Defending one’s own

My grandson is two years old. He is fortunate and blessed to have very loving parents and devoted grandparents. He is, however, at a distinct disadvantage in his current state of affairs. Let me explain.

When I was a young’un back in Amarillo, Texas, a little fellow’s value amongst the neighborhood boys was measured by the size and number of one’s personal fleet of toy (they were more than mere toys to us) construction, farm implements, race cars, and pickups. The vast majority were built by Tonka™ or Nylint™. They were sturdy models and very much up to the tasks of a bunch of elementary school boys.

The MOST important thing, however, among the varied fleets was a fellow’s ability to defend it. So, while we played ad nauseum with our fleets, the real attention was on the size of one’s Army. That Army ranged from bags and bags of plastic soldiers and their attendant tanks, artillery pieces, and the odd missile or two, all the way up to the GI Joe and his vast equipment to be used for defending one’s fleet that was busy building, farming, racing, and wreaking havoc where and when ever.

My own defense was of a certainty the largest and most lethal force on Hall Street. If memory serves, my defense force consisted of at least three brigades of plastic soldiers (they were bought in bags of 100-250 at TG&Y on Western Avenue) in various permanent attack poses. In addition, there were within my force a battalion of tanks and artillery pieces, both self-propelled and static. I even had an air force of ten or so fighters and one or two bombers.

I did have one bag of civil war soldiers, but they were not much good against anything except one boy who had nothing to defend his too small fleet. It would not be worth anybody’s time to attack him.

So, how does this involve my grandson? He has been gifted with a large and varied fleet of trucks of every type and size. He can with ease tackle and complete any job put before him in the sand box in his backyard. Yes, he has a wonderful and varied fleet.

Except…

He has no Army, Navy, Air Force. He has no way to defend his interests. I am at such a loss and concern for the security of his fleet, that I have taken on the task to help him in the building his armed forces. I began this endeavor a couple of days ago thinking it would be an easy task. Thus far, I have been to three large stores that are known to sell any shape or size one could imagine. The result? I cannot find any soldiers, tanks, airplanes, or ships.

What has our nation come to when our sons cannot defend their sandboxes? My son told me I might find them at an on-line site known to have about anything a body could want. I hope there is time before “They” realize he is defenseless. The search goes on.

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Ya’ll quit!

Dang, I wish folks would quit fussing at one another. Seems like every time I turn the news on TV or pick up a newspaper somebody’s is hollering at somebody just because they don’t agree with whatever was said or done and then everybody gets all riled up. Just about everyday somebody is hollering at somebody or a bunch of somebodies just because they said something (or stood up for something) they don’t like. You’re just being an ornery neighbor. Quit.

Haven’t ya’ll ever heard of the Constitution of the United States and its Amendments? There is this one that’s called the First Amendment that allows anyone free speech and all that. Just because somebody does something (or says something) you don’t agree with, that doesn’t give you permission to get all ornery like that. There’s lots of folks over our 232 years as a country that have died just so you can talk freely. Here you all fussing at somebody because he doesn’t agree with whatever you are favoring. Shame on you.

You know, a long time ago there was this fellow name Paul. He did a hole bunch a writing and he was one of the smartest people I ever heard of. One time, he wrote a letter to some folks he really liked. He said that they ought to take care of each other and think about other folk as more important than themselves. He also said they ought to do their work quietly and keep out of business that isn’t there’s. I take that to mean name calling, and back biting and all that. They call that gossiping where I come from and it doesn’t do a lick of good for anybody.

There’s another thing I want to rant about and that’s what some folks call fake news. That’s a fancy way of saying somebody writing and deciding what gets put in the paper or on TV is lying. Lying is as bad as gossiping and a lot of times it is worse. If you are one of those doing all that fake news stuff, you ought be ashamed of yourself. Didn’t your Momma teach you better than that?

Ya’ll need to grow up an learn some manners. Nuff said.

Just what is your name anyway?

     There is a young lady that works where I do. I think her name is Sally. She does computer stuff of some sort or another. Actually, I think her name is Tina. She has a habit of never remembering my name. She gets the first letter alright. After that, who knows. I have been called Sid, Sam, Stanley, ad infinitum. There may have been a Stupid in there too (joking of course – Melody likes to joke – I think). In an effort to get her to remember my name (no small task) is Scott and not Sidney, I decided to introduce myself whenever I passed by her desk. Bear in mind that I pass by her desk somewhere north of ten times a day. I always remind her who I am, and Sheila NEVER get it right! The most recent attempt to make my name known, resulted in a new moniker of Stewart. “Stewart!?” I said in a somewhat elevated tone. “Do I look like a Stewart?” She did not respond as is typical for a Cruella. I reiterated, AGAIN, that I bear no resemblance to anybody named Stewart, Sam, Stanley or anything else but a SCOTT. I think Patricia ignored me.
There has been no improvement is Cissy’s ability to remember my name. I have been giving some thought to pasting my picture on her PC monitor but that would just generate more names and its possible use as a dart board. I think Tammy now has a habit of calling me a different name every time she sees me just to get my goat. I would not be surprised to see a Nancy or Elizabeth do something like that but, I would never expect it from Briana. I am at quandary what to do. I have the occasional customer that stops in to see me. What would happen if Barbie sent them to see Stewart or Sam or somebody else with an “S” name. I don’t know how many “S” employees work there. Who knows where they would wind up. I shudder to think.
The end result will have to be some permanent means by which Angela can remember that I am Scott. I asked her once. She ignored me. Catherines do that.

The Five Finger Discount

I do not recall ever getting an allowance when I was a young’un. Most of the boys I grew up with in Amarillo, Texas in the early to mid-sixties shared the same fate. Our most profitable way for us to make money was scrounging empty glass Coke® bottles to take to the Piggly Wiggly®. We would get a dime a bottle. It took three bottles plus a nickel to get an RC Cola® and a Moon Pie®. Getting three bottles and a nickel was no easy task back then and it was even harder when most of us started smoking in our early teens. That took five bottles and a nickel! Needless to say,we were hard pressed to make ends meet back then.
When desperation took hold, we had to resort to what we called a “five finger discount.” That was when we would go the local store and shove whatever it was that we wanted into our pants and slip out the door without paying for it. Worked pretty well most of the time.
Mr. Thomas (not his real name – I do not want to risk him finding out even after all these years) owned a small store nearby and his store had been the usual target of our discount program. There was another store nearby that was owned by a fellow that had been in the Army. We left him alone. He was meaner than a striped snake. That’s another story for another time.
Now, there was this one day that is was super hot and the six of us (there was twelve of us in the neighborhood that grew up together but one or more of us was always absent cuz they were grounded or roped into doing chores or something). Anyway. We did not have enough money amongst us to get even one RC Cola. We were going to have to use the five-finger discount.
All of us went to Mr Thomas’ store together. It was busy that day and Mr. Thomas was not there. It would be an easy in and out job. So we thought.
We went about our business and wandered throughout the store as if we had nothing to do. I managed to stuff a Moon pie down my pants and slip out the door. It did not take long for all of us to get what we needed and get out of there while avoiding the cashier. As luck would have it, she was the sole worker in the store at that moment. It was the perfect crime. Uh huh.
We had a clubhouse of sorts in a bunch of Horse radish trees nearby and we met there. Among the six of us, we had four Moon Pies and three RC Colas.
We made do with what we had and went off to our respective homes for the night. Supper was on the table when I got home. As we were eating, Mr. Thomas’ store came up. I don’t know why. Dad observed that Mr. Thomas was a full blown official butcher and all and had a complete butcher shop set up in the back of the store. I knew that and said so. Out of nowhere, he made an observation that if Mr. Thomas ever caught anybody stealing from him, he could just as easy take the thief out back and make hamburger out of them.
We never used the five finger discount ever again.

The old guy

My daughter is pretty handy around the house. It is a talent I did not expect to see in her and I am glad she has discovered and is developing such a useful ability. I have to say though, I am not certain where she found this talent. I suspect it is a hand me down skill passed on from her Mom’s (i.e.my wife’s) family. Save to say that the handyman gene on my side is somewhat underdeveloped.

She called me the other day. She had come upon a plumbing problem and wanted to see if I could offer any solution to this wet dilemma. As I do anytime I am faced with a question I do not have an answer for, I told her I would have to think about it (to get an answer, I would later avail myself of the many repair videos on You Tube). The conversation ended with her decision to go to the hardware store.

When she got back, she called to tell me she had found a solution at the hardware store and proceeded to explain what she had done. The repair had been a success and she was elated at her victory. I asked how she figured it out. She said she had gone to the local hardware store, looked for, and found, “the old guy.”

Of course! The old guy. Every hardware store has one or two of these all-knowing fountains of the doctrine of home repair. You’ve seen him. He’s older than dirt, knows where every screw and bolt and who knows what else is in the store and is the very origin of the wisdom of the handyman. He knows all, tells all, and can fix dang near anything one could conjure up. He has a quiet confidence developed from years of fixing stuff all over the house.

Implementing the old guy’s wisdom respecting her situation, the repair was a resounding success. Of course it was! Had not the “old guy” pronounced the solution?

The old guy is never wrong. Ever.

And waited

Just like you have been waiting on the latest installment of this story for pretty near three weeks, we also waited over three weeks for the skunks to show up and face the music.

We hit the field every chance we got in anticipation of an all-out war with the skunks . Day after day we waited. We checked the school, the Dairy Mart (we did see them there off and on – they were with “the girls”), and any other place we figured they might be. The only place we saw them was at school and the Dairy Mart. It didn’t make a lick of sense.

After more than  three weeks waiting on a war, we decided they had gotten scared and were not gonna show up at all. We declared victory and the end of waiting. We scheduled a party at the field for the following Saturday.

Early that Saturday morning, we met at my house (it was two blocks from the field). Everybody was there except Larry who had been grounded for ten years (his Dad caught him smoking a cigarette). We made our victory lap pulling a cart full of Moon Pies™ and an RC Cola™. They was in  a cooler that Gary borrowed from his big brother.

It was weird. When we got there, we found somebody had planted little red and yellow flags all over the place. As far as the eye could see, the flags (they was about a foot tall or so) were all over the field. Stewi thought maybe Larry had somehow gotten hold of all the flags somewhere and had planted them to celebrate (you’ll remember he was grounded). He was good about sneaking out of the house though.

Our party lasted all day. It was spectacular! After all the fuss we had been in, the field was ours and ours alone. We made plans to build a new fort over by the sorghum farm and make it our mission to keep tabs on the sorghum bull (see story elsewhere in this blog). It was gonna be a great summer.

The next day was Sunday and we spent the afternoon on the field. Monday found all of us at school. On the way home that day, Stewie (who lived across the street from the field and was the official weekday guard), rode up to us on his bike in a panic!! “Come quick!!” Stewie was a wink from crying. “You gotta see the field!” Something had to be wrong if Stewie was crying. He never cried.

We dumped our stuff on my front porch and raced the two blocks to the field. Even before we got there, I could see what had happened. The field was populated by bulldozers and dump trucks. They were tearing the place apart! We asked a man standing nearby what they were doing. “We’re gonna build houses here'” was all he said.

There it was. In one second, we lost everything. We were stunned. There was nothing left but to drown our sorrows in a Moon Pie and an RC Cola.

On second thought, we decided to go to the Dairy Mart. The girls were probably there….

THE END

 

If it’s war they want, it’s war they’ll get.

So, it was all out war. We were ok with that. Nobody knew that patch of ground better than we did and the panhandle punks were gonna find that out the hard way. There was a lot to do to get ready for this certain victory and the permanent ownership of our land.

First thing we had to set up was stockpiles of clods in strategic places all around the field. That plus they had to be hid so they could not find them. That was easy. We just dug holes in the right places and then covered them up with loose dirt. They weren’t smart enough to find them. We added a few well placed tumble weeds but they got blown away.

The next thing we had to do was plan our strategy to react to whatever direction they came from. That too was easy. They were not smart enough to plan an attack. They would take the easy way and come from the direction of their own neighborhood straight towards the field right by James Butler Bonham Junior High School. Knowing that, it would be an easy defense. We could lay in wait behind the church that sat on the edge of our field. They would never know what hit them. We put our biggest stock piles of clods around the back of the church. We also put clod piles in various places throughout the field in case one of them got smart. Doubtful but we wanted to cover all of our bases.

We got it all done and everybody got his assignment. The last thing we did was make sure everybody knew they would have to be extra special nice at home to avoid getting grounded. That meant doing all the chores AND not tormenting the sister in the house (or, as in my case – the big brother). The last thing we needed was to lose men to home jail. We were ready.

Saturday morning came and we got our chores done as quick as possible (while avoiding a last minute grounding). We were all there in Stew’s backyard.

“We’ve done all we can, fellows,” Larry said with great sincerity. Steve and Gary had been sent out to watch and warn us when they sighted the panhandle punks. The ten of us remained in hiding in Stewi’s backyard and waited for the alert from Steve and/or Gary. We waited. Any waited. Lunch came and no word. It was summer and it was hot, hot, hot. Steve and Gary came back with no sighting. Larry and I replaced them until dusk. Nothing. Not even one. Where were they?

At dark, we all headed for home. “Tomorrow is Sunday,” Larry pronounced. “They will come after church. I’m certain of it.” We agreed we would meet back at Stew’s on Sunday after church.

Next Week: Wait