What in the world?

Good golly, miss molly, what happened to you?! It’s another 6:00AM visit to the Greenwood Community Center and there at the desk is Barb, one of my favorite people, looking like she’d been in a bar fight. She had a big bandage on her forehead and what appeared to be two black eyes and a couple of bruises across her cheek. I had to ask, “Did you get into a fight or something? Who “whupped” you, I asked? She laughed and let me know that she had had surgery this past week to have a spot on her forehead removed and the bruises were part of the results. I asked her if the docs maybe mugged her while she was under. She did not think so, she said. Another gentleman who had been listening in weighed in that he thought she had, indeed, been in a fight somewhere. She assured us again that she had not. I cannot imagine Barb getting in a fight so I accepted her story. If she did, I would bet the other party is in far worse shape. You just have to know Barb works with Mike (I am told they actually grew up together) and I imagine that has made her a pretty tough hombre. Regular visitors to the community center will know that Mike is the muscle and Barb the enforcer. They are good at what they do and their presence is one of the reasons why the Greenwood Community Center is such a great place. The place would not be the same without those two (and a few others).

Well, I finally settled that dispute with Barb (I came away unscathed) and headed on upstairs to my workout. Yup, the four men who are always there were already at it. I think they have their own private stationery cycles as I have never seen them on any other machine. I’m going to sneak in one of these days and see which storage closet they live in. I just know they do.

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The M&I Bank Jokes

Elsewhere on this site is a story titled The M&I Bank Girls. This story springs from that one.

Every Friday, I go to the M&I Bank on US 31 on the southside of Indianapolis (the one next to Krispy Kreme) to cash my paycheck. I show up somewhere around midday. The habit has been to have a joke for the amusement of the girls and to insure I actually get my money. It is part of my regular routine now. I keep a steady supply of jokes in my planner strictly for this one “show.” I tell a joke, they laugh (or groan), I get my money long enough to give to my wife. (Women ALWAYS have my money! Why is that!?).

The most recent Friday I came in about noon and Nichole informed me that I was almost late. I wondered what had occurred to make me tardy for an unscheduled 30 second performance. Ah! There in the corner was  a table full of cookies and all kinds of other delectable eats guaranteed to increase anybody’s waistline. I asked Stacy what occasion precipitated such a layout and was informed that this was goodies for Valentine’s Day that had been brought in by Jennifer of Paradise Bakery (everybody knows Jennifer!). A little early I thought but certainly a benefit for the husbands and boyfriends of the world who routinely forget this particular holiday (at their own peril I might add). Secretly, I was hoping it was a new addition to my “show.”

I did my one joke (never more) with the cookies as a back drop. Actually, I had to do it twice. Once at the teller’s window for Nichole and again by the cookies for Stacy & Jennifer. She had been a teller but had moved to her own office upon her promotion to personal banker. Stacy instructed me that I should stop by her office when I come in so she too can hear and approve my work.  I think I’m doing two shows now. Long as I get a cookie….

The Haunted House

At one time on the corner of 9th Avenue and South Avondale Street in Amarillo, Texas, there was a large mansion. It was of a Georgian style I think and was nestled behind a brick and steel fence among several old and very large trees. I never knew it to be anything but empty. There was one building set out apart that may have been an attached garage and it seemed to have had some sort of office as well. There are memories of the mansion being used at Halloween as a haunted house. I don’t think I ever went inside or, if I did, the experience was so terrifying that it has been permanently blocked from my memory. This place was, without a doubt, haunted and we just never went near it. Well, almost never.

One night we did. I think there were three or four of us who decided we wanted to see the place up close for ourselves. Of course, we had to do this tour at night though I don’t know why. Everybody knows that ghosts come out at night. We could’ve saved ourselves a lot of heartache if we had gone during the day, but no. We had to go at night.

We slipped through the fence on the 9th Avenue side of things which put a lot of trees between us and the house. It seemed like a hundred miles to the house but it was probably just a couple hundred yards. I just remember the trees were really tall and somewhat foreboding and it was REALLY dark. We decided we would approach the small building out back first though now I am not sure why. It was probably because the mansion’s windows were too high off the ground for us to look inside. The reality was we were probably just too scared. Anyway, we did see some eye level windows in the office of the out building and decided that this view would be sufficient to prove whether the mansion was haunted or not.

I got up close enough to those windows to see inside. There was no furniture at all (ghosts don’t need such things) and the floor was bare concrete with a drain in the center of the floor. There was just enough light from the moon (go figure why we went to a known haunted house without flashlights) to see a stain of some sort leading into the drain. We did not have a test kit of any sort to determine what that substance draining away was and I am not sure we cared. We made an instant decision that this was, in fact, blood from some grisly murder. I set the land speed record that night getting from that spot just outside the window to the fence some 500 miles away.  We barely outran the ghost trailing us. Lucky for us, we got to the fence and through it before he caught us. Everybody knows ghosts can’t go through fences.

Cold?

Well, I am the stick in the mud that really does not like snow and cold weather all that much. Anybody who spent any time in the Army will no doubt share that same dislike. In its infinite wisdom, the Army has a tendency towards having it major training exercises in the winter. The stated theory is the frozen ground will sustain less damage from the heavy equipment that the Army likes to run around in. Anytime the Army tears somebody’s ground up they have to pay for repair. That’s why they have their own ground on various installations nationwide so it can tear it up at will and nobody really cares all that much. But, even on their own ground, America’s oldest institution still loves to play out in the snow and really cold weather.

Having spent I think half of my 22 year career in uniform in snow and winter conditions, I’m kind of tired of it. I’ve lived in it, slept in it, cooked with it, melted and drank some of it, and did stuff I care not to admit to with it. Never bathed in it though (The German Army of WWII was taught to bath with the stuff – can’t make this up – I have pictures).

So, why do you care? Well, consider this: the winter of 1944 was the coldest winter on record in Europe. During WWII, a couple hundred American soldiers got surrounded in a town called Bastogne in Belgium. They were ill-equipped in every way to face the vastly stronger German army that surrounded them. No winter clothing, no hot food, very little ammunition, and virtually no medical supplies. They lived in those deplorable conditions, while under attack, for about a month. They persevered until US forces could get through German lines to relieve them.

The weather they endured was brutally colder than anything I’ve ever seen. They withstood a horrendous onslaught in brutally cold conditions. I doubt they like the winter much either.