Tag Archives: Nostalgia

Its A Wonderful Life–1948.

This date was picked at random by our staff’s secret algorithm.  Nothing magic about it but it was as good a year as any and at least a year that this feeble brain can still recall with a modicum of clarity.

This was the front of our drought that lasted until 1957.  I can still recall the huge cracks in the ground everywhere.  They were in our yard the playgrounds and parks.  You could also discern the effects in the cotton field right behind our house.  We moved that year to  truly fancy digs on Savoy which was the southernmost street in Oak Cliff, a section of Dallas.  It was brand new and Dad bought it with a V A loan which was a new program started after the War as part of the GI bill.  It was a cookie cutter clapboard house with 2 bedrooms and one bath.  For reasons only known to the developer of that day, there was a fake hearth in the living room with a small mantle.  It was where we placed the gas heater with the false logs.  The whole house probably had at best 1000 square feet but we had an ample backyard.  There was no paved alley and behind the house was a large cotton field that ran all the way to Kiest park.  The crop was skimpy due to the drought and the ground parched.   Within a year the development began with more cookie cutter houses and the streets and side walks being poured.   These homes were a notch above ours because they were all brick and not clapboard.

I was 6 but not yet in school because I had a September birthday and had to wait another year.  Mom worked with me more than I wanted naturally on my colors, numbers, alphabet, shapes and I suppose a little reading.  There were that first Christmas no TV antennae in the neighborhood.  That started changing right away though.  With just three years or so it was unusual to see a house without an antenna but there were still some.  Radio was the major entertainment center of the day.   Saturday mornings in particular were special because they had all the kids shows.  Buster Brown was a favorite along with Archie and his friends.  Mom would let me sit by the radio after breakfast until about noon or close to it for all those programs.  Friday night early was also terrific.  You had the Green Hornet, the Inner Sanctum, when they didn’t think it was too scary for me, the Lone Ranger and all the others.   It required imagination and I suppose that was part of the allure of all of them.  You got to imagine that Western landscape the way that fit your own image of it which in turn was no doubt influenced by the Westerns you had seen at the theatres.There was no multi-screen theatre.  But there were local movie houses in just about ever commercial area of any size.

The nickel values of the time were many.  You could get a Coke for a nickel.  All the filing stations had those big red Coke machines that stood upright and many still had those that open from the top like a large freezer.  There was nothing like that really cold Coke on a hot summer day if you could get your mom to spring for the nickel.  You kids have probably never heard the expression “its your nickel”.  It meant you had paid the nickel for the phone call so start talking and don’t waster the money.  Yep, there were pay phones everywhere.  Sometimes just on a street corner if it was a commercial neighborhood and at churches, schools, parks, and almost every retail store had one.   One advantage of the pay phone was that you weren’t on a party line.   In 1948 we were still gripped with tight regulation of the phone service and getting a phone was a real hassle with the bureaucracy, Federal of course.  But it was allegedly for our own good, like it always is with Federal programs.  Typical wait times were several years to get a private line. I distinctly remember we wanted one in 48 but didn’t finally get one until about 1953 or 1954.  That was tall cotton living I can tell you.

You could ride the bus for a nickel and sometimes for only 2 cents, that was a Saturday only deal if I remember correctly. The adults had to pay 8 cents and a dime on weekdays.   That also included the street car which were still running in 48 on a regular basis.  I always preferred the street car because you could lean out the window a little and that was especially daring when you went over a bridge or viaduct because you couldn’t even see the tracks below and it was like flying through the air and was a big thrill.  Mars, Hersey and Babe Ruths were available for that nickel and these were the full size ones and the popcorn was there for a nickel.

Don’t remember what I got for Christmas that year but I do recall getting out my Lionel train set and playing with that and the awful white flocked Christmas tree mom wanted.  The train set was from a year or maybe two before.  It was really wow.  Must have cost mom and dad 10 bucks and was so heavy. It was made out of that old cast iron but had such great detail on the engine.

It was a hard year and a good year.  The good made it easier to not notice the difficulties especially if you are only 6 and not having to pay the bills.   We could have been rich maybe but it all worked out well with me.  Can’t complain and in fact was so very blessed with my childhood.  My parents were the best, can’t blame my faults and failures on them.  Thanks Lord as I try to attain only a portion of their goodness.

“Ho Ho Ho’,,,Santa Claus, everlasting  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com



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Football Memories And ’61 In The Rearview Mirror–Part II

The varsity guys were tired from beating up on each other for several days before we freshmen arrived.  It was hot and dusty.  The practice fields were right next to the stadium which was only used for special workouts and the games.  It had great grass and most of it was marked off in five by five yard squares to accommodate those awful drills where we hammered each other inside that dimension.  Of course we barely knew our assignments for lining up on defense and were completely disorganized but we were enthusiastic and ready to show our mettle against the varsity.  They naturally ran rough shod over us, over and over.   Every few plays another group of us was thrown into the mix.   The game we all quickly learned was much faster than it had been in high school because everyone was good if not terrific.   The varsity knew their assignments by heart and would pound into us as we were trying to adjust to that speed and “see” the play development at the same time.  When we would occasionally make a good play and stop them we weren’t congratulated by the coaches.  Coaches are pretty universal with praise and criticism.  Mostly when we did finally do a good job even if by accident the coaches would unmercifully deride the varsity for screwing up against a bunch of rag knot freshmen.

When it was time to go on offense it was even worse.  We always ran the upcoming opponents offense to let the varsity get a look at how they set up and ran their plays.  In the huddle the coaches would hold up and cardboard with the play designed for each man on offense and we had to use the signal system for the snap count from the opposing team.  With only a few seconds to see the play and being nervous about that different signal and snap count we were terrible and usually made no yards or very little.  When we finally would run a decent play again it wasn’t because we did anything right but rather because some poor schmuck on the varsity screwed up.   After 30 minutes or so we went back to our own workout routine trying to learn offense and defense, more drills and then those God-awful wind sprints to close out the workout.  We would do them in increments starting with five yards, then ten, all the way up to 100 yards.  You could really be sucking for air by the end of those.

We repeated the same pattern for several days then classes started and we at least only had to work out once a day around 3:30 but you had to get to the locker room by around 2:45 at the latest to get geared up and your ankles taped.  They were fanatical about taping our ankles every practice.   As the season wore on it got into a regular pattern.  Our workouts were all hard through the entire week.  After all we were learning and there for the varsity and only had two games of our own at the very end of the season within about 5 days of each other.   The varsity’s workouts tapered off on Thursday and really did so on Friday but not ours.    They had a game and we didn’t.  Our Friday workouts were as miserable and hard as Monday.  But we were young and healthy and survived.   But we all kept an eye on the calendar looking for those two games against Tulsa and Oklahoma State at the end of the season and the release from football purgatory.  I guess I should remind you that in those ancient days freshmen were prohibited by rule from playing on the varsity during their freshman year.

For the most part we freshmen weren’t treated badly by the varsity off the field and in the dorm.   We all ate together in the athletic dining hall and had mandatory study hall.  It was required for all freshmen and the upper class men also if they had less than a C average.   It was three nights a week and was for two hours right after the dining hall closed for dinner.   It was  drag as you can imagine but good for us.  That freshmen coach was there to supervise and there was no horsing around.  You didn’t have to study of course, you could sit there and merely stare at your books but you would sit there for the whole two hours.  I should have opened that French book more often.

For some reason that I truly don’t understand I got along very well with the varsity guys from the get go.  They accepted me pretty much as an equal.  Probably  because I had always been mature; I was born an old man.  The other freshmen were mostly ignored.  The star of the team that year was a fellow who made All-American at tackle.   He weighed around 225 if you can believe that; that was pretty normal for that day.   I was the interlocutor for introducing him to his future wife.  We had some kind of open house or picnic at the athletic quadrangle.  Must have been on a Sunday because Saturdays were game days.   We all went along with the other athletes, I believe it was a required show.  Anyway during this function a really pretty girl flirted with me.  I suppose she thought I was a varsity player.   Later Billy who was the All American and a senior asked me about her and if she was my girl.  I explained no.   He liked the way she looked and wanted to know if I would introduce him and recommend him to her.  Just like high school, he was so nervous.  But hey it was a way to ingratiate myself with the most prominent guy on the team and a senior so why not.  I did talk with her and let her know Billy would like to meet her and gave him a strong thumbs up.   He did, they did and far as I know they remained married happily ever after and I had a real pal on the varsity for the rest of my tenure at Oklahoma.

“Ambition destroys it possessor” The Talmud.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com


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Observations On Moms And Daughters

I don’t like to write about things that I don’t know about.  Ok, enough with the comments that I shouldn’t be writing anything.   I am not a mom or daughter.  But I have a mom that I have lived with almost 50 years and four daughters and six granddaughters so I been able to at least observe over the years some of those interactions and reactions between moms and daughters.   They can have such scratchy relationships at some times but those gals always seem to know how to work things our better than we guys.  It might have something to do with using those 20,000 words per day that experts have estimated the gals must get in daily to feel good.

Those brand new moms with their first babies are often more cautious than even the dads handling the baby.  Watch them at the hospital.  They love holding the baby but they treat them so gingerly like they are a China doll.  Of course it doesn’t take more than a few score of diaper changes and baths before they can put them down on the changing table and get to it quick as a flash.

I know some ladies prefer not to nurse for good reasons but there is something special about those moms who do and that image of them holding their new daughter to her breast.  I realize some would dispute that there are medical or health benefits to nursing but I think it does give that mom and daughter a special bonding that comes with it.  It must be incredible to know that part of you is going directly to your child.   We have a beat up small sculpture of mother and child doing that and it is one of my favorite pieces in our house.

When they a couple of years on them the moms seem to all know instinctively how to do all those arts and crafts things with their daughters.  The paste, scissors and ribbons and such and they make these little collages and cut outs that you would think were going into the Lourve.   The little girls all love doing those things and then showing them off to everyone who is sitting still and breathing.

Of course there is the entire drama and production around the getting dressed up as they move into school age.  Sure they are still young enough that often it is just shorts and a tee shirt.  But when holidays or Sunday School or other special events come along that little girl and her mom will be exploring through every option in the closet to pick out just the right outfit for the occasion.  Moms love for them to look all frilly sometimes and those patent leather shoes top everything off.  When a Dad tries to pick the clothes he is evitably told that whatever he choose just won’t do.  We have to sense of fashion apparently.  But it is in the DNA of those gals, big and small.

The day will come when Mom doesn’t go do the shopping for clothes for the daughter by herslf anymore.   It doesn’t matter whether they are shopping at Wal-Mart or Neiman’s the drill is the same.  You can see it at the stores.  The two of them picking, putting back, selecting, eliminating and then the interminable trying everything on, and then again.  I reckon that teaching the daughter how to choose the right outfit within the budget is considered a true neccessity for survival like learning how to start a fire and skin the kill.  Of course when they arrive home the male side of the family is required to ooh and aah over the great deals and the style and how pretty everyone looks.

Then there is the whol ritual of applying make up.  They start doing these around puberty and Mom is definitely the artist in chief.  Usually the daughter will start off wanting to do it herself and take her cues from magazines, TV or movies or youtube I guess these days.  For sure when they first start using the make up they use too much.  Lordy, how many fights have there been over the eons between moms and daughters about the amount and use of the make up?  Cleopatra probably argued with her daughter on how much henna to use or ground sand to apply for just the right look.  Those young gals always go through about two years of trying to look about 5 years older than they are before they settle down before college.

The kitchen is a whole other matter.  When they are little the daughters love to “help” in the kitchen by playing like they are cooking also.  They get all the equipment from the toy store and are happy playing.  But they tire of that after a couple of years and they usually don’t have much interest in Mom’s cooking as long as it is  there on time and meets their perceived dietary wishes.  Those vary with weight from time to time.  Some decide to lose weight when they are only 14 or whatever even if they don’t need to.   Mostly they don’t show much interest in cooking skills during those teenage years or even into college.  But, but, but give them a few years down the road and they start remembering all those really great meals Mom could fix and they decide they wish they could fix a pot roast like Mom’s or stroganov or whatever it is they remember being so good.  Then Mom gets those phone calls asking for directions about how to fix the dish and they soon are sharing with the Holiday meal preparations.

Moms and daughers as the years pass are talking about their families, friends, their worries and their happy moments.   They really do share in ways we guys will never relate too. They often become friends which doesn’t work when you are raising them.  They can pass a quiet and very pleasant afternoon just drinking tea and visiting with each other the whole time.  We guys run out of topics pretty soon but they never do.  Their relationship is special as it should be.  You will be blesse and learn about life if you get to observe those Moms and their daughters even from the cheap seats.

The Good Lord got it right when he pulled that rib and gave them to us.   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Dads And Sons

Fathers and boys get to share some special moments together over their lifetimes.   Those moments will always bring a smile and warm feeling in the chest when remembered by each of them.  They start early and continue to end of Dad’s days.   Maybe some of these will refresh your memory and bring pleasant emotions to bear on your day.

When you son is first-born there is one thing that all dads do without usually saying anything about it and often trying to do it without anyone noticing.   We all count those fingers and toes to make sure everything is accounted for.  But every dad in those early hours after birth will also take a peek to make sure his son’s “equipment” is there and normal.  Admit it, you did with each son.  Just making sure and your were relieved it was as it should be.

That first year or so the boys are almost totally in the care and under the watch of their moms.  Dads help out if they are good dads but there is no question they are in the back seat.  But when that little guy starts walking and moving around then the dad can get involved more directly again.  When they are very little they watch Dad like a hawk on the prowl.   They absorb  every move dad makes.   They are especially fascinated with the tools when dad has to make some minor repair around the house.  Dads usually buy them their first tool kit toy set before they are two.  Remember your son at your knee watching every detail when you adjusted the doorknob or fixed a leaky faucet?   No matter that it was a simple affair and nothing brilliant you were so intrigued with the attention your son paid to your every move.

A few years down the road and you will be teaching him something–whether to ski or fish or whatever.   Normally you have a hard enough time getting him to obey and follow your instructions but when you finally get to a “guy” thing he will be all eyes and ears for you.  Nothing more fun they watching him try to take that first fish he caught off the hook.   He wants to so bad but then when he touches it and it wiggles and the gills poke him he looks to your help one more time anyway.

Decades later you will regret all those times you said no when he asked you to come out in the yard and throw the football with him.  You were too tired and watching TV.  But the times you did get out there you taught him how to hold the ball, throw it with his whole body and catch it with his hands not his body.  Those fall afternoons will live in your memory for years.

Then there is watching the sports together or listening to them on the radio.  I still remember how excited I would be when in the fall my dad would be home on a Saturday and not working and we would get together around the radio to listen to a Southwest Conference game together.  I felt like my dad was really including me in the men’s world.  He would talk about the plays and players and explain things for me.   I hated it when the game was over.

When your boys starts playing organized sports you were there.   Whether it was football, hockey, or soccer didn’t matter but you wanted to watch him participate and see how he handled himself.  Sooner or later he will have some successful play or game.  He’ll do something special and the two of you will talk it over and replay it again and again.   There are moments of despair when things don’t go well but also times of exhilarating joy when they do.  Sort of a mirror of life to come.   He’ll ask about when you played sports and you’ll tell him and you’ll want to listen to his view of his games.  It is not the ultimate success on the sports field that is so important but the experience of sharing those moments together.

At some point hopefully got to take your son on a guy thing outing, like a deer or turkey hunt.  Usually you were with other men and maybe another son or two.  It was a time for bonding without any women around.   You remember the excitement when you first went with your dad on one of these.  Just getting all the gear ready was a thrill, cleaning the guns and getting out the special boots and camping equipment.  Then you were off on the road trip for a few days.   There was a campfire and the cooking which was not always so good but lots of it.  No one complained much about the burned food and scalded coffee. You might have had your first cup of coffee on one of these trips.  Then of course there was the teaching from your dad about how to look for the deer sign and how to hide yourself from them.  On my first one I was so lucky when on the way back to camp we jumped a buck and it took off running and leaping.  I took a shot and sure enough brought it down on the run from over a hundred yards.  It was 99% luck but Dad was so happy for me.  He even paced off the distance.  Then I had to learn that a little work comes with the pleasure and he taught me how to field dress the deer.  That was more work and messier than I had planned for.  But I will cherish every trip we made even those we had together after I was grown.  You do too.

Toward the end Dads will regret they didn’t have more time with their family and sons and had done more.  The sons will regret that they didn’t listen more to their dads and let them know how  much they did appreciate them and all they taught them by example.  But life happens and hopefully the joys in your life with your son far outweigh the regrets.  Remember you were blessed with so many special moments and the young dads need to treasure them when the happen.

Remember the example you set everyday, dad, tis true the apple won’t fall far from the tree.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Then And Now

Things change.  Or at least we think they do.  Is there really something new under the Sun?   Perhaps so on occasion.  Let’s explore that thought.

Long ago guys wore jeans.  They had two brands essentially–Lee’s and Levi’s.  You could get them from Sears but that was definitely not cool.  They wore worn without belts and pretty tight and relatively low compared to dress pants but no cleavage was ever revealed.  Hair was either a buzz cut or long with ducktails and greasy applications.  Today they get jeans from WOMEN designers.  Gee, Armani, Dior, Polo, etc all have jeans.  Sears is still barely in business.  They have their hair colored sometimes and it is spiky, sticking out in all directions for some.  They wear them very low and most or not full length but some halfway between regular pants and Bermuda shorts.  Back then tattoos were only for guys who had been in the military and most of them didn’t have any; today those tats are like billboards on Interstate 95 they are so ubiquitous on some of them.   Then it was the Kingston Trio preppy look now it is the grungiest looks that are on the TV’s.

In my youth lots of the guys I knew could and did work on their cars.  They really did about everything–change the oil, work on the transmission, lots of work on the carburetor and would not hesitate to redo the pistons or chambers.  Brakes were adjusted with a screwdriver through the slot in the wheel and they could set the timing and the linkage.  Today you have to be a computer geek to figure out what is wrong with your car before you even think about doing any work.  As a result how many young guys do you know today who can do anything on their cars?  Most are stumped when it comes to so much as changing a tire.  Of course since they are cutting out the spare tire we may not have to worry about that soon but the car will get all of 40 miles to the 4 hour charge.   Of course you probably won’t  be able to do the charge at home until you have the electrician out to re-work you fuse or switch box because they can’t handle the extra load.   Everyone back then knew exactly what you meant if you asked “what will it do?”  It was the 0 to 60 mph time.  Lots of the manual shifts could hit 85 or 90 in second gear with a little adjustment.  Today we are planning those cute little buggy things that are fiberglass to save weight. 

Movies were made that told real stories, often tough, romantic or poignant and hard to believe but without cussing or random sex every other scene.  On The Waterfront or the The Apartment are good examples.  The Apartment is as romantic as it can be and even has some illicit sex at its core.  It is a real classic with Lemmon and McClain but not a cuss word and no one had to see a sex scene to believe the adultery was occurring or the youthful romance was budding.   Amazing but real people and actors can talk and communicate a full range of human emotions without cussing.  Today, well if the couple are attracted to each other (and maybe even if they aren’t but just in close proximity) then you can count on the sex scene(s) and often quite graphic.  Hey, if you like porn then go for it.  There is plenty out there.  But do we need it in our modern version of story-telling (movies)?   I love sex but being a voyeur isn’t really my thing.  Am I the only one that gets a little uncomfortable during those predictable scenes?  Even if people cuss in real life do we need to hear it repeatedly on the big screen?   Even in the rough and tumble business and law world I never heard men talk and cuss the way they do in these movies.  Some cussing yes, but not every other word.    It is boring and the screenwriter should be able to do better than that, if not then look for another line of work rather than being a wordsmith.

Today most of what passes for music sounds like the working  of a coffee grinder with a broken blade.  It is all played on about 4 notes and with about 4 instruments.  So repetitious.  Then someone breaks in and doesn’t sing but screams alleged words that are never enunciated clearly and incomprehensible to even the best of ears.   Porter, Gershwin, Rogers, Miller and the great ones would have been appalled if the folks couldn’t understand their lyrics and knew that music required many instruments to reach the full range of its power and appeal.   You can have Winehouse, I’ll take Doris Day anytime.  You can have Beyonce and I’ll take Tommy Dorsey.    Yes, there are some differences.  

Then you had a dial, rotary phone. Voice mail was a secretary to take messages if you had one or Mom or whoever else answered the phone at home.   There were no cell phones so you didn’t have to worry constantly about messages or making calls and there were pay phones on almost every corner if you really needed to make a call.   You might find it hard to believe but people worked really hard then and yes they accomplished a lot.  ‘They could mulit-task as they say today.  Try dictating to a secretary and talking on the phone at the same time and scanning a contract to boot.   Do all those voices mails and texting really add one whit to productivity?  Like to see a real study on that.  Might be they are more of a distraction than they are a benefit.  Except for the women folk the calls were short and to the point and usually had useful or necessary information.  Aren’t the majority of your voicemails really just trivial or completely unneeded info?  Couldn’t everything have been said in 30 seconds when you  met face to face?  

“Can you hear me now?” used to mean that you had cracked the door open a little wider from the bathroom or study or had laid down the saw you were working.   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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The Old Neighborhood–Fini

We had a really large elm tree in the back yard.  I loved climbing up into it.  It was like going into a different world for kids.  You could see around the neighborhood and you felt like it was your own little world.  Mom of course was constantly fussing about us “going too high” and she had rules about which limbs we could go to but naturally at every opportunity we went higher.  Moms today would have a stroke I imagine if they saw their kids up that high.  We would often have “wars” with some in the tree throwing things at those on the ground.  We built a couple of different tree houses but they were pretty flimsy and even I didn’t really trust them.   They never lasted long because they would start to wobble and we would have to take them down, but heck putting them up and using them for just a couple of weeks was a pretty big thrill.

Shaky lived up at the corner.  He was the neighborhood baseball player.  In fact he got a scholarship to A & M to play for them.  We all tried to recruit him for our church team.  We played lots of church baseball in those days.  The catch was that you had to attend Sunday School at least two Sundays each month to qualify.  I was never a baseball fan at all, it was too Yankee.  But we got to play with our dads and cousins because there was no age limit so that was a hoot.  Teens playing with the men.  They didn’t let up on us like they do today.  No Tee ball.  It was  a real game.  Often after one of the games we would go to a watermelon stand.  There were many of them then with just outdoor tables and newspapers for sitting the slice on.  I never liked watermelon but the going was fun.  There were several ice cream parlors around then and we would drop by for a malt or double dip cone.

This was the house where we got our first modern car.  It was a ’53 Chevy and even had an air conditioner in it.  It didn’t work terrific but it was quite the rage and we felt like Kings driving that brown and green sedan around.   In the summer we would go every now and then to the local drive in theater on Hampton Road.  It was only about a mile away.  There was lots of them then scattered all around the city.  There were even more local neighborhood indoor theaters.  There would be one at just about every major intersection.  Jefferson Blvd. had about 7 alone and there were more everywhere.  But the malls and larger theaters slowly pushed them out.  They became plumbing shops, garages or whatever during the sixties until they were all gone.  I can’t think of one that is left at the moment.

The neighborhood was called Elmwood.  It was in Oak Cliff with gently rolling hills and two major creeks that eventually emptied into the Trinity river.  Those creeks straddled Elmwood so we got to explore as only 12-year-old boys can do.  Mom was  pretty good sport about it but she made me check in every hour which I thought was a real pain. I didn’t have a watch then so I had to be careful about it.  I can’t truly remember when I got my first watch.  It must have been in Jr. High.   This was also the house where we first got our private line on the phone.  Everyone had a party line.  It was a big deal to get your own private line.  Like lots of older houses there was a special inset in the hallway wall for a phone.  It was one of those big black ones with a rotary dial of course.  Our local exchange was “Yukon” which I thought was so neat because it harkened images of the wilderness and pioneers. 

Of course everyone walked to school.  It was only about a mile away and none of us thought anything about it.  It was very rare to even see a school bus.  Only kids who really lived far out rode them but none at our school.   There was still lots of vacant space only a mile or so away in an area called Wynnewood where they were starting to develop a shopping center and houses.  My friend David had some horses right beside the development.  We would go there sometimes to ride.  When we got on the back trails you wouldn’t have known you were in a city at all.  The horse I had to ride was very tall.  I remember always being a little scared and concerned because it was so far to the ground and he wasn’t the most gentle of horses.  I do recall once when we were riding in the woods by the creek  and I lost one of the reins.  The horse wasn’t running but he was at a nice canter and I kept trying to reach down and grab the rein again but could not quite make it, it was just too much of a stretch for my arms and it was more difficult with all the jostling around on that darn nag.  I finally hollered at David and he stopped his horse and mine did too right beside his.  Then I was able to scoot up on his neck a bit and get the dangling rein.  Mom was a real sport to let me do something like that at age 12 or 13.  That is how I learned to saddle a horse and rig the other gear.

We moved when I was about 15 to Holiday Circle a few miles farther out.  Dad had built the house with hopes of selling it at a profit but the market was weak then so we moved into it.   This would have been about ’57.    It had an attic fan and window units, still no central air conditioning although it was becoming more common then.  Mom thought the attic fan was great but I thought it only brought in the heat of summer nights.   We only lived there about three years and then moved to Wynnewood hills on Trinidad.  I was there the last couple of years of high school.  Then I was off to college and soon married.  So that was the last place I lived with Mom and Dad.  But when I think back to childhood it is still Cascade and Elmwood that bubbles up in my mind.

When I went to school we had over 30 kids in each class, we got a pretty good education from the public school system.  Of course there wasn’t any discipline problem because they weren’t tolerated then.  troublemakers were sent to the principal and if it was repeated they disappeared.  I think they sent them to some special school but I really don’t remember or know.  But I know we all did what we were told and paid attention.   Teachers taught, they didn’t waste time with behavior issues.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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The Old Neighborhood–II

When we moved to Cascade I was about 9, I was starting the third grade.  Dad had worked really hard fixing the place up for Mom, working every evening and on the weekends to make the upgrades for her.  It even had a chimney and a hearth in the living room but it was a fake one.  But it looked homey.  Except Mom insisted on putting plants in the fireplace hearth which took away from the look in my opinion.  That house became the place I always thought of as my childhood home.

That block and the whole neighborhood was filled with kids and interesting characters.  The Church we attended was only a three block walk from home so that made it easy for Sunday church.  It was a true neighborhood church, small and all locals. My Sunday school teacher for the next several years was a man who had been in the war like so many.  He had been shot by a Jap machine gun that stitched across his belly and chest.  Of course, we guys thought that was really something.  You tend to listen to a man who has been through something like that.  We lived in that house for about 6 years.  That was where I finished elementary school and started to jr. high.

Next door was the Windoms.  The brothers were a lot older and quite nerdy but they did interesting things and had fun stuff.  They were both very active in Scouts and the outdoors.  They had their garage walls covered with old license plates.  In those days you got a new license plate every year and some folks would take the old ones and nail them to the garage wall as a memento.  They had them going back to the early ’30’s.  They made their own bow and arrows from scratch.   They caught an injured owl one time and nursed it back to health.  It bit the devil out of the older brother.  He had a big bandage on his hand for a couple of weeks.  Then they let it go.  Their grandfather was very old school.  He wore a white Panama hat with bolo tie and shirt every day and spent lots of time sitting on the front porch.  Sometimes he would tell us kids stories of the old west and Dallas from the pioneer days.  He was very old then, in his nineties.  We loved hearing the story of how his dad and some others had a gun battle with  Comanches just outside Dallas after the War Between The States.  Lots of shots but only a wound from and arrow and an Indian wounded by gunfire.  Then each side went its separate way.  It was fascinating to hear him tell about the first time he heard someone had flown in a machine and that cars would be replacing horses and buggies.

Next door was the neighbor with the boy who was retarded.  It was sad.  I remember being sad every time I would think about him.  He had a sister who went to school with one of my cousins.  Across the street was a fellow named Perry.  He was also quite a bit older but he had lots of memorabilia his older brother brought back from the War.  He would show us occasionally some of the things.  A German helmet, a knife, some German insignia, belt and other things.   Naturally all us guys thought that was pretty cool.   Billy lived two house down. He was smallish for his age but a good athlete.  He ended up playing tailback for Sunset which was a pretty big deal at the time.  Next was Jimmy, who was  member of the DeMolay, the youth group for Masons.  My dad became a Mason while we were living on Cascade.  Jimmy was also pretty nerdy but he tried hard to be one of the guys.  He just wasn’t much of an athlete.  But he played pretty good chess.  I played with him often and the Windom brothers next door.  I have no idea why I was interested at such a young age. I beat the younger Windom brother regularly which bugged him no end.  He gave me a book on Chess strategy which I actually did read. Guess I was pretty nerdy too.

Up and the corner of Cascade and Pioneer was my best childhood friend, David.  He was always tall and gangly.  He was a good egg.  Not very agile but he did play football with me and continued to play until his junior year in high school.   We spent hours together goofing around and being guys.  When the weather was nice we would always be outside doing lord only knows what.  Late in the day when Dad was home and it was time for dinner my Dad would come to our front porch and whistle.  He could whistle really loud.  That was the signal for me to come home and eat.  There were no excuses.  I was expected to be close enough to hear it.  You could hear it easy if the wind wasn’t blowing a block away.   Of course I often said it didn’t hear it right away.  

We played lots of stick hockey in the street with old tree limbs and tin cans for a puck.  Hours were spent throwing and kicking the football in the street.   This is where we lived when I got my first car and began working in the summers at the water plant.  This is where I learned to drive and was allowed to drive to the 7/11 by myself when I was only 13 but I had to park without crossing Edgefield which was considered a busy street by Mom.  I was really young and had no license of course but they trusted me.   I even got to drive the car to the school dance when I was in the 7th grade that spring.  It wasn’t very far but man did I feel like a big shot.  To be continued…..

If total government control and central planning of the economy is the best formula for success one wonder why the Soviets aren’t King of the Mountain, with their people living off the fat of the land and happy as clams.  We know how that story ended though don’t  we.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com


Filed under Culture, family

The Old Neighborhood

No matter how many times you may have moved during your youthful years there is always one house and one neighborhood that you have locked in your memory as the “old neighborhood”.  When you think of your childhood that is the image that comes to mind, that front window, that special friend you played with down the block or the bikes and skateboards scattered about the front porch and driveway. 

I was born during the War and we lived on Beacon street in east Dallas.  It was not too far from the old Ford assembly plant.  During the war it was used for war production to build trucks and jeeps.  My mom worked there for a short while.  She was a messenger and she wore roller skates to get around the factory quickly because it was so large.  She didn’t stay long she was no Rosie the Riveter.  She was a true stay at home mom, even if that meant living on the edge. We were with my grandmother, her mom, in that duplex for the duration.  Dad sent her most of his monthly pay from the Navy.   It was a pitifully small amount but it bought shoes and baby food for me.  Dad had left for the War only a couple of weeks after I was born.

When Dad came home we moved pretty soon to another duplex without the grandmother to Overton Road; it was not the best of neighborhoods even then. But it was ours.  Before we moved I recall once when the neighbor next door got really mad at Dad about the use of the drive way.  He was a brute and a drunk.  He cussed and yelled at us.  Not a good idea for a guy just back from the war.  I don’t remember any real physical confrontation but I do remember the guy back up on his porch hollering that he would call the police.   We didn’t have trouble with him anymore.  After Overton Rd. we moved to Monticello.  Another duplex but it was two-story in a decent but middle class neighborhood in Oak Cliff.  That was where we were when I got my first train set and my brother was a toddler there. 

Then we moved to Dawson street in south Dallas.  It was literally next door to the water plant where Dad worked.  At least he didn’t have to drive to work.  That was the place where we had our ice box.  Dad would bring a big block of ice home every few days.  We would chip it off for ice tea in the summer.  I guess he went by the ice house on his routes to get it.  It was not a great place because mom was so worried about the trucks and equipment all around the place.  It wasn’t very elegant and the neighborhood was a bit shoddy but the church we attended was only a couple of blocks away.  “Dr. Daughtery” was the preacher.  The Dr. was an honorific.   This where Dad had two jobs.  He worked at the water plant and was also working for the Texas Pacific Railroad.

Then we moved to Savoy street farther out in Oak Cliff.  It was a brand new house.  It was two bedrooms and one bath.  Very small.  It probably had only a little over one thousand square feet.  That is where I got the yellow jaundice and started to school.  Dad bought it with a VA loan.  It was one of many new developments popping up everywhere to accommodate all the veterans and their families.  This was when TV first started becoming popular.  Every other week or so you would see a new antenna going up on someone’s roof and you knew they had bought a TV.  Before we bought ours we had driven to my cousin’s house to watch theirs.  We would all gather in the living rooms and watch anything that was on, literally anything including the test pattern. I imagine there are millions of youngsters out there today who don’t even know what a test pattern is much less have ever seen one.   Not much to see those first couple of years because TV was on only a few hours a day on the days it was on.  Sign off was about 10 and it didn’t come on until the afternoon.

From there we moved to my cousin’s house.  They had built a new house on Monte Carlo not too far from our place on Savoy.  But their house was bigger and a bit nicer than ours.  We moved in with them a little while before they moved out.  Probably because dad had rented out the place on Savoy.  ‘This house was on Cascade.  I had always liked that house and was very happy to move there.  There was a creek near by and more of my friends from school lived in that area.  It was a brick house with a separate garage out back.  It had three bedrooms, but still only one bath.  It was a real upgrade for us.  I remember my Dad did lots of work on it when we first moved in.  He painted everything and knocked down a wall to open the area up so the old dining room and living room became one large room.   He put in a patio in the back for mom.  We got out first “air conditioning” unit there.  It wasn’t really an air conditioner.  It was just a fan that blew over a wet sponge like device to cool the air.  It was pathetic but it seemed like the greatest thing since sliced bread to us.

This was the house where Mom got her first modern washing machine. Before that she had the old-fashioned kind that were just a big tub that would jostle the clothes.  They all had a handle on the top with rollers that  were the “wringer”.  After the clothes were washed you would take them out one at a time and hand crank them through the wringer to get most of the water out.  Then take them out to the clothes line.  All the houses had clothes lines then.  I guess it was during the mid and late ’50’s that they finally quit putting in the clothes lines.  I wonder what happened to all those companies the used to manufacture them?  To be continued…..

Don’t forget to keep a box of baking soda very handy in your kitchen.  It is great for small cuts, nicks and bug bites.  Nothing is better for those pesky skillet fires that erupt on the burner.  Yes, ladies, those greasy skillets still catch fire on a regular basis, don’t they?   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Song And Memories Of Times Past

Here is a listing of some songs that surely bring your mind and your heart back to other times and places that have been burnished and dimmed with the mist of time.  You will have your own favorites of this variety but most of you when in that reflective mood of life’s journey will enjoy these.  They evoke happy and sad thoughts but good or ill though those memories may be they were in fact our walk in life.  Hopefully, your memories these bring to mind will be those that make you glad you where there when those remembered events came to pass.  There is no order of priority or worth; this is merely the musings of one man’s mind.

1. Can’t Stop Loving You–for all those who had their heart-broken at one time.  Those who won and kept their love can enjoy it also because of the relief for not having that heartache.

2. I’ll Be Seeing Y0u–this is broad enough to cover all sorts of relationships.  When you hear this it will recall those times with loved ones or close friends that touched your life.

3. The Way We Were–certainly not my favorite but many of the ladies seem to love it.  It is just too, well, Streisand, for my taste but  acknowledge it power to make one reminisce.

4. Softly and Tenderly–this old hymn will make you pause for sure.  The best rendition was by Maureen  O’Hara in Spencer’s Mountain.  It has that rhythm and soothing words that recall a simpler time for all.

5. Memories–again not my favorite but it will be for many.  You can almost fill in the blanks with about anything you want with this one–the birth of a child, the wedding, your child’s wedding and even those tender moments of childhood.

6.  That Old Gang Of Mine–a personal favorite of mine because it brings to mind all sorts of associations and friendships you formed during your lifetime.  The circle of relationships it recalls can be very close or more diffuse but still powerful.

7. The Night They Brought Old Dixie Down–even those north of the Mason-Dixon Line enjoy this one.  It conjures up images of a better time regardless of circumstances or tradition.  We all like our traditions and that is what this one is about and sacrificing for something besides ourselves.  Who would have thought Joan Baez would be the artist on this one?

8. Time Of Your Life–Whatever you did or hoped to do this one will bring back the memories of those failures and the successes in life.  It will comfort the hard memories and make you relish those times of peace and contentment.

9. The Things We Did–for all the lovers out there, young and old.   When your hair turns gray, as it will, this is the type of song you will relish even if you do it privately.  It is a bit saccharine but what the heck sometimes that is just what you are in the mood for.

10. Auld Ang Syne–you couldn’t have a listing of nostalgic songs without the supremo, numero uno song  of the category.  If you have a pulse you have to get a little mellow when this one is started.  The flood of memories and emotions will overwhelm even the most jaundiced heart.

The trick is to lead your life without regrets.  That means mostly being there for the others that you love.  Also remember that a dreamer is hopeless but a man without dreams is without hope.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Nostalgia and the Season

Nostalgia is one of those words that can conjure up a lot of different emotions and interpretations.   Some would make the case that it is nothing more than a bunch of old fuddy-duddies remembering the “old days” and viewing them through rose-colored glasses.  Others believe it is a waste of energy or worse an aversion to anything new or progressive.  One thing is for sure and that is most everyone allows themselves to indulge in a bit of it from time to time even if only secretly.

Who has not reminisced about some past sporting event whether as a participant or fan.  If you played football, basketball or any other sport you have memories of particular games and your actions.  Hopefully they are the pleasant ones about making a touchdown or a crucial first down at a tense moment in the game.  Maybe it is about that cheerleader you were dating then and that special feeling when she would praise you prowess.  You can literally feel the way the ball cradled against your body as your carried in through the line, you can hear that roar from the stands, or smell the dust from the turf as you were pounded down by the opposing team.  Those memories are strong and it is amazing that they endure so long with such intensity.

Everyone can recall songs and tunes from long ago.  They evoke some of our strongest reactions.  They recall for us a different time and place where society was different.  Society does change ever generation for good or ill.  We all like to think that our youth was the best and the brightest don’t we?   Some of those old big band tunes for Glenn Miller don’t remind of my personal life so much as they remind me of my mon and dad.  Those were their songs, their time.  Those old songs remind me of waiting for dad to come home from work and mom in the kitchen preparing dinner while me and my brother were hounding her about going out to play for just a few more minutes.  She would relent usually even if it was close to dinner time.  The radio would have those great tunes playing all the while.  When dad got home he would come out on the front porch and whistle for us.  He could really whistle loud.  That was the deal, we had to stay close enough to the house to hear the whistle.  It was not an acceptable excuse to say we didn’t hear it.

Christmas Day always brings up memories of some bygone special mornings rushing to the Christmas tree.   I recall one in particular when I got a Lionel train.  I was only about 5 and we lived in a rental duplex.  Dad had only been home from a the War a couple of years and was working two jobs to make ends meet.  It was important then that the man be the sole breadwinner and mom stayed home.  It was one of those old very heavy types they made then.  It was quite exact in its detail of an old steam engine.  They had it all set up Christmas morning for me.  I bet that sucker costs ten bucks!  A real sum then.  I kept up with that old train for years even into my teens.  Then one day it was just gone.  I guess it got lost in one of our moves.  That train brings back such great memories for the joy of being a child and of my mom and dad.  I suppose what it does is remind me of the sacrifices they made for me. 

Watching the current leaders of our nation certainly reminds me of our past leaders.  It was true that most everyone liked Ike.  What was not to like?   Those were good times for the most part.  Our economy was growing and expanding and opportunity was beckoning for those willing to venture out and try their luck or skill.  He kept in check the worst ideas of the progressives of the day and he made us feel safer having him there in the White House with the Commies barking at every door around the world.  It is hard now for many to recall just how menacing those threats from the Kremlin were.  Often they were not only threats but hostile actions.  They did have an active spy network within our own government.  Hiss, the Rosenbergs and McClean, Burgess et al were real people out to do our nation and way of life harm.  Ike had defeated the Nazis and was a warrior, that was important.  Don’t believe me?  Then I would remind you that even his Democratic succesor ran as a hawk and touted the “missle gap” and was actively promoted by is party as a warrior.

Why do we have all these thoughts?  That must be pretty important to most of us.  We all go back to them over and over.  The nostalgia connects us to our cultural heritage.  Whatever our heritage might be it is important to us.  It reminds us of family because family is important to us.  No one likes being alone and the tightest bonds are those of blood.  Admit it, those day dreams of your days of yore make you feel good.  Nothing wrong with that.  Rather than fighting nostalgia or denigrating it I recommend you rejoice in it.  Savor it like some family relic that it handed down from  generation to generation.

Most vital of all is to make sure you are doing what you should to build those future nostalgic day dreams for you own children.  It is my prayer for you that your progeny will one day recall their days and years with you as the best of times, not the worst of times.

Gold is at 1200 plus.  Some one doesn’t think the current policies in DC are in the best long-term interest of our economy.  That is more than an opinion, it is a fact demonstrating by the hundreds of thousands or millions of folks investing in gold.  They are voting with their checkbooks.   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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