Red Svenson

Now, a traveling man gets to know all sorts. I remember a red faced Finn name of Olaf Svenson, Red for short. Red was a Finn, so I reckon that wasn’t his born name but he had a scandinavian accent and it was rude and uncouth to pry.

Red worked for Molly Jackson, who bailed him out of the hoosegow until she got tired of it and gave him a job. Where she could keep an eye on him. Most folks though Red was dotty, but Molly used to shoot flying washers out of the air, so she didn’t worry much about Red.

And after Molly gave up on him, Red got himself a job as town marshal. One day the local jeweler, Slick Turner, asked Red if he ever used that big pistol he toted.

“Yah,” sez Red, “Sometimes in self defense and sometimes not.”

“Can you hit anything with it?” asks Slick.

“Oh yah,” sez Red, “I generally hit what I shoot at.”

Slick had one of those big wood advertising watches, about two feet across, hanging over the sidewalk. “Can you hit that watch?” Slick asked Red, pointing at it.
“Yah, but not every time,” sez Red.

Obviously, Molly was a better shot than Red. Which was maybe why he was looking for work when he found a marshal’s job.

But thinking about Red ‘minds me there were a bunch of Italians living across the railroad tracks, and Red and the I-tees didn’t like each other, none.

And said so long and loud. But one day Red and Red Bodie came out of the cafe and there’s an Italian organ grinder cranking his way the street, with his little monkey waving a tin cup at anyone within range.

Red reaches in his pocket and drops a fifty cent piece in the tin cup. Red Bodie looks at him and says “I thought you didn’t like Italians.”

“I don’t,” sez Red Svenson, “But they’re just so cute when they’re little.”

Of course, the Italians said some things about Red, so the slanging matches were pretty much a draw. One story they told was that Red was a railroad bum who had rode into town on the truss rods under a railroad car. “Riding the rods,” they
called it.

Red and another hobo dropped off the train when it stopped and found themselves on the mainline between two trains on sidetracks. And there was a fast passenger train coming.

So natural, Red and the other bum started running as hard as they could down the mainline. They clear the sidetracks and the hobo yells “Quick, jump the fence into this plowed field.”

“If we can’t outrun it on these tracks we won’t neveroutrun it in a plowed field,” sez Red, still running.

I was talking to an ninety year old gent from the Big Thicket and asked what ever happened to Red Swenson. Took him a minute to remember who I was talking about but he did remember him.

“Oh, Red died during Ike’s second term. Red and his wife were getting up in years so they agreed to give each other ombstones for their birthday. Olga’s birthday came first, and when the truck arrived to set up the headstone she was really
anxious to see what Red had engraved on it. When they got the tarp off Olga was a little set back to see Red had “Here lies Olga Svenson, wife of Olaf Svenson, still frigid” on her headstone but she didn’t say a word.

A couple of months later Red’s tombstone arrived, and Red and Olga went down to the graveyard to watch it being set up. When they got her set they took the tarp off and the inscription said “Olaf “Red” Svenson, stiff at last.”

Which reminds me of the old maid school teacher they had at Sentinal. Miss Johnson bought a burial plot and a tombstone, and had “Margaret Johnson, spinster, who did not miss nearly as much as people thought I did” inscribed on the stone. Sort’a made folks wonder about her. But it was rude to pry.

Now, Bill reminded me Olga was one of Molly’s barmaids, and she could put a three inch head on two inches of beer. But she couldn’t cook for shucks.

One story went around that a dietician lectured at the school auditorium and of course the town marshal had to be there.

The woman started out with “The stuff we put in our stomachs is enough to have killed us many times over. Red meat is awful. Vegetables can be disastrous, fruits are loaded with toxins, many berries are deathly poisonous, and none of us appreciates the danger from germs in our drinking water. But there is one
thing that is the most dangerous of all, yet all of us eat it.”

“Can anyone here tell me what this lethal product is?”

After a short silence she points at Red and says “You sir, do you have any idea what I’m talking about?”

Red hangs his head and says “My wife Olga’s cooking.”

Yessir, that red headed Finn was a character.


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A Bit From “Stormy Weather”

I saw this in a first run movie house when the movie first came out. Those moves impressed me then, and they still do. Enjoy:


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Light posting tonite: I have a house full of company

Looking back to see where I am going, I got to thinkking about Bill Klinke. Which reminds me of a story he used to tell, all about a young couple from Chandler.

The couple were very much in love, but the girls papa wouldn’t even let the boy inside the gate, much less inside a church with HIS girl; not none! After a couple of years of slippin’ kisses on the sly they decided to elope to Neosho and get hitched. Neosho is in Missouri, east of Southwest City.

They got about as far as Big Cabin when they got run over by a truck. Killed both of them, graveyard dead. They had been good kids so there wasn’t any trouble about getting into Heaven, but when they asked Saint Peter about the possibility of getting hitched the old fisherman put them off!

Pete gave them a half apiece of a nice duplex over in the Second Upper Eastern Annex and told them they had all eternity so hold hands and wait a hundred years and see what happened.

One hundred years later, on the hour, on the minute, the couple were hand in hand and much in love, and asking the Ancient Angler about getting spliced. He put them off again, saying “Eternity is a long time, so to come back in another hundred years.”

A second hundred years went by, and the couple again applied to the heavenly gatekeeper, and again they went away disappointed.

Well, another hundred years went by. The boy showed up at the gatekeepers cloud one morning, said he didn’t want his girl to go away crying again, and asked again about the possibility of heavenly matrimony! By golly, St. Peter said that they had waited long enough so they could get married any time they were ready. They didn’t need a license or anything, just come on by!

“Well,” says the boy, “Since I’ve been here I’ve noticed there are an awful lot of nice, good looking single women around here. A lot of them are really friendly, too. If we get married and it don’t work out, what’s the possibility of getting a divorce?”

“Listen,” says St. Peter. “It took two hundred ninety nine years to get a preacher up here. I don’t know how long you’d have to wait to get a lawyer up here to take care of divorce papers.”

Oh, say, have you seen those newfangled five piece chicken dinners? Nice box and all, about the size of a pot pie box, with the chicken dinner all sealed in a plastic bag? Five kernels of corn in a plastic bag! That’s a five piece dinner for a chicken, all right.

Reminds me of Fleet Hathorn, used to run Hathorn’s Books here before he sold out, had a white bat in a box. ‘Ol Fleet would let anybody look at his white bat that wanted to, too. Plumb free with peeks at his white bat, he was. It was a brick bat painted white in that box. Fleet sure took folks in with that!

‘At’s as bad as the old boy who told me that when he was a kid, back in nineteen ought somthing, his Mama made him put on a clean pair of socks every morning. Now, just think about how mean his mama was to him. Shoot, it’s no wonder that by Friday he couldn’t get his shoes on.

I don’t know why that one made me think of an old guy I ran across up at Thayer, Missouri. This old boy was from WAAAY back in the woods. He’d come to town every six months, ride in with a span of mules hitched to his wagon, to get provisions. He had a whole passel of grandkids, and some of them lived right there in Thayer. Natural, when Grandpop came to town he got kivvered in kids!

Now – some of his city slicker grandkids were pestering him to eat a banana. They pestered, and they pestered, and they pestered. Finally the old man blew his stack. “You pesterin’ children go on and leave me alone. I already got more wants than I got means!”

I wish we had some politicians who were that way about spending beyond their means.


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A Florentine March

Both entertainment and music is where you find it – and this version of the Florentine March is both:


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A Climate Report and A Reminisce In One Post

Looking at Weather Underground’s tropical sea surface temperatures, I see the Western Pacific is spawning ‘typhoons.’ Super typhoons, in fact. At the same time, the Pacific is cooler than it has been in recent years off the Kali coast.

Since Kali gets its rain from Pacific evaporation, and cool surface temperatures mean less evaporation, that means California should be mighty dry.

And in fact I see Kali is reported to be in “an extreme drought condition.” I have been in a few droughts in my time. Which is as it should be, given a cool Pacific.

Now, speaking of dry summers on the prairie, I remember the summer of ’49, when the Tulsa city council outlawed kickers, outboard motors, on the Arkansas River because they kicked up too much dust. They had to.

All their wives were mad at them because between dust storms and steam trains, it was hard enough getting the wash hung out and dried, without some guy with a kicker on his boat raising a big cloud of dust.

The Rock Island and Santa Fe steam trains mostly burned soft coal, the dirtiest burning coal you could get. If the barometer was high could see their smoke plume twenty miles away across the prairie.

I have known women to hand wash the same batch of shirts three times before they could get them dry – and others that would dry a husbands Sunday best shirt inside a folded sheet – but most wives wouldn’t go to the trouble. It’s hard to get coal smoke and clinkers out of a starched white shirt – and two or three washings in one day was too much hard work for a dime.

I knew a woman once who divorced a good man because he wouldn’t move away from the railroad tracks, and she wouldn’t wear sooty underwear. Mostly though, if it didn’t show anything went. The bankers BVD’s were apt to be as grey as the grease monkeys down at the roundhouse.

Now, the Katy Flyer’s were another matter. Those fast steppin’ rattlers ran wide open, and when the hard coal ran out the Katy converted the ten wheelers to cheap and clean burning oil. The “smoke” from the smoke stack was mostly steam from the feedwater heater, with just a tad of soot from the boiler when the Flyer slowed for a town. The ladies didn’t mind the Flyers, cause they didn’t ruin washday. Besides, they went by too fast to leave much soot.

Anyhow, Tulsa didn’t get rain but they sure had fogs. The fog used to come up off the bottomless quicksand beds in the Arkansas River bed and mix with the dust in the air, and you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. Just like being in a bottle of red or brown or grey ink, depending on where the dust came from.

I mind when Bill Klinke invited all his friends to a big fish fry. He was walking to early mass and got lost in the fog. He’s groping along toward the sound of the church bells, hoping he would feel the iron spikes of the fence around the church yard, when something solid hit him in the belly. Bill grabbed his belly real quick, and darned if he didn’t come up with a twelve pound mud cat. Dressed weight! Bill reaches in his pocket and gets his stringer out.

He puts the fish on the string, and starts off looking for the church again. He’s groping along and something hits him in the jaw, and Bill comes up with an eight pound mud cat. Which he puts on his string.

Bill says he got several more hits, but all the rest got away. Bill being a practicing Catholic, he don’t think it was right to go to mass with a mess of fish. Somehow, he didn’t think the Father would like that. Bill thought Padre Joe would have him turning somersaults and singing Hail Mary’s for penance.

Acually, I happen to know Padre Joe was a closet live bait man. He paid me to dig worms! The only time I remember any stories about somersaults and Hail Mary’s going around was the time old blind Father Paul mistook a fruit jar of hot pepper oil for sacramental wine. It was a natural mistake, Oklahoma being a dry state you had to take it bottled any way could get it. A couple of the ladies took theirs in one gulp. Talk about religious energization! Wow!

Anyhoo, Bill finds a place to wait the fog out and goes home. His wife cleans the fish and announces that they don’t have any room in the freezer compartment of the fridge, so Bill throws a big fish fry. Which was typical Klinke, if you know what I mean.

Nobody asked Bill Klinke what he was doing with a fish stringer in his go-to-meeting suit. He probably had one of those Bristol collapsing rods hung down his back and a Pfleuger level wind reel in his hat, too. With a couple of Hula Poppers and a Pikie Minnow in his coat pocket, and a packet of leaders in his sock tops. Just in case of opportunity knocking, you know.

My dad asked Bill’s wife Augusta what Bill did in the winter when he couldn’t get out to fish. “Aw, Bill, he’s so crazy about fishing, he just fills two cream cans and a dish pan with water, puts on his waders, stands in the cream cans and fishes in the dish pan.” You might agree with Augusta that Bill needed to see a head doctor, but Augusta couldn’t take him because she was too busy cleaning fish.

I guess fishing came natural to Bill Klinke. He was what you call a long drink of water, not an excess ounce of flesh on him no where. He had a big old adams apple bouncing up and down in his neck, always reminded me of a fish worm that swallowed a baseball. They say opposites attract, and I guess it’s so.

Bill’s wife was a little plump gal, ran to hips considerable, just as neat as a pin. Knitting was her bag, and she had an award for knitting so many pairs of socks for the war effort.

Miz Augusta always reminded me of the story of the welfare woman back in the hills, who ran across an elderly lady sitting, and rocking, and knitting. About every ten or fifteen minutes the lady would tie off, cut her thread, ravel some more thread out of an old woolen army blanket, and start another sock. She was what you flat footed call a fast knitter!

The welfare woman watched her for a pretty good while, admiring the rapidly growing pile of khaki socks. She remarked how expert the lady was at knitting.

“Yes, she is,” said the lady’s daughter. “She takes her needles and thread to bed with her, too, and every once’t in a while she th’ows out a sweater.”

Yep, Miz Augusta could sure skin catfish and fillet any kind of fish. Catfish, pike, bass, even carp. She could scale a fish in nothing flat and have it in water ready to freeze in less than that. She had to! Mister Bill could catch a mess of fish out of a hole I couldn’t catch a cold out of. Nor yet a tadpole, for that matter.


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A Little Road Music

A classic American tune from a first class player of pianos:

For Friday nite follies. Besides, it reminds me of standing in front of the harness shop in Navasota, Texas, talking about this and that when a jackleg preacher, one of the kind that turns his collar around and becomes a “man of the cloth,” walked out in front of a hot rod.

The driver was still wearing his ETO khakis and probably was not paying a lot of attention to Baker, and the bumper caught Baker’s pant leg and dumped him in the street.

So Baker stands up, takes three or four running steps in the direction the ‘rod went, stops, shakes his fist and screams “Sorry sumbeech, you ani’t got no respect at all for a man of the cloth.”

Except Baker didn’t say sorry subeech. What he actually said melted the tar on the street. Baker went all the way back to Adam, and did some plain and fancy cussin!


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Looking At A Story Out Of New York,

I was reminded by of an old boy who was telling me how hard he had it, going to school in the nineteen oughts.

His mama made him put a clean pair of socks on every morning before he went to school. Every morning that rolled, she made him put on clean socks.

And by Friday he had so many socks on he could not put his shoes on.


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Histry Does Not Repeat Itself, But the Verses Rhyme

On the morning of Friday, 7 May 1915 the United States was at peace, and a “progressive” president promised to keep America out of “the Kaiser’s War” in Europe.

At 2:10 PM, the German submarine U-20 observed the passenger liner RMS Lusitania passing directly in front of him. Captain Schweiger ordered a single torpedoes to be fired, which caught the great ship in the boilers.

Within seconds, the boilers exploded, and the doomed ship began to sink. The death of 1,195 people shocked the world. Within hours, the Unite States was preparing for war. Preparations that tolled the death knell for Imperial Germany.

Yesterday, July 17, 2014 a guided missile battery, reported commanded by an officer of the Soviet Union’s army, shot a Malaysian airliner out of the sky. The brutal murder of 298 people from most of the countries of the world has put much of the world in a state of shock.

It is too early to predict what will happen next. While there was a time that it certainly would, leaders had pride in their country and themselves. Will this verse of history revisit 1915? Only time will tell.


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A Clean Shaggy Dog Story

Looking at today’s “news,” with Fauxahontas Warren, Nan Pelosi, and Hillary all making “profound statements” that start nowhere, go nowhere, and say nothing reminds me of a girl used to live across the corner from us at the old house.

Debbie was a natural tow head. High tempered town n gal, didn’t know nothing ’bout critters. But she did know she was tired of winding up the butt of all those blonde jokes.

So she gets a scholarship to a Texas medical school, dyes her hair smut black, and leaves a “gone to Texas” note for her granny. Debbie figures everybody will give her more credit for smarts with black hair, you see.

Everything chugs along like it’s supposed to for a few weeks, when she sees a tall, good looking rancher’s son unloading a bunch of sheep the school had bought for one of their programs. Debbie stops to gawk and starts talking to the rancher’s good looking son.

“I’m a medical student,” sez Debbie.

“That’s a hard subject,” sez the ranchers son.

“I’m really smart, you know,” says Debbie.

“I’m sure you are,” sez the son.

“Are they paying for these sheep by the pound?”

“Yep, they bought 3,000 dollars worth and ninety cents a pound and we have to weigh them out.”

“Let me prove how smart I am. I’ll bet you a hundred bucks I can calculate in my head how many sheep it will take to make 3,000 dollars worth.”

“I don’t have any money,” sez the son, “But if you are right I will bet one of these sheep against your hundred.”

“Ok,” sez Debbie, “It will take thirty seven sheep.”

So they weigh the sheep and sure enough it took exactly thirty seven sheep.

“Well, I lost that one,” says the ranchers son. “Go get your sheep.” So Debbie went around and around the remaining sheep and finally picked our a fluffy black and white one.

“Hey,” hollered the son after her as she carried the sheep to her car, “We ranchers are pretty smart too.”

“I’m sure you are,” sez Debbie smugly.

“Let me prove it,” sez the ranchers son, running up to her. “If I can calculate what color your hair was before you dyed it will you give me my dog back?”


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It is like stepping outside into October

About 40 miles further south and we would be swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. But the cool weather that has enveloped much of the United States, breaking records going back to the 1880′s, has definitely made it to the Gulf Coast.

Normal highs are anywhere from 92 to 98, with 95 or 96 being more common. Today, the thermometer struggled to get up to 83. It feels like late September or early October.

Fortunately, it will not last. If it did, America would be in a world of hurt, because it would slow crop maturity. And the very last thing we need is a late harvest when we are likely looking at early frosts.

What we really need is to throw the climate fakers and their captive bureaucrats out, and stop turning food and clean water into alcohol they won’t even let us drink. The result is a drinking water shortage, and sky high food prices.


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