Spiders and Snakes

When I was in fourth grade, I wanted to impress Janice in the worst way. She was the prettiest girl in class.

So, in an awkward attempt to woo her, I tossed a leaf into the air. It fell, not to earth, but instead, landed on her sweater. She was not in the least impressed.  I wanted to be anyplace, but there, at that moment.

Some are terrified by creepy-crawly critters. If a spider crawls down from the visor while driving, they become paralyzed with fear. I’ve heard of rental cars being abandoned because of unexpected spiders.

I’m more concerned about stinging insects flying in open car windows. Not to the extent that I would risk a motor vehicle accident.

Snakes don’t bother me, if I see them first. Even though, there are five poisonous species native to this area.

If snakes could talk, the conversation would go as follows: “See you later human?”

Human: “Not if I see you first.”

Idle Minds

Childhood mischief-making started with the question. What would happen if?

What would happen if I pinched my older brother’s chubby thigh while he sat on his potty chair?

If the wheel nuts to my tricycle were loosened to the point of falling off under enthusiastic play–what would happen? It was hilarious, when the back wheels fell off, and the tricycle skidded to a stop in the dust and dirt.

A newly found rusty saw, easily cut though corn stalks, with the assistance of my younger brother.  It brought out woodsman aspirations in both of us.

Corporal punishment administered by my father, was the most frequent answer to the question. Except for the time, I found a spring-loaded varmint trap at grandma’s. It sprang shut on my fingers, as I hollered for help. There was no spanking that time. My pinched fingers were punishment enough.

One More Time, Now

Political ads went away, after what seemed to be the longest period of mid-term elections, primaries, primary run-offs, regular elections, more run-offs, and recounts.

Fast forward to the present day.  Sound asleep in my comfy, overstuffed armchair. It’s unnerving to be awakened by the same annoying political ads–only to realize they were part of a previously recorded favorite program episode on DVR.  If I were more tech savvy, such commercials would have been edited.

Television commercials are purposed to be annoying.  This Holiday Season there’s one particular children’s toy commercial, like indigestion, tends to stick around.   It’s for the “Magic Pad.”  Which, for lack of better terms, is what those of my generation would view, as an electronically enhanced version of the old “Etch-A-Sketch.”

Who, beside myself, wasn’t frustrated with the old version?  It was nearly impossible to write legibly using the two control knobs–much less draw pictures.  Mostly, I spent time turning it upside-down, shaking it to “erase” the amoeboid hieroglyphics on the screen.

There are no young children in our household.  If there were, they each would have one of these contraptions, with plastic stylus, to draw on lighted screen, in several colors.  Annoying as this commercial may be–at least it’s not about politics.


You’ll be happy

You’ll be glad

Light it up

With Magic Pad



Getting My Ears Lowered…

An unusual expression, that meant getting a haircut. Instead of wondering what to write about. I’m taking my advice, and just writing.

Along with “all things in moderation.” I believe in “live and let live.” What’s between one’s ears is really what matters. In other words–attitude is everything.

When this is published, it will be the 25th. The commemoration of my 70th birthday.

“Did you know that thirty members of your graduating high school class are deceased?” My sister chimed in, recently.

“No, I didn’t. If you were trying to cheer me up. It’s not working.”

“Do you write about anything/everything that pops into your head?”

“Heavens no. Just about some of the things I find interesting.”

“Do you remember going to bed with bubble gum in your mouth? Then, mom cutting the gum globs from your hair with scissors?” I asked.

“Yes, so what? Cousin Margie, did the same thing.”  One of the reasons parents despised bubblegum.

We were warned not to swallow chewing gum. It would accumulate and clog our digestive systems. I don’t chew gum any longer.  I’ve made it through three-score and ten–swallowed gum and all.

Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You

“Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” Asked the prankster caller.  “Well, don’t you think you better let him out?”  The caller hung up to guffaws of laughter.

Telephone pranks, prevalent during my misspent youth–along with, “Is your refrigerator running?”  “Yes it is,” was the expected answer.  “Then you better catch it, it’s running down the road.”

Townsfolk knew they were kids from the neighborhood and meant no harm.

Aren’t junk phone calls annoying? During all hours of the day, especially at inconvenient times.

Telemarketers bad enough, political calls were the absolute worst. Always from the same numbers. Unfamiliar numbers, never answered. Didn’t unwanted callers ever get the message?

No call lists never seemed to help. Telemarketers and their ilk, had ways to hurdle such roadblocks. They used the local area code prefix to snare the unsuspecting. Robocalls randomly dialed number sequences.

Wireless phones were not exempted. Junk calls and text messages abounded.

Games played for commercial purposes, or games played by neighborhood pranksters?  I prefer neighborhood pranksters.

Father’s Day 2018

Many will be posting pictures of dads this Father’s Day. Here is one of my favorite dad pictures from the early fifties.

This had to be either, ’52 or ’53, as it was before my sister was born in 1954.

My brothers and myself posed behind dad’s blue, 1952 Ford, two-door sedan.

I’m the impatient little guy in the middle, sporting bib overalls.

Well, I Swear

For a family that never used swear words. There were an awful lot of “I swears.”

“I swear to goodness if that dog doesn’t stop barking.”

“I could have sworn I put that pipe wrench away.”

“Well, I swear, the Hamptons mowed their front lawn.”

“It’s true.  I swear on a stack of Bibles.”

My parents didn’t like substitute or sound-alike swear words either. Darn its and dang its weren’t too bad. Goldarnits, were much worse.

Taking the Lord’s name in vain was an especially egregious infraction.  Bad words heard on school playground were best not repeated at home.  Sixth grade was where I first heard the “F” word.

“We never taught you those cuss words.  Did you hear that from someone at school?  Get your toothbrush and some Lava soap.”  Lava soap was the worst tasting soap ever.

Some of the local farmers habitually used swear words.  Their sentences were sprinkled liberally with epithets.  I found it difficult in later life to work around rough-cut construction types without some of their speech rubbing off.

Nothing prepared me for the colorful expressions spewed from the mouths of military drill instructors.  I was amazed by the variety of new usages for words banned at home.

“Get your xxxx together! You’re all ate up with the xxxxxxx!  You could xxxx xx a junk yard!”  Drill instructors more than made up for any possible swear word deprivation in my previous existence.

The “Ick” Factor

The “ick” factor influenced everything. What determined the degree of “ickiness?” It wasn’t written down anywhere, and could change at any given moment.

Some of it had to do with maturity. What was icky at age six wasn’t necessarily icky at age fifteen–or vice-versa.  Things could change from icky to not-icky and back again at any time.

Anything could be icky. Certain disliked foods could be icky. Unpleasant tasting medicine could be icky.  People could be icky–especially if they had icky habits. Of course the accuser’s habits were exceptions to the rule.

Bugs, worms, slugs, snails, snakes and other creepy-crawly creatures could be considered icky. Of course there were exceptions. The non-squeamish tantalized the squeamish–especially if they publicized their squeamishness and made scenes.

There were those weird kids on the school bus. The ones that caught flies and ate them for attention.  They weren’t lacking dietary protein–that anyone could tell. I won’t mention any more examples, because they would send sensitivity meters off the scales. Only to say, that as icky days go, this has been one of the “ickiest.”

First Day Of School

County schools opened today.  Kids lined up for yellow buses everywhere.  It seemed too early–weather was still too hot for school.

Did teachers ask students to write compositions about what they did on summer vacation, to then be read aloud in front of the class?  I dreaded every new school year because of this.

Of course, the other elephant in the room, was the eclipse.  Compared to drama in other parts of the country, it was a non-event here.  The sun went in-and-out of clouds so much, it was hard to tell what was eclipse, and what wasn’t.

What had I done on summer vacation?  The question answered with shoulder shrugs and general indifference.  There were some things one didn’t ‘fess up to.

The truth was–I went to the creek with my brother.  Skipped rocks and committed numerous infractions.  Going to the creek was forbidden.  Skipped vespers at church camp with a partner-in-crime.  Sworn to secrecy.  I could have been excommunicated; or something worse if my parents found out.



The Good Old Days (A Clear Path to the Outhouse)

A post, based on one from five years ago, to mark the beginning of this blog’s sixth year. Most early posts, in my opinion, were quite dreadful.

Were the “good old days” really that good? There were fewer creature comforts. No one had air-conditioning. Half the town had outdoor plumbing.

Imagine the joys of trotting to the outhouse on cold, snowy, winter nights.  Summers were worse, with flies, stinging insects, and the horrible stench.  You became accustomed to the sounds of mud daubers building their nests; knew not to disturb them.

Nobody knew any different. Somehow we survived. Keeping perspective–gasoline was 20 cents per gallon, unless there were gas wars. A sack of candy could be had for a quarter. Consumer goods were cheaper.  Wages were considerably less than today.

Would I want to go back? The answer would be a resounding, NO! I like my creature comforts too much. There is no way I’d want to revisit years of teenage angst.  I wouldn’t want to restart this blog–either.

I would like, however, to recover time wasted worrying over things, I now know weren’t important. That, and a renewed appreciation for the things I have–that could be taken away should times take a bad turn.