Reminiscing About Spinning Wax

Back when I first got my Second Class, I got a job as a jack of all trades at a radio station. The First Class from the big station in Tulsa stopped by at 3:3- in the AM and brought the old crackerbox’ filaments up to temperature, and from 4:30 to 9:00 I spun wax and ran across the street when the bus came in so I could read the news off the “wire.” The wire being the front page of the Daily Oklahoman.

I found a playlist on the ‘net that sure reminds me of those days. Got lots of good music on, the Hut Sut Song, reminds me of the old days – real old days. I started school at Cleveland, the first time that song was popular.

Miss Brand was my first teacher. After more’n a I sure remember that woman. Mighty nice, and mighty pretty. And above all mighty patient, trying to get thirty seven six year old’s to peck up a few kernels of learning.

There was one boy in class who had been set back twice. His name was Tommy, Tommy Schwartz. Tommy’s daddy had bottle fever awful bad, and his mother had run off, (Who could blame her?) which would have been bad enough but his daddy was always on his duster to beat somebody up. He’d come in after school and if he hadn’t had a fight or two, or he’d lost a fight, his daddy would call him Mary Ann and use him for a punchin’ bag. Just a sad case all ’round, but all the kids were scared of Tommy and had real good reasons to let him alone. I still wear scars Tommy gave me.

One day Miss Brand was tryin’ to get a little basic add em up down the kids, so she says, “Class, if I laid one egg in this chair and two eggs on this desk, how many eggs would I have?”

And Tommy pipes up, uninvited, “Miss Brand, I don’t think you’re built right to do that.”

Busted the class up, for sure, and Miss Brand laughed loudest of all.

Another time Miss Brand wanted all the kids to take a nap, so she says, “Now class, lets all be quiet as a little mouse.”

Tommy says, “Mice ain’t quiet.” Which they ain’t, but it got another good laugh, and this time Tommy didn’t have no desire to sit down the rest of the day.

Yep, that Tommy was sure a tough kid, and I look at scars he gave me every time I shave. I got in more fights there than in any school I ever went to – except Waldo, Arkansas.

Went to part of the fourth grade in Waldo. That’s where I learned not to sock somebody in the mouth that’s chewing tobacco.

There’s Shoo Fly Pie. That always reminds me of one of the two jobs I have been fired from. I sure deserved that firing. I was the early morning announcer at the radio station. That was back just after the FCC had banned “Stone Cold Dead in the Market” as being unsuitable for the American public to listen to – which “dey fount ‘im stone col’ dead in de mah-ket” was the whole Calypso song! It was a real big radio station, 100 watts 4:00 AM to sunrise, 250 to sunset, then off.

It was so big that I had to wait for the bus to come in and bring the Daily Oklahoman so I could read the livestock prices, ball scores, how many were arrested in last nights panty raids, and the other really important news. After I got through with important stuff I had to read the war news, Israel versus some Arabs, and politics – and remember to make out like I got it off the “news wire” too.

Every morning the bus would pull in between 4 and 4:30 and throw out the papers. Hilda would set me out a paper and wait for the next record to pour me a big mug of coffee. I’d sprint down the stairs, across the street, throw a dime on the counter, and run back to the studio.

Well, the governor and the legislature had been having a war and The Guv proved a bigshot Senator lying. The Senator claimed he was just using “constructive fiction to clarify the situation.” Something about that got my mouth runnin’ off when it shouldn’t.

When I played the next record I didn’t kill my mike. I could see Hilda, standing in the Cafe window drinking coffee, and the first soft passage I said, loud but real innocent, “I thought constructive fiction was when you were trying to talk a girl into a naval engagement.”

ilda sprayed coffee all over the window. A couple minutes later I was unemployed.

“Kawliga”, Hank Williams – I lived up at Decatur, when that was popular. Most all the working men around town wore khaki pants. Most wore khaki shirts, too, for that matter. They got used to wearing khaki in the army, same placi I learned to carry a coffee cup, and they didn’t feel any more natural in anything but khaki than I do without my coffee cup.

The man who ran the service station on the corner next to Pearl Van Etten’s Boarding House and Cafe on the Southwest corner of Courthouse Square – wish I could remember that man’s name! – told this one on himself.

Said that one night he and his wife went to bed mad. You shouldn’t do that, you know, but they did. Next morning, they got up mad. Of course. So mad that the wife decided to really doll herself up – so she puts on her newest prettiest favorite dress. Then she has to get him to zip her up.

Well, he is still mad, so he just runs her zipper up and down about a dozen times, zipppp – zipppp – zippppp, and then the zipper sticks, plumb. He has to cut her out of her dress, and you know how that makes her feel.

Well, she changes dresses and goes to work, and when she comes in that evening she sees him laying under a car in their driveway. She reaches down and grabs his zipper and zip, zip, zip, real quick.

Then she walks in the kitchen door and he’s settin’ up there in the kitchen drinkin’ coffee.

There’s Jeep Jocky Jump and that reminds me of Joe Cloud.
I mentioned Joe Cloud a while back, the picture taking Indian. Joe was a crackerjack driver, drove everything and always kept the equipment he drove in top shape.

Joe was a truck driver, drove ammo trucks from Cherbourg to Berlin, unloadin’ about a hundred feet behind the fighting ’cause soldiers can’t do much fighting without ammo. ‘Course, this got him shot at a lot and hit some, so they decided a Wisconsin Indian should go to a hospital in Oklahoma. Makes the usual kind of screwy sense most gummitup decisions make.

While Joe was convalescing he would limp around Okie City – and a gal named Mary Mankiller hit Joe’s eye – just right. Good looking gal, too. Mebbe a little hippy for some but sure suited Joe. Sunny personality. Mary got about as stuck on Joe as Joe was on her, too – but the fly in the buffalo fat was Mary’s papa. He wasn’t about to have no son in law to support, not none.

“You get a quarter section with a good house, farm it, and get a good job, you can marry Mary,” sez Papa Mankiller.

Joe takes his back pay, mustering out pay, and his poker winnings and buys a nice place, two quarter sections, 320 acres.

That winter Joe’s folks died, so Joe wound up with a little brother to keep, and the Kid spent most of his time with Mary – which Mary and Papa Mankiller both was as fond of the Kid as if it were really hers, ‘stead of being kinda on loan.

Now, Joe hardly ever spoke his brand of Indian – but he would say “mii iw”, sounds like mee oww, which means that’s enough, or that’s all, or the end, or something like that.

Anyway, one time Joe said his little brother had a cat that knew how to speak Indian. All it did was run around and say “mii iw, mii iw, mii iw,” all day.

Considering how the Kid deviled the cat I ‘spect the cat would have said “mii iw”, that’s enough, for sure, if he could have known what it meant.

Joe took the Kid to the circus one time, and Joe got to walking and talking with Mary. Custom said that they were supposed to walk with the kid between them, and they are looking at each other, talking’, you know, and not paying no ‘tention a’tall that the kid got about six or eight feet in front.

All at once Joe and Mary realize that the kid is standing’ looking up, about a foot behind an elephant – and the elephant is sticking its tail out, and… Joe peeled off left and Mary went right! After they dug the Kid out – he sure did need a bath!

Sure did kill the evening. Joe is a fine fellow. Funny too. Make a stuffed bird laugh!

He’s the guy who told about the old rancher that married a young wife. He couldn’t keep his hands off her. He finally had to fire every one of them.

Ella Mae Morse singing No Love, No Nothing. Dunno’ why but that reminds me of the joke that used to go around about the traveling salesman that broke down miles from nowhere. He goes up to this house and asks for a place to spend the night.

The farmer says “Well, I sure can’t turn you out so you got a choice. You can sleep with Baby or you can sleep in the barn.”

Salesman decides on the barn. Next morning he gets up, goes to the well and pumps water over his head to get him awake, and when he straightens up he comes face to face with the prettiest young woman he ever sees. He gets real excited, and to cover his confusion he asks this maxima femina pulchra her name.

“They call me Baby,” the beauty says, “And who are you?”

“Me? I’m just the biggest dum fool in three states!”

That’s one of those jokebook jokes, not too good.

My son up Yankeeland likes to buy old furniture and stuff at estate auctions. He was at one where the defunct had been collecting rare and valuable Scotch whiskey bottles. The bidding had gotten over 200 bucks on one fancy bottle when an old farmers wife walked over to it and shook it.

“Gawdamighty,” she says, plumb shocked, “It’s empty!”

I’m with her – but two hundred bux is too much for a full bottle of hooch tastes like bad whiskey cut with used motor oil.

Went to see some relatives one year before last and took the grandkids to the Henry Doorly zoo over in Omaha. They have a beautiful zoo there, you go in and almost the first building you go in is the cat house. You walk in the front door and there’s this big glass cage with a white Siberian Tiger pacing back and forth. Durn thing gave me the creeps!

Every time we would go by the cage that tiger would stop pacing and come over to the window and look at me like I was a walking pork chop. First time I have ever been able to read a cats mind. LUNCH!, on the hoof!

Guess he figured the way I walk I couldn’t run very fast, but if he’d broke the glass we’d ha seen how fast I could have got my pocket knife out. I sure had my hand on my Case Stockman’s Special! Left there nervously, for sure.

Down at the bottom of the hill in this zoo there’s a pond with the most and biggest carp I ever saw.

I was taking pictures when a wallet fell out of a mans coat and dropped into the water – and this big carp balanced it on his nose like a seal with a ball. Another one came up and hit it, knocked it over and a third carp bumped it back up in the air. First time I ever saw carp to carp walleting.

Would you like to see my vacation pictures? Well, sorry I axed! There’s Tex Beneke with Jukebox Saturday Night….

Mentioned Sheila Ried a ways back. Nice little heifer, she was. Farm gal, moved to town, real quiet gal. You might near had to hold a gun on her to get her to say anything, but when she said you better listen close.

She was kin of Tag Taggerts, the brand inspector, and she used to ride Tags horses. One day she came in the Jackpot and she’d lost enough hide to half sole an elephant. Everybody wanted to know where she wrecked her car.

She said she’d just been out riding a real polite horse.

“A polite horse? How’s a horse polite, Sheila?”

“Well,” she says, “Tag’s horse was so polite we came to a barb wire fence and he let me cross first.”

Yeah, horses can be a trial, all right, but when you ride you are s’posed to keep a leg firm on each side and your mind in the middle. One thing about horses, they start at thirty below another is they don’t need oil, or grease, or antifreeze, and they don’t get dead batteries either.

The place next to Tag’s was Ol’ Hardmans, but a man named French had the place before Hardman bought it. French had him a little bottling operation there during prohibition. They called his hooch “Summer Vacation” ’cause one drink and school was out. Tag said him and two, three more used to get a pint of French’s nose paint out behind the barn, and take turns nippin’ at the bottle.

After a while one of them would get up and leave and the others would take turns guessing which one it was.

Doggone – there’s Ella Mae Morse with Blacksmith Boogie…

One of the reasons Tag quit shoein’ horses and took Big Peters job of brand inspector was his wife wanted a new indoor bathroom. One with a private tub, ‘stead of a Number 3 washtub in the kitchen, a gas water heater instead of more coal in the stove, and with an indoor reading seat ‘stead of a 30 yard walk in the dark when it’s so cold the cows let down icicles. She told Tag she wanted every night to be Saturday night!

Tag had a falling out with Mullendore at the Bank, so he goes to Altus to borrow a thousand dollars for the job.

Natcheral, the banker hadn’t ever done no business with Tag, so he’s cautious, you know. “Since this is the first time we have done business, Mr. Taggert, would you mind telling me where you done your business before?”

“Out back, where we dug her out and set her in the middle of a willow thicket.”

Ac-cent-chu-ate the Positive, Nat King Cole. MMMM….

The next place out 9 past Hardman’s was the two Church’s, Owen E. and Earle O. The reason I remember their names is because Hen Johnson came back from England talking’ Oklahoma Cockney – the durndest haccent Hi hever ‘eard. She was rattlin on to a lease hound in the Jackpot one day and she told him the place behind Hardmans place was “Ho He hand He Ho Cu-urk’s.” Made me swallow my Java sideways and I durn near strangled.

There were three, four families of Churches on Highway 9. From town pass Hardmans, then the brothers, and Tom, Glenn, and one I can’t put a name to right now. The brothers were two nice old batches, first class farmers, made 3-4 trips a year to Dallas to “Git Them Deep Ellum Blues.”

If you don’t know, Elm Street was a pretty notorious street all over the Southwest – like the song said, “You go to down on Deep Ellum, just to have a little fun, keep your money in your pants. Those redheads on Deep Ellum, they don’t give a man a chance. Papa’s got them Deep Ellum Blues.”

They wouldn’t go over to Tulsa – said they saw too many folks they knew from church “Down on Archer,” and too many folks from church saw them, too. Ever so often Glenn would have to go to Dallas and bail ’em out.

The brothers were big on rotatin’ crops, don’t remember the sequence but it was something like wheat, corn, milo, alfalfa, with a 160 of ditchweed hemp every so often.

Each of the Church places were a full section, 640 acres, and one time this guy came down from Stillwater doing some kind of Ag census for A&M, before it became Oklahoma State. The guy asks O.E. what kind and how many acres of each crop he had. O.E. says “We got a hunnert sixty acres of wheat, a hunnert sixty acres of corn, a hunnert sixty acres of cotton, and a hunnert sixty acres of hemp.”

And the census type says “My word, Mr. Church, you are tilling a lot of acreage. What time do you go to work?”

“Go to work! Hell, man, I’m surrounded by work!”

That reminds me of Tim Jacks, the A&M professor who had to do a bunch of research at the U of Oklahoma library . He gets on campus at Norman and asks the first guy he sees “Where is the library at?”

The Sooner gets snooty and sniffs “At the University of Oklahoma we do not end a sentence with a preposition.”

Tim sez “OK, Where’s the library at, Jackass.”

It was a lovely fight. Made Gabriel Heatter’s evening news.

The next place was Tom Church’s place, and Tom had the three boys, Jim, Len, and Jack. Jim’d promised his girl he’d go to UBO, U of Baja Oklahoma, cause she was going there – and Jim had one of those cash under the table deals there too. Did well at Texas, 3.8 grade point average and played pro ball under a “nom de pigskin” in the late forties and early fifties. Smart fellow, real sharp, too!

Now, Oklahoma has always been real big on football, of course. One day one of the OU assistant football coaches was tooling down Hiway 9, past the Church’s places, and sees Jim going like a streak, running a loose yearling down on foot.
The AC is doing about twenty or so and Jim passes him, right behind the critter, gets it around the neck and sticks his boot heels into the shoulder of the road, stops that critter one hand, sticks the other hand under its belly, picks it up and drops it, kerchunk, right there between the fence and the road.

The AC stops, rubs his eyeballs back in his head, and calls over to Jim, “Hey, son, what grade you in school?”

“The twelfth, sir, I’m a senior,” says Jim, thinking’ fast.

“Well, do you think you could pass a football?” says the AC.

Jim finishes tying the calf, and ambles over to the car. “Well, I reckon I could if I could swallow it.”

There’s “House of Blue Lights,” “Detroit barbecue ribs”…

There were no kids on Ho Hee and Hee Ho’s place but Glenn had a house full of kids. All sizes, all kinds. One of his girls gave me a good laugh one day. I was down at Altus, chowing down on barbecue when somebody said something about President Harry S Truman firing General McArthur.

Sally Church said she reckoned Truman was doing what could be expected considering how vulgar he was. “Anybody with a hairy backside hadn’t ought to advertise it as part of his name!” She said it just like that, too. When we quit laughing Sally was so mad she went home.

Glenn Churc’s house was a big two story with a big wide porch that was big enough to set tables out and feed the threshing crews – and there was a big ol’ bell at the end of the porch to call the crews to dinner. The Churches would give you the shirt off their backs, or put you up for a night or a month, but don’t cast no covetous eyes on that bell!

Glenn’s wife would have a house full of visiting kinfolks and kids every summer and the kids sure loved to ring that big ol’ bell. Mrs. Church would get Glenn to set the tables up and everyone would eat on the porch in scorching hot days.

Now, Sally’s fellow was name of Joe Wilkes. Sally and Joe had an agreement that when Joe got his internship out of the way he was going to hang out his croakers shingle and give Sally the biggest house in Okie City by way of a wedding present.

Which meant that Joe spent every moment he could at the Church house, that sounds funny – don’t it, courting Sally. Now, it was hot. So hot you’d dig baked potatoes out of the field.

Well – Joe is setting there eating some of the finest fried chicken he ever hooked a lip over, when the beans the med school cafeteria had served the day before started paining him. Joe felt like somebody had a tire pump and was pumping his guts up.

Joe didn’t know what to do – he couldn’t very well excuse himself with dessert not even served yet – but he was in pain and it was getting worse. All at once he got a flash – he was setting directly under the bell rope!

In fact, that rope wasn’t a foot over his head – and you could hear the bell over the whole township, so it was plenty loud enough to cover up what he had to do. Joe fidgets a little, then he reaches up, stretching like, and when he feels the bell rope he jerks like he hit a spiderweb or something and lets loose of what ails him.

And then he turned the brightest shade of red any of the Church’s ever saw. Glenn had got tired of the kids ringing the bell and had taken the clapper out!

Sally called Joe’s public and spectacular explosion a foxes puss – but I seen later she married him anyway.

Remember glass milk bottles? Glenn’s wife was a city gal, had lots of relatives come from Kansas City to visit every summer. One day one of the younger girls that was visiting, she was about five, came in carrying one of the glass bottles Phillips 66 stations used to put motor oil in – they looked like a glass milk bottle with threads for a tin pouring spout to screw on. Glenn asked the girl where she got the bottle. “Oh, Mr. Church, I found a cows nest!”

One of the older city boys brought a young Rhesus monkey, and the monk was getting to be a grown up monkey and just plumb hard to handle. Glenn had to call the vet about some heifers, so while the vet was out they asked if there was anything he could do about this rambunctious monk.

The vet says “Let me tell you right now – you need to take that monkey to the Zoo in Oklahoma City. That’s a Rhesus monkey and you ain’t never going to be able to handle a full grown Rhesus monkey. They ain’t nothing but trouble.”

About a week later the vet runs into the kid in town. “Say,
what did you do about your monkey?” he asks.

“Oh, I did what you told me, I took him to the Zoo. We had so much fun I’m gunna take him to the movies next.”

Glenn took his family to a church in Mountain View, a fine big stone affair. Had everything except a bell. Back during the Dust Bowl a new preacher wanted to get a bell. Everybody was trying to figure out how to pay for a bell when Glenn pipes up, real serious. “We got steam heat in the balcony, we got steam heat in the choir room, we got steam heat in the basement. Let’s see if the Rock Island will give us a steam whistle.”

The congregation didn’t like the idea, for some reason.

Well, my hour is up, so let me post this, and go.

Remember, always wear a smile. It’s easier on your face, and it fools folks into thinking you agree with ’em.

Stranger

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