Unpaid Bill

vapros

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Thanks to Steve for this opportunity. We now have a Journals forum within our One Pocket.org community, and it will be a bit different from the other places one can post. I am going in head-first with my own 'column', and it will continue to be called Unpaid Bill. I will add to it, probably every few days, as I have something to offer. The big difference with this forum is that no one but me can post in my corner. It's not meant for discussion, and in line with that, I won't respond to PMs related to it.

I expect to have a good time with it, and hope that some members will find it worthy of their attention, even if only on slow days here.

It's available to anyone who wants to kick off a journal of their own. I expect that some people might give it a shot and decide not to maintain it, but I hope that several journals will become regular features. Steve and I have not talked at length about this project, but as he noted, changes may be made as needed. I hope that I have understood this thing correctly, and have not missed the intent. I guess that the 'Post Reply' feature is only for my use next time I post.

Here I go. You are invited.
 

vapros

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10:10 pm

10:10 pm

First reply - anything I write about pool will not be offered as authoritative. Not competent to preach to this choir. However, I will comment now and then about matches from my DVD collection or from u tube. I'm retired and have plenty of time. Well, you know what I mean. :rolleyes:
 

vapros

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Tee Shirts

Tee Shirts

In the mall last week, I saw a lady preparing a tee shirt display in one of the department stores. She had a big box of shirts and a folding gadget all laid out on a table. It was made of stiff cardboard of some kind, and she would lay a tee shirt on it, just so, and then - faster than the eye could follow - blap, blap, blap and it was ready to add to the display. I watched her do a dozen or so in maybe five minutes and then I asked her where she got it. She said I could buy one for about eighteen dollars at Bed Bath & Begone, or some such place. I will have one before long, I guarantee you.

A friend who often travels in her job has fetched me back quite a lot of tee shirts in recent years, and in that respect I am surely the best-dressed at the local joint. None of the other cats have garments from such places as Woods Hole, Christ Church, Taos, Boston and Hershey. (Think three-mile-island logo that glows in the dark)

This same friend is a good traveler who takes an interest in the places she visits, and tells me about them when she gets back. That's a travelogue of sorts, I guess. Yesterday she flew back from Valdosta, Georgia, where she was much impressed by this and that. Neat city, said my friend, and there is a great little convention center. And did I know it was the fourteenth largest town in Georgia? Well, now that you ask . . . But no tee shirt this time.

My ex-wife, on the other hand, has remarried and with her new husband they travel the world and return home with ashtrays from all the bars on the cruise ship. I guess they stay on board since a mishap she had in Alaska. Fell into a small river, bloop! Very cold water.

Later, man.
 

vapros

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Writing

Writing

Today is Friday, and if you need to sell a convertible this would be a fine day for it. Seventy degrees, light zephyr breeze and a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. There will be football tomorrow. Florida is coming to town, and maybe we will learn a bit more about our erratic Tigers. Les Miles is a great guy, and very popular here in Baton Rouge, but he plays football like I play one pocket. Be cautious and don't try anything risky. So he is gone, maybe to Baylor - who knows? It will be interesting to see whether he changes his ways now.

Let me put in a word for writing. I think most of us believe we can write, and I think most of us can. There are lots of reasons why we don't, but a few reasons why we should. Think of your life - pool, money, sex, love and kids, but not in that order, of course. Haven't you ever said 'man I could write a book'; come on, pal, you are among friends? I'm not recommending writing a book, far from it. That's hard work, and then you would find that you would have to hire someone to edit and print it for you, and you would have to sell it yourself. Chances are you couldn't find four buyers at a family reunion.

So, no books, but here we are at a fine website devoted to the great game of one pocket, and a captive audience of hundreds of kindred souls who would love to know of your adventures in pool rooms - or at least in the area. Think you could not write it well? Okay, write it poorly, but submit it for our entertainment, not our criticism. Not many qualified editors around here.

Now, this might be controversial, but I find writing to be a blast. You can have a lot of fun writing for yourself, with the option to share it or delete it when it's done. Or when it's half done, for that matter. I'm sitting at the keyboard right now, picking and grinning. I got Steve to okay this journal, and I have fun as I write. I have no idea as to how many might read it, but I will write it anyway for the fun of it.

Life-writing has become popular in recent years. It means writing down the story of your life, told in your words. It gives the retirees and the elderly something to do; something important. Maybe you don't know much about your own father or your grandfather or your other kinfolks, and maybe you don't care, but probably somebody cares. One could find out, if they had written it down. I suspect there may be some exaggerating in these tales, and perhaps some outright lies, but it's nobody's business but yours. Just don't gild the lily too much, as you could be busted.

I think life-writing is popular among older people because they are so aware that the end of their enlistment is not far away, and they don't want to wait too long. And let's face it, how certain are you about your own expiration date? Don't blow it off, pal, write it. There are at least a few people who will want a copy.

My own is nearly finished, naturally. Only the last chapter is not quite complete, and even that is pretty close. I chose to do it in chapters, rather than chronologically. A chapter for my hometown, my original family, my second family, my life in various schools, my sports days, my military time, the various jobs I have worked at and the places where I have done time. I have tried to be objective as I wrote, but there may be one or two little things that are not verified, but who is going to say so? You know?

One day soon I will take it to a printer and have about a dozen sets run off neatly on good paper, with a spiral binding and a glossy cover sheet bearing my name. Picture? Not hardly. Anyone who wants one can have it, and there may be a few left over. I don't care, I will have done what I could. How about you?
 

vapros

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My late friend, Jack

My late friend, Jack

I'm thinking tonight about Jack, for some reason. He's been gone for fifteen years, but he was a good friend, and we shared some good times on our paper-thin budgets. So now and then, late at night, I remember Jack.

Jack was a sign painter back in the days before the sign-making machines and the pressure-sensitive vinyl letters. Brush lettering on carefully designed layouts, swinging expensive tools of various kinds of hair, tools that might last many years if one took good care of them, and we did. I was a sign painter, too, but Jack was better. We starved in our respective sign shops in a bad part of town, but we had a standing date to have lunch on Saturdays at the Piccadilly Cafeteria in Delmont Village. We ate cafeteria food and lingered over large quantities of sweet iced tea until the middle of the afternoon, telling stories and trying to cheer each other up. I was recently estranged from a wife and four little girls, and Jack was a heart patient, and a short timer. If he could get out of bed he opened his shop every morning, doctors' orders be damned.

He had a degree in fine arts, and was a pretty good artist. His scrapbook of sketches for sign proposals should have wound up in a museum, but it did not. Sign painter, my ass, said the public. Let's note here that fine artists who never learned to do something productive are generally poorer than sign painters.

Jack was sort of a hard-bitten character, a trait he picked up in the big war, where he served on several hot Pacific islands, usually going ashore on the day following the invasion. His job was dealing with the dead American soldiers who lay around in terrible numbers. He more or less sorted them out and saw to it that everyone got a dog tag; their own, if possible. It got him down before long. I guess today they would say PTSD. In the big war they didn't think much about it.

I recall a few good stories that I heard from Jack, drinking sweet iced tea in the Piccadilly cafeteria on Saturday afternoons. Here is a quickie for you. He said that a cohort of his was struck so urgently by the call of nature that he was forced to hide behind a 2 x 4 to take a leak on a public street in Peoria.

I will visit Jack in this journal again, no doubt, and probably late at night.
 

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The Gutworks

The Gutworks

Today I took a gig as designated driver for a friend scheduled for a 'procedure' at the local Gastroenterology Associates; that is to say they were going to remove a balloon from her stomach. I drove this same friend to the same place six months ago so they could put the balloon in. Seven large they nicked her for that time. I think it was free today, seems only fair I thought. I should not have asked her how many pounds, but I did. About twenty, she finally said, and that was the end of it. Not a good topic to try to develop at any time. If they have good news they will volunteer. On the way back to her house we paused to have some sandwiches, and I am not sure that those pounds have been irretrievably lost. They seldom are.

I must note that various other schemes have led this same lady down the same bumpy road before, but never for this much money. They mostly involve ugly little meals made up of nasty stuff you must buy from the program. All the programs work - it's the customers who succeed and fail.

Anyhow, there was some waiting involved as they fished around for their lost balloon, and I parked in the lot, right there at the Gutworks, and reclined the seat and took a nap. At some point a long-legged blonde in some lovely royal blue scrubs rapped on my window and asked if I was okay. When I assured her I was, she lost interest and got into a sharp little royal blue Mercedes convertible and buzzed off. One of the doctors, I'll bet. Color-coordinated, man. I don't know which came first, the garments or the auto. Don't think I am trying to say they all drove Mercedeses (strange-looking plural), because I am not. I saw Lincolns, Infinitis, Cadillacs and Lexi (pl Lexus?) also. Made my seven year old Honda look pretty small, but the nap was not bad.

If you should get the urge to make a lot of money, start a weight-loss program. Pay at the door, and promise whatever they want to hear. It's a better bet than a nine-inch putt, dead uphill.
 
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vapros

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High school fluff

High school fluff

Red letter day for me - I now have two admitted readers of this journal. Dustin Miller sent me a supporting pm, with a request for my recollections of the ball players of my day. I guess I am the logical one for that; oldest guy on the forum and and the only one doing a journal. I'll be happy to do as he asks, but not ready yet. Today I will offer only what I recall about three of my high school classmates from the forties.

They called each other Susscline, Nussbaum and Canissy, randomly. If they were not in class, they were together, talking baseball, but seldom major leaguers. We all played American Legion ball and followed the old Evangeline League, represented by our Houma Indians. Let me recall that none of the three went out for varsity sports (football, basketball, track), nor did they play in the band or make wooden boats in The Shop. Just baseball, thank you, and it was many years before MLB on TV. We didn't know those guys, except for a few.

Assembled, and likely with a glove or two in the group, they stood apart and one or the other would practice his pitching motion, in slow motion and without interruption. The full monty - peer in at the catcher and shake him off if you didn't like his sign. Full windup with both hands high, ala mode for those years, and then the delivery which usually faded out in an anti-climax. More likely, the motion would come to a full stop due to runners on base. Furtive and crafty look to first or third, mostly with the eyes, and maybe a sneak throw behind the runner. All this was a silent pantomime behind the unrelated discussion carried on. Usually the mime was ignored by the other two, and rated no attention. Occasionally, a windup would be halted by one of the others who would suggest a better wrinkle, but without comment. As in the major league game, a pitch would be followed by the mime of the called strike or the batted ball. No end of possibilities. They could keep this up for an hour, and never acknowledged the fans in the stands. On tape it could have gone viral on Sports Center. Tape?

Of the three, one became a politician and was elected to the Legislature. The other two were more respectable and had jobs. Cannissy, Nussbaum and Susscline. Tinker to Evers to Chance, down in the swamp.
 

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Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

. . .unless you are a turkey or an Indian, or both. It's a heart-warming memory if your people were Pilgrims, not so much if your ancestors happened to be the ones throwing the party. Let's hope the World Series was not the last gasp of the Indians, but losing to the Chicago Cubs was not a good sign. At any rate, make a note here; beware of who you welcome into your wigwam. Company, like fish, begins to stink by the third day.

Journallers, like bloggers and columnists, lead the way by noting a few of their blessings at this time of year - on the off chance anyone might want to know. I am fortunate to have a great family that loves me, even down to a couple of great-grandchildren. In alternate years we scatter to other pig-outs and then bunch up again a year later. This year we are going our separate ways, and it's just as well. The cough I am fighting would not be welcome anywhere, so I will dig in right where I am.

Had my six-week visit to the surgeon yesterday, and he told me to get out of that big sling and see if I could not finish up my recovery alone. What a blessing. I shed it in the parking lot, and it's now in the bottom of my closet with my other souvenirs. Speaking of which, they have now granted me a hanging tag to display in my car while parking in the blue slots. It's a bad sign, in a way, but the parking lots have shrunk up considerably, and for that I am thankful. My last physical therapy was scheduled for this afternoon, but I called in and wimped out. The weather is terrible today, and the traffic is worse and and after only a couple of blocks I was hunting a place to turn around and come back home. How many of you intend to go out on Black Friday? There will be blood and traffic accidents, I'm pretty sure.

The naugahyde cover will come off my pool table today, and I will begin to make some tentative motions with my sore shoulder. I should have waited for a Filipino doctor to do my operation, but it's too late now. Maybe my game has gotten a lot stronger during this delay, and maybe I can begin to sneak up on some people. Just sayin'.

Mitch announced his twenty years of sobriety this week, and we must all be happy for him. I once had three addictions going at once, and kicked them all in the same year; nasal spray, cigarettes and a woman. The nasal spray was the hardest and the cigarettes were the easiest. Never been a drinker. Too tight-assed, I suppose, to let anyone see under my skin.

Welcome to Bille, who has begun a journal of his own here, where he will tell us about his adventures in the modern military. Looking forward to that.

And down in Miami I suppose the south Florida squirrels are stashing away coconuts for the long and bitter winter. Gold Crown must have a story about that, maybe he will tell us. And my best to all of you.
 

vapros

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Reyes - Chua

Reyes - Chua

I just watched the greatest 10 ball match I ever saw, on youTube. Bata played a young man named Johann Chua. Apparently another of the Filipinos, he had a nickname 'Bubwit', pronounced Boobwee. Has he ever appeared on this side? He looks like the best of them. The match featured some drop-dead safeties, and equally impressive escapes. Action from 2014. Did Reyes win or lose? Yes, funny you should ask.

The commentator, in less than perfect English, kept repeating a word that sounded like 'gaddis'. I never figured it out, although I can speak less than perfect English rather well, myself. Recommended viewing, even for one pocket lovers.
 
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vapros

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The second-longest day

The second-longest day

Thanksgiving plus one, and I hope all our one pocket turkeys were able to answer roll call today. Not always a given. Many years ago Cornelius Ryan wrote a book about the day the allies went to Normandy, and he called it The Longest Day. When I think back to that time, I always marvel that there are still a few of those warriors among us. Old, old soldiers, and we gotta love 'em. They fought for our right to make fools of ourselves around election time and on Black Friday, the second-longest day. Seems like it kicked off right after lunch on Tuesday. I don't really understand Black Friday, but that does not make it unique.

In college football, the day may go on right thru the weekend. A bunch of jobs and a bunch of coaches are up for grabs, and it's about like opening time at WalMart. Super-rich alumni are right in the mix, mostly across the South, and you better bid it up if you really want that guy who just had two good years in a row. Three bad years in a row (Texas?) could put you under the bus. The sort of thing that takes the slack out of one's sphincter. Glad I am not involved - there's a limit to what I would do for five million dollars, but I'm not up against it yet.

Here in Baton Rouge everyone loves Coach O, Ed Orgeron, today. That gives him only an outside chance at a permanent parking slot on the sunny side of the lot. One of our own, a real Cajun, but he would have to win. That's the name of this game.

I hope you guys like turkey. You will see just how many ways it can be served this week. Personally, I like 'em all. See you later.
 

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Fair Warning

Fair Warning

Never mind Alabama and Auburn, that's just trivia. Before I go to bed tonite, I will write an entry in this journal about Coach O, Ed Orgeron, who got the LSU job today. Cinderella has made the big time, and the natives are in the streets. Look for it - it's a great tale.
 

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Ed Orgeron

Ed Orgeron

His mother calls him Junior, his wife calls him Bebe, and the LSU Tigers call him Coach O. My post is not really about football - it's about a Cajun. He is from Larose, Louisiana, which is just above Cut Off on La 1. He coaches football for a living, mostly the down linemen, and goes where the work might be. Today, in a series of happy events (for him) he was named head coach at LSU. Not quite by default, but something like that.

Compared to Nick Saban or Urban Meyer, he signed up for minimum wage, but maybe the school can use the saving to buy band uniforms or hire professors or something banal like that. Ed Orgeron is tickled to death, the players are waving their tattooed arms and for the fans Louisiana is complete, at least for now.

Down Bayou Lafourche in Larose, they plan the meal while the rice is cooking, and seafood is a frequent choice. It's all around the place. If ever a country boy came to town, it's Orgeron. He couldn't possible deny it, but he doesn't want to, anyway. He is what he is. He is bulky and gruff, and the accent is pure salt marsh. Not at ease before a microphone, every interview ends with 'Go Tigers' in a voice like gravel in your transmission.

The blue noses will cringe whenever he is called upon to speak, but where he goes he will be remembered, and that includes the SEC stadiums. He leaves big footprints and big grins behind him. Except for a coming bowl game, LSU and Louisiana will have to wait about nine months, the same as for a baby, to see what they've got, but in the meantime nobody will have to ask, who's yer daddy? It's Orgeron, bro. Never doubt it.
 

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Bayou Classic

Bayou Classic

Football again, south Louisiana again, and Sunday nite again. One might think that's all we do around here, but it's not. Not quite all, anyway. The Bayou Classic is much more than just a football game. It's a long weekend, and the rules are pretty vague for the action that follows the final whistle in the Super Dome. Southern University and Grambling University get together in New Orleans and the Big Easy seems to sort of look the other way for a few days. I'm not sure any other town could survive the Bayou Classic.

Eyebrows are raised and inhibitions are lowered by the exciting and scandalous events that take place in the hotels and on the streets of the Quarter. Speaking of the hotels, they have special rate plans for this shindig. For about the equivalent of maybe a car note on a Rolls Royce, one can secure a comfortable venue for taking a nap or making whoopee of one's own design. How's your imagination? The chambermaids will roll their eyes tomorrow. Unless your celebrating lands you in serious domestic difficulty, it's a helluva party and a bit of a spectator sport, as well. South Louisiana is entertained annually by the Bayou Classic.

Until the shooting starts. One killed dead yesterday and nine others shot, all in about fifteen seconds, I believe, in the Vieux Carre. Shooters are unknown, so far, and there is no indication that either university has any complicity at all, but the Bayou Classic suffers, either way. A rotten shame for all concerned, and I really don't want to hear what Hillary et al will have to say about citizens with guns.

Anyway, it will be Monday in an hour or so, and they can get the recovery organized. No more football in my journal for a while.
 

vapros

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Journals Menu

Journals Menu

The Journals category has a new look today, and if you like journals you now have more choices than just Col. Bille and me. Island Drive and Jeff Sparks posted initial items. Bill Meacham reported his success as a young ice skater and then described his disappointment with pool and a number of the people who play. He described it as a rant; don't know if he will enlarge on that.

Jeff Sparks has begun his biography, telling about early life in San Antonio, in a house near the Alamo. (In the early 50s I was a regular at Alamo Bowl, very near that shrine where the Mexicans played a dirty trick on Davy Crockett) I think Jeff intends to continue his story here. I encourage our members to have a look at any new journals as they may appear.

And in New York, a Norwegian kid and a Russian are playing chess for a cool million dollars. Tight match and all the fans are on the edges of their seats. In the first eleven games, each has one win, one loss and nine draws. Wednesday they will play one more game to break the tie. If they don't get it done tomorrow, they will go to speed chess and then on to blitz chess, if necessary. I think you can still sign up for the PPV. If you want. Play-by-play is being done in several languages. Isn't Bata a chess player? Where did he take the wrong turn? What kind of people play chess? I'm trying to picture the DCC, where 90% of the games wind up in a draw!

Anyway, I will try to do better tomorrow. Or the day after, for sure.
 

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Senor Castro

Senor Castro

When I was in the military, my home of record was the town of Preston, in the province of Oriente, on Nipe Bay at the far eastern tip of Cuba. My father, of course, worked for United Fruit Sugar Co., as did everyone in Preston. The third-largest sugar mill in the world was there. UFC owned most of the surrounding farm land and grew most of the sugar cane, but not all of it. There were some private growers who did pretty well for themselves, raising cane and selling it to UFSC. One of them was Fidel Castro's father. Fidel did not grow up poor. He grew up revolutionary, but on a budget. He was defeated, beaten and jailed by the government, because he never had enough strength to win. But he kept trying, making token attacks with his men in eastern Cuba, and gaining military weight as he went along. It was said that if you wanted to join Castro's revolutionary army, you must first kill a soldier, so as to get yourself a gun.

My dad was a cane breeder, and he had test plots of cane high up in the mountains, because some varieties only blossomed above a certain altitude, and he made periodic trips up those mountains, in a four-wheel drive Jeep. It was a terrible road, used also by ancient Mercedes log trucks hauling timber. Sometimes, at the beginning of his trip, he would be stopped and his Jeep searched, by Batista's raggedy troops, carrying their old rifles. Later the same day, high up the mountain, he would have to endure similar investigations by Castro's irregulars.

In the end, or maybe it was the beginning, Fidel and his force took to the Carretera Central and headed for Havana on the main east-west highway. They spent days on the road, celebrating in every town on the way, and Batista saw the light. He gathered up all the money and flew away on a New Year's Eve. Cuba was Castro's. He found it poor and hungry. This week he left it, still poor and hungry, but better in some ways for his people.

He had banished the Americans and their money, in the first year. The big mill had ground to a halt. Current maps of Cuba make no mention of Preston, or even of Oriente Province. They have new names.

So now, with Fidel Castro having returned to room temperature, what does Cuba need? Money, man, always money. The money is standing by, down in Florida, waiting for the call. Like MacArthur, the Americans will return, and you can look for it. Stand back, amigos.
 

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Late nite, from the Philippines

Late nite, from the Philippines

The internet was made for pool, and there is no end to the number of really good one pocket matches involving the best players in the world, that one can watch there. And I often do. I have time.

However, there is a lot of ten ball action from the Philippines - often with Efren Reyes - and at the end of the day I sometimes call it up and watch. There seems to be no end of Filipino kids who can shoot the lights out, and they give up the 8, playing 10 ball, and then outrun the weight. Bata loses quite a few such matches. Kids we never heard of, too, usually with colorful nicknames. We can see our heroes in shorts and flip-flops, going native, I guess. Someone is filming a lot of the action from local pool rooms, but the older stuff is often in barnyards, so to speak, with roosters crowing and dogs barking, and sounds of motor bikes. The players don't seem to notice.

The matches are tremendously popular, and there is generally a solid ring of young spectators standing around the table; some of them so close they are forced to move aside to make room for the shooter. Several will be involved in the match, in some capacity. One will hold your cues, two others gather the balls for the next rack, one or two more step forward to make a mark near any ball that might possibly disturbed by a shot, so that it could be replaced, I suppose, although I have not seen it happen. They use tiny chalk marks, or they use talcum powder. Someone else is in charge of cleaning up the marks at the end of the game.

Sometimes there is betting going on, and the kids wave their hands as they book the action, but I seldom see that the match, itself, is for money. Usually it ends quietly, and somberly, if Bata gets his ass whipped. We are told that when he is playing, he is gambling, but I'm not sure that is true.

I doubt there is a venue anywhere in this country that would be equivalent. Picture thirty railbirds under age thirty, and maybe just a few older men, seemingly with nothing else to do. Rubber shoes, bare feet, shorts and tee shirts, who can stand or squat for long periods. Most are lean, few are fat. It's not a collection of bums. The clothes are clean and presentable. Who the hell are they and who is feeding them? I would really like to know the economic dynamic that is present. Maybe someone will help here.

I'm sure one could catch all this action at any hour of the day, but that's not the way I do it. I like the world when all the people have gone to sleep.
 

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AmWay Man

AmWay Man

I'm recalling a Saturday afternoon when Jack and I sat in the Piccadilly Cafeteria, drinking sweet tea and talking. He was maybe three or four weeks past his first open heart surgery, back in the sign shop, should have been at home recuperating. He didn't look so good. He said,'Bill, I can't make it like this no more. I'm not strong enough. I'm going to have to do something else to make ends meet.' It had been quite a while since Jack's ends had met last. Things were not good for him. He asked me if I had heard of AmWay. I could have grabbed him and shaken him.

'There's a guy in the subdivision selling that AmWay, and he's going great guns, and he said he could put me on with his outfit, just 'til I could get a crew of my own, and get into the real money. I been thinking of trying that for a while.' Don't gimme that crap, I'm saying to myself. You're not thinking about it. You're already in it up to your bifocals. Well, Jack was an artist and a master sign man, but he was blue collar all the way. He couldn't sell rifles at a riot.

Sure enough, when we got back to his place, he broke out a cardboard box with his name on it, and inside was all the stuff needed to start selling AmWay products to his neighbors; the ones who weren't already selling it. There were samples - air freshener, hand soap, dish soap, bug spray and some others. There was a slick loose-leaf binder with pictures of all the product. He had already quite saying products. Product. Jack couldn't pay the rent on the shop, but he had invested some money in that box of stuff. The guy in the subdivision knew how to sell.

There was a sheet with the presentation to be used printed on it, and Jack wanted to practice his speech on me, so I gritted my teeth and sat down at the old desk, with the catalog in front of me. Jack stood behind me, looking over my shoulder and reaching down to turn the pages as he read from the printed sheet. I imagined he must have sounded about the same when he was in fourth grade; not so good. I wouldn't have bought a can of bug spray from him if I was covered in mosquitoes.

The spiel was getting weaker and more disjointed as he went, and before long he was describing 'this shit here'. He sighed and corrected himself, but ninety seconds later it was 'that shit there', and he stopped. We froze in place for a minute or two. He had his hand on my shoulder. He moved his hand and I heard him do a slow about-face. I turned my head to see him shuffling back into the shop, and he reached out for his big push broom. It looked like he could hardly lift it.

I couldn't think of anything to say to him, but Jack didn't want to hear it, anyway. I did the only thing I could. I let myself out and went home.
 

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Possum Rambo

Possum Rambo

Even after I went legit and took a job with the state, I still worked a bit in the sign shop for my friend Jack. I would go in the evening. The shop was 'way out of the high rent district, and now and then one could hear the locals busting a few caps on one another, so I always carried a bag of cookies and a .38 in my hip pocket. I would lock myself in and work a few hours.

At the back of the shop, behind the scrap lumber pile, there was a little hole in the outside wall, down at floor level; looked like half a cinder block was missing, and it left a gap just about big enough for a football to pass - one of Tom Brady's footballs anyway. A small possum was a regular visitor during the evening, coming through the hole and checking to see if there was anything in Shop Cat's dish.

So, one warm evening my tee shirt got pretty damp, and I was taking it off to hang it on a peg to dry before I knocked off. And here came the possum, picking his way through the scrap lumber, and he stopped about four feet from me. I'm not sure whether he saw me or not, but I had a great idea, and I did something dumb. I dropped the tee shirt on the possum. It draped over him like a pup tent and he went berserk. For maybe a minute there was a terrible squalling as the possum and my tee shirt went to Fist City in the scrap lumber. They moved everything in that corner, and then it went quiet. I could see my tee shirt on the floor, and then the possum appeared. He had a wound on his head and some blood on his muzzle, so I guess my shirt had got in a couple of licks. He looked around for a minute and then left through the hole in the wall.

My tee shirt had become a shop rag, torn and bloody, but it was the only one I had with me, and I put it on to go home. I imagine every dog in North Baton Rouge must have wiggled his nose as I went by in my truck. It was late when I got home, and the lady that lives above me was sitting on the stairs in her pajamas with a cigarette and a beer. She did a double-take when she saw me, and asked if I was okay. I said I was good and went into my place, and opened the fridge to see if I might have left anything to eat in there. In three minutes there was a knock on the door, and it was the lady that lives above me. She had left her beer somewhere and she was carrying a wad of cotton and some alcohol and a little jug of merthiolate. 'The shirt,' said the lady. 'Take the shirt off.' So I did, and she walked around me a couple of times, looking for damage, but I was unmarked, so she picked up the shirt and examined it. It was ripped in several places and had some blood stains on it.

'You want to explain about all this?' she said, but I was not in a good mood, having lost one of my better tee shirts, and I turned her down. 'Well shit. I think I'll go finish my beer,' and she went.

In case you are wondering, the possum didn't change his habits at all, and I saw him several more times that summer. He would come in through the hole in the wall and look at me, to see if I wanted to do the shirt routine again, but I didn't. If Jack ever noticed that his scrap lumber had got scattered all around, he never mentioned it.
 

vapros

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The Old Ballplayers?

The Old Ballplayers?

Miller recently commented that he was interested in the baseball players of my era, presumably because nobody else on this site was as old as I. It suggested to me that I could go to Google for the needed information - Google knows all - and do a piece for this journal. Looking back, I'm sure what he requested was my recollections of baseball just before and just after 1950; my baseball time, if there is such a thing. Basically, nearly all the recollections I have are from baseball in south Louisiana. I should have realized that a month ago. I'm sure it would be different if I had grown up in New York or Chicago or Philadelphia, but I didn't. I grew up in Terrebonne Parish.

As a player, I remember playing in Faye Whitney's pasture. Baseball season was whenever. You haven't lived until you have gone out when it was forty degrees and hit a water-logged ball with a Louisville Slugger that had five galvanized nails in it. Later, I played American Legion ball on diamonds where the bad hops were sixteen feet high, and we generally flinched as the grounders neared us. As a fan, we had the Houma Indians, by far the class of the Evangeline League. We had a sort of rivalry with the Thibodaux Giants, but the Abbeville Athletics, the Alexandria Aces and the Hammond Berries and the rest were just grist for our mill. You could talk to Indian players through the fence during the game, or meet them in the bowling alley or the Donut Shop. If you offered them food, they took it.

I'm sure the first televised baseball game I ever saw must have been in the early fifties, when I was in the military. I played on a team in the Central New York State Amateur League one year, and the only scout that ever spoke to me said I should get a job. It was about that time that I was first aware of the major leagues and the big name stars. In that respect I was far behind the city kids. They had always known.

So, Dustin, I have told you nothing at all about the baseball players of my era. You've got the same access to Google that I do. But - I have told you a bit about baseball of my era. You have learned that out in the boondocks we didn't know from the majors. It wasn't in the paper or on the radio, and TV was still years away, and I don't believe we really suffered from the lack. Today I am a baseball fan. In those days I was a player. Does that help any?
 

vapros

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3,528
Colonoscopy, no mas

Colonoscopy, no mas

You have to know that you have been officially adjudged an old man when the colonoscopy guy tells you that this is the last one - no need to ever come back. For me, that was three or four years ago. 'Something else will kill you first' is the way he put it, and he chuckled as he told me, but at least he did not say 'Don't worry, I got yer back.' I forced myself to keep in mind that those guys have a different view of the world. They were the first to have those little virtual reality helmets, I bet. Anyway, that's one of the very few good things about getting old.

'Politically correct' is among us these days, for better or worse. The phrase first appeared in this country more than sixty years ago, and was a feature of discussions between the Communists and the socialists. The government has gotten might picky about what we are allowed to say and do. As I see it, to be safe and avoid errors, we should be very careful what we think. I like to believe I have been grandfathered past it, but of course I have not. I thought about a rant for this journal, but One Pocket.org is not the place for it, so I won't. However, in a county in the state of Virginia, some parents are calling on the local school board to remove from the school library a couple of the most widely-read books; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' and 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. They consider them harmful to their kids because the Bad Word appears too many times. Hopefully, their concern does not extend to the public libraries - just the ones at hand for the their kids. That's not as bad as it might be, but it ain't good.

They said 'too many times'. Now, that raises the matter of how many is too many, and they will need to establish a boundary there, by which to judge the other books. In other words, where does this stop? Someone is going to have to pack a lunch and go to the library and do an official count of the Bad Words in each volume. Hopefully, the ones they cull can be donated to poor libraries that don't have enough books. How do I offend thee? Let me count the ways.

The global warming people have said that such disastrous rains as the one that hit South Louisiana this summer, will happen more often in coming years. That sounds suspiciously like the heads-up that sent Noah to the lumber yard. I wish I had made 1% on all the sheet rock used here in the past couple of months.
 
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