Tuesday, December 24, 2013

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we? Part 11.

Part 11.

After hearing about some jobs in Shafter, the boys headed over there. They found a trailer park where they could set up their tent out back of the few rundown trailers lined up in ragged rows. Then after going into town for some grub, they started a fire and settled in for the night. By the time they got back to their camp, there was no one milling around, so they figured they’d look for the repair place tomorrow and see what they could find out.
As was their custom, they showed up at the farm machinery repair facility in time to follow the workers walking through the just opened gates. What they saw was 4 very large metal buildings with farm equipment and machinery of every description, in every conceivable stage of repair. Some in pieces, some out front looking to be completed.
After looking around, they headed straight over to what looked to be the office shack.

Entering, they saw a man behind the counter with his back to them, pouring himself a cup of coffee. When he turned around he said. “Howdy boys. How can I help you?”
“We was wondering if you might have any jobs to be had?” Guy asked.
After a short glance at Guy and Lester, he asked. “Do either of you have any special skills other than a laborer or picking crops?”
”Why yes we do sir.” Lester answered. “Guy here is right handy at handling machinery and I knows plenty about repairing engines.”
His eyes seemed to light up at that, and then he asked. “How about welding?”
“On the farm, there’s always a need for some welding.” Guy answered. “I recon I could handle that fine sir.”
“Well, I’ll tell you what. You fellow’s fill out these.” He said with a small smile, as he reached under the cabinet and slid some papers toward them. “ And we’ll see what we might find for you to do around here.”

That day started a yearlong employment at the facility where Guy and Lester with their work ethic and ability to catch on fast aptitude again worked their way up the ladder in no time.
Having some rudimentary knowledge of welding served Guy well, for in just a few months, he was the lead welder. Lester gained the head mechanic position in even less time, so they both again were putting together a right nice little nest egg at the Shafter Bank. Being thrifty but needing a place to live, they ended up renting one of the trailers with two bedrooms at the park, so settled in nicely in their new jobs.

The pickup that had served them so well coming out west, was breathing its last ragged breath and drinking oil like a drunken sailor. So before it gave up the ghost, Lester found another newer one that needed a little work from one of his co-workers, so they were back in business with a dependable pickup again.
Speaking of Lester, one hot summer day, when guy was running a red-hot bead of welding rod, repairing a broken front loader blade, he thought he kept hearing something out of the ordinary through the sizzling noise of the contact arc and the welding machines loud hum. Being right in the middle of a long run, he just gave his head a slight shake and it seemed to go away, so he continued on.

The now growing noise grabbed his attention again, this time sounding a bit like men’s raised shouts, so he stopped welding, flipped his helmet up, then stood up to look around. With the welder off, it became clear. It was the sound of men shouting. Lots of men. From inside the building, he couldn’t see anything, so he followed the sound outside and there is was.
It was a circle of men all facing inward, yelling encouragements and cuss words toward what was beginning to resolve into two men fist fighting in the center.
It had been ages since Guy had seen a good old fist fight, so he dropped his equipment, gloves and helmet on the ground and hurried over to see what was going on.
Truth be told, the last fistfight he’d been involved in was between him and one brother or another, which on the old farm was a somewhat regular thing.

As soon as he pushed between two of the now screaming spectators, it hit him. It was Lester and another fella punching it out. By the blood trails, it was a pretty even fight, with neither backing down. Then the other fella apparently lost his concentration, for Lester gave him a straight-armed slam right on the jaw and down he went. Then Lester jumped on top and started plummeting him over and over until the guy screamed out “I give damnit!”
As was the custom then, the second one of the combatants said “Uncle”.  It was over. Lester stood up with blood mixed snot slinging in every direction, with hands on hips, looking like a knight of old having just slain a tiger in the arena.
Then the others came over with glad handling and slaps on his back in congratulations for a fight well done. Then they all simply started back toward wherever they were working before it all started.

As Guy and Lester headed back toward their own metal buildings, Guy asked. “What the hell was that all about?”
“He called me White Trash! No one calls me that Guy! Ever again!”

To be continued:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we? Part 10.

Part 10.

After a fitful night’s sleep because of their excitement of moving on, Guy and Lester cranked up the old faithful pickup with it’s usual bellyaching, smoke puffing reluctance and crawled out of the river bottom they’d called home most of the summer, toward what they knew not but with a smile on their faces and a happy little tune of anticipation in their souls.
It turned out to be a little hard to leave a very disappointed Orange Farm owner with their decision to pass on his offer of a permanent job. He upped the pay he was offering enough to give them serious pause but it was too late. They’d already caught the “What’s over that next rise.” Bug and there was no looking back now.

Within just a couple of hours, they reached the beginnings of Bakersfield and what a place it seemed to the boys. When they’d first reached California, it was on the Southern outskirts of Las Angeles, so they never saw the whole immense layout of the big city life there. To them Bakersfield seemed a madhouse of activity.
During their trip across America on Highway 99, all they’d seen were little one-horse towns. Nothing near what they were now seeing. The closer to downtown they drove, the more the buildings grew, until they couldn’t see the tops from the side windows of the truck without sticking their heads out. And oh so many people in one place. All walking with such purpose, such determination. Having been born and raised as country bumpkins in small town America, they couldn’t for the life of themselves understand how so many folks could live so close together.

Soon after driving like the wide-eyed oakies they were clear through downtown Bakersfield, things started thankfully thinning out, with far less buildings and people along the way.
That’s when they noticed something going on in a field along side the road up ahead. As they got closer, they could see it was a fairly large group of folks with the same ragtag look as themselves playing a game of baseball in an open field there.
“Pull over.” Lester said as he gazed intently at now raucous crowd looking to be having a hell of a good time. “Lets stop and see what we can learn about the job situation here in Bakersfield.”
“You got it.” Guy said as he pulled over and parked next to the line of clunkers there.

 Just as they were getting out of the truck, they could tell someone apparently had just made a home run with bases loaded from the loud screams and yelling going on. With all the hats flying in the air, hugs and screaming, it must have been not only one hell of a welcome home run but also the end of the game because most folks were starting back toward their cars. There was a dozen or so people still holding back, so Guy and Lester headed over toward them. As they got close a couple of guys from the group looked over. “Howdy boys. Did you see that home run?”
“No sir, we just arrived as it happened but we sure heard it.” Guy laughed
“Well, John boy here.” The man said, slapping the young man next to him on the back, almost bowling him over. “Knocked it clear into the next county and won the damn game.”
That set off another round of yelling, back slapping, whistles, along with a few little dirt kicking dances, which started everyone laughing.

After that outburst slowed down, one of the group asked. “So boys. Where you all from?”
“We just arrived from the Orange fields down south. We heard there was work to be had here in Bakersfield.”
That got a few odd looks from some of the boys there so Lester asked. “Is there a problem finding work here?”
“Truth be told boys.” The man standing close said. “We’re all here for the same reason but so is a whole lot of others. We’re told we’re a might late, that most of the jobs have already been taken.”
“Really?” Guy asked with concern on his face.
“Lesin you have some kind of special skills other than pickin veggies or fruit.” Another man added.
“Well, we’re both a might handy at mechanicin and driving equipment.” Lester said.
“Well good luck to ya boys.” Another man stepped up to shake their hands. “You’re gonna need it.”

After most everyone slowly walked away, a young man who’d been standing back a little stepped up. “I heard you say you had some experience with equipment and stuff.”
“Yup. Lester here is a right fine mechanic.” Guy said. “And I’ve done my share of driving tractors and trucks.”
After another moment of kicking a dirt clod in silence the young man said. “I heard from some others there’s some sort of farm machinery repair facility over in Shafter that’s always looking for expericance people. I ain’t got none of that but you might look over there.”
“Shafter?” Lester said with a question in his voice. “Where’s that?”
“It’s about 20 miles Northwest of here.” The young man answered. “Just take 99 North, then West on Lerdo Highway for a few miles.”
”Thank ye young man. We do appreciate the help.”

After they got back in the car, Guy said. “Well, Shafter it is Lester. That sounds as good a place as any for us right about now. Maybe we can find ourselves a trailer park we can set up camp in somewhere’s around there and look around this here farm machinery repair place he told us about.”

To be continued:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we? Part 9.

Part 9.

We left the boys setting around the evening meal campfire wondering if they should take the year around job offer at the Orange farm or move on in search of better opportunities up north. They’d heard hints of more employment up there from some of the other folks heading that way.
They awoke next morning groggy and tired. The sun’s rays had not quite touched the ground as they busied themselves with the fire.
“Damn!” Guy mumbled. “I feel like I didn’t sleep at all last night. I couldn’t stop thinking about everything.”
“Yup. Me too.” Lester said as he rubbed his eyes, attempting to clear them of the sticky night goo.

After getting the fire up and running and snuggling up close against the morning chill, Guy put the coffee pot on a flat rock next to the coals beginning to form to heat, while swatting the smoke away from his face.
“I went back and forth a dozen times last night about what we should do.” Lester started. “And never got anywheres close to deciding.”
”I know.” Guy said. “What the Orange farmer offered us is tempting for sure but is this where we want to settle down, or do we start off up north to see what else there is to this here California?”
The owner had given them a couple of days to think his offer over, so for the first time in weeks, they had a day to themselves with nothing pressing to do.

So after a hardy breakfast of eggs, fish, a flower pancake and what little oranges there were left, they decided to wander the encampment and see who hadn’t left to search out another job yet. In that way, they were able to chat with a bunch of like-minded folks who had found themselves in the same dire circumstances they were in. Same as Guy and Lester though, most of these folks had found work in the orange groves, so had a bit of coin for food and essentials, so were in a pretty good mood. It was at one of the camps bustling with the activity of packing everything up to move on that they heard the most enticing news. Seems these folks had heard of a town up north apiece called Bakersfield that had jobs aplenty. So they were hustling to get there fore everyone else, to get the best jobs available.

It was on the way back to their own camp, that Lester of a sudden slapped his knee and in a sudden burst of enthusiasm said. “Dag nabbit Guy. We gotta move on. I’m not ready to settle down yet. There’s a whole big old world out there and I wanna see some of it afor I gets to be an old man.”
“Whoa there little man.” Guy laughed.” You gotta bit of time afor your hair changes color.”
“I know. I know.” Lester said. “But I gotta itch on my backside needin tending and staying in the first place we found in this here California ain’t gonna scratch it.”
“Ok brother dear. So just where do you have in mind to find this scratching post you’re needin then?”
“I don’t know but lets just hitch up the old truck and head on north where folks are a saying things get better. Lets just head up there and see what we might find.”

By the time they made their way back to camp, it was decided. They would get all their stuff rounded up and loaded onto the truck, get good nights sleep, and then go tell the Orange farm owner their decision and hit the road in the morning.
As they found out, getting a good nights sleep was not in their fate. Having decided to move on added an excitement they hadn’t felt since when very young their Pop had taught them to ride Betsy, the old sway back mare, the family kept around for hauling stuff when the clunker tractor broke down.
Guy would forever remember old Betsy. He’d taught Betsy to rear up on her hind legs, which was fun until the day Guy sled off Betsy’s rear end and landed under the horses stomping feet. It took quite a piece afor guys chin resembled normal skin again and was the last time Guy had Betsy do the back leg dance again.

They figured they did finally get some sleep around the time the tree owls hooting turned to snores. In their excitement they woke with just enough dawn light to hustle the fire back to life and start the water for the blessed coffee.

To be continued:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we? Part 8.

Part 8.

The men had been invited to the main ranch house for a meeting with the owner of the farm last we heard of them. They had no idea what he might want of them but it was worth a look see….

When they arrived at the ranch and invited in to the kitchen area, the owner’s wife said “Have a seat boys.” after all the introductions were done.
She was a sturdy woman of medium height and weight with a brightly colored cotton dress looking to be one of the store bought kind. The other women in the kitchen wore clearly home made clothing of a much rougher material, so Guy and Lester assumed by her general appearance she was hired help for the kitchen. By the ladies gentle friendly banter as they busied themselves in the kitchen, they figured she’d been there quite a while.

The owner was dressed in coveralls, clearly store bought, with pencils and paper sticking out of each built in pocket. He had the dry leather complexion of a man who’d spent his hard working life under the suns rays. He was setting at the table smoking a pipe and had a relaxed confident manner, which put them at ease immediately.
After the helper set a cup of steaming coffee in front of Guy and Lester with their thanks, Joe the owner, after tapping his pipe into an ashtray, then setting it down, started. “Well boys. I’m glad you could stop by. I’m a man of few words, so I’ll get straight to the point. You boys have been doin a mighty fine job here this season. Several of my men pointed that fact out to me.”
Seeing he was waiting for some kind of response, Guy Answered. “Why thank you sir. We were raised to always do a good job, no matter what it was, so you’ll have to credit our dad for that.”
“The fact is you’ve done such a fine job that I’d like to offer to keep you on during the off season to help with everything needs doing around here.”

That took Guy and Lester back a bit to be sure. It had been so long since they’d had real work, much less an offer of a long-term job, they didn’t know what to say.
After looking at each other with raised eyebrows, it was Lester who found his voice first. “Well sir, that is mighty fine of ya. We really hadn’t given much thought yet what we was going to do next.”
Then after another quick sidelong glance at Guy, who gave him a tiny nod to continue, he said. “You’ll have to give us a little time to think on that sir. We got some talking to do first.”
“Well,” Joe started as he reached across the table and grabbed a piece of paper, then after writing something on it and sliding it across the table toward them, he said. “Here’s what I can pay you each a day ifen you decide to stay. Of course you’ll have Sunday’s off for church and such.”

After they both tried their best to look casual after looking at the number he wrote without gasping like schoolboys just having heard yes for a date from the school cheerleader, Guy folded it and stuck it in his shirt pocket as if it was nothing.
Just as they wondered if the meeting was over, the helper placed a plate in front of them with the most delicious smelling pastry still warm from the oven they’d ever seen with a tiny mischievous smile.
Truth was, Lester was so shocked with the numbers and the pastry, he was setting there with his mouth open, not moving, like someone who’d lost their mind, until Guy gave him a wake up kick under the table, which elicited a little unexpected yelp.
They knew Joe had noticed because he dove into his pastry past a barely hidden smile with gusto.
As starved for real food as they were, it didn’t take them long to finish off the pastry, so after the owner shook their hands on the front porch, they took off walking back to camp. Even though the offer was something they never figured they’d see, they had some serious thinking to do.

It was oddly quiet back at camp. Most folks had packed up and moved on to wherever they figured they might find work now that the orange season was rapping up. Luckily California, with it’s unbelievably long growing season, had plenty of other crops in season or coming soon, having the most productive farming areas in the country.
One of the notable things that Guy and Lester noticed was the utter cleanliness of the river encampment. Folks would think with such utter poverty and gloom, the people would leave all their garbage behind for someone else to deal with. The truth was, these were proud people, raised to always tend to their own business, so every scrap of garbage, every tiny piece of paper had been cleaned up. Hell the very ground looked like it had been swept with a broom in most places. Even the orange peels had been buried sight unseen somewhere. The campfires so long established were watered out and smoothed over with fresh earth with nary a warm spot to cause trouble.

They weren’t in much of a hurry now, so they headed down to the river to catch some dinner and do a little talking. They had some decisions to make. Do they stay with a sure thing or move on hoping for something better?
As they sat on the riverbank watching the light slowly dim, they were caught up in the almost majestic interplay of nature. As always just as dusk laid its soft blanket on earth, the dragonflies would hover just inches above the waters edge. Then the fish with a small leap find their own substance hovering there within easy reach.
Soon as nature’s blanket lay true, and full darkness arrived, Guy and Lester took their catch back to camp and hustled up a fire to cook their evening meal.

As they watched with growing hunger the fish drip their greasy essences onto the embers below with dancing sizzles of smoke, Lester was the first to start. “Well brother. Whater we gonna do?”
“Damn ifen I know.” Guy quietly answered. “We got plenty of coin to last us a while now for sure, ifen we decide to move on a bit but having a sure thing at the orange farm is temptin. That’s a fact.”
”There’s that fur sure but I’ve a hankerin to move on and see what better we might find. This here California seems to be abustin with opportunities.”

To be continued:

Monday, November 4, 2013

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we?



Part 7.



We last left Guy and Lester languishing in a thing they’d only dreamed of in the past months. A place to bath and wash their ratty clothes.

Having been so long since any kind of bath, they were some of the last people to wander back into the camp to start a fire and enjoy the fish they’d caught.

Just as they were starting back, they passed what looked like two families who might have been related in some way; by the way they looked alike.

“Boys!” one of them spoke up as they were passing by. “Come. Set for a piece. We’d like to talk to you for a bit ifen you don’t mind.”

After glancing toward each other with a questioning raised eyebrow and shrugging their shoulders, Guy and Lester stepped over to stand by the groups.

“How can we be of help?” Lester asked after a moment of silence had passed.

“To tell you the truth boys, we heard some others talking about you helping them with a problem they had with their car and said you were right good at it. Ya see, one of our trucks just barely made it here a couple days ago. We was wondering if you might be able to take a look at it when you have time?”


“Well,” Guy started after a quick glance at Lester. “Being born and raised on a farm, we did pick up a little about mechanican. Our Dad is mighty handy with machinery and taught us a bit, so we could take a look but right now, we need to get back to camp for some eats and sleep. Today was a mighty long day.”

“Hey. No hurry boys. We’ll be here at least long enough to put together some money afor we move on.”

“Ok.” Lester said. “Show us where your camped and we’ll stop by when we can.”

That’s mighty fine of you boys. We thank you.”


So that’s the way the next couple of months went. Guy and Lester being such good workers with special skills handy from a farm, quickly moved up the ladder of responsibility until they were both made foreman. Guy was in charge of all the tractor operators and Lester became the head mechanic.

Before they knew it, the little jingle in their trousers turned into a heavy but welcome weight they were forced to deal with. So the lead foreman took them both into town when there was a break in the work to open up a savings account and deposit their hard earned cash in a safe place.

Truth was, in those times, they probably could have just hidden the money in their tent or buried it but Daddy didn’t raise no fools, so they did the right thing.


They not only found time in the mornings and evenings to fix the truck for the folks they’d met beside the river but when word got out, they started making extra money working on other peoples automobiles in the camp.

Having been raised with almost nothing the only thing they spent money on was a can of coffee and a few vegetables to supplement their ongoing diet of Fish, flour pancakes and of course Oranges.

That first cup of java was manna from heaven, boosting their morning energy levels nicely. Turned out other folks had a hankering for some coffee also, so in short order there was a new welcoming smell mixed with the campfire smoke drifting lazily throughout the camp.

Guy and Lester weren’t sure if it was just the coffee or the addition of food into the camp but most mornings now came with a fair amount of the morning noises, including laughter that normal humans, especially children make when their feeling well.

Some nights they were even hearing a lone harmonica singing a little happy tune or a guitar and singer off in the distance lamenting about lost love or some such.


With the Orange season coming to an end, the camp atmosphere started slowly changing from an encampment to a place full of the activity of folks packing up and moving on.

At the farm, things were thinning out each day. More and more folks were receiving their last coins and bidding farewell.

Because Guy and Lester had worked themselves into the upper ranks of employee’s there, the owners wanted to keep them on at least long enough to finish everything up. In fact one day the owner asked them to meet him in the main ranch house for a little talk.

The night before the meeting, they both spent extra time in the river scrubbing their clothes and bodies extra well to present themselves properly to the owners. With everyone’s rush to leave the camp, they’d even found a comb someone had dropped, so they were able to use it instead just their fingers to straighten out their normally unruly hair.



To be continued:




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we?

Part 6.

After finding a place to set up camp at the oakie encampment, they finally found sleep’s reprieve from the daemons seemingly always tugging at their ragged shirtsleeves.  
The next morning started at the crack of dawn. With everyone there badly in need of jobs, they were all interested in an early start. Guy woke with the cooking smells wafting through the encampment like flower essences straight from the heavens above. It had been so long since Guy and Lester had heard the sounds of pots and pans making the music of breakfast, Guy at first thought he had to be dreaming.
The nearby river’s bounty added the wonderful smells of fish frying in pans with the flour pancakes adding their own earthy aromas. Combined with the ever-present Orange essences, they both jerked awake to the rumbling of their stomachs as alarm clocks.
They hadn’t had time last night to do any fishing, so they set about starting a fire to cook some flour pancakes, while they dug into some of the Oranges they’d pilfered last night with the others. The truth was, the Oranges were so fresh, so naturally healthy, they couldn’t imagine becoming tired of them.

As they sat watching the bubbles slowly make their way through the flour on the pan, they first heard, then saw one of the close by campers walk up.
“Howdy boys.” The man greeted when he got within earshot.
“Well howdy backatcha sir.” Lester answered as he stood to greet the man. “My names Lester and this here.” He said pointing toward Guy who was also standing up. “Is Guy.”
“They call me slim.” The newcomer said. “On account of….” As he pointed down at his stick thin body and smiled. “But my real name be Jim. Jim Stevens.”
“Hi Slim.” Guy smiled back in greeting. “Lester and I are brothers and our last name be Huston.”
“I figured as much.” Slim said. “You look an awful lot alike.”

After exchanging a hardy handshake, Guy said. “Well, have a seat Slim. I’d offer you some coffee but we don’t have any. Would ya like a pancake?”
“No, no, I just had me a bite to eat. No, I saw you folks arrive last evening and figured you’d not have time to catch yourself some fish for breakfast, so I brought you a couple extras we had for ya.” He said as he untied a burlap sack from his rope belt and showed them two fine looking fish straight from the river.
“Now that is mighty fine of you sir.” Guy said with a hungry gleam in his eye.
“Slim! Please, just call me Slim, Guy.”
“Well we thank you Slim.” Lester said as he gathered the fish up and got out his knife to start the cleaning process.
That’s quite alright boys.” Slim smiled.  “Ifen you catch extras down at the river, maybe you could share some.”
“That we will Slim.” Guy smiled back. “That we will.”
Not long after they finished their heavenly breakfast and cleaned up, they joined a line of other men shuffling their way through the encampment heading toward the Orange groves to hopefully find work.
When they got to the Orange farm’s main barn, the folks there had a small table set up for the hopefuls to fill out a little paper work for a job.
After that, it was a simple matter of showing the work Forman the paperwork. Then he’d have a quick little talk to see what kind of skills they might possess, to help him decide what work he’d set each of them up with.
So within a very short period of time, Guy found himself driving tractors and Lester was assigned as a mechanic on the farm.
The nature of employment in those days were you were paid in cash at the end of each day, so after working from just after sunup to growing dusk, Guy and Lester again joined the other men now almost stumbling in their exhaustion to walk back to the encampment. Only now they each had a small cache of tinkling coins adding weight and hope to their bodies and souls.

The first thing they did when they arrived back at camp was to grab up a handful of dirty cloths and their fishing poles and gear and head off to the river to join others already there in various stages of washing cloths, themselves and fishing for their evening meal.
With the California weather being so perfect, even in the night, they like most folks out of necessity and a slight bit of decorum left their cloths on and sat on the stones up to their chests and let the slowly moving waters take care of the grime, sweat, blood and stains on their cloths and bodies.
For Guy and Lester, coming from a place almost completely devoid of water in any form, this was heaven on Earth.

To be continued:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we?

Part 4 & 5

We last left Guy and Lester limping their way between tire patches across a part of America that had nothing but fear driven hate for these newcomer white trash from the southeast. Truth was, it was bad everywhere and the locals feared these lowlifes flooding the area would be taking their jobs. They figured they’d be willing to work for penny’s, so what little factories and business’s were still hiring would have no choice but to take advantage of that fact.
With fear being the kindling and fire of danger, it was only sheer luck that Guy and Lester finally one day stood at the border between Nevada and California in one piece and once more danced the dance of joy.
On the way west, they’d seen flyers telling of lots of jobs on the farms in California, so that’s where they headed. Compared to coming across the country, California seemed such a busy place with less chances to use their special gasoline device and they were running mighty low on fuel now, so they had to find some way to make money soon.

It was such a slow arduous trip across the country that it was early 1932 before they arrived in what they were now considering the promise land. As they traveled on highway 99, they saw vast green fields planted with every description of vegetable crops and mile and after mile of fruit and nut trees planted in rows so straight, their eye couldn’t begin to see the end of them.
Also, they saw men and women tilling the soil, planting, pruning, driving tractors and toiling in the fields by the hundreds, which only increased the growling in their stomachs along with the hope in their souls.
One of the discerning things they noticed while driving by the fields were the folks in small lines waiting for work, a testament to how many people were there for the available jobs. They suspected this would be the case but could only hope their timing was such, they could get in on the beginning of the job rush just starting from out east.

Just south of Los Angeles they saw their chance at a job with mile after mile of Orange groves on both sides of Highway 99 as far as their eyes could see in every direction. Once again they saw hundreds of field hands hustling the oranges into wagons, like ants bringing the honey to the queen bee. To their delight, they could tell by the lack of lines that there was work to be had here.
With sunset fast approaching, Guy and Lester really needed to find a place to make camp for the night and get something to eat. While coming across the country, on top of stealing chickens, fishing and the rare times they found game to hunt, they were still constantly hungry.

Having no idea where they could set up some kind of temporary camp while hopefully working the orange groves around the area, all they could do was watch the others like themselves coming and going. They soon noticed a few heading down a side road heading eastward following their now constantly elongating shadows, so they jumped in line and followed them to see where it might lead. Along the way, they came across a family along side the road with steam rising in the air from the engine of their old car. As they passed the scene, they saw at least a dozen children from babies to teenagers looking about as forlorn and lost as anyone could be. They all wore threadbare clothing showing more skin and bones that material.
Both Guy and Lester were pretty handy when it came to fixing cars, so they pulled over up ahead and walked back to be greeted by a middle-aged man wiping his forehead in the dry hot air of Southern California and a wife with tears leaving dirty trails down her grimy face.

Even with their dire predicament, they still greeted the brothers with smiles showing more missing teeth than intact and after scrubbing his hand on his trousers; he held it out for a firm handshake.
“Howdy friend.” The man said.
”Howdy.” Guy answered back. “Looks like your having some trouble here.”
”Yup. Seems something is wrong with the old radiator or something. Just all the sudden like it started pissin steam like a geyser.”
“Well, we could take a look see ifin you don’t mind.” Lester said. “We knows a little about engines.”
“Well, that’d be mighty friendly of you sir. We’d surely appreciate any help ya might be able to give right about now.”

After opening the hood of the old car, it was quickly determined the problem was only a crack in the radiator hose, so Guy and Lester headed back to their pickup to retrieve a piece of rubber from a inner tube along with some bailing wire. Then after cracking open the radiator cap to let out the pressure, they went about encircling the cracked hose with the rubber, then wiring both ends with the tightened wire and they were done.
In the meantime, the man had brought back a bucket of water from a nearby pond, so he took the cap off and refilled the tank, then replaced the cap and restarted the motor.

As they stood there inspecting the patch and finding no more leaks, the man thanked them profusely.
“Sir?” Lester asked. “We was wondering. We seen others heading down this road and just followed along having nowhere else to go tonight. Do you know where we might find a place to make camp for a few days while we look for work?
“Why I do sir.” The man answered. “Matter of fact, that’s a where we were aheading. We heard from others there was a small river a ways on ahead where folks like us were setting up camp, so we thought to go there too. If you’d just follow us, we’ll head thataway right now afore this here radiator hose gives us anymore trouble.”
”Well. That sounds good to us.” Guy said. “We’ll be right behind ya, in case there’s anymore trouble with your car.”
”That be mighty nice of you sir. Mighty nice indeedy. I thank ya. Ifin there be any way to pay ya back, I will.”

So before long, the man and women got all the kids pilled back into the now very crowded car and they pulled back onto the highway like a caravan of two following a few other cars traveling that way.
It wasn’t long after cresting a long hill they had their first glimpse of a waterway winding it’s way through the countryside.
After so much traveling with no convenient way to bath, the idea of a nice soak in relatively clean river water greatly appealed to Guy and Lester. Soap being a luxury they hadn’t had in oh so long, it didn’t matter. Just being able to soak their bodies and cloths in water sounded mighty fine right about then.

As they got close enough to start seeing details of the encampment, they noted something odd. Interspersed throughout the area were 50-gallon barrels, stacked high with huge overflowing mounds of Orange peels, some stretching for a dozen feet encircling the barrels.
When they stopped and asked someone why all the orange peels were piled all around, there were told the men would walk a couple of miles in the dark of each night and steal the oranges from the surrounding groves to have anything to eat. They told them these were the same groves some of the men were finding jobs at picking the fruit during the day. They would purposely leave some of the oranges closest to the river they could come back and get in the night for themselves.

It took a while meandering between the camps and people but they finally found a clearing they might call their own, at least for a while.
All the way through the maze of tents, shanties and leaning cardboard affairs some were calling home were every ragtag example of humanity one could imagine. Even though Guy and Lester were members of a family with 13 children, it was still rather discerning to see so many clearly malnourished, skinny, at times almost lifeless children they saw. Usually with so many children there would be loud noises children always make but everyone they saw were mostly withdrawn and quiet, only setting or standing with eyes glazed over with hunger, sadness and fatigue from the bleak circumstances they found themselves in.

Later after setting up their rather sparse encampment, they joined a group of men heading over to the groves for just enough oranges to supplement the flour they had. For the next two weeks all they had to eat was a few fish from the river and flour pancakes for bread and oranges, lots of oranges.

To be continued:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we?

Part 3.

We last left guy setting at the kitchen table with nothing in his heart but relief and thankfulness, that he hadn't had to carry out his desperate plan to rob the local grocery store of enough bags of groceries to feed his family, then turn himself in to the local sheriff.
Truth was, his family and Sheriff Dan were long time friends. In fact Guy’s father and he were hunting partners. Guy knew Sheriff Dan would be more than sympathetic to their plight but also knew he’d have to put Guy in Jail on top of charging him with the serious offence of robbery with a gun, even though it wasn’t loaded.

He also knew with Lester’s job, the whole family would now have at least enough food to sustain themselves for a while longer. The few times in the past weeks when he and his brothers had time to get together, the conversation always involved what a lot of the folks around there were talking about.
Most everyone was talking about heading out west. The rumors were, there were jobs in the planting fields out California way. In fact more and more people were packing up everything they could in the back of their trucks and deserting their now worthless farms to head out west in search of a better life, or at the least enough food to live.

As fate would have it, Lester’s job only lasted a couple of weeks, Not even enough time for the meager food to begin filling in the spaces between the skin and bones their bodies were becoming all to familiar with.
That and the fact that none of Guy’s siblings or parents had found jobs drove the family into holding a meeting around the empty kitchen table on the first Sunday morning they were all available.
The discussion quickly progressed to how they were all going to pack up everything and leave the only home they’d known, which brought tears to their Mom and the girl’s eyes but only hung heads from the guys trying their best to hide their sadness and be stoic.
Most of the brothers told them they’d already made arrangements with some of their friends to go with them out west, so that made the whole process somewhat easier.

Their Mom and Dad would take the three girls with them, so that only left Guy and Lester to work out a way to travel. Luckily, they’d been working on an old beat up Ford Pickup this last year and only had tires to patch, and then they’d be ready to go also.
So during the next week, the family all pitched in to bundle everything they owned, which wasn’t much, into a small trailer their Father had built out of an old truck chassis, they would pull behind the beater family car.
Their Mom being the ever-frugal one brought out a sack of flower and a small sack of salt for each sibling. That along with some fishing string, hooks and of course their rifles and a small sack of bullets would have to be their main staples during the trip, along with what fish they could catch or game they might find along the way.

After patching the threadbare tires, Guy and Lester piled all their cloths plus a few pieces of furniture that wouldn’t fit in anyone else’s rig on top of the growing pile of stuff. About then, they watched several billowing clouds coming up the drive, they knew to be the friends of their brothers come to pick them up.
When the car and trailer, along with the trucks were loaded, they all stood looking at the crazy sight. It looked like a Mexican caravan ready to head out into a desert hoping for an oasis.
Then they stood there in relative silence squinting their eyes against the blowing dust, pretending to be lost in thought for quite a while, not quite knowing what to say or do next. Their Dad made a small speech then telling everyone they’d find each other out west but down deep they all knew this might be the last time some of them ever saw each other. Really, this would be the first time the family had truly been separated, so it felt a bit like a funeral as they finally grew close and held each other in a long and silent group hug.

Then one by one, after taking a last look back at the old now pitiful looking homestead, they all started climbing aboard.
As they each started their rigs with puffs of smoke announcing success, Eunice, one of the sisters, jumped out and ran back into the house. In just a moment she was racing back with tears streaming down her muddy face, hugging a small rag doll she had almost forgotten.

So one by one, the rag tag collection of old beat up automobiles puffed down the dirty driveway; each leaving a cloudy trail behind as their last and only testament anyone had ever lived there.
As they reached the end of the driveway and turned toward town, everyone one of them craned their necks looking out the side windows for one last glance at the home they’d very well never see again but alas, with the cars dust clouds added to the never ending dust storms, the house was gone as if never there.
Even with the price of gasoline only 10 cents a gallon, it took every last penny they’d saved for this purpose to fill all the tanks. 

They started out as a caravan but before long were separated, so Guy and Lester took turns driving as they made their way westward, riding on hope and faith they would discover a better world at it’s end.
Being farm boys and flat broke; they had created out of an old hand bicycle pump a contraption to siphon gas out of gas tanks along the way. Put one hose in a cars tank, the other in theirs and pump. They knew that was stealing but having no other way to get gasoline, it left them no choice but to bend the rules this once and pray the powers that be might forgive them.
They found the best opportunity was on Sunday’s at a country church. They would pull into the dirt parking lot next to a likely looking car and wait for the loud singing and hallelujahs to drift out of the church and then pump like crazy as long as they dared, then madly drive on their way once more.
In those days, most folks attended church, which brought up another guilt inducing but necessary opportunity. Before leaving the area, they would find a small farm with no one home and grab up a chicken from the chicken coop, which would add to their meager foodstuffs, calming their constantly growling stomachs for a few more days.

As soon as they started driving through mid-America things changed for the worse. More than once as they approached a small town on the highway, they were met on the road by a group of angry townsfolk with rifles screaming. “Get out of here you white trash! We don’t want your kind here.”
When they asked how they were to be on their way around the town, one of the men would bark. “Back a piece is a trail off to the left, turn there, then a ways further you’ll find a dirt track beside the river heading west you can take. Now Get!”

To be continued:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we?

Part 2.


When we last left Guy, in his sheer desperation to help his slowly starving family during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl years in Okalahoma in the 1930’s, he had retrieved his 22-caliber pistol he’d stashed a couple of years ago high on a shelf in his bedroom closet. The pistol had never crossed him mind in that time until now. Even as he held it there, he still had no solid plan.


It was in his genes to have anything he used be in top condition, so he took it back to the bed and after finding some old rags and some oil, he started the process of cleaning every inch till he could see his dirty face in it’s surface. Then after repeating the process on the inside with a cleaning rod, he was ready.

During the chore, he slowly developed a plan. He had no intention of doing anyone harm, much less shooting anyone, so he didn’t load the gun. His plan was to take a bath, wash and comb his unkempt hair, then dress in what clean cloths he could find, to be properly attired for what he was about to do.

Then he’d walk back to town, go into the local grocery store and using the gun as intimidation, rob the place of all the bags of food he could carry back. Then when he’d deposited the food back at their farmhouse, he would turn himself in to the local sheriffs office.

Even as hungry as he was, he figured sooner or later, they would be forced to feed him, so he wouldn’t touch any of the food. That way his family could eat well, at least this once.


So after bathing, shaving and combing his hair, he stuck the pistol in his pants under his shirt and then stood looking at himself in the full-length mirror on the wall for a moment. “Wow!” If he hadn’t almost forgot how, he would’ve chuckled at what he saw standing there. “I haven’t looked this good in months. At least I’ll look good in the mug shot they take.”

“Well,” He thought. “I guess this is it.”

Then he headed for the bedroom door and after glancing back at himself one last time in the wall mirror, he stepped into the living room, then out through the front door. He found himself standing there on the front porch with conflicting thoughts bouncing around his brain like ricocheting bullets in an old cowboy movie he’d seen once.

Should he really do this? Maybe he should put the damn pistol away and try and think of some other way to help the family but he’d been struggling with this for days now and there was no other way he could think of that would at least temporally feed his family, so…


He straightened his shoulders and stepped off the steps onto the dirt once more. As soon as his foot touched the dust laying there like sifted flower, the little cloud immediately swirled up his pant leg, once again tinting it the god awful gray he was so sick of. That and the sweat already running down his back reminded him that by the time he arrived back in town, his attempt to look nice would be for naught.

“Oh well.” He grimaced. “Nothing to be done about it.”

So off he started down the dirt road in the deep silence the dust caused with each step.


He didn’t get very far when he heard someone up ahead yelling out something he couldn’t quite yet make out.

Squinting his eyes against the ever present dust in the air and rising heat, he could just start to make out someone running full blast toward him on the dirt road just arrived from the main road.

He couldn’t make out whom yet, but whoever it was, he was still screaming out something he still couldn’t make out.

At that point he stopped walking to try and make some sense out of what he was seeing and hearing. That’s when the first words slowly became clearer. It hit him then who it was. It was his older brother Lester and what he was shouting hit him like a ton of bricks and froze him in his now dirty tracks.

After another moment it was clear. He was shouting. “I got a job! I got a job! I got a job!” He was shouting those same words over and over and over like a stuck record.


Guy’s well-hidden but real desire to break out crying in joy came dangerously close to the surface then but by god “Men don’t cry God damnit!” His mind screamed him back into some semblance of control.

By then Lester ran up and grabbed Guy in a humongous bear hug, then grabbed his hands and swung them both in great circles of joy, all the while continuing to scream out “I got a job Guy! I got a Goddamn job!


After extracting himself from Lester’s over exuberant embrace and listening to all the details of Lester’s job, Guy quietly turned back toward the house, walked into the bedroom and then into the closet.  After he wrapped the now clean shining pistol in a rag, on his tiptoes, he once again laid it back into its place there.

Next he walked into the bathroom, turned and locked the door and then sat on the toilet and couldn’t help himself. He silently wept until there was nothing left there.

Then he washed his face and went back into the house where Lester was still turning in joyous circles like some crazy dancer from some other exotic country.

As he sat himself down on one of the kitchen chairs, all he could do was gently smile at fates amazing grace.


To be continued:



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we?

Part 1.

I can imagine him now. An eighteen-year-old boy in 1931 situated in the middle of a family with 13 children. Sitting there in his room, forlornly staring at the worn and battered wooden floors wondering how he could possibly help the family in the great times of need they and everyone they knew found themselves in now.
It was in the middle of what they were calling the Great Depression and Oklahoma was experiencing a drought the likes of which had never been seen before. They called the whole area he and his family lived in The Dust Bowl.
After years of drought the land was a barren wasteland of nothing but swirling dust storms, one after another. Between the ravaging dirt devils and the heat and humidity from hell, everyone he came into contact with looked like tan colored dust bunnies with rivulets of mud coursing down the length of their bodies, originating from each and every sweat gland they possessed.

With all the topsoil long since blown away and no fertile land left to grow precious food, they also had the look of refugees from some foreign land. With the boys shirtless from the extreme heat, you could count their ribs. It was getting harder each day to watch his own family wasting away from lack of basic substance. They had long since tracked or trapped and shot all the small animals within miles of their weathered home at the end of a long dusty dirt road. With the constantly blowing dust incrusted wind, the only defining markers left were the wooden fences along each side of the road, which were leaning in great disrepair from lack of maintenance.
With no money left for something as basic as gasoline, it had been weeks since any automobile had driven to their house. In fact even seeing a truck out on the main roadway was a rare thing nowadays.

In the past, they could hear trucks coming and going down there but with the dust now inches thick on the roadways, it was a silent affair now. The only way one knew there was a truck traveling there was the whirlwind of dirty air rising into the sky behind them like a ghostly snake to finally dissipate in the gray drab sky above.
It was hard to believe everything had come to this for the family. Most times, there was almost no one home because they were all out trying to find either work or food. There was nothing left to do other than keep trying to live on. They hadn’t gathered as a family in what seemed like weeks. The dinner table being the normal meeting place was long left unused now.

Guy was dog-tired having just returned from walking the five miles into town in search of a job. The whole situation was getting desperate in the extreme. He personally hadn’t eaten anything in the two days since their father had arrived with some dried meat and fruit he’d traded for a hard days labor at the railroad yard west of town. The work had been so hard; he’d come home with bloody hands from the labor.
Guy was sitting on his bed exhausted to the bone, from the walk and lack of nourishment. Looking down at his hands, they looked like the hide of a long dead animal lying in the baking sun too long.
If crying would have been in his genes he would have broken down right then and there but “A man doesn’t cry damnit” He thought with rising anger in his guts.
“That’s it!” His thoughts continued. “I’ll be damned it I’m going to set here and do nothing and watch my family slowly die of starvation. There has to be something I can do.”

That’s when it hit him. Being born and raised in Oklahoma, he like everyone else had a deep seeded sense of right and wrong but by god, this situation threw all that out the window for him setting there with hunger and desperation slowly taking the reins of his heart and soul.
So he got up and walked over to the closet he shared with several brothers and on his tip toes reached up to the back of the high shelf, where he had carefully placed it long ago. After a moment more, he felt it’s metal certainty. After bringing it down, as he stood there looking at the 22-caliber pistol he’d traded for a pig from a neighbor a couple years ago; he was amazed at the poor condition it was in. Truth was, there was no good reason to own or use a pistol, with rifles being the normal hunting weapon. Guns at that time were only a tool to provide meat for the table or protect the farm animals from wild predators. When he first saw it, he just thought it would be a nice thing to have.

To be continued:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Shades of gray.........

I’m thinking one of the worst attributes of a small percentage of humans is their habit of seeing the world in only black and white, good or bad, up or down, or possibly intelligent or stupid.

Maybe humans have always been prone to that simplistic view of life, starting with the cave men and women. Where they only allowed what they considered the good or strong people to join their tribe and all the people they considered bad or weak would be killed or at least banned from their declared territory.
What kind of testing procedures or guidelines they would have used to determine other’s standing in their scheme of things might have been as simple as color of skin, how high of a forehead they had, how low their knuckles dragged, or any other attribute that didn't conform with whatever was considered normal at the time.

With this flawed system of trying to make sense of life, they would make sweeping assumptions about people based on incredibly narrow perimeters. Also with such a narrow view of what’s right or wrong, they would lose the wonderful diversity natural life has in such ample supply for those with the eyes and minds to see and appreciate.

Apparently some truths are ingrained in our collective souls, for certain present day humans to this day still see life through the narrow aperture of a blinder, which are what horse trainers put on their mount’s eyes to not allow them to become distracted from whatever mission they’re being trained for, to keep them absolutely focused on their assigned tasks. Of course for humans, the blinders are the narrow-minded focus certain people proudly practice and prefer.

Close mindedness has a direct correlation to intelligence or lack thereof. The proof of that statement lies in examining the various cultures throughout the world. The lower the education level, the more likely they are to solve any and all problems with hate driven violence versus communication and reason. Instead of simply understanding there are vast complex differences between people even in the same region, they just stick to their generational dogma agendas and use the same tactics their forefathers and mothers used, even if completely outdated and cruel.

So in some of these backward countries, when you catch your daughter alone with a man that’s not a relative, you simply throw her in a hole in the ground with rocks stacked around it’s perimeter and invite the whole tribe to throw stones down at her until she dies a horrible, wretched death, for shaming your supposed sacred family trust.

In our present day, this black and white extreme divisiveness has came full circle, it’s came back in glorious bloom to once again plague us with its ignorant, close minded vitriol.
As most would agree, we've reached a point in our political system where one is either on one side or the other, at least according to the more extremist amongst us.
In the true color palette, there are potentially thousands of shades of gray between stark white and stark black. The same is true with humans. There are the extreme outer edges of humanity with the prerequisite blinders firmly in place, only seeing, reading or watching each other, then roboting what they see as truths. They've learned to stick to preaching to the choir instead of humanity, because humanity sees their crap for what it is.
The sad and ignorant side of this is that the extremist faction really believes everyone thinks the same as them.
Thankfully, the truth is the vast majority of intelligent thinking Americans see all that for what it is. Extremist bull pucky!

The problem is the people on the outer edges of reason are most times big mouthed, loud numskulls. Their way is not to quietly reason, communicate or have civilized conversations about important political or economic issues but to blast their hate, blame and doom and gloom view of the world they unfortunately live as their own sad realities.

As most thinking Americans clearly know, this present day polarizing, divisive reality has brought our system to a complete standstill.
When our leaders are too childish, narrow-minded and dogmatically agenda driven, nothing meaningful can be achieved.

Know this though. The thinking American people are becoming sick and tired of our politicians forgetting whom they were elected to serve. One of these days, hopefully sooner rather than too late, they will wake up and throw all the bums out of office and start with a new, fresh batch…

Mmmmmmm……I can smell the fresh baked odor wafting from life’s kitchen now…….

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

The little spoiled rotten retarded child pretending to be king over in North Korea is just another of many examples of how far off we’ve come in mis-prioritizing what we consider our realities and truths.
With our National News organizations (yes, including all the extremist ones) slowly turning away from real news, their new prime objective is to provide nothing but entertainment for the obese, drugged out huddled masses, only looking up from their far too large servings, when they hear someone screaming insanities into a microphone. A microphone being shoved in their faces by some catastrophe chasing numbskull pretending to be a real news reporter. The fact is, the ones screaming the loudest are the feature story of the nightly absurdities passing for real news.

Another fine example of course would be Lindsay Lohan. In the madcap, made up world of the entertainment/news business, they would have us believe she is some kind of misunderstood genius actress, something along the line of a James Deanish female. As if genius cannot exist without complete chaos and uncontrollably bad behavior.

The clear truth to normal people, who care at all about these kinds of clowns, is she is nothing but a spoiled rich brat. The entertainment/news always hints that the poor dear is under the dreaded influence of horrid drugs and booze and that’s why she acts the way she does. Again people with real minds know those things are only excuses the weak and lazy use to justify their insanities.

Truthfully, these kinds of dysfunctional idiots are of the same proportion as crazies to normal people in general society. Same as in real life, they are an extreme minority. Most people, famous or not, are normal, upstanding, caring, honest, hard working, family orientated citizens, you would welcome as neighbors.

So we watch Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen and too many other actresses and actors on the nightly entertainment/news being chased at 3:00 am after leaving some loud obnoxious bar for the far too rich and famous in downtown tinsel town. We watch them being chased by the dreaded paparazzi, then crashing into some other Denison of the shadowed night.

To prove my point, have you EVER seen folks like Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Sean Penn, Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Denzel Washington or Gene Hackman drunk out of their minds, running around half naked, being chased by the paparazzi?
No, you haven’t! You know why? They have real lives, just like the rest of us. They are at their homes, getting a good nights sleep along side their loving families.
These people also know what honor, responsibility and acting like an adult are. They have pride in what they do and have no need to flash their incredible talents around.

So, the next time you see a supposed news story about some poor actress or actor ending up in the slammer once again for acting out his or her delusional fantasies, take a quick look, the same as you would a crash along the roadway, flinch in shame for looking and then go back to your normal lives.
Lives by the way, you should certainly be proud of.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Is life mostly luck or self-determination?

The longer I live the more important this question seems. As I slip and slid past 39 years old, (I got land to sell ya, if you believe that) and look at those around me, I’ve noticed an amazing thing. More and more people long of tooth are doing great in the general health and fitness department.

I know, I know….What about all the folks at the mall pushing the obese scale to the limit? Not to sound to uncaring, those I’m afraid are tipping toward thinning the gene pool, so my little theses today is forced to exclude that group.

No, I’m talking about the regular relatively healthy people I come in contact with daily. Disregarding for now all the unfortunate folks with real or imagined serious health issues, I see everyday people I would consider lucky. I have to include myself in that group.

Knowing it’s bad luck to make huge blank statements about things like this, after a hard knock on wood or three, I have to admit some things.

At my young tender age…”^)…I’m in pretty darn good condition. Even though my career involves standing all day, for more years than I care to admit, I have no back, leg or foot problems. Even though my career involves holding my arms at shoulder level and in constant repetitive motion, I have no carpel tunnel issues, no joint pains, no arm, hand or finger aches whatsoever.

Every year for years on end, I have a complete physical and all the readings are perfect except very slightly higher blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. So far, thank the goddesses above and gnomes below; I have no indications of pre-diabetes, lung problems, hearing or any other pre-ism’s at all.

Knowing full well our mental state is also important, I’m proud to admit, I love the constantly emerging high tech world and try and stay up to breast on all things digital as much as possible. In fact that is one of the subjects that brings the little kid out in me.

I have an ongoing worldwide blog, I write a newspaper column and have written and published a book with another one in the womb as we speak and there were many times in the last few years, these three things were happening at the same time.

I’m telling you this to proclaim that at least so far, I am showing no implications of any mental problems like Alzheimer’s disease, or symptoms of any kind of pre-stroke, heaven forbid.

Here’s the deal though. I see people everyday just like me. People with active, seemingly fulfilled lives that are either hiding their infirmaries well or are in basically very good health.

These are people in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and a few into the low 90’s who still have full or part time jobs, or at the least live active, energetic lives. They walk with a spring to their step and have a quick and easy smile for those around them.

So all this takes me back to my original question. Are all these others, including myself just lucky, or have we all decided to live life to its fullest come hell or high water? Have we self-determined ourselves into staying healthy or is it just blind luck?

So, sheer dumb luck or self-determination? Which is it?

To be honest, I thought for the longest time it was just luck. That somehow the powers that be decided to hand the luck card to a select group of deserving souls. The more I’ve thought about it though, the more I think like most things, it’s probably a combination of a lot of factors, with luck certainly included.

For my slightly higher blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, the docs have me take a low dose of meds, which brings everything back to perfect. Then the apparently magic baby aspirin a day to ward off the devil.

Having been raised on a farm, it’s always been in my blood to eat as much freshness as possible from the land, so we’ve always had a nice garden. What’s for dinner more often than not depended on what was ripe and ready. For years now, I’ve walked, if not daily, at least when I can. I’ve been told this is one of the best exercises one can do. After all this time, if I don’t walk, I don’t feel as well, so I continue following that yellow brick road as long as it leaves it’s runway lights ablaze.

So I think I’ve learned that as in most things, I have to take some of the credit but mostly I feel nothing but incredible gratitude and thankfulness that this thing called life has and continues to treat me pretty darn well. I have to extend a little friendly tip of the hat to all others I see jauntily walking along enjoying their moments on this crazy blue ball in the ether also.

Thanks, powers that be. Thank you indeed!

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