PREJUDICE & ME & THE ARMY

“It’s going to take a long time, and it’s going to take white people admitting what we did was pretty damned bad.” – Greg Iles – 2017 National Writers Series interview

There wasn’t many blacks in my ‘class’ at basic training in Fort Collins, Colorado. The two officers in charge were white. The rest of the cadre were black. Nice guys. Even the group of Texans who enrolled together dropped their initial snide remarks about blacks and accepted them as their instructors.

It was my next Army stop, Signal School, Fort Gordon, Georgia where I was introduced to the world of prejudice.

There weren’t many blacks in my ‘class’ in Signal School either and all the instructors were white. We had quite a bit of freedom and could go off base on the weekends. Two of my new friends, Chicago 1 and Chicago 2 managed to buy a car and the three of us along with three others took off on a Friday night to spend a wild weekend in Augusta. Never made it.

On the famous Tobacco Road right before we almost got past the endless shacks and lean-to’s of the share-croppers, and were not too far from the famous and very exclusive Augusta Golf Course where the Masters is played yearly, we got t-boned. Too much moonshine and the driver speeding along a gravel road that intersected the highway didn’t stop. Good thing we were packed inside a well built DeSoto. None of us got hurt but the boys from Chicago told us all to complain about factitious aches and pains. They thought they struck it rich. Whiplash! Whiplash!

We had to report to the Augusta Court House on Monday to give our accounts of what happened. When we walked in far down the lobby was a wall with a fancy words about truth and justice. When we walked to the elevator I noticed a drinking fountain marked Whites, and one across the lobby marked Coloreds. Welcome to Jim Crow country you naive young Yankee.

The two Chicagos had a rude surprise also. Not from the separation of races, in fact one of them commented how he wished Chicago had the same thing, but from the laugh of the cop when they asked if they could get the name of the driver’s insurance company. Insurance! That ole redneck didn’t even have license plates… let alone insurance.

The term colored isn’t used anymore. It is a reminder of the South of Jim Crow. But in those days it was the term whites used a lot. We would never think of called a person a Black; even though we used the term Negro, which is Latin for black. The ‘n’ word derived from Negro was used a lot by whites and blacks.

There was big time prejudice in and around Fort Bragg, North Carolina, my next and last stop in the Army. Racial hatred was as much a way of life in that neck of the woods as displaying the Confederate Flag. Bragg was named after a Confederate War general and slave owner. Yankees ranked second on the South’s hate list. Even though a large percentage of paratroopers were good old boys, troopers were hated because it was paratroopers that Eisenhower used to force integration in the Little Rock schools.

Cities and towns were divided into the White section and the Colored section and getting caught in the wrong section was not something anyone wanted to do.

Ft. Bragg and the adjoining Pope Air Base, is the largest military base in the NATO countries. It is an open installation so anyone can drive on or off it without going through MP secured gates. In addition to the 82nd Airborne Division, it was the home of Green Berets, and numerous ‘Leg’ outfits. A leg is a slang word used by paratroopers to signify anyone not a paratrooper.

And if a trooper did anything that attracted the Law’s attention, he better hope it was 82nd MP’s, brothers-in-arms, that he had to deal with. Leg MP’s had a real burr in their saddle when it came to ‘bad- ass paratroopers’. And then their was the civilian police!!! Best bet for a white yankee like me was to talk with a southern accent, yes sir, no sir, sorry sir, and pray. For a black trooper, leg, or civilian, keep quite and pray and pray hard.

One payday night a few of us from HQ’s Company were about to walk in to a pizza place incop Fayetteville when we heard a shot from across the street. Someone was on the ground and a uniformed town cop was running into a phone booth, chased by an ever growing crowd. It didn’t take long for police, MP’s and an ambulance to cart away the victim and the shooter. It took a general from the post to calm down the protesters.

The first newspaper release was that a Fayetteville cop shot an armed and dangerous soldier and a mob tried to harm the cop. The solder’s gun wasn’t found because someone in the mob took if from the scene.

Another story came out stating that there was nothing to the rumor that the victim, a Latino sergeant, had angered the cop by moving in with the cop’s ex-wife. And that the witnesses who said there was the perp didn’t have a gun were just trouble makers trying to stir up another protest. And that was the official police report, accepted and case closed. Protests!

An order was issued by the Army that any more protests would result in Fayetteville being declared off limits to all military personnel. That settled tempers down.

The sergeant recovered in six weeks and was given a medical discharge. The cop was given a two week suspension, with pay, and was transferred up the hill to a big buck part of the city. Don’t know what happened with the ex-wife.

And then there was the black unemployed ex-con who robbed a small on-post bank. He was caught he next day when he tried to buy a new convertible…with cash. His first night in the county jail, he thought he died and went to heaven when he discovered the cell door wasn’t locked. He did die when he stepped outside and was shot dead by the two jailers. One of the jailers said that as he brought back the black to the cell, after making him dump his honey pot, the phone rang and in his haste to answer it, he must not have locked the cell door. Nuf said. Case closed.

If I had read the newspaper much in those years, I probably would have heard of many more those kind of happenings; but if the Army wanted GI’s to read newspapers they would have made them handy.

It was a little over ten years since President Truman had forced the integration of the US Military. Whites and Blacks were still in the process of working and living together. There was stories of racial problems on the main post in Bragg, but not in the 82nd.

In the 82nd, any prejudice remained under the surface. We were an esprit de corp outfit and we were brothers-in-arms.

It made no difference what color the man was who packed the chute you jumped with…Only that it was packed right. When you were hooked up waiting to jump, you checked everything that you could see. The man behind you checked the rest as you did to the man in front of you. Again colors no difference. Our lives depending on our brothers-in-arms in war and peace.

When I was transferred to Headquarters Company, I no longer lived in a barracks room. I lived in a two- man room. Headquarters Company had it’s privileges.. My first room mate was a Black, Lil Roy. We got along good. Friends. The only thing that bothered me was his bad sounding phonograph and his endless supply of Little Richard 45’s. On and on and on. For a joke I bought him a 45 of Pat Boone singing Tutti Fruitti. We played it once and then left it in the Day Room soanyone who wanted it could take it.

Roy and I would catch the bus into Fayetteville, sit together in the bus, and at the stop we would part ways. I went into the main downtown and he went down the hill to the black downtown. After he got discharged I realized not only did I miss him, I missed hearing Little Richard, which I cured by a trip to the record shop. Music knows no prejudice…but it does have boundaries.

Duke Ellington came to town. He was one of my favorites. He played the NCO club in Bragg. I wasn’t allowed because I was only a corporal. He played the Officers’ club in Bragg. Again, I wasn’t allowed, no brass on my shoulders. His next gig, and last around Fayetteville, was a black college. No whites allowed. Damn prejudice. Once again I found some relief in the record store in town. It sold a lot of music by Ellington and other black musicians, even if blacks weren’t allowed in the store.

When I went back into civilian life and worked various jobs, I was shocked to realize just how much prejudice there was against blacks and minorities existed in the North. Wake up to the real world, you naive young man from Mendota.

There were protest marches in the 60’s. But nothing compared to today’s world wide protests. There was Martin Luther King, activist, leader, and martyr, whose speeches are honored as keystones in the fight for Civil Rights. But nothing stirred the world like the three words, I can’t breath’.

That and the eight minutes, forty six seconds of watching a cold calculated murderer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck. George Floyd might not have been a saint, but he is a martyr. It is said that the blood of martyrs was the seed of Christianity. We can only pray that the blood of Earl and the other martyrs sacrificed on the altar of hate are the seeds that brings an end to hatred. Maybe this time.

What thrills me most in today’s protests is the young, young around the world, that have either never been taught to hate or have seen the wrong in such teachings.

I could write volumes on the prejudice I have encountered in my 80 plus years, and maybe I will write some of the tidbits in another post; but for now, I would like to just thank all the people who never taught me how to hate. I wish everybody could have non-teachers like I had.

Oh, and as far as White Privilege is concerned, I am all for it. I’ve been beat up by police on three occasions in my life; and without White Privilege, I might have ended up dead in any one of them.

I just wish White Privilege was granted to everyone regardless of their skin color.

And I would like to wrap this up with the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein in South Pacific:

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

Stay Safe and Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.

VFW: NOW AND THEN

vfw

    The VFW National Convention is being held in North Carolina and that old Draft Dodging Donald Trump was a main speaker. Brings back a lot of memories, some good, some bad, some funny, some sad.

    Most of my military service was spent at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, so it doesn’t surprise me that you need your birth certificate if want to use a public restroom in that state. During my time down South, there was restrooms for WHITES and restrooms for COLOREDS, even though there was no segregation on military posts, which was the biggest industry in the south.  But no such signs  in downtown Fayetteville either. The city was divided in two sections, the upper section for WHITES, the lower for COLOREDS. Being in the wrong section of town could result in severe bodily harm, especially if caught by the town police. No need for stinking signs.

    And as far as the VFW and it’s companion, the American Legion, is concerned, well, I never got over how they treated the Korean War Vets when the first tried to join. These Vets weren’t allowed because the action in Korea was not a war but a”conflict”. Granted later on they changed their attitude and today I guess you don’t have to be a Vet or even a relative of a Vet to join. You pay your dues in cash, not in actually having anything  to do with the military.

    In November of 2014, they changed their national charter and recognized the fact that some of the vets are women and every post must accept them as full members, not just auxiliary members. Real progressives. And this year they welcomed a proud draft dodger, Donald Trump, who has often bragged on how he avoided going to Viet Nam like the suckers of his generation.

    Mr. Trump rode the college deferments and finally his dad’s money found a doctor who claimed young Donald to be 4F because of bone spurs on his feet, a fact never brought up while riding the student deferment and which never stopped young Donald from playing athletics or marching around in a military prep school.

    He’s on record stating John McClain was no war hero because McClain was captured. And he also said that during the Viet Nam War, he was fighting his own war, trying to get as much sex as possible but avoiding STD’s. Big mouth Chicken Hawk.

    And  then there is the man Trump choose as a running mate, Mike Pence. Pence’s voting record shows he voted against every bill that came before him that would help our military personnel, those who are serving and those who served.

    So much for the VFW working to improve the lot of those who are serving and those who served.

    And so much for my rant. Here’s my memories of a VFW National Convention I worked. 

 

In the late 60’s, early 70’s, the Secret Service was hard pressed because of the decade of assassinations, remnants of the Civil Rights Movements, and the division of the country over the Viet Nam War. In 1972, the VFW held their national convention at the Minneapolis Auditorium. The first day, the main speaker was the strongest voice against the war, and the Democratic nominee for the presidency, Senator George McGovern, who got a lot of boos.. The second day, the main speaker was the Vice President Spiro Agnew, who got standing ovations. Both men were highly decorated WWII veterans which was favorable to the VFW; but both men were lighting rods to protestors, a fact that was not appreciated by the VFW. The security was as tight as it could possibly be, both inside and outside the Auditorium. The Republicans were so paranoid about the safety of Spiro Agnew, they even enlisted volunteers from CREEP, which didn’t go well with the professionals like the Secret Service.

And I got the gig of being the sound man for the convention!

Like I said, it was the 70’s, and men’s hair was longer than usual and real facial hair was common, not these 5 o’clock shadows that is in style today. I had a beard and stash for a short time, and it during this time that I worked the VFW Convention. When one of the officers of the VFW saw that I was going to be the sound man, he went to Mark, the head stagehand of the Auditorium and a veteran of the Korean conflict, and demanded that that damn ‘hippie draft dodger’ be sent home and another man found to be the sound operator. Mark assured him that I was a vet, a paratrooper, with an honorable discharge, and not a ‘hippie draft dodger’.

The sound board was set up in a vomatorium about center of the house. When I went out to the board the first day, there were two Minneapolis policemen and two young men, in expensive suits and red, white, and blue ties, CREEP volunteers, standing in the audience entrance of the vom,. The CREEP boys tried to keep me out; but I was wearing a pass, and the policemen told them I could enter. I had no more than sat down at the board when a well dressed man came into the vom. He introduced himself as a Secret Service agent. His first order was to tell the two CREEP’s to take a position at the door outside of the hall. He then asked if one policeman could stand outside the door and the other inside the door. He looked at my badge, smiled, and asked kiddingly if I had a dangerous weapon hidden in my beard.

There were many speeches before the day’s main speaker, Senator McGovern. All the speeches were welcomed with a lot of loud applause, except the Senator’s. At the end was soft, polite response, in spite of the fact that this man had volunteered for WWII, flew 35 missions over German occupied Europe and had many medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. They didn’t like his political stance.  He was led down the center aisle while the band was playing, INTO THE WILD BLUE YONDER. The party took a left and eventually came into the vom where I was stationed. By now there were many others in the vom, some with mics, some with cameras.

As the Senator passed by, I stood and held out my hand. He shook it and smiled when I told him I liked his speech. He went out the doors and I turned to sit back at the sound console. A man with a camera was standing on my chair. I gave him a slap on his leg and told him to get off my chair. As he got off, his legs got tangled and he ended up laying on his back on the floor. I looked down at him and asked if he was allowed to stand on the furniture at home. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the Secret Service Agent looking at me. After the show, when I went to check out in the stagehands’ room, I kind expected that something would be said about the incident. But nobody said a word about it.

The next day was like the first, except that the main speaker, Spiro Agnew, was received with great applause. I had a terrible time trying to get him heard. He was speaking very low, and I had the volume cranked up as much as I could without causing feedback. Suddenly a man, shouting he was Agnew’s press agent, came running at me. He accused me of deliberately sabotaging the speech. I told him to back off and watch. I turned the volume knob up just a hair and feedback went through the house. I backed it off and shouted at the man, “See! Tell your boy to speak up if he wants to be heard! Now get the hell out of here!” He took the hint and left.

The Secret Service agent laid his hand on my shoulder. I turned my head expecting something bad to happened. But he just stood there and shook his head. “Well,” he said, “At least you didn’t knock that guy on his ass like you did to that guy yesterday.”

Believe me, I was very happy this agent was one with a sense of humor.

Ah yes! Those were the days when the VFW disliked draft dodgers as much as I do, then and now.

 

P.S.: If my experience working the VFW Convention in 1972 seems familiar, it’s because I told the same story, along with others dealing with working with the Secret Service in my post, ON HER SECRET SERVICE. The times just seem ripe for a retelling.

 

SOUTHERN SNOW

snow driving

            In Minnesota: ‘Yeah, you bet, heard about the snow com’n. Changed the oil and tuned up the snow blower and snow mobile first week in October, just like always. You betcha!’

            Down South: ‘Snow! Snow! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!’

 

Last week the East Coast and some Southern states got hit with a blizzard. And the 24 hour news stations talked so much about the snow coming and falling and melting that there was little news about anything else.

They darn near missed the Palen endorsement of Trump. It happened the same day her son got arrested for using his girlfriend as a punching bag. Sweet momma Sarah explained that it wasn’t Track’s, (Track???), fault. It was Obama’s. Poor Track did a tour in Iran during the G. W. Bush’s administration, and although never got in any combat, came home with PTSD according to his mother. Later she said she was misunderstood, and then said pretty much the same thing again. A real Alaska Snow Job. At least she didn’t blame Obama for her daughter’s habit of getting pregnant sans marriage certificate.

And they darn missed another important Trump endorsement. One of John Wayne’s daughter, standing in front of a statue of her father in the John Wayne Museum in Somerset, Iowa, stated that if her father was alive, he would certainly endorse Trump.

(If her father was alive he would be 109 years old.) And the cool thing was Trump accepted the endorsement stating that he once met John Wayne in person and always admired Wayne’s legacy. The rest of Wayne’s family disavowed the endorsement. I was only too happy to be rid of the silliness leading up to the Iowa caucuses.

 I did run across a great bit just after the snow fell someplace. There was a reporter standing hip deep in snow talking about the big snowfall. As the camera pulled back, it revealed the dehorn was standing in front of a chain link fence that captured a lot of snow. As he struggled to get out of the drift, the snow gradually became less and less until he was standing snow that was no higher than his ankles.

Snow down south causes problems because people have no experience in what to do when it snows. It frightens them just as it would frighten me to look out and see an alligator in the back yard.

We got a little snow, a couple inches, in Fort Bragg, N.C., one time. It snowed three times when I was in the Army down there. This particular time I had a midmorning dental appointment. I hopped on my motorcycle and drove to the main post. There wasn’t much traffic and when I got on the less traveled streets, there wasn’t any tire tracks. Only one car in the dental lot, the plates were from Wisconsin.

The car belonged to a dentist on Reserve duty for two weeks. No receptionist, no dental techs, no other dentist, just me and angry Captain Angry from Wisconsin. He was mad at the Army, mad at the snow, mad at his hangover. He smiled when he told me the Novocain was locked up and he didn’t have a key.

‘But a little pain won’t bother a bad ass paratrooper, will it?’

Oh, was he wrong? And every time he spotted me clinching my fists, he cheerfully reminded me it was a court martial offense for an enlisted man to hit an officer. A little Southern snow and I was silly enough to drive in it. Should have just used it as an excuse not to keep the appointment. Every time I have the slightest inclination to root for the Green Bay Packers, I think back on Captain Angry’s license plate and that removes the inclination.

Another reason snow is so bad down South is they don’t have the necessary equipment to handle it. We can send out a fleet of public snow plows. Pickups rigged with plows to clear out parking lots and some driveways. Snow blowers waking up the neighbors early in the morning. Snow shovels used to clear steps and the like. People in the south don’t have much in the way of fighting the snow. Heck, down South a snow shovel in the garage is as rare as a liberal in the closet.

Another time a storm in Bragg brought about a good foot of snow, with no place to put it in the main drag in Fayetteville, so they just left it in a long pile in the center of the street. Naturally, some of the boys parked their cars on the mound, it was the weekend and the bars were full, and when it came time to go back to post, they  couldn’t get them off, sunk to the frame. The tow trucks were busy and the city told them to stay away from downtown, and then proceeded to ticket each car for illegal parking, each day it was left on the mound. When the tow trucks came down the hill to get the cars, they towed them to the impound lot. Some expensive parking!

And down South they just never learned how to have fun in the snow. Oh a few snowmen and a few snow angels, but not real fun like skiing and snow boarding, snow mobiling, clearing snow off a frozen lake to skate or ice fish etc..

Some members of 82nd Signal Battalion were going with one of the line companies to Alaska for Winter Training. They were issued white snowsuits and a pair of skis with poles. For several weeks they were getting prepared out in the field behind the barracks, wearing those hot suits and trying to glide along on the grass on their skis. As if gliding the skis on the grass actually prepared them for anything. But there’s the right way, the wrong way, and the Army way.

Then we got a nice snowfall. I told some of the guys, I’d show them how to have fun in the snow and maybe even teach them a little about skiing. That night I ‘requisitioned’ the Old Man’s jeep. I was the Old Man’s clerk. We got some ropes and went out to a Drop Zone where I pulled the men on skis behind the jeep. A good time was had by all. Especially since the two MP’s that caught us, believed us when we told them it was authorized training to prepare for the upcoming Cold Weather Exercise in Alaska.

The worst experience of being caught in a Southern Snowstorm came when I was hitchhiking back to Bragg after a few days in Washington D.C.. Talk about shutting down a major city! It was shortly after noon when the snow hit. Offices emptied and the roads filled with cars filled with bad drivers trying to get home. And none about to pick up a hitchhiker, even if it was a soldier in uniform dressed for the warmth of the South, not a snow storm of the North.

I was alternating my hands, one thumbing for a ride, the other covering my ear until my hands got so cold I had to put them under my arm pits inside my Ike jacket which was getting wet from the heavy flakes. Doing a little dance to keep circulation in my feet.

Finally a car braved the slipping and sliding traffic and pulled to the shoulder. The passenger door opened and I jumped in. I was busy saying thanks and putting my hands in front of the heater when I heard this angelic voice telling me that she was only going as far as Arlington; but at least it was far enough to get me out of the heavy city traffic and I would stand a better chance of getting another ride.

What a sight for sore eyes! Not only because she stopped for me, but also because she was beautiful. A few years older than me. Long black hair. Green eyes. A smile that would melt the snow and warm the heart.

I was trying to get the numbness out of my hands, my ears, and still trying to carry on a normal conversation with her without distracting her as she was driving. It was evident she wasn’t use to driving in that kind of weather. She kept a steady pace until there would be a car poking along ahead. Then she would veer out to pass, slip and slide, head for the ditch. Had to hand it to her, she didn’t panic, managed to get straightened back on the road. I must admit I tightened up a few times.

‘Whoa,’ I said, ‘You just missed the Arlington cutoff.’

Again with that smile. ‘I know,’ she said. ‘Fort Meade is down further. There is a shelter where the soldiers stand, and cars pull in the side road and give them rides. You’ll stand a better chance of getting a ride in a hurry down there.’

I protested. I pointed out the road was bad. The snow was getting heavier. She should just leave me off and get home as quick as possible.

‘No,’ she answered. ‘My husband is in the Army stationed in Korea. From what I hear, they have terrible winters there. Snow. Cold. And I just hope that if he is hitchhiking, and the weather is bad, someone will pick him up.’

Wow! I sure hoped that soldier appreciated the woman he married.

She was right about Fort Meade. I got ride right away. As I got in the car I could see her car heading back to the Arlington cutoff. I said a silent prayer that she would make it home okay. We got out of the Southern snow storm in about fifty miles. My new ride took me almost to Bragg. He talked and I mostly listened, and thought about a very kind lady whose husband was stationed in Korea.

snobama

            Right now it is snowing. They say it might be the biggest so far of the season. About 6” to a foot. Schools will close early. It will be a slow afternoon commute home, but by tomorrow’s morning rush hour the driving will be much better. Our army of snow plows will see to it. Yet there will still be a rash of accidents and cars in the ditch. Not every one up here knows how to drive in a snow storm, especially those driving big SUV’s. They know they can bust through all kinds of snow; but they forget that sometimes they can’t stop on the wet pavement.

Of course, I won’t be one of those fighting the elements. I will be safe and snug in the house. I am retired!

 

And that’s a wrap for today.       

WHETHER THE WEATHER

blizzard   Having a sense of humor while living in Minnesota is not mandated by law, but it sure helps out. The most overused cliché here is: Minnesota has two seasons, winter and road repair. On a beautiful day like today, there are actually people, right now, praying for winter so they can go ice fishing or snowmobiling. If it wasn’t for all the ice arenas and summer hockey leagues, there would be hockey aficionados joining in the prayers.

            I remember a ‘blizzard’ in Fort Bragg, NC. There was 4″ of snow over an 8 hour period. It shut the area down. In Minnesota it would have been called an early morning dew. The only vehicles moving had MN or WI plates. I had a dentist appointment that day. I jumped on my motorcycle and went to the clinic. The dentist, who was from Wisconsin, and myself were the only two in the place.

            The governor can declare a snow emergency here in MN, but not all the people heed it. The kids love it though. They don’t have school and can go out and play in the snow drifts. There is no snow emergency in show business though, not even in the Great Halloween Blizzard of 1991.

            It came out of nowhere. We had no warning and this was several weeks before we could expect snow. It started out as rain, changed to sleet, and then poured down snow for 4 days, 28 1/2″ in the Twin Cities, accompanied with strong winds. Both cities were closed down, except the State Theater. We were in production for the Minnesota Opera’s new production of CAROUSEL, which was slated to open in a week or so, and also the official opening of the renovated State Theater. Now I am not saying all the hands made it every day during that blizzard, especially those who had to rely on public transportation,  and a lot of us were late several mornings; but we managed to get the production up and rehearsals in, and open the show and the theater on time.

            Since it was still too early for winter, in two weeks or so, the snow had melted and the grass was still lush and green. And then came the Thanksgiving Blizzard. Not as heavy, not as long, but another holiday blizzard; and winter still had several weeks before it started officially.

            Several years before when I was still at the Guthrie, we had the governor issue a snow emergency. It was a Saturday, which meant a matinee and an evening performance. After verifying that the shows were slated to go on, I, with the help of my sons, managed to get the truck to the highway and then I fought the white-out the twenty some miles to the theater.

            Don Schoenbaum, the managing director explained to me and the other two members of the running crew, why he didn’t call off the shows. ‘I figure there might be some poor salesman sitting in a hotel room downtown, with tickets for the matinee. Nothing else to do. Won’t be able to come back in town for the raincheck show. Besides,’ he added with a smile, ‘I figure if I can get to the theater in this kind of weather, anybody can.’ He laughed. Wise guy. He lived less than a block away. Then I laughed.  Like I said, to live in Minnesota, it is good to have a sense of humor.

            There were maybe twenty people in the house for the matinee. And even though it was still blowing snow outside, there was almost a full house for the Saturday evening show. Needless to say, there were no walk-ups for either performance.

 

 

The Old Hand:

        

On days when it is so hot there are warning to stay inside, it helps to remember, not too many months ago, when there were winter warnings to stay inside. This story, that our friend Paula told us, happened on one of those days several years ago.

Paula had to drive her elderly mother to the doctor. The snow was almost causing whiteout, and sane drivers were taking it slow and careful. But there’s always some!!!

First, the black SUV came up fast, and just a few yards before it would ram her car, it pulled out opposite lane. And naturally, pulled back right, cutting her off. She braked and her car turned into a toboggan, sliding and refusing to respond to her steering. Luckily, as it began to spin, the front wheels hit the curb, and the car stopped.

She said she gripped the steering wheel and tried not to cry, and tried harder not to say anything. She knew any words that came from her mouth would be words that a person should not utter in front of one’s mother.

‘Paula, honey,’ her mother said and placed her hand on Paula’s, ‘Don’t let them bother you like that. Now I don’t know how it helps but try this.’ She held her fist up and then extended her middle finger in the direction the SUV took. ‘This is what they use to do to me when I was driving.’

So enjoy the summer even with the heat and mosquitoes. State Fair and going back to school is here. Next will come raking leaves and prepping the snow-blower.

Published SPPP Bulletin Board, 9/2/13

Now I am not one of those who pray for the winter to come. And when it’s snowing out, I especially love being retired and staying home. Even though for many, many years, our son, Danny, always has our driveway snowblown by 7 AM, whether I need to go out or not, I still don’t like the thought of fighting the snow and the cold. Unlike the Minnesota snowbirds who drive to Florida or Arizona at the first sign of frost, I have no desire to go to either location. But believe me, if it wasn’t for the fact we can’t be far from our family, my wife and I would be wintering in one of the Colonial cities in Mexico. We could still keep our winter sense of humor, but we’d be laughing in Spanish.