Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Missouri Waltz - John Valentine Eppel, J. R. Shannon

  
Hush a bye my baby slumber time is coming soon
Rest your head on mommie’s
breast while daddy hums a tune
As the old folks were humming the banjos
were strumming 
And the soft breezes sigh as in days long gone by

Way down in Missouri where I heard this melody
When I was a little
fellow on my mommie's knee
The old folks were humming the banjos were
strumming so sweet and low

Hush a bye my baby go to sleep on daddy’sknee
Journey back to Dixie Land in dreams again with me
Oh, it seems like your daddy was there once again
And the old folks were
strumming that same old refrain

Way down in Missouri when I heard this
lullaby
While the stars were blinking and the moon was shining high
As the old folks were humming the banjos were strumming
so sweet and low
 
 

Let The Good Times Roll - Ray Charles

Hey everybody,
Let's have some fun
You only live but once
And when you're dead you're done
So let the good times roll,
I said let the good times roll,
I don't care if you're young or old,
You oughtta get together and let the good times roll
Don't sit there mumbling
Talkin' trash
If you want to have a ball,
You got to go out and spend some cash
And let the good times roll now,
I'm talkin' 'bout the good times,
Well it makes no difference whether you're young or old,
All you got to do is get together and let the good times roll
Hey y'all tell everybody, Ray Charles in town,
I got a dollar and a quarter and I'm just ringing the clock,
But don't let no female, play me cheap,
I got fifty cents more than I'm gonna keep.
So let the good times roll now,
I tell y'all I'm gonna let the good times roll now,
Well it don't make no difference if you're young or old,
All you got to do is get together and let the good times roll
Hey no matter whether, rainy weather,
If you want to have a ball, you got to get yourself together,
Oh, get yourself under control, woah, and let the good times roll


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

NOT ABOUT DEPRESSION

I feel this need to talk about depression in this blog again.  The problem is that I really don't feel like talking about it.  I am not sure how long it has been since I did write about depression but I am sure my readers are not ready for another go at it.  Not yet anyway.

Writing about depression really wears me out.  Almost as much as thinking about it   There is so much to it and it effects a person and the people around them in so many different ways.  Sometimes when I sit to write though, it pops right out there at the top of the list.  I am refusing to do it this time.  I may not be able to with hold writing about depression in the future but I can today.  So this is an entry not about depression.

Writing not about depression is a tricky thing to do.  I refuse to write about it but it still is in the back of my mind as I don't write about it.  I try to think of other things that are not depression to write about and they all seem to not quite hit the mark.  They are subjects I will write about when I am not not writing about depression, but instead writing about those topics.

I think of writing about some influential people in my life that you will eventually meet.  There is Mr. Allard who had an impact on many kids lives even up until today.  Those kids grew up under his tutelage and were forced to learn to love him and they have not changed.  They still love him.

There is Miss Belden who taught literature in High School and influenced me a great deal on how to read a book and get the most out of it.  She introduced me to books that I would have never known existed if it hadn't been for her.  A lot of those books were very depressing books.  But I am not writing about depression so I won't mention those books here right now.

There were Elementary School teachers that taught me how to learn by listening.  Mrs. Bledoe and Mrs. Fitzwater, my third and fourth grade teachers respectively were very good at what they did and gave me a love for school that would last at least six years until I entered High School.

Coach Madison was my coach in elementary school my fifth and six grade years and was a fine coach.  He would still be coaching at Symington Elementary when my son arrived to go to school there for six years.  I think he had much the same influence on my son as he had on me while I was at Symington.

I have talked about a few of my relatives who have passed on from this life.  I have tried to introduce you to them so that you could get as much of the feeling that they gave me.  They were wonderful people.  I plan on writing about a few more aunts and uncles who are gone from this world but right now that would be, although celebratory to a degree, it would also be depressing so I will not write about those wonderful people quite yet.

I have already posted one depressing song today and I have vowed as part of not writing about depression not to post another depressing song.  I do think that most of the better lyrics to songs are depressing ones because they are the ones that pull at us and make us think and feel.  Not writing about depression means not writing about depressing songs.

One thing that is definitely not depressing is living in the great state of Missouri.  Living in Kansas City, Missouri is an added bonus.  This town is beautiful with all of it;s fountains and mixture of old and new architecture.  It has a culture that would rival almost any city twice as big as it is.  As a matter of fact, if you don't watch or read the news and ignore the harsh cold and snowy winters as well as the hot and humid summers and you don't pay attention to the Royals or the Chiefs, it is almost impossible to get depressed in this wonderful town.

Not writing about depression is a challenge but not impossible.  I feel that so far I have done a fairly good job of not writing about depression and how it effects people.  I have a good job that is not depressing to get up and go to every day for that last thirty one years.  I have a son who it is not depressing to see as much as I possibly can.  It is not depressing to have a wife who cares about me when I am not not depressed as well as when I am not depressed.  I have a dog who does not even know the meaning of the word depression but is rather over the top not depressed whenever he sees me come home from work.

One of these days, probably sooner than later, I will write about being not not depressed.  It won't be today though.  Today I force to look around me at all of the good things in life and try to realize that they belong to me as well as everyone else.  Today I look and see that there is some respect for me coming from the rest of the world as little as it may be.  A little respect can go along ways in keeping a person not depressed though.

I can listen to my music and enjoy the loveliness of it whether it be the Rolling Stones or Beethoven and find myself being not depressed.  I can pick up that guitar that I am so terrible at and continue to try to get better at it and not be depressed.  Even when you mess up with a guitar, it is still a beautiful sound that comes from it.

Being not not depressed is a very serious matter.  It should not be taken lightly.  After my battle with being not not depressed, I would not wish it on anyone.  It hurts too much.

Numb As A Statue - Warren Zevon & Jorge Calderon

I'm numb as a statue
I may have to beg, borrow or steal
Some feelings from you
So I can have some feelings too

I'm pale as a ghost
You know what I love about you
That's what I need the most
I'm gonna beg, borrow or steal
Some feelings from you
I'm gonna beg, borrow or steal
So I can have some feelings too

I don't care if it's superficial
You don't have to dig down deep
Just bring enough for the ritual
Get here before I fall asleep
I'm gonna beg, borrow or steal
Some feelings from you
I'm gonna beg, borrow or steal
So I can have some feelings too

Ain't nothing special
When the present meets the past
I've always taken care of business
I've paid my first and last
I'm gonna beg, borrow or steal
Some feelings from you
I'm gonna beg, borrow or steal
So I can have some feelings too


Sunday, August 28, 2011

CENSORSHIP AT SCHOOL

Mr.Alford was a very young teacher my sophomore year at Ruskin.  He was young enough to still be in that phase of being friends with the students as well as someone in charge.  He was the coach of the cross country team and like many coaches did not teach heavy subjects in the classroom.  His chosen class was that of Health.  This class consisted of teaching us not to smoke or drink and the results that these activities could have on our bodies.  The class was basically a give me class that should be easy to pass.

Mr. Alford was a nice guy and to be perfectly honest he was a good teacher.  The one thing he was struggling with in those early years was a sense of respect from his students.  I respected Mr. Alford but let's face it.  Listening to his lectures every day were not a requirement to passing the class.  Read the book, use a little common sense and you can pass the class easily no matter how difficult he might try to make it.

Personally I don't think he ever really cared for me that much.  I was not one for participating in class very much and had many other things on my mind.  I was more interested in other things such as politics, math, and history.  During my sophomore year there was a great deal of activity in all of these subjects happening as I sat there learning the proper way to take a shower.

One of the ways I kept up with current events was through a great magazine with the title "National Lampoon".  It was a magazine built on a base of satire of current events.  There were plenty of topics to satirize too.  It was the time of the beginning of the fall of the Nixon administration.  The Vietnam war was coming to a climatic end.  The south had rose again as predicted in the form of the Alabama Governor George Wallace.  things were happening fast in sociology and it took a lot of attention to keep up with all that was going on.

The National Lampoon kind of took the edge and seriousness off of a lot of these topics and lightened things up a bit.  I use to save some of the ads in the magazine and even famed a few of them.  My absolute favorite ad from the Lampoon was a Volkswagen Bug floating in the water and the caption was "If Ted Kennedy drove a Volkswagen, He would be President today" in reference to the Chappaquiddick disaster that Kennedy had been subject to.

I soon found out that the best way to pass time in Mr. Alfords class was to sit back and read the Lampoon.  It was much more constructive and a lot more enjoyable. 

Mr Alford however had different ideas on how to pass the time in class.  His idea was to have our books open and listen to him recire what was in the book. I have got to hand it to him he did his best to make it as entertaining as possible.  He had a good sense of humor and used it very well.  Sometimes he went a little overboard with his teasing of some of the students.

It was in his class that I first felt the hard hand of censorship come crashing down on my little world.  I was sitting at my desk minding my own business while he was lecturing about who knows what.  I was reading the latest Issue of the Lampoon and it was a very good article.  It was what Winston Churchill might have handled the Vietnam war situation at this point in the war.

Of course, Mr Churchill would have been tough and taken no bull from the Chinese or Viet Cong.  It went through how he would make no threats but actually tell the enemy what we were going to do right before we did it.  For example he would say we are going to drop defoliate on an area covering these villages and an hour later we would drop defoliate on the same certain areas he had mentioned earlier.  We are going to go into cambodia and lous and bomb the holy hell out of the Ho Chi Ming trail and an hour later bombs would be raining down upon the areas of the "neutral" countries just as he said they would.

When the United Nations would protest against such measures, Mr Churchill would simply lift his hand and give them his famous V for Victory sign with his two fingers.... minus the index finger.  This was the picture that led off the article.  A full page black and white picture of Winston Churchill flipping off the world.  To me it was classic Lampoon.  I was making plans to frame this picture and hang it in my bedroom next to the Ted Kennedy in a Volkswagen ad.

On this particular day I must have really been enjoying reading my magazine.  I know I was totally wrapped up in it because when Mr Alfords hand came slapping down on my desk I was caught totally unaware.  I was then lectured on paying attention in class, studying for test, mainly al the usual stuff.  But then Mr. Alford added something new to the lecture.  He said I spent too much time reading trash.

TRASH????  The Lampoon was trash?  I could not believe what I was hearing so I asked him what was trashy about one of the most original magazines in the country at the time.  He picked it up and opened it up to the picture of Winston Churchill holding up his one finger to the Chinese, the Viet Cong, the United nations and the rest of the world and he indicated that this picture was trash.

I begged to differ but he was firm in his thinking and walked away from my desk with my Lampoon in his hands.  I sat there dumbfounded.  Had a teacher just stolen my property?  I decided that it was not theft as long as he gave it back to me.

When class was over I went to retrieve my magazine.  I was told I would not be getting it back.  I had broken the rules in class by reading it and as punishment I would not be given the chance to read this disgusting filth in his class again or any other class for that matter.

I turned and walked out of the class stunned and shocked.  I had just been censored from reading a perfectly legal magazine.  Of course I could have and should have picked a better time to be reading it probably, but still it was my right to read it whether it was disgusting trash or not.  Mr Alford was restricting me from reading what I wanted to.  A warning not to read it in class again may have sufficed ... maybe.  Well probably not but I should have been given the chance and besides the fact remained that it WAS my magazine that I had every right to read.  Mr Alford's opinion about the National Lampoon should have no effect at all on what I read.

In the end I decided I came up with what really happened.  Mr Alford was envious that I was reading such great literature and he wanted to read it himself.  He confiscated it for himself, to keep in the lower right drawer of his desk so that he could sneak a read of the magazine while his classes were taking test.  It was a classic for of censorship.  Take from the people what they want to read and keep it for yourself to enlighten themselves while keeping the people in the dark.

I have come to the conclusion that this was what happened and Mr Alford was a master censor.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

LAST TIME DRUNK

One of the rites of passage in our culture is when we reach the legal age to drink alcoholic beverages.  In the state of Missouri that age is twenty one.  When a person reaches said age, it is a cause for celebration for some reason.  Usually a night out on the town is planned with friends to go to a nice eating establishment with a good bar.  The newly inducted drinker has a duty to get drunk on his butt for the first time legally.  This doesn't mean he has not been extremely drunk before this night but this time it is legal to get plastered and make a fool of yourself. 

I had been married nearly two years before I reached the legal age of being a public nuisance by the means of alcohol.  When I turned twenty one we did not do the obligatory party for everyone to watch me get drunk.  My twenty first birthday passes quietly with out much fanfare.

I had been drunk several times prior to entry into the Missouri Drinkers club but had kept low keyed about it.  Most of the time when I did drink it was either a beer, gin and tonic, or Beam and coke and were consumed within the confines of my house.

My major drinking buddy was Larry.  He was a year younger than me.  That was one of the main reasons we didn't go out in public on my twenty first birthday.  Larry would not had been able to drink and all the fun would be taken out of it.  So we continued to drink at home.

Every once in a while we would take our Japanese customers from the office out to drink after work.  I was asked a lot to entertain these major customers for the company.  We would take them golfing with a whole cooler of beer on the cart.  We would take them to a local Gentleman's club in Kansas City, Kansas once in a great while.  Our Japanese brethren loved to drink and loved to get drunk, especially when we were paying for it.

During my early to mid twenties I acquired quite a taste for the booze.  Not only did I enjoy drinking, but it tasted pretty good to me.  usually I would not drink to excess but accidents do happen and every once in a while I would find myself drunk.

I don't mean to be bragging about my drinking.  I wasn't proud of the times I would over drink.  On the other hand it didn't really bother me very much either.  Getting drunk was one of those side effects that often comes along with the act of drinking.  One thing I can say is that I never got so drunk that I got sick from drinking.  Well there was this one time when I did get sick from drinking to much.  It was either drinking too much or eating too much or a combination of the two, I am not quite sure.

Larry was coming over one Friday night to spend the evening and watch some television and have dinner.  It was in the late seventies or early eighties and cowboy fashion was the rage since the release of "Urban Cowboy"  Larry and I put on our cowboy hats and went out to pick up dinner.  Dinner on this night was going to be several burrito supremes and tacos from Taco Bell.  The drink to wash these delectable foods down was going to be a hefty amount of Jim Beam mixed with coke.

Jim Beam and coke was a pretty tasty drink.  The sweetness of the coke offset the strong hard liquor taste of the Beam and seemed to balance things out very nicely.  It was so tasty you could drinka lot of it and not realize how drunk you were getting.  That is what happened that night.

We began downing the burritos as though we hadn't eaten in a week.  Those burritos were tasty as well.  Filled with hamburger and refried beans us all of the extra condiments that added into them made them go down as easy as the Beam and coke was going down.  And so it was that we engourged ourselves on the burritos and the drinks while watching a football game.

I don't remember who was playing that night and to be honest I don't remember if I enjoyed the game.  I have a pretty good idea that I did enjoy the game although I have no real knowledge of enjoying it.  We ate and drank through out the game before Larry left for home.  To me he looked well enough to drive but then again, my judgement was not the greatest at that late hour of the evening.  I would have thought my dog was in good enough shape to drive that night.

After Larry left it was left to Barb to clean up the kitchen and the remains of the feast that had taken place that evening.  I sat in my chair with my head buzzing and feeling pretty good.  I am sure that I was talking to her the whole time she was cleaning up but I couldn't say for sure.  By this time my mind was gliding along in cruise control and whatever it felt like saying or doing , it said or did.

Barb went to bed after the cleanup and I sat up with the dog a little while longer enjoying the results of the small party that Larry and I had experienced.   Soon I felt myself wandering off to sleep so I decided to go to bed, where Barb was already sound asleep and resting well until I announced to her that I was coming to bed now to her.

I lay down in the bed and closed my eyes. I was exhausted from the evening but it turned out that closing my eyes was the worst thing I could do.  The second I closed my eyes I felt the bed start to slowly rotate in a circle.  It was either that or the whole room was spinning about the bed.  It could go either way and it doesn't really matter if it was the bed spinning or the room. The fact is it was making me extremely sick.

My stomach began to churn and I felt like something may be coming up before too long.  I worked hard on keeping everything on my insides but there came a point when it wasn't possible anymore.  Suddenly I sat up straight and leaned my head over the side of the bed.  Burritos came pouring out of my mouth mixed with the smell of beam and coke.  The first surge of vomiting stopped and I got up and made my way to the bathroom to empty the rest of the contents of my stomach,

I am not sure how long I was hanging over the toilet but it seemed like forever.  Finally I felt like I was well enough to go back to bed and so I made my way very slowly towards the room, afraid that moving too fast might cause another vomiting excersize.

When I arrived in the bedroom i saw my dear wife.  She was tired.  She was sleepy.  She was on her hands and knees cleaning up the initial mess that I had create after my evening of over partying.  I told her I would finish cleaning it up and she looked at me with a look in her eyes that said "you wouldn't be able to handle it right now."  She was right.  If I had tried to clean up that mess I would have made another mess on top of it.

She calmly to me to get in the bed and try to get some sleep.  The bed was still spinning but not as bad as it had been before.  I eventually fell asleep while Barb was still cleaning up the mess.

I felt horrible about her having to do that.  I apologized  and she accepted and said it was okay.  It was over and done with and in the past.  She just wished I would be more careful with my drinking in the future.

From that night on I kept having the mental image of her down on the floor and cleaning up that mess.  I determined that I would never witness that again.  I pretty much quit drinking after that night and now it has been about twenty five years since I had a drink.  I have not been drunk since that night.  I have made plenty of mistakes in my life but none in that special close way that effected her the way cleaning up vomit does.

I think I did right by this mistake.  She may have had to clean up vomit here or there from either Brett or I, but none of it was because of liquor.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

LEARNING TO COOK

I had known how to cook for a long time.  I could make toast.  I could even do hot dogs, instant oatmeal and pour a bowl of cereal.  There came a time in life when that wasn't enough though and I would have to step it up more than a notch or two for Brett and myself to survive.

Brett was in his late pre-teens when Barb took a job that required her to work well past the dinner hour on a regular basis.  It fell upon me to become the head chef of the house for week day dinners.  I knew that it would take more than sandwiches, toast or oatmeal to keep Brett and I on a health diet.  I decided to turn to a source of cooking that could not go wrong.  Hamburger Helper was the obvious answer to my predicament.  I went to the store and picked up five pounds of hamburger and five boxes of Hamburger Helper.  We decided we liked the Cheeseburger flavored best and so the next week I got two boxes of the cheeseburger mix.

After three weeks of a steady diet of Hamburger Helper with Cheeseburger being the choice for up to three times a week, we became experts on the meals.  We were becoming such experts on the meals that dinner was becoming something to dread instead of something to look forward to.

I came home from work one afternoon and looked at the row of boxes on the shelf set for that weeks dinner.  This was not going to work.  I had visions of the scene from "Vacation" where Randy Quaid says that "They call it Hamburger Helper but I think it tastes fine all by itself."  Brett and I were not going to be sinking that low on the food chain.

I started looking elsewhere in the cabinets and came across a can of Campbell Soup.  The neat thing about this can was that on the back of it, there was a recipe for a dish of food that could serve as a meal.  I looked at other cans of soup.  They all had a recipe on them, a different recipe for each kind of soup.  This could be the answer to our problem.  That night I made a chicken pot pie that was very tasty and also a welcome change from our former diet.

I soon became an expert on the recipes from Campbell Soups.  I would now buy soup at the store and the ingredients that each recipe required to cook a decent meal for the two of us.  As five or six boxes of Hamburger Helper sat aging on the shelf, we became lovers of soup recipes for several weeks.

Soon the excitement of soup recipes went the way of the Hamburger Helpers.  Things were becoming too common and boring.  Once again dinner was not something to look forward to anymore.  Something had to be done and it had to be done quickly.  I think Brett was starting to make plans to eat at friends houses every night if something didn't change.

I was talking about my situation at the office one day when one of the girls told me I wasn't cooking at all.  All I was doing was warming up stuff and pretending it was a meal.  she gave me a recipe for chicken and dumplings.  It was real food and it was fairly simple to make.  I stopped by the store that night on my way home and picked up what would be needed to prepare the surprise meal for Brett.

He loved it and so did I.  I decided we could have that at least once every two weeks.  Then I decided that the chicken pot pie worked out fairly well and I added that to a two week menu.  Hamburger helper would never again be eaten in our house to this day.  We had managed to ruin any chance of any flavor of Hamburger Helper to make any kind of menu in our house.

I picked up a few more recipes from people at the office.  The only requirement was that it be different, easy to fix and taste good.  I managed to collect a few recipes from the office.  Brett and I were starting to enjoy dinner again.

Next I found some old cook books of Barb's and started leafing through them on the look out for something simple.  It was in one of these old cook books that I found gold.  It was a cookbook that use to be Barb's mothers.  It was a collection of recipes from a group of church ladies that they had sold as a fund raiser many years ago.  The gold was a recipe that I still fix on a semi regular basis.  It was a chicken and rice dish and when I took it out of the oven it was clear that Brett and I had hit the jackpot.

This dish smelled terrific.  The golden brown rice hiding the chicken breasts underneath was a golden brown and look extremely tempting.  We anxiously got some plates down and dished out the best meal I had ever cooked excepting steaks on the grill of course.  I watched Brett as he took the first bite.  His eyes closed a little then opened wide.  This was great stuff.  Before he took his second bite he allowed me to take my first taste.  Oh my, now this was cooking.  The chicken was tender and had cooked in the rice and mushroom sauce for a little over two hours.  Sure it took awhile to cook but it was well worth the wait.

After that experience I began to pour through the cookbooks find something here and there.  I was very picky on what recipes sounded good enough to try out.  Within two months I was cooking up a storm.  We were eating well enough that we felt justified in going out for hamburgers once in awhile.  I had hit my stride and had become the cook of the house.

Then it ended.  Barb began to come home earlier where she would have time to fix dinner.  I fought for my spot as cook of the house but the bottom line was that she was a much better cook than I had developed into.  We came across a compromise where I could cook a few times a week while she cooked the rest of the time.  As time passed I slowly turned over the reigns of the kitchen back to Barb.  She is such a good and natural cook.  There was not a chance that I would be able to compete with her except for one item.

Brett and I still absolutely loved that chicken and rice dish we had discovered what seemed like years ago.  Barb understands that we love this dish and that it is OUR dish.  We have the chicken and rice miracle about once a month and whenever we do have it, I am the one who gets to cook it.  It is about the only cooking I do.

Well, I do other cooking as well as the chicken and rice.  I make toast, hot dogs, instant oatmeal and pour a bowl of cereal once in a while.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Music - Loggins and Messina


Do do do ...
Hey little girl won't you meet me at the schoolyard gate
I got back stage passes to the biggest show in town
So honey don't you make me late
If we leave really early and we hurry we can get in with the band
'Cause little Tim Smitty's got his old man's van
So let's get to gettin' while the gettin' is right
And roll with the rythm tonight
God knows that I love my music
Ain't no one gonna change my tune
Don't ya know that I love my music
Ain't never gonna change my tune
Hey little girl want to dance with you all night long
The music got me buzzin' and I feel pretty loose
I feel the rythm and it's comin' on strong baby baby
Lay the rythm on me baby, there's power in the sound
With everybody jumpin' we can bring the house down
So lets get to gettin' while the gettin' is right
And roll with the rythm tonight
God knows that I love my music
Ain't no one gonna change my tune
Don't ya know that I love my music
Ain't never gonna change my tune
(solo)
God knows that I love my music
Ain't no one gonna change my tune
Don't ya know that I love my music
Ain't never gonna change my
Do do do ...
Love my music
Ain't no one gonna change my tune
Don't ya know that I love my music
Ain't never gonna change my tune

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

ROSE COLORED NEIGHBORHOOD

I live in the same neighborhood that I did while I was growing up.  It has changed a lot.  The houses are much older.  The streets are not as clean ans smooth as they use to be.  But the biggest change in the neighborhood is the racial make up.  When I was growing up it was your typical fifties or sixties white suburban neighborhood  Now it is a definite majority of blacks living here. I don't think that is a bad thing.  I feel safe living here.  The people have not changed so much as just the color of their skin.

Everyone wants to believe they live in a safe place and I suppose I am no different.  Perhaps I do look at my neighborhood through rose colored glasses.  There is definitely crime in the area.  There is more crime than I remember growing up.  But the crime does not seem to be over taking the community. 

Crime is up all through the Kansas City area.  Every neighborhood has crime and it is on the rise.  Neighborhoods all around me are seeing this take place and it is taking place on both sides of the state line.  The crime reported on the news from the Ruskin area is no more nor less than other parts of the city.  The trouble is that Ruskin has developed a reputation over the years for being a very dangerous place.  Whenever I hear someone say that it kind of makes me smile inside while at the same time irritates me to death.

The local news either makes a big deal out of a crime n Ruskin because it is SO bad of an area or they make a big deal out of a crime in Johnson county Kansas because it is such a good area.  From what I see the numbers are not that different and Ruskin is not that much worse than several communities in the area.

If you want to look up the neighborhood I refer to with google maps or whatever, here is what I consider to be my neighborhood.  It is located on the south side of Kansas City just north of a small city called Grandview.  It is bordered to the north by 107th street, to the south by Longview Road, to the east by Raytown road and to the west by Blue Ridge.  It is a fairly large area.

We have had our share of meth houses.  We have had a few shootings but very few killings.  There is an extremely small problem with home breakins and no home invasions that I can recall.  Every once in a while a gas station or small store may be robbed but those are few and far between.

There is a drug problem out south, I won't deny it.  It is worse than it was when I was in high school but then again, the drug problem is worse everywhere in the city.  As a matter of fact from the news I watch locally the crime is up everywhere.

The sad part is that people think they can run away from these problems.  They can't.  The problems of drugs and crime are not a black problem nor a white or Hispanic problem.  It is a societal problem that wil follow you no matter how far out into Kansas you may move to try to run away from it. 

I am of the firm belief that if law abiding citizens who care about where they live would stay instead of running away, then perhaps the crime problem would not be quite as bad as it is.  This is what happened to Ruskin.  White people got scared or refused to live next to black people.  To me it ignorance to the max.  The more people fled, the lower house prices dropped and soon the community became just a little bit poorer that it was a few years before.

The thing is that the blacks that were moving out south were moving to what they wanted which was a safer neighborhood in which to raise their kids.  They are in a safer neighborhood now but it could be a lot safer if people would use their brains instead of their emotions at times.  The white flight from Ruskin left us with a very high number of rental houses.  Rental houses mean instability and do not help the consistency of a community.

Here is a true story.  The house next to me had a nice white family living in it.  It was a rental house.  The landlord (from Johnson County... just saying) told the young man if he painted and worked on the house he would take it off his rent.  So the young man worked and worked on the house.  Then the landlord came and told him the house was in such goo.d shape, he was going to have to raise the rent.  The young family could not afford the new rent and had to move out.

The family that replaced them were a crazed bunch of idiots you would expect to see on IFC on a Friday night.  They absolutely terrorized the neighborhood, particularly my family.  We put up with them for almost two years complaining to the landlord numerous times and having to call the police out to the house when they got really wild.  Finally the landlord decided to sell the house and so they had to move.

He sold the house to a black couple about our age. They are the nicest people and I honestly could not ask for a better neighbor than Big Bob.  He keeps a watch on the houses around the block and keeps all the kids in line up and down the street. We talk often on his front porch.  He would do anything for me if I needed help, as I would him.  He has helped push my car through a snow drift in my driveway.  He keeps the hedges on our fence line nice and trim and I cut the mutual yard between our houses.

Our street is about 60/40 black to white and it is a good ratio.  We have not had any race problems on our street.  We have not had any break ins that I know of and violence is all but gone from our block since that one crazed couple left.

Black and white CAN live together.  Blacks are not born violent or hateful of whites just as whites are not born that way either.  Sometimes the music gets too loud at one of the houses, usually when the parents are not home and all it takes is a small walk and a polite request to get the music under control.

I am proud of my block.  I am proud of my neighborhood and I am proud of my city and State.  Crime is out there for sure.  But one thing I have learned is that you can not run away from crime.  It happens in urban areas, suburban areas and rural areas.  We have to be good neighbors and watch out for one another to fight any crime that might come our way.  If we work side by side, black and white, rich and poor, I sincerely believe we can keep the crime level to a manageable level.

A lot of you may think I am foolish in my thinking.  So be it.  I am willing to be a fool.  I have been my whole life anyway.  But I am a fool that believes in the over all and majority goodness of mankind.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

STATE FAIR

Originally I was going to write about a fun day at the Missouri State Fair many years ago.  Then I saw the headlines coming in from Wisconsin. It is the second year in a row that violence has marred a State Fair.  Last year the Iowa State Fair had violence destroy what should have been a good time with eople from all over the state coming together to have a good time.

This week the Missouri State Fair opens in Sedalia.  I have been to the State Fair several times both before Brett joined our family and after we got Brett.  We never had a bad time.  We have seen concerts, horse races, and then the year long work of the 4-H clubs throughout the state.  That is what a State Fair should be.  It should be a family time, rubbing shoulders with others from the state that are just as proud of the state as you are.

That was not the case last year in Iowa though.  Although Iowa officials tried to down play the rampaging youths by saying it wasn't race based, the film footage showed different.


It was a shocking event that had never really happened before.  I was stunned as I watched the violence erupt in our northern neighbors fair.  This was not fun.  This was not a family atmosphere. It was the sort of thing you do not expect to see in Iowa. This was not what a State Fair was supposed to be like.  Thankfully things settled down in Iowa after the violence and the rest of the State Fair went off without any problems.


Today as I was preparing to write a piece on the Missouri State Fair I decided to check some news out first.  Among all of the news of the economy and wars was an article on racial violence at the Wisconsin State Fair.  From the video I saw it made last years Iowa State Fair incident look like a small street fight that did not amount to much of anything.


The Wisconsin officials stated that the violence was racially motivated and the last report I saw stated that they planned on charging some individuals with hate crimes, which as it should be.  Now two years in a row an American Tradition has been marred by senseless violence.





Hopefully this will be the only State Fair effected by this kind of madness. I don't understand why this has happened the last two years.  What is triggering this?  It could be the economy.  It could be unemployment frustrating citizens who are not able to find jobs.  It could be any number of things I suppose.  But why are the State Fairs being singled out and targeted?

I certainly hope that the second greatest State Fair (behind Texas) at Sedalia, Missouri does not see this kind of activity as it prepares to open this week.  Maybe I will get around to writing a story about some of my adventures in Sedalia but tonight I just don't feel much up to it.  It seems that an American institution is under attack and it doesn't sit right with me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

MEETING LENNY BRUCE

Once upon a time, long long ago, there were places where people would congregate to watch movies under the stars.  The screens were huge an it was a little difficult for the projectionist to focus the image of the film very sharply.

People would drive to these theaters and park upon little hills that resembled speed bumps.  The people would park their cars in an arc around the huge screen and park the car on the hill so that they could see the screen sitting back in a comfortable position without the rear view mirror getting in the way.

They were called drive in theaters.  At one time I can remember approximately twenty to thirty drive in theaters in the Kansas City area.  As the popularity of the drive ins grew, some of them added a second screen.  This would allow you to watch two movies at one time.  The problem was you could only listen to one of the movies.  There were poles sticking out of the ground every where that a car could park.  The speaker would be taken off the pole and hung on the window of the car.  It had a little knob that controlled the volume.  The sound quality was horrible.  You could get better sound from an AM radio then you could from one of these speakers.

Sometime late in the last century the popularity of the drive ins began to fall off.  They would soon try all kinds of things to keep making money.  One of the drive ins in Kansas City began to show X-rated movies.  It was a drive in theater that was located in what use to be Fairyland Park, a very popular amusement park long before in Kansas City.  A place where families use to go to all the time to ride the Wildcat roller coaster and other rides and would stay for a movie was now an adult film house under the stars.  They were able to get away with it because the screen was hidden back in the woods in the midst of lots of trees.

Other drive ins began trying to bring back the younger set to their screens.   They began showing films that had run through the new multi-screen theaters that were going up all through the suburbs drawing the movie watchers back inside.  There were advantages to going back inside to watch movies.  The seats were more comfortable, you didn't have to deal with rain storms that would blur the screens and, of course they were air conditioned.

Still there was a certain magic that the drive ins had and young people.  You could take all the snacks in with you that you wanted.  You could expect a little privacy when you were with your girl.  You could talk back to the movie when you were with a lot of friends or not have to listen to others talking back to the movie in other cars.

The biggest draw to the younger set was the midnight showings of old cult movies.  One of our favorite theaters to show Saturday night midnight flicks was the old 63rd street drive in.  They would come up with some of the strangest movies that you had never seen and probably would not see again.  They showed the classics of course like "Reefer Madness" and the like along with lots of shorts. among these you would likely be able to see the Three Stooges on the big big screen.

It was at the 63rd Street Drive In where I first met Lenny Bruce.  There were several of us in the car that night.  Mike was driving while Larry, Barb and myself rode along.  When you went to a midnight showing, you had to wait until the regular movie goers had left after watching the feature.  The entrance to the 63rd Street was long and it was steep.  Mike had a car that did not have a parking brake and so as we waited to get into the drive in, we had to put rocks under the back wheels to keep the car from rolling back down.

We finally made it into the theater and before long the midnight cult movies began to be shown.  This particular night would be a night that would add to my lifetime philosophy in a very big way.  They started off with a couple of shorts followed by a so called "Feature" film.  Then the moment I would long remember happened.

It was an animated short called "Thank You Masked Man".  It was a satirical look at the Lone Ranger and Tonto.  It was meant to be funny with a little bit of shock value.  I watched it and I enjoyed it a lot.  Larry and I began to quote some of the lines on a routine basis from that day forward.  As the credits for the little cartoon rolled I noticed a name that was given credit for writing, producing, and all of the voices in the short.  The name was that of Lenny Bruce.  It was the first time I had heard of Lenny Bruce and the first bit of his that I had heard and I liked what I had heard.

I did not go looking for more Lenny Bruce material after that night but I never forgot it either.  Then Dustin Hoffman did a film called simply "Lenny".  I read the ads about the film.  The story of one of the modern ages tragedies.  The story of a philosopher for the ages.  The story of Lenny Bruce and his trials and tribulations.

I went and saw it on it's first run.  Hoffman brought Lenny Bruce to life in one of his better performances.  In the film I heard more of Lenny's routines for the first time.  He had fought the system for freedom of speech and freedom of thought.  Between my first introduction to him back at the drive in and the eye opening film that told what Lenny was all about I became very interested in him.  When I heard George Carlin say that his main influence was Lenny Bruce, I became a fan.

Lenny and I share a birthday. We were both born on October 13.  Lenny was born 31 years before I was.  He died on August third when I was ten years old.  Lenny's intellect and philosophy spanned the generations though and it still does.  He fought for constitutional freedoms that were promised but suppressed.  Thanks to Lenny Bruce we were given George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Lewis Black, Margaret Cho, Sam Kinison and Kevin Smith.  Doors were opened and doors were walked through.

The 63rd Street Drive In still is there but there is no screen and there are no movies shown.  It is a swap and shop on the weekends now.  But the old sign that use to light up the night still stands indicating that it is indeed still the 63rd Street Drive In.

Still today when I drive by the 63rd Street Drive In on my way to the office, I often think of the night I met Lenny Bruce for the first time.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

DRIVE ACROSS THE STATE

It is the weekend of my Aunt June's funeral.  She passed away last Wednesday evening after a tremendously long battle with strokes, seizures and cancer.  She fought hard and she fought until she could fight no more.  She was a good aunt, as all of my aunts are.  I am extremely lucky in that department.

I drove my parents to St. Louis on Friday morning.   We were set to leave at ten o'clock but thanks to my mother we didn't depart until two minutes after ten. During that two minutes it began to rain.  It would be a rain we would never be able to outrun the whole trip because of those two minutes.

During those two minutes three cars went off the road on I-70 causing major slowdowns and putting us back even further in our schedule.I figure those two minutes that mom took writing Justin a note could have saved us forty-five minutes on the road.

I forgive my mother for those two minutes even though it did put us in rain and heavy traffic for four hours. In the end we did eventually arrive at our destination so I guess in the big scheme of those those oh so important two minutes can be or should be readily forgotten.

Phone calls were a big part of the trip.  My sister Carol Jeanne called and mom tried to convince Carol that mom was doing the driving.  Two things helped my older sister from buying into this ruse.  Mom is nearly blind from macular degeneration and she hasn't driven a car in over twenty years.  If it weren't for those two facts who knows what Carol's reaction may have been.

Then my little brother Bob called and talked a bit.  During this conversation mom detailed the note she had written to Justin that caused us our two minute delay, of which we are readily forgetting about.  So now Justin had note on what he was supposed to do as well as his father telling him what he was supposed to do

Then Justin called and once again the note that had made us two minutes late in leaving and we are readily forgetting about was told to Justin.  Now Justin had a note telling him what to do, His father telling him what to do and his grandmother, author of the note that set us back two minutes from scheduled leave time of which we are readily forgetting to remind him of what he was suppose to do.  I hope Justin did what was specified in the note that set us back two crucial minutes of which we are forgetting about because otherwise it would be a wasted two minutes and we would have gone through the rain and the three cars off the road for no reason at all.  Thankfully we are forgetting the note that set off this sequence of events of driving through the rain and coming upon three accidents.

It was a somber mood in the car as we were all aware of what we were going to St. Louis for.  In the past it might be for a family get together.  I could be a trip to go see a Cardinal baseball game.  It could be to meet Elaine halfway and have some visit time with her.  But most of all past trips were made to visit and enjoy the company of Jack ans June, two people forged into one.  That would not be the case this time.  June would not be there.

When we walked into the house it is immediately apparent that there was a missing hole that had always been there.  June use to get so excited when people would come to visit them.  That excitement was missing.  Jack was telling stories without being interrupted with corrections every two minutes for the first time in my memory.  That was always one of the joy of seeing the two of them together.  Neither of them ever saw the same event with the same facts.  A five minute story could easily be stretched out to fifteen minutes.  That was missing big time and you felt it in your sould that June wasn't there to keep Jack in line.

My cousin Dawn knows that I have problems with loud noises and crowds of people.  As soon as we arrived Dawn took me out grocery shopping followed by a trip over to her house.  Dawn has one of the nicest cutest little houses I have seen.  It is made of brick and is very orderly.  Her attic is a shrine to the St.Louis professional sports teams as well as the Missouri Tigers.  It was very impressive indeed.  She had been holding a Sammy Sosa autographed program following the events of the season that McGwirer and Sosa had chased after the home run record in a single season.   Really touched my heart when she handed it to me.

We sat down to a spread of about eight pizzas and ate together.  We reminisced about my Aunt June and what a special lady she was   It wasn't a depressing talk about her but rather a fun talk, remembering things and events long set onto the back of our collective remembrances.

Over the next few days we will honor June more.  We will have a service for her and finally we will lay her to rest.  Even though she will not be present in the house anymore, her family will never forget her, just as we have never forgotten those that went before her.

Love you June and will miss you.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

DISINTEGRATING PANTS

For me, there is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing Kansas University clobbered in some sporting event.  It is especially sweet when their basketball team goes down to a lesser foe, of which there are many.  However, I will bask in the warmth of watching their football team get hammered or their baseball team getting run off the field.  I am not sure why I enjoy it so.  Perhaps it was because I was raised from an extremely early age that Mizzou was the greatest thing in college sports.  Grandpa use to say that "Nothing good ever came out of Kansas" and I guess that has stuck in my brain.  My Uncle Jack and Aunt June both attended Mizzou and wore the black and gold proudly.  At any rate, one could say that I was far from being a KU fan and continue holding that belief to this day. (MIZ-ZOU).

The people who lived behind us were neither Kansas nor Mizzou fans.  They fell somewhere in the middle by being Oklahoma alumni.  Every Saturday Mr. Eddie would fly a bright red Oklahoma flag on his flag pole.  If the team lost, he would sadly go out and fly the flag upside down for the remainder of the day.

They were huge Oklahoma football fans and had complete season tickets every year for both road games and home games.  As they aged and started going to the games less and less they started offering me tickets to the games that were close to home.  One year I would get tickets to the Mizzou-OU game and the next year I would be the beneficiary  of Kansas-OU tickets.  Even though I never saw a game where Oklahoma lost it was still fun to travel to Lawrence or Columbia to see a ball game.

I can't remember which year it was but I do know it was a year that the Eddie's offered me tickets to see Oklahoma play Kansas.  It was a no brainer as it was every year to accept the tickets.  Barb didn't feel much like going and so I called my friend Larry to see if he wanted to take the trip.  He was more than willing.  Later in life, Larry would actually attend Kansas and become a Jayhawk lover himself.  He is close enough of a friend that I don't hold it against him though.  After all it is not his fault he was brainwashed while he attended the University.

Larry arrived at the house and we prepared old blue to transport us to the game.  When we got into the car something went wrong.  Old blue did not want to start.  It seems that his battery had run down over night.  I wasn't going to let anything keep old blue from running or keep me from going to the game so I went and bought a new battery.

Simply put, brought the new battery home.  Took out the old battery, installed the new one and headed out to Kansas.  It was a nice drive.  The weather was perfect for football.  The sun was shining and the temperature was in the sixties.  To make the day even better, both Larry and I knew that this was going to be an ugly display that was about to happen on the Kansas campus.

The first quarter went as we expected.  Kansas unable to stop Oklahoma with the football and unable to move the football against that huge Oklahoma defense.   The second quart was going pretty much the same as the first until I looked down at my jeans.  I noticed a small hole a little above the knee.  MY leg was itching just a little but I didn't think much about it at the time.  Halfway through the second quarter I looked back at my jeans and the hole was almost twice as big as before and a second hole was beginning.

It was then that I showed the holes to Larry.  He shrugged and said what's going on?  I knew what was going on.  It was called battery acid from old blues old battery.  We were coming down towards halftime and the left leg of my jeans now had one large hole and three others beginning and growing.  The right leg of the jeans had two holes starting already.  It was going to be a race between the end of the ball game and the end of my jeans.

At halftime I went to the restrooms and tried to rinse off what was left of my jeans with some cold water and paper towels. I knew that with my pants soaking wet I would not have to worry about any girls making a move on me.  It looked rather disgusting actually.

As the third quarter progressed I started to actually lose bits and pieces of my pants.  I was able to just touch a bit of denim and it would slide off with my hand.   Most of my thigh of my left leg was open to the sunlight and the right leg was catching up.  I began to wonder at the end of the third quarter whether I would be departing the stadium in my underwear or not.  This was beginning to be a rather embarrassing situation.

I have no idea what went on during the fourth quarter that day.  I don't know how bad Oklahoma ended up destroying Kansas by. My whole concentration was on my jeans.  Every time a piece of denim would float to the concrete under our bleacher Larry would let out a little giggle.  I was not giggling however.  Larry wanted to know if we were still going to stop for a bite to eat on our way home.  Nope, didn't think so.

The game finally ended and I left the stadium looking like I was wearing a pair of clam diggers instead of my big bell Levis.   It was a long trip home.  While I was driving I could feel more of my jeans flaking off.  We passed up where we were going to eat because I had this fear that half way through the meal they would kick us out because I wouldn't be wearing pants.

Barb greeted us as we arrived home.  I got out of the car in my new pair of shorts.  Barb was in shock.  What had happened to my jeans?  I proceeded to tell her about changing the battery in old blue and how I had stupidly rested the old battery on my thigh when I pulled it out before replacing the new battery.

She must have thought she had married an idiot.  As a matter of fact I think she may have said something to that effect.  Through all of this I never blamed old blue for my stupidity.  It wouldn't have been fair.  Then again, I never blamed old blue for anything that went wrong as long as I owned it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

If - David Gates

Recorded by BREAD

If a picture paints a thousand words,
Then why can't I paint you?
The words will never show the you I've come to know.
If a face could launch a thousand ships,
Then where am I to go?
There's no one home but you,
You're all that's left me too.
And when my love for life is running dry,
You come and pour yourself on me.


If a man could be two places at one time,
I'd be with you.
Tomorrow and today, beside you all the way.
If the world should stop revolving spinning slowly down to die,
I'd spend the end with you.
And when the world was through,
Then one by one the stars would all go out,
Then you and I would simply fly away



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

CLARK COFFEE GENE

I love coffee.  It is by far my favorite drink.  I drink it up from sunup to sundown and past that sometimes on until the time I go to bed.  The caffeine doesn't seem to effect me that much.  I can drink a cup of coffee right before going to bed and be asleep within thirty minutes and sleep through the night.

I recently found out where I got my love of coffee from.  When my coffee maker broke down last week, I got a plethora of condolences from cousins and aunts on my fathers side of the family.  I hardly heard a word from my mothers side.  The cousins on the paternal side were so sympathetic and discussed their own love of coffee at length over several posts on Facebook.

When I bought a new coffee maker over the weekend and posted it on Facebook, the cousins came out in full force once again from my dad's part of the family.  They wanted to know details.  They wanted to know the brand and the features that the new coffee maker had.  Then they went into their own love of coffee at length over several posts.  I thought back to Grandma Clark and remembered that she use to drink coffee a lot while my Grandma Hill never ever drank coffee.  My dad drinks coffee a lot like I do while my mother will not touch the stuff.  It is pretty easy to come to the conclusion that my dad's family gave me a strong coffee gene and I can truly say I am glad they did.

My love of coffee did not have a love at first taste happening.  It was a process that took a few years until I truly found that I was meant to be a coffee lover.  The first taste of coffee was on a camping trip with Scott, Ronnie, Larry and a few younger kids when I was about fourteen.  Ronnie's dad had taken us to Swope Park to spend the weekend in a concrete shelter that looked like a teepee.   It was a fun weekend although some not so fun things happened that weekend.  The event that directly effected me had to do with Scott.  Yes, this is the same Scott who melted his Rolling Stones album and had teased a bull until he had to jump an electric fence to save himself.  Needless to say Scott had a fun reputation and I always enjoyed having him around.

On this camping trip he had brought with him a brand new pellet gun that his dad had gotten him.  It wasn't a rifle type gun but a hand gun and the pellets were big.  That night we were goofing around in the concrete shelter when Scott discharged the gun towards the floor.  It ricocheted off the floor and up to my arm.  Luckily it was just a flesh wound as the pellet went on by my arm to his the side of the enclosure and do a couple of more bounces before landing.  I was in immediate pain and did not hesitate to let my comrades know that I had been hit.  Meanwhile Scott was looking for the pellet figuring it would be good for another firing if it wasn't misshapen too bad.  He had asked me if it was in my arm and when I said no, he immediately left me to look for the pellet.  This was a case of Scott having his priorities in place.  Meanwhile Ronnie and myself went outside to look at my arm.  There was a big red welt on it and the arm was numb for the most part.  Ronnie decided I would be okay and I agreed.  We went back in to give Scott a hard time for firing the pistol inside.

Ronnie's dad was an Air Force man.   He was probably the most physically fit man I had been acquainted with during my lifetime.  He ran several miles every day and lifted weights.  Ronnie had picked up on this from his dad and would become a member of the cross country team at school as well as have a set of weight in his bedroom that he would work out with while I sat on his bed listening to music.  I was not much into being in shape in those days, or any days since then actually.

Before we bedded down for the night, Ronnie's dad asked if anyone wanted to get up and run with him in the morning.  For some stupid reason I volunteered.  At six o'clock the next morning I was shaken awake by the father of my best friend.  He was ready to run.  He started to perk a pot of coffee up giving me time to get dressed and to wake up before we started out jog around Swope Park.

To this day I think it was the longest I have ever ran.  We ran around the old lagoon.  We ran over to the soccer and rugby fields.  Swope Park has many little roads leading hear and there.  Finally I noticed we were heading back towards the campground and so I kept up the pace.  As we came to the camp ground entrance I noticed the old man wasn't turning in there.  He was heading up towards the zoo!!!  that was another four miles at least.  MY mind said No, don't do it and I complied.  I told Ronnie's dad I would catch him later and dragged myself up to the campground.

When I got there, Ronnie was up tending a fire.  He asked where his dad was and I just waved my hand in the general direction of the zoo.  Ronnie was really kind at this point.  I remember his exact words that morning.  "Hey, don't worry about it.  Very few men can keep up with dad."  That was a nice thing to say and it did pick up my spirits a little.

Back to the coffee now.  Ronnie's dad came jogging into camp about thirty minutes later.  As he poured himself a cup of coffee he asked us if anyone else wanted a cup.  SURE I heard myself saying. There was something deep down inside that told me I was a coffee drinker.  It was some of the worst coffee I have ever had.  It had been made in a peculator over a fire.  Some of you may remember what peculated coffee tasted like.  Not very good.  Add the bad taste to it being my first cup of coffee and I had a tough time getting it down.  I felt like I was going to vomit it back up after I had drunk half of a cup and so I slipped behind the shelter and quietly poured the other half out.  When Ronnie's dad asked me if I wanted some more I politely declined.  He smiled and I knew that he knew.  Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and I did that day.  Ronnie's dad didn't say a word about it though.  That whole family was classy.

It was at school where I did learn to love coffee more than anything.  The special education class at school sold donuts and coffee before school to raise money for their special needs.  It was there that I found out that one of the best things in the world was a fresh glazed doughnut with a newspaper and a cup of coffee.  Larry and I use to walk to the school every day.  We would arrive about forty five minutes early and sit with some of our other friends in the cafeteria eating doughnuts, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper that we had gotten from some randomly picked front yard on the way to school.  (never said I was perfect).

Then the final leap into coffeehood.  I went to work for my dad the summer I was sixteen.  We arrived and dad went upstairs to brew a pot of coffee which he brought back down to the shop for us.  Well, at that time he brought it down to the shop for himself.  As I picked up a cup and poured myself some coffee, dad got this inquisitive look on his face before asking "What are you doing?"  I answered that I was getting me some coffee before starting to work.  He didn't know I drank coffee and I don't think he took it very seriously until by the end of the summer, I was drinking almost as much coffee as he was.  Nowadays, He doesn't drink as much coffee as he use to, but he always has a pot ready to brew when I go over to lunch with him and mom.

It is that Clark Coffee Gene and I have a fairly strong dose of it.