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Mixing Drinks

Well, all righty, then…it was 1972…my life of luxury in England was coming to a close…and the prospect of life in Viet Nam was looming before my eyes…which seemed like a reasonably good reason to tie one on while I was still in a civilized part of the world. So…off to the NCO club I goes…

I got to the club, found a table full of friends, sat, got a drink and prepared for a night of frivolity and jovial jocularity…I know…big words for someone like me, but I been surfin’ the Web here lately, and saw them in some site or other…one of these days, I’m even gonna look ’em up and see what they means…where was I? Oh, yeah, I was drinkin’…a noble past time if ever I heard of one…

As the evening progressed, and the booze flowed (some of it even made it into various oral orifices), we sort of became a bit…boisterous…rowdy…loud…obnoxious…you know…all that good stuff that drunks do…anyways, one of my so called friends informed me that I could not chug 10 Rum and Cokes…and he had $100 that he was using to back up his claim.

Chug, for those of you who do not imbibe, means slap ’em down one after the other about as fast as possible…you know…like…OK, imagine a guy what’s been wanderin’ the sands of the Sahara for ’bout a week or so…and then you come zippin’ up in your Hummer and hand him 10 bottles of ice cold water…yeah, that’s chuggin’…of course, the poor schlub would probably prefer one bottle of water and an invite into the air conditioned interior of said Hummer for a more comfortable trip out of said sands, but, hey, considering his condition, he probably isn’t real picky…

Back to the booze…I loftily informed my companion that twenty Rum and Cokes would not be beyond my capabilities (I use a lot of big words when I drink…or I used to)…and therefore, 10 Rum and Cokes would be the proverbial snap…and I happened to have $100 of my own that said he didn’t know of what he spaketh…so…let the games begin…

First thing we done was set some ground rules for this here bet…The drinks would not be delivered in toto…because I wanted the last drink to be Rum and Coke, not Rum and melted ice cubes…so the drinks would be delivered one after another in rapid fire order…also, I was to be permitted a rest stop, as it were, after drink number five. For the confused among you, this means I gets to go to the Little Boys Room at that point…because, let’s face it…that much liquid would probably need an outlet as well as an inlet…you know, like a lake…liquid gots to go out as well as in…

So, we call over the waiter…and I says to him, says I, “Bob (handy, since that was his name), we need 10 Rum and Cokes, delivered one at a time, each to be delivered as soon as the previous one is consumed…and my friend here (indicating the fool who was soon to hand me $100) is more than willing to hand you a tip of $20 upon successful completion of this mission.” I figured since it was the idiots’ idea, he could pay the tip…Bob, being a local, and not dumb…said, “OK, no problem.” And so the first drink was delivered…

Now, let’s clear somthin’ up here…leaning back, openin’ your mouth and pouring a tall glass of Rum down is not a hard thing to do at all…leaning back, openin’ your mouth and pouring down a tall glass of Coke…or any carbonated beverage…that’s a whole different type of thing…and, you know, such things as burping may possibly result. It was, of course, necessary to let all the other tables in close proximity know about the bet, so they didn’t get too offended at the massive belching that was sure to follow, and…well, belt us with a beer bottle or something. Of course, telling them about it immediately prompted a round of side bets among the other upstanding patrons of the club, most of whom couldn’t stand up, much less be upstanding…

So…first drink went down…followed by the obligatory belch…second drink was delivered, and followed the first in short order…followed again by the obliga…you get the idea. One thing you gotta keep in mind here…these weren’t like my first drinks of the evening. I had been there for a couple of hours…mostly drinking screwdrivers…once again, for those who don’t imbibe…a screwdriver consists of Vodka and Orange Juice…you know…get drunk and healthy at the same time. Anyway, whoever said that you shouldn’t mix your drinks actually knew what he was talking about…Just sayin’…

Drinks three, four and five soon joined their previous companions…and both my stomach and my bladder began to cringe at the thought of future imbibings…in fact, they were both speaking to me…rather loudly. I then informed my companions that it was time for my rest stop…at least, I think that’s what I told them…in the shape I was, I could have been quoting Willie Nelson to them…and I wouldn’t have known the difference…

I got up…not an easy feat for me at that point…and proceeded to make for the room of instant relief…and I think I only hit two or three tables and a wall or two on the way. As I lurched to the rest room, I happened upon Bob, our waiter…and him, I stopped. “Alphonse”, I said, (OK…my memory for names wasn’t so good then), “Alphonse, I have in my pocket, right next to my lucky french fry, a twenty dollar bill…just a bit greasy from the fry, but still very spendable…that twenty belongs to you, my good man…and all you have to do to obtain that bit of wealth is make sure that the last five drinks in this bet only contain half the usual amount of Rum…” Bob, being not dumb, said “OK…no problem”…and he immediately received the twenty…and I wobbled on my merry way, secure in the knowledge that the bet was in my pocket…right next to my lucky french fry…

What I didn’t know was that while I was in the room doing what drunk people do in rest rooms (c’mon people! This is your education and imagination dollars at work here…I’m not gonna give you all the details)…my opponent in the nefarious bet was calling Bob to the table…and he said, “George (he wasn’t in any better shape than I was), I have your twenty dollar tip…and I’m willing to add another twenty to that…all you have to do is triple the amount of Rum in the rest of the drinks”. Bob, who wasn’t dumb, said “OK…no problem”…and he immediately received a twenty dollar bill…

I staggered back to the table, sat down…much easier than standing up…and informed everyone that I was ready to continue…We summoned Bob-Alphonse-George…told him of the desire to continue with the second half of the bet…and for some reason, both Dipsy (my betting Opponent) and I gave him a broad wink…the exaggerated kind you see in movies…and waited for the next round to appear.

Bob, who wasn’t dumb, didn’t do a thing to the drinks…he didn’t cut the Rum in half…he didn’t triple it…in other words, Bob, who wasn’t dumb, earned forty dollars basically for saying “OK…no problem” twice…not dumb at all…plus, there was the other twenty coming for actually delivering the drinks…Sixty dollars for 10 minutes work…not bad…

Well, the last five drinks came in rapid succession…and went down the now pickled throat of yours truly…hey…that means I won the bet! I then proceeded to stand…sort of…look down my considerably sized nose at Dipsy…and proclaim loudly, “OK, Prince Percival of Kensington Kew, the bet is over. I have triumphed in the joust of the drinking horn, and you have been bested…pay up, you lily-livered swine.” Or something to that effect…once again, I could have been quoting Malcolm X, and neither one of us would have known it…having made my great speech, I proceeded to fall on the table, and began to snore…quite loudly, I’ve been told…

Meanwhile, Prince Percival of Kensington Kew, whose real name was also Bob…Staff Sergeant Bob, to give him his proper title, gave Bob his other twenty and staggered off into the sunset (the sun had actually set hours before)…I was taken to my bed and unceremoniously dumped into it…and it wasn’t till several months later, after I had left the country, that I realized that the fool had never paid me the $100. I think it’s time to collect…as I recall, he was from Brooklyn, New York. I need to find a New York phone book…after all, there can’t be that many Staff Sergeant Bobs’ in the phone book…can there?

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Cake & Sludge

It was my 21st birthday…and there was going to be a party. The party was taking place at the house of a friend named Serena, who lived in Ipswich…a town some little distance from the base. After arriving at her house, and going through the usual amenities, we got down to the serious business of partying…and decided to begin by whipping up a batch of Sludge…the greatest drink ever invented.

All righty, then…let’s talk Sludge. Now, to make a batch of Sludge, first you need something to put it in. Serena was having part of her house re-done, and happened to have a new tub, still in the crate. It was taken out, cleaned off, plugged up and pressed into use as a punch bowl.

Next, you need to decide on the base for your Sludge…start by gathering all the liquor in the house…Serena, fortunately, was a major party giver, so there was a large selection to choose from. Gather it all…beer, bourbon, gin, vodka, tequila, Scotch, whatever…separate it into groups…tequila here, vodka there…don’t worry about brand names…you want quantity here, not quality.

Now that everything is separated, see what you have in greatest abundance…or decide what you want for the base. Whichever you decide, pour it (all of it) into the bowl or tub…got it? Good. Now you want to add something to cut it wi…what? The rest of the booze? What? Are you here to party or put things away? OK, OK…here’s what you do…take all the rest of the alcoholic beverages…and dump ’em into the tub. Hey, if you’re gonna mix drinks, then let’s mix drinks…and don’t forget to taste test the liquor before you put it in…don’t want any bad stuff in there, ya know…

All right, mixers…any liquid will do…Coke, orange juice, Seven-Up, whatever’s in the fridge or pantry…dump it all in…BUT…do not use any dairy products…they could curdle…makes the final result a bit…ummm…unappetizing…if I recall correctly, we used OJ, Pepsi, apple juice, the brine from a jar of pickles, the juice from several cans of olives, things of that nature…

Next, a little spice…got some hot sauce? Dump it in…salsa? In it goes…Tabasco Sauce? Yep…semi-solids are OK too…we added mustard, ketchup, apple sauce…you get the idea. Next, get a broom…a push broom is best, but a regular broom will also work. Now, sweep up all the broken glass that happened while you were taste testing…you know there was at least one broken bottle, right? After you sweep up, invert the broom (that means turn it upside down for those of you who don’t normally invert things)…now, stick the handle in the Sludge and stir…a lot. Now, since you’ve dumped the pickle juice into the tub, remove the pickles from the jar…dunk the empty jar into the Sludge, and pour it down. Then, you fall down…probably best if you do the remainder of your drinking from the floor anyway.

So…we had the Sludge…let’s get this party going…oh, and we had a cake, too…can’t have a birthday party without a cake, can you? Of course not. And a birthday cake…well, it needs candles. A slight note for you to write down and remember…don’t try to light candles after ingesting a large quantity of Sludge…don’t work too well. Anyway, the lighter of the candles apparently dropped the match…there was a paper tablecloth…tearin the burning paper off, throwing it on the floor to stomp on it…then someone…I don’t know who, and I’m certainly not admitting anything…but someone decided to throw some liquid on it…like Sludge…say, did you guys know that alcohol burns…yep, sure does…Whoever threw the Sludge (remember, I’m not admitting anything), well, it seems they flambeed the carpet…oh, and did you know that when you throw liquid, it tends to splatter? And if it’s burning, and lands on the hostess’ dress, well, that could be bad? Yep, sure could…

Naturally, Serena immediately tore off the dress…did I mention that she had somewhat dressed for the occasion…in a backless dress? Yeah…no bra. Boy, this party was getting better all the time. We, of course, being the wonderful guests that we were, didn’t want Serena to feel out of place or embarrassed, so everyone stripped down to their shorts…now we had a party goin’! Well, the party progressed, the Sludge slowly disappeared (slowly? Ha!), the cake was consumed (who needs forks when there’s hands available?)…all was well…great party…and it reached a point where I was sitting in the corner talking to myself…

I was basically arguing with myself…trying to talk myself out of throwing up…but, as usual, I do tend to lose arguments that I have with myself…fortunately, I made it upstairs to the bathroom in time. As I finally emerged from said sanctuary, crawling pretty much, I spied…hey, look, it’s a bed…wonderful things, beds..you can do so much in them…like sleep…and so, I did.

Sloowwwly, I opened my eyes, and found myself staring at…all right, let’s keep this family oriented, OK? So, we’ll just say that the bed I found was Serenas, and at some point during my slumber, she also crawled into the bed, and she was still wearing her outfit from the night before, and what I was looking at was…kinda nice…

So, slooowwwly, I raised my head…and slooowwwly, I lowered my head…and roundly, I cursed whichever Nobel Laureate had invented the hangover…and slooowwly, I rolled over…away from Serena, regretfully, until I came to the edge of the bed…It seems that whoever had built the house had managed to put a floor under the bed…I thought that was nice…it kinda broke my fall…dragging myself, I managed to make it to the bathroom, gingerly put my chin on the edge of the toilet, went limp as a dishrag, and let ‘er fly…cleaned up, curled up in the fetal position around my porcelain princess, and went back to sleep.

When next I awoke, I found myself looking at a pair of feet…looking up, I saw Serena…holding a cup of coffee…ah, glorious coffee…and she was…oh, man…she was fully dressed now…boy, talk about a missed opportunity! Ah, well…

There is probably nothing sadder that a room the day after a party has ended…everything to clean up, broken glass, spilled drinks, charred carpet, a ruined dress…took awhile to clean, but we managed…and the she gave me a ride back to the base. And thus ended what had to be the greatest 21st birthday party ever, at least for me…but I did kinda lose my desire for drinking after that…well, except for the time of the big bet. That involved a lot of rum…and a bet that was won by a waiter, who wasn’t even involved. Other than that, I pretty much quit drin…oh, and the cast party, right after the kiss-kiss, slap-slap…and I guess there was some drinking in Viet Nam…but other than that, I didn’t do tha…oh, and there was the time…

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Mikey B. was an artist. Specifically, Mikey B. was a sculptor. Now, he could sculpt in wood or in copper or in just about any other substance, but his absolute favorite sculpting material was marble. This is, perhaps, because he was from the Tuscany region of Italy, which is not too far from the Carrara Quarries, where some of the purest marble is from.

Well, Mikey B. had just returned home after a rather lengthy trip. After getting settled in back at home, he went down to the Duomo (church), which had a workshop attached to it. In the yard of that workshop was a block of marble called the Duccio Block, a seventeen-foot column of marble that some called “thin” or “emaciated”…and it had a large gouge right about in the middle of it. The consensus was that any attempt to carve anything would basically split the block in two.

Mikey B. thought he could maybe do something with it. He wasn’t sure what, but he thought he could do something. But the ownership of the block…that was a minor problem. The block had originally been quarried for another sculptor, but during his carving, he hit the slab incorrectly, and caused a large gouge in the middle…the marble was essentially ruined. He took it to the workshop yard, dropped it in a corner, left. The block sat in that corner for the next fifty years, exposed to the elements. Over time, a “skin” formed on the marble, and the outer portion began to yellow as a result of exposure.

And so it was when Mikey B. found it. By that time, the city had taken possession of it, so any carving that was done would have to be with the permission of the city government. While they were making up their minds, and going through the usual red tape that involves any government, Mikey B. was studying the slab, measuring it, trying to figure out what he could do with it. The gouge in the center bothered him. What could he do to the block that wouldn’t destroy it?

Now, Mikey B. was Italian…and in Italy, right in the middle of it, they have this place called Vatican City. I’m told that Vatican City contains one or two Catholics…and it turns out that Mikey B. was also Catholic…so, he thought, maybe to impress the officials, he might want to do a religious theme. And so, while he waited, he studied the Bible, made sketches, tried to figure out what he could do…he read through the Old Testament…he read through Dante…and then, finally, he found his theme…

Now, all he needed was the block to carve. It took a few months, but the city finally decided…the block was his. He continued to study the marble, figuring how to place his subject so that the gouge wouldn’t come into play…it took weeks, but he finally figured out what to do…his statue would be of a man…and if he swiveled the hips just this way, moved the thighs there, where the gouge was…it just might work. And it had to be authentic…the anatomy had to be perfect…good thing he was such a bad person earlier…

When he was younger, and just starting out as a sculptor, Mikey B. wanted to know what makes people tick…but he didn’t want to get his information from any available texts…he wanted to see and feel the actual parts. This, of course, would have meant studying medicine, going to classes, etc., and he didn’t want to wait. So, what did he do? That’s right! It was the only thing he could do…he broke into the mortuary at night…

Several nights a week, for a period of several months, Mikey B. spent his time in the mortuary. He would arrive late at night, make his way in, carefully remove the cloths on whichever body was there, and select a part to dissect. He never touched the head, unless he knew with absolute certainty that no one would be viewing the body. In this way, he learned of the anatomy of the human body…how the muscles worked, where the organs were, what did what…

He had the block…and the first thing was to get it to his workbench area. Now, we’re talking about a slab of marble, seventeen feet long, weighing…a lot. It took a lot of man power, but the slab was raised upright, placed on rollers, and moved to his area…it took a while longer, but a scaffolding was built around the block, and a revolving table was placed under it. Mikey B. could now move the statue so that the part he was working on was best exposed to the sun and light, and he could climb up to the top to carve there.

Next up…what to carve with…Mikey B. got some iron rods, went to a forge, hand crafted himself a new set of chisels for the project. When those were done, he was ready…finally. And so, on Monday morning, September 13, Mikey B., at the age of 26, climbed up on his scaffold, hefted his chisel, placed it on the marble…and hit it. The first blow had been struck…it would be over two years before the last one was. After the final blow of his hammer, he spent the better part of another year polishing and burnishing the statue.

It had been decided that the statue would be placed at the top of the steps in front of the Palazzo Signoria, the city hall, if you will…that spot was about a mile from the workshop…it took four days to move the statue and set it up…and then the public saw David for the first time…and the next morning, Mikey B. approached the statue, and saw small notes attached all over it…notes that said things like: “You have given us back our self-respect.” “You have made a thing of beauty.””Never can they tell me man is vile; he is the proudest creature on earth.” A merchant and his out-of-town friend walked by…and the visitor said: “Whose is that?” “Oh, that was done by a local artist…Mikey B.” “Mikey B.?” Yeah…Mikey…Mike Buonarroti.” Mike Buona…Ooohhh…Michaelangelo…”

I tossed in a picture of the statue for you below…just in case you haven’t ever seen it…

So…why the little ditty on a statue? Well, I happen to like the work of Michaelangelo…and besides, I think the statue looks like me…

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The Unimportant?

George Cooper slid quietly out of bed, tiptoed to the bathroom, closed the door, turned on the light and got dressed. When he was finished, he turned out the light, opened the door, stepped back into the bedroom…as he did so, the figure still in the bed stirred, turned over, mumbled something in German, lapsed back into sleep. George smiled fondly down at her, remembering for a moment the joy and pleasure of the night before…picked up his jacket, slipped out into the pre-dawn darkness.

Thirty minutes later, George arrived at his “office”…a large aircraft hanger. He went in, got some coffee, checked some paperwork, walked into the main hanger to “his” plane. After a close inspection of the aircraft, he removed an enigine cowling, got his tools and started his days work.

Three o’clock in the morning. Tom Stone knew it was three o’clock because his clock said so…he rolled out of the bed, dressed, headed to the kitchen. Tom ran on eighteen hour days…six hours at work, twelve hours for eating, sleeping, studying, or doing whatever he wished, and back to work…He would operate on this type of shift for six months. He got to the kitchen, started up the coffee, prepared to fix breakfast for the 120 people he worked with.

Tom had been doing this for two months now, and only had four more to go before he got a break from the routine. During that two months, he had not seen a sunrise, a sunset, a cloud, or in fact, the sky at all…

Sherry Mastowicz groaned her way out of bed, performed her morning ablutions, set off for the dock. Arriving there, she smiled at the people she met as she made her way to the ship. Boarding, she went down, found the coffee pot, filled a cup, worked her way back to the tight quarters that compromised her work area. Sitting at her desk, she put on her earphones, flipped a switch, twirled a dial, began to listen…

Jason Lycon set up the coffee pot, prepared the juice, laid out the sweet rolls and doughnuts. Finishing that, he turned, stood quietly looking at his counterpart across the room. Warily, they nodded at each other…and waited. Ten minutes later, a door to Jasons left opened, and in strode General Alexander, with several other people in tow. They came over, spoke polite good mornings to Jason, got coffee, juice and sweets. They then moved to the massive table in the middle of the room, spread out papers, prepared for the day…General Alexander glanced over at Jason, who immediately moved to the door and out of the building.

Tyler Jackson arrived at work early in the morning, and already he was hot and sweating. Loaded down with too much gear, especially for the local conditions, he would have been sweating in next to nothing…even though it was only seven in the morning. Putting aside his weapon and a good bit of his gear, he readied himself for work. He retained the armor he wore, as well as the helmet. Getting his tools, he began to work on the engine of a nearby truck.

George Cooper… U.S. Air Force, aircraft mechanic, Ramstein AB, Germany
Thomas Stone…U.S. Navy, cook, aboard a Nuclear Submarine below the Arctic Ice Cap
Sherry Mastowicz…U.S. Coast Guard, radio operator, aboard a Coast Guard Cutter, Virginia
Jason Lycon…U.S Army, aide, Panmunjong, Korea
Tyler Jackson…U.S. Marine Corps, mechanic, Fallujah, Iraq

Airmen, Sailors, Infantry…these people all share one common trait…they are American Soldiers. They don’t shoot the guns, they don’t fly the planes, they don’t drive the tanks, they don’t steer the ships. They are not the people the press runs to for reactions to stories. They are cooks, mechanics, gardeners, every day people doing every day jobs. They just do them in all different areas of the world, from the places of peace such as England or Germany, to any one of the three war zones we are currently engaged in. They range from scared, pimply teenagers to hardened, battle-scarred veterans.

So…what’s the point? Well, when you watch the news, see the soldiers fighting house to house on a street in Iraq, please remember that for every soldier you see running around with a gun, there are dozens of people behind him, doing every day chores that help that soldier do his job. My son spent fifteen years in the Air Force. During that time, he was sent to both of the war zones in the Middle East six times, as well as Korea. He ran a Service Club, helping the soldiers and airmen to relax…he was a cook, providing the fuel that kept the war machine going. He was a behind the scenes kind of guy…but he was a soldier, and damned proud of his work. And I was damned proud of him for doing it…

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Gold ‘N Asses

Route 66. The Mother Road. Chicago to Los Angeles through some of the most beautiful country in the country. But this isn’t about the whole road…just a small part of it. The part that runs from Kingman, Arizona to Needles, California…and really not even all of that…just a small part of it…

As you leave Kingman, you are traveling on a mountain road with steep drops and tight curves…you’ll go through Fig Springs, Cool Springs, Ed’s Camp and up Sitgraves Pass…a road so steep that, in older times, cars had to drive up in reverse, so that the gas would flow toward the engine. The road, she do go up and down, but mostly there’s curves…the road twists and turns like a snake on crack…up and down a pass, round a curve, up a hill, round a curve and BAM! You’re in the middle of a town…the town of Oatman, Arizona…and that’s the subject of this ditty…Oatman, Arizona…home of Gold ‘N Asses…

Now, Oatman is pretty much out in the middle of nowhere…in fact, here’s a picture of the outskirts of the town…

Hard to believe there’s a town behind the hill, isn’t it? This is actually coming into the town from the Needles side…It’s hard to see,but there are towers on the mountain tops that bring in phone, radio, TV coverage…Now, of course, driving into a town, any town, you’re going to drive through the suburbs…and Oatman is no exception…here’s the official suburbs of Oatman…

Oatman was founded in 1902, as the town of Vivian, named because of the town’s proximity to a mine owned by the Vivian Mining Company. The mine yielded over $3 million between 1904 and 1907 before petering out. There were hard times for the town then until 1910, when the Tom Reed Mine was discovered. In 1909, the town name was changed to Oatman, named after Olive Oatman, a young girl whose family had been slaughtered by Apaches in 1851…she had been held captive as a slave and later traded to the Mohaves…she was rescued in 1856.

The Tom Reed Mine gave out dribs and drabs for a few years, and in 1915, there was a major strike, producing about 1.8 million ounces of gold (worth about $10 million) into the 1930’s…by the thirties, an estimated $36 million worth of gold had come from the mines. By then, the town included two banks, seven hotels, twenty saloons and ten stores. The population skyrocketed to 20,000…then the mines began to close down…in 1942, the last of the mines was ordered closed by the Federal Government as part of the country’s war efforts…seems gold wasn’t needed then…and so, the people left…until there were only 60 left.

Should you get a mad desire to live in the area, housing can be obtained cheaply…here’s a small example of a cheap fixer-upper…

You should know, however, that the temperatures in the summer get up to 125 degrees…in fact, every Fourth of July, they have an egg frying contest…on the sidewalk.

When the town started growing, prospectors arrived carrying their belongings on burros…hardy little animals that survived the desert heat easily. These animals were then used to haul rock and ore out of the mines…and were used outside to haul water and supplies into town. As the mines were closed, the burros were no longer needed…and so were released into the desert to fend for themselves…which they apparently did. Today, their descendants live freely in the desert, and come into town during the day to scrounge for hand outs from the tourists. Nearly all the shops in town sell carrots and ‘chow’ for the burros…and the burros take full advantage of that fact…

Now, the young ones can’t have carrots…they’ll choke on them…so, when the babies come to town, they have a sticker placed on their foreheads to remind the tourists not to give them carrots. Besides, they brought their lunch with them…

Oh…a hint for you if you visit…leave your dog at home…people tend to bring their dogs, walk around town with them on a leash…but, the burros are wild, they live in the desert, and when they look at a dog…any dog…well, they see a coyote. And they tend to kill coyotes…rather efficiently. Another thing…don’t hurt the burros…they’re protected by the Federal Government…and the job is taken seriously. About five years ago, some guy decided that he wanted to have a burro, for reasons unknown…he took one of the baby burros…and within a day, wanted posters and reward posters went up all over the county. He was caught very quickly…and still has several years to do before he’s eligible for parole. When he does get out, he’ll have to come up with thousands of dollars for the fine…

After you pass up the suburbs, you come into the town proper…and as you can see, it’s a massive metropolis…

Looking down the street there, you’ll see on the left, the Oatman Hotel. This building was built in 1902, survived a major fire in 1921, and received famous guests in 1939. On March 18, 1939, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were married in Kingman. Efforts to get away from the press brought them to Oatman, where they spent their wedding night in the Oatman Hotel. Gable fell in love with the town and returned often, enjoying many games of poker with the miners. Unfortunately, the last time I was there, they were renovating the upstairs portion of the hotel, so I couldn’t obtain a photo of the honeymoon suite.

In the lobby of the Hotel, there is a restaurant and a bar…and awhile back the owners decided to spruce up those two places…and considered wallpaper…and pretty much came up with the perfect solution. They let, and are still letting, their customers do the wallpapering for them. This is what the restaurant looks like today…as you can see, a work still in progress…

No one has actually counted, but estimates of the number of bills run into the many thousands…

The hotel has another guest, affectionately known as “Oatie”. His real name was William Ray Flour, an Irish miner who had a habit of drinking heavily…and frequently. One night, he drank himself into a stupor behind the hotel…and never woke up.. It is said that his ghost now roams the upstairs hall of the hotel.

In the 1960’s the town became a place to film movies…portions of the movie “How The West Was Won” and “Foxfire” were filmed here. At Christmas time, there are several community Christmas trees decorated…here’s one of them for you…

Today, Oatman has a population of about 400…people who are mostly in the business of selling to tourists coming into town. A rustic, peaceful little town, it’s a fun place to visit and see.

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Lovingly, Jeb kissed his children, kissed his wife, picked up his sack, grabbed his rifle and headed out the door and down the road. As he walked, a slight breeze kicked up some dust that eddied around him, tickling his nose…he coughed and spat, and continued on. Soon he came to the town, found the place where the others had gathered. Nodding briefly to them, he waited; soon, a signal came and the men started purposely walking toward the hill where the first encounter would take place…a hill called Breed’s Hill…also known as Bunker Hill…
Total: 24,435

Charles grabbed his gear, raced out to the waiting horse, jumped on and galloped down the road. Washington was burning, Washington was being burned…and he meant to do something about it. The invaders had to be repelled at all costs. Soon, he was joined by others, and together the small rag-tag band sped toward their Capital.
Total: 2,260

In the oppressive heat of the desert, the army followed General Taylor as he galloped into the Northern Territories of Mexico, headed for Mexico City. The war had dragged on for awhile…and it was coming to it’s conclusion…
Total: 1,733

John grunted when his rifle mis-fired, the blood lust graying his sight. Jumping up, he rammed his bayonet deep into the stomach of his enemy, with a shout of rage. He wanted to see the enemy’s eyes as he died…looking up, he paled…dropped his weapon…”Davy! What are you doin here? You’re spossed to be helpin Ma with the farm!” Cradling his brothers lifeless body, he wept harshly…
Total: 563,036

On February 15, at 9:40 PM, the quiet month long stay of the ship in the harbor at Havana came to a bloody end with the explosion and sinking of the ship. The U.S.S. Maine went down quickly, resulting in the loss of 266 men.
Total: 2,430

It was “The War to End All Wars”…and it took place in Europe in 1914-1918…but it apparently didn’t end all wars, considering what was to come…
Total: 116,708

They swam, crawled, inched, fought their way onto the beach that morning in early June…under a constant, withering fire from the enemy, they finally made their way off the beach…and invaded France…
Total: 407,316

The war that was a ‘police action’…the one my father was in…the one that could break out again at any time…
Total: 36,576

The war no one wanted…and the soldiers no one wanted…returning from the war, they were reviled, jeered, spat upon…all because they fought in a war that they had no control over…many of their friends ran…to another country, even…rather than go to this war…the one I was in…
Total: 58,207

Two in the Middle East…one by a father, the other by his son…who, as Presidents, felt we had to be there…one was a disaster…the other is on-going…and may require a different President to finish it…
Total: 4,591

The people listed above became part of the totals because of us. The totals? Those are the numbers of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guard Personnel who died in the declared wars of the United States…the total total? 1,227,595. That’s major declared wars…it doesn’t include such places as Grenada (19), Panama (23), Somalia (43)…it doesn’t include the bombing of a Marine barracks in Lebanon…it doesn’t include the aftermath of 9/11…it doesn’t include the hundreds, perhaps thousands of Reserves who put their lives on the line in fires, storms and wars…

When the above people came home, some were greeted with parades…some were greeted with jeering, booing, violence…most just came home, kissed their families, went out and picked up a plow, went back to the factories, returned to their lives with no notice…

Why did they do it in the first place? Well, they did it so you could say that Obama is useless now and will be useless as President. They did it so you can say that McClain isn’t worth a bucket of warm spit on a hot day. They did it so you can say pretty much whatever you want. They did it so you can go to church, to chapel, to Temple, to a synagogue, to a mosque…so you can read The Bible, The Torah, The Koran. They did it so you can pray to God, to Yahweh, to Allah, to Athena or to Satan if that is your preference…

They did it without complaining, without fuss, without glory…just blood and guts and pain and loss of limbs…all to ensure that you remain free…that liberty doesn’t die. They drew a line in the sand, stood behind that line and said, “This far and no farther”…and fought and died at that line…and the line was never crossed, because of them…

They weren’t the only ones…their families and friends suffered with them.

Almost one and a half million people died for you…what are you doing about it? Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Flag Day, Armed Services Day, a little on the 4th of July…five days out of the year we honor these patriots who died for us…it’s not enough. But you can do this:

The next time you see an old man, withered and leaning on a walker, wearing wisps of white hair and a cap with a picture of a ship and the words, “Retired Navy…CC-71″…the next time you see an old biker, covered in tattoos and with a beard down to here, who happens to be wearing a cap that says “Viet Nam Vet”…the next time you see a man in uniform in the airport…the next time you see someone getting out of a car with a Veterans license plate…just walk on by…but as you do, smile and say “Thank You”…that’s all…a simple thank you. It will probably brighten up their day and maybe their lives…it will definitely brighten up yours.

I promise.

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Oh…well…hi…Hey!! Hi!! How ya doin’? Welcome!! Come on in…just put your coats and sweaters over there…yeah…there’s a couple of seats up near the front there; drinks and snacks are on the table…help yourse…what? No, I’m sorry…as you can see, there’s kids and grandkids here; so, no alcohol yet…maybe we’ll open the bar after the kids leave. Have a seat and relax…we’ll get started in just a minute.

Well, whaddayah think of the old soapbox? Took ‘er out, gave ‘er a dust off, swiped it couple a times with a damp rag…then decided to do ‘er up…got the old sander out, sanded it down, little stain, little varnish, polished ‘er up…ain’t she purdy? Almost hate to put my dirty shoes on ‘er…so, I won’t…hold on a sec while I slip ’em off…I’ll just stand on ‘er with sockie feet…

OK…as we’re gettin’ started, can I see a show of hands…how many of you live in a city with a mall in it…how about a town with a Wal-Mart, target, K-Mart? How about with a grocery store? How about a General Store? How about a bar?? How about ANYTHING with a parking lot? Emom, I haven’t seen your hand go up yet…Oh, that’s right…your part of Boone County ain’t got parking lots yet, do they? In fact, they pretty much don’t have anything out your way yet, do they? Just you and the new neighbors…and their horses. Well, don’t you fret…they’ll get a parking lot out there one day…you can park the six-pack on it.

The reason I’m asking is because just about everywhere you go nowadays, there’s a parking lot…and in a parking lot, there’s usually little painted lines making parking spaces…and some of those spaces, usually the ones closest to the store, are reserved for the handicapped…and those spaces are what we are going to talk about today. Now, these spaces were put there for people who couldn’t walk long distances through the parking lot to get to the store…People in wheelchairs, the aged, the infirm, people with walkers, people on crutches, people who are “handicapped”. I’m sure you get my meaning…the spaces are usually wider to allow for the unloading or loading of wheelchairs…and to allow people to open their car doors completely to make an easy exit without having another car 8″ away from them…In order to park in these spaces, you must have a handicapped license plate, or o sticker in your window, or a placard to hang from your rear view mirror. Parking there without one of these devices could result in a rather expensive ticket.

Quite often, I’ve noticed, people will have one of these devices for someone in their family…an aging parent, a grandparent, an injured child, or spouse, etc. When that is the case, they’re SUPPOSED to only park in these slots if the handicapped person is with them…but quite often, that is not the case. All too often, I have seen people, in there 20’s or 30’s. and in perfect health, and alone, park in these spots simply because they have the required device, and therefore, they can…which, of course, denies the use of these spots to people who actually need them.

When asked, these people usually come back with one of two responses…either (insert huffy, lofty tone of voice) “I have a placard…I can park here anytime I want.” Or (insert whiny nasaly tone here) “It’s toooo faaaarrr to walk…and I have a placard…so I’ll park here if I want to”. The usual reply to this is, of course, “Hey…at least you can walk.” Actually, a lot of the people who make the second statement are often overweight.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m not slamming people who have put on a bit of weight…just look at me…I’ve gone way past obese…I’m now in the “whale-esque” category…you know…when I go to the beach, why, people just naturally want to throw cables over me and drag me back into the water…thus “saving” me…But even the folks who have put on weight…well, a little walk and exercise couldn’t possibly hurt them.

I have, over the years, had some experiences that have affected my walking…a cracked spine, a high school basketball injury that resulted in the ripping of several tendons off my ankle bone, thus permanently weakening my ankle, 40 years of heavy lifting (still do that every day at work), torn cartilage in my knee, arthritis, and in general, getting old and feeble, and these experiences have resulted in the fact that I now do most of my walking with a cane and could probably qualify for a handicapped sticker (or placard, or license plate, or whatever) if I wanted…but I don’t have one…and I hope I never do…I figure between the fact that I sleep a lot of the day, and I have the twin hobbies of sitting at a computer and sitting in front of a TV, I pretty much need all the exercise I can get.

The example I could come up with happened at work two nights ago…it was about 2:30 AM, and I was returning to the building after lunch…there was, at that time, one handicapped space available and two cars headed toward it. One car, complete with handicapped license plate, pulled smoothly into the space, and out stepped The Marathon Bodybuilder…this guy was BIG…with no excess fat…and young…and NOT handicapped. But he had the device, so in the handicapped space he parked, even though there was an empty regular space nearby. The other car pulled up, and parked in the other space…some number of feet away from the handicapped space…and out came Granny…with walker…at least 90 years old (no exaggeration there)…who walked…very slowly into the store…stopping on the way to catch her breath. Now, Marathon Man was parked legally…but wouldn’t it have been better (or nicer) if he had taken the other spot and walked the extra few feet, instead of forcing Granny to do that?

Back in my youth, when I was in a wheelchair, I probably would have appreciated a handicapped parking zone…but they didn’t have them then…But the point is, Mr. Marathon Man and Mrs. Gymnast, if you’re healthy, and have healthy motor skills, how about giving the handicapped a break…even if you do have a placard…Of course, if the handicapped person is with you, by all means, park in the handicapped spot for their sake. But if they’re not, give ’em a break, lest other people think you are the one who is handicapped…mentally.

Well, thank you for letting me rant today…I very much appreciate it. Help yourself to drinks and snacks…and don’t forget your coats on the way out. I’ll see you again…when next I have a Pet Peeve to air. Thanks again…and drive safely on the way home.

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