Friday, July 31, 2009

Flashback Friday #49

A day at the beach.

Hi friends, were going to the beach today, so grab your flip flops, suntan oil and favorite towel and we're off.

Now living in central Ohio, we don't have the kinds of beaches like Daytona, Hilton Head, or Maui. The beach that we frequented was at one point a feeder lake for the Ohio canal system, and is man made. Who cares! It's a beach and we're going to have fun.

We would all hop in Dad friend's pick up truck except for Mom. She didn't like the beach, and if one of us kids were going to drown, she didn't want to watch. There were usually 8-10 people in the truck (three in front, the rest rode in the bed of the truck). I believe this type of travel is illegal in most states now.

When we got there, we all liked to do different things. Sir Gattabout would take his snorkel & goggles and try to sneak up on his friend who weren't watching. Dad liked to swim in the deeper parts. I liked to play in the sand. We would make sand angels (just like snow angels, only grittier) and I loved making sand castles. Anytime I would find a different sized cup, it became a new sand mold. When you got ready to leave, someone always asked for your cups. I also loved sifting through the sand in search of pirate booty. If pirates carried change, I might have found it.

Farther out, boats ran and people skied or tubed. The wakes from the boats made waves like the tide was coming in. Sir Gattabout always thought they were cool. He always wanted a boat to go fishing off of of just drive around. Guess who currently has a boat on the very same waters. One of these days we'll join him out there for the afternoon.

When the day was over, we were always hot, tired and sun burnt. We would always stop and a nearby Dairy Twist for ice cream cones afterwards. This was the first place that I had ever seen a "twist cone". I thought they were the coolest things in the world.

How did you cool off on a hot summer day?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Warning-Don't Park Near Entrances!

If you are coming to our (red)neck of the woods for the fair, a word of caution: Don't park too close to the entrance/exits as you can see from this car:

I saw this while picking up trash this morning. I found a cell phone (which was returned to it's owner this afternoon) and another dirty diaper. Four days of trash pick up, four dirty diapers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wednesday at the county fair

Usually Wednesday is the absolutely worst day of the county fair. Traditionally it is rough truck night. For those of you who have never heard of rough truck, here is the premise: You drive your 4X4 truck or SUV through a series of pot holes, ditches, and water filled hazards as fast as you can. When you have made it through this obstacle course, the finale is to jump your vehicle off of a very large mound of dirt, going airborne. The winner is who can make it through the course in the fastest time combined with the best jump. It draws in the rednecks from a ten county radius.

This is a pick-up truck flying a rebel and a pirate flag for those of you who couldn't make it out.

I have a special shirt I wear on Wednesdays at the fair. Usually, rough truck is the largest draw, so people have to park far away and complain about where they are parking. That's why I always wear this:

Today it rained. It was one of those all day, soak the ground clear through rains. The forecast for the afternoon at the fair was scattered thundershowers. Would that be enough to keep people away from the fair? Usually not. Around here, mud brings out the stupid in people.

I was assigned to park a fairly steep hill. We were to try to pick off 4X4's from the traffic lane to come park on our muddy hill. This is the entrance to our parking place:
Well, we were able to fill our little part of the world with four wheel drive vehicles,

But the going was fairly treacherous:

The combination of the mud & the rain forecast (it did rain, but not thunderstorm) did manage to keep the crowd to the smallest rough truck crowd I have ever seen. Normally I am moved around to help park at least four different lots. Tonight, only one.

The most humorous thing was trying to keep an aisle open so the 4X4's parked higher on the hill could get out. I turned away four people who wanted to park here:
One guy that I asked to move to keep the aisle open replied "Then where else am I supposed to park? I've been up and down these aisles and can't find anywhere else." I replied "Um, How about across the street where the main parking lot is." BTW there was at least five acres of parking area left when I told him this. Usually on a rough truck night, if it can hold a car, it has a car in it. We actually ran out of parking spaces last year during rough truck.

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's Fair Time Again

Sunday was the start of our county fair. Many people can't wait for the fair, and are disappointed when it is over. I am the opposite.

You see, I (and our Church) work the fair. In the morning from 6 AM to 7:30ish, we pick up trash that doesn't make it in to the trashcans (can you believe people just tossed dirty diapers on the ground? Gross!!!). Usually I don't get the pleasure of doing this, but this week was taken off from work so I could help in any way needed. since our organization's camp meeting is also this week. May of the normal fair workers will be working at camp, leaving the fair crew shorthanded.

From about 4:30 to 7:30-8 PM we park all the smiling, happy people who have come to enjoy the fair (I don't understand why expletive delete I have to park all the expletive delete way out here). Smile, nod and tell them to have a nice evening and enjoy the fair.

As you can see, our fairground is very flat and paved. (NOT!) And yes, those are cars a mile away from my vantage point in the distance.

Two days down, five to go.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Quilter's Critique

Last night while Lady Nottaguy-TYG was helping me change the dressing on my stitches, I asked her what she thought of the doctor's needlework. "The stitches are spaced a little far apart. Where he put nine in, there could have been 12". When I told the doctor that my wife quilts, he said that she should put the stitches in. I told him "No way, She'll want to embroider something there too".

BTW, if you are interested (like Lady Lemon), there is a picture added to the post of "Ouch in any language"

Friday, July 24, 2009

Flashback Friday #48

My Hometown
Greeting to all. Welcome back. In today's ramblings I will cover something that everyone has, and some people don't claim, their hometown.

Some people who get rich & famous don't like anyone to know the humble beginnings from which they came. I have never been considered rich or famous, so here goes the story of the small burg I lived in from birth until marriage.I had someone question it's existence. He thought I was making it up.

If you look on and Ohio map, near the middle you will find Morrow County (or Moron County as The Ogre refers to it). In that county you will find a small black dot called Marengo. That is where I lived for a long time (In Marengo, not on the small dot on the map.).

Everything there was on the main drag with the exception of the school I went to, some professional buildings, a mill, and a gas station. It had two four way stops, and no traffic lights. It reminds me of Mayberry, only smaller.

Coming from our house, the first business in town was on the corner of the first stop sign. It was a lumber yard on the left. It is now a drive thru and Mexican restaurant. Crossing through the intersection we find the bank that loaned my class the money when I was a sixth grade CEO (Flashback Friday #33). It has changed hands many times. Next to it stands a hardware store, and until I was about eight, a working blacksmith shop. I wish I hadn't been so shy that I wouldn't visit the blacksmith and watch him work.

Across the street we find the drug store where I bought my first pack of baseball cards in 1972. I still have those cards, and can pick them out of the thousands that I have. Next to the drugstore is the town bar. It was burned down once when I was in Jr. High, so they rebuilt it out of cement blocks. At the end of the block is a pizza shop (doesn't every small burg have a pizza shop?) Across the street was at one time a gas station owned by some of my parents friends. It had an electric bowling machine that was really cool. I was too short to play the pinball machine. When the friends sold out, it became an auto fix-it shop.

Crossing to the next block, the next "business" you come to is the town church. Like pizza parlors, every town has a church. Also like pizza parlors, every church has it's own taste. Next to the church was a little dairy twist type restaurant the end of the block. They used to offer a 32 ounce milkshake for 99 cents.That was worth rummaging through the couch looking for change.

Crossing the street from the restaurant, was a mini plaza that held the town grocery store. There was a beauty shop, and insurance agent and a barber in the little plaza along with the grocery store. I got my hair cut at the barber shop. He cut your hair the way he wanted, no matter how you said you wanted it. We used to call him "Butcher Bob".

Next to the mini plaza was the volunteer fire department.They were the truck that arrived to put out "The Fire"(Flashback Friday #27). The fire department also doubled as the voting poll. Once, while the polls were open, the fire alarm sounded. Voting booths were hurried out of the way while the fire personnel assembled. Behind the fire station, one block away was the school I attended from K-6th grades. More about that in a future post.

The "professional plaza" was left, a couple blocks down from the first stop sign. It used to absolutely crack me up. Right in a row was the doctor's office, a flower shop, and a funeral home. We used to call it one stop shopping. Once the doctor killed you, you could pick up flowers on the way to the funeral home.

The mill and gas station were at the other end of town, if you took a right at the second stop sign. The mill carried any type of animal feed you could want, even monkey chow. That's where I got the feed for my "dairy hogs"(Flashback Friday #32).

I hope you've enjoyed the tour through my home town. Please remain seated until the ride come to a full stop.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

OUCH in any language

It finally happened. For over 20 years I have worked with metal, never needing much more than a band-aid. That streak came to a screeching halt today as I had the metal turn the tables on me today. Usually I cut it. Today...

While I was rebanding a coil of stainless steel (.010 thick), it slipped and caught my left arm. I told the lady working near me to grab some paper towels. The supervisors looked at it and thought I would be ok, but since it had been 18 years since I had a tetanus shot, I needed one. I figured I would let the doctor at the ER decide if I was really OK.

First I had to wait 45 minutes to get a drug test. I was told by the HR Director that I needed to do this first. I then went over to the ER and the doctor gave me the news I didn't want to hear.

"It looks like we'll need to stitch that." he says. AARGGH!!! Other than the internal stitches from knee surgery, I have never had stitches. "There's a first time for everything", the Doctors says. When he was finished, he had put in nine stitches. I asked if I had any limitations "Nope", was his response. The RN told me to try to take it easy.

I took some pictures, but I will spare you unless the masses cry out for them. Mainly they are to show "The Ogre" who happens to work at a hospital.

Update: here is a pic to satisfy my blog homies that I'm not making this up.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Mind That Wanders

Update: I found a link that enables you to play the song I described below. It was performed by Homer & Jethro and I recorded it off the radio on June 29, 1980 (I looked through Dr. Demento's play list history). It is officially titled "The Billboard Song". Click the word "audio" to hear it. Sorry if you have dial up.

Today I was moved out of my department to help another department that was shorthanded. The work that was required was very boring. I had to peel the protective plastic coating off of some tubes before they could be made into decorative tailpipes. It was about like shucking corn all day.

Since the work was fairly mindless, I allowed my mind to wander off. Usually when it wanders off, it is like an old dog that "brings something home" to it's master. Today was no exception. A song popped into my head that I first heard in Jr. High, and haven't heard since before I graduated, over 25 years ago.

I first heard this song on "The Dr. Demento Show". Dr. Demento is a DJ that plays only wacky songs. I listened to his weekly show very faithfully, and even recorded many of the songs. This particular song comes from the 1930's. I don't remember the name, and the second "serious" verse, but what I do remember ran through my head all day. I thought you might like it.

As I was walking down the block, a billboard caught my eye.
The advertisements written there would make you laugh & cry.
The signs were torn & scattered, from the storm the night before.
Though wind & rain had done it's work, for this is what they bore

Smoke Coca-Cola cigarettes, Drink Wrigley's spearmint beer.
Kennel Ration dog food keeps your wife's completion clear.
Chew chocolate covered mothballs, they always satisfy.
Brush your teeth with Lifebuoy soap and watch the suds go by.

(serious verse)

Take your next vacation in a brand new Frigid-Aire.
Learn to play piano in your winter underwear.
And Simonize your baby, with a Hershey candy bar.
Texaco's the beauty cream that's used by all the stars.

(musical interlude)

Doctor's say that babies should smoke Havana Three.
People over thirty-five take baths in Lipton's tea.
You can make this country a better place today,
Just buy a record of this song and throw it far away.

I hope I'm back in my department tomorrow. Who knows what my wandering mind will bring back next?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Volunteer

Anyone who has ever planted flowers is excited to see them come up, and bloom. There are disappointments when what we plant doesn't come up. What is really exciting is seeing a flower that you thought you had nothing to do with bloom.

I had spotted this little sunflower growing at the corner of our fence near where I keep the trash cans. I was careful not to set the cans on it . I didn't know what it was until it bloomed. All I knew was that something had taken root and was growing. I take no credit for what it is, since it is a volunteer. One of the birds at the nearby feeder that we have must have tossed it out, or passed it through it's digestion.

How many kids get tossed out by life or "pooped on" by the world? It is refreshing to me to see a child who has been withdrawn, backward or uncared for come to life in my Sunday School class. As a teacher, I supply the seeds that are needed. At times I feel like the lesson was simply scattered to the kids. But when you see one of them bloom, it makes all the effort worthwhile.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Flashback Friday #47

Don't try this at home.

A warm welcome back to those of you who are still reading, or those whom I haven't put to sleep.I was talking to my wife recently and told her of a horse that I was afraid of when I was a child. "With some of the things that you did as a child, I'm surprised that you were afraid of anything." she replied. With that statement, I got to thinking about some of the truly dangerous things I did as a child, and lived through to tell future generations.

I am, and probably will always be a redneck. Social grace is something that I just don't have. With that statement comes the realization that most of the "accidents" that I witnessed, were prefaced with the phrase "Hey, watch this". Seeing the ridicule heaped upon the injured kid laying on the ground, showing off was something I didn't do (very much of). Only when there was a fairly large number of us kids present ("Oh look, Aunt Shelly and her kids just pulled in the driveway")

One of the things I did with Aunt Shelly's kids was jumping off of things. They were all wiry, lanky, and athletic. Me, not so much. But they always found a way to coax me into whatever dangerous pastime they were engaging in.

One thing we jumped off of was barn supports. Those are the zigzag beams that run up the walls of a barn to stabilize it. The object as to shinny up as high as you could go, and then jump off the wall into the hay below. I couldn't get up very far. My cousins, on the other hand, were like the Flying Zamboni brothers in the Ringling Brothers circus. When you are almost at the rafters, you are too high. They would egg me on to go higher, but I knew my limitations.

Our lower roof was a different situation. I could jump off of it, without thinking twice. There was no hay to land in, only the ground beneath us. We would all grab a towel, tie it around our neck, and become superheroes. The main problem with this was that normally 8 out of 10 times that I would jump off the roof, I would tear out the seat of my pants. Mom was forever mending my britches. I don't think I ever told her how the got torn.

My uncle owned a junkyard, and you know how inviting that was to play in. My brother and one of his friend who lived down from my uncle were always swinging on the scrap boom (this is the cable with a hook on it that was suspended from a crane that was used to pick up junk cars). I don't think anyone knew they were doing this. Once I was watching them, and when they left, I tried it. The key to boom swinging is knowing when to let go. If you don't let go on the outward swing, and jump, you will land in the pile of scrap metal like I did. I came in crying, and bloody from the numerous scrapes and cuts I received. "How did you get so messed up?" my uncle asked. "I was swinging on the boom.", I replied. "Swinging on the boom?!?!" he exclaimed. Where in the word did you get a crazy idea like that? The glare I got from my brother told me I had better keep my mouth shut(which I did in between sobs.).

Evel Knievel was one of our childhood idols. We were always trying to pop wheelies and jump things with our bikes. Sir Gattabout was great at popping wheelies. He could keep one tire in the air for almost eternity. Whenever I would try, the bike would kick out from under me. We also did the trick riding where you ride with no hands or you stand upon the seat while the bike was moving. Bike racing was big too. There was a large hill nearby and I would come flying down that hill, which is OK, as long as you keep your feet on the pedals. When your foot slips off the pedal, and into the front spokes, you stop fast, and you stop NOW. The nice lady at the bottom of the hill helped sooth my pain by putting iodine or Mercurochrome,( I forget which) on all my scrapes. She might as well put turpentine on them. Burn baby burn.

I have well documented my lack of swimming abilities and being near a creek daily. I never said I was a rocket scientist.In reading back through my Flashback Friday posts, I came across several times where I could have been killed. Since you are reading this, you know I lived through my childhood. Truth sometimes is weirder than fiction. In Flashback Friday #4, I chronicled some of the things that did scare me.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The More The Merrier

About a month ago (June 23rd, to be exact), I showed you some pictures of some of the ties that I have. There were 88 of them as of Sunday morning. As of Sunday night, there were 92. They had babies (not really, I just wanted to see if you were really paying attention to what you were reading). One of the ladies at church approached me with a bag containing four ties. She told me if I would wear them, I could have them, if not, please pass them on. I will be wearing one this coming Sunday. More than likely it will be the golfing Snoopy tie. Here is a pic of the others:

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Electronic Deer Call

Saturday, when I was cleaning the rental trailer that Dad has, I found an electronic deer call. The back that holds the batteries in was missing, but the former owner had redneck-engineered some duct tape to form a new panel. I didn't know if it worked, but if it didn't I wasn't out anything.

Earlier today I showed it to "The Boy" and told him that if it worked, he and his dad could have it, since they both deer hunt. I put the batteries in, and it worked like a charm.

"The Boy" took it outside to "call some deer" (what, is it a deer cell phone, or something?). He came in later, and handed it to me and said,"I'm not done, I just need a bathroom break". As he went into the bathroom, and shut the door, I pushed the button labeled "BUCK GRUNT". A loud "Urumph, urumph" came out of the call. I hollered to The Boy,"Was that you? Are you OK?" A loud cackle came from the bathroom with the comment "That was a good one Pawpaw".

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Peasants Have No Bread

Let Them Eat Cake!!! Here's a shout out to my wonderful wife , Lady Nottaguy-TYG. It's her birthday today. She is 29 and holding. Don't even ask me how old she would be if she let go. I'm not telling.

30th Anniversary of Disco Demolition Night

On July 12th, 1979, one of the worst promotions in Major League Baseball history took place at Comisky Park in Chicago. It was held between games of a double-header between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. It was the brainchild of Mike Veeck, the son of White Sox owner Bill Veeck.

Chicago DJ Steve Dahl was fired from his job at WDAI when the station went to an all disco format. He resurfaced at rival WLUP and created an anti-disco army among his listeners. Veek devised a promotion where fans could turn in disco albums in return for receiving admission to the game for only 98 cents. 98 represented WLUP's location on the radio dial. The records would be collected in a large crate, and blown up by Dahl between games of the double-header.

The turnout for this promotion exceeded expectations. White Sox management was hoping for and additional 5,000 fans. Instead, a standing room only crowd of 75,000 plus showed up. Thousands others were turned away or tried to gain entrance by climbing the walls of the stadium. When the crate was full, management stopped collecting records from the fans, who discovered that the records would fly like Frisbees when tossed, often striking fans or winding up on the playing field during the game.

After the first game, Dahl, dressed in army fatigues and a helmet, went out to center field, to where the box of records was now located. The box was rigged with a bomb (try getting away with that today). When it exploded, it tore a hole in the outfield grass.

After Dahl left in an army jeep,thousands of fans began rushing onto the field. Most of the crowd wandered aimlessly once the got onto the field.

Others were destructive. The batting cage was torn down and wrecked. The bases were literally stolen. Chunks of the outfield grass were pulled up and taken. Some fans set fires to the banners that they carried.

Eventually the playing field was cleared by police wearing riot gear. The field was in such poor condition that the umpires decided that the second game could not be played. Tigers Manager Sparky Anderson let the umpires know that he wouldn't allow his players to take the field in any case due to safety concerns. The next day, American League president Lee McPhail announced that the White Sox would forfeit the second game of the double-header for failing to provide proper playing conditions.

Although White Sox owner Bill Veeck took much of the public heat about the fiasco, those in baseball circles knew his son Mike was behind it. After his father retired, Mike was unable to find a job in Major League Baseball. "The second that first guy shimmied down the outfield wall, I knew my life was over!" Mike said.

Personally, in 1979, I liked disco, and was a fairly good dancer (I was 15, young, stupid, and weighed a lot less than I do now). I think they should have blown up the White Sox uniforms instead. They were horrid. In 1976, Baseball celebrated the bicentennial by wearing turn of the century uniforms. The White Sox wore them for another five years. Pictured is the home uniforms. The away uniforms were black with white trim.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Flashback Friday #46

There's a booger in the house.

Hi folks, Welcome back to another edition of Flashback Friday. Now that I got the heaviness out of the way, we can return to another light-hearted post. It deals with one of my parents favorite hobbies: picking up strays. Admittedly, they have picked up a stray dog (Trixie) or cat or two in their lifetime. I am referring to picking up stray people.

Ever since we had our WWE neighbors spend time with us after the fire, our house just seemed to become a magnet to those who didn't fit in elsewhere.

When I was about 12, my folks invited a young man to live with us. He was having trouble with his folks (I think they kicked him out), so Mom & Dad opened our house to him. His name was Daniel Christmas (you know I don't use real names), but most people called him Dan, or his nickname, "Boog". He said Boog was short for "boogie"because he liked to boogie. I always thought it was short for "booger", because that what he was at times.

Boog was 19 (I think), tall, thin and scraggly looking. If you have ever seen "Nacho Libre", he sort of looked like Nacho's tag team partner "Skeletor"

As scrawny & scraggly as he was, he could attract the opposite sex. He drove a chick magnet, a '71, 440 Cuda (that's a 1971 Plymouth Barracuda with a 440 HP engine for those of you who don't speak muscle car). It was his baby.
Whenever he went to work, he would carpool with a couple other guys (one of Aunt Shelly's boys included) and go to work in their vehicles. He did not drive his car to work. He and his buddies worked at the Galena Brick factory. When they came home from work, they were absolutely filthy. Boog looked like a large orange Crayola crayon. This is why his car was never driven to work. If all the other guys called off, Boog did too so he wouldn't get his car dirty.

One of the reasons that Boog was so skinny was that he didn't take time to sit down and eat right. Most of the time he ate toast. I'll bet he ate a loaf of bread a week just in toast. Toast for breakfast, toast when he got home from work, toast while he was in bed (on the couch) watching late night TV. He also liked beer.

Sometimes, he would take his friends to the movies in his car. When you went to the drive-in, you always looked at the other cars that were there before it got dark. His car brought out the ooohs and aahs as it sought a place to park. He always parked near the back, because even though we paid for four admissions, there were at least six people in the car. I never hid in the trunk, but one time I laid across the back seat floor and everyone put their feet on me. I still think you must be nuts to voluntarily ride in the trunk of a car, even for a short distance.

Boog stayed with us for about six months, then as quickly as he arrived, he was gone. I never knew what ever became of him. I did hear that he wrecked his car, but was unhurt.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Confession is good for the soul

Ladies, has you husband ever told you that he would do something, then as time passes (OK, years pass) and it still doesn't get accomplished? Don't feel like you are alone. I told Lady Nottaguy-TYG after we fenced in our yard that I would make her some flower beds around the fence. The closest this has come is to plant some flowers near the fence.

Alas, According to Solomon, there is a time to build up and a time to tear down. Last week I started the flower bed at the back of our lot. First I had to tear up the turf that was where the bed would go.

Once the sod was gone, this is what I built:

(I built the flower box, not the old barn that belongs to the neighbors across the alley. From this angle, it looks like we live on Walton's mountain.)I then had to make several trips to the dwelling of The Ogre & The Woodsman. They recently had some digging done at their place, and had dirt that I could haul away to fill the above box(which measures somewhere around 2' x 50')

Last night while sweeping out the dirt from my truck, I got to thinking, "I've had this truck for several years, but have never pulled up the bed liner and cleaned under it." I didn't even know if the floor was stable under the bed liner, because I had never seen it. So I rolled up the bed liner and started sweeping. This is what I found under the liner:

That, my friends is four (yes, I counted) shovelfuls of dirt/leaves/pine needles/I-don't-know-what-all compost that had built up under my bed liner. I even found lifeforms living in the stuff:
The very dark thing at the left of the picture is a beetle bug of some kind that had made it's home in the mulch under my bed liner. PETA will be happy that I didn't kill it. I just scooped it up with the rest of the stuff. I had to use a shovel to free some of the severely encrusted mulch. (How's that for shoveling out your vehicle" when you clean it? )

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What's the 4th of July Without Fireworks?

Some folks had their fireworks display last night. Some of you will watch them tonight. It is a custom we all love. I found a delightful firework display on youtube. I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Flashback Friday #45

Ben is dead.

Hello all, and welcome again to the stirring renditions of my past that I call "Flashback Friday". Most of the stories I relate here are fairly humorous to downright funny.
This isn't one of them.
Into every life some rain must fall, and this story tells of the first time I had a relative other than a grandparent die. When you are young, you don't expect your grandparents to be around forever. They look so old, but it is still a shock when they pass. (Now that I am a grandparent, they don't look so old.) It's even more of a shock when you are told that a cousin that is only six years older than you is gone.

I was going to post this story last week, but since it is such a rough time in my life, I chickened out,and went with the lawnmower stories instead. With Ben's only sibling, Eli, passing away Saturday from a massive heart attack at 55, this story begs to be told.

I was never really close to Eli & Ben, seeing that they were nine and six years older than me. But Gattabout was close, especially to Ben. Ben treated Gattabout like the little brother that he didn't have. When they went wading back in their creek, they would always take Gattabout with them (I had to stay with Mom because at age four, you just didn't go back to the creek). One time they weren't supposed to get wet, but they did. They built a fire to dry their clothes. Everything went as planned until Ben's socks caught fire. He told Gattabout not to tell. As soon as the got back to the house, Gattabout blurts out "Hey Aunt Bessie, guess what? Ben burnt his socks".

Ben had an avid love for auto mechanics, passed down from his dad, and my paternal grandfather. Grandpa had lost the fingers on his right hand (that's another post all together), but it didn't stop him from tinkering on cars. Ben was always by his side. He spent the summers in Westerville with my grandparents because grandpa had a large garage, and a full chest of tools. It was a tinker's delight.

When Ben got his driver's license, his goal was to have a hopped-up street rod. He loved the muscle cars that are so totally in vogue today. His favorite was an early seventies GTO (I can't remember the exact year). It was metal flake blue (which he did himself), and had a whole heap of engine under the hood. That car was his baby.

We got the call in 74 or 75 that Ben had been killed in a car accident. With his love for hot rods and horsepower, we figured he was driving too fast and wrecked. Then we found out that he wasn't driving, he was in the passenger's seat. The driver, a friend of his named Peter, was unhurt. There was a third young man, Ted, who was sitting between Ben & Peter in the front seat (this was before bucket seats were real big, almost all cars had bench seats). Where we come from, it is improper to ride one person in back with two in front and vise-verse. If there were three in the car, all rode in the front seat. Ted was in critical condition at the hospital.

We found out much later (after Ted came out of the coma he was in) exactly what had happened. Peter was driving on a gravel road at a speed that was in excess of a safe gravel road speed. He then crested a hill, and saw a one lane bridge at the bottom of the hill. With the car going too fast, starting to slide on the gravel, and a narrow bridge looming ahead of him, Peter bailed out of the car. The driver-less car careened rapidly toward the bridge. Ted hadn't been driving long couldn't control it from his middle seat, and Ben wasn't able to get control of it from the passenger seat. The car slammed into the bridge sideways, ejecting Ben, causing his neck to break. Ted suffered severe head injuries. Peter was brought up on several charges, but received a small sentence from a liberal judge. Gattabout told me of several attempts that were made on Peter's life, including someone shooting at him with a rifle as he went to check his mail.

Ben's funeral procession looked like a street rod convention. In today's prices, there was probably about two to three million dollars worth of street rods and muscle cars in attendance. There were more metal-flaked, hopped-up-engine, mag tired rides than you could shake a stick at. The Westerville police officer that kept Ben in line most of the time stood at attention while the procession passed the road that my grandparents lived on. They laid Ben to rest beside my grandfather,with my grandmother joining them about four years later.

It's never easy to lose a family member, even one that you're not really close to.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summer Means Grilling Season

Nothing like the smell of Spam and tater tots on the grill. Want some?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Create Your Own Superhero

It's summertime, and during the nice days, you can (and should) ship the kiddos outside to play. But what do you do when it rains? If your kids like superheroes, Marvel Comics has a "Create Your Own Superhero" site on it's web page. I had to check it out before I let my grandson in on the fun. I've created five already. The site requires you to become a member (it's free), so click here to check it out.