Protection

We’ve seen these guys come on TV and then tell us they need an AR-15 to protect themselves, their families, and their property. I’ve tried to imagine just how that would work and I’ll share my line of thought with you. First, we must start by acknowledging that a lethal weapon such as an AR-15 must be kept[i] in a locked gun cabinet or gun sage. Now let’s see how this protection thing would play out:

The guy is sitting in his living room, drinking a beer, and watching TV.

He hears shouts and a crashing noise, like someone is trying to kick in his front door.

This is a home invasion!

He jumps to his feet.

He puts the beer can on the coffee table, making sure he has placed it on a coaster (He has been screamed at many times for making rings on the furniture).

He runs to the room where the key to the gun safe is hidden.

He retrieves the key and runs to the room where the gun safe is located.

He unlocks the gun safe and opens the door.

He grabs his trusty AR-15.

He pushes odds and ends of ammo out of the way and grabs a magazine.

He flips the AR-15 over and, he slams the magazine home.

 He flips the AR-15 over and prepares to chamber a round.

Too late, the intruders have him covered.

Oops, now the bad guys have another AR-15.


Dave Thomas

8/4/2022


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Call to Action

Mom’s and Dad’s, Grandma’s and Grandpa’s, lots of sweet little kids and people of all ages, are being murdered in our country every day. Yes, it’s happening in our country, our America. Who cares? The Supreme Court doesn’t seem to. The Congress doesn’t. The NRA damn sure doesn’t. I fully understand this is a mental health problem. What irritates me is that we could cut the fatalities and swing the odds to more favorable numbers. It’s not that complicated.

  1.  Ban the sale of assault rifles and similar weapons.
  2. Background checks for gun buyers 18-25 years of age
  3. Red flag laws to alert police to people of questionable intent
  4. Gun safety classes
  5. No open carry.
  6. Review qualifications for concealed carry permits.
  7. Public service announcements regarding respect for others, courtesy, and good manners.

The mass killing problem has many facets. If we are going to win, we must commit to going after them with determination and all the forces we can muster.

If you think number 7 above is too simple or corny, please thing again. In 2016, when the Trump administration came into power, it was like an evil cloud had settled over the whole country. Suddenly, it was okay to be your worst self. Disrespect for others, lust for power, greed, nastiness, and just plain being mean seemed to be okay. Well, it’s not okay. We need to make better individuals of ourselves.

Dave Thomas

07/28/2022

Mealtime Entertainment

Yeah, I know I’m a wuss. My wife tells me that every time we eat something containing peppers or horse radish. I can break into a sweat just by thinking of eating something hot. Being at the table with everyone can definitely be embarrassing. For instance, if we are having chili, I need two paper towels. One should be two tear-off sections wide for my face, and the other, three sections wide for my hair. My hair gets just as wet as if I’m having a shampoo. The sweat actually drips off of it.

My wife feels I have missed a great career opportunity. I could have been a television advertising star for Mexican, Chinese, and Italian food products. Picture this: the commercial opens with me sitting at the kitchen table looking calm and relaxed. My wife, Pat, places a bowl of chili in front of me, and I start eating. Suddenly, there is a surprised look on my face. The orchestra hits a majestic lick, and the camera zooms to a shot of my forehead. Beads of sweat break out all over my brow. I throw up my arms and yell “This Casa Caliente Chili is fantastic!”

I can do this. No sweat.

P.S.- Just writing this has caused my hair to become sopping wet!

Dave Thomas

7/15/2022

Still a Bad Idea

In the spring of 1952, Jack Watson was a senior, and I was a sophomore at Augusta High School. Jack and I had been friends since I was 3 or maybe 4 years old. This was due to our parents being friends. Jack and I did a lot of things together as we were growing up. We bicycled and hiked, and as we got older, we hunted and fished and went camping. Occasionally, some dumb idea would show that we might be a bad influence on one another.

In his senior year, Jack was taking a chemistry class. I’m not sure why. Later, in college, he majored in finance, and became a CPA. Claude Wise was the instructor of the chemistry class. Mr. Wise always made his classes interesting by adding extra facts and tidbits of information to the curriculum. One day, for instance, he told Jack’s class how easy it was to make a still. Jack even ended up with a sketch showing how the thing would go together. Jack was pretty excited when he told me about it later, and convinced me that we should build and operate a still of our own. We knew that stills and moonshine were illegal, and that under-age drinking was illegal, and that the whole idea was probably covered by a bunch of laws we hadn’t even heard of. Of course, that made no difference because we both were hooked on the idea.

I can’t recall the details such as what hardware was required or how to prepare the mash. I do remember that Jack and I went down to the Western Auto Store, and split the cost of some copper tubing.

We needed a placed to store our secret project and Jack suggested his smoke house. I know that you younger people may not have heard of smoke houses, so I’ll tell you what little I learned as a kid.

Prior to the invention of refrigerators and freezers, it was impossible to preserve meat for any length of time. It could be smoked, packed in salt, pickled in brine, or jerked, but none of these preserved it for long.

Some of the finer homes, I guess built in the 1920’s or 1930’s, had a smokehouse built directly by or behind the back door of the home. That provided easy access in inclement weather. The residents could smoke their own meat or store the meat that someone else smoked for them. The Watson home was one of those nicer places that had a smoke house. Though an older home, Jack’s dad, Frank, had remodeled the place, and it was in fine condition. Their place had a smoke house and a single car garage. The smoke house was maybe ½ to ¾ the size of the garage. Frank used it as a workshop and kept his tools and equipment in it.

There were only two smoke houses in town that I was acquainted with. The first, of course, was the Watson’s. I remember one time when Jack bought an old Cushman motor scooter for $5. We put it in the smoke house and worked on it for days. It never fired. Jack finally had his dad haul it to the city dump.

The other smoke house I remember belonged to old Mrs. Rogers, the mother of Ordess Rogers and grandmother of Russell Rogers. She hired me a couple of times to do yard work, and kept the yard tools in the smoke house. Her smoke house was smaller than the Watson’s. It was maybe 8 x 10 or 8 x 12.

Before getting involved with smoke houses, I was talking about making a still. Jack and I spent a couple of weeks rounding up the parts and storing them behind some stuff in the back of the smoke house. One weekend when Jack’s folks were out of town, we assembled the thing and fired it up. It worked perfectly, and soon real moonshine was dripping out of the coil. When there was enough for both of us, we took a sip. Gad, it was awful! It was like drinking turpentine! That cured us right then. We dismantled the still while trying to get the taste out of our mouths, and hid the parts in the back of the smoke house again. Unfortunately, Jack’s dad found the parts before Jack could get rid of them. Jack got reamed out thoroughly, and then Frank told my folks, and it was my turn in the barrel. We both agreed  later that the chewing out wasn’t half as bad as the taste of that stuff. It was a dumb mistake that was never repeated.

Dave Thomas

7/7/2022

Caste or Outcasts

Our founding fathers thought they had the perfect solution for the enactment of the laws that would give structure to our democracy. A citizen/patriot would run for office, get elected, serve their term, and return to their regular lives. They didn’t realize that being elected to Congress would be the maiden step toward a life-long career. Ordinary people are enjoying the best job they have had in their lives. They are making more money, have the world’s best healthcare, receive money and gifts from lobbyists that make them rich, and enjoy a position of prestige enjoyed by few in this world. They have become the legislative caste in what we thought was a classless society. What if the job went back to being more of a civic duty rather than a career? I realize that what is regarded as “corporate memory” would be lost, but that can be overcome by enthusiasm and diligence. I might add that this caste system is becoming the norm. The GOP is ignoring the polls and treating their constituents as untouchables.

Dave Thomas

6/22/2022

Melting Pot

America has often been referred to as a “Melting Pot”. This is not an accurate descriptive term for our country. After 250 years of existence, if we were truly a melting pot, we would have blended into one color. Don’t freak out on me as I don’t mean it literally. I just mean we should all be of one mind as to who we really are. We all carry labels, two of them being skin color and country of origin. We may be black, white, yellow, brown, or red. And we could be African-American, Mexican-American, Italian-American, Native American, Irish-American, Chinese-American or some other hyphenated species. At birth or at court, we become citizens-Americans. Wouldn’t it be great if we just called ourselves Americans and the only colors we worried about were red, white, and blue? Even though a work-in-progress, America is still the greatest democracy the world has ever known.

Dave Thomas

06/15/2022

Not What She Deserved

It was a warm summer evening, and the kids, Russ, Doug, and Terri were playing in the front yard after supper. Pat was finishing up in the kitchen, and I was working in the garage with the big overhead door open. Suddenly, an El Cajon police car pulled up at the curb, and an officer got out and went to our front door. I headed for the front door, and got there just after the officer knocked, and Pat opened the door. The officer said, “We got a report that your son, Russell, had urinated on a neighbor girl. I’m here to find out just how that happened.” The kids had already gathered around to see what was happening. Pat and I both said that Russell wouldn’t do such a thing. The officer turned to the kids and asked which one was Russell. Russ identified himself, and the officer said, “Okay, Russell. Tell me exactly what happened.” 

Russ told the whole story:  The 7-11 down around the corner from us had a sale on some cheap water pistols, and the neighborhood kids had been having a lot of fun with water fights. Unfortunately, the water guns were so cheaply made, they didn’t last long.

A couple of days prior to this, we had visited our friends, the Hewitt’s. Roy Hewitt’s horse had been sick, and he had been giving it shots with big horse syringes. Roy hadn’t thrown the used syringes away but had left them on his work bench. Russ saw how big they were and thought they might make good water guns. Roy said he could have a couple of them, so Russ took them home and started using them.

The evening in question, as I said, the kids were playing in the front yard. A neighbor girl came riding down the sidewalk on her bike, probably headed for the 7-11. This girl had quite a mouth on her and she was always giving the rest of the kids (mainly Russ) a hard time about something. She finished her comments and rode down the sidewalk. A few minutes later, she came riding back up the sidewalk. Russ just happened to have a loaded “water gun” syringe in his hand, and, seeing the approaching girl, he hid his hand behind his leg. As the girl rode past them, running her mouth all the way, Russ pulled his arm out from behind his leg and squirted the girl as she went by. She must not have noticed until she got home, and then she or her folks decided that Russ must have urinated on her.

Pat and I could see that the officer was having a hard time keeping from laughing. He pulled himself together and put on his “tough cop” face and said, “Okay, Russell, I believe you, but I don’t want this to ever happen again.”

Dave Thomas

06/10/2022

More About Miss Patty

Lee The household on 8th Street in Eureka, Kansas was always busy. Maude Lee had her two daughters, Melba and Mable and Melba’s daughter, Patty, living with her. The house was a one bedroom with a small living room dominated by a pot-bellied coal burning stove, and with a large kitchen with a wood burning range. There was a small front porch and a screened-in back porch, and of course, an outhouse,  complete with a Sears Roebuck catalog as a source of paper.

Gathering fuel for the stove was a family affair. They each had a bucket, including Patty, who had a bucket that was just her size. They would walk along the railroad tracks and pick up the lumps of coal that had spilled to the ground when the tender or fire box was being loaded.  The family was grateful for the coal, but Patty had another railroad memory that wasn’t so good. One day, there was a derailment that resulted in a railroad car laying on it’s side just a couple of blocks from the house. That really frightened Patty as she realized that if the train had  gone a little farther it could have wiped out their house.

Maude worked hard to support the family. She baked and sold bread and pastries. As a girl she learned to bake in the kitchen of the hotel owned by her grandparents, John and Nancy Nole of Watson, Missouri.  Maude also raised chickens, so she had both chickens and eggs as sources of income. Also, the house was located on a very large lot so there was room for a good-sized vegetable garden. They sold some produce throughout the summer, and then they were able to can enough to get them through the winter.

Patty turned four years old a week before Pearl Harbor Day in 1941    The war caused life in the Lee household to change considerably. Beech Aircraft in Wichita was hiring, and both Melba and Mable applied for work. Both were hired and became Rosie the Riveter defense workers.  Melba was an expert at crafts or anything that required good hand to eye coordination, so she was soon promoted to supervisor. They moved to Wichita, and since there was no way to care for Patty, she stayed in Eureka with her grandma, Maude Lee.

Maude only had an 8th grade education, but she loved to read and made time to read a bible verse every night. She passed her love of reading onto Patty who, at 84, still reads constantly.

The neighborhood store was 3 blocks down and 1 block to the right. Maude taught Patty to count and make change. When she needed one or two items from the store, she would tell Patty the price and explain how to determine how much change she would receive from the amount tendered. Patty, who had a basket on the front of her tricycle, would peddle off to the store and make her purchases. When she got a little larger, Patty had a 4-wheel vehicle and could carry more stuff.

Thanks to the generosity of the neighbors, a bootlegger and his wife, Maude was able to use their phone and call the taxi man. The guy wasn’t a real taxi company but was just a man that had a car and would drive folks around town for a small fee. These were people that had made it through the depression and were still just trying to survive.

The bootlegger’s wife was Maude’s best friend, and she and her husband were good to both Maude and Patty. They even arranged for Patty to make a little spending money by washing the Mason jars and other containers used in their business. Patty doesn’t remember the exact structure of the deal but believes that for every two jars washed, she received one penny.

One day, as Patty was washing jars, the phone rang. The bootlegger answered and after a moment said, “Thanks Sheriff,” and hung up. Then, he yelled “Run for home, Patty!  There’s going to be a raid!” Next, he and his wife began carrying out tubs of clear liquid and dumping them in the corn field.

While working in Wichita, Melba came home to Eureka to spend the weekends with Patty and Maude. Taking the train made for an easy trip. Sometimes, to give Melba a break, Maude would send Patty to Wichita by herself. She made sure she had crayons and a coloring book, and would take her to the depot and hand her off to the conductor. The conductors were reliable men and would place Patty in the front of the car where they could keep an eye on her. The trains were almost always filled with soldiers and sailors. They were all leaving behind someone they cared about, so it was comforting to them to have a little girl like Patty to fuss over and pass the time with. She says they were the nicest bunch of guys you could ever meet.

Pat enjoyed living with her grandmother and appreciates everything she learned from her.   She lived with Grandma Lee until she was 12 years old and had completed 6th grade.  At that time, her mother got married, and they moved to El Dorado.

Dave Thomas

5/19/2022

The Modern Navy, Unzipped

I joined the Navy in March of 1957. What prompts a landlubber from Augusta, Kansas to enlist in the Navy? Well, I liked the tradition of the Navy, but, what was more important, was the educational and training opportunities that the Navy offered.

On the day I was to report, my friend, Johnny Luding, drove me to Wichita and dropped me off at the Navy Recruiting Office. I was 20 years old and most of the other guys were only 17 or 18, so I was put in charge. I was given instructions and paperwork for everyone, and we were loaded aboard a train for Kansas City. At Kansas City, we were loaded into a Pullman car on another train so we would sleep on the way to Chicago. At Chicago, the next morning, we boarded a commuter train to Great Lakes Naval Training Center.

At the Great Lakes, what appeared to be a couple hundred of us were herded into a big gym where we were given physicals and then were sworn in. Next, our new clothing was issued. We immediately started checking out our “dress blues.” The first thing, of course, was the white hat (pronounced as one word). Next, came the neckerchief. Then, the navy blue jumper with the white piping. Now, what’s next? These are not 13 button, bell bottom pants! These are straight-legged trousers with belt loops and zippers! What the hell? I didn’t join the Navy because of their uniform, but if I’m going to be a sailor, then I damn sure intend to look like one. I’m not going to go around dressed in trousers like an Army ground-pounder or and Air Force fly-boy. Jeez, what’s the world coming to? We asked an official looking guy what the deal was. He said that in an effort to modernize, the Navy had outlawed 13 button pants and gone to conventional trousers.

I suffered this indignity for the next year. I finished boot camp, went to AN “P” School at Norman Oklahoma, went to Aviation Electronics “A” School at Millington, Tennessee, and joined Patrol Squadron Forty-Eight, a seaplane squadron in San Diego, feeling an imposter. Then, I noticed that some of the older guys were wearing their 13 buttons again. The Navy had relaxed the dress code. My wife agreed that I should have some real Navy clothes, so we saved up a few bucks. There was an Army/Navy surplus store on Pacific Coast Highway in San Diego. I took my savings there, and for less than 20 bucks, got a pair of 13 button pants. Hot damn! I finally looked like a real sailor.

Dave Thomas

5/12/22