Saturday, December 17, 2016

How I survived the mid 20th Century.

"Life was simpler, not easier!"

The Olden days: The current generation cannot grasp the hardships we had to endure before the advent of television, the cell phone, the information superhighway, and of course, Subway and McDonalds. The conditions were almost medieval.

FOOD: The life of hardship commenced when we would get up in the morning eat porridge(also known as oatmeal), eggs fresh from the chicken, homemade bread with butter. It was difficult eating eggs from free range chickens, maple flavored oatmeal, deliciously buttered homemade bread. No tasty chemical preservatives were in sight. The dairy would deliver fresh milk everyday. It didn't have a shelf life. The cream would be on the top and the milk below. After WW II people started to see stuff called "Oleo".

Oleo was strange stuff. It came in a soft plastic container bag. Oleo was white. It had an orange capsule stuck on the inside of the bag. You had to squeeze the capsule and break it and massage the orange stuff evenly through the plastic bag so it would look like butter. It wasn't so bad. In fact, I became so accustom to it that I didn't like butter any more. It took me 20 years before I started enjoying butter again.

My Grandfather was a dairy farmer. We always had fresh eggs, milk, and bread.

My other grandfather was a Blacksmith. We always had....ummm....horseshoes.

In retrospect I am thinking that food was not really a problem unless you enjoy the taste of chemicals. They do have some tasty chemicals these days. I purchased some raspberry cookies last week. There was no raspberries in it. It kinda tasted like raspberries. It had a lot of high fructose corn syrup. It had some other stuff that had nice chemically compounded names like hypotherapeuticsalivanate or oxobenzathenite. Doesn't that make you start to drool? yum! yum!


I attended a small school. We had only 2 school buses. If you missed the bus you had a long walk ahead of you. Too bad for you. The school buses didn't stop in front of your house and honk their horn or the bus driver didn't go to your door and ask if Wilbur was done with his breakfast yet. NOOOOO! You had to be at the bus stop when the bus got there. Not almost there. There!! The bus driver had a schedule to meet. He had other bus runs. If you were a hundred feet from the bus stop and running like a maniac, the bus driver would smile and wave at you and keep going.

It was a tough situation. If you walked to school it was uphill both ways. To and from. Bare footed. During the winter. At least that is what I told my nephews when they were growing up.

Elementary School: Kindergarten was a breeze. Ironically, I took a strange route in the beginning. I started school when I was four and a half years old. I had to get on a bus that wasn't a school bus. It would take me about three or four blocks from the school. I had to walk the rest of the way.

The school did not have a Kindergarten. So I started in first grade. This may not have been a good idea. I tolerated it for a few months. On a warm November day I decided that I had enough schooling and I was ready for some adventure. After I got off the bus, walked to the school, walked to the baseball field and started up the mountain. There was a very steep hill behind the school. I just started up the hill. I had a bag lunch with me. I stayed there all day. Near the end of the day I climbed down the mountain and tried to sneak by the gym class.

The teacher caught me. No one knew I had been missing all day long. I believe that was near the end of my career at that particular school.

The next year I started at a different school. The new school had Kindergarten. So I started Kindergarten at the new school. This has to be a defining moment in my search for self esteem. How many kids do you know that start school at one level and not only does he not get promoted but he is set back one year? So instead of being in second grade, I am in Kindergarten. When you lose ground at that level it is pretty sad.

I hope high school will be easier than this.

Barber school

I run this school.  What's your problem?

I finally went for my haircut Monday.  I have been putting off this traumatic event for a while and I was starting to look shaggy.  The  last time I went for a haircut at Walmart, the result were not pleasing to the eye.  In fact, the little French lady said it was the worst haircut she had ever seen inflicted on a human.  She had seen a worse haircut on an unruly poodle at Petsmart.

I decided I would try at a different place.  My thinking was; if I go to a school that cuts hair, the instructor will correct any mistakes the student makes, so that's what I did.

I sat in the chair, took off my glasses and chatted with the student haircutting person while she zipped away with her clippers.   She had been a student there for two years.  Hmmm...I thought the course was only six months long.
She finally took away her horse blanket, shook it off and said "done."
I asked, "isn't that a blanket instead of a barber cape?"
"No, it is a body bag, we have a few left."
Alarmed, I queried, " From what?"
"I dunno, I'll ask my instructor, Mrs. Camelsnout."
I was anxious to leave. "Check please!"

When I arrived home the little French lady took one look at my haircut and said, "OMG, what happened?"
"What do you mean?"
"Did you ask for the hillbilly Hitler haircut or did you have a North Korean barber?"

"No, her name ended with "a". You know I get bad haircuts from girls with one "a"  in their name, especially if it is the last letter, like Donna, or Lequeshia. The exception to that rule is if their first and last letter is "a", such as Ava and Amanda. I thought you knew that."
"What kind of logic is that? You are a deranged coot. "
"Logic? That kind of critical thinking got "The Donald" elected, besides that girl did a wonderful job on my eyebrows and besides, I threw away my sootie hoodie."
"You have no eyebrows. They're gone.
"I rest my case, they can't be wrong if there are none."

Later while we were watching tv I could feel my wife staring at me. After a while she said "have you ever considered shaving your head, Sweetie?"   That really hurt my feelings. 

So I wait patiently for the numerous gouges to grow back, the cut on my ear to heal, my dandruff to take root again. 
The toque can be tossed in a few weeks, hopefully my wife will let me go outside by next weekend.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Mrs Skoda's camp coffee

A love story

The summer of 1958 was an idyllic time to be 15 years old.  While the adults were concerned with their car payments and fallout shelters, my pals and I were more concerned about meeting girls at the beach.
Our little cadre consisted of 4 gentlemen, (Harry, Andy, Jim, Pat) and myself.
We decided to hang around the jukebox at the pavilion and hope that some girls would show up.
They did.  Five girls from Schenectady.  We had hit the mother lode.
Harold danced with Sandra, Andy danced with Susan, Pat danced with Pat, Barbra danced with Jim, and I danced with Mary Lou.
We were invited to Barbra's parents' camp later that day.  
The stars and planets were aligned. 5 girls,  5 guys.  That doesn't happen in real life but it did.

We arrived at the cabin and met Mr. And Mrs. Skoda.  After a respectable amount of time, we whisked the girls down to the beach for a little romance and sweet talk.  
The problem was...Mrs. Skoda!
After about fifteen minutes she would holler down to the beach, "Who wants coffee?  I'm making some coffee.  Coffee's ready"
I never tasted coffee in my life but it smelled great. 
I told Mrs. Skoda I would give it a try.  It tasted great.  

Since that evening in 1958 I have been searching for that perfect cup of coffee that Mrs. Skoda served.  I've tasted coffee from all over the world.  I love my coffee.

My summer romance was wonderful.  Mary Lou was a nice young lady but my true love that summer was Mrs. Skoda's cabin coffee.

Epilog: although my summer romance with Mary Lou did not last, two did.
My love of coffee.
Pat and Pat.
They have been married 50 years.
Pat likes coffee but Pat doesn't.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Don of a new era

The don of a new era

Ahhhh!  The election is finally over.
I am not a big fan of Hillary Clinton.  She will not be president.  I should be relieved.  I'm not.
I am terrified.

I am trying to take the advice of  others and give the man a chance, but he is already giving me a very uneasy feeling.
This morning's paper asked, "Can Trump bring America together?'
I believe he can.
A year from today everyone in the country will hate him.

How did this happen?
A country of 320,000,000 people and this is the best we could do?
America demands change.
Buckle up! It is coming.
The fox is in the henhouse.
We are the chickens.
I don't think egg production will get better this year.
I think the fox will get fatter and sassier and will not give a cluck about you.
The next year, the next four years will not be pretty for the average person who wanted change.

I hope I am totally wrong.
Nothing would make me happier.
Wouldn't it be great to say, "Wow! I didn't see that coming.  He is doing a great job."

First...we have to get his mind off Saturday Night Live.
He is embarrassing himself.

Second...Stop hiring Generals and billionaires for your cabinet.
You don't have to be a rocket surgeon to see where that is heading.

Third...please don't appoint Dennis Rodman to be Ambassador to North Korea.

This is my wish list.
I may add a few things later, but it is a nice start.

Friday, November 4, 2016


IBM (involuntary bowel movement)

I soiled myself again.
perhaps I should not think about the presidential election.

As numerous people have stated recently, "Holy crap! 300 million people in this country and this is the best we could find?  Shame on you, America."

This is like "dumb and dumber.

Hillary lies and knows she knows she's lying.
"The Donald" tells outrageous lies and believe it is the truth.

I wish I could "feel the Bern".

It summarizes how i feel bout the candidates.


Ah...I remember it like yesterday.
I was the lead-off batter for  Mineville.  The pitcher for Port Henry was "Lefty" Denton.  He walked me on four pitches.  I did not get a chance to swing my Mickey Mantle 32 inch little league Louisville slugger bat.  

This was my first time at bat in little league baseball.
Ah...just like... yesterday.
Wait.  It must have been the day before yesterday.
I remember almost nothing about yesterday. 

My wife worries about me.  I go to the bedroom to get something and when I get there, a distance of 20 feet, I ask myself, "why am I here?"

I look around. Perhaps I will recognize something that  will give me a hint. Nope!  
I return to the kitchen. 
My wife queries,"Did you find it?"
Should I answer yes or no.?
Lie!  I don't want to look like a fool.
"Yes! cream!
"What is the ice cream doing in the bedroom?"
Uh...ummm! I look like a fool.
And so it goes.

If I was ever questioned by the police and they asked, "where were you at 2 pm Friday afternoon?"  I would put  out my hands and let them slap the handcuffs on me, because I have no idea where I was.

They will have to ask my wife.
She remembers everything I did since we were married.  I know this because it comes up every time we have a disagreement.

 I am working on improvement. 
I purchased a memory book.  I forget who the author was, but I hear he is very good.
Or was it a she?
As soon as I can find it I will start studying it.
Oh wait, that's what I was looking for in the bedroom.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A walk down memory lane

"Excuse me, Is there a toilet on memory lane?  Where?"

I often sit at my desk looking at old snapshots.  Some of the pictures are very old.  They are brown and white.  Some of them feel like they are made of metal.  These photos may be around the beginning of the 20th century.

I have numerous photos of world war II vintage.  I have several pictures of my dad with Japanese POW's on Okinawa near the end of the war.

Some "recent" photos were taken in the post-war era.  The timeline runs from the late 40's right up to the digital age.  I have many photos of people and I don't know who most of them are.  I know that many of them would not be called handsome or pretty.  Some of them are downright ugly.  I hope they are not my relatives but they probably are.   Sadly I have no relatives left that could identify these strange looking people.  No one to say, " Oh, that is uncle Percy, the bootlegger.  He got shot up and killed while crossing the border from Canada in 1931."  It was rumored that I did have an uncle who did run alcohol across the border and got chased by the government men.  He broke his leg during the chase and I don't think they caught him.   I guess it would be alright to mention it now.  He died 35 years ago.

The funny thing about memories is that your mind plays tricks on you.  This phenomenon manifests its presence in the fact that I cannot remember using a toilet for any reason from 1951 to 1957.  I swear I may have gone days without even thinking about toilets.  I cannot recall one instant where our little league coach Herbie said to the boys before practice or a game, "Do any of you boys have to pee?  How about poop?  Anybody?"  
He was more the type that said, "I am a marine.  We do it in our pants.  Booyah!!…oops."

Nowadays I am obsessed with toilets.  When I go shopping I have to know where the toilets are and the last time they were cleaned.  Many places have a chart in the toilet telling you the last time it was cleaned.   Walmart usually has a bathroom in the front and in the back.  Sam's club, the same company, they are like Herbie.  Do it in your pants.   I know every toilet within a 10-mile radius of my home.  I know who keeps their paper towels and toilet paper up to date.  

In our home, we have two toilets. In Montreal, most places have only one toilet.  It is barbaric and medieval, very much like my high school bathrooms and locker rooms.

"Up periscope!"
While I am on the subject of toilets and privacy I will have to tell you about our high school.  The urinals in our high school bathroom were ancient.  They were floor models with no flush handles.
There was a constant flow of water coming from them and wetting the floor in front of the urinals.
If it wasn't for the fragrant urinal cake the men's room would have been quite gamey.

 There were 5 toilets in the men's room.  Only one had a door, the teacher's toilet.  The students were not supposed to use it.  They did use it.  They did abuse it.  They would remove all the toilet paper, pee on the toilet seat,  leave little gifts floating around the toilet.  The teachers had to use the same toilets that we did.   They didn't have Depends in those days.

I won't even try to describe the shower room at our high school.  On second thought….maybe I will.
It would be like putting 25 naked boys in a 1957 Volkswagon and turning on the water which was occasionally warm, occasionally cold, occasionally scalding.
There were 6 or 7 shower heads in the school shower.  You would walk into the shower straight and come out gay. Just kidding.  It was too small an area for anything.  This fact did not dampen or deter my friend, Richard.  He didn't have to play sports like the rest of us. He would stand on a rock nearby so he would not get his nice shoes wet. when it was time to take a shower, he was the first one in, the last one out. The coach would shrug and say, "whatever."

Our school...I could talk for a few minutes and tell you what a crappy looking  place it was or I could talk endlessly about what a wonderful place it was.  All my friends were there.
 It would not win any award for the most beautiful campus in North America.  More likely it would be the ugliest campus in North America.  It was built on a pile of gray dirt that came from the iron ore mines.
I could look out the study hall window and view the scenic mine shafts, hear the underground blasting, hear the railroad cars bringing the ore to the separating plant.
A good place to grow up.  I LOVED IT.

Life was not about toilets in the 50's.  Now it is.

I have to stop now.  Gotta pee!
At my age talking about toilets is the geriatric equivalent to a 20-year-old talking about sex.
How exciting.

Friday, April 15, 2016

American life

Religion and Politics

I don't like to talk about politics and religion.  This is not the case with many people we have met in the past year.
Recently, we were accosted on the street by one of our acquaintances with whom we were building a friendship.  On that day, we found out that he is a Trump zealot.  Any subject we were trying to start would end up all about Trump. No matter what we tried, that's where it ended. Trump!!! He did not want to be confused with facts, his mind was made up.

 He informed us that all the other candidates were morons and he would "enlighten us" about what a wonderful president Donald Trump would be.

I understand why Trump appeals to a certain segment of the population, those who lack critical thinking skills... to them, what Trump says sounds good.

Trump "I am going to save the world and make America great again."
America: "How?"
Trump: "I will get back to you on that."

Maybe the reason why so many people like Trump, is because nobody else out there has balls.
Congress hasn't done much in the 21st century.
The only way to detect if they are in session is with time lapse photography and the quiet rustling of cash envelopes from the hands of lobbyist to the pockets of your Congressman.  

The only noticeable activity can be seen when they are voting themselves a pay raise.

We (wife/self) try to be sociable people when we go on our daily walk.  Sometimes we meet people who look normal until we start talking to them.  Lately, we met this couple, who seemed nice.  We sat near them. 

Sadly, it did not take long before they started talking about God.  Endlessly. We have nothing against God.  We like him.  We have heard a lot about him.  Most of it good.  We thought we knew some stuff about God.  However, those people knew him on a personal level and they were privy to information we knew nothing about.

Every sentence they spoke ended with "if it be god's will."  
They told us that an event happened in 1962 that foretold of the Apocalypse.  They were eager to warn us that the world was to end soon. (If it be God's will).

I asked them what their religion affiliation was.  
"We are not connected to any church.  We are missionaries.  We started our own religion.  We just go by what we read in the bible."
I stood up, turned to them and said,  "I have to go home and take a crap, if it be God's will, because you are scaring the shit out of me,"

Yup, American life.
Here's a funny/interesting text I found somewhere on the Internet, posted by John R. Stanton. I thought you might enjoy it...

Donald Trump claims credit for rare virgin birth in Bethlehem
The media-about 70% of them are liars, they lie, they're bad people-will try to tell you it  happened in a disgusting barn.  "Not true, Not true.  "Here's how it really happened.  One of my guys sees this beautiful young girl.  Very charming.  Very, Very charming.  And he goes, "What are you doing in this filthy barn?"

"and she tells him–get this–no room at the inn.  No room at the inn for the beautiful girl, pregnant, too!  Very pregnant.  And my guy, he can't believe it.  No room at the inn?  It's disgraceful.  She out here in the dark with the donkeys, she's very pregnant.  I mean, disgraceful.

"Now, she's not married.  Very funny situation.  There's an older guy with her, but–you know me, You know Trump.  My guy, he's a good kid,  he says to himself, well, sometimes you have to look the other way.  I mean, this is a vey sad scene.  Beautiful young girl, very charming, pregnant, and she 's in this disgusting barn.

"So my guy, he's a good kid, smart kid, went to a very fine school.  He tells her, Listen, Mary–this is her name–get out of this filthy barn and come with us."

Twenty minutes later this young woman is in a luxurious–LUX-UR-IO-US– room at one of my properties, giving birth to Christ.

I am done writing for today. (If it be God's will)