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Bull Fighting

    My daddy was a rice farmer in South Texas and one morning he and his hired hand went out to check his crop.  The neighbor's bull had gotten through the fence and was in his rice field. My daddy sent the hired hand back to town to call the rancher and got on his Ford Ferguson tractor to go get that bull out of his field.  This little tractor had a front end loader and my daddy was thinking about matadors and bull fighting with a tractor. Those bulls in Mexico are bred small to start with and trained to charge straight at the red cape.  But this was a full grown Brahma bull, seven feet tall at the hump, and mean. He probably weighed as much as my dad and the tractor put together. Now in a straight head-on battle between bull and machine, the bull wouldn't have a chance.  Steel front end loader was stronger than head and horns.  But if that bull got around on the side he could very easily butt that tractor over on it side.  Then my dad would be pinned under the tractor or the bull would be chasing him around it. My Dad told me if the rancher and the hired hands came out there and found that bull chasing my dad around a turned over tractor, he would never be able to go in a coffee shop again for all the laughter.  So he wisely turned that tractor around and waited until the men and horses and dogs got out there to put that bull back in the field where he belonged.    

  I remember the time we planted rice with an airplane. The man holding the flag would wait until the plane came over him and then pace off 20 or 25 steps and hold the flag again.  Two flagmen, one on each side of the field would give the pilot something to line up on. Every time that plane went over the flagman, he would duck down.  My dad saw that and went over and told him he didn't need to duck because that airplane was at least 7 feet off the ground and there was lots of clearance.  If fact he told him, "I am 6 foot and one inch tall so there is 11 inches of distance between the plane and the top of my head.  I will hold the flag and not duck." Well, my dad stood there with the flag and watched that airplane come across the field at him at 150 miles per hour. Right at the last second he couldn't stand it and ducked down as the plane went over.  He handed the flag back and everybody was chuckling.

  The rice always showered down on everything and it would grow wherever it landed.  Some landed in the back of Uncle Rip's pickup.  After a rain, it started growing back there.  It got bigger and taller and he just left it there and it got bigger and it was just about to make a head.  All the farmers would meet at the Independent Rice Dryer every morning to drink coffee and talk. They all agreed Uncle Rip was the only farmer in the world who didn't have to go out to the field to check his crop. He carried it around with him in the back of his pickup.


My Uncle Rip died a few years ago. He was a fine gentleman, a farmer, and a leader in the church and the community.  His name was really Basil Frank which I always thought was a terrible name.  I always wondered how he got his name, Rip.

  He didn't have Rip on his birth certificate, it was Basil Frank.  When my daddy and his brothers and friends were young they had this mean bull in the pen.  Basil said he could ride that bull and the other kids said he would not.  Basil was only about 6 years old but he climbed up on the fence and when that bull came by he jumped down on top of him.  The ride lasted only a few seconds and Basil sailed over the top of that bull to the ground.  His pants caught on the horn and ripped a big hole.  Since they were the only pants he owned his mother had to sew up the "rip" so he could go to church.  After that my daddy, his older brother, called him Rip because of the rip in his pants.  That was the name he lived with for the rest of his life. 

   This story makes you reflect on how far we have come in 80 years or so.  How many kids today have only one pair of pants?  How many would jump down on a big Brahma bull?  Heck, how many kids even go outside anymore?  Are they better off than 80 years ago?  Only time will tell.   Let's hope they have some character building experiences along the way.


     One time, I remember my mother and sister went off to Girl Scout Camp for 3 days.  My daddy and I stayed at home and it was his job to feed me while they were gone.   It happened to be watermelon season and we had this big watermelon in the ice box.   The first morning my daddy cut off a big slice of watermelon and gave it to me for breakfast.   I really like watermelon and so I enjoyed my breakfast.  At dinner time, he cut off another slice of watermelon and give it to me for dinner.  I really like watermelon and that was a special treat to get watermelon again.   At suppertime, he cut off another piece of watermelon and that is what we had for supper.   This went on for 3 days.  At every meal, he would cut off a piece of watermelon and serve it up.  I was so glad when my mother got back home and cooked up a good meal.  I have enjoyed her cooking ever since.  We had this little screw tail Boston terrier named T-Roady.  T-Roady didn't eat any watermelon the first day and he didn't eat any watermelon the second day.  But the third day, T-Roady must have decided that was all we were going to have from now on and he started eating watermelon too.   He was mighty happy when my mother came home and gave T-Roady biscuits and gravy and a steak bone to chew on.


One time my daddy went to New York City to visit his brother, Bunker.   Bunker and his wife, Inez, lived in an apartment in Manhattan.   They owned a car, which very few people in NY had and kept it downstairs in the basement.   I don't know the exact number but it cost almost as much to keep a car as the apartment.   I went to visit them when I got out of the Army.  I spent a couple of days living with them and Aunt Inez took me to see the Empire State building and the Museum of Natural History.   I have never forgotten that experience.   When it was time to leave I did not know how I was going to get back to Grand Central Station.   But I walked out of their apartment complex and there was a taxi cruising down the street.   In no time at all I was there.   When I got back to Philadelphia, the Sargent asked me where I had been, I was a day late.   I told him I went to visit my uncle in NY and since I was nearby I could not pass on the opportunity.   He said,  Three years in the Army and you haven't learned nuthin.  I had to agree with him.   What could he do, I was being discharged.

 Being a small town guy, my daddy flew up there but decided to ride the bus back home.  Somewhere in the south the bus driver said they would be stopping in a few minutes at a convenience store if anybody wanted anything to eat,  it offered good food.  My daddy overheard the kids behind him ask their mother if they could get something to eat.  No, she told them, they didn't have any money and they would have to wait until they got home to eat.  So they sat on the bus while everybody else got off to go eat.   My daddy bought this big bucket of fried chicken and got back on the bus.  He took out one piece and turned around and told the lady that he wasn't as hungry as he thought he was, could they help him with that bucket of chicken?  Boy could they.  You could hear the munching and chicken bones flying. He ate his one piece of chicken and smiled.



My mother grew up during the depression.   She was a young teenager.   She learned to save for a rainy day.  They saved everything, tin foil, old clothes, grease,  string off the turkey.   That thrift lasted her whole life and she taught it to me.   That is the reason I have collected so much junk in my life.   I can't throw it away,  I might need it some day.   My uncle Bill was the same way.

My mother got a job in the local 5 and Dime.   That was the name of the variety store in every town.




  What my grandmother said:  "Be not the first on whom the new is tried, nor be the last to lay the old aside."

My friend Billie asked me when I was going to get a cell phone.   I told him there were a few Africans and some tribes down on the Amazon in South America that did not have cell phones yet.

She also told me, Never bet on another man's trick.  If he says he can do something, don't bet against him.


In the 50's, times were different than now.  I remember Bill and Pete Tillman starting a shoe store in Bay City.  It was a little space, maybe 30 foot wide and very deep on the square in Bay City.  They borrowed $500 from their parents and built shelves and spent all their money on shoes.  It wasn't very many so they took them all out of the boxes and stacked the empty boxes up on the shelves to look like they had plenty of inventory.  I read where Home Depot did the same thing when they opened, stacked empty boxes high up so nobody could look inside of them.  Anyway, they started selling shoes and then bought belts and socks and eventually men's clothing.  They made a living there in that little 30foot space for years and years until Bill ran for county commissioner and won.  Government job paid more and a lot less work so they quit or sold out. 


   I was in high school and I had friends that lived outside of town about 7 miles.  There were 5 boys and one girl in the family and we all had lots of friends and found things to do every day.  I had this 55 Chevrolet and John had a 56 Ford.    There was a field beside his house in the country and we made a round dirt track and went racing.  Now we both had lots of friends in the cars and to make it ,more interesting, while we were racing and sliding around this dirt track, we were also lighting firecrackers and bottle rockets and roman candles and shooting at the other car.  This went on for quite a while but finally somebody in John's car lit a whole string of firecrackers and then dropped them inside his car.  He slid to a stop and they all bailed out, the whole inside of his car was full of smoke and firecrackers. It burned a hole in his seat and the floorboard too.  That ended that day's racing we were laughing too hard.

    Just about every time I went out to their house, I met John coming into town.  We would honk and wave as we passed each other going 70 miles an hour.   One time I told John, the next time we met on that road, we would change lanes.  He would get in the left lane and I would get in the left lane and we would pass on the wrong side of the road.  Sure enough it wasn't long before I saw him coming into town as I was going out to his house.  I moved over to the left lane and increased to 80 mph.  John did the same.  Now I didn't know that John's mother was in the car with him.  He was taking her into town.  She started yelling and hollering and screaming but John stayed on the left and so did I.   We met at a combined speed of about 150 mph each of us in the left lane and passed without incident.   John did mention to me later that his mother said we don't do that any more, never ever again.


  So one day we were going out to their house after this big rain.  The bar ditches were full of water.  A bar ditch is a ditch beside a road or levy.  Anyway, we saw something moving in the weeds in the ditch.   There were 5 or 6 of us boys and we got out to see what it was.   We found this short piece of rope and made a loop.  Bill told his brother John to stand in the middle of the ditch and put the loop down and we would shoo this thing between his legs. We could see the weeds parting and when it swam between John's legs, John pulled up on the rope.  It was a 7 foot alligator gar and the fight was on.  It was biting and scratching and clawing and flopping and it was all John could do to get it over to the bank where we jumped it and killed it.   Then we saw another one in the other ditch.   Well now John is tired and bleeding and he is a whole lot smarter.  Bill can't talk him into doing that rope thing again.  So we found a flounder gig and stabbed it in the back.  But it was so big that we couldn't hold it down and it swam off into deeper water.  We could just see the top of the flounder gig sticking up out of the water.  Then we found a cast net and threw it on top of the gar.  It got all would up and we dragged it out and killed it too.  We skinned both gar and got a washtub of meat to eat.  We put the heads into ant beds and the ants cleaned off all the meat and left two sets of sharp alligator gar teeth which we kept as souvenirs.  I tried to eat the meat but it was so oily and muddy tasting that I couldn't eat it.  They told me they could not eat that meat either.   Later a friend of mine fried up some gar and it tasted really good.  It was smaller and came out of clean water. 


                I was watching the Dallas Cowboys on TV and they had the Cowboy cheerleaders on.  My six year old son, Skyler, saw them and said, " Gollee Mama, I wished you looked like that."   Well his mother said that when she was their age she did look like that.   "Did she Daddy?"  he asked.   Well, I knew the answer to that question.  "Yes son, when she was their age she looked exactly like that."   He looked at those cheerleaders and looked at his mama and said, " Gollee Daddy, you weared her out."


    I always like to plant a spring garden.  I like fresh beans and radishes and especially fresh tomatoes right out of the garden.  One spring we got this heavy rain.  Everything filled up with water and my whole garden drowned.  I was telling my mother about it and she said I should read the Farmers Almanac.  I told her that I already knew more about gardening that the people that write books.  She told me that I would learn things if I would just read the Farmers Almanac.  I was kinda getting hot now and I never had raised my voice to my mother.  But I did yell at her "What do they say about planting a garden and then it rains for 4 days and drowns everything in the garden.? "   She just shouted back, " It says to plant on higher ground."   I had to chuckle at that because I knew she was right.  You don't argue with your mother.

My mother was a school teacher when she was young.  She taught school in a small town where all the grades were in the same room.  During the winter she came in early to light the fire in the wood stove so the room would be warm when the kids got to school.   There was this goldfish in a glass bowl in the window of the schoolhouse.  It got so cold the night before that bowl of water had frozen solid with the goldfish in the middle of it.  She didn't want the kids to see the dead goldfish so she put the bowl in the closet out of sight.  That night, after the school day was over, she took out the goldfish bowl and there was the goldfish swimming around like nothing had happened.  Maybe there is something to this cyrogenics thing.  My mother was a teacher, my Aunt Lucille, and my Aunt Melba.  Aunt Melba had a school named after her after she retired in Alvin TX.  She was a great lady, she helped the Mexican kids learn English and took old people to the doctor or where ever they needed to go.  She said the best part about teaching for so long was when the kids she had taught came back to see her years later and thanked her for taking the extra time to help them when they were young.   Just a little extra makes all the difference sometime and they never forgot it.  Most of her students turned into fine, productive human beings. 

One day, near the end of her teaching days, she took a class of students to the Astrodome to see Nolan Ryan pitch.  They were watching the warmups before the game and Nolan Ryan came over to see Aunt Melba and thank her for teaching him in the 3rd grade.  He autographed a baseball and gave it to her on the spot.   You know all her students were in awe of her after that because Nolan Ryan had visited with her.   She just said, I knew he would never amount to much.  He didn't pay attention to his studies, all he ever wanted to do was throw a baseball.


   One day I took my mother over to Edna to visit her brother Bill.   We found them out in the driveway, Aunt Imogene busting up rocks and concrete with a sledge hammer and Uncle Bill leaning on a pickup telling her how to do it.  He said they were filling in holes in their driveway but really he was doing it for Aunt Imogene's health.  He said she needed the exercise of swinging a sledge hammer, good for her heart.     We went inside and Aunt Imogene made some coffee and broke out some cake she had baked and we sat around the table talking.  I started telling the story of my mother being stopped for expired inspection sticker on her car.  She told the cop she didn't know it was expired and she would go get a new one right now.  Well the cop gave her a ticket and that made her mad.   She didn't pay the fine, she went to court instead.  She told the judge that she didn't know it was expired and she got a new inspection as soon as she knew but she didn't need a ticket.  And on top of that she wasn't going to pay it.  The judge said, "Well how do you like cauliflower because that's what they are having in the county jail tonight."    My mother just told him back, " I like it just fine, I grew up eating cauliflower."  The judge said he was not going to put a 75 year old woman in jail for expired inspection sticker but pay more attention to it from now on.      So after I told that story, Aunt Imogene told about last year, Bill was riding a motorcycle into town.  Supposedly, he was going in to get an inspection sticker, but I'm not sure about that part.  Anyway the cop stopped him and gave him a ticket for no inspection sticker.  Uncle Bill refused to pay it.  Finally, they arrested him and made him spend a week in the county jail.  Aunt Imogene had to bring a television down to the jail every night so he could watch his nighttime programs.  Now everyone in the family and half of Edna volunteered to pay Uncle Bill's fine so he could get out of jail but he wouldn't hear of it.  He said he was enjoying the rest and he was visiting with lots of old friends.   I told them you are all a bunch of hard headed anarchists.  I am proud to be part of this family.   Now I thought that was all of the story until I talked to my cousin Melba Lucille.   She said the sheriff actually came over to Bill's house and put him in handcuffs and hauled him off to jail.  The across the street neighbor asked, "What are they hauling off 84 year old Bill for?"   Somebody told him, " They got him on suspicion of raping those 3 girls over in Vanderbilt."

Now 30 years later I am living in Bishop TX and the sheriff calls from Kingsville.  He says he has a warrant for my arrest.   I told him that he must have the wrong person, all I ever did was work and sleep.  Well the warrant was for tall grass over at my rent house in Kingsville.  Bill took me over to talk to him about it and he said I owed 200 and some dollars or he was going to put me in jail.  I didn't think they would put a 66 year old man in jail for tall grass and refused to pay.  He put me in his car and escorted me to the Kleberg county jail.  I didn't get to see a judge or talk to a lawyer, just go to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.  I did my time without complaining, I learned a lot from my fellow inmates.  They were all in their 20's so my jailhouse name was the "old man".  Then they found out that I had $200 but just refused to pay and I became "the hardheaded old man".  They let me out in 2 days and I went on about my business.   I had to go see the judge and he had a picture of a rug against a fence in an alley.  He asked if I had ever seen that before.  I told him no, that was the first time.  He dismissed my case but I had already spent my time in jail so it didn't really matter.  Over a year later, I heard they were after me again for tall grass.  I went over to Kingsville this time before I got put in jail.  Turned out it wasn't even my rent house, it was the house on the alley behind me.  They had gotten the addresses confused.  I finally got all that straightened out and didn't have to spend more time in the hoosgow. 


My mother was a devout Presbyterian.  She went to bible study classes, taught classes and went to church faithfully.  I can remember when I was about 6 years old we had this big bell in a bell tower and a rope that hung down and one day they let the kids pull the rope to ring the bell.  I got in line to wait my turn just like I had been taught.  Several of the boys would ring the bell and then cut in line way in front of me and they got to ring it again.  But I waited patiently for my turn to pull the rope.   I finally got to the front of the line and the grown up in charge said that was enough, it was time to go to church.  I got up all the courage that a 6 year old could muster and told him that I had not gotten to ring the bell yet.  Well, he told me, you can do it next time.   I'm sure it was a small thing in his life, he probably forgot about it immediately,  but it was pretty large for a 6 year old.  I never did get to ring that bell and I have not forgotten it for over 60 years. 

There were a couple of more incidents in my life where those Presbyterians stepped on me.  One on a used washing machine sale and one time when the Alcoves who lived across the street from us invited my son to go to church with them.  Well he was in one of those growing stages and he didn't have any dress pants.  But we put him in his best clean blue jeans and sent him over.  Mr. Alcove, a fine upstanding Presbyterian gentleman, said he wasn't dressed well enough to go to church with them.  That has been 30 years ago (40 years now) and neither me nor my son has forgotten that.   I don't think my son has ever been in church again either.   I'm sure there are all kinds of people in every religion but I don't have any use for organized religion.   I can do just fine sitting in a boat watching the sun come up over the bay in the morning.  And those churches can get along without me.



Ho Chi Minh Hillock  -  A long time ago I spent a year in sunny Viet Nam.  I was driving this truck around the country with 1200 gallons(duce and a half) or 5000 gallons (five ton) of gasoline in the back.  They told me it was safe and I was young and believed them.  Anyway,  every so often we had guard duty on our perimeter at night.  You would get the afternoon off to shower and clean up and draw your rifle from the armory and clean it.  That rifle was always dusty and rusty because it was always locked up so we would not shoot each other accidentally. 

So I took a shower and started cleaning my rifle, it took all afternoon.  We had a house boy to spit shine boots so I didn't have to do that.  About mid afternoon we started wondering about Ho Chi Hillock.  Ho Chi wasn't his real name but let his beard grow for 3 days and he was the spittin image of Ho Chi Minh.  So we called him Ho Chi.  He was older than the rest of us, probably 27 or 29 and we all looked up to him as a leader.   It was almost time to go get checked out for guard duty and Ho Chi still had not come in. 

We all got lined up to get inspected, 15 or 16 of us and we saw Ho Chi Hillock in his 5 ton driving down the road coming into the motor pool.   A huge trail of dust following him.  Our road was always dusty.  Not as dusty as Pleiku in the summer.  That was like driving through talcum powder a foot deep.  It was so thick in the air you couldn't see or breathe.  But still it was covering Ho Chi and his truck.   The lieutenant was going down the line now checking us out and our rifles and asking questions.  Questions like, "Who is general of the army?" and "What's your second general order?"    The one soldier that looks the sharpest and knows the answers makes "the man" and doesn't have to pull guard duty.  He gets to sleep all night and still get tomorrow off.   So everybody tries to be the cleanest and  look their best.

By now, Ho Chi is walking back from the motor pool to the armory to draw his rifle.  He put it over his shoulder and walked over and got in line right down from me.  I and everybody else is having a hard time trying to keep a straight face now.  Everybody is clean and freshly shaven, spit shinned boots, sparkling clean rifle,  and then there is Ho Chi, covered in dust, at least two days growth of beard, standing there with a dirty, rusty rifle.  Even the lieutenant walking down the line checking everyone out is smiling.  He saw it happening too.

We sat in our bunker all night, me and Ho Chi.  "Did you make "the man", Ho Chi?"   "What did that lieutenant say again, Ho Chi?" I would ask him.    "He said I was filthy and my rifle was grungy."            



Christmas 1966.  I had a job that day hauling fuel up the road to Pleiku.  I remember in the summertime it was the hottest dustiest place I have ever been.  The dust on the road was like driving through talcum powder. So I didn't like to go there to start with.  But I was also mad because Bob Hope was coming to Qui Nhon and I was going to miss him.  Once in a lifetime chance to see Bob Hope and they sent me in the opposite direction.  But I loaded up and headed up the road to deliver gasoline or JP4.  I didn't get very far before the MP's stopped me and made me turn around.  Seems the VC had blown up a bridge and traffic was halted until construction crews could get it rebuilt.  So I turned around and went in to Qui Nhon and watched Bob Hope.  Best show of my life, I will never forget him.  There were thousands of GI's there and Bob Hope was great.  He had his golf club and jokes and he had American girls with him.  They were beautiful.  There has never been another one like Bob Hope.  I can also remember the hueys flying around to give him and us protection.  Glad they were on my side.    I got in a little trouble when I got back to my company but I told them I went to see Bob Hope.  What could they say, it was a once in a lifetime event.


Last pair of dry socks.  You don't realize how nice it is to have dry socks unless you have had wet feet for a couple of weeks.   It was monsoon season and we were working every day driving trucks and delivering fuel around central Viet Nam.   I had stayed pretty dry, if you would get mamasan two air mattresses, she would sew you up a slicker suit with hood out of one and keep the other one to sell.  So the rainsuit was free to me and fit perfect.  But it only went down to my knees and from there down I was wet for a couple of weeks.  We had socks drying on clothes line inside our tent but they never got completely dry.  Every day we would put on damp socks and take off dripping wet socks at the end of the day.

But I was saving one pair hid way in the back of my locker and I was just waiting for the day that I could not stand being wet any more.  One night I dried off my feet and put on my last pair of dry socks.  They felt soooo good, like a warm puppy, like hugging a long time friend, like a beautiful sunset.  I lay down on my cot to get some sleep.  It wasn't 15 minutes and the sergeant came in rousting everybody out.  The motor pool was flooding and we had to move our trucks to higher ground.  I pulled on my boots and headed down to the motor pool.  I didn't know it but the water was almost waist deep in the motor pool already.  I got my truck started, it sounded like a motor boat, blub blub blub, the exhaust was under water, and drove up the hill out of the water.  We saved our trucks but my boots and socks were soaked again.   I wrung them out as best I could and slept with wet socks next to my body.  But they never did dry out til 3 weeks later. 



Once a month the supply people would come to our company and give us new boots or clothes for worn out.  While driving around in my Duce and a half, I would find a boot on the side of the road.  So I started saving every one I found.  When I had 2 that were about the same size, I would trade them in for a new pair.  When I left Viet Nam, I had 4 pairs of brand new canvas hiking boots, enough to last me for perhaps the rest of my life.  But it was not to be.  When I shipped them home, somebody opened up my duffle bag and stole them all.  The only pair I have now is a pair that Dan Wright outgrew and gave me.  I wear them sometime when I am working outside.  Once I tried on my dress shoes and found out they were too small for me.  I tried to turn them in for some new shoes but they were in too good shape.  They told me I had to wear them out and they would replace them.  I wore boots every day and so it was hard to wear out a pair of shoes that I never wore.  A week before the supply team came back I tied those shoes to the back of my duce and a half with a piece of wire.  And I drug them around behind me every day for a week.  Then the day they showed up I took that pair to the middle of the motor pool and poured some diesel on them and set them on fire.  After they had burned for about 5 minutes, I stomped them out and carried them in.  I flopped them on the counter, the smoke was still curling off them, and told them I had smooth wore them out, could I please have a new pair.   Yes sir, they gave me a brand new pair.  They said that was the worst pair of shoes they had ever seen.



Going home from Viet Nam was kind of a big thing.  It was always terrible the last month.  After spending 11 months in country it would be terrible to be killed or wounded during your last month.  I told my Sergeant that I didn't want to drive anymore, I would stand guard duty at the petroleum depot at night.  Nobody wanted that duty so that was my job for my last month.  The first night I was standing in the guard shack thinking -- if somebody wanted to come in here and blow this thing up like they did over in Quin Hon, all they had to do was drive by and toss a hand gernade in with me and kaboom I was dead meat.  So every night I would take sandbags and build me a little barricade with my back to the cement block building and mounted my M60 machine gun in front.  That way nobody could sneak up behind me but I could cover the entrance and the road easily.  Of course nobody ever bothered us so I made my last 30 days without incident.




OK, it is Veterans Day Nov. 11 so I will tell one more war story.   The next day my friend Begay was shot and sent home.  Begay was a Navaho Indian and he I had gone to Bangkok together for R&R.  Million dollar wound, he got shot in the arm.  We don't know who shot him.  That was the bad part.  You would be driving along in your fuel truck and someone would be shooting tracers over your hood.  Don't know if it was VC or Koreans or just GI's trying to scare you.  The only thing they could see were my eyeballs peeking over the dash and I had my foot on the accelerator on the floor.  So yeah, they scared me a little.  One night I was hauling diesel from Qui Nhon out to our fuel depot in Phu Tai.  I pulled into the yard and they said they could not fuel me up.  I wanted to know why not.  They took me around to the back of my tanker and there was a bullet hole in the back.  It kind of surprised me as I didn't even know anybody was shooting at me.  So I got to quit for that night.

           Short Timer Jokes

Short timer -- I'm so short, I can sit on a matchbox and dangle my feet off the edge. 

  I'm so short, when it rains, I'm the last person to know.

And Begay was a short timer too, I think he had less that a month to go in country.  Everybody knew exactly how many days they had left and when you started getting short it would make you more and more nervous.  It was terrible to spend 355 days in sunny Viet Nam and then get shot on your last days.  I actually spent 366 days because of paperwork mess up, you bet I was sweating.  But the last days were down in Cam Ranh Bay and that was about the safest place you could be if you were in Viet Nam. 

When I got on that airplane I was a happy camper.  There were a lot of us that were glad to be going home.  I don't remember how long that flight was because I slept through most of it.  But it I think everybody was smoking including me.  I didn't realize how dirty the air was until we landed and they opened the door.  Ft. Lewis Washington.  I looked out at a mountain of pine trees and smelled the fresh air and let me tell you, that was a wonderful feeling.  I will never forget it as long as I live.  I was proud to be back in the world again.

They fed us steaks and all the milk I could drink.  I had not had milk in a year and I drank 3 or 4 glasses.  It made me kind of sick to my stomach.  But it was so sweet and cool.  I still had a year and a half left in my Army tour but I was headed back to Texas and I was happy.


Hand Grenade.   One day I picked up a Korean soldier who needed a ride.  We talked as best we could, him speaking Korean and me English.  He was a good guy and I traded him a half pack of cigarettes for a hand grenade.  I would carry it with me on guard duty but never had a chance to throw it.  One day I packed it inside a metal popcorn popper and sent it home to Bay City.  The pin was tied up and could not fall out and so it was safe.  I don't know who unwrapped it, maybe my sister, she put it up on the self above the TV.  My mother asked my daddy what is that up there, he told her it is just a hand grenade.  She said to get it out of her house, she didn't want it in there.  So he took it out to the farm where they had a shop and did welding and repair work.  A lot of farmers were standing around talking and said it was not real.  Across the road was a little pond with a levy around it where the oil field trucks would dump their load of mud.  One of them untied the string, pulled the pin and tossed it into that pond.  When it went off, it threw mud and water all over them but nobody got hurt.  I didn't get to see it but they all got a kick out of playing with a hand grenade.


I had two friends that I went to high school with who were killed in Viet Nam.  Mike Cotton was a good friend and gifted guitar player.  He never got to fulfill  his dream of being in a popular band. 

And the other was Robert Dunn.  Robert played the bass horn in the band.  They lived out on a creek toward Freeport TX.  When hurricane Carla came through, I think it was 1963, his family got trapped in their house by the rising water.  They went up into the attic and then knocked a hole in the roof and climbed out.  A wave came and tore the roof off the house and Robert hung on to that roof for 3 days before the weather cleared enough for him to swim to safety.  He lost his whole family in the storm.  Then only a few years later, he died in Viet Nam.  I have never forgiven the government for starting that war and killing 50,000 good young men for absolutely nothing.  And all the other wars they have started over the years.  Profits for the industrial military complex, the politicians, and other corporations, higher taxes, inflation, and heartache for the people.

And from my wife's class,

Michael Pierce.  Another fine young man who didn't make it back from Viet Nam.

   From time to time all through my life, I have written letters, emailed congressmen trying to stop them from fighting wars all over the world.  It is killing or wounding a lot of fine young Americans, bombing and killing brown people creating more animosity and terrorists and wasting the productive capacity and wealth of our country.  But they have never withdrawn the troops from all over the world and stopped waging war.   Presidential election of 2016 going on right now.  Only one candidate, Rand Paul, has said we need to pull out of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan and bring the troops home.  But he has been mostly inundated by the swamp.  All the rest are war mongers.  Why can't they see if they would just leave those countries alone, they would go back to fighting each other like they have been for thousands of years and leave us alone.  In his farewell address President Eisenhower said to beware the military industrial complex.  But they seem to have  become more numerous and have overwhelmed our politicians and our country. 




I also spent some time in the Army stationed in Germany.  Had an easy job in a motor pool driving Generals and Colonels around.   When I first got to that company I was kind of disappointed.  It was a sloppily run outfit with no sense of pride.  We had a parade every month and the best company would march in the front of the parade.  We were at the tail end.  Just sloppy.   The General in charge of our post knew it too and he found his favorite first Sergeant and brought him in to run that company.  First Sergeant Roberts, one of the best people I have ever known.  You always knew where you stood with Sgt. Roberts.  He called us out in formation and told us we were going to straighten out and be the best company in the division.  We started marching practice every week, everybody showed up, no excuses.   We slowly began to move up the line at the monthly parade and finally we were marching at the front.  Sgt. Roberts wouldn't have it any other way.

One day I was coming out of the mess hall and Sgt. Roberts had the chief cook outside, heels locked at attention, and he was chewing him out.  I didn't know a first sergeant could do that to an E7 but I guess he knew he could.  I ducked my head and kept on moving as I didn't want to be a part of that ass eating.  Yes, I had already been on the receiving end of one of Sgt Roberts' tirades and I had no desire to interfere in their business.   That night I mentioned it back in the barracks and my friend Larry Norwood said he knew about it.  Larry was the driver for General Wagstaff who was our base commander.   At noon that day the General told Larry to go get something to eat as they had to go somewhere in the afternoon and would be late getting back.  Well, Larry eats fast anyway and in a little while he was back at the General's office.  General Wagstaff commented that it didn't take him long to eat and Larry told him truthfully they didn't have much to eat over to the mess hall.  General Wagstaff got on the phone and called his First Sergeant, Roberts, to go check out the mess hall.  Sgt Roberts went down and read the menu and then went to see what was actually served to the troops,  which wasn't much.   Everybody knew the mess Sergeant was selling meat and other food on the black market but we didn't say anything.  So that didn't leave much food for the troops, if we got hungry, we would go buy a hamburger instead of eating at our own mess hall.   Well, after that ass chewing by Sergeant Roberts, our mess hall food got a lot better.  It was never as good as Air Force mess halls but it was close. 

One day Sergeant Roberts called us out in the parking lot.  He informed us that we had a thief in our company.  Somebody had been breaking into cabinets and foot lockers and stealing.   Sgt. Roberts told us to keep our eyes open and see if we could catch that thief.  He said to bring him in and he better have some black eyes, broken bones, missing teeth and plenty bloody.   Then Sgt Roberts said he would deal with him.   You  know after that the thievery stopped and we never had any more trouble.

And my friend Roger Melby.  We lived off post for a while.  Roger was from Wisconsin and asked me if I wanted to go skiing in Berchesgarden.  I told him I was from  south Texas.  I knew how to water ski but we had no hills and I had seen snow only once or twice in my life in Texas.  "No problem, I will teach you how to ski," said Roger.   So we loaded up my little BMW and headed south to Berchesgarden.   It was dark when we got there and we could not find a room anywhere to stay.  Completely full, no vacancy.  So we started driving out this country road and found a wide place and stopped.  We broke out sleeping bags and went to sleep on the side of the road.  The next morning I heard this bell tinkling and woke me up.  It was a beautiful morning, the sun just coming up.  Right beside the road was a green valley with mountain behind, the most beautiful valley I had ever seen in my life.  I ran down and caught me a baby goat to pet.  His mama had a bell around her neck and she didn't much care for me messing with her kid.

 We rented these skis that were about 7 feet long.  We got on a tram and started up the mountain.  Then we got on a sky lift and went higher on the mountain.  Then we got on another ski lift and went to the top.  I put on my skis and promptly fell over.  Roger put on his skis and went down the mountain like a pro.  I got up and fell over. I got up and fell over.  Eventually, I started down the mountain skiing and falling.  Roger went by me twice more on my way down without even slowing down.   I finally got to the bottom and here came Roger on his 4th run.   I started chewing him out because he was supposed to teach me how to ski.  He said that was the way he learned, just get up on top of the mountain and figure out how to get down.  He said, you made it, and now you know how to ski.  And so we had one of the best days of my life riding up the mountain and skiing down.   I have now been to Colorado and New Mexico and Washington state skiing and I have enjoyed every trip.  I use those little short skis they make for Texans.  They work a lot better than the long ones.  Every trip has been something to remember.


In all my travels there were 5 places that I remember as most beautiful.

1. That valley in Berchesgarden with green grass and goats and farmers house and barn in the background

2.  The valley up the Neccar river (Shorty Stricklin and I took a train ride up the river and spent the night in a little German town)

3.  Susan and I were traveling through Tennessee one afternoon.  We got off the main highway after a rain shower and went up a mountain.  The sun was shinning and raindrops sparkling on the green green grass down below.  I'll never forget it as long as I live.

4.  Coming back from Alaska, yes Alaska had some beautiful scenery and mountains but the western part of Canada from Prince Rupert down to Washington was the most beautiful forest I ever saw.  I wanted to go build a cabin and just live off the land.  But Susan reminded me it was summertime and how cold it got in the winter.  So I kept on moving back south to the states.

5.  Cancun Mexico has some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.  From Cancun south the water is the perfect shade of blue and the beaches white sand.  Just made my heart sing.

6.  OK.  One more.  Scuba diving off Ambergris Caye in Belize.  There are these walls of underwater canyons and coral and fishes of all kinds, colors and sizes.  Got to watch Robert, our guide, ride a sea turtle.  They went round and round and came up under Susan's legs.  I told her later that I didn't know a turtle could squeal underwater but she said that was not the turtle that was her.


I had never been to a formula 1 race before.  So while I was stationed in Germany, I decide to go to the German Grand Prix in Nurburgring Germany.   I loaded up my little BMW  and got my friend Stoney Burke and Shorty Strickland and we headed out.  Stoney wasn't his real name but anybody named Burke was called Stoney after the TV show.  Anyway, we were headed around this mountain racing a German family in a new Mercedes.  I was determined that he couldn't outrun my BMW and he felt the same about his new Mercedes.  The speedometer only went to 120 mph and it was buried way past that when we got to the bottom of the mountain, somewhere between 125 and 130.  There were no speed limits but they had a suggested speed of 100 klicks, about 60 mph.   We were going over twice that fast when we hit that depression across the road.  I think it was where the snow ran off in the springtime.  It wasn't much of a ditch but when we hit it my BMW went sideways just for a fraction of a second.  I had fast reflexes back then and caught it but I kinda scared me and I slowed down.  Stoney was sitting in the back seat and he leaned over and asked, "Do farts have lumps in them?  If not, we need to stop so I can clean out my drawers."  We slowed down and drank beer after that.

So we got to Nurburg Germany and it was drizzling rain.  The track was about 14 miles long on the roads around Nurburg and we could camp wherever we wished.  We found a spot just about a quarter mile from the start and set up camp.  Each of us had a shelter half and two of them snapped together to make a little pup tent.  The third half didn't fit at all.  So being enterprising young men, we found some string and a piece of wire and made us a needle and we sewed the third half to our pup tent.  We put a stick through the middle to hold it up.   Shorty dove in first and got the high side because it was driest.  I dove into the other side and that left the middle for Stoney.  He was mostly drunk and he didn't care one way or another.  When you got in the tent you could see daylight in the top where we punched holes to sew it together and I knew it was going to rain in.  We stayed there 3 days in the rain.  Shorty rubbed against the side of the tent and got it leaking and he got wet first.  Water came in from underneath and I got wet next.  Stoney laid there in the middle and looked up at the sky through the holes for 3 days and never did get wet.  We cooked food and drank beer and watched practice and made bets on who would win.

When the race started I thought I would get a picture on the first lap.  We could see the starting grid and they had this big right hander and a curve to the left and then they came by right in front of us.  I figured they would still be getting up to speed and I could get some good pictures.  They came by so fast I couldn't even find them in the view screen.  They were just a blur.  The spray was flying so high I don't know how the drivers could see.   It was a great race, I forget who won, I think it was Jackie Stewart.  But we had a great weekend.

I was also at the track in Hochenheim Germany when Jimmy Clark was killed.   He was running in a formula 2 race on the wrong tires, just a demo race for him.  I was timing him on that lap but he never came back around.  They called Graham Hill and the crew into the pits and then they announced he had died.  Somebody said he was on the back straightaway and some fan had run across the track in front of him.  He died avoiding that fan.   That was a terrible day because Jim Clark was my hero.

Helmut Fath

I did find another hero at the same track later.   I didn't know at the time what was happening but I knew from the crowd it was something special.  I could feel it in the air and hear it from the spectators.  It was a motorcycle sidecar race and this guy named Helmut Fath was driving a URS.  I had never heard of URS before but he was outrunning the BMW's and Moto Guizzi's and all the other motorcycles.   Later, I read about it in Car and Driver magazine.  Helmut Fath was a native of Hockenheim Germany and he wanted to be sidecar champion.  He was driving for the factory team of BMW but they said he wasn't good enough and they fired him.  Well, Helmut didn't agree with that assessment so he started developing and building his own engine, the URS.  He found a way to get a lot more horsepower than the factory teams.  He started racing with his own engine and beating the factory teams.  Then BMW decided he was good enough and wanted him back on their team.  They had owned the motorcycle title since the beginning of time and didn't want to lose it to an upstart.  But Helmut refused and continued to race sidecars against the BMW factory team and win.  I think he killed off some of his friends along the way riding side hack for him.  But he persevered.  The race that I attended was the race that gave him the motorcycle sidecar championship for that year, beating BMW and all the rest.  Home town boy winning the championship at the hometown track in front of his friends.  It was something to remember.Helmut Fath at Hochenheim Germany

Helmut Fath and Wolfgang Kalauch 1968 Sidecar Champions


   While stationed in Germany I got the opportunity to travel all over Europe.  Beautiful country, too much traffic.   One day it was snowing but I was travelling and seeing the countyside.  It got dark and I could not find a place to stay.  So I just kept driving.  Snow was coming down so hard I could barely see.  I saw a fellow standing on the side of the road by himself trying to hitch a ride.  He looked mighty cold so I stopped and invited him inside.  He was a college student trying to get home to his family for the holiday.  Luckily he spoke enough english that we could communicate.  I told him I would take him home.  We drove and drove through the snow.  Sometime we would have to stop and wipe the snow off the windshield because it would pile up so thick the windshield wipers could not keep up.  He had to get out a couple of times to wipe snow off the traffic signs so he could find his way home.

Finally we got to his house and he family was glad to see him home.  They invited me to spend the night which I gladly accepted.  His room was upstairs in what should have been the attic.  A long narrow room and the walls were the roof of the house.  Most houses in Germany are a lot smaller than we are used to in the US.  I got the guest room and settled into the most comfortable down blankets I had ever felt.  It was some of the best sleeping I have ever done.  Next morning they fed me and I said my goodbyes.  I made some good friends that week.    


   After Germany I came back home to Bay City.  My parents had built a new house and moved from Angleton to Bay City.    I decided that I needed more education and started back to school at Wharton Junior College.  A great school.  That is where I learned square dancing and found my wife, Susan.   She was coming from Palacios every day and we started hanging out together.


Boys - Be glad if you have girls instead of boys. This is a true story about my nephew, Scott. 
One day my sister was washing her van. Scott, age 6, wanted to help. There is not much a 6 year old can do but she got some Windex and paper towels and told him to wash all the windows inside the van. When he got through she walked around to inspect his work and complemented him. "You did a really good job on all the windows except one." "No," he told her, " I got them all." 

"You missed the back one, I can see smudges on the corner." 
Scott told her, "That's not smudges, Mom,  that's stuff out of my nose I am saving."


            Iraan Tx    My friend Buddy and I worked together on houses in Austin.  Buddy was a plumber and had this fine large mustache.   I was telling him that one time Susan and I were going skiing in Angel Fire NM.  It was the middle of January but it was warm in Texas.   I told Buddy that we stopped in the most desolate place on the face of the earth, Sheffield Tx, and got some lunch meat and made sandwiches.  It was over 80 degrees and  One convenience store and gas pump and they was about all they had.   Buddy told me NO.   He was from Iraan Tx about 10 miles from Sheffield.  That was the poorest place on earth.   You could tell where the banker lived because he had both a windmill and a burro.   They all went to Sheffield to party on Saturday night.   He pronounced it    I  re  ann.


Plowing the Garden

I went to a car auction today. While I was there they also auctioned off this big disc that you pull behind a tractor and it plows up fields. It reminded me of my friend Roger Mertz.

Every year Roger planted this big garden on the lot beside his house. It was a big job tilling and planting and tending and harvesting. But the fresh tomatoes and vegetables were delicious, much better than you could buy at the store. It was spring and time to til up his garden. Roger was not looking forward to this chore because it was an all day job walking behind his little tiller and listening to the noise and feeling the vibration to say nothing about the hot Texas sun beating down on his head. Just before he got started Roger looked down the road and here came a big 4 wheel drive tractor pulling one of those huge discs, the kind they use to plow large fields. Roger waved the farmer down and asked how much to plow his garden. The farmer took one look and said 20 dollars. He backed his big disc up to the back of the lot and let it down. It was so heavy it sank 6 inches into the soil. He revved up the tractor and made one pass back out to the road and picked up his disc. Roger handed him a 20 dollar bill and sat down in the shade and drank beer all day long. His work was done for that day.


True stories and jokes. I will try not to offend any race, color, or creed. I had this little convenience store in Palacios Tx and worked my butt off trying to make it the best it could be.  About 2 years into it I was working on the back row, pulling cans forward and taking inventory.  I looked up and I had a white guy, a black guy, a Mexican, and a Vietnamese in my store shopping all at the same time. At that moment I knew I had a successful business, it didn't matter that we were barely making the light bill and payment every month. That store never did make any money but we did make a lot of friends.  My best friend was Glenn Parks.  He was a little older than me and retired.  We went fishing together and became close friends. You can always tell someone's intelligence by how much they think like you do and Glenn and I thought the same on a lot of different matters.  Glenn was a very intelligent fellow. We would fish and talk about the world, family, our kids and wives or ex's, politics, golf, food -- whatever came up. One day we fished for 2 or 3 hours and caught nothing.  We upped the anchor and started moving to a different place in the bay and went by Grassy Point.  There was a boat anchored there so we shut down the motor and drifted close and asked if they were catching anything. The guy in front of their boat said they had caught nothing.  So we started off slowly to go somewhere else.  Glenn said, "That guy was from the New England."  I told Glenn, "You don't know where that guy is from, he could be from anywhere."  Glenn said "Five bucks says he is from New England." I said, "I have the rest of the United States, Canada, South America, all of Europe, and China and Russia and all the rest of the world? I will take that bet."  So I turned around and eased back to within talking range and we asked, "Where you from?" The man in the front of the boat said, "New York." Glenn asked him, "Upstate?" "Yep, he replied."  I reached into my billfold and pulled out a $5 bill and handed it to Glenn. Glenn said I am really good with accents.  That guy had not said 2 sentences and Glenn had him pegged.   A few years later, after I had sold my convenience store I walked in one morning to get a cup of coffee.  I saw Tina Garcia behind the counter at the cash register and she had on this peek a boo dress that had these little diamonds cut out on the sides and that brown skin was showing through.  I immediately went around behind the counter and put my arm around her waist and put my fingers into those holes to touch that skin.  She slapped my hand away and said, "Get out of there, I didn't invite you in. You are the second person today to do that." "Oh, who was the first?" I asked.   Glenn.


       I hired this high school kid to work in my convenience store.  His name was An Nguyen and he was Vietnamese.  A lot of people didn't like Vietnamese when they came to America.  But I had spent a year in sunny south Viet Nam and I had made friends there, just like every other part of the world.  Anyway, An turned out to be a fine young man.  He was a good worker and had a hellofa good sense of humor as well.   One day we heard this report about a Vietnamese that got mad at his boss at a convenience store in Freeport or Brazoria.  He quit his job but he shot his boss in the throat before he left.  The boss didn't die but I tried to tell An that is NOT how we quit jobs in America.  I said you give 2 weeks notice and then you leave quietly.  OH, no, no, no, An told me.   We get gun and shoot boss, then we leave.   An and his family turned out to be good friends.

It was suspected that the Vietnamese who moved to the US would supplement their meat with dogs and cats.   Now An was the next generation and he did not eat cats and dogs or even the shrimp that his family caught and dried out in the sun in their back yard.   An liked hamburgers and junk food.   One day this girl came into the convenience store and asked if anybody wanted a young kitten, she had a whole liter to give away.   Without cracking a smile An just looked over and said....No thank you,  my freezer is full.  She left without another word.  It was all I could do not to fall on the floor laughing.           

An's mother would take shrimp and spread them out in her yard to dry.    Did not smell too good.  So I asked An if he ate those sun dried shrimp.  No,  An said I like junk food.

Sometime people would make fun of An, ask if he was VC.   Yes, An said,  I go to Victoria College.

An and his family were fine people.



 This old man was going to the city council meeting in Palacios to ask about getting his street repaired.  Texas Ave.  He said he had been going to meetings for 30 years trying to get that street repaired.  I asked him, isn't Texas Ave just 4 blocks long?  Yep.  For 30 years he had been trying to get the street repaired with no luck.  I think they did finally repave that street, maybe 5 years later.


My friend Bill had a convenience store in Columbus.  He would buy things in large quantities and every week I would drive from Palacios to Columbus in my old Dodge pickup and get a load for my store.  Rubber boots, ammo, fishing tackle.  One summer day on the way to Columbus the highway department was working on the road outside El Campo and they had the traffic stopped.   I pulled up beside the flagman and rolled down the window.   I said,   You know, I don't think it is as hot this week as it was last week.   That guy looked down at me and said,   That's because you are sittin in that air conditioned car.   My feets are melting into this asphalt.


I met lots of interesting people while working at Celanese.  Jimmy Shimek,  Gerald Ludwig, Darwin Busha, Bernie Spence, Jim Harris, Gil Hayes,  Roger Mertz,  John Sardelic, Al Garason, Tom Forehand the guy who knew everything beforehand. Courtney Grigsby.

When we had a shutdown for maintenance they did not need operators.  So they would put us with a crew of pipefitters,  boilermakers,  electricians or some other craft as helpers.   I was with the boilermakers working inside a tower,  a distillation column, but I was outside mostly on fire watch.  Well I was watching my bohemian friend Jimmy Shimek on top of a tall tank out in the tank farm.  He was working with the paint crew.  Jimmy had this rope tied around his middle and there was this girl holding on to the end of the rope.   I asked him later what was her job.  Well, if I fall off the tank she is supposed to stop me from falling all the way to the ground.   Jimmy,  you weight 225 or 230 and that little girl weighs about 90lbs.  How is she going to stop you from falling,  the rope will just slide through her hands or if she holds on tight it will pull her over the edge behind you.  Jimmy said,  I know.   I was real careful not to get too close to the edge.


When Jimmy was growing up his dad owned a bait camp and beer joint at Sea Brook.   Hurricane coming in and the county deputy came by a few times telling him to vacate.  His dad did not want to leave, said he was going to ride it out.  Finally they told him if he did not leave immediately, he would be arrested.  He left and after the hurricane there was nothing left of his business except muddy ground.  But they went to work and started rebuilding and when Jimmy went swimming in the canal out front he found this pile of beer cans stacked up underwater like a pyramid.  All the beer in the coolers and store room had ended up in one big pile.  Jimmy started diving and retrieving cans of beer.  The health department  came by and said you cannot sell that beer that had been underwater.   Well a Bohemian is not going to throw away good beer.   So Jimmy invited his friends and they had a diving/drinking party that lasted about 3 days. 

  So Jimmy grew up running a shrimp boat.  He took his girlfriend, Linda who later became his wife,  out shrimping in the Houston ship channel.   They were pulling one way along the drop off and they met another shrimp boat coming toward them along the same drop off.   Jimmy said, travelling in this direction, we have the right of way, he will have to move off.   Well the other shrimper did not move off,  he got closer and closer.   Finally he gave way but not soon enough and the boards of their shrimp nets locked together and they started going around and around in a circle.   They both had to pull in their nets and get the boards separated.  While this was going on, Jimmy's lazy line wrapped around his propeller and shaft and killed his engine.   His shrimp boat slowly drifted out into the middle of the ship channel.   They looked up and here came two large ships one from each direction both blasting their horns for him to get out of the channel.   Linda said she barely knew this boy, Jimmy, and he stripped down to his underwear, told her to put on her life jacket, put a knife between his teeth and dove overboard.   She said she put on her life jacket.    Jimmy cut the lazy lazy line off his prop, climbed back aboard and cranked up the engine.   He straightened out right in the middle of the channel and ships passed on each side with only a foot to spare on each side.  Linda said it looked like they were in a canyon the ships were so high.  That was their first date.


  Jimmy and I at Lake Texana ....   We had long change and were off for several days.  So everybody got together and took boats and tents to Lake Texana outside Edna for a few days.  Four or five families.  We went fishing and water skiing and played volleyball and set up mess tent and we ate well for a few days.   One day it was particularly windy and the waves were about 4 foot high.  Jimmy took his boat and I took my boat and we went down to see how close we could get to the dam.   We stopped to talk and the wind blew us closer together.  Now Jimmy and I have both been around boats all our life and we saw the problem at the same time.  I got into reverse and Jimmy got into reverse but just before we got under way my boat came down just as his boat was coming up and the corner of his bow touched the side of my fiberglass boat.   Oh no, Jimmy said, I put a hole in the side of the fiberglass.  We decided to race back to the camp.   Now it was just a small hole but on the way back I was thinking how I was going to explain it to my wife, Susan.   I ran up on the shoreline and told Susan, you are not going to believe what happened.   I was coming across the lake and this fish jumped out of the water and hit the side of my boat and knocked a hole in it.   She took one look and said,  you and Jimmy ran your boats together.   Only two boats on the whole lake.  Everybody else has enough sense to stay off the lake when it is this rough.  But not you and Jimmy.  Neither one of you has enough sense to operate a boat.


His name was Al Garrison but we called him One Eye because his eyes were so close together he could look through a keyhole with both eyes.   We worked shift work together in the 70's.
Well Al liked to fish for redfish on the flats in West Matagorda Bay.   He would run his boat up into a cut, jump out and cast at the same time and then wade and fish the whole area before going to the next cut.
Well you know what happened.   One day when he jumped out of his boat he landed right on a sting ray.  It popped him right in the ankle, Al said it hurt like a mother.   He ran his boat back to Matagorda, got help loading it on the trailer, and drove directly to the hospital.   The barb went into the bone of his ankle and they had to cut it out.   He laid in the hospital bed for three weeks,  it got infected and they almost had to amputate his foot.   But he recovered and got out of the hospital.  Well the first thing he wanted to do was go fishing.  So he and his wife went fishing in the Intercoastal Canal at Matagorda and the first thing his wife caught was a sting ray.   They were very careful and got it into the boat with no problem.   His wife wanted to see that stinger that had given him so much trouble and almost cost him his foot.   While turning the sting ray over it flopped and the barb went into the meaty part of Al's hand.   He dug it out and I think he put a raw onion on it and the fishing trip was over for that day.   You know we rode him next day at work. 
You are a really considerate husband, One Eye, to let that ray sting you in the hand just to show your wife what it was like.   


My friend Courtney Grigsby started writing stories about his family.  It took me a minute and then I said "Oh, you are writing your "Roots".  "Yes," he said,
"That's what they said at work."  He let me read the transcript and it was fascinating. It told about early settlers in Matagorda county, working cattle and crops in the field.  In a way they were my roots too.  But in that story there was this white girl who married a black man.  They lived in a cabin off in the woods by themselves.  One day these men came out to that cabin and killed that girl and all the kids they could find just because she had married a black man.  One little boy escaped and hid out in the woods and survived.  That turned out to be Courtney's grandfather.  So I told Courtney, that I didn't know he had some whitey in his blood.  He said he didn't like to admit it but yes there was some. He told about overhauling a windmill when he was just a boy.  They had a rope tied to the top and it was the kid's job to lower it to the ground.  But the kids didn't have a lot to eat and they were all skinny.  They couldn't hold the windmill and when it started down it just fell over right on his grandfather's pickup.  His grandfather yelled and hollered some but he knew it was his own fault because he parked too close.

Courtney worked out at Celanese the same time as me.  He had a job of gathering samples from the ponds and the lab would ensure nothing harmful ever went out to the river.  The water they discharged was cleaner than the water they got from the Colorado river.  The company truck had this bad habit of dropping down into gear while it was just sitting there idling.  Courtney was down getting a sample of water and he had this bad feeling.  He looked up and the company truck was driving away all by itself.  Well he ran up and tried to get inside just about the time it went over the bank into the water.  Courtney had to walk back wet and tell them the company pickup was under water.  He knew he would be fired.  But everybody knew the problem with the truck.  They sent a cherry picker down to pull it back out, took it over to maintenance.  In a little while they had the water flushed out and had it running again.  After that it was no longer the lab truck, it was "Courtney's submarine".

Later on after I had moved on, Courtney asked me if I wanted to be in the email circle sending jokes around to everybody.  Of course I did.  But he asked if anything embarrassed me or was taboo.  I told him, "Courtney, you know me better than that.  We make fun of everybody, we don't care what color or race or political persuasion they are.   Oh, yeah, except blond hair blue eyed Germans.  We don't make fun of them."   Courtney told me, "Yes, especially them."  And we had jokes about everybody, especially politicians.  Courtney died way too young, lung cancer got him.  He said it was the cigarettes but I told him not necessarily.  I have lost other friends to cancer some were smokers some not.  But it is really sad to lose someone so happy and full of life.  Besides writing, Courtney played the guitar and painted.  Flip flop and shorts wearing, Courtney lived his life his way and I am proud to have known him.

We were working in our gun store in Bishop TX one day when the ATF showed up wanting to see our books.  Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.  It wasn't long before they found a problem and wanted to count every handgun and rifle in the place.  Bill was trying to help them but he was sickly with a bad cold.  They went through every firearm and every paperwork we had.  For 3 days we had to stand there and answer questions, sometimes about sales that were 5, 6, 7 years earlier.  I kept pretending it didn't bother me but this was our livelihood and we needed our gun business to make everything else work.  So their persistence was working on me too.  I went in to Kingsville one night to get a couple of Whoppers at Burger King for me and my mother.  The little girl there looked about 13 years old and I ordered my usual 2 Whoppers.  When she said $3.89, I didn't want her to get in trouble so I told her that I buy 2 Whoppers all the time and they should cost $4.19.  She said she gave me my "senior discount."  I told her thank you very much.  I was in my mid 50's at the time and didn't feel old at all.

So I had to relay that story to everyone in email the next day.  It was another milestone in my life and I had to pass it along.  Courtney wrote back that he was lecturing this new hand that was working for him and he could see the reflection of this old man with grey hair in the kids' glasses.  He was wondering who that old man was until he figured out it was Courtney himself.  That made me feel better.

Oh, and the ATF wrote us up for some sloppy paperwork and a couple of shotguns that we could not account for.  But nothing bad and we were glad to see them leave and go harass somebody else.


      Bill and Ivan had auto repair shops in the small town of Palacios.  Ivan loved his Chevrolets and didn't like to work on any thing else.  One day, Bill got a call from Ivan.  Ivan was broke down in Wadsworth, about 20 miles away, and would Bill please come and pull him home.  Naturally Bill said he would.

About that time, Bill looked up and here was Russell Yeager driving into his yard in his new Dodge pickup.  Bill asked Russell if he would go pull Ivan home as he was broke down in Wadsworth.  Russell said he would be happy to.

Ivan was sitting on the side of the road when he saw that Dodge coming down the road and he commenced to kicking the side of his pickup and cussing.  Russell tied on a tow rope and he drove 15 miles and hour and honked and waved at everybody he saw. 

Ivan couldn't do anything but sit there in his Chevrolet pickup and let a Dodge pull him home.


One day Ivan needed to pull a car into his yard to work on it and Bill volunteered to go get it.  Bill backed up close and tied a chain between the bumpers and drove off pulling the car behind him.  He didn't have anybody in the other car to steer or brake, just started pulling.  Just as he was turning into Ivan's yard the chain came loose.  The car drifted over to the left and came to rest beside the fence as Bill was getting out of his pickup. 

"Is that about where you wanted it?" he asked Ivan.  Ivan just shook his head and told him that would be fine, he would handle it from there.   But Ivan never asked Bill to tow another vehicle for him.


Ivan and Jack's Fishing Trip

         Ivan and Jack, the bank president, went fishing together out in Palacios bay.  They were catching some fish out of the boat and talking and joking and having a good time.   Jack got his line caught on something heavy.  It wasn't fighting and he knew it wasn't a fish so he wound it in to see just what he had caught.   Somebody had thrown a burlap bag of trash out into the water and Jack had hooked into it.  They pulled it aboard the boat and Ivan told him to don't throw it back out in a bay, it was full of garbage, and cans and all kinds of trash.  Ivan said he would take care of it.

    About a month later, Jack left the bank to go eat lunch.  The girls called Ivan and he came down to the bank.  When Jack got back, there in the middle of the bank was this gang of people.  The mayor, the city council, the head of the Chamber of Commerce all the people in the bank and the editor of the local newspaper.  Ivan had this burlap bag of trash all shellacked up on a stand with a plaque.  This trophy was caught by Jack Goodner,  May 1985, weight 14 pounds 11 ounces, caught in Palacios bay using a Zara spook and 14 pound Berkley Trilene line.  The fight lasted almost a half hour but Jack could be proud of his trophy.   Jack had to stand there and get his picture taken with his trophy and it was on the front page of the Palacios Beacon the very next week.  Needless to say, Jack didn't go fishing with Ivan any more.



 Fingers and Toes and Lawn Mowers

We had this lawn mower that ran on batteries.  It was a great mower, never had to buy gas or oil, just keep it charged up and it was ready to run.   My mother liked to mow so we really bought it for her.  She didn't have to pull start it, just grab the handle and take off.  It did have this button to push before you grabbed the handle, kind of a safety, but she had Alzheimer's and could not remember to push that button.  So I disconnected it, you know, bypassed that safety.  You know where this is going.

One day I needed to load that mower in the back of my pickup to take it somewhere.   It was so heavy, I was afraid I would hurt my back trying to lift it.  So I ran it up behind the pickup and reached down under the front to load the front first.  Then I was going to pick up the back and roll it into the pickup.  When I picked up the front the back went down on the concrete and closed the handle that made the blades run.  It hit my fingers about 6 times before I could drop it and get away.   I grabbed my hand and ran over in the grass and knelt down, the pain was terrible.  I didn't want to look but I knew I had to see how many fingers I still had.  Well I still had them all.  There was enough clearance between the housing of the lawn mower and the blades that it had just cut the tops of my fingers.  I went down to the pharmacist and he said they were not broken or they would be swollen.  He said to put this antibiotic on them and you should be smarter than to put your fingers under a running mower.

George Chadwick was my supervisor where I worked at a chemical company.  I had already quit and moved on but I heard he had cut off his big toe with a mower.  So I went over to visit.  Sure enough, he was sitting in his easy chair with his big toe all wrapped up and drinking beer to ease the pain.  I asked him what happened.  He said, he was mowing with his riding mower and some grass got clogged up right at the exhaust chute.  So he was kicking at it trying to get it dislodged and his foot got a little too far under the mower.   One hit and his big toe was gone.    But as bad as that was, the blood and the pain, there was something even worse.   Last year, Marvin Harvel, the supervisor in the unit next to ours, was mowing his yard and cut off his toe with a mower.  George said I rode him unmercifully for weeks.  How could anybody be so stupid to stick their foot under a mower while it was running, you know it cuts up bones and sticks and anything it hits.    Well, George said,  I know Marvin has heard about me cutting off my toe already.   I know he is going to come by and laugh at me and tell me how stupid I am.  But he is just torturing me right now by not coming by.    


Animal Rescue 911  -  I was over at my ex's eating a sandwich for supper.   We went outside and Susan heard this kitten meowing.  She said she had heard it the day before but could not find it.  That alley cat and just had a litter of kittens 4 months earlier and now it looked like she had another batch.  She kept hearing this one crying out but could not find it.  So she would be very quiet and when it would meow she would get a little closer.  Finally she said it was coming out of the big Ford dually that Bill had pulled out of the mud the day before and parked out past her yard.  We looked inside and in the back and under the hood but could not find that kitten.  Finally it crawled out of  one of the holes in the left front wheel.  But it was stuck in the back and could not get free.  We both reached up inside the wheel and at first it seemed at though it had a leg pinned somehow.  But then I could feel both it's back legs and could tell it was the kitten's tail that was stuck.  I pulled pretty hard and the kitten yelled but the tail would not come free.  So I had to go find a jack and a lug wrench.  I found a house jack in the back of Bill's pickup but could not find a lug wrench big enough to fit the lug nuts.  I found Bill and he located a socket and the Snap-On electric impact wrench he had gotten from Paul O'Brien.  I had my doubts about that thing loosening those big lug nuts but it did.  Snap-On builds good tools.   Bill jacked up the front end a little and I wiggled the front tire and the little kitten just slid out.  Just like giving birth.  It was tired and muddy and it had a chunk of meat gone in the middle of it's tail but didn't seem to be in too bad shape.  Susan bathed it and dried it off and gave it some milk which it didn't know how to drink.  But she took it outside and the kitten and the mommy cat started munching cat food out of a plate.  I guess it had been trapped in there by it's tail for 2 days and I'm sure it was happy to be free.

It's been 6 months now and that cat is fat and happy.  Half it's tail fell off and it is a little on the wild side.  Won't let me hold or pet it at all.   But he still comes when it's supper time.  I forget his name, I will have to ask the ex.


  Mr. Dial, my 87 year old fishing partner, and I were coming back across Baffin Bay.  Mr. Dial was driving because he knows the bay better than me.  He got close to the Kenedy shoreline and turned left.  We were motoring along for about 5 minutes and he asked me if we were going northwest.  I looked down at the compass and told him that in fact we were now traveling southeast.  He started turning the boat around and told me, :"You should know better than to let a blind man drive."  He also told me he didn't know where he was going but he would let me know when we got there.   We always have fun on our fishing trips whether we catch fish or not.


 Mr. Dial and I were building a fence.  It was a hot summer day and we had been working in the sun for a couple of hours.  I was worried about his health since he was quite a bit older than me.  I asked him if he wouldn't like to go sit in the shade for a spell and drink some water.  No, he told me, you go sit down if you want, I'm just getting warmed up.  So I continued working until we finished.

On the way home my alternator light came on.  So I stopped to see what was the matter.  The belt broke and nothing else was wrong, it was running just fine on the battery.  Mr. Dial said why didn't I turn off the air conditioner to help save the battery.   I told him I wanted to keep him cool.  He said, "It's a whole lot cooler driving down the road with the windows down than walking down the road in the hot sunshine."   We rolled down the windows and made it back to town with no problems.      


A few weeks ago my grandkids came down for the weekend.  Christian, Caiden, and Colten, 7, 5, and 3.  I took them walking on the beach and we went fishing off the pier.  We played at the park and built fire and roasted marshmallows and hot dogs.  I had some fireworks hidden but their eyes spotted them up high in my closet.  So we broke out some that didn't make too much noise.  We had these little bumble bees that I would light and they would fly up 20 or 30 feet in the air.  You never knew which direction they would fly either, they would just take off and go up.  Well, one of those little hot bees decided to fly up my shirt. I was jumping and swatting and generally acting a fool trying to get that thing off me.  It didn't hurt me but the 3 Bubbas got a kick out of Papaw with a hot bee up his shirt.


     Mr. Harold Coleman is a WWII veteran and long time resident of south Texas. He worked many places during his life and also became a knife maker.  His knives are valued by those of us in south Texas for their craftsmanship and durability.  But his eyes have failed him now and he had to give up knife making and pass it on to one of his sons.  But he still gardens and mows grass and enjoys his life even though he sees only shadows now.

Yesterday, Mr. Coleman came in to visit.  We all greeted him and I asked him if he would like a cup of coffee.  Why yes he would.  So I asked him if he wanted to pour it or me to pour him a cup.  He asked if I would pour it for him, he has trouble seeing the cup and knowing when it is full.

So I told him, "Just put your finger in the cup and when it gets hot you know the cup is full."  Mr. Coleman said he used to drink coffee in a coffee shop over in Corpus.  The waiter would bring them coffee and he always had his thumbs in the coffee when he would bring it over.  So Coleman asked him why he always had his thumbs in the coffee cup and the waiter replied, "Arthritis."  

Coleman said he told that waiter he didn't like those thumbs in his coffee and if he wanted to keep his thumbs warm he should just stick those thumbs up his ass.  The waiter told him, "I do when I'm not serving coffee."


So I was sitting by the bay this weekend with Mr. Dial and he was fishing.  I asked him about the last depression because he was alive back then and could still remember it.  He said they lived on a farm in north Texas.  They had food to eat unlike some people who lived in cities.  But everybody worked every day.  If you were old enough to sit at the table and eat, you were old enough to do chores.  He was about 8 or 9 years old and his chore was to bring in the cows to be milked.  And he did some of the milking too.  Good arm and finger exercise.  And he had to feed the pigs and gather eggs. 

When they would butcher a hog, they would cure some of the meat to preserve it.  And the sausage they would cook and then put in glass jars.  Then they would pour hot grease over the sausage and put a lid on it.  It would stay good all summer without refrigeration.  Now I could eat sausage covered in grease but I don't think Evonne or Robyn could eat it.  They would have to become vegetarians.  If they could find vegetables.

My grandmother, Mom, told me some of the same stories.  She lived on a farm outside of town and they had pigs and chickens.  They would feed people that came up on the porch hungry, people riding the railroad looking for work. If there were chores to do, chopping wood or mending fences, those people would be happy to do it for a meal.  It might be just biscuits and gravy but she fed everyone that ever knocked on her door.  Then she would make them a sack lunch to take with them on their journey.  Even many years later when I went into Edna, people would find out that I was Mom Lindberg's grandson, I would get special attention and they would always tell me what a fine woman she was. 

Later on, Mr. Dial and his family moved to south Texas and he got a job driving a truck.  He would make money and send it to his family to help them out.  He said we don't want to go through another depression like the one they went through.


My sister is living in Houston and she is raising two fine boys.  Both are going to college and they are going to be fine young men and good people.   She has always been a good cook and feeds me well every time I visit.  I remember last Thanksgiving.  Lady dog and I enjoyed visiting and couldn't wait for Thanksgiving feast.  Well she had lots of good food but her family took a vote and decided what they most wanted for Thanksgiving was Pizza.  So in addition to chicken, potatoes and gravy, green beans, the main course was pizza.  And you know, it was really good and we all enjoyed it.   I like that about her, she is a very independent person.    Now the grandkids don't care much about turkey and dressing either.  So I think we are going to do the same thing, pizza for Thanksgiving.


My ex, Susan, came down to help us in our store in Bishop. Truth be told, she took over the bill paying and kept us out of trouble.  If it wasn't for Susan and Tammy, we don't really have enough sense to run a business, we just like messing with the guns and other merchandise. But she needed a place to stay.  I talked my friend Doug into helping me build a little apartment for her out to the side of our store.  Now Doug is a long time contractor, semi retired, and he can do just about anything.  We laid out the floor, built the walls.  I was screwing the base plate down for a closet.  Doug walked in carrying some 2X4's.  He took one look and asked if I had put the square on the base plate.  Why no, I was just going off the chalk lines we had popped on the floor.  Doug broke out the big square.  It was 1/8 inch off.  I could not believe it.  I told him nobody could see 1/8 inch clear across the room. Oh yes, he said.  It will just get worse if you don't get it right. So I took it up, moved it the 1/8 inch and put it back right.  I was always told that a carpenter worked to 1/8 inch tolerance, and brick layer to 1/16 inch, and if a stone mason found the right job site, that was close enough.

Later on we were laying out the ceiling joists.  We were more than half way down the wall.  We pulled a tape on one side and then the other.  It was exactly the same measurement.  I told Doug I have never worked on a job where the measurements were perfect, it was unnatural.  Doug told me all his jobs were like that.  I have to admit it was a pleasure to work with such a craftsman.  That apartment turned out perfect.  It was fun to build and a very pleasant place to live.  Susan was happy girl.  She was happy that Doug lent his expertise to that project.

Today I was working on a filtered water machine.  Deborah told us there was no place in town to buy drinking water.  So I started looking for commercial water machines.   Boy, they are expensive.  About 5 grand or so depending on the filtration.  But I found one on eBay for $1500.  It was up in Pennsylvania.  It just so happened that Bill's son in law, Dennis, was in the process of moving down here to Texas from PA.  He was retired and didn't want to fight the snow and cold anymore.   He needed to go back to Pennsylvania to pick up his car and household junk.  He was happy to bring the water machine back with him. 

We set it up outside our store.  I hooked up the water and electricity but the thing would not work.  It said UV fault.  The UV light is the last part of the filtration system, the UV light kills bacteria, cysts, and viruses.   Well it just happened that our friend Harry Davis was in the store on Saturday looking at hunting supplies and ammo.  Harry is electronic and instrument man over at Valero in Corpus.  He is always ready to help us with our electric problems.   That is one of the best parts about living in small towns.  Everyone has a talent and we have always built a group of friends that help one another.  One person is a plumber, another a carpenter, a painter, auto mechanic, electrician.   And we all help each other out with any problems that arise. 

Anyway Harry and I took the UV system out and he found loose solder connections inside the ballast.  We had to buy a solder iron and then he soldered it back like new.   And the light worked.   Now in the hours we were working on this problem, I got to talk to Harry about lots of things.  Naturally, I told him about peak oil.  There he is working for an oil refiner in Corpus Christi and didn't even know about the world running out of oil.  Really we are not going to run out for a long time but we are running out of cheap oil right now.  Oil is at $86 a barrel right now.  Was $147 last year, then fell to $35 and now has worked it's way back up to $86.  This is the biggest news story of this century, the whole world should be thinking and preparing for fewer fossil fuels but nobody cares.  Very few people even know about it and nobody seems to care.  There are some on the internet that are speaking and writing about the changes facing  the world  but the average person is watching American Idol or Dancing with the Stars or some other nonsense on TV (Reality TV) and not interested in the future.  Really, I don't know what to do about it either.  I have been buying a few silver coins and some extra cans of food.  I tell everyone that I am preparing for a hurricane.  And that is the truth if you buy your batteries,  water, crackers and vienna sausages early you don't have to fight the crowds when the hurricane is in the gulf and approaching.   Two other people that I have come to respect,  Chris Martenson at Peak Prosperity  and  James Howard Kunstler,  author of World Made by Hand and The Long Emergency.   I think what they speak is true.   You cannot have exponential growth in a finite world.  We have used up half the oil we will ever have in the past 200 years.  The use is accelerating and will be mostly gone in a few more decades.   But very few people see the problem.  And no politician is speaking to it.   It should be front page news every day and discussions about how to deal with this problem.  Meanwhile politicians around the world are spending money they don't have to keep the system running just a little longer.  Long enough for them to become wealthy and retire while they rob from our children and grandchildren.  And we are fighting wars all around the world supporting the military industrial complex spending our treasure and the lives of some of our finest young men and women.    How did I get on this subject?

Meanwhile, Bill and I have been fortunate to have lived in small towns and found friends that we can count on to stand beside us when the going gets bad.  Those friends have been a big part of the good life we have lived here.   I worry about our kids and grandkids but people have been living on this old earth for thousands of years and they will survive.  They might not have all the advantages and technology that our generation has enjoyed but they can have a meaningful life anyway.


  We hired this young man, Lorenzo, to help us in our store.  He turned out to be a fine young man, honest and a hard worker.  I think he was in junior high when we first hired him and he worked here every afternoon until he graduated high school.    During the summer I made him bring his bathing suit so he and I could go swimming in our backyard pool.  One day Lorenzo told me, You are not a very good role model for a young man.   What do you mean, I asked him?  Well, you burn cardboard boxes inside the city limits, you cut up highway signs and use them for shelving and you made me go swimming on company time.

In our store we sell turkey calls for the turkey hunters.  I told Lorenzo I would give him the call if he would put it in his mouth and harass the teacher during class.  Whenever she turned toward the blackboard, he could give a turkey sound and when she turned around he could be looking around like where is that sound coming from.  She would never suspect it would be him and it would drive her crazy.   Lorenzo told me,  "My parents do not condone that type of behavior."


Not a good role model for a young man.   That is what Lorenzo told me.



  I just heard that social security is spending more every month on benefits than it is bringing in.  March 2010.  Heck, I took early social security and I have been drawing for less than a year and already they are running out of money.  Now I knew that would happen.  When?  Well way back in the 60's or 70's when they took the social security trust fund and brought it into the general fund and started spending it.  Lyndon Johnson.   I am only a dumb farm boy but I knew way back then that wouldn't work.   They say they have the money in a "lock box" but actually all that is in there is IOU's.   Now the politicians that did that too us are all retired or dead now so it didn't hurt them.  But it will hurt this country and even the politicians that are in office right now are spending us, our children, and our grandchildren into the poor house.


Susan had this hose bib outside on the wall of her garage where she would water the plants and dogs.  But we planted tomatoes in the spring of 10 and it rained and rained and rained.   Colder and wetter than any year we could remember.  Those tomato plants loved it and they were huge.  Green tomatoes all over them.  But she could not get through the tomatoes to her hose to water the dogs.

So I suggested we put a tee on the water line and put in a new faucet down by her door so she could easily water her dogs, Cooper and Prissy.   We got some 1/2 inch pvc and some ells and ran that new line one Saturday afternoon.  Susan is good with pvc glue.  She gives it a good coat of purple puky and coats both sides with cement.  It didn't take us too long and we had a new water line run.  Now I had this old hose bib, kinda black and ugly, that I had been saving for about 25 years.  It came out of some rent house and I didn't know if it worked or not.  But the price was right so I tried to convince her that was the correct hose bib to use on this new project.  It was heavy and I was telling her how old things were better than new.  Old cars and old women were better than new ones.   She said that yes, some were classics but some were just old pieces of junk.  I had to admit that was true.   We put in the old hose bib and with the addition of a new washer, it worked good as new.  She was a happy girl that she didn't have to fight the fence and the tomato vines to give dogs a little drink of water.  Sometimes the little things make you happiest.


I can remember going in the coffee shop in Bay City with my father when I was a boy.  I must have been 5 or 6 years old.  They had a bar with stools and tables and chairs.  If it was just me and my dad, we would sit at the bar but if there were other men, they would pull up enough chairs to surround a table and talk. 

  All the man would sit around and drink coffee and talk about the goings on of the day.  I really don't remember any of the conversations.  But I remember them serving cream in these little cream container about an inch wide and two inches tall.  They would fill one half full of cream and half coffee for me.  That was my coffee cup.  I could drink coffee with the rest of the men.


Pete Cogat Shoemaker-  I remember when I was a boy my daddy took me down and introduced me to Pete Cogat the shoemaker in Bay City.  Pete was an old old man and he had been making shoes and boots and doing shoe repairs his whole life.  You just don't find craftsmen like that very often any more.  I remember his hammer that he used.  It had a peculiar head, kinda flat, but the handle was the thing.  Pete had used that hammer so long that the wooden handle where his thumb rubbed had an indention that fit his thumb.  The wood was only about 1/8 inch thick there.  He had worn out the handle with his thumb over the years.  I don't know why but that was impressive to me.


Guest article from my friend Bill Hammond -

Hiyah Leeboy, dogs and whatever else may have taken up residence at the oasis,
I am so proud of you, and all who helped you, make the pool come about. It's a very fine thing that will prove itself over and over. I can't think of anything else that makes you feel good just to go out and sit by it a while. And to think it's not fattening, artery hardening, couch potatoeing, immoral, governmental "help," or apt to get you locked up!!! Not many of those around.
Sorry it took me so long to answer. I am riding the census horse til' it quits completely. Not many stories came out of the thing except the other day......I am known as one who ALWAYS finds the home and the count. It happened that I was sent out to count an address on a country road with just a mail box sitting all by itself in front of nothing but woods on both sides. I rooted all around the area until I flagged down a couple of old ladies driving by. (I am still surprised they stopped, must be my charm and uncommonly honest look......or maybe it was the totally harmless and helpless lost expression?) Anyway, one of them told me someone does live back in the woods and she told me where to look for a path leading into the woods to a burned down house and she thought there was a trailer house there too. Found the weedy path and I charged off through the wicked stickers to find my man. Eventually I did find an old dilapidated trailer with a guy who looked like Gabby Hays living in it. Normally he doesn't talk to anybody but he was so impressed I found him that he cooperated and was counted. Feeling all proud of myself I turned to leave and he said, "Say weren't you afraid of the goat?" Said I didn't see no stinkin' goat, is he dangerous and where is he anyway? Old man just laughed and said, "Don't worry, he'll find you!" 
Only one way back out to the car.....down that path and through the stickers. Got about 1/3 of the way, lookin' over my shoulder the whole time when there ahead, in the deep shade of a tree, was a monster ram with bull fightin' quality horns. Lookin' right at me all cloven hoofed and devilish. Summoning all I think I know about animal encounters, I puffed myself up to my biggest and baddest, never looking over that way, walking slowly but with Rambo attitude, singing out how much I love me some CABRITO!!! The goat let me live so I skipped the goat meat sandwich. When I got back to the car and assessed the situation, I decided by far the biggest threat to human life in the hill country woods are those damned ol' sand burrs and not the 4 legged citizens.
I was deeply touched by your offer of the bay house for a while if I needed it. THANK YOU. I don't think I am going to come to need it but I want you to know long as I have a warm dry place, you do too. No matter what may come.
The census is winding down, all that is left are the hard core not going to be counted types. I guess I will deal with them too if they assign me to it, but I have made it my job now to get the home ready for sale. I would rather work 3 hours out in the yard with a blistering sun than clean for 30 minutes in the air conditioning. Ah well.......that is the price I pay for my gullibility with thinking the stock market is a fair and honest place to invest your savings.
You hear about Wed night rains here? Lee, you would have had to see the flooding here to believe it. The Guadalupe and Comal changed from clear and inviting streams to raging out of bank monsters in a couple of hours! Lots of people had their homes flooded. I feel really bad for them, there just isn't anything worse than muddy, nasty, trashy silt 4 feet deep in your home. Some have been flooded 4 times now in about 12 years. With my recent market experiences I won't say anything about hard headed self destruction.
Just read in Barron's where Cabela's is on the ropes. Guns and ammo is all that is keeping them afloat. Their brick and mortar retail store effort is dragging them down to possible bankruptcy?!
It's hard all over, take you and yours out to the pool and soak it all away.
Off to find my mop and dust rag,
Your pal,


Five of us went fishing on the pier at Baffin Bay. Bill and Mary and Linda and Tom and me.  And of course Lady dog, my black lab.  Lady loves fishing off the pier. Every time we catch a trout, she grabs it out of mid air and licks it all over.  I don't know why, something about the salt water or maybe the slime.  If you don't catch one in a little while, she starts whining and then barks at you for being so slow.

It was the middle of the night and Mary said, Lady has a hook in her mouth and it is in there good.  Lady had found a leader with a shrimp and sure enough that hook was lodged in her bottom lip.  Now she has had hooks in her before.  I usually fish with a glow in the dark twin shad rig.  When Lady pounces on a fish on the pier, sometimes the other hook will get in her ear or side.  I just grab it and jerk it out,  They are small and don't hurt that much.  But this was a big hook and when I tried to pull it out it would not come.  And I pulled hard too, as hard as I could but the barb would not let it come out.   Tom said to hold her and he would work it out.  So I sat down and held her head with one hand and the flashlight with the other and Tom worked that hook back and forth until he got it loose.  Lady dog was very patient with us because she knew we were trying to help her.   It left a cut place in her lower lip but she didn't care, she was more interested in fishing.   She said many thanks to Tom for helping her in her time of need.

It reminded me of my father in law, JR.  When he was just a boy 10 or 11 years old they lived outside Wadsworth TX in the woods.  He and his friends went off to play and his mama told him "Don't go down to the river, it's too dangerous."  The first place they headed was down to the river because it was fun.  Well they were fooling around with fishing poles and JR got a fish hook stuck in the palm of his hand.  It was in the meaty part by his thumb and it was in real good,  The other boys got the barb pushed through but they could not get it out.  Well there was an old black woman that lived in a cabin by the river so they went to see her to see if she could help.  She took one look at his palm and went and got her straight razor.  That razor was so sharp she just laid it along side that hook and it just popped out of his hand.  Then she took his wrist and put that whole hand down in a bucket of coal oil and washed it up and down a couple of times.  She got a piece of rag and wrapped it around his hand and sent him on his way.  Well JR threw away the rag before he got home and his mama never did know they were down to the river.  If she were to find out it would have been a lot worse than a fish hook in the hand.


I had to run to Corpus today, take Susan to the eye doctor and t-shirts to screen printer.  I borrowed Bill's pickup and loaded the boxes in the back. Now people started telling me not to have an accident.  We have this new girl, Andrea, who is here for only a week while Tammy is in Indiana.  She is going to be a junior in college here at A&M Kingsville.  Has a three year old daughter who is a doll.
So I told her the last time I had an accident was in Jonesboro AK in  June of 1971.  That guy backed out of a driveway and hit me, it wasn't my fault.
I asked Andrea,  How old were you in 1971?
She said, my mother was only 4 years old.

I told Harold Coleman that story and he said it wasn't so bad when his kids started retiring.  But one day a grand daughter came and told him she retired yesterday.  He said at that point he thought, I must be getting really old.

Harold Coleman died last week at the grand age of 91.  I read his obituary in the newspaper.  He fought his way through the Pacific during WWII, had won the Bronze Star and had 3 Purple Hearts.  I didn't know all that.  But I did know that he was a fine fellow.  His grandson, Harley, was partying on the beach with a bunch of his friends.  Harley had the shovel and was digging in the sand.  He accidentally cut off 2 of his toes.  They loaded him up and took him to the hospital but it had been too long and the toes were full of sand and they could not reattach them to his foot.  Harley is laying in the hospital bed with his foot bandaged up and Mr. Harold brought him a 12pac of Dr. Pepper, some chips, and 2 toes that he had carved out of wood.  Everybody got a kick out of that.


There have been some sad times.  All the grand parents and parents have passed on now, we are the oldest generation.  This week Susan had to put her dog, Cooper to sleep.  It was really heart breaking for her.  In addition to watching her family die, She has had see dogs die in the street and to put several animals to sleep.  Cooper had congestive heart failure.  Susan blames herself because she had him on steroids and also he had a bad tooth and she knew it.  But the fact is that Susan took him in when he was unwanted and he also had a broken leg or shoulder in the front.  She worked with the vet and brought him back to good health and he stayed with her for 9 or 10 years and had a happy life.  I think when she gets to heaven, she will get an attaboy for the way she took care of Cooper.

Now, several years later she is taking care of kittens whose mother abandoned them.  Some have already died but she is doing the best she can to save their little lives.  Another attaboy in heaven for her.


  My Ladydog was the best dog I ever had.   I have so many Ladydog stories.  I will just tell a few.   Ernest brought in his big dog that he had been training,  German Sheppard I think it was.  He was trying to get it to do tricks.  But it was nervous because there were a lot of people standing around watching and he wasn't responding very well.  Ernest laid this piece of meat down on the floor and he was trying to get his dog to sit and lay down.  Now Lady dog was behind Ernest and every time Ernest would give a command, Ladydog would obey and do the trick.  Finally Bill leaned over the counter and told Lady dog, "Go get it."  That was all the encouragement she needed. She ran around Ernest and gobbled up that piece of meat.  Everybody was laughing at that one. 

Now I taught Ladydog to growl on command.  It was real easy, I just growled at her for an hour and every time she would growl back, I gave her a bite to eat.  One day Bill was showing handguns to this man and his wife was sitting over in my boot department.  I think she was already mad because her husband was looking at guns but Ladydog just happened to walk by.  She said very loudly she didn't think dogs should be in stores.  Bill just stopped what he was doing and walked over there.  He told Ladydog to sit.  She sat down.  He said shake and Ladydog shook hands.  He said "What do you think about mean old ladies in our store?"  When Ladydog growled that lady got up and left.  We had much rather have dogs around than mean old ladies.

Ladydog got a cancer.  We took her to the vet but there was nothing she could do for her, it was too fast growing.  She lasted about 3 more months, we took good care of her, and then I held her while the dog catcher, Joseph, injected her paw.  It was a very sad day.  Still brings  tears to my eye.   But Ladydog started off a hungry dog on the side of the road and ended up having 10 years of happy life.  We were soulmates.


My friend Don Stott stopped by to visit today.  Don sells gold and silver in Montross Colorado.  He is a good guy and honest and I can recommend him.

Anyway, he and his wife, Bonnie, were on vacation in their motorhome and stopped by to see me in south Texas.  Quite a surprise, I never expected that.  We visited for a little while and I told him about rattlesnakes, snakeboots, and nilgai in south Texas.  But I forgot to tell about last week.  About 8am last week the city had a water main leak and they shut off our water about 8am.  Well that didn't matter, I had a pot of coffee on and we were working and didn't really need water.  About an hour later I made another pot of coffee from our bottle of filtered water on the counter.  Then I used our little bottles of drinking water for the next 2 pots of coffee.  We have lots of people drinking coffee and keep the pot going all day.

It is almost noon now and I started looking around for water to make another pot of coffee and I didn't have any.  I told Michelle I was going to go dip some out of the back of the commode to make coffee but she would not hear of it.  Luckily, the water came back on and we were able to make coffee again.  Now I fancy myself a prepper and survivalist.  But here the water went off for only 4 hours and I could not make a pot of coffee.   Some survivalist.   I had a lot of clorox jugs saved up for water but they were all empty.   Now a have a few jugs full of water all the time for emergencies. 

I do have friends that have water wells.   We have arranged to bring a generator to run their pump should the power ever go off for a long period of time.  So we are not without resources.  In fact our best resource is our group of friends that we can count on to work together if times ever get really bad.

  Some preppers say 3g's. Guns, gold, and getaway.   And goats

Others say 3b's.  Beans, bullets, and bullion.

Turning from 2014 to 2015 now.  Stock market is at record highs, oil just took a hit from 100 bucks a barrel to $50 and gold and silver have been going down for 4 years.  But the national debt just past 18 trillion and other debt is estimated to be 80 to 200 trillion.  How much longer can this country go on with that kind of debt?  I really don't like politicians of any stripe.  Exception of Ron Paul and he is now retired. 


Dominican Republic Vacation --  We had a wonderful vacation in the Dominican Republic and it was time to fly home.  We boarded the jet to Miami and sat there.  For hours.  They had some kind of engine problem and got step ladders and took off the covers and were looking into the engine and scratching their heads.   Finally we got off the plane and sat in the terminal and watched them work on that engine.  Never did see them do anything to it but look and scratch their heads.   Finally they got a tow truck and towed it to another terminal.   We all hiked down to the other terminal and waited to board.  When they announced boarding those people ran to get on that crippled plane.   Susan did not want to board.   I told her the pilot and copilot would know if it was safe to fly and they would not fly if it were unsafe.   I finally got her to board just before it took off.   After we had boarded we got the announcement that we had a different pilot and copilot than before.   That really scared her.   But we had an uneventful flight to Miami and all was well.



so now it is 2019.   Our old store is still running.  Not as well as in previous years.  In store sales are about the same but the internet is only a fraction of what it was at one time.  The boot companies have taken away all my good domains that had their name in them.   And now they are selling online at the same price they make me charge.  MAP  minimum advertised price.   Our clothing manufacturer, Gameguard, took away all my domains and would not let us sell on Amazon, although they themselves can still sell on Amazon.  They want to be the manufacturer, the wholesaler, and the retailer.   We helped get them started in their early days and always paid our bills on time.  Now they don't care about us.  We still have a good relationship with Tulsa Tom Hargrove, our snakeguard manufacturer.    Right now Bill is in Tulsa picking up 400 pair of Khaki Tan.

 We do have some good help.  Tammy and Michelle can run this store by themselves and often do.  If we can make it through June, July, and August we will be all right.   Looking forward to hunting season again.


About February of 2020 the Covid 19 hit the USA and the world and a pandemic was declared.   It was especially deadly to the elderly and people with existing medical conditions.   Gina was working here at Outdoor Country on Monday and Tuesdays and she said she did not want to be around the public anymore with the virus spreading like wildfire.   Meanwhile,  my ex retired to her apartment and isolated herself and I was the only person allowed to bring her groceries.   So we all are at that age where we need to be careful and not catch the virus.   Gina and I started working on building projects together because we both enjoy doing those things.   First we went out to Baffin Bay and started working on rebuilding pier.   High tide had taken out 80 or 90 feet out toward the end.   Water was cold so we rebuilt it from the top by driving in 4X4 posts and running 2X8 stringer and then 2X12s on top.  It took us 2 and a half months to get it rebuilt.  Gina went fishing and caught 2 hardheads and one little croaker.  Then we started putting new tin on the boat shed.  The old tin was rusted and holey and leaked every time it rained.   We got it all finished and nobody fell through and got hurt and it did not leak.   Then we painted some white pookey on the roof of Outdoor Country where it was leaking.  One day after we painted we had a rain shower and it all washed down to the driveway.  Then here came hurricane Hanna.   It was just a little hurricane, 80mph wind, but it came in south of us and brought high tides.   Our whole pier that we had rebuilt washed away.   A tree fell on top of the boat shed






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