Thursday, December 17, 2009

What's "Grosser Than" Old Poetry?

Recent postings on SFK by well known (to some) authors, besides proving you can take the girls out of the country song but you can't take the country song out of the girls, have inspired my competiveness. This poem we Kennydale kids used to recite back in the early 50's possibly is a well-UNknown classic by now. We thought it was pretty funny then and its still not bad. As far as I know it never had a title. I'll call it "One Bright Morning..."

One bright morning in the middle of the night two dead boys got
up to fight.
Back-to-back, they faced each other;
Drew their swords and shot one another.
A deaf policeman heard the noise,
Pulled his gun
And stabbed the boys!

That's All, Folks. At least for now. I'll save the naughty 60 + year old Johnny F.....faster and Harry Bawls jokes for another time. Also the scatological "cherry pie" stuff. Mostly, these
have NOT aged well, especially given our sensitive, politically correct socio-political circumstances these days. There is, however, this one that has a great punchline....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Meal Deals on Wheels

I'm in the midst of negotiating a deal for a new Ford pick-up with a dealer in Bellevue and one of the issues that has come up is paying transportation costs for moving the vehicle up from Oregon. In stating my objection to paying this fee I pointed out that their marketing costs dealing with me via e-mail on the internet were very low and they should reflect that in their pricing. After all, it's not like they're trying to sell my father!

In 1968 Pa "had a few" of a miserable Saturday afternoon and decided to attend an on-site sales promotion at Lowes Motors, a truck outfit on Rainier Ave. in Seattle at that time, not a hardware store in Renton. They were handing out free hot dogs to all comers, no purchase required, of course; just looking was just fine. When he finally came home he announced that he had eaten 5 hotdogs before they had finally sold him a new 3 quarter ton Ford Ranger, eventually to be aka "Freddie" around here. Freddie's price new was $3800 so Pa figured he ate four $750 hot dogs and one especially good one at $800. He told this amusing story with various elaborations and exaggerations pretty regularly when "he'd had a few". It was a good fable and well presented, so we didn't object much, even after ...oh, about the hundredth telling.

Well "Freddie" , after a couple of fall hunting trips, miscellaneous light hauling, maybe a bit of driving to work and the bowling alley in the Hilands, saw pretty minimal use over the years as Pa "had a few more" and lost his license. When I took it over it actually got more of a workout in a few years than it did all the time he had had it. In fact, you could say he got more mileage out of his truck buying story than he ever did out of the truck.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Down at the Crick

"Down at the crick!" That would have been a frequent answer to the question, "Where's Waldo?" (or anybody else) during the springs and summers of the late 40's and 50's. We kids spent a LOT of time on the reach of May Creek between the Kennydale School trail and the stream's outfall into Lake Washington. We fished, waded, grubbed periwinkles for bait and just messed around.

In those pre I-405 days there were several easy ways to get to the creek. We could drop down 100 or so yards directly below Kennydale school on a trail that started about where the ARCO station is now and ended at an old bridge. I haven't looked recently, but that trail may still be there. When fishing season opened in the spring (May Creek was a "juvenile fishing only" stream that opened when lowland lakes did in April rather than May with the rivers and beaver ponds; it's closed entirely year around now) I would take fishing gear to school and "fish my way home" downstream after school. After (often ) catching a few small trout I'd claw my way up the bank from the creek to the old washed out May Valley road that exited on the Vergello property (the east stub of 38th No. is all that now remains of this road ), cross 106th (Meadow) into to our back pasture, acrobatically navigate the electric fence and gates, usually without a major shock, and finally, emerge into the back yard.

Besides the school or Vergello property routes we could, depending upon what our purpose was, go down or up the bank at the Roger's place, also across from our back field, or the Fawcett's (northeast corner of Meadow and 40th now). To reach the very lowest portion of May Creek we would go to the mouth at Bar B mill or the crossing at Lk. Wash. Blvd.

It's interesting that most of this reach of May Creek still appears pretty much like it was 60 years ago, at least in terms of streamside development. A typical coho stream with small pools, riffles, and woody debris, salmon still run in it, though probably not in their former numbers. The mouth HAS changed a lot, though. There's a CSO outlet at Lake Wash. Blvd. now and the channel has been straightened and "improved" through the mill property (Connor Homes). One of these Tuesdays Ranger and I are going to go down to the Blvd. and wade upstream to get a first hand look at what's going on in these modern times on the mighty May. If you want to get in touch with us that day, we'll be down at the crick.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Playing Detective With Miss Benson

Paloma starting school; Ina soon to arrive; and a "Forensic Files" TV episode which featured "old school" and "new approach" teachers across the aisle as defendant and victim in court probably combined to bring to my mind this snippet of experience from my Kennydale Elementary days.

Miss Benson was a rookie teacher for my 5th grade homeroom. We all thought she was nice, but too dolled up, maybe, and definitely overperfumed. Otherwise ok. At the time, of course, I had no idea there was such a thing as workplace politics, but in hindsight I can see that there might have been a bit of tension between her and our stalwarts, Miss McMillan and Mrs Rose. Maybe Mr. Ogden, that jerk, figured in there, too, though in a different way. Miss Benson used some teaching techniques we kids hadn't seen before and one of them led to.... dum de dum dum...trouble.

For getting us involved in math and showing how it applied to our lives Miss Benson decided to set up a classroom "store". We all were to bring some stuff for the store and she supplied real money for us to use in transactions, making change and so forth. Two things ensued from this scenario, both of which could have been predicted, and no doubt were by our vet teachers: 1.) Most kids were bored, having long since been experienced in real store dealings at the mom and pop establishment across the street from Kennydale in those days. 2.) Crime occurred.

It wasn't long, of course, before some of the money disappeared and Miss Benson was faced with the thorny problem of figuring out what to do about it. She consulted with Principal Cooper and their decided approach was to have us visit Miss Benson for individual interrogation. Now, in an amazing feat of pedantic multi-tasking, we were going to get lessons in civics and criminal justice to go along with the arithmetic. We all crowded into the hall and went into the room one at a time for brief face time with the teach. My own interview was brief and to the point: I ratted, "Look no further. Jack Rog..." No, I'm kidding. She said, "I know you didn't do this, did you Mike?" "Nope" and I was outta there. Looking back, I'm sure they knew the villain (obviously Jack Rogers little brother, right?) but needed to demonstrate fairness and due process. Students were never told the final outcome of this, but after a few days the store was liquidated and we moved on.

Clearly Miss Benson learned more from all this than the kids did. She went on to work at Kennydale for several more years, a respected member of the staff, and a good teacher. The last time I spoke to her I was then in high school. She was Mrs. somebody by then, but still a bit dolled up and perfumy. If I didn't mean that in a good way in fifth grade, I did then.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mr. Sensitivity, the Early Years

Without a lot of explanation as to what brings about these self-reflective and "converstions with" thoughts it's clear to me now that my approach to trouble is pretty clinical. Figure it out; be useful; leave that touch-freely crap to the girls.

It knew me early. Mrs. Crotts lived in what is now the Robbins place and when I was 5 or 6 I used to visit over there, scurrying through the hedge almost daily. My mother worked at Longacres Cafe in Renton in those late 40's days so Mrs. Crotts also babysat us at our house from time to time. Mrs. Crotts had three sons: Boo, Kenny (who was my uncle, married to my dad's sister Ruby) and a soldier son who had been killed in WWII. One day, after I and some friends had been enthusiastically conducting mock battles as US Marines, complete with Army surplus canteens and helmets I visited Mrs. Crotts and noticed and asked about the portrait of the uniformed fellow on a shelf above her dining room table.

Who was he ? Her son. Where was he? He died in the war. Was he shot? Yes. WHERE was he shot? Oh, in the heart, I suppose.

My mother was appalled when she heard about this "conversation with Mikey", the early Mr. Sensitivity.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Talk is Cheap

Stuff my father used to say:

- "If you've got 'em, bet 'em; if you don't, bluff."

- "You get busy and find that hammer (pliers, screwdriver, whatever)."

- "Well, I'm gonna have to call you a liar, then."

- "Eat your mush first; THEN you can have some bacon and eggs."

- "No use going out 'til you can see; can't see 'em, can't shoot 'em" (this was probably so for the kind of hunting he did, but not for most of that I've been exposed to since).

- "Shoot them between the eyes or in the neck!"

- "Stop that WHINING!"

- "You're good when you can do the job with bad tools."

- "A little shock never hurt anyone."

- "You go find your switch."

Things Jim and Tiny used to say:

"Ow, Ow, Owwww!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Age Crimination

When you're 67, 3 or 4 years difference in age between friends and relatives is a yawn, but when you're 6 or 7 it's a yawning class gulf. Caste lines are obvious and sometimes rigid when you're a kid. My social environment was like that and consisted of same age peers, mostly schoolmates; slightly elder mentors; younger mentorees and "the big kids." You might want to read "The Body", aka "Stand By Me", to get Stephen King's take on "big kids." This is part of mine.

The most relevant big kids in my life were my older brothers, Jim and Tiny. In many ways we lived completely separate lives both at home and out in the world. Some of the older fellows all over Kennydale, for whatever reason, seemed to devolve into a rougher crowd in the mid-fifties, the era that invented "juvenile delinquency", and Jim, Tiny, Jack Rogers, Paul Stark, Dick Madsen and others around here were caught up in that. Several of them even became semi-career criminals with multiple stays in various institutions. Our local guys were getting busted for shoplifting, car theft, bank robbery, various scams (including one having to do with ripping off paper route customers) and burglary. No murder, though. As far as you know. There was a boatload of criminal activity. It almost seemed like someone was getting caught for something new every week. Though most of them grew out of this errant behavior as they grew older, some didn't live long enough;others suffered opportunity lost in their lives.

My reaction to this state of affairs was very like the epiphany I had re smoking. It just seemed stupid and was causing a lot of grief and I decided I wasn't gonna do any of that. Pretty much became a goody two shoes, if you can imagine. No. I know you can't . Forget I said that.