Friday, January 29, 2010

Lady McQuay - Repost

A commentator asked about this post.  (I mentioned it in my Happy List).  Some may have not read others may be bored, but here it

I have never been sailing. I have often thought that I would like to I decided to build a sailboat.

“Boy why are you throwing such a fit?”

The boy had reached a point of hysterical aggravation. The six cylindrical one inch long chrome shafts rolled helter skelter across the weather worn porch. The covered porch attachment had been added many years after the original construction of the hand hewn log cabin. The boy had been trying to stack the rollers from a 1946 GMC one and a half ton pulpwood truck rear axle bearing. Three side by side, two on top of those, in the cracks, and the last one would finish the pyramid. As soon as his smudgy fingers released the last roller bearing, the weight would push the others outward and it would all hit the fan.

Several reruns of this exercise and the boy commenced to wailing out load as a hand full of those bearings bounced off the cabin wall. Suddenly the boy heard what he thought was an Indian war chant. He instantly ceased his fit throwing.

“Daddy, what are you doing?”

The daddy had stopped working on his truck and looked as if he was stomping grapes and hollering “Heyyy Yyaaa Yaaa Yeaaa”, or something to that effect. “I thought that I would dance along with your singing‘”. A serious expression turned into a big grin when he saw the young boy’s face hanging with a look of disbelief.

“Let’s find you something else to mess with. That don’t seem to be working out for you”. He was wiping grease from his hands on an old piece of bed sheet or some other scrape piece of cloth.

“Can you build me a boat?” The question might as well have been a statement as a question. The boy never questioned whether he could or not. He just didn’t have any idea of what kind. To a preschooler, movies with ships had made an impression on the lad. Going to the “picture show” was a grand adventure in comparison to the rustic environment around the old home place.

Reaching behind the time worn seat of the GMC, the Daddy pulled his double bit axe free from a strap that held it in place. The sun gleamed off the honed edges that would slice through a pine sapling with more of a swish than a thud. He propped the axes against the front tire. He knew that the axe would be safe there. Lessons had been taught about the respect of the tool. He himself had lost his left eyesight at five years old, chopping kindling firewood. The floor beams of the house had been set up on huge sandstone rock and were several inches off the ground. He reaches underneath and pulled a short piece of lumber from a small stack. Using the axe like a hatchet, a few short chops had turned the 2x4 into a hull of a ship with a sturdy pointed bow. A couple of shavings alone the side and it was sea worthy.

“Where is the sail?”

An old wooden box held the answer. Plucking a long slender spike nail from the box, the Daddy turned the axe sideways, with a few whacks, set the main mast in its proper place.

The better part of the day had been spent rebuilding the motor in his truck. This mainly consisted of putting new piston rings and rod bearings in the old engine. This does not mean you even have to know what I am talking about here, but this type of repair was common during this era because of the economies of it all. The only thing that has a hoot and holler to do with any of this is that, he felt that a certain manufacturer made the best replacement piston rings. McQuay Norris and that was it. Hands down. Each set of rings came in a tough wax coated paper envelope. Snatching one of these envelopes off the ground, cutting a couple of slits with his Barlow pocket knife, my new “ship” had a sail.

The spring fed creek down under the hill from the house, had a washed out spot that could be used for taking a bath or just cooling off. Many battles and voyages took place in that “ocean”. In cold weather or when no one was there to watch out for the boy, the sandy spot up by the iron ore road worked just as well for a “playlike‘ sea. . The boat must have been magic, because after a period of time the wax paper sail disappeared, but the performance of the gallon was hampered not one bit. The final fate of that slippery sloop is hazy in my mind, but the spirit is resting on its spine in my barn.

Gray hair and time will twist the vine, but doesn’t necessarily wash the green from the leaves. A stoke of the tongue was always an asset of the Dad, but a stroke had taken the tongue as the shadows had lengthened, but speech had regained a large portion of its loss.

“What are you looking for?” not as much a question as a statement he asked the boy as they were strolling through the sporting goods section.

“Electric trolling motor.”.

“How come?”,, that was a question. The boy had learned to guess what was being said or asked before the wording patterns had started to return.

“I am going to build a sailboat. You built me one, once upon a time, now I am gonna build one. Wanna ride in it with me?”

“Shit naww, them thangs turn over. Get yer ass drown”. This also was not a question.

The bluntness and spontaneity caught them both off guard and they broke out laughing.

“What ya gonna call it?”

“I am going to call her Lady McQuay.” The memory of the wax paper piston ring sleeve danced between both their thoughts.

The daddy shook his head with a sly grin.

“You ready to eat some fish?” The boy asked. That was really not a question

“Yep” …that was not a question.

There were never many questions of any kind.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Dry Docked or The Beer Can Hanger went Skerrssh, Skerrssh"

“Dry Docked

Women are the only ones that do dumb things. Men always have a reason, even if they don’t really need one.

You have met him before, but I have to keep changing his name so that I don’t have to pay him royalties. From here on, in this episode of adventure, I will refer to him as “Todlums”. Todlums and I have been running together since we were about twelve years old. He was over at the office just last Friday. I invited him to lunch but I knew I was safe from buying his lunch, because he is always late, but that is another story and this is this one. Another story about when me and him and another changed-named friend jumping off that bridge one January, Neecckkedd, well that will have to wait too

I bought a boat, but first. My brother in law and I bought a dump truck. We hired another brother in law’s brother to drive that dump truck. You have to follow this real close now. With no fault of his ,he (the brother in law’s brother) rolled the dump truck down the side of an iron ore mountain. I am not talking about on the wheels. I am talking about on one side, on the top, on the other side. Etc. The insurance company was quick and efficient. I mis-spoke earlier. We bought a boat. I do not recommend this process, just buy the boat first.

One Monday night I called Todlums.

“Let’s go fishing tomorrow”.

“You don’t like to go fishing”.

“I do now, I got a boat”. pause “And some beer”.


"Come  now“. “You are going to stay here tonight so you want be late tomorrow”.


A gloriously beautiful day it was. The sky looked like it was spray painted with sky blue paint. The wind was very light causing hardly a ripple on the entire lake. It was seasonably warm. The humidity was high. We took a short swim before off to the scaly creature’s habitat we did go. In Texas, I am pretty sure it is a law that you cannot fish close to where you “put in’ the boat. You must, I am sure, straddle in, life jacket up, slowly ease away from the lake bank and then run wide open until you can no longer see the vehicle that brought you to the event. We did this with professional precision. With speeds reaching excess of plenty fast enough. Water spray provided a feeling of cooled jubilation.

“How about here”/


“Let’s drink a beer first:. “It’s hot”.


There is nothing like the sound of puepussstt echoing across a smooth glimmering lake. I placed the Cloud’s Pleezin Po-Boy sandwich on the bow of the boat to bask in the morning sun. They would be perfectly cooked by the time lunch rolled around. It is just hard to explain the allure of such an event. After the first refreshment, it was noticed that we probably weren’t in the best fishing spot on the lake. It was determined that before we got our gear all wet and tangled, we would go to that cove over yonder. In a few minutes, we got to “over yonder” and killed the engine. Man, this is the spot. Let’s drink a beer before we start.

Puepussst,,,,,puepussstt . We are going to catch ‘em today, man’alive. Just as soon as I finish this I am gonna bait up.

“Have you ever been over to The Landing”?

“No, but I know a fellow, who’s buddy catches big ’uns every time he goes over there”.

“Gimme one of those sandwiches before we head out that a way”

The Landing was sure to hold treasures of sightseeing even if a fish never flops. No luck there either. This went on pretty much all day. A safe bet would be that the spinning prop got more fish than was caught by the total number of angles that day. I have seen a gazillion bumper stickers that read Any Day Spent Fishing is better than the Best Day Working. I am convinced that included the fact if you never wet your hook. This was one of those days, but the horizon was reaching up toward the flaming orb. It was time to head to la casa.

The sixteen foot bass boat glided effortlessly up onto the sandy beach. I told Todlums to jump out and back the trailer down the ramp. I would do the obligatory redneck circle with the boat and drive it onto the trailer. He would then pull me and the boat up the ramp. This can only be done by a man wearing a feed store cap and preferably the sleeves cut out of an old faded denim shirt. I was fixed, plus a half finished Travis Club Senator cigar made by Finch Tobacco Company, San Antonio, Texas, clinched dead center in my mouth finished the list. How does that old saying go? Something about doing number two and would not even , , well something like that.

Todlums got into his ‘62 Chevrolet pickup truck and only on about the fourth try got the trailer backed far enough into the water. Finishing up the ceremonial circle, the boat slide up on the trailer and its belly found the supporting cradle. Peering through the back glass of the pickup, Todlums was watching with anticipation for my signal. That’s when I spotted it. The Chevy was a three speed on the column and the shift lever was sticking straight up. The transmission was either in second gear or still in reverse. Now you tell me which one it was.

I certainly did not want to look silly in front of the scattered strangers around the loading dock so for caution’s sake, I yelled out to Todlems.

“Be sure it is in LOW (gear)”.

Todluns thought I said,

“I’m ready let’s go”

The truck’s engine roared to life. There was an acute backward movement of the blue truck. Hell bent for bassacwards we went. The rear of the truck souged off into the lake until the tail pipe was blowing bubbles like a trapped whale breaking wind. Todlums was still looking out the back glass right at me. Eyes bigger than dinner plates. Before the whole truck got under water, Todlums had sense enough to hit the brake , which slung the boat backwards, squirting off the trailer. Me, Captain boat pilot, had it under control. No problem. The boat was driven from the front swivel seat. The throttle was on the right side and the steering stick was on the left. Sitting tall and unnerved, I yanked back on the steering stick to twist the boat left and I showered down on the throttle to the peg. The moss green Kingfisher lurched forward like a big frog and rammed snugly against the bow stop. Evenrude was squealing at top lung. Todlums recognized the error of his direction and stabbed the gear shift into sure enough low gear. Out we started. The trailer once again dislodged from under the fiberglass watercraft. The boat prop caught hold and forward we went back onto the trailer. This one was going to be one for telling about. About a third way up the ramp, in all the excitement, the six cylinder pickup engine coughed and almost died. Todlums pushed in the clutch and raced the engine to top RPM’s.,,and jumped off the clutch. One more time, backwards I was headed. The trailer was built to tilt in the middle for easier loading and when center of gravity was reached, the back of the boat crashed onto the concrete ramp. Todlums was on his way, so, in short time, the full length of the boat was resting quite firmly on its belly. The back of the boat and motor prop were still slightly in the lake. Boat motor was still at full scream. Mud and water was reaching tree top heights and mud was raining down like a slop filled volcano. Women and children. were running and screaming, hiding behind trees. One dog was barking and jumping up and down. Everyone was in general disarray.

Todlums got to the top of the hill. ( to this day, I don’t believe that he knew what happened until he got out of the truck.) He came running down the ramp and stopped in a linebacker’s stance and just stood there in total bewilderment. The noise was deafening. A fellow fisherman standing next to a picnic table was hunkered over, shielding his beer cooler from the falling mud pies. He was bent at the knees and his brow was furrowed down to the top of his big nose. His mouth was all twisted up in a snarl, with his three teeth showing. His squint indicated that he was not totally convinced that he was seeing what he saw. He was holding his hand out making a silly twisting motion. Finally I realized that he was indicating for me to turn off the motor. I slowly reached over and clicked the ignition off. If was absolutely quiet. The cigar still in its rightful location. The only sound heard was mud splats from falling lake bottom mixed with seaweed and the swinging stainless steel basket fastened to the inside rail of the boat, holding my last beer, swishing back and forth. Skerrshh, Skerrshh, Skerrshh.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Repost from last summer....previously deleted..

Rhythm and Blues

“What would you like to have for supper”?

“I don’t know”. “It doesn’t make me any difference”.

“Me either”.

“How about this rhythm and blues and seafood bar”?


“Yes ma’um, this table will be fine”

“Is it too close to the PA speakers”

“No, that will be fine. we don’t want the bar stools”

“OK, I will be back in a minute to get your order”

The bar was on a lower level of the building that had been standing since the civil war. It was refurbished in a simple manner that was to the period of its original construction. It looks like it may have been a large office or a small mercantile store. He was standing by the bar. He was of average build. Graying hair. He appeared to be about my age. Born somewhere around mid twentieth century. You would not have been able to tell him from any tourist in town. Shorts and deck shoes.

He walked over into the corner of the upper dining deck and picked up a solid black acoustic flat top guitar and positioned himself comfortably on a medium height stool. He dragged the mic stand across the floor with a scratch and a thud. He did not apologize. He started playing. “Kansas City” and stuff like that. I think he threw in several Johnny Rivers numbers. Truthfully, I can’t give you a list of all he sang. All familiar. None great.

The food was good. We continued to sit and listen even after we had had our fill. It was easy to correlate the music with things that had happened in the past. To me at least, that is what music is half about. You hear it the first time and later you hear it, it reminds you of the first time you heard it.

“Are you ready to go”?

“Yep, you”?

A couple of steps away from the table, I stopped and turned around. I walked over to where Mr. Guitar picker was still perched on his stool. I stuck a twenty dollar bill down into the empty beer mug to keep the two singles and loose change company. He looked up and smiled and nodded as if to say “thanks”. I recognized the look that he knew that I knew what a “slow” night was. I nodded and said “good show”.

She was already waiting in the warm night outside on the sidewalk.

“What now”?

“Let’s just walk around and look at a few of these old buildings. I feel much better now”.

I draped my arm around her shoulders and we started up the street. I looked back through the window inside, noticing the rhythm OF the blues. He didn’t notice. I smiled as we walked away.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Not one of my "Best" reposts but actually one of my Favorites

Who is the Dairy Queen

How many times can a juke box loaded with 45’s play a particular record without the needle wearing completely through? “It’s My Party, I’ll Cry if I Want To” has only one more opportunity and it’s dust.

In Texas it is a common knowledge that if a town is large enough to have at least one stop sign, there will be a Dairy Queen. Maybe an exaggeration , maybe not. That Saturday night was different from the others. Well, Leslie Gore was again ever present coming from the Wurlitzer. The players, we all gathered in our prospective places. It is important that we all pay attention to protocol. Settled in with cheeseburger, fries and Dr.Pepper, I watched the episode unfurl and weave its story.

Hank and Shelia always showed up early. Everyone was aware that the back corner booth was nest to the love birds. Sitting on the side facing the back wall must have been a ploy so no one could hear what they were saying or even read their lips, like they were doing much talking anyway. The glaring fluorescent lights did little to dampen their enthusiasm. They had already been there for quite awhile. Outside, leaning back against his red Camero, Bud motionless, with his arms folded across his chest, was patiently taking his eternal butt chewing for something or another. That relationship was set to last-Right. Actually, it did for thirty five years and counting. Tommy was causing a furor or at the pin ball machine. He was sort of the mystery guy. He actually went to another school a few miles down the highway, but their only filling station didn’t have a pin ball machine. He was one of those fairly good looking guys that they girls were always asking us guy things that we might know about him. Tommy was the first one to make a name for himself. It is engraved on a big black granite wall in Washington, D. C.

Going through high school, you seem to develop a picture in your mind of how the world turns. Suddenly you see that the world can turn you. Deb and Rob suddenly got up, cokes and fries hardly sampled, got in her mothers stationwagon and drove away. The never ending fear. Everyone knew before she did. Deb would be a senior next year and Rob was headed over to Louisiana to start collage in the fall. He had been in the middle of explaining,,,, well, you have seen that movie. Almost everyone had drifted in and faded out. For me, it was only a brief visit this evening. I was the senior this year so mine was already away at collage. Phone bills can be a financial suck.

Countless others wandered in and out. Many important participants were scattered with other commitments. Tomorrow was going to be a big day. Graduation. Tonight no one had shown interest in heading over to the cleaners parking lot after closing. Joe flicked off all the lights after the others had all ambled out. The light over the dish washing bin in the kitchen and the soft drink dispenser was the only illumination inside. A sign to go. Leaving, I gave a glance toward the many remnants of masking tape on the kick wall at the ordering counter. Evidence of the many posters hawking football “reception” dances at the community center.

I shut the door of the 59 Chevrolet Apache pick up and rolled down the window. Spring had already gotten hot. I sat for a few minutes just to watch the yellow tube bug light flicker and send out its Morse code ( buzzzzz, buz,, buzz-buzz ) signal A bead of apprehensive sweat slowly trickled down the center of my back.. A shiver. The damp air carried a mixed aroma of Niagara spray starch and Old English Leather. Hesitant but determined, I started the engine. The grousing of the gravel beneath the mud grips, sang a resounding dirge as I quickly drove onto the highway, away from the past. I still use Niagara spray starch.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Put Uped" Tomatoes (Reposted by request because of previously Delete Blogsite)

The rambunctious pre school lad held great curiosity for the bookshelf type pantry build into the wall of the small lean to kitchen. The kitchen had been added years after the log house had be erected by his daddy’s great uncle. A red and white tablecloth type curtain kept the contents hidden as if they held some untold secret. The corners of the cloth were marked with little round spots of rust stain where the humidity had time and time again coated the tacks with the damp morning mist.

The young boy could not recollect why the pantry was off limits. Actually, he could not remember that he had ever been told that it was. Ever meal he would sit at the table and eat his food as the checked curtain brushed against his back.

"Boy”, “Be careful and don’t knock one of those jars off its shelf.”

“You might cut yourself on the broken glass”

Hearing that often enough calloused into a thought of danger and forbidding. There must be some sort of mystery to be solved in that dark and musky pantry. A nervous excitement transformed into a fidgetity, restless mood. His daddy would surly spot that in two seconds. He always did. He always knew when the boy was getting into mischief or was even thinking about it. Once the boy was questioned why he was being so anxious. Naturally the answer was ,

“Nothing”. Standing still as a post. Eyes the size of saucers

The truth was, once in the past, the boy had figured out a way to open a can of fruit cocktail and had eaten every last bite. He had to finally come clean with that one. Evidence showed its self with vigor in fairly short order.

“Boy”’ “What are you up to”? “You have been way to quiet this evening”.

The daddy was turning up the white water dipper and swallowing its contents. The red trim reflecting the glow of the sixty watt light bulb dangling from the low ceiling. He had come in from the back where he had been putting brake shoes on his log truck.


The checkered table cloth was waving like a passing motorist as the boy dropped the left side corner and spun around to gauge his daddy’s expression.

“Pull it all the way back, so you won’t have to crane your neck so much”.

A lopsided half smile was fairly positive evidence that I was in no trouble. Behind the cover were several rows of clear glass jars. I easily recognized the contents. There were only two varieties. About a third were “put up” sour kraut and the others were tomatoes.

“Your momma and grandma put those up when you about a year old”. “They are still good”

Reaching into the top shelf the daddy picked up a jar of tomatoes. A swift twist and the top was off. In a fluid motion, he took a whiff to verify the seal had been kept, he placed the jar on the table. He took two bowls from the shelf over the coal oil cook stove and poured a portion of tomatoes in each. Dusted them with a salt shaker and handed the boy an oversized spoon.

“Try ‘em”, “You like fresh tomatoes.” “These aren’t quite as good but they have their place”

The young boy liked tomatoes any way there was. The heavy red clay soil had given them the punch so familiar to that part of the country. The bowl was soon empty. Feeling fairly certain that he had escaped a scowl this time, asked.

“How come we haven’t opened these up before now”?

He somehow had that mysterious feeling of the unknown again as he watched for expression as much as audible word.

“Your momma liked sour kraut and put uped tomatoes so that year we decided to put all this up. Your grandmomma helped. I did what I could to help and you were still just a baby”.

He took another bite of the tomatoes and gently set his spoon by his bowl.

“That was right before she took sick”.

His eyebrows leveled out and took on a stern stance. His half smile, from earlier, changed into horizontal, motionless shadow. The boy had seen this look on occasion.

“If I could have gotten her to Houston, maybe things would have been different”.

“Boy, aint it about your bedtime”?

It has been reported that the boy went on eating canned tomatoes. The daddy? He was never seen eating “put- uped” tomatoes from a bowl again, as far as it is known.