It’s Not Easy

Today, I have to depart from my usual type of storytelling. We have a topic here that can no longer be denied.

A famous frog once sang, “It’s not easy being green.” That’s true, not only for frogs, but also for peas. People are always bad-rapping the pea and only because they have never learned how to properly prepare it. Nowadays, the pea is used more for its color than it is for its nutritional value. A cook or chef will plate up a pork chop or a chicken breast, add mashed potatoes and gravy, and then realize that what they have dished up really looks boring. So, to add a little color and excitement to the plate, they toss on a bunch of peas. It’s true, that they have added some color, but they have also added a component that is cold and dry and boring as hell. What a crumby way to treat a pea.

To properly prepare peas, open some canned peas or frozen peas, and put them in a pan. Add enough water to cover the peas well, and then do a good job of cooking them. When the peas are hot and well-cooked, ladle them into a side dish and make sure you add enough juice to cover them. Add a sliver of butter and some salt and pepper and you have a tasty dish that is ready to serve.  Eat the peas with a spoon so you get plenty of that delicious juice.  Bon Apetit!

That’s all I have to say about peas.

Dave Thomas

August 8, 2019

 

 

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Houses on the Move

It’s always been a surprise to me to pull up to a stop sign, diligently look both ways, and see a house coming down the street at me. That always wakes me up. Houses are supposed to remain fixed, and not be coming at you. That kind of thing isn’t seen much anymore, but years ago was quite common. When towns were formed, the businessmen built their homes within walking distance of the main street. Later, as the towns grew, the citizens moved a little further out. The original homes, now much older, were torn down or, if in good condition, moved to a new location. The land had value though the homes themselves may have lost theirs. Sometimes the homes were sold and then moved, or if someone just wanted to develop the property, they might give the house away rather than suffer the expense of tearing it down. This is how house moving developed into a business, and it became quite popular after the 1930’s. I don’t know much about moving houses, but I can tell you a couple of stories.

 

My cousin, George P. Sicks, graduated from high school in Iola, Kansas during the days of the dust bowl and the Great Depression. There wasn’t much work in farming country for a young man at that time, so George looked for greener pastures. He hitchhiked to Los Angeles and walked the streets looking for work there. Finally, in the city of Long Beach, he hooked up with a man who moved houses. There was enough work to keep George busy most of the time. However, George wanted to do better for himself, so he continued to look for work. He finally found the perfect solution. He found an evening job building movie sets for one of the movie production companies. So, when there were houses to move, he did that during the daylight hours, and in the evenings, worked on the movie sets. He finally was making enough money to live comfortably without wondering where his next meal was coming from.

 

When I was growing up in Augusta, Kansas, we had one man who specialized in moving houses. His name was Boler Wilson. Boler was a quiet man with a set of shoulders that gave the impression that he could pull a house down the street by himself. Boler and Mrs. Wilson lived in the eleven hundred block of School Street, I think, the last house before 12th Street. Every now and then, as kids, we would spot Boler towing some house down the street. Aside from the trucks pulling the house, there were usually men on foot with long polls to push tree branches and telephone lines out of the way.

 

My dad, Al Thomas, was a brick layer and concrete block layer. Boler sometimes hired him to build a foundation for a home after it was moved to its new location. Normally, it was a concrete block job, and when I got older, I was able to work for Dad, mixing mud and carrying the concrete blocks.

That’s really all I know about the house-moving business. I’m still amazed by the memory of houses going down the street.

Dave Thomas

July 31, 2019

 

Money’s Pond

 

Augusta High School’s football field was known as Worl Field, named after a coach from the 1920’s. The school, built in the early 1920’s, and was located at the corner of State St. and Clark St. To find the football field, you went around the south end of the school and turned north to find the access road to the field. That road was located a few yards down the building and went downhill and to the west to reach the field.

 

The land bordering the road and football field on the north was occupied by a man named I.M. Money and his wife, both senior citizens. Mr. Money, by some called “Old Man Money,” was a nice old guy who farmed that land around him. Mrs. Money was a pleasant lady who was good to us kids. A few times, when we were cutting through their property on some expedition, she waved us to the house, and provided us with cookies.

 

The Money’s home was kind of in the middle of that adjoining land. Nearby, and not far from the road, was what we called “Money’s Pond.” I don’t remember if the pond was spring-fed, or if it was created by run-off. The pond was shallow, and its main inhabitants were crawdads. Also, this is where I learned to ice skate. Gary and Bill Casner, my neighbors on Cliff Dr., were usually with me. H.H.Robinson, the Superintendent of Schools, also a Cliff Dr. resident, was a frequent skater. Mr. Robinson, a man who enjoyed all sorts of physical activities, was a good skater and a good instructor. He taught us how to skate, how to play hockey, and how to just have a good time.

 

Gary and I had clamp-on skates. You know the kind; they had an ankle strap, and clamps on the front that were supposed to anchor to the soles of your shoes. Good luck with that! I don’t know where he got them, but Billie Bob Casner had shoe skates. Due to the shoe skates, and the fact that he was two years older than us, Bill was a much better skater.

 

Most often, we were skating in the evening after dark. We built a bonfire to provide light as well as warmth. Sometimes, there were as many as a half dozen other kids skating, but I can’t remember who they were. I just remember that we all had a good time.

Dave Thomas

March 21, 2019

 

Evolution

I was working in an electronics factory in the 1960’s. People looked the same in our plant as they did in most business places in America. The women in the front offices wore attractive dresses and tailored suits. The managers, supervisors, engineers, accountants, and other professional men all wore white shirts and neckties. They appeared to be in uniform. This was contradictory to what happens in nature where the males are brightly colored, and the females have a more subdued look in order to protect themselves and their young.

 

We had a manufacturing engineer named Bob Scholl that worked with us who was a pretty sharp dresser. He was always well-groomed and looked really good in his clothes. One morning, the door to the production area opened, and in walked Bob wearing a charcoal gray suit, pink shirt, and matching tie. The ladies in the assembly area were aghast, and the room went silent. After a moment, the comments started. “Look at Bob!” “What is he wearing?” “What does he think he’s doing?” “He can’t wear that!” “Do you think he’ll get fired?” It was as if the world had been turned upside down. No one could believe what they were seeing.

 

Bob went about his work that day, and, as usual, was seen in most of the departments of the factory. He was not fired, but his pink and gray outfit certainly caused some excitement.

 

It was like Bob had opened the floodgates, and the rainbow spilled out. We soon began seeing shirts of many shades of blue, green, yellow, and every other color. In our world, Bob was the Darwin of the spectrum.

Dave Thomas

January 18, 2019

Daybreak

 

We recently had a rainy November morning. Any rainy morning in Southern California is a happening. I’m thinking now of a rainy morning that occurred many years ago, probably 1965 or 1966.

 

It was 6:00 am, and I had shaved, dressed, and had breakfast, and was ready to go out and feed the horse. The horse was a three-year-old bay filly named Sweetie. I know it sounds like a corny name, but she was so mellow, I couldn’t call her anything else. There was a gentle rain falling, so I pulled on my boots and windbreaker, grabbed a flashlight, and went out the back door. Sweetie was standing in her shed, looking out the door, and watching me cross the backyard. As I slipped through the fence, she came up and nuzzled my arm. (You can’t kid me. I know that your greeting is 25% that you are looking for companionship, and 75% that you want to be fed.)

 

We walked to the shed, and I entered the door on the storage side, and picked up an old coffee can and filled it with a couple of inches of sweet mix. I took the sweet mix into Sweetie’s side of the shed, and dumped it into the feed box. She went after it like a kid going for ice cream. I had to be careful in how much I gave her because the stuff could make her high as a kite- like a kid on a sugar high. I took the can back to the storage side, and I grabbed an armload of alfalfa and brought it back over and dumped it in the manger. Sweetie went after it right away, and I started stroking her neck and talking to her. As she munched on her hay, she moved a little and pressed her shoulder up against me.

 

It was warm and dry in the shed, and we were comfortable with each other, so I continued to stroke her neck and talk to her while she had her breakfast. After a few minutes of this pleasant interlude, I headed back to the house. Nothing big, just two beings sharing a moment before starting the day.

 

I exchanged my boots for dress shoes, and the windbreaker for a sport coat, kissed my wife, and left for work.

 

Dave Thomas

12/13/2018

Company For Breakfast

Pat and I had gotten up just a few minutes before and were just sitting down at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee. We heard a noise outside and Pat got up and opened the curtains. There was a donkey with his lips almost against the window. He must have been as startled as we because he cut loose with Hee-Haw, Hee-Haw and it was loud enough to shake the house! We recognized the donkey as the pet of the Noble family that lived several houses up the hill from us.

We had been visited by the donkey a couple of times before. We had a Shetland pony for the kids that we kept in a corral next to our back fence. In the previous visits the donkey had come down the back fence- line but for some reason this time he had come down the street. I had my jeans on and was wearing flip-flops or thongs or shower shoes or whatever you call them. I went out to the shed and got a lead rope and came back and snapped it onto the halter the donkey was wearing. I headed for the street to take him home and he was well-mannered and led on a slack rein, walking beside my shoulder.

We got to the street and started up the hill but it was tough going for me. The asphalt streets in our development had been sealed a couple of days before and then a fine layer of sand had been spread on them. The footing wasnt that good and I kept scooping up sand with my flip-flops. I was relieved when we got up the hill to the Nobles house. However, about this time, the donkey must have realized he was almost home and he snorted and whirled around and started running back down the hill. I dug in my heels and yelled Whoaas I held onto the end of the lead rope. It was a wasted effort! That donkey was going downhill as fast as he could go and I was out on the end of that rope with my heels dug in and looking like a water skier on a slalom course. Our wild ride finally got us to the bottom of the hill and as we got to our house, I could see Pat in her pajamas and housecoat out in the front yard pointing at us and laughing like a crazy woman. The donkey stopped and I looked back up the hill and here comes Noble, laughing. He was kind enough to say that he had seen the donkey escape but had to get dressed before he could come out. As you have read, I got no respect at all. It may have been caused by the donkey but I made a complete ass of myself.

Dave Thomas
July 13, 2014

Republish date November 1, 2018

 

The Black Cat

This one was probably 45 or 50 years ago, when the kids were young. We all liked cats and had several of them. Also, it seemed that when anyone dumped a cat in the neighborhood it ended up at our house.

One day, this young, black tomcat showed up. He had a beautiful, shiny, black coat and a sunny disposition as well. He seemed very smart and loved to be held and petted. We took him in and thought that since we already had too many cats we should try to find a home for him.

Over the next few days we all enjoyed having this guy around but discovered that when it was time for a bowel movement he would always do his job in the fireplace rather than the litter box. We kept our eyes open and if any of us spotted him heading for the fireplace we would grab him and deposit in the litter box. We tried for several days to teach him, but it just wasnt working. That settled it, and we decided there was no way we could keep him. He had to go.

Soon after, Pat was at work and one of the men said that his wife and kids were bugging him to get a kitten. Pat says Weve got a beautiful young male, only a few months old that was dropped off in our neighborhood. Hes got a beautiful black coat and loves kids and loves lots of attention.Her co-worker says he sounds perfect and Id like to have him.So, the next day, Pat takes the cat to work and gives him to the guy. A few days later, she sees the guy and asks him how the cat is doing. Oh, he says, hes such a beautiful cat and we all just love him!Then, he says, There is one thing…” Pat tries to look cool and unknowing as she asks What would that be?” “Well, says the guy, we cant keep him from crapping in the fireplace!

Dave Thomas
`July 13, 2014