July 29, 2014

Jokers.......

...... so, having been raised in and around a very small town in the Tennessee Valley - just off the western slope of the Appalachians - I often hear stories from the locals that just make me shake my little red head.........

...... today I visited the local barber shop for my bi-monthly shearing and the following small talk by me morphed into something totally unexpected...... it was just we two, you see - the 73 year old barber and myself......... so, to the best of me recollection, the conversation wandered gently and steadily as described below.......

Me rising from the barber chair: ...... ahhhh, you always do the finest job, sir...... now my hair looks fine but I have to go home and curry this damnable beard...... say, are you ever called upon to shave folks very often?

Him, raising an eyebrow and placing his hand to his chin: ..... yannow, not a lot any more...... but back when I first started barbering, why, we'd have five shaves to every one haircut just about every single day..... yes, sir........

Me: ....wow, that is surprising!....... I guess it has just gone out of fashion as of late..... having folks go to the barber for a straight razor shave....... hell, I've only had a shave like that once..... I was in Bangladesh at the time the shave only cost me twenty-five cents...... scariest quarter I've ever spent, I'll tell you.....

Him:...... well, see, this was back when the railroad still carried passengers..... every stop they'd be walking in to get a quick shave before they made their final push on to Knoxville, Chattanooga, or Atlanta - depending on the direction the train was going...... yep, we'd have five shaves to every haircut........ say, that reminds me.......... I used to have a friend who would come in every single day for a shave back then...... he was a railroad detective for the L&N here in town.... real high roller.... rough customer....... anyway, he was in getting his shave one morning and Old Lost Tom came in......... Old Lost Tom was a guy who was left shell-shocked after WWI and he used to wander around town all day in beat-up old pants and his undershirt...... he was in a pretty bad way but everyone just left him be...... anyway, he sticks his head in the door one day and yells over to me, "hey, where can a man buy some rubbers around here?"....... well, I told him that he could go around the corner to Anderson's drugstore ..... all he had to do was ask the fellow at the back and he'd fix him right up......... well, let me tell you, that railroad detective never let me hear the end of that.........he thought it was almighty funny..... and once a day for the next two years he'd stick his head in the door and yell, "hey! got any rubbers? I need me some rubbers!"....... then, of course, he'd leave off laughing.... .and I would be left to explain the sordid story to my patrons - much to my embarrassment.......

Me: ...... he sounds like a character...... but I have a feeling that you broke him from that, eh?......

Him, moving through and taking a seat where the customers usually wait:...... well, it went like this....he did that trick one day when one of his fellow workers was getting his hair trimmed.... and after I explained the situation to him, he told me of a story that concerned my railroad detective friend...... it seems that he had been chatting up a certain young lady passenger on the train once and had been called away...... upon his leaving, his co-worker, having been looking for him, asked her if she knew his whereabouts....... "who", she had replied in her best Atlanta drawl, "that ole bull dick?? ..... why, railroad detectives are all the same.... he's likely in the caboose boozing!"...... well, see?...... detectives are "dicks"...... and railroad detectives are called "bulls"....... so, the street savvy lady had correctly titled him with a more than appropriate sobriquet, as they say....

Me:.. .... BWHHAAAHAHAHAHAHA..... good lord, baby Jesus........ what did you do?

Him: .....well, I did as his friend advised, of course........ the next time my railroad detective friend stuck his head in the door and yelled for the rubbers, I quickly replied, "why, you get out of here, you old bull dick! You know they ain't nothing around here that'll fit that scrawny pecker of yours!"......... and do you know what?......... after years of abuse?........ I only had to do that once, and he never tried that little trick again.........

Me: ..... sir, thank you for the haircut...... and thank you for the story........ I love the haircut, but I appreciate the tale much, much more.........

.... and with that, I left....... my goodness....... if you have never lived in a small southern town, you truly do not know the countless gems and treasures that you are missing out on daily......... you truly can't make this stuff up.....

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June 14, 2014

Declaration.....

..... if you can read the Declaration of Independence without getting a tear in your eye then there is something very wrong with you and your understanding of American History.....

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May 11, 2014

Headlights....

..... this past semester at college was an interesting one....... in spite of irritating my communist American History II professor, I still managed to pull a 91 for a final grade, and I found a laughingly large amount of satisfaction in that particular A....... but the most fun, unexpectedly, was in Music Appreciation.......

.... for our final "project" we had to write the final chapter of our text book and submit it for grading...... each chapter focused on a song, the melody, the lyrics, the tempo, the timbre, etc.... and we were asked to pick a song that we enjoyed and analyze it musically......... I, of course, chose a song that I listen to almost daily and that most folks have probably never even heard...... my professor certainly hadn't.... and she teaches music!......

.... anyway, I awoke this drowsy Sunday morning with lines from the fist verse of this song replaying over and over in my head for reasons that my age-addled mind cannot fathom........

"I sat on the porch without my shoes
And I watched the cars roll by
As the headlights raced
To the corner of the kitchen wall"


...... when I was growing up I lived at the wooded end of a dead-end street...... prior to the 911 adjustment of the road naming convention it was called Addison Switch Road...... now, of course, it is the much less interesting "County Road 511"..... personally, I like Addison Switch much better, but the public's safety must be maintained for the Greater Good..... and bureaucrats do so love their tidy numbered streets.....

..... when darkness fell, it was dark....... there was no traffic on my childhood road after lights out..... there were never any "headlights racing to the corner of the kitchen wall"....... that is, with the exception of the summer nights that I spent with my Great Uncle Robert and my Great Aunt Louise...... Robert owned a large, sprawling farm in the town of Madisonville where he grew acres upon acres of tobacco every summer....... and my cousins and I were drafted each summer to swell the ranks of his makeshift army of workers to harvest it......

..... although his farmland stretched deep into the countryside, his tiny farmhouse say just beside a fairly busy road beneath three enormous and ancient maple trees..... the road was always quite busy by my dead-end standards, and cars would pass by at least every ten minutes or so......

.... after working in the fields for him all day in the hot sun, we would come home for dinner..... and I would spend the night sleeping on the sofa in his living room wrapped in a tufted old afghan that Louise had crocheted....... or a hand-pieced quilt that her mother had quilted 75 years before I was born....... and as I would begin to fall asleep I would hear the approach of a car........ zipping down the old country road in front of their house.... and as the sound of the tires on the tarmac crunched louder and louder I would open my eyes and stare at the ceiling........ humming, humming, humming along, and then the light...... bright, all at once...... a sliver of light in the corner of the living room on the ceiling...... slowly sliding across the wall...... past the recliner..... downwards..... and into the kitchen...... and then the rush as it slipped up the hall and out the other window........

.... the car had passed....... and soon, I fell asleep exhausted.......

.... my teacher seemed to enjoy my choice of song even though she had no clue who John Prine was...... sometimes education flows both ways, I guess....... and we students can enrich our mentors as much as they do us........

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