed parents and chaperones coming with the young kids.  I was expecting a lot more vampires this year but the dominating costume trends were animal costumes and fairies with wings of all different kinds. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

More stupid verse

Cub Scout version:

Oooey gooey was a worm.

A mighty worm was he,

He got onto the railroad track

The train he did not see,



Literary version

Oooey Gooey was a worm,

A mighty worm was he.
He sat upon a railway track,
A train he did not see.
The train came roaring round the bend,
The driver gave a squeal,
The guard got out his pocket knife,
And scraped him off the wheel.
Oooey Gooey!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm Halloweeny

I have great fun getting ready for Halloween. I love to prepare lawn displays, well in advance. I make all kinds of junk for Halloween. (One thing I have planned to make for years is a squashed up witch with broom smashed against my chimney where she obviously wasn't looking where she was going. I didn't get it made this year either) I have a two wheeled cart filled with straw and a bunch of the silliest hay-riders you ever saw (pulled by a couple of mini-scare-crows and guided by a traditional lawn jockey wearing a mask and carrying a lighted jack o lantern.)

There is one problem about Halloween that is almost the same as the problem about Easter. On the day after the holiday there are vast amounts of chocolate for sale in the stores for almost nothing. The day following the holiday always gives me such a sugar rush. I promise myself I am not going to buy this stuff and eat it this years. I lie a lot when talking to myself.

I was wandering through the Wal-Mart Halloween section and found another thing that was a bit disturbing. As a walked through the costume section there was about a ten foot segment of costumes for pre-teen girls that looked that a catalog or wish book for pedophiles. Many of the costumes seemed totally appropriate for college women but totally inappropriate for pre-teen girls.

I walked on quickly and admired the full length talking witch and tuxedo clad skeleton with lighted eyes that had a movement sensor so that anyone passing by would be chatted with in Monster tones. (At just under a hundred bucks a piece, I was not tempted, but I thought they were fun)

All the Halloween stuff is getting crowded out by Christmas, which gives me the HO HO's because I like Christmas too, and the Halloween stuff should be half price by the end of the week. I can buy more spooky stuff, and maybe a really elaborate make to wear when greeting the trick or treaters.

As a an early teen-ager I was a pretty evil trick or treater myself. We were often (I was not, of course, alone) serious about the trick deal for those who were not generous. We sometimes--- I am going to change this and not admit a thing-- I heard of kids that sometimes moved outhouses (not available any more) a few feet backward so that the unwary might stumble in, others would take a paper bag, insert a shovel full of outhouse contents into it, place it in front of a door set it on fire and ring the doorbell, running off into the distance to watch the householder come to the door, see the paper bag on fire, and stomp on it. (truly yucky, I am ashamed of those who did such a thing).

One of the milder "tricks" involved taking an old wooden thread spool, cutting notches in the edges, the putting a pencil through the center hole and wrapping the spool with string, placing the thing against a window and pulling the string. If I haven't described it well enough, it would make a really ugly noise, without damaging the window.

Of course for the timid delinquent, just soaping a window or two would satisfy. (the truly naughty would sometime use paraffin wax which was really hard to remove)

Of course, all of these who did such things eventually became gangsters and spent their lives in and out of jail, but not those who just heard of such things happening and reported them on blogs.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

So Maybe I Don’t Hate Dish Network

I have had three separate rants on here about how much I hate and hated Dish Network.   I had called them several times both locally and at the national number and found nothing but frustration, missed programming, forty percent of the channels on Lost Satellite status.

I called them again the other day, to ask if there was any possibility that I could take part in their promotion advertising High Def free for life and all kinds of less expensive things.

They told me NO.  My response was to ask them if they could do anything to make me change my mind about moving to Direct Cable.

Finally they decided, at their expense to send out a service rep and I agreed, if he could make it work, to keep the Dish.

He showed up from out of town, the same day I called.  He worked in the house from forenoon till about 7:00 PM.  Everthing in the house must have been miswired, but when he left, IT WORKS.  All the channels come in, the reception is so good I don’t feel that romantic about Hi Def.  I wish I had screamed louder earlier, but this guy was terrific.   Hey DISH, I don’t take it all back, because it was true and I was enraged, but I don’t hate Dish Network anymore.    I hope it lasts.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Second Verse. a Little Bit Worse

This is a lead in to something else, but: (another song or two.)

I came to a river and I couldn’t get across,

So I paid five dollars for an old blind hoss.

Oh he wouldn’t go ahead and he wouldn’t stand still,

So He went up and down like an old saw mill.

Turkey in the straw, Turkey in the hay,

Tune up the fiddles doodle ee  ay

With a hi tukka hay and a hi tukka haw,

Tune up the fiddles for the Turkey in the Straw.

Most everybody my age knew those lyrics and that tune.  and some of us knew other lyrics as well.  Any one who was a Cub Scout in that time knew

Do your ears hang low? Do they waggle to and fro

Can you tie ‘em in a knot? Can you tie ‘em in a bow?

Can you thow em oer your shoulder like a continental soldier?

Do your ears hang low?

I probably taught that song to three hundred boys over the years.  Being a cubmaster for cub-scouts was one of the most pleasant and rewarding experiences I ever had.

In Oneonta New York, for two years I was the cubmaster for a Cub Scout unit sponsored by a Methodist church but really it was a community Pack.  You have never seen more excitement and competition when you have a pretty eclectic group  set up for a Pine Wood Derby.  (To the uninitiated, a Pine Wood Derby is a race with home-made model cars down a slanted track set up under pretty stiff regulations.  Some of you may have seen the commercial currently on the air when this boy brings in a really rough looking little model and beats all the boys with their slick sophisticated cars built by their fathers.)

The boys get the materials, basically four wheels, two axles and a block of wood and they build their cars to a standard length ( I don’t remember the specs, but about ten inches long) and width and they race with time trials.  A whole lot of screaming and shouting and they love it.

When we moved to Georgia we fpumd a little farm house in Portal, GA. about fifteen miles from the college.  I became the Cubmaster for a Pack sponsored by the Baptist church, and Janet worked as a den mother.  As before, it was really fun, and we had five dens, with about five or six boys for each den.  It was spoiled when, in December, with our van literally stuffed with craft items that the boys had made for their parents Christmas we went to the meeting.  When we got to the room where we usually met, their was a youth choir practicing Christmas Carols.  I hunted down the Minister for youth and asked where the Cub meeting had been moved to.  He looked a little confused, then muttered, “Didn’t any one tell you?  We’ve cancelled Cub Scouts.”

I asked the reason, if something had happened in a meeting, or what was wrong, and he just clammed up and walked away.

We went on home, then spent the next two evenings driving around Portal and environs giving mothers the gifts their children had made.  I asked a couple of the mothers if they knew why the church had cancelled Cub Scouts, and most of them replied in some puzzlement that they were told that WE, (Janet and I) had suddenly quit and that Cub Scouts had been stopped until they could recruit a new Cub Master.  Finally, the last lady we talked to said that she had heard that Mr. Brown had told the Pastor that we were Communists.

For a moment, I was stunned, I had spent a lot of time and energy just a while ago campaigning for Barry Goldwater for President.  I just couldn’t understand until it hit me that we had just moved from New York to Georgia, I was getting quite a lot of newspaper space for the work I was doing in Theatre, and one of the newspaper articles had a blurb in it that we had recently spent a year in Finland where I was working at the National Theatre.  Finally, I had a beard and a 1970’s New York haircut.  I felt bad about it but had no idea who “Mr. Brown” was so I couldn’t make contact with him.  We determined just to let it be.

About a week later, Stuart, our second son, came home from school and asked “Daddy, are you a communist?”  My ears pricked up and I asked him what in the world would give him that idea?  “I heard Our Principal, Mr. Brown, tell my teacher that you are a communist.”

Now I knew who Mr. Brown was, and I blew a cork.  I was about to go to the school to confront the guy, when my wife suggested that I bring up our problem with some of the faculty (actually my boss) at the school.  I was advised to not make an issue because Jerry Brown, the principal had enough political influence that he could make our lives hell.

For the remainder of the year, our children had no friends at school, and they were miserable there, but we lived out in the country, had a wonderful bass pond on the property, and the kids had friends at church so we did pretty well.

Things came to a climax when as school got out, my two oldest boys, aged eight and ten decided to play little league baseball.  As the story goes (I was not present at the time) after they were picked for a team, one of the fathers in charge of the teams made an issue that they could not play.  The boys told me that their coach actually had a fist fight with the other guy to make him agree that they could play.

We immediately started looking for a new place to live, and soon we found a house to buy (very inexpensively) in the small town of Brooklet, about ten miles from the school in the opposite direction and our lives improved enormously.  It was a wonderful experience.  The town desperately needed a new Cub-master (their boys had not yet learned “Do your ears hang low”) our children were adopted informally into the Young Ambassadors and (I can’t remember what the girls organization was called) in the Baptist church across the street.  (We continued to attend our own church, but this was during the week.)  I have never had a more welcoming experience so we learned that not all of Georgia was like Portal.

Their boys learned “Do your ears hang low” (with actions) and a lot of other songs, and I still run across some of my cub scouts around town.  They all still greet me with pleasure.  We moved into Statesboro after about five years, because we got into the Carter years and gas became difficult to find and expensive (about fifty cents a gallon, I think) for the commute into school and a lot of the Statesboro Activities (Our kids all became competitive swimmers and the swim team practiced several times a week in Statesboro).  We still go back and periodically shop for a house there.  Who knows if there are still some boys who need to learn that their ears hang low?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Sing ! Sing a Song.

Does everybody walk around with a tune stuck in the mind, so that no matter what's going on, it's going on to your private mental music, or am I the only one with that problem?   It is weird.  When I was teenager working at the radio station I walked around to Sinatra, or Tony Bennet, or sometimes "The Little White Cloud that Cried". Now I got through life with the songs our family sang as we traveled in the car, or with those that the football team sang on the bus on overnighters.

The one that has been running (or maybe sauntering) through my mind lately is :

Mister Mister Johnny Gobeck,

How could you be so mean?

I told you'd be sorry for inventing that machine.

Now all the neighbor's cats and dogs  will never more be seen.

They'll all be ground to sausages in Johnny Gobeck's machine.


When that is finished, I struggle to remember (in tune) the verses to the song..  In my mind the first verse talks about a Dutchman (obviously Johnny Gobeck) who invented a machine that would make sausages out of the plentiful supply of dogs and cats.  I remember about half of the next verse which tells of a little boy who, buying a pound or so of sausage at the store and after sitting the sausage package on the floor began to whistle "And all the little sausages began to dance around." and the final verse , something like "One day the machine was broken, the dang thing wouldn't go, and Johnny climbed inside it to see what made it so.  His good wife had a nightmare, and walking in her sleep, she gave the crank a hell of a yank and Johnny Gobeck was meat.  the final chorus explains why "I told you you'd be sorry for inventing that machine.

That's the tune that is plaguing me now, but I shift from tune to tune.  My dad worked for the railroad, and sang bass in a chorus called, no less, the Railroad Chorus, that toured around  and did a lot of singing.  Of course one of the tunes that we sang in the car  was

"I been workin on the railroad,

All the live long day

I been workin' on the railraod

Just to pass the time away. 

I suspect most folks have at least heard the song, but have you ever thought about the verses?

Can't you hear the whistle blowing

Rise up so early in the morn

Can't you hear the whistle blowing

Dinah blow your horn.

There is a certain logic in this, though you don't know much about Dinah, and the third verse

Dinah won't you blow, Dinah won't you blow? Dinah won't you blow your ho  o  orn .   

That is a logical follow up but  finally

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah, Someone' s in the kitchen I kno-o-oow, Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah, Strummin in the ol banjo

(What does that have to do with working on the railroad?)   Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah , Strummin on the ol banjo,

An singin' Fee Fi Fiddly eye o., Fee Fi fiddly eye o,   Fee fi fiddly eye o. Strummin on the ol banjo.

Makes ya wonder about the relationship between Dinah, the Fiddler, and the Railroad, Doesn't it."?

There are so many, that take turns running around my brain.

The deacon went down in the cellar to pray. And he got drunk and he stayed all day,

I ainta gonna grieve my Lord no More,

Then the song has verses on why you can't get to heaven on roller skate, and in a variety of other means (presumingly including praying all night while drunk)

On bus trips the obvious song was always Ninety Nine bottles of beer on the wall, If one of these bottle should happen to fall, Ninety eight bottles of beer on the wall.

In our personal car, we sang almost constantly while traveling and sange everything from The Spanish Cavalier  ( Oh say darling say, while I'm far away, the sometimes you may think of me dear)  to Spirituals, to The Old Apple Tree in the Orchard (which I wrote about two or three years ago.

Shucks, anyway,

I got sixpence, jolly jolly sixpence, I got sixpence to last me all my life.  I got tuppence to spend and tuppence to lend and tuppense to send home to my wife, poor wife.