Across Thy Prairies Verdant Growing…

Clear-channel 50,000 watts of all-night radio, broadcasted across the vast Midwestern prairie and beyond.

John McCormick, “the man who walked and talked at midnight,” was there for our listening pleasure; with the best music and conversation to keep us company.

McCormick had a deep-timbered voice, that either soothed, or lulled listeners to sleep.  That was his job, I supposed.  I would have preferred raspy-voiced Wolfman Jack.

“We’re gonna’ play more music for you–all night long!  Can you dig It?”  Interspersed with a few Wolfman howls and I’d stay wide-awake.  Dad wouldn’t dig any of it.

My job was to assist with loading and deliveries.  More importantly, to keep my father awake on his all-night delivery route through four Illinois counties.

It seemed odd to me then, dad being such a firm disciplinarian, to see him kibitzing with  guys at the full-service, Standard Oil station, on a busy corner in Springfield, Illinois.  He was obviously a regular visitor.  It was around eleven, the station brightly wrapped in neon–topped with trademarked red torch.

An experience, not unlike seeing one of your teachers, away from school.  Refueled, candy bars and coffees in hand, off to the second, and most important stop.

The blue and white Chevrolet, faithful beast of burden, loaded past midnight; after the State-Journal Register’s press run.  There’d been a delay–probably a late-breaking story that couldn’t be left out.

Worried my father would fall asleep at the wheel, thus killing us both in a tragic accident, I kept talking.  Awkward talking–so awkward, it was more like an interview than normal father-son conversation.

“How many miles does this truck have on it?”  I asked.  “It’s got 127,000 miles right now,” Dad answered.

“That’s an awful lot of miles.”  I surmised.  “It’s all highway miles,” Dad answered.  “That makes a difference.  This route covers 200 miles per night–give or take.”

“What were the worst weather conditions you’ve encountered?”  I asked–not in exactly those words.

“Ice and snow–I’ve had to drop off on the shoulder to gain adequate traction.  There was more traction on the grass and gravel, than on the road; but, I made it home safely.  It was almost noon–barely time for a nap before starting out again.”

The next question was risky, but I went for it, anyway.  “What were some of your biggest boneheaded mistakes?”

“I missed some stops and had to go back.  Then, one night I accidently threw a delivery right through an unopened screen door.”

Route 66, blue highways, towns that railroads, interstates forgot, passed by all night long.

That night may have been the source of dad’s war story about a ride to Chicago, cruising at 80 mph on Rt. 66, in a Chrysler Airflow–after hitching a ride.  That struck me as daring–even though it happened before I was born.

Winter sun rose as we arrived home, just in time for a bite of breakfast, light conversation with mom, then straight to bed.  It had been a good night, we’d arrived well before noon.


Image, Standard Oil Indiana, from blogsite: PleasantFamilyShopping–




It Was Over At Hello

What about posts that didn’t go anywhere?  Do they deserve special recognition?

It was over at hello.  In hindsight there’s no point in shameless self-pity.  A top-ten list  of my very worst posts?

First posts are obvious choices because blogging was a learning process.  There would be ten, just in the first month–July 2012.

Statistics–number of likes, views were baffling.  I didn’t follow any blogs and had no followers.

Those not involved need not have wondered why.  Posts about family, work experiences, school days, never took off–were doomed from the start.  …Limited appeal?

Too much or too little syndrome–too much bad content, too little good content.  A top ten worst post list would not be a good idea.  It would do nothing to inspire confidence and that would be a very bad thing.



Which subject in school did you find impossible to master?

slide rule

Mathematics didn’t come easy for me.  I learned basic math skills to get through life.  I’m ashamed to admit that Algebra was my downfall. I barely skated through it.  Geometry was no better, I needed a do over.

To this day, I can’t do square root derivations.  Figure the square root of 32,984?  Without a calculator, I’m stumped.  When called to solve a square root problem on the blackboard, I faked it.  My teacher, Ms. Kasten, did her best to inspire me.  She shall remain forever blameless.

Slide rules went the way of the abacus–relegated to dusty museum shelves.  Thank God for that.  In my hands, a slide rule was a useless piece of enameled wood, with embossed numbers and scales.  My closed mind, remained closed.

I needed Geometry for college entrance.  Mastered the course, only because I had to.  It was a strangely satisfying experience–like spitting in the devil’s eye.  It challenged my whole belief system.  How could anything associated with mathematics be satisfying?