Notes From The Cactus Patch

Tall Texas Tales about Texas Characters

Bobble Head dogs

One rainy morning not long ago, while searching for elusive Christmas decorations, I stumbled across a box of family photographs. When I opened the lid, the room filled with that distinct smell of “old memories.” Black and white images of family members long deceased, smiling into the Brownie camera, knowing that they would never be a minute older than that particular moment.
One particular, faded picture, made me smile. It was my late Uncle Ray leaning against the trunk of his 1957 Cadillac, dressed in his best Sunday suit, holding a shotgun and a can of Pearl beer. I’m not sure how those odd ingredients came together for that picture, but it was nice to see his face again. He smiled a lot-and drank more.
As I studied the photo, remembering Uncle Ray and the joy his car gave to him, a small object sitting on the rear deck caught my eye. It was barely visible and obscured by the suns reflection on the glass, so I placed my magnifying glass over the picture, and it popped into clarity. There it was, Uncle Ray’s long lost Bobble Head Dog – Mr. Pooch.
Ray loved that plastic mongrel as much as that Detroit battleship of a car, a fact that his eight ex-wives grudgingly affirmed.
As family stories are told, I recall the night a wandering opportunist, broke into his Cadillac and stole his precious Mr. Pooch; leaving a loaded shotgun and a cooler of Pearl beer in favor of the faded plastic ornament. Uncle Ray, beyond consolation, moped for days, sitting at his dining room window, stalwart, praying that the thief would find remorse and return Mr. Pooch. His hope diminished by the hour, and that happy reunion never materialized, Uncle Ray, saddened to his last bone, mourned his Mr. Pooch until his end day.
That evening, I made a trip to the pharmacy to collect a prescription. My errand accomplished, I turned for home, and while stopped at a traffic signal, found myself staring at the rear end of a well preserved 1957 Cadillac. I marveled at the rocket tail-fins aerodynamic design, the beefy rear bumper, dual tailpipes, and the glaring chrome appointments. An excellent machine representing the best efforts of an era past. Seeing that old car reminded me of Uncle Rays cherished Caddie and the lost bobble head dog, Mr. Pooch.
As I slowly followed the Caddie in the slow traffic, I glimpsed something odd sitting in the cars rear window.
Pulling closer, I identified the object as a small brown dog perched on the rear deck, happily shaking its head.
The driver, worried that I was following too close, tapped the breaks to warn me off, and, with that warning, the dog’s eyes “flashed” like red lasers. Startled, I slowed and gave the Caddie a wider berth.
After a few blocks, my curiosity won over safety, and again, I closed the gap between our vehicles. Mesmerized by the dogs blinking eyes, I failed to notice the old Caddie had stopped, and I rear-ended the beautiful machine.
At 20 mph, you can’t do much damage to an old tank like that, but my “thin-skinned” foreign auto was in pitiful shape.
Gazing through the cloud of steam that spewed forth from my radiator, I saw the door to the Cadillac swing open and a ” white-haired gal” way shy of five feet, exited the car.
“Dressed to the nines” in designer duds, all the way down to the required white Rockport’s, she was the perfect poster girl for “Sun City.” My golfing buddies had warned me about these old gals. “Little Pit Bulls with lipstick,” as they were known, and they all had at least one off-spring that was an attorney.
I concluded I might be in big trouble.
Exiting my ailing vehicle, hat, and insurance firmly in hand, I attempted a half-baked explanation for the accident: the dog with the piercing red eyes, the memory of my Uncle Ray and his long lost Bobble Head Dog- Mr. Pooch, my poor driving skills. The more I rattled on, the more it sounded like “mental ward gibberish,” so I ceased the blabber and politely inquired if she and her little dog were alright?
She said she was excellent, and the dog, absolutely “felt no pain.” All was well and good. Minor damage, no harm done.
I noticed the collision had un-seated her little dog and he was feet up on the rear deck.
” I really think your little dog may be hurt, he’s not moving,” I said.
She chuckled, and explained that: her old dog, “Giblet,” had been dead for 20 years or more, and that her late husband Murray, who had been an electrical engineer with an “off-kilter” sense of humor, missed the little guy so much, he had the mutt stuffed. Then as a nod to his own electrical wizardry, he installed red lights in the dogs’ eyes that light up when you mash on the cars breaks. I suppose my Murray turned my little Giblet into a real life bobble head dog. Her story was so outrageous, I couldn’t control my laughter, and neither could she. Crazy people laugh the loudest.
Relieved that she was uninjured, I accompanied her back to “her car” to exchange insurance information. Finishing the exchange, she opened the car door, and there, in the passenger seat, illuminated by the dome light, sat and an older gentleman. Startled, I asked, if her passenger was okay, did “he” need to see a doctor? Shushing me off with a wave of her hand, she exclaimed that he “didn’t feel a thing.”
Now, having just heard that morbid explanation regarding old Giblet, I asked,” why didn’t he feel a thing?”
With a twinkle in her eyes and a saucy wink, she replied, ” oh that’s just Murray, he and Giblet go everywhere with me.”
On that parting note, the little gal gunned the Caddie, pulled into traffic and faded away, while I stood staring at the departing Bobble Head dogs red eyes blinking back at me.

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See, I Told You I Was Sick!

About a month ago I, I started feeling lousy. I couldn’t finger what was wrong, but I felt like crap, all day, every day. At my age, health issues can be expected and are dealt with appropriately. After a week of misery, I did what most people do; I turned to the internet to find out what’s wrong.

I found a medical site, typed in my symptoms and waited for the diagnosis. Within ten minutes, a web site called “Doctor E” sent me an email with his expert diagnosis attached. It’s a good thing I was sitting when I opened the report because I damn near passed out.
I have symptoms of 14 significant diseases including early onset Ebola and the rare Racoon Flu.
Realizing, that I may not last until supper, I called my wife and asked if I should drive myself to the hospital now or wait for her to get home so I can expire in her presence.
My wife, a wise nurse, knows how to handle delicate situations and tells me to “get off the damn internet and book an appointment with Doc Bones.”

The next morning at 9 am, I see my doctor. He prods, pokes, looks into my eyes and ears, takes the blood pressure and then hands me over to nurse Dracula for a blood draw. I’ve had blood drawn many times, and there is never a problem, but this woman stabbed me four times before finding a vein. Once the suitable vessel is accessed, she proceeds to harvest six vials of my precious elixir for the lab testing.
A half gallon of blood lighter, I head home to await the lab testing.
In a few days, a nurse calls with the results. My PSA is off the charts, so she shuffles me over to a urologist for further diagnosis.

I meet with Dr. Finger, and he tells me there will be a biopsy of the offending gland. First thing I ask is, “will it hurt?” in which he responds, ” you might feel a little prick,” which in medical terms translates to it’s going to hurt like hell, so bring a bullet to bite.

The morning of the biopsy procedure, finds me laying on an exam table with an alien anal probe biopsy vehicle violating my body. Now I know how those poor alien abductees felt, and I thought they were just whiners.
Two weeks pass, and I see Dr. Finger for the follow-up visit. He doesn’t candy coat my diagnosis: prostate cancer #7, moderately passive-aggressive.
“It’s a form that lolligags around for a while, won’t cause a fuss until it gets pissed off and decides to hit back,” he explains.

My options are robotic surgery to remove the little demon, massive doses of radiation for eight weeks or tiny radioactive pellets implanted into the sickly gland.
Doc says, ” the Chernobyl seed implants work well, but I can’t pass through airport security for a year, and pee will glow in the dark for at least a decade. The massive radiation will leave you weak and whiny as a pre-teen girl.”

The robotic thing catches my attention, I say to Doc, ” I’m imagining the Lost In Space robot zipping around the OR, arms flying screaming “danger..danger.” ” Oh its nothing like that,” he says. “The surgery is performed by a medical robot called DaVinci. Think of it as R2D2 with a grey beard, a velvet beret and cape with an Italian accent. Very efficient and European. When the surgery is over, little Leonardo paints you a small portrait of the Mona Lisa and gives you a gift basket of wine and cheese from the Tuscany valley. You also receive the evil little gland encapsulated in an Italian crystal jar. It makes an unusual conversation piece at parties.”
Doc and I shake hands, and my wife and I depart for home. We have options to consider, but time is of the essence. Like rust, cancer never sleeps.

Father Frank Saves The Church

I visited my local Sun City H.E.B a few days ago to do my shopping for the week. Just so you know, I loathe shopping for groceries; negotiating the crowded aisles, pushing a cart that steers hard left, while trying to read your shopping list and dodge the blue hairs wanting to run you over. It’s more than any man my age should have to endure.

The geriatric inhabitants of “Clan Sun City,” have christened this store as their domain and they make their own rules of engagement. I’ve had my toes run over, my legs pinned between a grocery cart and the dairy cabinet, rammed from behind for being too slow, and was verbally assaulted by an 80-pound octogenarian because I got the last loaf of “dollar bread.” The old bag pulled out an ancient flip-top Motorola cell phone and threatened to call 911 to report me, so I reluctantly handed over the loaf. She shook a bony finger in my face and growled, “And your little dog too.”

Wednesday is the big day for the sample girls to push their wares on the shoppers. You can’t go twenty-feet without a chirpy hostess wearing her “Pioneer Woman” apron wanting to stick a sample of food in your face. Forget trying to get away, they track you until you stop and then thrust the toothpick impaled morsel into your protesting mouth. I unwillingly managed to taste sushi, sausage roll, carrot cake, cheese whiz, and wine before I could get to the first aisle, and by then I needed a Prilosec OTC, so I bought that as well.

Shopping completed I proceeded to the checkout stand, and when rounding a corner near the book section, I bumped hard into a table partially blocking the aisle.

There, sitting behind a 6-foot fold out table was Father Frank, the priest from my church, “Our Lady of Perpetual Repentance.”
On his table is a stack of leaflets, bottles of water and give away key chains shaped like the Virgin Mary. It’s been a while since I have seen the good Father, so we exchange our pleasantries.

After a brief howdy conversation, I asked Father Frank why he is staffing a table at a grocery store.
With a deep sigh, he explained, “The church is losing so many of the flock that the diocese has put me here to drum up new members.”
Not wanting to offend by asking delicate questions I say, ” I suppose you have to start somewhere, and the crowd here is about the right age to be finalizing their looming Heavenly travel arrangements.” He thought that was prolific and says he will use that phrase in a future sermon.

Now, more curious, I ask him about the giveaways laid out on his table.
With a big smile, he explains, “The bottled water is actually blessed holy water, bottled right in my church by altar boys. We figured if it was good enough to drive out demons and christen babies, it is strong enough to cure the pallet and insides of foul offenses. It has a slight hint of mint so it may be used as an alcohol-free mouthwash in a pinch. I drank a bottle a few days ago and was confined to the rectory bathroom for many hours. Nothing like a happy gut you know”.
I said, “Yes I know that feeling and my cousin Beverly could have used a case of that for mouthwash if you know what I mean.” He said he did and gave me a bottle for her deliverance.

The good Father is on a roll and excitedly explains that they have made considerable changes to his church as to attract new members.
Handing me the leaflet he proudly proclaims, “look at these pictures! We now have a glassed-in section of pews with flat screen monitors installed on the back of each bench so the young ones can access their computer games and social media during the sermon, which is piped into the enclosure by a high powered HD digital audio system.
In order to save parishioners time, confessions can be uploaded via your home computer or smartphone, and communion has an optional wine flight, that, for a nominal fee, comes with a small crystal goblet.”
Am I not hearing him right? Preteen kids gaming in the pews, computer confessions, wine tasting? How about the singing choirs, the fire, and damnation, the rock hard pews that make your butt sweat and your legs go numb? A church service is supposed to make you miserable, not comfortable.

I tried to interrupt, but the good Father was in over-drive, as he continues to exclaim: “the most daring change and the one I’m most proud of is the conversion of the adult Sunday school room to a sports bar for after service football games. It’s a brilliant concept, come to church then walk across the hall and watch the game on 70 inch flat screens. We call it “The Blue Nun Sports Bar,” and with the help of Mother Prudy, I recruited some of the younger nuns from the Abby to come over and wait tables after their service. The sisters are doing a great job, but grumbling about the miserly tips and are threatening to hold a sit-in.”
I told them to stop offering a repentance prayer over every beer served, and the tips may improve. Its best to reserve a blessing for food service only.
Next thing I know, they are wearing t-shirts with “We Aren’t Your Mommas Nuns” on the back. I don’t know what gives with these younger sisters. The piercings and spiky hairdos are not what I‘m used too. Nuns are supposed to be stoic and mean, not cute and hip.
Well, I say, ” you’re certainly doing everything you can to increase membership, I may have to come to see you next Sunday. I need a good dose of religion and football.”
I shake the good Fathers hand, bid him adieu and shuffle on to the checkout.

On my way out of the store I notice, tucked in by the potting soil and flowers was a table staffed by a young, tanned, rock star haired, frock clad fellow flanked by two bikini-clad girls handing out free cold beer and hot dogs.
The sign above them read “Rolling Rock Love and Peace Community Church Membership Drive.” I was thirsty, so I scooted on over. Looks like Father Frank may be in trouble here.

Hip To Be Square

A few days ago my wife and I took a walk around the new and improved Fort Worth landmark, Sundance Square. Beautiful place, well planned, functional architecture. Good job Bass boys.
After a few loops, we got a hankering for a cup of coffee and maybe a pastry.
We looked around and found a smallish but very European street café with the cute little sidewalk tables. Not our style, so we went inside.
Passing through the door, I caught the name on the storefront window, “The Door to Perception.” Thought a minute. I know that. Yeah, Aldous Huxley, the infamous beat author from the fifties. He and Jack Kerouac birthed the beat generation via literature. This might be a hip place.
We queued in line at the counter. The young man in front of me smelled of Petiole oil. An odd scent for a man. Didn’t mix well with my Old Spice. Hippie chick perfume is what we called it back in the day.
My wife nudged me and whispers “what kind of place is this? These kids all look alike.”
She was right. Every male in the shop had a similar symmetrical haircut, facial hair, garage sale chic mismatched clothing and skin-tight jeans. Birkenstock sandals seemed to be the shoe of choice. The girls were ditto, but without the facial hair. Stepford children they were. I knew immediately that we had stumbled into a Hipster coffee house. I told my wife to please be calm. This is no more dangerous than wading into a gob of old hippies at a Steppenwolf reunion concert. She wasn’t amused.
The Petiole boy in front of me was ordering his coffee. I caught the conversation with him and the barista.
“I’ll have a Trenta in a recycled rain forest cup, free range, green label, fair trade grown, Andean, but not from the higher region but the lower valley, harvested by virgins no older than 16, aged in a cave on the coast to a bold bean, roasted on a log fire made from non-endangered rain forest trees, lightly pressed, and kissed with a serious pour of steamed spotted Syrian goats milk, then ever so slowly, pour two Cuban sugars at the same time on opposite sides of the cup. Oh yeah, and Kale sprinklers. Don’t stir it, I need to experience the aura.” “Ahhhh… that’s my favorite, an educated choice sir” cooed the perky little barista.
We were stunned. What in the hell did that kid just say? I stepped up to the counter. “Two coffees with two creams and sugars each please,” I said.
What region will your coffee be from sir” asked the perky barista?
“How about from Columbia, you know Juan Valdez and his little burro, “asked I.
“Don’t know that one sir, don’t know a Mr. Juan Valdez,” she replied.
Got something from Mrs. Olsen or Mrs. Folgers ?” I asked.
“No sir, don’t know them either,” she said.
“Got anything that comes in a vacuum packed can?” I asked.
“No sir, our beans come in hand-sewn burlap bags from India” she replied.
“Do you have any coffee grown in the United States?” asked I.
She perked up and replied “Yes sir, grown in California, Big Sur area by the Wavy Gravy Mystical Coffee Co-op. I hear it’s harvested every third quarter when Jupiter aligns with Mars, and the moon is in the seventh house. You know sir, this is the age of Aquarius.”
“Yes I know the song,” I said.
“Is there a song sir?” she replied.
At this point, my head was about to explode, and I needed to wrap it in duct tape to contain the splatter. My wife saved me by stepping up to the counter and addressed the barista.
“Look Moonbeam, just give us two cups of that Gravy coffee and you pick out the sugar and cream, deal?”
“Names not Moonbeam mam, its Hillary” replied the barista.
“Of course it is, sweetheart, I should have guessed that. I suppose you have a brother named Bill too?”
“No mam, just a little sister, Chelsea.”
My wife shot me her “get me out of here before someone dies” look.
The barista sensed where this was heading and promptly pushed the coffees across the counter. I paid, and we left.
We stood on the sidewalk, took a sip of the coffee and promptly poured it into the gutter.
On the way home, we went through the McDonalds drive through for a red white and blue cup of coffee. Can’t go wrong with good old Mickey D’s. None of that Hipster crap.
“I’ll have two coffees with cream and sugar; please,” I said to the voice.
“Sir, will that be a Latte, a breakfast blend, a dinner blend, a dessert blend, an anniversary blend, or an I love you blend, a save the children blend in a reusable cup or an expresso, chilled or topped with sprinkles” the voice replied.
I pulled out of line, and we headed home to our old and extremely un-hip Mr. Coffee.

Back In The Saddle Again

Ferris Ferrier lives in Happy Texas. It’s 1958, and he is as happy as a resident can be. Ferris reads an article in the Amarillo newspaper about a movie filming in Fort Worth, and the company is auditioning for cowboys that can sing and play guitar while riding a horse. Ferris plays guitar, a bit, and has some fancy cowboy duds, and his father has Ole Rip the cutting horse, so he’s convinced he could give this a shot. His parents give him their blessing, and its arranged that his cousins Jimmy Jam and Mary Merideth will take him and Ole Rip to the casting call.
Ferris isn’t nervous about the singing and playing, but more about Ole Rip getting spooked and bucking him off. Ole Rip is a working horse and used to cattle and his pen, and he is pretty unpredictable, but he’s the only horse on the farm, so Ole Rip it is.
Jimmy Jam suggest that Ferris and Ole Rip give a practice performance in the upcoming Christmas Parade next week. Give the folks in Happy a preview of their soon to be movie star. Ferris agrees, and plans made.
The day of the parade, Mimi Musson, the coordinator, moves Ferris and Ole Rip to the front of the show, right behind the baton twirlers. “Might as well give our new movie star a plug, right?” she said. Ferris is nervous as hell. Why right in front of the high school band? Ole Rip is bound to have a meltdown once that loud music starts. He explains to Mimi Musson the scenario that will likely happen, but she says “it will be fine, horses love music. “
At noon, the parade is lined up in the alley between the Prairie Bank and the Big Biscuit Cafe. Baton twirlers, Ferris and Rip, drum major, high school band, and six floats followed by a stagecoach driven by Gibby Pat Parnell where Santa Claus rides and will throw candy to the children.
Ferris is freaking out. His throat is dry as sand, he has to pee, and Ole Rip is cutting one fart after the other, a sure sign he is not happy. As the parade turned the corner out of the alley onto the main street, Ferris starts to play and sing, and Ole Rip is doing fine. Then, the drums start, and the band kicks into Jingle Bells, and Ole Rip loses it. It is the first time Ferris has seen him rear up on his back legs like Trigger, and is for a moment, impressed…until the horse makes a hard right turn and runs into Miss Molly’s Beauty Parlor. As Ferris and Rip enter the business, Ferris hits his forehead on the door jamb and is spewing blood like a fountain. Ole Rip manages to demolish half the parlor before turning around and heading out the front door. They travel a few stores down, running parade watchers off the sidewalk. The next stop, Western Auto and Rip is doing a similar demo job on the best store in town. Ferris is bleeding, his guitar is smashed, and the saddle is beginning to slide sideways. As they exit Western Auto, there are three vacant lots before you reach Bramwells Feed Store. Ole Rip picks up speed and heads for the feed store lot. As the duo enters the lot, Rip is smelling feed and makes a beeline for the warehouse, where he abruptly stops in front of an open bin and proceeds to chow down. The saddle slips off, and Ferris is on the ground. He is a sorry sight, bloody face, torn clothes, his precious Harmony guitar smashed to sawdust, and then Margie Lou, his secret crush shows up. She is so excited she can barely speak. ” Good God Ferris, I have never seen a demonstration of horsemanship like that in my whole life, and I’m a rodeo queen. That was fabulous, and it was sensational” she screams. Ferris picks himself up and thanks, Margie Lou.
She adds, ” and next week you are going to audition for that movie, you should be so excited.” Ferris says ” you know Margie Lou, I think I’ll do my guitar playing on the ground from now on. Who knows, in a few years I might start me a band. By the way, that’s a good idea for a name, The Fabulous Sensations, and I’ll keep that in mind.”

” My Sweet Lord”

Driving from Fort Worth to Granbury this morning, the local “oldies” station spun one of the best songs ever; George Harrisons, “My Sweet Lord.” The song, released in 1970, on his album, “All Things Must Pass” is a gleaming gem of music history. Harrison’s beautiful guitar work is a masterpiece to behold. Far better than when he was a Fab Four.

When the chorus comes around, the backup singers begin chanting; “Hare Krishna, Krishna-Krishna, Hare-Hare.” I don’t remember that part, but Harrison was extremely religious and most devoted to all things mystical and Eastern. Hare Krishna’s. I haven’t thought about those goofy folks since 1970.

The Hare Krishna movement danced into Dallas around 1969-1970; flowing robes, shaved heads, Yule Brenner ponytails and a large flock of former hippie-chicks banging on tambourines. They appeared everywhere; Lee Park, McKinney Ave, Oaklawn, the Quadrangle, downtown and especially at the cities airport, Love Field. An organized army of orange robed hippie-converts, dancing down the sidewalk, chanting, swirling in childish abandon and singing gibberish. My parents generation was terrified, believing disciples of the evil Manson family had invaded Big D. Krishna’s are prolific religious messengers, and their foremost message is, ” give us your money or we are not leaving you alone.”

On a hot August day, I taxi my Mother and a few of her relatives to Love Field for a vacation flight to Hawaii. After goodbyes at the gate, I proceed to the terminal lobby. The Krishna’s are on me like the measles; dancing, singing, chanting their gibberish, swirling around while beating their little tambourines. They are smart in one sense; they encourage the Krishna girls to approach men. The pretty ones are recruited to collect the best offerings. Capitalism and sexism seems to be encouraged in their religion of poverty. Someone has to pay for that incense and the Bentley sedans.

I am surrounded, with no way out, short of bulldozing through the throng. A cute young Krishna girl meekly approaches and ask for a contribution, a “love offering” she calls it. Their circle grows tighter; they are uncomfortably close. I can smell the Petiole oil and incense they use instead of soap and water. Short of violence, escape is futile, so I pull a five from my wallet and contribute to whatever they believe in. The circle breaks, and they dance away. No blessing, just take the money and run.

During the war, Love Field, at any time of day, or night is full of service men coming from, or going to Vietnam. Many of the returning boys are less than 24 hours out of battle and more than rattled and raw from being thrust back into real-life with no decompression. The Krishna’s, at this time, are mostly made up of wayward, converted, confused former hippies, and many of them, still possess their anti-war feelings. I can assume that Hare Krishna doesn’t teach their converts sensible logic in dangerous situations.

Two Army Rangers walking through the terminal, duffle bags on their shoulders, are immediately surrounded by the band of frenetic minstrels. Something is said, or implied, and within an instant, olive green arms and “fist of fury” fly like a Texas dust devil, and five male Krishna’s are laying on the marble floor, knocked out cold. Security saunters over, observes the damage and congratulates the two soldiers for a job well done. The young Krishna girl stands quietly for a minute, observing the scene. She drops her tambourine, removes her beads, head scarf and robe and walks away with the two Rangers. Sometimes a good dose of reality hits you like a fist in the gut. True story.



Technozombies

Technozombies. It’s not a real word, but it should be.

Standing in a rather long, and slow line at a sandwich shop during the lunch hour, my wife and I were treated to the bizarre, and ridiculous behavior of three millennial women. I hate that term “millennial”, but I guess its better than calling them dumb as shit little twits.

Each girl had a cellphone in their hand, tapping away. The man in front of them placing his order, tapping away on his phone. The guy taking his order had his phone in hand, tapping and waiting on his customer. The people behind us were tapping on their phones. Looking down the line toward the checkout, everyone was looking and tapping on their cell phone. This could have been a good “Twilight Zone” episode if Rod Serling were still around.

I focused on these three, and realized they were texting and sending messages and attachments to each other. No talking, just communication over the airwaves, mind melding like Spock. One girl did giggle, asking her friend ” did he really say that to you?” her friend giggled back. It’s odd how young women communicate with each other. Giggles, tongue clicks, half spoken words, broken sentences, rolling of the eyes, flicking of the hair. Its a secret language.

I watched them eat their lunch. All three, eating and tapping away on that damn device. No one looked up or spoke, except to take a bite of sandwich. Then head down, continuing to tap-tap. Complete social breakdown. I wonder, can they write in cursive? or do they print like most young people. Cursive is “our language”. Old timers know the value of the free-flowing wrist and a beautiful writing instrument transposing our thoughts onto paper. These young ones just tap-tap-tap.

I shouldn’t be so hard on this twenty-something generation. After all, I am writing this on a laptop.

No Rain…No Rain…

Read this morning that Woodstock will be back for an oncor. Fifty years its been since a half million young people sat in a pasture, listening to rock music, believing they actually changed the world. It was revisited in the 90s, and was a miserable mess, even without the rain and mud. Some things should be remembered for what they were, and leave it at that. But, possibly, this 50 year reboot could be a winner.

Imagine if some of the original musicians returned, and they well might if asked. That would be worth the cost of a ticket to see Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young wheeze through a set. Melanie could ride her personal scooter onstage and croak through a few tunes. Country Joe and the Fish could do the Vietnam song again, and Joni Mitchell might even make the gig this time. John Fogarty will be born on the bayou again. Of course Hendrix, Janice Joplin and the mighty Joe Cocker have checked out, so Santana will have to fill that void. John Sebastian and Arlo Guthrie could do their hippy single guitar thing and say “wow” a few hundred times. Wavy Gravy and the Hog Farm could run the concessions.

Pretty sure the rest of the line up will be current stars. Rappers, dancers, acrobats and singers flying through the air or taking the stage via a zip line suspended from a cell phone tower a mile away. Its not about talent these days. Its all, “look at me” and auto-tune. Katy Perry can fly in on a Game of Thrones dragon while lip singing any-one of her forgettable songs. Courtney Hadwin, the fiery young reincarnation of Janice Joplin will probably steal the show. Greta Van Fleet will wow the crowd with their spot-on imitation of Zeppelin. Wonder how that will turn out since Robert Plant will be performing?

I attended the Texas International Pop Festival in 1969 and saw most of the acts that were at Woodstock a few weeks before, so I can say, ” been there and seen all that.” It will be fitting for the old-timers to show the young fans how it was really done. ” No rain-No rain.”


Luann’s Platter

Maureen and I visited Luby’s Cafeteria last week for lunch. When we walked in, the smells of food brought back memories from my childhood. Back in the 1950s in Fort Worth, there was Wyatt’s and Luby’s. It was always a hard choice for the family. Luby’s had the best deserts, while Wyatt’s always served larger portions. My Dad usually chose Wyatt’s. More bang for the buck. It was the Eisenhower years and things were tight. That’s back when he was still a Democrat. I was just a hungry kid.

We took our place in line, trays aligned on the metal rail. I scanned the extra large menu board for my favorite dish, but couldn’t find it. I panicked. The platter I came for, and have always ordered for decades is “The Luann Platter,” and they damn well better have it. My blood sugar was low and I could feel a rant coming on. Maureen rubbed a drop of “Peace of Mind” lotion under my nose to calm me. Then, in the lower corner of the board, I spotted it. ” The Luann Platter, half portions with a roll – $8.99.” What the hell! It used to be $4.99 with a roll, a drink, and pie? Retired folk cant afford those prices.

I approached the smiling lady server and using my best old man controlled voice said, ” I’m not paying $8.99 for a half portion that was $4.99 with a piece of pie the last time I ate at Luby’s” and slammed my fist on my tray for effect.

Still smiling, she replied, ” Well sir, then you can choose the children’s plate if you are over 65 and or acting like a child, as of which you appear to be. You have a choice of chicken strips, a hot dog or spaghetti with a 2% milk and a fruit cup. That will set you back $4.99 plus tax. And by the way, The Luann Platter has been $8.99 since 2001.”

Oh, she was really messing with me now. Her smile had turned to a slight sneer and her eyes got beady. I leaned over the glass barrier. ” Do you know who Luann Platter is, young lady?” I demanded. ” No sir, was she a famous cook or employee of the month or something?” she said. Good Lord, this girl is clueless.

By this point, two other line servers had flanked the young miss in case I went postal. I faced them and with conviction said,” Luann Platter is the most famous character on the television show, ” King of the Hill.” An animated series that is set in Garland Texas and this dish that you serve is named for her. Don’t you know who Hank, Bobby, and Peggy Hill are?” The three servers had the look of social ignorance on their young faces. It was useless to explain. I collected my platter and we proceeded to the checkout.

We sat in our booth, eating our lunch in silence. The food wasn’t as good as it used to be. The good old days are gone for good. My turnip greens turned out to be Kale; the most evil weed ever cooked. Maureen’s chicken was rubber faux chicken and my corn muffin was doughy and awful. We can scratch this one off of our list.

Leaving the cafeteria, a fortyish blond women in a Luby’s uniform held the door open for us. In a girlish voice she said, ” Ya’ll come back now.” I noticed her name tag read “Luann.”

The Boys in Blue

I have always advocated purchasing things from children. Lemonade, cards, homemade candy and even cookies. It helps them understand capitalism, and having a little jingle in a kids pocket makes them feel good.

Last evening as I sat eating my second box of Girl Scout cookies, it dawned on me that there is a form of discrimination being practiced in the scouting world. The Girl Scouts, Brownies, Campfire Girls and Bluebirds get to sell merchandise for profit. Where does that leave the Cub Scouts? Penniless is where. The little boys in blue are as poor as blind mice living behind the Goodwill store. I hatched a plan. I called an old friend of mine, Marvin, a former scout like myself and ran my sure fire money maker by him.

For the time being, the Cub Scouts are boys. There may be those few that are confused about their assigned gender, but they can work that out later. Most of the scout leaders are men and fathers. Men like manly things, so by deduction the Cubs follow their lead. Selling cookies is not manly. Selling things that men like is.

Following the winning method the Girls have established, the Cubs can set up their display outside of Walmart or any retail establishment that will oblige them. On their tables will be an array of things men like such as; craft bourbon with names like Wolfs Breath, Hair of the Bear, and Webelo’s Firecracker. Beautiful cedar boxes of cigars with the scout emblem burned into the top, (every Dad loves a good stogie and a stiff bourbon after a scout meeting.) On another table, Daisy Red Ryder BB guns and kid size camping hatchets next to an array of extremely sharp knives and Cherry Bombs.

Marvin loved my idea. We meet with the Boy Scouts of America next week. Things are looking up.

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