Monday, August 31, 2009

Come Monday...Amarillo

“Come Monday…” is a weekly series that will involve a review of, or commentary about, websites, movies, documentaries, television shows, sports, music, and whatever else may tickle my fancy at the time. Be assured that these reviews will be generally positive, as in accordance to the Jimmy Buffett song “Come Monday.” This is subject to change, however. In fact, I would be most derelict in my duties to neglect going on a rant every once in a while. For rants promote change, and change can be good—right? Therefore, since good is generally considered as being a positive force in 99.3% of the parallel universes that I am aware of, even a rant could be considered as being something positive, and a genuine hissy-fit would be even better (so I’m told).

I am still in no position to resume normal posting. So, here is another chapter from the rewrite of The Crackerhead Chronicles, which is an abbreviated account of my life so far. Any and all comments will be greatly appreciated, but please be kind. For I will find where you are after the appreciation wears off.


The Thirteenth Crumb
(Amarillo)

I don’t remember just how it came about, but it was because of having an interest in enrolling in the saddle-making program at TSTI (Texas State Technical Institute) that I thought that the panhandle of Texas might be a good place for me to be for at least a little while. For Amarillo was a location for one of the TSTI campuses.

No, I never got around to enrolling. For after my brother dropped me off on Amarillo Boulevard, I did some research on the craft, and I did not like what I discovered. For the truth of the matter was that even those who had received a degree in saddle-making had to complete an apprenticeship under an established master, which could take up to 20 years, if they hoped to ever make a living from their work. For a cowboy doesn’t make a lot of money, and if they are going to invest over a thousand dollars on a custom-made saddle, surely they are going to get one that is made by someone they can brag about.

I still wanted to stay in Amarillo, however. For I was absolutely fascinated with the area, and even having to live out of the $300 car that I bought the day I arrived for the first few weeks could not dampen my enthusiasm.

Yes, I suppose that I was “homeless” at the time, but I was totally unaware of it. For that was before the term came into fashion.

No, that is not to say that I was totally unaware of my circumstances. For every night brought another adventure in finding a safe place (the boulevard was like a war zone at times) to sleep where the cops would let me alone, and with me being so sweet, an abundance of mosquitoes where always around.

No, being homeless did not mean that I was unemployed. For I had secured a job as a floor-stocker at the Levi-Strauss plant a mile or so east of the Amarillo City Limits on U.S. 60 (old Route 66) within a week of my arrival, and a week or so later, I got a night job as a delivery driver/dishwasher for a Pizza Inn on the north-side access road to I-40 (around 7 miles southwest of Levi's).

From time to time, I also supplemented my income with some daywork on different ranchs and feedlots in the area. Those jobs would involve anything from fixing fence to help with a round-up.

I even tried my hand at small association rodeoing a bit. For all it took was a $30 entry fee per event and some borrowed equipment, which would include a horse when competing in steer wrestling, calf roping and team roping.

No, I never made it into the money, which required placing in the top three in a particular event, but I was told on a number of occasions that I sure was entertaining (or something similar) when entered in saddle bronc riding. Some even went as far as to say that the way I was often bucked off reminded them of some of the stuff that they had seen while watching televised coverage of the springboard diving competition at the Olympics the summer before. To be honest, I did not always appreciate their appreciation as much as I probably should have.

So, why was I still living out of my car? Well, it came down to a matter of priorities. For instead of spending my hard-earned money on rent and utility bills, I could spend it on beer, and with enough beer in me, I did not really care where I was.

Besides, things were gradually getting a little easier for me. For the owners of the car lot where I bought my “mobile home” invited me to stay in their office and look after the place after-hours, and I helped pay them back some by effecting a citizen's arrest upon a man who had defrauded them out of several thousand dollars.

Evidently, he was an old hand at defrauding people. For the detective that took my statement told me that the Amarillo Police Department referred to him as being the Rubber Stamp Bandit.

It was not all good, however. For despite holding down two full-time jobs and all of those part-time gigs, I was still not always able to buy enough beer, and it was during those times when even the added amenities that the car lot office had to offer became most intolerable.

Therefore, I set about to find better accomodations, and I did not have to look far. For at $75 a week, the Wagon Wheel Motel just down the boulevard a few blocks seemed like the place to be.

Hey, how could I have chosen otherwise? For the room came with several neighbors, and what a group they were. For I was surrounded by hookers, drug dealers, dope fiends, ax-murderers, cannibals, sexual deviants and serial killers in training.

In other words, I was right in my element at the time, and with the Cattleman's Club being just a couple of blocks west, I could not ask for more. For the Cattleman's reminded me of the Branding Iron, and it was not long before I was recognized as being a regular there.

Be assured that being a regular at the Cattleman's also had its benefits. Nothing like I enjoyed at the Branding Iron, but being a familiar face did give me advantage, come closing time. For bar-flies will often look for a safe place to land. Hey, when you adhere to a standard of eight to eighty…crippled or crazy…if they can’t walk…I’ll drag ‘em, there is not much left to just say no to.

Cheering me on was a bartender by the name of Sylvia, whom I never got to first-base with. For she was just too focused upon making as good of a living as she could for her children (bartending was her night job) to make time for any romantic escapades with the likes of me.

Oh yes, she knew me well, and that is what makes what happened one night at the the Cattleman’s so interesting. For when Sylvia saw me, she complimented me on looking so sharp in a western-styled suit, bolo tie, and a brand-new light gray Resistol cowboy hat the night before.

Now, I was about as vain as anyone I knew of back then, but I was still quite shocked to hear what she had to say. For I had signed up to do some day work for a ranch north of town, and I was around 30 miles away the night in question!

Much to my disappointment, that was all there was to it. For the other me was never seen around the place again.

Since then, I have learned a thing or two about doppleganger twins, who are supposedly two identical-looking people without a speck of related blood between them, and a few years after the Cattleman’s incident, I met a lady at a truck stop in Ozona, TX who swore up and down that she thought that I was her brother when she first saw me. In fact, she admitted that it had taken her a bit to think otherwise, and she was still looking at me funny when we parted company.

Whether or not her brother was the sharp-dressed man at the Cattleman’s that night, I do not know. For when I asked her if he ever got up to Amarillo looking like that, she said that she did not have a clue. Considering the fact that her brother had been born and raised in the Phoenix, AZ area, and was driving a dump truck down there at the time, I had my doubts.

Anyway, let us get back to me living in Amarillo, and just how special the Cattleman’s Club was. For aside from being a place where I could fulfill my wanton desires, it was also where I first met Margie.

Talk about His mysterious ways—such was our getting together. For she swore up and down that she NEVER gives out her home phone number to anyone she has just met, and yet, that was exactly what she did with me.

Oh no, Margie was most definitely not a barfly. Perish the thought—I tell you!

Perish the thought, indeed. For she was a lady in every sense of the word, and what she wanted me for was a little brother, of sorts.

Okay, I must admit that I was looking for something more—especially at first. For she was a mighty fine lookin’ lady.

Nonetheless, I quickly became very satisfied with the kind of relationship that we had. For she provided me with a sense of stability that was sorely missing in my life at the time.

No, it was not that my friends and family back east were out of sight and out of mind. For they were still there for me, but there is a big difference between getting a personal letter, or even hearing a familiar voice over the phone, and actually seeing the look of understanding in the eyes of someone who really cares about you. Well, at least there is to me.

Anyway, the timing was perfect. For I needed to have some stability in order to secure a much better paying job at IBP (Iowa Beef Processors).

Oh yes, working at the “The Beef” was a lot better than working at Levi's, or even Pizza Inn. For I was hired as a non-union night manager of the maintenance and clean-up supply department, and I really enjoyed being around most of the people who would come down to my dungeon to checkout specialty tools and parts.

Just before Thanksgiving Day (1985), one of the day-shift mechanics gave me the phone number of a lady from his church (who also worked at IBP in an area that I had no contact with) whom he thought would be good for me. After getting a look at Becky, I was very hopeful he was right.

From the beginning, I had a “feeling” that she was as hopeful about me as I was about her, and after spending Thanksgiving Day with her and her children, there was no doubt about it. For she had become more and more affectionate as the day progressed, and by the time for her kids to go to bed, the stage was set for us to do the same.

That is, except for something that she had said earlier. For she had told me that she was trying really hard to be holy in the sight of the Lord, and that it was because of that goal that she had run-off previous boyfriends after having sex with them.

Therefore, I did something that should have gotten me kicked-out of UMM (Union of Manly Men). For when she grabbed my hand to lead me to her promised land, I told her that I wanted her for more than one night.

Talk about being pathetic, and what made it even more so was that it was all for naught. For when I came by her place the next day, she did not want to let me in the front door (let alone into her arms), and after it became clear to me that wanting to have sex was the same as actually having sex to her, I could see that there was no hope for us.

A couple of weeks later, I called to ask Becky what happened (just to make sure), and the answer she gave me was truly hard to take. For she said that she felt like we were going in opposite directions.

Hence, another scar upon my heart. For I was on my best behavior around her, and I was plumb serious about wanting to stay that way 'til death do us part.

On the other hand, maybe she was right. For in March (I think) of 1986, I got fired from IBP because of being suspected of drinking on the job.

No, it was not at all true. For I had not had a drink since going to bed at 9AM that morning. Granted, my usual breakfast of beer at The Hoolihan (a small bar and grill on the south-side of town) also included a couple of shots of Bacardi 151 rum, but even that was not really anything extraordinary for me at the time.

Nonetheless, poor personal hygiene proved my undoing. For I had failed to brush my teeth before reporting to work at 5PM, and it was the smell of beer on my breath that was what was got me into trouble.

Oh, but that was not the only thing messed-up about the situation. For the one who first said something about it was a union steward I had let smoke marijuana in my office at times—even without any benefit to myself! For I never touched the stuff.

All in all, it was an educational experience. For when they asked me to blow into a breathalizer, I registered a .026 (.008 will get you a drunk-driving charge in many states now), and no one in the room (including myself) had any thought of me being even the least bit drunk.

After that, I went to work as a dishwasher at a Carrows Restaurant (talk about having self-esteem issues), but then a couple of months later a miracle (at least to me) transpired. For one of the electricians I had worked with at IBP came by to ask me if I would like to join him on a harvest crew for the summer.

YAHOO! The kid was back in the saddle again, and there appeared to be some destiny involved. For like dominoes positioned to knock-over the next in line, so where the steps taken to get to that point. For if I had not of went to work at IBP, I may have never met Jack, and if that had of never happened, I may have never had an opportunity to go all the way up to Roundup, MT and back behind the wheel of a GMC Brigadier with a 24’ dump-bed while towing a John Deere combine!

No, I did not get to do much driving of a combine. For I was hired to be one of the truck drivers on the crew, and part of that was hauling the combines from job-site to job-site. Other duties involved fixing flats and performing minor servicing on the trucks, such as changing the oil and filters, greasing, etc., etc.

Those hired to drive the combines in the fields drove our service rigs and towed the mobile homes that we lived in when we moved from place to place. They also helped with the maintainence of the trucks while we were out on a job, but their primary duties revolved around the combines. For there is a lot to maintaining a combine out in the fields—especially in regards to the 28’ headers that we were running in the wheat fields that season. For that is the part of the combine where the grain first enters, and the truck drivers were often drafted into helping with the servicing of them, as well.

Our season began in Seymour, TX, and we stayed there for about a month because of rainy weather. Then we went back to Amarillo to do some jobs around there, which lasted a couple of weeks. The next stop was Lakin, KS, and after a couple of weeks there, we scooted on up to Burlington, CO.

Since I had never had any experience with row-crop farming, I had no idea that production levels could vary so greatly. For a bushel of wheat by volume should weight 40 pounds when brought to a grain elevator, but some that we ran into was down in the twenties, while others were way over the standard.

It was in Lakin where we ran into the heaviest wheat, and I was at the center of quite a stir at the grain elevator when I pulled onto the scales weighting in at over 72,000 pounds gross. For I had on a load of over 700 bushels of wheat that averaged over 68 pounds per bushel.

Years later I came to realize just how grossly overweight that truck-load was in the eyes of the law. For it was, after all, just a 10-wheeler.

It was sometime around the first of August when we drove into Hardin, MT, and we stayed there around a month. For aside from the hundreds of acres planted by our host, we had several other customers in the area.

One of them was in Lodge Grass, MT, which we called Homegrown. No, we did not know of any pot growing operations in the area, but we thought it was funny, anyway.

If you don’t get it, I guess you would have had to have been there with as much beer and bloody marys in you as we usually had. For working from before the sun came up until after it went down did not slacken our thirst a bit, but we did refrain from actually drinking on the job.

On the other hand, we had a couple of hands who swore that they did their best work while high. Hence, the inside joke behind our nickname for Lodge Grass.

Even though I had been around marijuana before, I had never actually lived with someone who smoked A LOT, and I am here to tell you that it can have a very addictive effect upon certain individuals. For one of the hands even resorted to scraping stems and refiring the tar-like residue that had collected in the bottom of his pipe bowl when he could not find any to buy in the area that we would be in.

Oh yeah, we had our share of fun that summer, and working out of Hardin was no exception. For on days when we could not go out into the field for some reason, we were allowed to go on sight-seeing expeditions.

On one of those expeditions, we visiting the Little Big Horn Battlefield, which was not very far at all from Hardin. Just in case you missed that lesson in school, the Little Big Horn was where the very astute (being sarcastic here) Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer got himself and over 250 under his command slaughtered by a force of several thousand Sioux and Northern Cheyenne warriors being led by Sitting Bull.

On another expedition, the owner of the ranch where we were staying loaded us all up and took us to The Grainery in Billings, MT. Now, I don’t know if it is on any lists of fine-dining establishments, but I would certainly eat there anytime I was given an opportunity to do so. For I don’t know which was better—the prime rib that we had for the main course or the Mississippi mud pie that was served as desert.

Even as good as the eating was at The Grainery, the highlight of being in Hardin was when we went to Yellowstone on a scheduled vacation for the whole crew. For on the way there, we stopped at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, WY, which was a wonder in and of itself, but Yellowstone was…well…YELLOWSTONE!!!

No, I do not have the words to describe what I saw at Yellowstone, nor am I willing to even try. For it has to be seen to be believed.

When all was done in Hardin, we headed to Roundup to hurriedly finish a couple of jobs before winter got serious about coming. For that sort of thing can happen in September in northern Montana, and the nights were getting decidedly chillier.

Speaking of such, I only thought I knew what the dead of night was like before I made it up to Roundup. For on one particular moonless light, I turned out all of the lights around to see if it really was as dark out as it felt like it was, and I found that I could not see my hand in front of my face! It was plumb spooky, I tell you.

Besides being plumb spooky, the added darkness added another peril to harvesting the wheat up there. For the stalks were not very tall, which meant that the headers on the combines had to be lowered to where they were just skimming the ground. Subsequently, that made it very easy to scoop up rocks that littered the fields, and aside from the damage that they could do to the combines, those rocks were not welcome at the grain elevators.

Thankfully, none of our loads were rejected, but we sure heard about it when someone at the elevator saw a rock that we had missed. Some people in Montana really need to work on their senses-of-homor is all I have to say about it.

Others do not, and one of the best examples of that was a local truck driver who was hired to haul some of the grain that our combines harvested longer distances. For when he showed the picture of a couple of really good looking young ladies that he had in his wallet, I thought he was going to bust a gut from laughing when I told him that he had some mighty fine looking daughters.

After he finished wiping the tears from his eyes, he explained to me that they were actually his wives. For he was a Hooterite, which was sect that had split off from the Mormon church years ago over wanting to stay true to the teaching of Joseph Smith about it being in accordance to the will of God that men should marry as many women as they could provide for.

I was absolutely shocked, and for the sake of honesty, I was also rather jealous. For his young wives were absolutely gorgeous.

No, wheat was not the only thing we harvested that season. For after finishing the jobs up in Montana around the first of September, we headed back to Amarillo to get geared-up for the second half, which involved the harvesting of corn, maize (grain sorghum), soybeans and even a patch or two of millet.

Getting ready for those other crops required changing headers on the combines. For a row-crop headers was used to harvest corn and maize, and a flex header worked best on soybeans because of having to put the headers right on the ground. Yes, it would have been nice to have had some of them along for the wheat when we reached Montana, but being so far from home did not afford us such a luxury.

To be honest about it, I find it rather curious that I am unable to remember all that much about the details of the second part of the season. For I remember a lot about where we went in the first half, but all I remember about the second is just being around Tulia, TX (around 40 miles south of Amarillo), Kress, TX (around 20 miles south of Tulia), Plainview, TX (around 13 miles south of Kress), Hale Center, TX (around 15 miles south of Plainview), Slaton, TX (around 10 miles southeast of Lubbock and 130 miles south of Amarillo), Friona, TX (around 60 miles southwest of Amarillo), Hub, TX (around 8 miles south of Friona), Muleshoe, TX (around 20 miles south of Hub) and Lazbuddie, TX (around 15 miles southeast of Friona). For in regards to what we harvested where is almost a complete blank.

Okay, I do remember a few details. For how could I forget about the owner of the place where we were harvesting millet around Slaton, TX almost having a heart attack from laughing so hard when my prized Resistol cowboy hat got spit out the back of a combine after it fell off of my head while I was trying to help make an adjustment on the machine. Thankfully, both the owner and my hat made a full recovery.

I also remember that it was while working out of Friona, TX (around 70 miles southwest of Amarillo) that I ran into some trouble with a Allsups Convenience Store manager by name of Terri. For she slapped the smirk right off of my face after I smarted-off something that she did not appreciate as much as I thought she should.

Much to my surprise and delight, all was forgiven by the next Saturday night. For we ran into each other at the Copper Penny in Clovis, NM (around 30 miles southwest of Friona), and for a month afterward, a torrid romance ensued between us.

Alas, it was over before it had hardly begun, but it was for the best. For if Terri and I had of stayed a couple, I would have probably had to settle for hauling cattle feed for a local company (which promised very long hours at very low wages) because of her kids.

Please, don’t misunderstand. For staying in Friona would have been a small price to pay for being a part of their lives, but I was destined to wander far and wide for a while longer. In fact, the next step in my progression did not end until I had driven well over 2 million miles while visiting all of the continuous 48 American states and 5 provinces in Canada.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Sunday Drive

Back during my childhood, our parents would often load up my brother and I after Sunday morning church services for a leisurely drive around where we lived. Even though we were seeing mostly familiar sights, it was still good to see them, and this is why “A Sunday Drive” sounded about right for the name of a weekly series revisiting familiar sites that are well worth seeing again and again.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sites To See

This is the new version of FIVE FOR FRIDAY. As with the former, it is the SOLE purpose of this weekly series to call attention to sites that I think many would find most interesting—in one way or another. Please, go see for yourself.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WhiteHeart Wednesday

Link: [Inside]



MP3 Audio Player From: [BlogDumps Video]

You Can’t Take What You Don’t Have
WhiteHeart

Shaun, would you bring my slippers?
My dancin’ slippers.


Strip it clean
Chain my hands
And take my land

Cut my hair
Try to shut my mouth
I’ll still speak-out

Tie me up
Close my eyes
You can hypnotize

You can tear me apart
But you’ll never touch my heart
‘Cause you can’t take what you don’t have

Hear the whispered warnings
Down the corridor of time
Crack the whip
Pull the chains
But the story will unwind

See the drawn-out faces
Live the history
Look into the children’s eyes
This is what you’ll reap

Strip it clean
Chain my hands
And take my land

Cut my hair
Try to shut my mouth
I’ll still speak-out

Tie me up
And close my eyes
You can hypnotize

You can tear me apart
But you’ll never touch my heart
‘Cause you can’t take what you don’t have
You can’t take what you don’t have
You can’t take what you don’t have
Oh, you don’t have me

Here comes the government
Knockin’ at my door
They’ve tried to take it all
Now they’re back for more

I know what they’re after
But there’s nothin’ they can do
‘Cause the heart and the soul of the ages
Is somethin’ I won’t lose

Strip it clean
Chain my hands
And take my land

Cut my hair
Try to shut my mouth
I’ll still speak-out

Tie me up
Close my eyes
You can even hypnotize

You can tear me apart
But you’ll never touch my heart
‘Cause you can’t take what you don’t have
You can’t take what you don’t have
You can’t take what you don’t have
You can’t take what you don’t have

You don’t have me

Strip it clean
Chain my hands

Cut my hair
Try to shut my mouth

Tie me up
Close my eyes

You can tear me apart
But you’ll never touch my heart

‘Cause you can’t take what you don’t have

You can’t take what you don’t have

You can’t take what you don’t have

You can’t take what you don’t have

You can’t take what you don’t have

You can’t take what you don’t have

Link: [WhiteHeart]

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TWO FOR TUESDAY {REDO}


Not every song that will be featured here will be what is generally considered as being “Christian” in the eyes of this world. For some will be anguished cries from the pit of despair, and others will be quite obviously ferverent rants of rebellion. Nonetheless, be assured that they will all be of our Heavenly Father (in one way or another) and I hope that you have been given ears to hear the message.

***WARNING***
Some may find the lyrics of the songs, and the imagery of the videos, quite disturbing. So, be prepared to close your eyes and ears at any moment, but please keep your heart and mind open.



Link: [On YouTube]

Livin’ On A Thin Line
The Kinks

All the stories
Have been told
Of kings
And days of old
But there’s no England now
There’s no England now

All the wars there were won or lost
Somehow don’t seem to matter
Very much anymore

All the lies we were told
All the lies we were told
All the lies of the people running around
Their castles have burned

Now I see change
But inside
We’re the same
As we ever were

Livin’ on a thin line
Ooh ooh
Tell me now
What are we
Supposed to do

Livin’ on a thin line
Livin’ on a thin line
Ooh ooh
Tell me now
What we are
Supposed to do

Livin’ on a thin line
Livin’ on a thin line
Livin’ this way
Each day is a dream
What am I
What are we
Supposed to do

Livin’ on a thin line
Livin’ on a thin line
Ooh ooh
Tell me now
What are we
Supposed to do

Now another century nearly gone
What are we gonna leave for the young
What we couldn’t do
What we wouldn’t do
It’s a crime
But does it matter
Does it matter much
Does it matter much to you
Does it ever really matter
Yes it really really matters

Livin’ on a thin line
Livin’ on a thin line
Ooh ooh
Tell me now
What are we
Supposed to do

Livin’ on a thin line
Livin’ on a thin line
Ooh ooh
Tell me now
What are we
Supposed to do

Now another leader says
Break their hearts
And break some heads
Is there nothing
We can say or do

Blame the future on the past
Always lost in blood and guts
And when they’re gone
It’s me and you

Livin’ on a thin line
Ooh ooh
Tell me now
What are we
Supposed to do

Livin’ on a thin line
Livin’ on a thin line
Ooh ooh
Tell me now
What are we
Supposed to do

Livin’ on a thin line
Ooh ooh


Link: [On YouTube]

I’m Not Like Everybody Else
The Kinks

I won’t take all that they hand me down
And make out a smile
Though I wear a frown
‘Cause I’m not goin’ to take it all lyin’ down
‘Cause once I get started
I go to town

‘Cause I’m not like everybody else
I’m not like everybody else
I’m not like everybody else
I’m not like everybody else

And I don’t want to ball about
Like everybody else
And I don’t want to live my life
Like everybody else
And I won’t say that I feel fine
Like everybody else

‘Cause I’m not like everybody else
I’m not like everybody else

But darlin’ you know that I live you true
Do anything that you want me to
Confess all my sins like you want me to
There’s one thing that I will say to you

I’m not like everybody else
I’m not like everybody else
I’m not like everybody else
I’m not like everybody else

And I don’t want to ball about
Like everybody else
And I don’t want to live my life
Like everybody else
And I won’t say that I feel fine
Like everybody else

‘Cause I’m not like everybody else
I’m not like everybody else

Like everybody else
Like everybody else
Like everybody else
Like everybody else

If you all want me to settle down
Slow up and stop all my runnin’ around
Do everything like you want me to
There’s one thing that I will say to you

I’m not like everybody else
I’m not like everybody else
I’m not like everybody else
I’m not like everybody else

And I don’t want to ball about
Like everybody else
And I don’t want to live my life
Like everybody else
And I won’t say I feel fine
Like everybody else

‘Cause I’m not like everybody else
I’m not like everybody else

Like everybody else
Like everybody else
Live everybody else
Like everybody else
Like everybody else
Like everybody else
Like everybody else

I won’t take all that they hand me down
And make out a smile
Though I wear a frown
‘Cause I’m not goin’ to take it all lyin’ down
‘Cause once I get started
I go to town

‘Cause I’m not…

Link: [KindaKinks.net]

Lyrics From: [A-Z Lyrics Universe]

Monday, August 24, 2009

Come Monday...Life After Martial Death

“Come Monday…” is a weekly series that will involve a review of, or commentary about, websites, movies, documentaries, television shows, sports, music, and whatever else may tickle my fancy at the time. Be assured that these reviews will be generally positive, as in accordance to the Jimmy Buffett song “Come Monday.” This is subject to change, however. In fact, I would be most derelict in my duties to neglect going on a rant every once in a while. For rants promote change, and change can be good—right? Therefore, since good is generally considered as being a positive force in 99.3% of the parallel universes that I am aware of, even a rant could be considered as being something positive, and a genuine hissy-fit would be even better (so I’m told).

I am still in no position to resume normal posting. So, here is another chapter from the rewrite of The Crackerhead Chronicles, which is an abbreviated account of my life so far. Any and all comments will be greatly appreciated, but please be kind. For I will find where you are after the appreciation wears off.


The Twelfth Crumb
(Life After Marital Death)

Many years ago, Alfred Lord Tennyson borrowed a line from Saint Augustine and waxed poetic, “Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.” Methinks that what I consider to be love must be completely different that what they did. For I cannot imagine what could be worse than having your heart torn all asunder from the loss of it.

I could be wrong, of course. I just know that I wanted the pain to stop, and I reached for the best medicine that I knew of at the time.

Yes, many are of the opinion that crawling into a bottle of Jack Daniel’s will not solve anything, but I believed that there was something to say about the experience. For if a person stays down long enough, oxygen deprivation sets in, and then comes a sense of euphoria before everything goes black.

No, none of that was meant to just promote the benefit of drinking lots of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Sippin’ Whiskey to heal a broken heart (even though it was my favorite). For Jim Beam, Wild Turkey 101, Southern Comfort, and gallons upon gallons of Busch Beer also contributed greatly to the cause.

Needless to say, I was not in my right-mind—nor did I want to be. For when the fog started to clear, nothingness was the only thing on the horizon from point-of view, and that was not a sight that I was eager to see.

Much to my delight, what I was eager to see (other than Sam wanting me back, of course) came along just 10 days after I was shown the door. For a sweet young thing made me feel much better about myself. Well, at least for an hour or so, she did.

Evidently, I must have failed to return the favor. For she committed suicide a few weeks later.

No, I do not mean that to sound as cold-hearted as it probably does. For I considered the news of her death to be a great tragedy, but I never felt like I had anything to do with her decision.

Considering the fact that her brother followed her example of few years later, it became fairly obvious to me that I was correct to feel as I did. I still felt for the family, nonetheless.

Next in line (I think) was a fine looking young lady, who was rather interesting—to say the least. A good example of that happened late one night (or very early one morning) when I woke up being eaten alive by chiggers (tiny bugs that feed on blood) and soaking wet from a fairly heavy mist hanging in the air above the field where I had evidently decided to take a nap. For when I sat up to take a look around, I could just make out some movement a few yards away.

No, it was not a vicious creature fixing to attack, but my first thought was of a nymph from Greek mythology after the fog inside my head lifted a little. For what I was seeing was a naked woman leaping about like she did not have a care in this world.

Yeah, we had some fun, and despite her obvious quirks, I thought she showed a lot of potential. For she helped give me enough confidence to go see my girls almost every day, but before the relationship got too serious, I sabotaged it by going after a girl who was almost as completely out of my league as Sam was.

Oh my, talk about being something special, that girl had it all. For she looked a lot like a much younger version of Lynn Anderson (a great Country/Western singer who recorded, I never promised you a “Rose Garden”) to me, and she could sing just like Patsy Cline (Country/Western Music Hall Of Famer).

No, Patsy’s music was not what I would normally listen to on the radio (AM/FM, not CB), but to hear that other girl sing her songs was truly something to behold. For with eyes closed, I was hard-pressed to tell a difference, and I was not the only one who felt that way.

Yes, I could see that she would be going places, but I decided to make a play for her anyway. For it was not like I had a lot to lose, and since I had drawn nary a sober breath for several weeks, I was also feeling rather bulletproof.

Surprisingly, she did not laugh in my face. In fact, she was actually rather apologetic in her response. For she told me that she could not really go-out with anyone (let alone get serious about them) because of her father being a numbers-runner for the Kansas City mob. For that would give them another thing to use against her father in order to keep him firmly under their control.

Suffice to say, I was rather taken aback by her answer, but upon second-thought, I started to give her the benefit of my doubts. For there were at least a hundred other things that she could have said, and after she showed me the chrome-plated, pearl-handled, snub-nosed Smith & Wesson 38 Special revolver that she carried in her purse wherever she went, I became fairly convinced. (No, it was not cocked and pointed at me at the time, neither.)

Despite the disappointment over having to settle for just being fairly good friends with her, a little color was starting to appear on my horizon. For I had been welcomed into the inner circle of the Branding Iron (a Country/Western bar on the south side of Joplin, MO), and that had its benefits. Hey, I was even invited to go to a very exclusive skinny-dipping party in Shoal Creek (COLD!!!) involving around 20 from the bar after it closed one night!

Oh no, there was no slowing me down now. If anything, I was speeding up. For on a sunny Thursday morning I started drinking quite heavily at my mom’s house outside of Cassville, and it did not stop until Saturday night.

There is much about that time that I have no memory of. For it was the first time I experienced what it was like to keep doing stuff while blacked-out, but there are a few things that I do recall.

One of them is about coming-to just before driving my big black Chevy 4-wheel drive pick-up truck through someone’s fence on purpose(?). After going ahead and doing so, I fell out of the cab (close to 3 feet off the ground). A lady then came out of the house about fifty yards away and yelled, “What are you doing?” To that I replied, “Fixing fence, I guess”. Her response was to scream quite loudly and run back into her house.

She was not the only one going out of her mind at the time. For I had loaded up an 18 year old waitress after her overnight shift had ended around 7 AM that Saturday morning, and she was insisting quite forcefully that I had better leave the fence-fixing to later.

Yeah, she must have been just worried about not getting any good lovin’ from me before the cops showed up. For just as soon as that was over with, she informed that it was time to take her back home.

No, the deed was not done right then and there. For she also insisted upon us getting far away from that lady’s fence.

Taking her back home required driving through a part of Cassville, and it was while doing so that I received a huge break from someone my parents had considered to be a mortal enemy, who was a Cassville City Policeman at the time. For I am quite sure that I would have melted a breathalyzer if he had of wanted me to blow into one.

Obviously, my parents had it wrong about him. For he was only interested in what I had to say about my earlier fight with that lady’s fence, and after I promised to fix it as soon as possible, along with promising to go straight home after taking the fair lass with me to her home, he let me go with a knowing look in his eye.

Believe or not, I did just exactly what I promised, but unbeknownst to the nice policeman, what I considered to be my home at the time was around 60 miles away at the Branding Iron, and being there on a busy Saturday night constitutes the last memories that I have of my infamous 3-day drunk. For I remember starting to play pool, and then being told that I had run the table 3 games in a row (never done before, nor since) before I just quit playing, and then being carried out of the door by the manager and a part-time bartender while protesting that I did not want to go to bed.

When I woke up just after dawn that Sunday morning, I knew that my rampage was over. For I did not want to drink anymore. For I just wanted to die. Again.

I experienced what it felt like to feel utterly alone for the first time when Sam tried to break free from my grasp while I was still attending school at Mizzou, and I experienced it for a second time when she succeeded in removing me from her life a couple of months before that Sunday morning. What I was feeling then, however, was worse—much, much worse. For I had reached a whole new level of emptiness.

I also felt like I was freezing to death, despite it still being in August (I think). For they had put me to bed in the cab of my truck, and my clothes felt wet enough to wring-out.

No, I do not believe that the moister could have been from the early stages of detoxification. For I would think that a person would have to be a lot more “dried-out” than I was before the diabolical detox-sweats set in.

Yes, I suppose it is true that I did not really want to die all that bad. For instead of seeking to end my misery, I sought a soft shoulder to cry on.

No, there was never anything sexual (let alone romantic) between us (not from any lack of trying on my part—be assured). For Annette did not want that kind of relationship.

Nonetheless, I loved her as much as I have ever loved anyone, and when she suggested that a change of scenery might be in the best interest of all concerned, I took it to heart. For it was like pouring salt in an open wound every time I saw Sam and my girls.

Yes, a stronger man would have stood like a rock and let the travails of life break about him. I was not that sort of man, however, and I was all too painfully aware of how damaging it could be to my girls if they were not sheltered from the storm that had engulfed me.

No, it was not enough for them to just have a stable home with another father. For the winds that were howling about me at the time could have torn the roof right off of their relatively happy home, and I still had hope that the day would come when they would understand.

Besides, I did not go all that far away. Just around 120 miles north-northwest of Joplin, in fact. Garnett, KS was still like a foreign country to me—even though I had been in the area many times when I was younger with it being just 15 or so miles from my dad’s hometown of Blue Mound.

Yes, visiting an area and actually living there are two very different things. Thankfully, there were a couple of familiar faces around. For I had went up there with a friend from Washburn, MO (around 8 miles south of Cassville) to work for a former boss of mine at Wells Aluminum in Cassville.

Talk about having a time. For we lived out of the back of Bill's (the friend from Washburn) pick-up truck from the first of September (I think) until the end of October, and since I had took up drinking again about 30 minutes after I swore off it in the parking lot of the Branding Iron that fateful Sunday morning, the beer flowed at a steady stream—even at a 3.2% rate at times.

Just in case you did not get that, the beer sold in Kansas back then was 3.2% alcohol by volume. Whereas the beer sold in Missouri was 5%. Needless to say, we “bootlegged” a lot across the border and prayed that the authorities did not get serious about finding out why we always appeared to be enjoying living out of the back of a pick-up truck so much.

Around the first of November, we finally abandoned the pick-up in favor of a motel room at a weekly rate. For the weather was starting to act like it would be winter soon, and Bill had hooked up with a mighty fine looking lady who liked his sense of style a lot more than anyone else did. For he would sometimes wear a purple leisure-suit with a yellow ruffled shirt to work, and he did not work in an office, neither!

No, Bill was not the only one who would entertain a guest at our motel room on occasion. For I was finding myself more and more in the company of a very petite, blonde-haired wildcat (in every sense of the word) by the name of Robin.

We first met on the floor of the aluminum window and door factory where we worked, and for the first few weeks, I was just a shoulder for her to cry on after her live-in boyfriend got through beating the snot out of her. I would have liked to have played the part of her knight in shining armor the very first time she told me what was going on, but she would not tell me where she lived, nor anywhere else that might help me find her tormentor. Therefore, I had to settle for just doing what I had been doing, and that seemed to be enough for her for the time being.

Quite suddenly, however, all of that changed after being knocked-out during a particularly savage beating. Well, at least in regards to the status of our relationship. For she did not give me an opportunity to teach her feller some manners, but the day before Bill and I left to go down to Cassville to visit our respective families over Thanksgiving, she asked if she could tag along, and we became a couple at that time.

Now to say that my mom and brother were somewhat less than impressed with Robin would be another understatement. For they did not know what to think about someone only 5’ 2” and a hundred pounds soaking wet who could drink almost as much as I could, and a not so subtle dislike for her developed into open animosity virtually over-night.

No, they were not the only ones who felt that way. For after Robin and I decided to stay in Cassville, a number of my friends got to know her fairly well, and many of them confided in me that she gave them a very bad feeling.

None of that really mattered to me at the time, however. For she was quite dedicated to satisfying all of my “needs” in ways that I did not know were even possible, and on the 21st day of December in the year of our Lord 1984, Robin and I were married in a small ceremony in my mother's living room.

Yes, it was very nice of my mom to let us get married there. For she was certainly not under any sort of obligation to do so, not even a strictly moral one in accordance to the rules of engagement governing family interaction after I failed to be there for her when my father died, and I am quite sure that her extreme dislike for Robin did not make it any easier.

At least she got the last laugh. For I finally started listening to what was being said about Robin. Some even went as far as to express concern over there being something rather unholy about her—and this was coming from people who could take our Heavenly Father’s name in vain while swallowing a mouthful of beer!

No, I did not want to believe it. For I knew that she really did love me, but after I came to better understand how her old boyfriend could feel compelled to beat on her so much, I succumbed to the pressure and left for the greener pastures of Amarillo, TX while leaving Robin far behind in Cassville.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Sunday Drive

Back during my childhood, our parents would often load up my brother and I after Sunday morning church services for a leisurely drive around where we lived. Even though we were seeing mostly familiar sights, it was still good to see them, and this is why “A Sunday Drive” sounded about right for the name of a weekly series revisiting familiar sites that are well worth seeing again and again.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sites To See

This is the new version of FIVE FOR FRIDAY. As with the former, it is the SOLE purpose of this weekly series to call attention to sites that I think many would find most interesting—in one way or another. Please, go see for yourself.