Potpourri, and discontinuity.

One of my summer guests came with a cold, and I wish she had left it behind. As miserable as she was, I think she felt the same way.
But if this post is like the dictionary, changes subjects too often, you will know the reason why.

OK, I see Baltimore is mulling over a curfew. ‘Minds me of the teen ager, about fifteen, called her mama at four AyeEmm. Mama was walking the floor, owl eyed, full of coffee, and she was a tad short with the gal.

“Don’t get upset, Mom. I’m perfectly safe. I’m in jail.”

“Oh,” says Mom, followed by a short silence. “Enjoy yourself, Dear,” sez Mama, and hangs up.

I notice that all the teens the press asked about the curfew were against it – but none of them went to the Council meeting to oppose it. “Silence grants consent,” as the Italians say.

Speaking of teenagers, one of my friends in the teachin’ profession told me that one of his students was late. He came in spang in the middle of class.

“Coach,” the boy says, “I had to make my own breakfast this morning, so that’s why I’m late.”

“I don’t believe it, and we’ll talk about it later,” says the teacher. “Right now I want to know where the Mexican Border is.”

“That’s the problem, Coach,” the boy says. “I sure wish I knew! My maw ran off with him last night and that’s why I had to make my own breakfast.”

Well, the Fourth is past, and all the amateur chefs can go back into hiding. You know, Adam was bound to have been the unhappiest husband who ever lived. He couldn’t throw up what a wonderful cook his mother was to Eve.

‘Course, Eve couldn’t throw up what a wonderful man her first husband was to Adam, either. That did help even things out.

And you know why Solomon was the wisest man in the world. Solomon was the wisest man in the world because he had so many wives giving him advice!

Anyhoo, about half the politicans are gearing up to run for president. Even though the elections are two years off. Me, I sort of agree with the Old Buzzard who was asked about his politics.

The OB said, “I only vote for a man who runs for election. When a man runs for re-election, it means he hasn’t been able to lay his hands on it the first time.”

I remember when I was drinking a Coke in the Jackpot and one of the reporters came in and braced her editor. “I have a perfect news story! You’re going to love it!”

“What is this wonderful story, a man bit a dog?”

“Oh, no! This is a lot better than that. A bull threw a Congressman.”

Yep, we turn a goodly portion of the bull throwers out every election, but we haven’t treated them like they do losers down in Mexico. I used to play with a Mexican boy name of Miguel Huerta. Mike’s uncle was into politics, below the border. Mike was really sad about the deal his uncle got.

“Mi tio, my uncle, he run for alcalde, mayor, de Cuidad Victoria, and he was elected. He run for Juge de Estado, State Judge, and he made it. He run for Gobornador de Tamaulipas, and he made it. He run for El Presidente de Mejico, and he don’t make it. So he make a run for the border. He don’t make that neither.”

No sir, we turned a goodly portion of the rascals out, but we haven’t shot any losers yet. Durn it, I sometimes think we ought to at least hang them!!

A lot of politicians are as shallow as their Shakespearean campaign speeches. You have heard them, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.

They all use the same “reform” speech, “I want housing reform… welfare reform… educational reform… I want agricultural subsidy reform… I want…”

And most of the audience would like to give them chloroform! Giving these vote buyers a Manila necktie and a short drop would be poetic justice.

You know why smart Congresspersons have an aide follow them around with three sharp pencils and a legal pad. That’s so they can remember to forget all the promises they made once they are safely elected.

I been hearing folks up and down the line say that neither the President nor her husband have gotten the message. Well, I ‘spect those folks that say if the prez and her consort don’t get the wax out of their ears the voters will hand out another spanking come November 2016 are perfectly correct.

I was talking to a frisky Young Lady of 83 years, up in Minnesota – and she told me why Hilary didn’t run for President herself. It’s the requirements of the job! A President must be 40 and a good leader – and everybody knows men quit following women when they turn forty!

Reading the news mags, the losers still don’t get it. It’s simple – the politicians didn’t agree with the voters. The voters felt the pols have a sort of bridge character – their honor is weak and they are simple. The reasons for all the defeats weren’t hard to figure out. Like the little boy said…

“My uncle’s a politician.”

“What’s your uncle running for?”

“They looked up his record and he’s running for a plane!”

Now, I’m a liberal, at least I was a liberal until the money men became the predominate influence in liberalism. I guess we must have come full circle, because nowadays “conservatives” talk like Jefferson/Roosevelt liberals, while the “liberals” sound like a cross between Marie Antoinette and Karl Marx.

Listen carefully and you will hear the Nuliberal slogan, “Take everything from those that have anything and give the cake to the poor. Put my address on the rest, but don’t tell anyone.”

In a way, politicians remind me of an old story about the two morons in an school for the mentally shortchanged. This particular school had a lake in front of it. One of the goofs couldn’t swim a lick, t’ other could swim like a fish. The one that couldn’t swim tried to swim across the lake. Naturally, he got just over head deep and sunk, plumb out of sight.

The guy who could swim jumped in, found the other fellow, pulled him back to shore, and hauled him up on the dry. Then he singlehandedly carried him into the school and put him in his dorm room.

The psychiatrist running the place questioned the shortwit, who told him why he rescued the non-swimmer: “The guy is nuts trying to swim across that lake, when he can’t swim a stroke. I can swim and I saved him. He’s a brother human being, that’s why.”

The doc says, “You are a hero and obviously you don’t belong in this school for the mentally handicapped. I’d like to talk more about it to you, tomorrow.”

The swimmer was summoned back to the psychiatrist’s office the next day, and questioned about the rescue. He told the same story, almost word for word.

“Well, I have some sad news,” the doc said. “Your heroism was all in vain. Do you know, after your brought him back in out of the water, he hanged himself?”

“Yeah, Doc, I did it. I hung him up so he could dry!”

Yep, our pol’s do as much bad as they do good. They don’t pay attention to the probable results of the laws they pass. When something causes more trouble than it cures, their remedy is more of the same. Even when they do something right they use a sledgehammer to drive tacks. As Will Rogers said, “Congress is the funniest thing in the world. Every time they make a joke, it’s a law.”

Of course, politicians do have a problem. Sometimes people remind me of the fellow that came to a screeching halt behind Mullendore the banker, while Ten Eyck and Shorty Breck were trying to teach Mullendore to play Sheepshead. The Germans call that game Schatskopf, and you don’t learn it overnight.

This pest kibitzer kept telling Mullendore to play this card or that card. “Play the seven instead of the nine.” The advice worked! Next hand it was “Not the King, play the Jack.” Again the advice worked!

The next hand put Mullendore completely at sea. He couldn’t make head nor tail of his hand. So he turns to the pest and
says “Should I play the deuce or the ten?”

“I’m glad you asked me that. I been meaning to ask you something, too. What game are you playing?”

Much of the time, the people don’t know what game the politicians are playing. We let too many politicians get by with talking right and voting wrong. And, like they say, power is habit forming. So is spending money.

Congress has left this country as broke as a pickpocket in a Nudist camp.

Not that you could get a pol to admit that! Sometimes Congress reminds me of that old story about the guy whose sight and hearing were failing him.

Doc looks him over and asks if he drinks. “Not much, just a fifth every day or two,” says the patient.

“Well,” the croaker gasps. “That’s why your eyesight and hearing are failing you. You have to give up alcohol in any form whatsoever.”

A month later the sawbones was at a party and here’s his going blind and deaf patient – stewed to the gills! The croaker came down on the lush like a ton of bricks.

“Didn’t I tell you to give up drinking? Don’t you know that you will become totally blind and utterly deaf if you don’t give up drinking. Why in the world would you give up your eyesight and your hearing just to get drunk?”

“Doc, itsh lige thish,” slurs the drunk. “Whad I been drinkin’ is sho mush bedder dan wat I been sheein’ an ‘earin’ a’ I deshided to shtay drunk.”

Yep, a lot of Congresspersons are so drunk on the power of the office they forget to pay sober attention to the good folks who granted them that power.

I heard that a couple of soon-to-be-unemployed Senators came to Washington in ’70. Their wives had become good friends but every time these two met they quarrelled. Finally, these two lame ducks met in Chicago, in O’Hare airport. Naturally, a row started – and their wives intervened!

“Boys,” the wives said, “this has to stop. You are both in the same party, you are in the same boat, you will both be out of office in January, and you will both be looking for a job. Let’s go to the bar, have a drink, and make peace.”

So they went to the bar, and everybody got a drink. The wives turned to their husbands and said “Now, make a toast to each other.”

One of the lame ducks raised his glass and said, “Here’s wishing for you what you’re wishing for me.”

“Oh, oh, oh, now you’re starting all over again,” yelled the other.

I used to know a long tall drink of water, name of Willie. Willie and I used to put on boxing gloves and have at it. Willie became headwaiter in a fancy Tulsa cafe. Willie told me that they had a big banquet one night for a presidential candidate. Boy, was this loser putting on the dog!

“Waiter,” he says to Willie, “Make sure the caviar is imported, because I can’t tell the difference.”

A lot of pol’s were kicked out because they couldn’t tell the difference. They knew where the power and the money was, though.

Willie got to be headwaiter because he tickled his boss. A Congressman from Tulsa came in at the height of a big rush. All Willie’s tables were full, so the pol was seated at another waiters table. After Willie toted three, four orders past him, the Congressman hollered, “Do you know who I am?” at Willie.

“No, Sir, but I’ll ask around and if I find out I’ll come back and tell you,” says Willie, straight face. Tickled his boss, plumb, but it didn’t strike the little pistol with the big bang as being funny, for some reason.

Yep, a lot of folks voted Republican. Looks like some of them thought their dog would leave home if they voted for a Democrat.

You know, a lot of the defeated politicians are in the same boat as Wyatt Cochran was. Wyatt worked in Joe Nichols’ sawmill for 25 years. Joe got tired of seeing Wyatt out behind the stacks taking a smoke, or Wyatt on top of the stacks taking a nap, or Wyatt out in the parking lot working on his car, and Joe was really tired of keeping his legs crossed at the backhouse waiting for Wyatt to come out, so Joe fired him!

Wyatt took it pretty calmly, at that.

“Mr. Nichols” he says, “I been here twenty six years next month, and if you are going to fire me at least give me a good letter of recommendation.”

“I guess I do owe you that much, Cochran,” says Nichols.

“Charlotte, write Wyatt a letter of recommendation. Put it: `To Whom it May Concern: Wyatt Cochran worked for me for 25 years. When he left I was perfectly satisfied.’

You can bet the voters will be perfectly satisfied when the losers leave office. They just aren’t leaving until January! They are draggin’ their feet!!

Hadn’t thought of Sawmill Joe in years. Joe was a widower. His first wife was struck by lightning in ’29, and his second wife died just after Pearl Harbor. Everybody had Joe pegged for Salisaw’s perpetual most eligible bachelor.
It surprised everyone when he started dating a girl name of Eunice from Fort Smith. Jack Sharpe said he was sitting in the Rexall in Muldrow and Joe and the Fort Smith gal were in a booth, behind him, where he could hear every word.

“I seem to be very popular with the men, Joe. Tell me, is it my eyes or my figure?”

“No, neither one of those, Eunice.” says Joe.

“Is it my hair, or my complexion?

“Neither of those either, Eunice.”

“Then it’s my personality?”

“No, it’s not your personality either.”

“Well, I give up!” says Eunice.

“That’s the reason!” Joe says.

Like they say, “A dame is as strong as her weakest nk.” Joe dated Eunice for about a month. Before anybody knew Joe and Eunice weren’t a regular thing, Joe put the word out the mill would be closed for a week. “Soft market, lack of demand” he said. “Going to buy some machinery,” he said.

Then Joe and his secretary, Charlotte Curtis, went on a buying trip to Memphis. When they came back she was Charlotte Nichols. “Nothing like a little competition to make a woman decide,” he said. I always figured the thought of having to find a new secretary was even more decisive!

Anyhow, Joe was a sentimental bloke, when it didn’t get in the way of business. When Joe married his second wife he brought her home and told her: “You can change this house anyway you please. Throw everything out, paint it, and take the truck to Tulsa or the Fort and buy all new, if you want to. But my first wife’s hat is on the closet shelf. Whatever you do, please don’t disturb it.”

When he brought Charlotte home he made the same speech. “Do anything to the house you want to do, but my first two wives favorite hats are on the closet shelf. Whatever you do to the house, please don’t disturb them.”

“I won’t touch them, Joe, but I will tell you one thing. The next hat that goes up there will be a John B. Stetson with Joe Nichols written in the band.”

Stramger

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The Vultures Are Coming To The Carcasses

In an item on Dollar Tree buying out Family Dollar stores, Business Insider’s Ashley Lutz suggests ‘American families are not deploying enough money.’

In truth, American families have little money to “deploy.” Grocery prices are up sharply, utility costs the same. Disposable funds for entertainment and recreation have dwindled by two thirds or more. And jobs?

Percentage wise, fewer Americans are working than at any time since 1938. In terms of what a typical paycheck will buy, we are at the lowest point since 1933. One American family in five has no employed family member. Millions of families have one employed family member, usually a wife, and all too often the employed family member can only work part-time.

The brutal truth is simple enough. The American economy is running on fumes – and printed money, doled out as “benefits.”

Mathematically, this cannot continue. Whether the break comes tomorrow or a year from tomorrow, it is as inevitable as sunrise.

And falling retail sales are merely tell-tale cracks in the facade.

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Collier Talbot’s Very Public Romance

I see by the news that one of the internet dating sites deliberately mismatched love seekers to “see what would happen.” Which reminds me of Collie Talbot, and his very public romance.

Everything has a start, and Collie’s romance started with the weekend ‘Ol Hardman and Collie Talbot went down to that new place on the Red River, Lake Texoma, and came back with about twice as many black bass as they could justify keeping. So ‘Ol took about half his fish over to Brother Cook’s house.

Mrs. Cook was glad to see them, but ‘Ol Hardman had a little confession to make before he left. “Brother Cook, before I leave here let me tell you that we didn’t get to fish none on Saturday so all these fish were caught on Sunday.”

“Mr. Hardman, I sure thank you for thinking of us. Now, my first thought about these Sunday caught fish is to give them back to you. But my second thought tells me that the Lord knows and you know and I know… these fish were not to blame.”

Mrs. Cook was a little short lady, pear shaped, built on a dumpling pattern, if you know what I mean. Like a lot of us, she was living beyond her seams. She hated four letter words, and the one she hated most was diet.

She had great faith in Brother Cook. One time Brother Cook brought home some pictures from a retreat he took, and Mrs Cook dutifully stuck the film in a mailer and sent them off to Kodak. Those were in the days before the Supreme Court busted Kodak’s monopoly on developing color pictures.

Anyhow, a couple of surprising, downright startling, slides showed up and got run through the projector to the family and a bunch of guests. You could say they embarrassed everybody there, although several of the men present would have liked a closer look.

Most wives would have flew off the handle more’n some, but Mrs. Cook sent the offending slides back to Rochester with a note saying that someone might be looking for their pictures but they sure didn’t belong to an Oklahoma Baptist preacher.

Anyhow, when Mrs. Cook – if I remember right her front name was Elaine but I am not sure – first moved to town she taught Sunday School. One day she asked the class if they knew where boys and girls go who neck and spoon?

“Yes’m, Miz Cook,” Lizzie Cooter spoke up. “Down behind the depot on that vacant lot on Railroad Street.”

Mrs. Cook was from back east somewhere, around McAlister, I think. Mrs. Cook’s youngest sister Tina was between jobs for a week, so she came to visit. And you would never have though those two women had the same mama by looking at them.

Where the preachers wife was a scant five foot tall, the sister was well over six foot. Big Peters and a few of the other men in town could look her in the eye but none of the women could.

Her name was Tina, Tina Small, and her name was like Robin Hood’s Little John. The name she wore sure didn’t fit her. Not none! For one thing, Tina believed in that old saying, “never eat more than you can lift.” But she could lift a hay fork.

First thing you noticed about her was size. If sizes ran small, medium, and large, that woman would have rated like the label on the whisky jug. XXXXX! She outweighed a hay wagon, and she went high, wide, and handsome.

The next thing you noticed was her tongue. Mrs. Cook was the quiet type but Tina’s clatterbone hinged in the middle and flapped on both ends, for sure. That gal could talk a mile a minute in English and Mex both, at the same time. And sing, wheeeyew, she had a voice.

She had a voice that put Kate Smith in the shade. She didn’t need a PA system, not none. That gal would get wound up in the Boardman Hymnbook and shake the church walls, for sure. Plumb drown out the choir!

Tina was a grabber, and a man didn’t want to get too close, because she had a bad habit of getting tickled by anything a man said to her and grabbing said man and hugging him. I heard that was about like getting wrapped in feather pillows and being hugged by a grizzly bear! You didn’t get bruised but you sure needed a big shot of oxygen when she let you go!

Actually, she was on the lookout for a name change. They say there is someone for everyone, and she suited Collie Talbot right down to the ground she shook every step she took. You talk about love at first sight!

Tina arrived on the Thursday morning before Easter, Mrs. Cook took her to her regular Thursday dinner at the Jackpot, Collie saw Tina, and Cupid must have been hiding behind one of the cigarette signs because I never saw anybody fall that hard that fast.

Good Friday morning Collie showed up at the parsonage and put about a bushel of spring flowers into Tina’s hand. Made her sneeze so hard she ‘most blew the porch off the parsonage, she did.

Now, Collie was sort of a spectacle of nature himself. If he had slimmed down he would have made a good three hundred pound tackle, but a couple of hundred pounds of extra lard slowed his footwork too much. You can’t tackle ‘em if you can’t catch ‘em.

Besides, Collie was about the most good natured fellow I believe I ever knew. I saw Collie mad once, when LeRoy LaRue stopped him for speeding on his Servicycle, and I saw him mad once when a threshing hand emptied a five gallon can of grease over his head.

Collie wiped the grease off of his head and out of his eyes and uttered the most comprehensive curse I ever heard.

“I hope you get all your teeth knocked out but one, and I hope you get the most gawdawful toothache a man ever suffered in that one.” Ugh! What a thought!

Thinking about him, I believe Collie was the first hippie I ever knew. Collie was bound to have known how he looked on that motorized bicycle of his, with his polo shirt and overalls flapping, and his bare feet waving in the breeze. He didn’t care!

Until Miss Tina showed up in town – all neat and starched in nurses whites, with her big round face and pink cheeks, and a laugh that scared crows out of a cornfield a quarter mile away.

When Collie showed up at the parsonage he was dressed to kill, for Collie. A clean polo shirt, fresh shined Wellington boots, and the first time I had ever seen Collie in jeans. He looked pretty good, comparatively speaking. And he was driving his Dad’s one ton truck instead of that Servicycle, too! It listed to the left a bunch but Collie drove it!

Mrs. Cook called Tina out on the porch, and after the sneezing stopped Tina started talking. I have no idea what she talked about, but Collie never said a word. He must have liked what he heard, though, ’cause he was back at breakfast the next morning.

Now, think about this a minute. Between them they weighed at least 900 pounds. There was a porch swing, and it did well with two or three normal size folks, but it wouldn’t have begun to hold up either Collie or Miss Tina.

So you could count on Collie and Tina holding the concrete porch steps down every day from 8 in the Ayem to 9 at night, ‘cept a couple of short breaks while they took nourishment.

Now, you couldn’t hear what Collie said, but you could hear what Miss Tina said two blocks away without listening. It wasn’t hard to fill in the blanks. I was at Quint’s, getting one of my perpetual flats fixed when the really big event occurred.

The second day Collie roosted on the parsonage steps he proposed to change Miss Tina Small to Mrs. Tina Talbot. We heard Miss Tina give him a reality check, prontito! She started with about six or eight words in the Espanol that made Pedro Esparza grin, and finished the thought in Anglo.

“Collie,” she says, “what would we live on? You know we would only have my salary, and I don’t make enough for both of us.”

We didn’t hear Collie but we heard Miss Tina clear enough.

“You’re right about something turning up, and when it does turn up how in the world would we ever feed it?”

Well, Miss Tina stayed in town a week, and she got further than the Church that one time Mrs. Cook took her to the Jackpot. She went to Amarillo, and Collie mailed her a letter every day.

If he didn’t get a letter he’d get two the next day, so we figured Collie and Tina were still a thing. The second Saturday after Tina left the bus came to town listing to one side. It straightened right up when Miss Tina got off, though.

Collie met her driving a ’38 Hupmobile he’d swapped his Servicycle off for, and carries her to the parsonage. That Hupp was about the worst overloaded passenger car I ever saw. The frame was settin’ on the axles on all four corners.

Tina and Collie spent Saturday evening and Sunday morning on the steps and in Church, and after Services Brother Cook drove her to Elk City to catch her bus. This got to be a regular thing, every other weekend. Brother Cook even let Collie take Miss Tina to the bus a time or two that summer, though that wasn’t quite decent.

Now, love is like whisky. It affects people in different ways, and it’s hard to figure before hand how anybody will act under the influence. Plowing with a span of mules and farming a quarter section didn’t seem half as attractive to Collie as it had been, though.

So Collie sends off for a whole self help encyclopedia and sets out to learn all he had missed in school. When Collie wasn’t working or sparking he was memorizing those books. And instead of doing the farm work, he started working two and sometimes three jobs, too.

He worked those jobs like a man fighting fire. BT, before Tina, Collie would load a half a load of hay and take a long rest. So people who needed work done would go out of their way to avoid Collie. That summer he started loading a hay truck as fast as he could and when that truck was loaded he’d call for another one. And get aggravated if there wasn’t another truck to load!

At the same time, Collie seemed to lose his appetite, instead of chomping down six or eight at a setting, he’d only eat one of Beatrice’s hamburgers and one slice of cherry pie down at the Stockyard Cafe. And he would do it on the run, too!

By Labor Day Collie had lost well over a hundred pounds. He looked almost like Charles Atlas and talked almost like a well educated man. Folks that had work to do started looking Collie up, ‘stead of sliding around the corner to keep from lying about not having any work to do.

The day work Collie liked best was still carpentering, though. He said if wood butcherin’ was good enough for Jesus it was sure good enough for a Talbot. He was good at it, and he was fast at it, and folks started paying him to put up barns and such.

Labor Day weekend Collie disappeared and Tina stopped coming. You didn’t ask no nosy questions, not if you wanted folks to speak to you, and the Cooks and Talbots didn’t volunteer information, so the Collie question stood unanswered.

About a year after I left that part of the world I met Collie and Tina walking down the street in Bartlesville pushing a baby carriage. They didn’t weigh an ounce over five and a half between them, either. They were plumb skinny and looking mighty content.

I reckon they were making it right well, but Tina had her clatterbone running, so I couldn’t make out what Collie was saying. I think he said he was a construction foreman for Phillips 66, but I will never be sure. He looked mighty well satisfied, though.

Stranger

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Light Airs

Have a bit of relaxation – and perhaps a bit of a chuckle:

Stranger

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My Dad Always Told Me…

All this talk about a “higher education bubble” reminds me of my dad. Who managed to get a lot of lesson learning in between 1866 and 1953. He was a war baby, you know. The Civil War. As if there was such a thing as a civil war!

My dad always told me that every man needed at profession and at least two more trades. He was a chef by profession, but there was not much demand for chefs so he became a timber company’s camp cook.

The guy before him could not feed a gang of hungry loggers on a dollar a day each, while dad managed that feat on about sixty cents. Back when gold was sixteen dollars an ounce and everything else was priced in proportion.

He was also a tailor, and a tin smith. He could fit metal clerestory roofs on passenger cars where no one else could. And make Buick fenders look like they had grown to the metal work, before Billy Durant lost Buick to General Motors.

Of course, I have had an interesting assortment of jobs as well. Jobs that found me changing light bulbs at the 1,500 foot level with nothing between me and a a long drop but a really good safety belt and a couple of gorilla hooks. And changing water cooled transmitting tubes with 16,000 volts at 2 amps each on the plates. And some other things that give me the willies to think about.

Now, these boys that come around without a salable skill in the world, so undeducated they cannot polish a doorknob, and who demand fifteen bucks an hour, depress me. I have worked for fifteen bucks a week, and these guys, and some girls, demand fifteen bucks an hour to occupy space.

I don’t know who would pay them that for the jobs they are qualified for. Of course, they have a degree. Which might as well be in knitting bowling balls. Or art appreciation. OR something else that would do quite well as an avocation but there is little or less demand for as a profession.

It would not harm a potential surgeon to learn to rebuild automobile engines. Both professions call of concentration, and for attention to detail.

Flipping burgers? Teaches you punctuality, and if you pay attention, how to maintain on the job relationships. Which are valuable asserts to a busy professional. After all, genius is two percent inspiration, and 98 percent perspiration.

And that degree? A degree can be a good thing – or the most expensive investment you ever make. What demand will there be for people with the skills you are paying high dollars to acquire? What will the jobs pay? Where will those jobs be? Do you really want to go to Upper Lower Erewhon to make your degree in reindeer knuckle carving pay off?

It does you no good at all to spend time and money getting a degree that will pay less than a garbage collector earns. Or acquiring a profession there is no demand at all for.

Get an education, by all means. But a couple of years at a technical school may cost a fraction of the cots of a big famous institute of learning – and result in a job that is far more rewarding than an MBA will get you.

Stranger

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Tohono O’Odham Waila, Streaight From The Rez

The T.O. Reservation straddles the Arizona-Mexico border. The people do not get recognition they deserve nor does their slightly unexpected music – which often sounds like something from Pomerania:

Stramger

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Now, My Sympathy Goes To The Guy Sideswiped By Fate

For example, the tourist who was walking along a Florida street, going along dumb, fat, and happy who got killed graveyard dead by a falling submarine – bar sign. Sometimes it seems there just ain’t no sense in what happens to folks.

Now, some folks are easy to talk about, some are hard. Shorty Breck is one of the hard ones. For one thing, he was about as serious as a hellfire and brimstone preacher low rating a cat house. For another, he only scaled 16 hands – five foot four –
but he weighed over 200. He wasn’t fat, he was solid.

Built like a mortar shell, the same size all the way up until he came to a point. He had one of these low maintenance hairdos, too. Just a little moss around the edges. Of course, the barber charged a quarter in those days, whether you got your hair cut or your scalp waxed.

Shorty never showed more emotion than that barbers pole, except every once in a long while some particularly outrageous stroke of misfortune would set him off. Serious, serious, serious, that was Shorty.

But talk about tight! Shorty squeezed every nickel until the buffalo hollered. He was close with his coin on everyday needs and he was double tight when it came to spending a dime or two on recreation!

Yessir, Shorty was one of these bleeding optimists that figured if a ten buck Ocean City salt water reel was excellent and a five dollar level wind Pfleuger reel was good, a one dollar “no name” without a level wind would do just as well. So Shorty spent most of his fishing time unsnarling backlashes!

Now, since Zebco has all but eliminated backlashes, I guess I better explain just what a backlash is. Take a bait casting reel – one with the spool set sideways and supported on both ends. In theory you control the thing with your thumb. If you catch something, your thumb on the spool is the drag. The harder you thumb it the more drag, so the harder the pull on the line.

But if you flip a bait out and apply thumb while your bait is still in the air it flops into the water, SPLOT!, scaring all the fish in the bay. That ain’t generally considered cool.

If you don’t apply thumb quickly enough the spool keeps on spinning, spitting out most of the line on the spool so you get a big birds nest of snarled line just forward of your reel. A birts nest that takes a half an hour to pick apart. That’s a backlash.

While you are untangling the mess you review your profane vocabulary one word at a time as the turtles eat your bait. Which is why spin casting reels are so popular.

Now, Shorty having this serious aversion to spending money on a HOBBY meant his tacklebox was nothing but junk. I remember the first day of December in ’40 we left Naples, Florida, in a 19 foot inboard called the Liffey – out after five pound jacks, amberjack, that just loved to tear up your tackle.

“We” were my dad, Art Larsen, Shorty, a local man named Grey, plus the kid. Me! I wasn’t just along for the ride, either. Every time we ran out of bait they would pull up somewhere and I’d take the bait bucket and fill it with fiddler crabs. I don’t think there was a fish down there that wasn’t daffy for fiddler crabs – every beach was working alive with those things, and we still couldn’t keep enough bait.

Besides that, I got to lay on the front deck watching the dolphins ride the bow wave. And a few more things, too. Like catch fish! Sheephead were my favorite. Especially caught, dressed, and fried over a fire on the beach, sprinkled with salt water for seasoning.

Now, we were inside the barrier islands, trying to keep out of the Gulf’s waves, Shorty was trolling. He was using a little fresh water bass rig he’d bought for two bux in a Michigan five and dime. Shorty had taken the six pound test twist line off and filled the reel with 40 pound braided line, though. The fish in that part of the world are stout.

All at once Shorty gave a hair raising howl. We knew he’d hooked something big. In just a few seconds a tarpon about five foot long broke water, tail walked maybe fifteen feet, and flung Shorty’s drone spoon back at him.

Shorty gave a screech like a lost soul as he tried to dive in after that fish! It was all my dad and Art Larsen could do to keep him from it! It seemed to take forever to calm Shorty down, but they finally got him to let us go on.

After he cooled off he threw his spoon back out, trolling again. About 11:00 we pulled up at a little dock to fry our catch for lunch. Grey started talking about the Gar Wood style speed hulls the rich kids liked to race through the channel. They were lovely boats, all mahogany and horsepower, but the nuts holding the steering wheel were a menace.

The worst was a jugheaded kid who had a beautiful thirty six foot two seater with a supercharged engine and open exhaust pipes. Those “cigarette” boats you see on the tube remind me of that speedster – except the cigarette’s don’t have the mahogany planking or the roostertail. The planking is a waste of money, the roostertail a waste of horsepower. But they sure did make that boat stand out when it was flat out.

That boy loved to drive that boat flat out, almost as much as he liked making whoopie with the little waitresses and cigarette girls he picked up in Palm Beach night clubs. He usually had one of those pretty young things in the mechanic’s seat when he took his racer out.

Rumor said he’d take the girl for a “picnic” fifty or so miles down the coast, where his family had another camp. Rumor also said he could make the trip in an hour, which is moving along some swift on the water.

Dame Rumor also had it that local fishermen had picked up several girls “walking home” after fighting off young Lothario’s advances. Letting a girl walk and swim up a coast with alternating mosquito infested islands, channels, and mangrove swamp ain’t nice, not none! So the locals didn’t much care for him or his doting family.

But all the time he was squiring a gal he was strictly “puttin’ on the agony, puttin’ on the style,” big time! He drove a fancy French car like a bat out of hell, DeLoop or DeLage or some such, the same way he drove that boat. He wore the latest clothes – and when a girl stayed at the mansion there was a flower delivery a day.

He seemed to think that scaring the liver out of his latest conquest as well as everyone on the water was sure enough smart, too. I liked to stand on shore a safe distance from the beach to watch a palm tree high roostertail come up the channel at maybe seventy miles an hour.

Women’s coal scuttle hats were popular and slacks were not, so you could see his passenger scrooched down trying to keep her hat on and her dress down. Most of the girls needed two hands for either job but failed at both.

That big racer’s wake would swamp a small boat, turn it plumb over, so I always thought the boy got his jollies watching old couples swimming to shore cussing him.

Not that it did any good to cuss him – “Bread rules, he who has the bread makes the rules,” you know. His family had plenty bread, so the rabble better get alee when his racer came snarling up the channel.

Every fall the folks who were subsistence fishing had to learn all over again that a roar in the distance meant you better put dirt under your keel. Grey had to put the Liffy out to rescue someone at least twice while we were there.

The wake wouldn’t have sunk the Shannon, she had too much freeboard and decking for that, but nobody enjoys a cold saltwater bath at the hands of a certified idiot, either. So we chose discretion rather than valor and headed for shelter when we heard those open exhaust pipes thundering in the distance.

We knew that boy and a couple of his Gar Wood buddies headed out early, so we decided to go in early and avoid nasty surprises. Shorty decided to pass the time trolling his way back to the dock. We got to a pretty good sized pass when Shorty howled again. This time he had about four foot of fighting snook on. That robalo was trying his best to stay airborne. After the fish sunned his belly maybe four times he started to run.
Shorty’s reel started to get empty! So Shorty set down on that spool just as hard as he dared. All he did was blister both thumbs! He didn’t even slow Mr. Robalo down, not none.

When the line ran out there was a twang and his cheap pot metal rod broke just behind the reel seat. Natural, the reel took off for parts deep and unreachable, while Shorty sat there stunned
for a second. Then he came alive!

We weren’t quite quick enough that time! Shorty came up about thirty feet from the boat, stroking for Mexico! Wasn’t no fish going to steal his rod and get away with it. He was going to swim that fish down to get his tackle back! We followed him until he got tired and calmed down before my Dad hauled him back in.

Now, Shorty wasn’t about to pay Florida prices for a decent rig, but he was plumb out of fishing tackle. So he figures he’s going to try bridge fishing. Bridge fishing consisted of going out on an old abandoned bridge after sundown, working a lure in a figure 8 pattern until something tried to swallow it.

Most of the time you’d get some good fish – but sometimes you’d tie into a big old ray or a three to four hundred pound hammerhead shark or maybe a five or six hundred pound jewfish, or something else way too big to land.

Shorty was close with his coin, but he wanted to haul in a fish as big as the two that got away. So the morning after the trolling debacle, Shorty runs into Naples to get a twelve foot piece of closet rod, two inch wooden dowel

He cuts two feet of it off and whittles that to look like a giant Heddon Pikie Minnow. He puts a screw eye at the front end, six pair of 10/0 treble hooks on the body. Big hooks! Then Shorty threads 50 feet of 500 pound test piano wire leader through all those hooks and out the screweye, then winds the excess tight on the end of his “pole.” Then he takes a fifty foot piece of 3/8ths hemp rope and ties that off between a loop in the end of his leader and the bridge rail. In case he hooks Moby Dick it won’t get away, you know.

About sundown my dad and I walked down to where Shorty has his “pig minnow” cutting a phosphorescent 10 foot figure 8 in the water. He’d just about figured out that he’d overdone things when there was a sound like somebody threw an anvil off the bridge.

SWOOSH GLUB SHLOP – something swallowed his bait whole. Shorty gave out a war whoop and set the hooks!

Whatever Shorty had hooked shifted to overdrive and took off for Cuba at a high rate of speed. His pole was snatched out of his hands instanter, while Shorty got a nice rope burn from his safety line. When it got to the end of Shorty’s safety rope, there was a loud TWONGG as his 500 pound test wire line broke! Then the “pole” came back and whopped Shorty in the kisser!

Talk about a mad Kraut. I think that was the last time Shorty Breck went fishing. I can’t really blame him much, having all that happen to him in just two days.

Stranger

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A Lawsuit Charges HALF of all futures trades on the Chicago are “wash trades.”

Wall Street Parade reports a lawsuit has been filed charging half the futures sales on the Chicago Stoc Exchange are ‘wash trades.’

For a little foundation, a “futures trade” is a stock market bet that prices of some particular stock will rise or fall. A “wash trade in futures” sounds clean, but is against Federal law and is a very dirty stock market scam.

Essentially, the lawsuit charges people are “selling” stocks from their left hand and “buying” the same stocks with their right hand. This gives the small investors who invest their life savings in some “safe investment” the impression that large numbers of shares of that stock are trading, at an ever increasing price.

And after the market for these inflated stocks has run its course, the manipulator lets the stock drop to its fair valuation, usually a fraction of a penny a share. The investor has been robbed blind, and the sharper has his or her money.

Wash trades were a major factor in running stock prices far beyond fair value before the “crash of ’29,” which brought on the “Great Depression.”

Briefly quoting the Wall Street Parade report linked above:

The conduct alleged in the lawsuit, backed by very specific examples, reads more like an organized crime rap sheet than the conduct of what is thought by the public to be a highly regulated futures exchange in the U.S.

The lawyers for the traders begin, correctly, by informing the court of the “vital public function” that is supposed to be played by these exchanges in “providing price discovery and risk transfer.” They then methodically show how that public purpose has been disfigured beyond recognition through secret deals and “clandestine” side agreements made with the knowledge of Duffy and his management team.

There is a great deal more at the Wall Street on Parade report at the link. If you have money in shares or futures, it would be a really good idea to click on over and check it out.

Because the last time “wash trades” were used to make it seem the market was hopping resulted in the Crash of ’29, and bankrupt investors jumping out of skyscraper windows.

Stranger

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You Sing The High Notes And I’ll Sing The Low Notes

And I will get to the ballroom before ye!

Stranger

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Reading The News Makes Me Think About Things And Stuff

Things like the day I tried to ride some of the foolishness out of Bogie, one of Tag Taggert’s horses. Tag “rode the range in a Ford V8,” but he kept horses for fun and let anyone he considered reliable ride them. It kept the horse from forgetting what Tag was feeding it for!

That little favor to Tag made me think I was crippled for life. I haven’t been that sore or that dirty, before or since. I think I mentioned the day Sheila Reid came in the Jackpot skint from one end of the other. She had lost enough hide to resole an elephant, and enough more to half sole a rhinoceros, and Sheila wasn’t that big to start with.

When they asked her why she was wearing a square yard of tape and gauze, Sheila said she’d been riding a real polite horse. Bogie let her go over a fence first! I knew all about that little stunt because Bogie had done it to me.

Yessir, I had my share of soaring without wings, courtesy of my friend the brand inspectors horse. (Bogie was named after the actor. Tag’s wife said he looked like Bogart. Humphrey Bogart did have a sort of a horse face, at that!)

Now, what brought all this reminisce on in the first place was something on the toob. A jugheaded idiot was collecting the Screen Actors Guild minimum, “guesting” on the “News,” supposedly giving a police officers view of things.

You have to understand that Windy Bill has never been a cop, or much of anything else. He joined a police farce, and about halfway through training decided he’s not cut out to write tickets, he’s cut out to be a union organizer. And he didn’t feel like working his way up the ranks so he started his own police union! His “police organization” has just about sixteen hundred members.

Wholly involuntary members, from what I can understand from the several members of his union that I know. And he takes their dues and his $1700.00 per appearance Screen Actors Guild pay with a smile, just as often as he can.

Anyhow, this play cop was on the boob toob, deponing that no law abiding citizen had any reason not to stop when ordered to by a “police officer.” In theory, he’s right. But let me tell you two things. First, these days I want to see the markings on the car – there are too many crimes committed by criminals with blue lights.

Second, there’s plenty of times when a someone with the most innocent of intentions just don’t want to see no po-leece! Period.

One of the several times in my life when I didn’t want to see no po-leece, no shurf, no highway pe-troll, nor nobody else, was when Bogie pitched me over a barb wire fence into French’s pasture. I rolled about twice and fetched up in a puddle covered with stinking green scum.

I climbed back over that fence covered with stinking green slime; feeling my way because I was mostly blinded; thanking God that it was only about three hundred yards to Sand Creek and Tag kept a bar of Octagon Soap in his saddle bags. And a towel! And a bottle of liniment! And I threw in a few extra thanks that Bogie would stay ground tied.

I led that horse to water and he acted like it hurt his feelings to follow me. It hurt my feelings to walk, but I wasn’t about to mess Tag’s saddle up! It took me the better part of an hour to get me and my clothes clean enough to make a trip to my room to take a regular bath tub full of the hottest water Mrs. Baker’s antique “Volcano” could heat. Until I was clean clear through I darn sure didn’t want to see no police! Nor nobody else.

Now, I didn’t blame Bogie. You ride a horse, you are supposed to keep a leg on both sides and your mind in the middle. If I had been doing my part, I would have stayed between cantle and horn, where I was supposed to.

My mind was straying. I don’t remember where but at that age I probably had a gal on my mind. There were several gals around that were well worth looking twice at and thinking about later. But after that I paid attention when I rode that bronc – and I put quite a few miles on him. He was a good horse but any flash, like the sun on a wire, would cause him to try to unload. Some sudden, at that.

But anyway, talking to folks here and yonder I get the idea that everyone has at least once found himself in a fix that would have been a whole lot worse for the presence of an ossifer of the law! And I have had my share.

I stepped out of a Pennsy freight car one dark night and discovered that the nice soft bank I was jumping on was covered with four foot tall blackberry bushes. About forty acres of them, with spines in abundance! I didn’t want any police obstructing my search for my war bag – and I didn’t want to show my over exposed sterrn in public until I could find a spare set of seat covers.

I have locked my keys in my truck twice and had to burgle my own wheels. I liberated a gallon of French’s “Lost Weekend” moonshine one time, too. That would have been real hard to explain because my monthly paycheck was a county voucher, drawn on the Sheriff’s account.

They called French’s tipple “Lost Weekend” because a couple of drinks and you lost the weekend! I don’t know what he put in that stuff besides pears, sugar and yeast, spuds, and wheat, but it was some potent. One drink and your buddies would wonder which was the deepest, biggest, and roundest. Your eyes or a post hole! Two drinks and you either slept a while, or you got up and did wonders!

I saw Billy Christian, the laziest Indian in Oklahoma, set a half mile of fence posts, string the wire, pull it double tight with a come-along, and staple it down. By himself. On one pint of Lost Weekend. And not only not remember, but claim he was too honest to take money for something he didn’t do!

Getting Billy to dig a post hole was a wonder. Getting him to build fence for a day was a miracle. But, you know, Billy wouldn’t take another drink of Lost Weekend! Said it made him too tired when he drank that stuff! He also claimed two drinks of it would raise blisters on your hands.

Of course, some of the folks that took two drinks took the second one at gunpoint, because it was hell for stout. You take a sip of Lost Weekend and it would burn all the way from the tip of your tongue to the end of your – AHEM!

It was so stout that Ol’ Hardman swore to me that he left a glass full of pneumonia cure made with French’s Finest mixed on his porch while he visited the privy, and when he came out he saw a hummingbird taking a sip.

Hardman swore he followed that hummingbird down to Jacobs, where the kids were growing game roosters for a 4H project, and that bird whipped every rooster on the place. Of course, I can’t say here what else he said that hummingbird did – but if Hardman was telling anything like the truth the Jacobs kids should have gotten some real long billed biddies in their next hatch! Biddies that would have been really hard to keep in the coop!

I “liberated” some because a friend of mine was down with lung rot, pneumonia, and what the croaker had available wasn’t doing him no good at all. A water glass full of hot whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar isn’t in the Pharmacopeia, but it seems to do about as well as the drugs that were available. (And to tell the truth, the drugs that are available now!) At least that’s what I poured down him and he was up and feeblin’ around in a couple of days. Chasin’ women in a week – and that’s a sure sign of a cure.

I have drunk whiskey, and rum, and gin. I tried some rice wine that kept me drunk for a week. I drank some arrack, what the Hindu’s claim will make a rabbit whip a tiger. I tell you true, I never drank anything more potent than French’s bootleg whiskey. Or anything that tasted worse. Except the time the doctor gave me a ‘scrip for ox gall. And I’m not sure gall tasted worse than French’s.

At that time, Oklahoma was the wettest dry state in the nation. And the law was well aware that French was distilling his water of life. But before my old boss took office he told French as long as he didn’t sell any of his snakebite cure – and as long as it didn’t cause the law any trouble – he wasn’t interested. So French ran off a gallon every now and again and stayed on the good side of the law.

French figured my old boss would be four years and out. French didn’t take into account how much people appreciated good law enforcement you could depend on to do what’s right. Bill didn’t necessarily act according to the letter of the law, because lawyers run for office so they can make laws to make lawyers money. Bill did what was fair and proper under the circumstances.

Let me tell you – Billy Peet’s legally wedded wife came looking for Big one day. The usual story – a house full of kids and no support. In those days, that was a lot less against the law than it is now. ‘Fact, most law enforcement people then or now wouldn’t have done the first thing about Billy’s wife and children going hungry.

These days the law refers victims of neglect or abuse to welfare. And if your life’s been threatened, there’s no use to tell the police. They will tell you to get a court order. As if a wife beater will obey any court order out of sight of the judge!

If you are on the receiving end you better make sure your burial insurance premiums are paid up and get on the right side of God because the shysters have the police tied up forty ways from Sunday. Either that or find a twelve gauge and learn to use it.

But it wasn’t that way with my old boss. He went looking for Billy. Found him, too! I heard Big picked Billy up by the scruff of the neck and shook him and made him a few promises but I wasn’t there. I do know Billy went to the oil patch and the biggest part of his pay checks came addressed to his wife in care of the sheriffs office.

Billy’s wife quit running into doors and bruising her face all up. His kids lost that lean and hungry look. And when Billy came home – he brought something for the wife besides a hangover, and some more somethings for the kids.

And when he came home Billy’s wife and kids acted glad to see him. Like they were supposed to. And Billy came up to the Courthouse and thanked my old boss publicly for putting his boots on the right trail. That was one thing about my old boss. If it was his business to fix it he fixed it. And if the Legislature said it wasn’t his business he fixed it anyway!

What you did behind your doors pretty much wasn’t any of his business. What you did where other people could see better be strictly on the up and up. If he was told something he kept it quiet and checked it out. He didn’t waste any time, but he didn’t go off half cocked, either. And he believed the punishment should fit the crime.

The most common crime was public drunk and possession of ardent spirits. Ardent spirits was anything over four percent alcohol. Judge Ross started at ninety days and if the cure didn’t take you got a years worth of second chance. The third time and you got thirty months in the state pen in McAlester.

But very few prisoners “went off.” County prisoners loaded gravel trucks with grain scoops six days a week. And if you were not in good physical condition when you went to jail, you were when you got out!

Stranger

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