Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Yard Sale . . .

. . . Sometimes a Waste of Time

Work like a dog sorting stuff. Find tables. Check the weather. Wash a few things. Get out an extension cord so buyers can try things. Gosh, we got up early to do this. Hope we make a little money on all this stuff.

We should have just put this stuff in the dumpster. Oh, no, somebody might buy it. Remember that old saying "one man's (lady's) junk is another man's (lady's) treasure?

Oh, look, here comes our first customer. Wow, you just made a dollar and a half. Here's another one. Boy , she's taking a long time to look around. Oh, well, she's ready to cash out. A dime.

Lady B. are you sure you want to do this three days and then again next weekend? Uh, huh, OK, you're the boss. Now you want clothes hangers put up too? But I thought you just said you don't think all those clothes will sell anyway.

OK, now the rod's up for the clothes but you better hurry, the schoolteachers will be coming up the road soon and you want them to see the clothes.

Whadda mean it's time for Dr. Phil? That show lasts an hour. You don't mean you're gonna leave me out here in the sun with all this stuff, do you?
Oh, you do. And WHAT? Then Oprah comes on. No, no, no, let's close this down now and start again tomorrow. OK, you win. I won't push you. But let's close down by dark.

Oh look, here comes more people so I guess we better wait.

Now folks, this was the last day of the April contest. If I don't write again you may never know any more about the yard sale. Got a message a bit ago from NaPaBloMo that the May contest begins tomorrow and the topic is SWEET.

Now that should conjure up a lot of ideas. Get started.

- 30 -

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Grass Cutting Time . . .

. . . But No More for Me

As the countdown began about three years ago, and age began to mount, it was not too hard to begin the process of letting tenants and later owners mow acres of high grass on their newly-purchased properties.

But there was a problem. They didn't move in with lawnmowers, either reel type, power type or riding machines.

So good-hearted me took it upon myself to mow the properties a few times a month with the hope that the tenants or new owners would soon get their own equipment.

I'll start at the beginning when I first moved "up north" from downtown
in 1991 to a newly-purchased acre with a mobilehome. The grass was high, thick and dead, a fire hazard. Mowing with an 18-inch power mower was getting the job done but only a litle at a time.

After watching a couple days from his back porch, a neighbor named Don Bingham came to my front door and said he had a riding mower for sale, used, for $400. I bought it.

Daughter Scrabblebuff was staying at the house at the time with her family. She volunteered to do some of the grass cutting. Seeing her scooting around on the mower was a hoot.

She mowed my acre and then moved onto the adjacent lot, then houseless, and had a ball. Dressed, I think, in jeans and wearing a cowboy hat, she careened at high speed around the lot in circles, raising enough dust probably seen for a mile

CT lives across the street from my still-owned house (although I'm now downtown again) and she took on his place as well until she and the family headed back to Germany.

Now to make a long story short, that lot next door then with a house on it, and two more lots with houses, came into our possession, one of which we occupied and rented two. One more vacant lot was acquired and a mobilehome was moved onto it also as a rental.

Now there were five acres to be mowed. Over the years of necessary mowing, (to keep down the fire hazard in our ever-windy area), and with the appreciated help of CT, I've managed to go through three riding lawnmowers, the last of which is still in use on my original property and by CT at his place.

As of this week mowing except for my original lawn is a bygone. New owners are on their own. Did you hear that people, you are are your own! Glad you're all half or so my age - I'm bushed ,

- 30 -

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bottle Cap Fix . . .

. . .Just Plain Common Sense

In the kitchen there's a round white table on metal legs. For a long while the table wobbled.

Two people sit for breakfast. One puts a hand on the table while reaching across for the milk. The other person's coffee spills as the table wobbles.

Same two people work on the morning crossword puzzle. The puzzle in the paper has been duplicated twice so each has a copy.

One has an answer and leans forward to pencil it in. The table wobbles. The other wads up a napkin and puts it under one leg of the table. Wrong leg.

The other tries the napkin under a leg on his side. Not that leg either. There's four legs. One of them must be the offending, too-short leg. All are tried. The table still wobbles.

Then the common sense advocate - you know it's Lady B - has an idea as she gazes at the gallon milk jug on the table. That red cap on top looks like the right thing. Down under it goes, placed under one leg. No more wobble.

There's another common sense story at this abode that has brought on numerous laughs whe told to guests.

An old stump of a long-ago sawed-down elm tree near the patio needed removing. Old Newsie gathered several tools - pickax, shovel, saw, sledgehammer - and commenced to dig around the stump.

No much progress was being made since the ground was hard. Lady B remarked the stump was old and should uproot easily. That said, she laid both hands on the stump and pushed. No more stump.

Common sense has other applications every day. Like the time the office light wouldn't go on.

Searched around for a new bulb for a bit, returned to the office, found light glowing. A questioning look at unohoo brought, with a triumphant smile, "plugged the cord in."

And then . . . oh, I'm gonna stop here.

- 30 -

Monday, April 27, 2009

There Comes A Time . . .

. . . and it's tonight

Yes, there comes a time. For what?

For what is called writer's block. And tonight is my time. My mind has drawn a blank searching for a topic for a blog tonight.

But to keep up my daily record in this NaBloPoMo contest, one blog a day, I had to write something so this is my blog for tonight.

- 30 -

Sunday, April 26, 2009

"He's In The Army Now"

. . . . and Mother's Crying

My mother - may she rest in peace - was a writer. By that I mean, that with a fountain pen full of green ink, sometimes brown, she wrote and wrote for years and years from about 1933 until a few weeks before she passed away in 1983.

Searching for ideas for my future blogs if I have the ambition to keep them up, I have read into a few of her diaries - again - and find myself amazed at things I am finding out that I long ago had forgotten.

There was World War II. That era provided for a lot of short sentences in those diaries. Today's blog is one of those diaries.

The date is February 24, 1943.

"One memorable day. Charles up at 5:30. Left at 6:15 for Boston with 66 more boys for physical exams for the army. Frank J. home at 4. Rejected.

Charles home at 7:15. Was rejected but . . . he asked to be taken in for limited service. Accepted. Seems happy about it.

I'll break in here for a few comments --- First, I was kinda upset in that big cold warehouse ( it was Febrary you know) in Boston when a fellow in a uniform yelled to us all take off your clothes, everything!"

Then some people walked in and and started to talk - doctors- and OMG - women. I turned around and faced a wall. Other guys did too. A woman
yelled "turn around and face me, hands on your shoulders." We did as told and the doctors and the women -they were nurses I guess, I hope, walked down the line, listening with stethescopes, prodding here and there, looking us all over (the women too).

"Bend over," came the next order and then "cough" and then, OMG, fingers sticking where nowadays people go to jail for things like that.

"OK, you, your eyes are too weak, you're rejected." That was the end of the examination. But I wanted to go into the army so I said "can't I get in anyway? for writing or typing or something like that?"

"Well, if you really want in, there's a limited service enlistment if you want to enlist in that -sign here" I took his pen and signed. "OK, you can catch your bus and go home now. We'll call you. You're in the army now."

Now back to Mother's diary.

March 1, 1943:

Charles very busy today in the attic printing 1,500 letterheads and envelopes for me,. He visited the Sisters at school and went to the movies with Theresa M. (she wasn't the Therea next door and she wasn't one I was going to marry either 'cause she was too pushy).

March 3, 1943

Woke up to a big sowstorm. Charles up at 5:30. Dad went with him to the train station. I kept up till the last minute. Couldn't keep back the tears.
Went downtown at 9, put some money in Charlie's bank account and bought a new fountain pen (probably with her favorite green or brown ink).

March 8, 1943
Letter from Charles says he expects to leave Camp Devens tonight for somewhere.

March 11, 1943
Letter from Charles at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.

March 17, 1943
Leter from Charles says he thinks he's getting ready to go to Alaska. In hospital. Has pneumonia.

March 31, 1943
Charles in hospital. Still has cold. Has hurt ankle, strained ligments. On crutches.

May 7, 1943
Telegram from Charles. He has arrived in Ogden, Utah. Promoted now to corporal.

And so on. There's a lot of good stuff in the year by year books. I'll get to them again one day.

- 30 -

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Prom Date, Then No Date , .. . .

. . . . . . . And Now, TWO Dates

Use your imagination. You are a high school senior anxious to be graduated - the first big event of your life. This is your dream.

You are a shy fellow, somewhat afraid of rejection by friends male and female. You are aware that you seem a little different from other teens.

Well, you are shy, afraid of rejection, and yes, a little different. You are a victim of Asperger's Syndrome, an early form of autism, which could lead to other problems as well.

The subject of tonight's blog was a high school senior here. Earlier this year, anticipating a good time at the first big event of his life, the high school senior prom. secured a date with a classmate. He was real happy.

Then, just a few days before the prom. his intended date changed her mind. Why, no one knows. The young man was devastated.

His changed attitude was noticable to classmates. Soon the reason came out, he was not going to go to the prom because he had no date.

But a surprise came quickly when two of the class's prettiest young ladies
asked him if he would go to the prom, double-dating with them both.

He was elated. He did attend the prom and his first big event of his life his dream, was realized, along with his graduation.

And then - a second surprise. This Asperger's Syndrome patient, whose disease may have been the reason for the loss of his first date, was elected Prom King.

Such an act on the part of those girls says a lot for young people growing up to adulthood - thinking of those who need compassion, and carrying out plans to give that compassion.

Hopefully, if he enters college later this year, he will encounter still more true and compassionate friends

An editorial in the local newspaper after the prom said the senior class of 2009 could well be proud for the rest of their lives that they did not just talk the talk, they walked the talk.

- 30 -

Friday, April 24, 2009

Aviator Dolly. . .

. . . . . . A Gal With Many Talents

You've read before in the blogs about Randy Trabold, the photographer for the North Adams Transcript.

Randy had an assistant named Dolly. While Randy was a heavy six footer, Dolly working beside him in his darkroom was like a miniature statue, hardly able to see up to the bottom of his neck.

She and I had occasion to work together (but just once) in the newspaper's darkroom and even I dwarfed her. She had to use a platform to reach the developing tanks.

The first time I ever met Dolly was on a steaming hot summer night. She was working in the darkroom in a corner of the newsroom, a tiny closet like enclosure with no windows. I had only recently joined the staff.

I had gone to the darkroom with a few films to print for the next day's paper and knocked on the door to be sure it was OK to enter.

"Come in" called out Dolly. Entering a darkroom of yore, one paused between two curtains in the dark and then entered the actual darkroom with either a yellow or red light burning.

After getting my bearings I walked in and saw Dolly. I gaped. I gaped again. Said nothing. Just looked.

"Whadda ya staring at" finally got through to me. As my eyes adjusted to the red light I saw the lady from the floor up, barefooted, nothing on her legs and . . .

Dressed only in a white bikini. I was still gaping, She was laughing. "Get used to it, it's hot in here, ya know!" At a second bench, I went to work developing my film.

I remarked at some point "it sure is hot, all right, I'm drenched already." I said, continuing to make prints on the enlarger until two hands suddenly began unbuttoning my shirt while a tiny voice said "oh, come on, get comfortable."

I had only two more prints to make. Got them done and got out of there. Never went back in that darkroom when she was around. Dolly was a temptation I did not need.

By daylight, I had other occasions to work with her. There were at least two occasions when there were fires in the nearby mountains of New York and Vermont as well as the North Adams area and also a plane crash.

Editor Phil said one afternoon "go with Dolly, there's a small plane crash" and off we went in her open air convertible - to Harriman Airport. I didn't see any crashed plane.

She ran to a small plane on the tarmac and hollered to me "come on, get in" and moments later we were in the air flying to southern Vermont. I didn't see a pilot and then realized SHE was the pilot.

She found the downed plane quickly and then leaned out a cockpit window and snapped some pictures as the plane banked in a circle.

Then she put the camera down, grabbed whatever steered the plane and headed over the Mohawk Trail where she showed me the place my wife Loretta, Yarntangler and Scrabblebuff later ran a rock and mineral store and a few other sights before heading back to the airport.

It wasn't the first time I had been in an airplane but the first with a lady pilot who didn't give a second thought to leaning out the window and taking pictures while the plane was on its own.

It was only a couple years or so later Dolly began to show signs of being ill and in a matter of weeks she was deceased, a cancer victim. I was an honorary bearer at her funeral service and burial in Southview Cemetery.

At age 36, maybe 37, I don't thnk she had gotten the chance to live a full life

- 30 -

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Frustration Sets In . . .

. . . . . .When Nothing Works

Tonight this enthusiastic blogger sat to plug out another batch of words which might make sense to somebody and then . . . two things - - -

Writer's block and next a black screen, no power, no blue color, not even a white background.

The second takes care of the first - writer's block is gone. I can write about frustration.

Now to tackle number two problem.Clear away the clutter around the computer, check the wiring. Make sure everything is plugged in properly.

This necessitated a lot of moving (right Geezerguy?) which as usual resulted in the speakers falling from the high shelf (short wires) one landing of said writer's head.

Next - move out the tower and check all the ports to make sure everything was in correctly. All those wires were OK. Check the power switches, the wall plugs and the surge protectors. All OK and the screen just lighted up as it shoud. Fixing job is finished.

Now as long as most eqiipment is moved, the shelves are clear of clutter and the spare eqipment boxes are out of the way, why not rearrange the computer corner as long-planned to make just a bit more clutter room from unused space.

OK. Do it. OK . Did it. Move the tower back, turn on the computer (now that the screen is up and lighted) and get to work thinking of tonight's blog.

Something's gone wrong. The screen is not lighted. Nothing is showing up. No e-mail. Just like it was before I started all this activity. Took an hour and a half to do all that checking and moving.

OK, move the screen back a bit so I can get at the tower again. Check wires again. Bang fist on table in frustration.

WOW ! The screen just came to life. Now to think about a subject for a blog -FOR TOMORROW NIGHT.

- 30 -

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Growing Up On Water . . .

. . . . . . . . . .And In Water

Unfortunately, and I am somewhat embarrassed to admit it, I have spent most of the last century and some this one, unable to swim. A few paragraphs down you'll find out what prevented me from becoming, say, an olympic swimmer.

But I'll start at the beginning - on water. As a kid I often visited with neighbors Joe and Marion Tremblay, now long deceased. They were avid fishing enthusiasts and I accompanied them in the hometown on a lot of their excursions - on water.

The Tremblays were canoeists and most of their fishing excursions involved a canoe, skimming across Sabbatia Lake to Watson Pond and then up the Snake River.

I was taught to handle the canoe and often was the guy, little as I was, who canoed up the river toward Mansfield while Joe and Marion trolled for trout or other species.

There's one other "on water" story. Very brief. It involves a cruise across the Atlantic Ocean to Scotland, during World War II, on a ship dogged for nearly two weeks by a German submarine.

Probably like many others on that ship I was scared - - what shall I say - - well, you know what I mean, because I could not swim. The return trip across the ocean was a little better although I still could not swim.

Now we'll get INTO the water. Uncle Frank Coyle (now deceased) tried to teach me to swim on Sabbatia Lake. Tried hard, he did, but the mehod was to toss me off a diving raft and then yell instructions that didn't work. His lifeguard daughter Mildred RN, (now deceased) had to buoy me up and "rescue " me. I was a young tyke at the time.

My dad and mom and a lot of other folks got together for many summers to camp for a week at Horseneck and Old Silver beaches on Cape Cod. We all, maybe two dozen of us, lived in tents on the beaches.

Most of the time I waded in the surf, sometimes in higher water up to my neck but despite Uncle Frank, Mildred, young Francis Coyle and Tom Riply (all now deceased) trying every day to made me swim, I sank.

Enter Dan Mellacio, husband of Mary Doherty RN, (both now deceased), who was on a different family's expedition to Horseneck Beach, with my dad, mom, brother Paul and sister Margery.

With a positive Italian attiude, Mr. Mellacio announced, "I will show him how to swim and he will swim." Actually, Dan nearly succeeded but nature suddenly interferred, whipping up a ferious windstorm at the beach which in turn created a powerful undertow.

That knocked him down and yanked me seaward. He could not find me but other swimmers saw me yards away, headed for South America no doubt.

Dan made his way to me, hoisted me on a shoulder and got me back to the beach. Some pushing and banging on my back got me coughing up seawater. I can vaguely recall glaring at Mr. Mellacio.

I didn't learn to swim but later in life I gave it a try again because I had to
impress four kids I was not afraid of water. This yarn comes out of the Magnolia Hill swimming pool in Levittown, Pennsyvania, where at least one or two of the kids were taking swmming lessons and I tried to boost their attitude and dispel any fear.

I got into the water and actually swam half way across the pool until I didn't feel concrete under my feet any more. I probably freaked out when I started to sink into deepwater. That's when it REALLY got embarrasing.

I don't know how I got out of the pool but I imagine a lifeguard managed to get me poolside. Then came the clincher that I guess a lot of Levittowners still laugh about. Now, I'm not sure that my memory has gone hazy again Yarntangler (I know you'll tell me)but here goes . . .

A lifeguard dove into the water and came up laughing and shouting:

LOOK WHAT I JUST FOUND, holding up my choppers. It took me a while to forget that episode.

Most lately, maybe six or eight yeara ago, I was in Sierra Vista, Arizona, on a visit and I dared to go nto a swimming pool once again and help one of the Salvo quads enjoy her pool outing, holding her up as she floated.

Suddenly I stepped off the "safe" part of the pool (for me) and started sinking. I threw the little girl to Lady B who was nearby and completed my sinking. Lifeguard Melodie came to the rescue when she noticed I didn't come up.

Now I am confining my water immersion to the jacuzzi out on the patio or the shallow tub in the bathroom.

- 30 -

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

That Sounds Like . . .

. . . . . . Somebody We Know !

Although now I have gotten out of the habit, there was a time when I was traveling on the weekend rocks and minerals show circuit, that I stopped often on my trips to visit with the editor of a small town newspaper and collect a copy as a souvenir.

I did that, probably, because even though I'd rettird from tne newspaper business, there still is some attraction to newspapers.

Well the gist of this blog is my meeting across the country with a fellow
newspaperman who had worked years before aside me back east in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Heading back to New Mexico from a California show on I-10 in Arizona, I pulled off the big road at a small town called Willcox, home of Rex Allen, a movie cowboy star, musician and singer who told stories in music, and his son Rex Allen Jr., also a musician and country western singer.

While slowly pulling my travel trailer into town, I spotted the town's weekly newspaper office. The van and trailer, well-trained in stopping for newspaper offices, quickly aimed for a parking area and halted.

I walked across the street and entered. There was an attractive lady at a counter and a small office to my left. "I'm a old newspaperman and I collect papers whereever I happen to find them," I told the woman.

Almost immediately a booming voice sounded from the little office -"That sounds like somebody we know" I heard and then a short, paunchy fellow strutted out and shook my hand.

"Hello, Greg," I managed as I looked back to the counter and said "you're Linda." It was a reunion in the making. We chatted and then, after collecting a couple copies of Greg's ARIZONA RANGE NEWS, he, Linda and I had dinner at his favorite restaurant before I continued my trip.

Greg was sports editor of the NORTH ADAMS TRANSCRIPT for a few years before going into business himself as owner and editor of THE PACKET in Adams. Eventally, after I had left the area, Greg sold his paper there and (to me) disappeared.

Awhile back I located him again via the Internet, living on Long Island, New York, and editing a Catholic newspaper there. Eventually he and Linda changed locations again - back to Adams where he now is a deacon in the combined Catholic parishes of that town.

A night ago he caught up with one of my blogs, left a comment but no new e-mail address so (to me), he's missing again. Greg, your old address doesn't work. If you read this evening's blog, send me a new address.

I stopped once again in Willcox a few years ago, before I knew Greg had gone to New York, and his office was closed. The gasoline station operator
nearby told me when I asked about Greg that he had left the area a year or so before and went back east but he didn't know where Greg had gone.

You know where I am, Greg and Linda, so when you travel back to Arizona for a visit, veer off I-10 to I- 20, then off to US 180 direct into Hobbs. Bedroom's waiting and you also can visit with Terry, who also lives in Hobbs.

- 30 -

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hearing Aids . . .

. . . Explain A Mis-Hearing

Today I had two doctor appointments and they solved something that took place about two months ago.

This blog should be a short one, necessary because after traveling to and from Lubbock, Texas, 240 miles total, a day which required arising at 6 am and not returning home until 6:30 pm, I am too tired to write for very long.

About two months ago I was in Lubbock for a routine series of tests on my on-going eye problems. One of the tests involved camera scanning of my eyes.

A young lady technician, expert in that particular test, mystified me continually during the test by saying "wink at me" but when I curiously questioned why, after the test, I got no answer. Maybe she thought I was getting fresh with her. I'm too old for that now.

A month after that test, I got fitted with an expensive new pair of hearing aids which greatly helped my hearing on the telephone, in church and elsewhere but not completely in noisy restaurants an in close conversation.

Follow me closely now.

Today as said I had two doctor appointments, one with the hearing aid specialists, the other with the eye specialists. Adjustments were made to the hearing aids to help the problems I was still having, including hearing close conversation.

I then went to the eye specialists for the same series of tests performed two months earlier, including the same camera eye-scanning.

The same young lady technician who did the scanning in February was assigned to repeat the scan. As it proceeded, the young lady constantly kept saying"BLINK at me." Case solved.

- 30 -

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Growing Up Worried . . .

. . . Installment Number Two

I need to tell you that my writing about worries may not be in chronological order even though I am trying to work back from the present to older days.

Thoughts of what I worried about or currently am worrying about will guide this and any future installments. With the possibility in mind that you'll get bored, I probably will break in with other stuff .

There was this one night that Yarntangler and a boyfriend at the time that she didn't marry (I think this might have been a Bob) went somewhere east along the Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts and didn't get back home by 11 or midnight or 1 a. m. or two.

I worried. I called the state police to inquire about accidents. I was told, I believe, it was snowing and traveling was rough. Yarntangler will no doubt fill me in on details I don't remember except that I later learned the road home was closed because of snow drifts and they spent the night somewhere safe, probably at the state police barracks.

During the Vietnam War, number one son DP was over there somewhere. Weeks and months went by without a letter from him. I knew he was in a danger zone and what he was doing but the absence of any news from him was disturbing.

I worried. A good friend of mine, Congressman Silvio O. Conte, now deceased, stepped into the picture at my request and using his official channels managed to locate enough information about DP that he could report back to me in a few days that DP was safe and would get in touch with me. DP eventualy did through MARS radio to a neighbor in my then residence in Adams, Massachusetts, patching me through to the Vietnam call.

My late brother Paul, three years younger, was editor for 25 years of a magazine titled ARAMCO WORLD, now Saudia Aramco World, and was stationed in Beirut, Lebanon. He and his family lived happily in a suburb of Beirut, Mechref, until the so-called Six Days War.

Beirut suddenly was in shambles and my brother and his family had to be evacuated. But I did not know where or when and I called on my friend Congressman Conte again for help. He learned the family sans Paul was safe out of Lebanon.

I worried. Cathy later called to report the family safe and Paul probably would soon be found. It took a few days to locate Paul, who with his magazine staffpeople had been evacuated to several places .

He eventually turned up in Amsterdam, Holland. His magazine was then published from Hollland until relocating to Houston, Texas, where it still exists. Brother Paul passed away in Rhode Island, while the magazine was still published in Holland and he still the editor.

Yarntangler had a headache when she and her husband and kids lived in El Paso, Texas. She obviously consulted a doctor who hospitalized her to determine why her headaches were not going away.

I worried. In due time it was determined Yarntangler suffered with a brain anuryism. Because she's still writing (have you read her book "The Tree At The Top Of The Hill," published by Booklocker? ) it's evident she recovered. Her mother flew down to El Paso to tend to Yarntangler and the family until a good recovery was in effect.

Up in Canada, a friend of Yarntangler's, who eventually became my friend also, has had a series of tragedies. She's lost a husband, has a number of illnesses herself and her family members also have problems that worry her.

So for her I worry and I pray.

And that's all for tonight.

- 30 -

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Growing up . . .

. . . Worried ---And Still Worried

I am worried right now - will this computer hold all the things I might talk about in this month's contest theme (Growing Up) if I list all my worries This blog could turn out to be a three or four installment effort - or even a series.

Anyway, let's get started but old age memories come slow so I will begin with the latest worries and work backwards through the years.

The first two involve Old Newsie's eyes and will the motor vehicle people grant me another year's driving license come June and next (it was first the few months) is daughter Scrabblebuff's kidney transplant going to be an on-going joy for her?

About the eyes. Nearly didn't get a license renewal last year despite my eyesight being in fairly good shape because I couldn't read the smallest line on the DVD's eye chart.

Had to have the eye doctor certify in writing my sight was improving with treatment and I could drive OK. Probably will have to go that route again this year. A Monday appointment with my Texas Retina opthamologist may tell the tale.

Now switch to Lakewood in Washington state. Scrabblebuff has just arrived back home in Lakewood near Fort Lewis and her doctors at Madigan Army Medical Center.

She's been away at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, for two months or so. where in a successful operation, she received a new kidney after a nearly three-year wait which included half that time on dialysis.

As of this afternoon my worries are settling now with her announcement that other than periodic rises in potassium levels, she is feeling fine and making plans to get back into college for a degree in communications and enroll in government retraining in new fields of employment.

Scrabblebuff, over whom I worried for at least five years through a job loss and then her kidney problem, received her new kidney from a Florida woman about the same age who died but who was a body parts donor. My condolences go to the generous lady's family.

Simultaneously,I was worried as son number one, DP, in California,
became the victim of a stroke. Over the past few years he has recovered fairly well, but then the economy and the banking crisis caught him up in a web, causing another worry.

Today this has faded, too, as things improve for him, including a 50 per cent army disability award retroactive for quite some time.

Worry. Doesn't stop does it? Couple of weeks ago number two son CT announced "well, Dad, now all your kids have diabetes." A routine blood test had put him into the diabetic category, carrying out the "runs in the family" theory. The four kids' mother was a longtime diabetic as was her mother.

Today I join Lady B here in worrying about her son-in-law currently disabled with a leg swollen three times normal from a yet undiagnosed malady; about her grandson's wife who had a gall bladder operaion yesterday; about a grandson in a motor vehicle accident ;whether the fence at a just-sold house will be built Monday as scheduled by her contractor and whether our new garage door will be installed Tuesday.

Shoot. I told you this might be a series so until next time . . .

- 30 -

Friday, April 17, 2009

Super Nanny Visits . . .

. . . My Hometown Neighborhood

I haven't seen it yet since I'm in the Mountain Time Zone and the Easterners have already viewed it but it should be an interesting squabble, judging from other Super Nanny shows I have seen.

I am starting this blog one hour before the show will be seen on ABC here. But i have read about the show when it was first filmed a few weeks ago back in Taunton. The focus is on a family named DeMello living on Scaddings Street about a mile from my old home .

A preliminary, very brief statement by the Super Nanny producers calls the kids in the family "demons" who have supposedly turned their mom's and dad's parenting dream into a hell on earth.

And now, let's get into the show and see what's happening and if these demons are being turned into little angels. Of course, I will be just summarizing, not trying to reproduce the whole show.

Well, now I've seen it and it was quite a squabble . I was curious to see scenes of my old neighborhood. Of course there's a difference of about 50 years and it was obvious.

All I saw was a roadside sign saying "Entering Taunton" probably on I-495 , a road not there back when.

The one-time thickly pine-bordered Sabbatia Lake now has numerous new homes around it, wide streets and a supermarket the size of which I know did not exist when Mother bought her grocieres from Oswald Beaulieu and I worked in Charlie Grady's First National Store at St. Mary's Square in the city center, both small stores about the size of a doublewide mobilehome.

Wow! Those kids were little hellions but it looks as if Super Nanny - (that's Jo Frost, a Britisher, who was a speaker down here a few months ago) MAY have turned the demons around, although not yet little angels.

One has to remember kids growing up do rebel at their parents, and the younger ones will mimic the oldest. The kids in time grow up and turn themselves around but it is a process for a whole famly.

In this case , Mother DeMello was a disciplinarian but Dad didn't take an active part and support Mom, which frustrated her and she as a result did some back-sliding in parenting. He admits the problem with the kids was his fault.

Observation on the first days of Super Nanny's visit disclosed havoc within the DeMello family.The older boy would shout "stupid mama" or "stupid daddy" to his parents and "shut up" to both if he was disciplined. The younger ones followed suit and picked up the same retorts.

I can't recall my four ever acting like I saw on TV tonight but as I have said before, my memory is slipping a bit and . . . well, let's leave it there. I don't think there was ever tha extreme a problem.

By the end of the week , however, the home at the side of upper Sabbatia Lake as I remember the area, was a bit more peaceful.

The visiting nanny used a lot of gimmicks to force the children to like her, to obey her, to comunicate and laugh, to play outside their house instead of staying inside and to stop abusing their parens.

A return check by Super Nanny in the future will tell if her counseling worked. I'll follow this story and give you the answers when I learn them.

= 30 -

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Growing . . .

. . . Aggravated

Yes, I'm growing aggravated and so is Lady B. We are aggravated with television, specifically television ads.

Watching television these days has become a real chore. It seems that a one hour show these days means perhaps 30 minutes (that's a half hour) of commercials, repeated over and over every few minutes and then:

"we interrupt these commercials to bring you a little more show - if you remember where it left off.

Commercials that are aimed at selling motor vehicles, often pickups racing madly through dusty desert areas, through streams and over rocks.

Commerials touting all kinds of products guaranteed to cut your belly down by x-number of inches in seven days or cure whatever ails you practically overnight.

And more yet - boost your bosom, stuff your tummy, call now this or that lawyer, enroll in this insurance and enjoy knowing your family will be cared for at your passing, become more attractive with our colorful tattoos, enjoy these oldies on this set of CDs for only $19.95 but wait - use your credit card and get this extra bonus.

And so on and so on. Be sure to read the small print on that life insurance policy ad - if the print is big enough and it's on the screen long enough:

Not available over age seventy or if you have heart disase, diabetes, emphasema, high blood pressure or other pe-existing conditions.

And then there's the commercials for stuff to cure your headaches, colds, high blood pressure, joint pains, tiredness, back aches, leg cramps, PMS and on and on. There is perhaps ten seconds of how good the product is but be careful of these possible side effects, then listed for the next thirty or so seconds.

Lady B and I long ago found the MUTE button on the TV but now we have found that using that button takes more time than we want to spend on blocking those yelling voices selling pickups and curealls.

We've discovered that if we just put in a non-commercial movie DVD in the extra-cost gadget atop the TV, we can watch a continuous show sans commercials with the added feature that if one of us falls asleep, the other can put the movie on pause until the other wakes again.

An alternative is to sell the TVs and return to the old-fashioned enjoyment of reading good books or writing letters to old friends.

What say you, friends?

- 30 -

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Growing Up . . .

. . . Stupid Sometimes

Have you ever wondered what could happen if you stuck your tongue out on a cold day and licked a metal door handle (like I did) just for fun? Or maybe affixed your tongue to a shiny metal flagpole?

I knew two fellows who went that route and found out just how much fun they had. As a matter of fact, I was one of them. I was a little tyke about six or seven years old and attending a brand new school after the one I started in burned down.

Sister Mary Anthony wondered where I was one cold morning just after everybody got back into their classrooms after recess. One youngster told the nun I was right behind him on the way in. But I did not show up.

The Sister went looking for me and found me with my tongue firmly adherred to the brass handle of the outside door to the Immaculate Conception School.

Then other Sisters came to see what I did but nobody knew how to unstick me until the principal decided to call the fire department. Two big firemen from Engine Four arrived and studied the situation.

Just then another nun, the cook from the convent, showed up with a pot of warm water and began to pour the water over my face, dripping it on my tongue. The firemen held me still until the cook got still another pan of hotter water and that did the trick.

That was in New England where door handles did get cold and young kids' tongues did stick to them. I probably was not alone when I tried that experiment.

Did things like that happen in the warm South? I found out, as an adult now, here in the city where I live that flagpoles made of shiny steel do get icy cold some of the time.

And I heard of a young fellow who was just as curious as I was many years earlier. He locked his tongue on that flagpole at his school but not when school was in session. (I can't say who this boy was because I wouldn't want to embarass him).

He had a friend who just happened to walk by and see this "stickup." He ran to his home and got his mother who soon had the matter under control . I don't know how she unstuck the tongue licker but maybe it was just like the nun did for me.

Kids do a lot of stupid things. I once got a bit upset at my dad who didn't want me to go someplace (that I can't remember now) so to get back at him I decided to go anyway. From the second floor of my house, I climbed out onto the roof over a small porch but discovered it was too far down to the ground to jump.

I went back to the window but I found it had slipped down and from the outside I could not find a way to raise it up again. It was a neighbor who rescued me. Oh, I was so thankful - until he told my dad.

I didn't learn anything from that incident. I did it again but from a first floor window this second time. I climbed out only after I put a stick under the raised-up window so it would not slip down.

But I was wearing a suit coat and the tail of it got caught on a hook just inside the open window after I had left the window sill. There I hung, about two feet from the ground until Mrs. Courcy next door got a chair and helped me down. Yes, of course she told my mother.

Now I'm going to sit back and wait for stories of little stupidities that might turn up from other bloggers - if they dare to write about them.

- 30 -
Old Newsie

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bells And Whistles . . .

. . . Do You Hear Them Anymore?

When I was growing up in Massachusetts, it was in an era when I heard every day the whistle from the Whittenton Mill, the bells from a half dozen churches, from fire engines and from the belfry of numerous schools.

I also miss the whistles from passing trains and from fire stations, calling volunteers out to help save someone's house from flames.

That Whittenton Mill whistle, and the ones from other silver manufacturig businesses of my city, Reed and Barton, F. B. Rogers and Poole Silver Company, woke people in the morning, signaled the time for them to be at work, noon time breaks, and quitting time.

Those whistles and bells heard at nine o'clock in the night, signaled curfew for young people. Bells were prominent for signaling the locations of fires, with so-called fire alarm boxes in many locations.

These boxes when opened and a hook pulled by a citizen, roused firemen and horses which then pulled fire apparatus to the general area of a fire as indicated by the number of bells that rang.

Passenger trains zooming from Boston to New York on the tracks, not far from my home, made melodic sounds as they came through the pine woods, clickity-clacking their ways through the city.

There are few such sounds anymore but there is a growing movement to put bells back on the churches, bells which as in long past days, called people to worship in the edifices of their chosen religions.

I would welcome hearing the cacaphony of bells ringing in chorus all through the city. Such sounds might drown out the roar of pickup trucks, ccar and motocycles whose drivers never give any thought to installing mufflers on their vehiclest o protect their ears and mine.

Train whistles are things of the past, replaced, where there are trains, by harsh growls, rasps or squeals which also damage the ears of listeners, particularly those of senior citizens like me.

Also mssing are whistles that greeted pretty girls on the corners of the country's many Main Streets and Broadways, the pasttime of young men all around the world.

Yes, I miss all those sounds and admit it, you who remember them, you miss them too.

- 30 -
Old Newsie

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Men In Mother's Life . . .

. . . That Sounds Bad, Doesn't It?

Moher was happily married so you might ask why she'd want more men in her life. Well, once it was the custom but unless you are as old as I am, and she, back in the early 1900s even older of course, probably do not understand.

Who were these extra men? There were quite a few - the ice man, the gas man, the milk man, the fish man, the vegetable man, the swill man, the rag man, the junk man , the scissors man, the Fuller Brush man. and the bill collection man.

Just so's you youngun's will understand this accumulation of men, here's
a rundown on who they were and what they did, some every day, some a couple days a week, some weekly, some monthly and the bill collection man once a week or maybe every two weeks.

Let's start with the bill collection man. That doesn't mean Mother was behind on her bills. You see, we're talking here about the first type of installment buying.

For example, Louie Goldstein sold us a used refrigerator for $25 and the agreement was a dollar down and a dollar a week. Sunday was his collection day because his church day was Saturday, he being of the Jewish religion. This also happened when I was furnishing my first home.

Louie would make his rounds to customers on Sunday morning but respecting the church-going routines of many of his customers, he'd patiently sit on the back stoop until Mother came home, waiting for his dollar.

The man who came around daily was the milk man, bringing one or two bottles of milk and perhaps a dozen eggs. He would halt his horse -drawn wagon in front of the house, walk into the back hall and deposit his wares into the oak ice box whether anybody was home or not.

Along about the same time, but not every day, the ice man would deliver a block of ice into the same oak ice box. He would know how much to bring into the house because Mother would put a red-lettered card in the front window indicating a 25 or 50 cent piece, or a seventy-five cent block of ice.

Houses heated by natural gas in olden days had meters in the cellar and once a month a man would walk ito the back hall , yelling "gas man", and descend to the cellar, read the meter and then leave.

The same happened when another man arriving once a month would yell "light man,", and go to the electric meter to read how much you'd be charged for that month.

By now you probably are asking "didn't she EVER lock the back door?"
Of course not, there wasn't any such thing as , or at least very little of, crime, like happens these days. Mother trusted all those vistors

You get the idea now don't you. Honest people brought things to homes, read meters and many times helped Mother with chores around the place.

The swill man title probably stumps you. He was the old time garbage disposer. a farmer who raised pgs. Pigs got fattened up on swill, the old time name for garbage.

Mother disposed of the garbage at our house by putting it in a pail in the backyard. About once a week. someimes more often, farmer John would come along and with a big barrel over his back, go into the backyard and empty Mother's swill pail into his, then go to the next yard.

There was the rag man, too. With his horse and wagon, he'd come down the strees calling out " rags, rags, anybody got rags today?" Mother did on occasion and would go to the street and hand old Andy her collections of stuff for which he'd pay a few pennies.

I asked Mother what he did with the rags. She explained that Andy's wife would wash the rags, cut them in squares and make dish cloths from some and maybe, when she found a nice picture or pattern in the rags, she would cut the picture neatly and sell the suares to ladies who made bed quilts for people who needed them to keep warm in the winter

Another fellow whose name was Bunk - yes, that's right, Bunk - who'd come down the street with his horse and wagon, calling out "here comes's Bunk, got any junk for Bunk?" Worn-out pans, tin cans any other old metal, always was welcome. Bunk would weigh what he got and pay out a few nickels or dimes .

The fish man and the vegetable man - they don't need any explanation do they?

What did the scissors man do" He sharpened scissors, and also knives, axes, shovels and anything else that needed a sharp edge.

And lastly was the Fuller Brush Man. He's gone nowadays in most parts of the country but Fuller Brush is still a well known name, the brushes now being sold in the little catalogs you get every few months in the mail.

Mother always welcomed this drummer, who'd show up every month, demonstrate some new type of brush and if Mother wanted it, take her order to deliver on his next sales round. Most always he had some kind of a free sample, often for us kids.

He also was a walking newspaper. Always had something to tell us that we did not know, like what kind of a tie the president liked, what color shoes a certain Broadway actress prefered or sometimes what neighbor just had a baby and what kind of a gift he had for Mother to buy for the new mother!

Oh, you want to know what a drummer was? No, wasn't Harry. The drummer was a salesman. "Drummer" once meant salesman.

Most of those customs do not exist any more but I wouldn't be surprised if in some rural areas there still are some men making rounds. Most all those customs I've talked about are New England happenings but now that I'm a southerner, I've been reminded there were some similar customs down here too.

For instance, the potato man, the sweet-potato man and probably the watermelon man. And I do really remember one down here while I was working at the local newspaper 25 years ago - the burrito man.

Sure, I've probably forgotten lots of other titles, too, and I'll probably have somebody telling me along the line soon.

- 30 -
Old Newsie

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Yesterday's Teaser

Having teased ya'll in yesterday's blog because the storm we were having made me forget most of what I was going to say . . .

I'll not keep you in suspense. My cut finger came about while I was fixing up a meat order in Charlie Grady's First National Store.

Those were the days when grocers took orders by telephone, filled them, packed the groceries, milk and meat in a box and sent somebody to the customer's house with the delivery.

I did deliveries from that store by bicycle and later in Charlie's automobile after I got a license. That was before World War II. But on this particular day I was working in the store filling orders.

This story will be short because I was not in the store very long. I was slicing meat on an electric slicer, balogna or ham, I don't remember which.

My left index finger slipped into the blade. I didn't notice until I finished wrapping and sealing the meat in a packaage. Ted, working near me, noticed blood all over the counter .

He and Charlie saw that I had sliced the finger down to the first joint. Ted whisked me to the nearby hospital and Charlie sent aomebody else to deliver the order of meat, milk and cereal.

Dr. Charlie, my cousin, stitched me up and sent me home with orders to stay home for a few days.

When he lady who ordered the meat opened it she either saw my blood and maybe some extra meat, threw it all away, or didn't notice and used it for lunch. I don't know.

Oh, by the way, the order was for my future mother-in-law Mrs. D. and her daughter.

- 30 -
Old Newsie

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Some Rough Weather . . .

. . . Chases Away Blog Topic

I was about to compose today's blog about 3 p .m. when I noticed a sudden change in the weather, signaled by the fact that the sky was nearly pitch black.

As I rose to check it out, my police scanner let me know that a weather spotter had reported a tornado funnel west of the city and at the same time Yarntangler turned up on the telephone, her voice that is.

About the time the phone rang, there was a loud clap of thunder and also a deluge of hail to boot. Yarntangler had phoned to tell me of a directory for senior bloggers she had just discovered.

I tried to get the site on the Internet which promptly quit working, no doubt because of the storm. It is now 9 p.m. and just now this gadget has come to life again.

Haven't tried that senior site because it is now time to get a blog in the works to meet my Saturday deadline for the contest.

I was describing the weather when Yarntangler halted me by saying what I experiencing was just what she had had earlier in the day to my west in Tucson. At the same time on another phone Lady B was getting a report of snow from No. 10, her daughter in Edgewood, north of us near Albuquerque.

Between the time the storm hit and now, the police, firefighters and electric, cable and telephone utility men have had a rough few hours as the storm tore down wires,, blew over poles, started several fires atop other poles, blew out transformers and even landed a pole on the roof of a mobile home.

That damage happened all around but not in the center of the city but I was unaware of any of it except by hearing the dispatchers on the police radio.

Being so interested in hearing of what was going on, I lost my train of thought about the blog that was in my mind.

I know only that it was going to be about Charlie Grady's store where I cut my finger in a meat slicer, evidently sent a little of my skin to my future mother-in- law in her food and hamburg order and had to visit the hospital for a few stitches by Dr. Charlie.

Well, I guess those paragraphs constitute enough chatter to qualify as a blog so Happy Easter everybody and I'll type at ya'all tomorrow after dinner with son CT and his wife USWMAM.

- 30 -
Old Newsie

Friday, April 10, 2009

Surprise ! Surprise !

Nothing in There !

Imagine you were there. In a hospital room. I was groggy and hurting. Just coming out of anesthesia. Nurses, a surgeon and my dear departed wife Loretta at the foot of the bed. Yes, another hospital story. Please don't laugh, it'll just make my head feel worse.

The locale was Lubbock, Texas, and I was in a room on the third floor of Methodist Hopsital, now known as Covenant. Unlike the episode about the hospital in the teeth blog a few days ago when I vehemently exclaimed I wasn't going to die, this time I was sure I was going join my maker and the way I was hurting I thought I just about wanted to do so.

Before I get into the story, you need to know a little background. Early one morning in Hobbs, Amigo and I were enroute on the job to the local fire station when a young man in a red pickup ran a stop sign and hit Amigo, Loretta's trusty little yellow staton wagon, sending it in a wild right swing into a wall surrounding a portion of a church.

The result was that I was jerked, shoved and battered around in the vehicle, ending up with my head smashing against a doorpost. This was just kitty corner across from my doctor's office. There was an ambulance trip to the local hospital, and the usual batch of tests including x-rays.

Those x-rays disclosed a blotch in my brain but not something caused by the accident. The doctors decided it was something to be worried about and looked at again later.

Meanwhile, rib problems. cuts, bruises and other minor injuries were handled in due course. It was decided a specialist in Lubbock should look over the blotch in the brain.

Dr. Lloyd Garland was the specialist. He determined there was reason to examine the head again in another month. This was done and then again in another month until it was decided something was wrong in my brain and an operation was scheduled for December 28.

"Why on my birthday?" asked a son. "What a birthday present, a brain operation." (It was a matter of insurance. If done by the end of the year - all paid - if in January, I pay a lot.)

In the meantime came an already planned Cheyenne Christmas trip . Making matters even more complicated, I had a sudden and terrific pain in the head in Cheyenne that made me pass out. But the pain subsided and the trip back to home was uneventful and I duly reported to Lubbock for the operation.

Now the comical part of the story. Expecting the worse from a brain operation, I said so long to the wife and others who went to the hospital. I'd already had said so long to those living elsewhere either by telephone or in person. I breathed in whatever stuff was to put me to sleep and rolled off to the operating room.

Some hours later I was coming back into the world with those few folks around my bed when I heard Loretta say, "well , doctor, what did he have?"

Clearing his throat, Dr. Garland replied "we opened up his head and there was nothing in there," sponsoring a chorus of laughing and for me some horrific pains as I apparently started myself to laugh.

Then I heard Loretta, always a jokester, exclaim jokingly" That's what I always thought," bringing on another chorus of squeals and laughter and more pain for me.

To this day whenever the subject of anybody's brain operation comes up, it is sure to bring on a recitation of Charlie's brain operation.

Of course, there needs to be a little explanation here of the medical procedure. It seems there was something found. Explained Dr. Garland "There was some old material which might have dated a long time back."

What happened in Cheyenne may have been a brain tumor that was getting bigger and which imploded that day he had the head pains," he said

He continued "It was good that whatever it was imploded instead of exploding because it collapsed into itself, not out into the rest of his head which might have been fatal."

At this time I trace that "old stuff" in my brain back to the time I was knocked from my bike by Engine 4 while riding on a fire call as a youngster which you read about earlier.

- 30 -
Old Newsie

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Growing Up . . .

. . . In Various Brief Jobs

Lady B and I had planned to meet the well drillers up north today to "supervise" installing a well pump but they didn't show.

We had to wait, nevertheless, at home for the TV satellite man to visit us and get our boob tubes working since their so-called smart cards weren't doing the trick.

He found out we didn't push the cards into the slots hard enough - the directions plainly said "don't push hard or force cards in."

We had followed the directions. Serviceman got the TVs going well in advance of Dr. Phil's show, Lady B's "can't miss an episode" favorite..

By the time we really were ready to go north and do a little work, it was too windy and dust storms would have been building up so we shelved those plans for today. Atop that, there's three wildfires burning and a few roads closed so we'll just hunker down at home.

And that brings me back to the blog screen where I think I can fill space with a few items on jobs that didn't last long or that I did not like after I got back from England in 1946 and before I got into newspapering full time. (Did I mention earlier that I was a newspaperman for lots of years?)
After my stint in the army I worked at a print shop in Easton, a town in Massachusetts about 25 miles from home but that did not pay enough to cover living costs for my bride and the cost of transportation.

Then there was the job at the state school for disabled and challenged people on a midnight to dawn shift.

Most nights I had to administer shots in the butt to quiet some patients, male and female. That chore was not up my alley and thus that job didn't last, by my own decision.

Driving a taxi wasn't too bad a job but since the pay was dependant on how many fares you drove, how far they went and how they tipped, that was a job used as a fill-in while trying to find something better.

Checker Cab and City Cab always needed drivers but it seemed to me that I was getting more of my share of drunken passengers who often had no money to pay me when we reached a destination and many times were unruly as well. But I put up with those prroblems as long as I could.

Both cab firms wanted me back but I think it was only because at closing time about 2 a. m., I was the best at parking cabs in a narrow garage and that really didn't make me rich at all.

A high school classmate, Bill Matteson, who also was a fledgling printer like I was, got me into a print shop in the downtown section of the hometown where I trained on using an automatic press called a Meihle.

A good job but it turned out the company wasn't doing enough business at the time and I being the last one in, became the first out. Figures!

In the meantime in my home I was operating my own printing business, picking up a fairly good stream of small jobs including printing at midnight a few hundred tip sheets for the next day's racing at the local dog track. This activity kept us in food, and maufacting bookmarks for libraries all around the country, a nice contract while it lasted.

Working in photography provided some additional income both before my army service and afterwards, particularly after completing a thousand hours of photography school during two years at night in Boston. The photography story will be on hold for later use.

Guess that's enoough yakking for today.

- 30 -
Old Newsie

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wedding Help . . .

. . . For Three Buddies

About a week ago my hometown newspaper told me online that Al had passed away. His obituary brought back memories of five weddings of army buddies in England during World War II.

These guys had met at various dances, mostly USO sponsored, the loves of their lives. Possibly there were five young ladies back in the states who cried when they learned their boyfriends had forsaken them and fallen to the wiles of four British girls and an Irish lass.

Such things did happen to American GIs far from those they loved back home. Except that I had a strong passion for keeping a promise once made, I could have been one of the hundreds who found love and marriage on foreign soil

But back to the memory Al's passing had resurrected. Al was from my hometown, a short-built Portuguese guy with a great sense of humor. (More another time about his humor) The others I have mentioned were Dewey, Sal, Sol and Peter.

For reasons that in the next paragraphs become a bit personal, I am not using last names.

Al fell in love with Jessie, Dewey with June, Sal with Annette, Sol with Nellie and Peter with an un-remembered London girl.

Here's where the story first gets somewhat personal, American GIs were getting paid in WWII just $21 a day, once a month unless they ranked higher than private - and then not much more.

How did a GI live on that much, paying for his $10,000 life insurance policy, send a little home to his folks, have enough left over to buy fish and chips now and then and also finance a wedding?

Al came to Old Newsie one evening and said "Jessie and I want to get married and we have gotten the OK from the Army but. . ."

"How much, Al" said Old Newsie, who at the time has gotten the nickname "the banker" by reason of being a non-drinker, non-smoker and a mostly stay-in-camp guy lending shillings and pounds to other guys at six percent a month. (In most cases that was a moneymaker)

In later conversations, Dewey and Sal posted their wedding finance needs as well. Two others borrowed for like purposes. Here's where it gets really personal. Those two paid the banker his due but, Dewey , Sal and Al just never seemed to have the moola to reline Old Newsie's pocketbook.

All three now are deceased veterans. Long ago their wedding finances were forgotten by both this blogger and them. At this writing, however, it suddenly dawns on me that should I suddenly get those loans repaid today, at six percent a month since 1944, might not I be rivaling guys say like Donald Trump for high living?

So much for another true story from a long ago past. Oh, by the way, in case any of you have a wedding loan in mind right now, I am no longer known as "the banker".

Old Newsie

- 30 -

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Growing UpToothless . . .

. . . For Just a Little While 'Tho

It was either late 1947 or 1948 - it really doesn't make a difference 'cause most of you reading this are too young to remember anyway.

I'd been having trouble with a couple of teeth, wobbling and rotting, said each of two dentists. One suggested that the Veterans Administration might do something about it FREE, since I had work done by a dentist named Dr. Mussari (forgot his first name) during my army days in England.

Hey - it just came to me - the dentist's name, Dr. Anthony C. Mussari and he came from Hazleton, Pennsylvania. But that's beside the point. What he did was apparently a bit faulty and now I was having trouble.

So I went to the VA and just as promised in the government's recruiting of soldiers, the VA dentists DID do something about the problem. I was sent to the VA hospital in Brockton, Massachusetts, where a dentist, after looking over the choppers, said they weren't worth saving - none of them, because they were too soft.

The VA decided to foot the bill for new ones and sent me to Dr. Fernand B. Hamel, who just happened to be a neighbor on Jackson Street in my hometown, telling him to yank out all my teeth so I could have new plates made and inserted.

The thought of extracting some 20 or so teeth was disturbing but I resolved to not be afraid but brave and get the job done. Dr. Hamel got me into his comfy leather chair one afternoon, stuck me with Novacaine, and went to work.

I might have been diagnosed with wobbly and rotting teeth but they were not about to depart my mouth without a fight. Took quite a while but they came out. Lots of blood, too. An appointment was made for a second yanking a few weeks laer.

That was just as hard. Dr. Hamel was a bit frusrated . He gamely made a third appointment but this time with my medical cousin Dr. Charles E. Hoye Jr. in attenndance because a new type of drug (sodium pentathol) was to be used and needed monitoring by a medical doctor.

That appointment went pretty well . I'm told that the doctors and their nurses did a lot of laughing during that operation because of that new drug, sodium pentathol, which is TRUTH SERUM - my lord, what did I say?

But during the ensuing night, with a heavy snowstorm blowing, I started to hemmorhage. Dr. Hamel rushed to the house about midnight, called Dr. Hoye and then both called an ambulance and transported me to the hospital.

I lost a lot of blood that night and the next morning which happened to be Friday the thirteenth. I was pretty much out of it when I heard them say they would get blood from Boston's blood bank since it turned out my blood type was rare and there was none of my kind in the local hospial.

In and out all day as a blizzard howled, the two doctors waited for the blood that did not show up. It did in the evening and I later found out that the Red Cross lady who had gone for it early in the day had been escorted back to the hospital behind a snowplow 40 miles, the only way she could get back because of the snow depth.

Meanwhile a couple hours before the blood arrived, I heard the doctors and a nurse conversing with my still-almost-new wife saying in whispers "he's going to die if that blood doesn't get here soon."

"DIE?" I shouted. "No, call some of those GIs I used to write about from England, maybe one has the right type."

I guess nobody had thought of doing just that earlier in the day but one ex-GI was found and he came to donate a pint or so (of blood).

However, the Red Cross lady had arrived with six pints which were quickly started into my arteries. Next morning I felt very good. The guy who was going to give me blood was put on hold and also on a list of rare blood donors for the next patient who might need his type.

And then - both doctors refused any more work in my mouth and left it up to the VA to handle. The VA sent me off to Davis Park Veterans Administration Hospital in Providence, R. I., to have the rest of the extractions done.

Over there it was decided I needed to bring my health back up to VA standards before any more teeth extractions. One of the dietary recommendations was egg custard, plenty of it and as much as I wanted.

I'd alway liked egg custard from the time as a babe when my mother, bless her dear departed soul, fed it to me daily.

It took the dieticians at Davis Park five weeks to get me up to strength with their recommendations and up to 12 cups of egg custard each day. I still like egg custard.

Once out of the hospital, the VA sent me back to Dr. Hamel to get a full mouthful of teeth - upper and lower plates. He spent a lot of time making those teeth and getting the job done right.

I wish Dr. Hamel was still alive so that I could tell him what a fine job he had done with those teeth, BECAUSE -


Yes, I was toothless for about a year and subsisted on a lot of soup (AND EGG CUSTARD) but it was worth it. I never have toothaches!

"What, Lady B?"

Oh, yeah, there was another time I was toothless. That was between the time I was born and the time I cut my first chopper, back in the early 20s.

Old Newsie

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Growing Up . . . . .

. . . A Calendar Maker

Do you have a standup calendar about four by six inches on your desk?

If you do, turn it over and look for the words "Ad-A-Day." If you find those words, you have in your hands something to remind you of Old Newsie.

I had not thought of those popular desk calendars in years until I read the obituary of a 90-year-old man who hired me in 1946 just after I got out of the U. S. Army and was looking for a job.

I was freed from the army in February that year and plans were made to marry in May. Getting a job was a bit difficult because jobs were scarce. I'd had three but they didn't work out.

In my case there was a complication because starting to work just a few weeks before getting married posed this problem: time off for a honeymoon.

Although I was collecting a bit of money from the government's 52-20 club, an exclusive club for veterans, and could have delayed that job until after a honeymoon, I had an ultimatum from my bride-to-be.

"We are NOT getting married until you are working". I went to work at Ad-A-Day. Then I took the bull by the horns, went to the white-haired Carroll N. Cross who had hired me and explained my problem.

"No problem," said Mr. Cross, "work the three weeks until your wedding, get married, take 10 days for a honeymoon and then come back to work. We'll pay you for those 10 days as a wedding gift."

What a nice solution to my big problem. Then came more. A week before the wedding, somebody called my bride-to-be and asked her to come to the plant on Spring Street Friday morning.

She did and as she entered the place a dozen girls shouted "suprise" and my intended found herself in the midst of one of those things women call a bridal shower. None of them knew her.

Making those calendars was an exacting job, a bit messy conidering all the gluing that had to be done and eventually the job petered out for a spell as the designer sought better manufacturing ways.

I of course had to make a salary and thus I went onto another job. Ad-A-Day resumed the desk calendar manufacture a few months later but I was then settled in a new printing positon.

But Ad-A-Day didn't forget their first calendar printer and his new wife. When Yarntangler made an appearance in early 1947 (March 3 if you need to now) one of the first gifts for the new baby and her mother came from Spring Street, the Ad-A-Day plant, now still existing, a 65-year-old fixture in my hometown.

Old Newsie

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Growing Up . . .

. . . A Non-Smoker

Very soon after landing in Scotland in July, 1943, as one in a company of 250 men destined to work in a tiny village down south in England, I was befriended in Thatcham by two men looking like Mutt and Jeff.

They were Britishers who worked as clerks (CLARKS in British English) and already established comfortably in the litle office where some of our unit's men were to work in the effort to win World War II.

I say comfortably because both had soft leather easy chairs at their desks, something like you see the CEOs lounging in during our TV movies. We GIs were assigned, hard, straight-backed wooden chairs sans cushions.

We came from our barracks at the Hut Camp, a mile down the road, to begin our daly chores at 0730 hours and were joined by the two astute Englishmen at 0900 hours. For those not familiar with military time, that's 7:30 and 9:00 a. m.

First things first. As the two sat, both unsnapped small leather cases and took out slim bottles one said was their morning tea. Each sipped for a few minutes before beginning their clerical work, recording incoming shipments of supplies for troops.

They left for lunch at 1130 hours (11:30 am), returning at 1330 hours (1:30 pm) . Afternoon tea time, with crumpits, was at 1600 hours (4 pm) and their bicycle trips back home was at 1645 hours (4:45 pm.).

Without having absolut proof of the statement, I will say, by the way, the afternoon tea exuded an aroma quite different than the morning tea. But that's beside the point of this story.

The short gentleman was a cigaratte smoker but his stocky six-foot companion smoked a pipe. It's the latter of whom I will write. Promptly at our first meeting he inquired if I smoked and did I smoke a pipe.

Receiving a "no" reply and introducing himself at that point as Mr. Thomas, and his friend as Mr. Sparkes, he quickly opened a campaign to encourage me, and other Americans in the office, to join him in the typical British way of relaxation, pipe-smoking.

I was invited to become a pipe-smoking enthusiast. I declined. The next day I again was encouraged to join him in relaxation. I declined.

On the third day, Mr. Thomas approached, inserted a pipe stem into my mouth and lit the tobacco it contained, all in a moment in which he caught me by surprise.

"Draw," he commanded, and involuntarily I did, and was promply commanded "again." I coughed, stuttered, shook my head, coughed again and then ran for the door to the outside where I quickly lost first the pipe, then my morning breakfast , my meal from the night before and maybe more.

I've never smoked again.

Mr. Thomas and I became good friends - a few weeks later. Mr. Sparkes never even offered me a cigarette. How inconsiderate!

Before I left England, I learned both men, who had been transferred to another work location, had passed away, both of lung cancer.

Old Newsie

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Growing Up . . .

. . . As a Bike Repairer

A broken chain, a warped wheel, a loose seat or a paint job, Charlie's Bicycle Shop could handle it all.

Three guys with a few bike problems one day figured out how to take care of them by getting together and doing the jobs themselves.

Eddie Raymond had the warped wheel. His brother Norman had the chain problem- his pants leg was caught around the right pedal and in the chain and he was still on the bike.

And my bike seat was wobbly, too high and every time I rode to a fire on that $5 bike I got from Joe Tremblay, the high up insides of my legs got awfully chafed and sore.

So when all that happened at the same time, we all got down in the cellar at my Pleadwell Street home and got moving.

We had to carry Norman and his bike down the seven stone steps because we couldn't untangle his leg from his bike.

We needed some new spokes, a new seat, some chain links, some tools, oil and an air pump. Since I had some money, I went to the professional bike shop, Beauvais Riding Shop, and got the stuff.

It took an hour or so to untangle Norman from his bike (good thing Yarntangler wasn't around then) because he wouldn't let us do the easy thing - just take his pants off and then untangle the leg from the bike.

Got the wheel straightened up with a few new spokes, aired up the tire again and put a new and softer seat on my 28-incher. (I should have had only a 24-inch bike frame.)

Next day Eddie and Norman decided we ought to open up a bike shop since we were so good at what we did and the three of us decided we would.

"Raymond Brothers Bike Repairs" said Eddie. "Oh no," said I, "it's gonna be "Charlie's Bicycle Shop." There was a big argument over that.

I fixed that problem real quick. I told the brothers "this is my cellar where the shop will be, I bought all the parts we need, I've got the paint for the bikes, the oil, the new chains and I can get the tires too, "cause you don't have any money."

And so began Charlie's Bicycle Shop, which lasted quite a while, maybe six weeks or so until all the bikes in our neighborhood gang were fixed, oiled, aired and painted and we ran out of customers.

Just another Growing Up story - but wait, there's more!

Next came Charlie's Photography Shop. That lasted a lot longer, years in fact and even had Mother involved. It's a long story so it will come later.

Old Newsie

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Growing Up . . .

. . . A Fire Reporter

Back in 1928 in New England the old wooden two-story schoolhouse I was attending caught fire on a Monday afternoon and burned down.

ALL the way down , with its big rooftop bell ringing until it landed in the basement as the building collapsed, floor by floor.

A few years later I became interested in chasing fire trucks when I heard them but not very often did I find out where they were going or what happened.

Most of the time the local newspaper never had a story about any of the fires that I had known were happening because I saw fire trucks racing somewhere with sirens blaring and red lights flashing.

One day I managed to follow Engine 4 to a big house fire. I found out the name of the owner of the house and his address and how the fire started and how long it took to put it out.

I telephoned the newspaper and a man named Ed took down the information and the next day there was a little story in the paper about the fire, probably after Ed had checked out what I had told him.

Then later I got a few more fire stories and phoned them in and they were printed. Then one day Ed said he would pay me for my work and he did, about ten cents every time and he called me a stringer.

Later on he used the words cub reporter and still later he even put my name on top of a fire story- it was what he called a byline. He paid me more pennies.

One day when I was riding the high-seat bicycle I had bought for $5 so I could chase the fire trucks faster, I got hit and knocked down and against a parked car by one of the fire trucks.

That story was written by one of the regular reporters, using my whole name, age and address. The story said "Fire Reporter Hit by Fire Engine." Now people knew me as a fire reporter, the Whittenton fire reporter.

Time went by and fire reporting somehow was in my blood. My uncle, a cop, and Mother's cousin, a fireman, said that the germ got into my blood when my school burned down.

Then came World War II . I had a mailroom job then at the newspaper and because there were no regular reporters around the Sunday Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese air force - but I was - I got put to work collecting and writing stories about seervemen in the war zone.

Bill Reed, the newspaper's editor, announced in a story the next day that I had been hired as a full time reporter. After that the subjects of the stories I wrote were varied, just not fires.

It was soon afterward that I had to go into the army. I was away in England for three years. When I returned I got back the job as a reporter on the local newspaper .

From that day on I wrote about a lot of fires , accidents, murders and court trials from 1947 on and through six states and eight newspapers to 1985 when I retired as a newsman and editor.

Guess that qualifies me for this month's theme of "Growing Up."


Old Newsie

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Monday Repeated . . .

. . . But Not Quite So Bad

If I am reading the calendar correctly, today is Thursday, April 2, second challenge day.

And yes, yesterday, Wednesday, first day of April and the challenge, was a repeat of Monday, as the wind spread around wildfires again after some uncaring smoker pelted a half-done cigarette out his vehicle window on Owens Road just off U. S. 82 near Lovington. You can guess what happened. The wind was wild again.

Some of those weary firefighters trying to rest after the Monday battles were called out again. This time only a thousand acres were blackened, with no structures burned. That's all I have to say about fires right now.

This morning early, Lady B was still hacking with the flu but insisting on going down to the church with me to take care of the little ones in the nursery while their moms were attending the usual MOPS (Mothers of PreSchoolers) session.

I insisted no, you can't go but she still insisted so I stole her car keys and went by myself. Turns out the session had a shortage of volunteers today and guess what else? Babies were coming out of the woodwork today.

Nine little ones and three workers handled the situation anyway and my chore turned pleasant as I corraled one little girl wo usually cried for two hours as her mommy was in the MOPS session.

I sat me down in a comfortable rocker with her and gently said to her as the other volunteers listened, "OK now, it's time to quit crying and go to sleep."

It was hard for all of us to believe , but in two minutes, the little tyke was fast asleep. She slept two hours in my lap. Next time I sit in that rocker with its oak ribs against my back, I must remember to use a pillow (Insert here: ow, ouch, ache, itch, cramp) to cushion my 85 year old frame.

Paron me for a minute or two while I step outside for a breath of fresh air . . .

Well, not so fresh after all - pretty smoky sky in the west again so that's probably the opening for Friday's blog.

And then a surprise - a call from Albuquerque from the Air Force man who blogs as Sage Words. "Can I come see you tomorrow night for the weekend Grandfather?"

Of course!!!

God Bless all you bloggers.

Old Newsie

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Cheating Just a Bit . . .

. . . 'Cause I'm a Day Late For The Challenge

Make believe today is yesterday, April Fool's Day, first day of the challenge month. Yes, I'm cheating a bit but it's the only way not to foul out on the first day of the challenge.

Here's what I said yesterday:

Well., March was supposed to go out like a lamb I think but it didn't. Wind got up to 60 or 65 miles an hour Monday and out west of the city at Buckeye, toppled a power line and snapped the high line, starting a prairie fire.

The wind was whipping around in all directions and that little old fire got whipped north, south, east and west and afore many people knowed about it, Hobbs was ringed in wildfires.

Firefighters from 21 communities in New Mexico and West Texas converged and after the wildfires had burned 13,000 acres, somebody's barn and an abandoned truck stop, the fires were out.

The Lea County Road Department got son Terry to hauling his 5,000 gallon water tanker all afternoon to spread in fields alongside the roads to create a wet firebreak Several oilfield companies did the same.

The city was saved by midnight - by the firefighters of course.

That's what my blog said yesterday the first day of the month of April, first day of the challange.

Old Newsie

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