The Horse Feeder (repost)

I went to the doctor down in Fort Worth yesterday and when I got in the waiting room I sat down beside another senior citizen. We talked for a few minutes about the big storm that was due to hit during the night. After talking that over for a few minutes we were sitting quietly with our own thoughts. I was mainly thinking of the chores I should get done before the bad weather hit. Then, all of a sudden, he says, “We’re from up in Denton and we’ve got some horses on our place up there or, to be correct, I should say that my wife has some horses on our place up there. The problem is she’s afraid of storms and especially scared to death of being hit by lightning. So, when the big storms like this one come, I have to get out there and feed the horses. Among our family and friends I’m known as the “Sacrificial Horse Feeder.”

Dave Thomas
April 23, 2008

Reposted 3/23/23

Bouncing Around

I was digging through a box of stuff this morning and found my old dog tags. Thinking about it, that first sentence could have another meaning. Since I  haven’t worn the tags since 1961, I should definitely be classified as an old dog.


Banking officials are supposed to be experts in financial matters. Their Board of Directors reward their brilliance by bestowing huge bonuses upon them. If their bank fails, don’t you think they should give back the bonuses?


Putin and the head Chinese guy are supposed to be good buddies.  If the Chinese guy is really a buddy, he will council Putin that he should get out of Ukraine because it’s making him look like an ass.


The white supremacists think their defecations are not odorous (their shit doesn’t stink) because they have white skin. What confuses me is that these white guys spend millions every summer vacationing at the beach so they can get a good tan.


It’s been more than two years, and the traitorous scumbag who wants to destroy our democracy and our way of life is not in prison. What gives?


If you want to be happy and enjoy your old age, make sure that when your kids are young you give them lots of hugs and kisses and love and respect.

Dave Thomas


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


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

7/13/2014 (Repost on 3/11/21)

Take This Job and Love It

“Take This Job and Shove  It”  wailed  Johnny Paycheck.  I’ve never understood  that attitude. I’ve had many  jobs and have enjoyed them all. I’m talking about jobs as            defined by the job description and am not including the surrounding company atmosphere. Like most everyone, I have reported to people I didn’t like or respect. Like most blue-collar guys, I started with the basics. I swept floors, cleaned toilets, dug ditches, scooped out the cow barn after the milking was done, washed and greased cars, and did a lot of real manual labor. Time passed and I gained knowledge and experience and moved on up.  After the Navy, I started  as a  Test Technician, then Assistant- Assembly Foreman,  Assembly Foreman, Test Foreman,  Production  Supervisor,  Manufacturing Manager, Assistant Plant Manager, and Vice President.

It’s up to you to control your life. Don’t dismiss your job as being boring or meaningless. And don’t perform it as a robot or automaton. Be thankful for the job you have today. It’s feeding your kids and putting a roof over their heads. Equally important is the idea that you go home at night knowing that you have given it your best shot.

Don’t forget the importance of learning. You should learn as much as possible about the job you have, plus you should be preparing for your next job. Learning is an individual thing. In 1961, I was working for an electronics manufacturer as a Test Technician. We tested digital voltmeters, DC amplifiers, x-y recorders, and monitor oscilloscopes as they came off the production line. The technology was in flux as vacuum tubes were being replaced by semiconductors. I was working five ten hour days plus eight hours on Saturdays. Additionally, my commute time amounted to an hour to an hour and a half a day. I took a night course on transistor theory and integrated circuits at City College. It was a good class and has served me well over the years, but I hated being away from home at night. I had a wife, 3 kids, a home, and a yard and thought they all deserved more  attention than I was giving them. By 1962, I was an assistant foreman in the Assembly Department, and was getting involved in estimating and product costing. I found a correspondence course called “Accounting for Managers,” and went to work on it.  I got up at 4:45 each morning and studied until 6:00 am and then got ready to go to work. It took me over two years to complete the course, but it served me well for the rest of my working life.

About the time I was turning 60, the company I was working for was sold. The new owners were bringing in their own people, so I was let go. I was a little bit anxious about the future as I knew that most companies would be looking for young guys as managers, and I might have trouble finding a position. I was also reluctant to get acquainted with a new company’s rules and software system. I sent out some resumes, and one of the first responses I received was from a temp agency that had a spot for an Estimating Manager. I liked estimating and was good at it. I’ve got to admit that I thought of estimating as a “side” job because, as a supervisor or Manufacturing Manager, I was used to being in the middle of the action. Every department has the potential for problems every day. Machines break down, vendors don’t ship, parts don’t arrive, the power goes off, and employees have problems. I sometimes had as many as 130 electronic assemblers and machine shop people working for me and that makes for plenty of HR problems.

The agency’s initial pitch about the estimating job sounded pretty good, so I interviewed with them and the company they were representing, and took the job. It turned out to be a great experience. Not being in the line of fire, I was able to enjoy the estimating job completely. Not being the “go to” guy in the production arena, I didn’t have to respond to the hourly emergencies or get involved in the drama or hassles of production. What a difference! I loved it!

There are a couple of thoughts for your consideration:  Face each day with enthusiasm and with your head on straight. Be aware that after evaluating hundreds of people from entry-level assemblers to electronic engineers, I (or someone like me) can walk in the door of your work place and know from your body language just what kind of person you are. Take this job and love it. Your contribution and attitude will be noticed.

Dave Thomas


The Black Cat

The Black Cat (Reposted on April 15, 2021)

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



I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I haven’t yet found the answer to that age old question, “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” Maybe I can hire a medium to contact the late Tex Beneke and get the low-down on these critters.

Another great musical question that needs an answer would be “Is you is or is you ain’t my baby?” YouTube Music Videos may have both of these questions. I can’t see well enough to look!”

Dave Thomas


Taking Care of Friends

Not long ago, I told you about Pat feeding the crows. The boss crow would land on our driveway and start squawking while his five or six buddies would settle in the tree across the street. When Pat came out with a slice of bread and a handful of Cheerios, the birds in the tree would join the Boss in the driveway, and they would all chow down. If Pat didn’t come out immediately, the Boss would fly to the roof of the garage and perch on the rain gutter. Our house and garage are in a 90 degree configuration. From the garage roof, the crow could see through the picture window into our living room and would watch for Pat while he kept yelling. He never gives up.

This has been the rainiest January we have had in years. This past Monday, the 30th, it would rain and clear off and rain again. The wildlife like the crows and other critters couldn’t find anything to eat because their quarry was hiding from the rain. I figure that all of the local crows were complaining about being hungry, and the Boss crow said, “Let’s go see Pat!” The Boss landed on our driveway and started squawking. Pat took a slice of bread and some Cheerios out to him and tossed them on the driveway. Suddenly, there were crows everywhere. Pat said it was like that Hitchcock movie “The Birds.” There were crows on the driveway, on the lawn, in the street, and in the air. She had to bring out more food. When every scrap was eaten, the crows took off, and we won’t see them again until the next shortage of food.

Yes, I missed it. I was taking a nap.

Dave Thomas


Highway Robbery

If you have a family member or friend fighting cancer, ask them for the total monthly cost of their meds and chemotherapy. The number you get back can only be described as obscene. How can anyone afford it? There are individuals and businesses who will award grants  to those who need them. There benefactors can be found by pharmacies and drug manufacturers, but they don’t have an endless supply of funds.

Our Congress is supposed to be looking into overcharging by the drug manufacturers, but who knows what the result of that will be? If too many of our Representatives have been greased by the drug manufacturers, there will be no win for us. Many of our relatives, friends, and neighbors could face bankruptcy and death.

There is one bright spot in this mess. Mark Cuban has founded the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company. He intends to provide drugs at a reasonable markup, so our citizens can maintain their health as well as their financial well-being.

Dave Thomas


Family Stories

I started this blog so I could pass family stories on to my kids and grandkids. I know, sometimes I’ve gotten clear off the track. Oh well, all of the stuff helps define me, so I’m not going to worry about it.

I’m sitting here with my coffee and thinking about family stories. I’ve learned that I have missed out on a lot of stuff that could have made my life more fun, or at least, more interesting had I known of it. A lot of things about your family are learned by osmosis, just by being there. Some stories get delivered like news flashes. They hit you like a ton of bricks and keep coming at you, over and over. Some things are never discussed. They are just part of life and no one gives much thought to them.

When I was 58 years old, I decided to get into genealogy and research family history. I mention my age because I want you to know how long I was oblivious to some information I should have known most of my life. My research soon told me that my Grandpa Thomas was one of twelve children of John Buck Thomas and Hannah G. Sprague Thomas. If you had asked me, I would have told you that he was an only child as I had never heard of any siblings. I thought I knew Grandpa Albert Adelbert “Dell” Thomas and Grandma Rosetta, “Etta” Abercrombie Thomas, but, apparently, I didn’t. Well, to make up for my shortcomings, I’ve got a couple of stories to share with you kids and grandkids.

My cousin, Kathleen “Sue” (Kidwell) Owens who was a few years older than me said that when she was growing up, she had lived with Grandma and Grandpa a couple of times. She said that Grandpa apparently had a thing for redheads. She didn’t know that he had ever acted on it, but Grandma worried about it considerably. It got so bad that Grandma finally dyed her hair red in an effort to keep him in the corral.

In early 1950, I delivered the Wichita Beacon, and Grandpa and Grandma’s home was on my route. I would go in and hand the paper to Grandpa who would be in his rocking chair in the living room, listening to the radio. Then, I would go into the kitchen where Grandma would have a snack waiting for me. She knew that young boys were always hungry, so every day she set out a bowl of home-canned peaches, bread and butter, and a glass of milk. After eating and visiting with Grandma, I would go in and listen to the radio with Grandpa. The radio programs were 15 minutes long and we would listen to Jack Armstrong, The All-American Boy, Sargent Kin of the Yukon, the Green Hornet, and stuff like that. Grandpa really got into it, and he would be yelling, “Shoot that outlaw,”  “Hit him,” “Look out!”  The more he yelled, the more he rocked his rocking chair. A couple of times while I was there, he tipped his chair over backwards. Grandpa was a big man, and Grandma and I had a heck of a time getting the chair upright with him still in it.

Grandpa was 85, and in March of 1950, his health turned bad and he was taken to the hospital in El Dorado, which was 15 miles away. My folks went over to visit him one evening. As they go into the hospital, the head nurse came stomping over to my dad and forcefully said, “If that old man pinches another of my nurses, I’m going to put him out in the street.” Naturally, this story was well-circulated among the family.

Grandpa hung on for a few days, but died in the hospital. His funeral was a big event with family showing up from Kansas, Texas, Missouri, and Massachusetts. I remember what a big crowd there was in the house when I heard the next big family story. My Dad’s oldest brother, Yes, my Uncle Walter, announced that he and his neighbor had swapped wives! You can imagine the uproar that came from that one. That story had wings, and it circulated for months.

I wish I had known about Grandpa’s siblings. I must have a thousand cousins descended from them and probably a thousand fascinating stories.

One good source of stories would have been from the family of Grandpa’s brother, William Jonathan Thomas.  William was working a harvest, and was kicked in the chest by one of the horses in the team he was working with. He died a few hours later, leaving a wife and two daughters behind. One of the daughters, Myrtle, grew up to marry a man named Frank Bell. Frank was a Cherokee Indian- also known as Chief Eagle Feather. Frank was a Vaudeville performer billed as “America’s Premier Indian Tap Dancer.” Myrtle was adopted into the tribe and given the name “White Fawn.”  Chief Eagle Feather and White Fawn traveled the Vaudeville circuit for several years and eventually settled in Los Angeles. Frank died there in 1958, and Myrtle died in 1972. Pat and I came to California in 1957, so had we known about Frank and Myrtle, we could have visited and gotten to know them. They must have had a lot of great stories about Vaudeville and their travels.

Dave Thomas


Our Best Investment

In 1957, my draft number was getting close to being called. I preferred to enter the military on my terms so in March of that year, I enlisted in the Navy for a four-year hitch. After boot camp and two Navy schools, I received orders to Patrol Squadron Forty-Eight, VP-48, at North Island Naval Air Station, Coronado, California. We found an apartment we could afford on Orange Avenue, and enjoyed the small-town feeling of living in Coronado, and, of course, enjoyed the beach. We only lived in that first apartment for a few months because, in November, Pat delivered our twin boys, Russ and Doug. We immediately moved to a two-bedroom apartment in Navy Housing which was located right on San Diego Bay. We also made our first major purchase, a washing machine, in anticipation of a deluge of dirty diapers.

In 1959, my squadron deployed to Naval Air Station Iwakuma, Japan, where we flew patrols over the Yellow Sea. This six-month deployment turned into eight months. Pat had made friends with another Navy wife who lived in Imperial Beach, so she moved down there for a few months while I was gone.

By 1960, I was an AT2, Aviation Electronics Technician Second Class, an E-5 on the pay scale drawing hazardous duty pay (flight pay) and proficiency pay. Thanks to this, we were able to buy a new 4-bedroom house in San Diego. This is when I became a commuter for the first time. To get to Coronado, I could drive to downtown San Diego and catch the car ferry which only cost a buck, or I could drive Highway 94, and I 805 and go around the south end of San Diego Bay and up to the Silver Strand. Gasoline was cheaper than the ferry, so I elected to drive. After being caught in a couple of traffic jams, I found a back way past Sweetwater Lake and through Bonita and Chula Vista and over to the Strand. The Silver Strand is basically a strip of narrow sand and beach that connects Imperial Beach and Coronado. You can look out one side of the car and see the Pacific Ocean and look out the other side and see San Diego Bay.

March of 1961, I was discharged from the Navy. We took a couple of weeks and went back to Kansas to show the kids off to our folks. After a good visit and a good time, we returned to San Diego, and I began looking for work. IBM offered me a job, but they wanted to send me to Oklahoma City for training and then station me in El Centro. Thanks, but no thanks. What’s the point of living in California if you can’t be near the ocean? I took a job with Electro Instruments as a Test Technician at $2.20 per hour.

In the fall of 1961, Pat was pregnant. She was seeing Dr. Jim Turpin in Coronado every week. We only had one car, so she was having to take the bus. She and the boys would catch the bus at a bus stop that was about a block from our home. The bus route took them through downtown San Diego to the ferry landing at San Diego Bay. The ferry was a car carrier, so the bus was able to drive right onboard. It was an enjoyable few minute’s ride across the bay, and the boys thought it was terrific. When they got to Coronado, it was just a few blocks down Orange Avenue, the main drag, to the doctor’s office.

One day, during this period of time, Pat had put the boys down for their afternoon nap. She was worn out from doing household chores and chasing the boys all morning. She stretched out on the couch and promptly fell asleep. She was awakened by someone knocking on the door. Her eyes popped open, and the first thing she saw was that a kitchen chair had been dragged over to the front door. She also saw the door’s safety chain had been disengaged. Pat rushed to the door and opened it to find a neighbor lady holding hands with a boy on each side. Pat and the neighbor didn’t know each other, but the neighbor had seen Pat and the boys walking around the neighborhood and knew approximately where we lived. She knocked on doors until she found the right place. The lady said she found the boys at the bus stop and knew that three-year-olds didn’t have any business catching a bus. Pat thanked the lady profusely and got the boys inside. She noticed that her purse wasn’t in its normal position, and upon examination found out that the small coin purse inside was empty. Questioning the boys about the whole episode, she learned that they just wanted to ride the ferry, so they got some money for the bus, unlocked the door, and took off.

In November of 1961, our daughter, Terri, was born. Prior to the big day, I worried about the best way to get to the hospital in Coronado. The ferry would be the best way, but if we got caught in a traffic jam downtown, or if anything else messed up our timing, Pat might have the baby on the ferry at night in the middle of San Diego Bay. We decided it would be safer to drive all the way around and go up the Strand. That’s what we did, and it worked out fine.

In 1964, the boys were six years old, and Terri was three. Both boys were having colds and respiration problems. Our pediatrician suggested that they might do better a farther inland where it is warmer and drier. The weather people on TV have a lot to keep track of in San Diego County as there are four basic weather zones. They are: Coastal, inland valleys, mountains, and desert. We checked it out and decided to try the city of El Cajon. It’s only 10 or 12 miles east of the coast but is in one of those valleys that is 20 to 30 degrees warmer than the beach. We decided to rent for a time and see how we liked it. We found a nice 3 bedroom on the eastern edge of El Cajon. It was on a large lot in a semi-rural setting.

We were a little worried about the boys going to school. They had to ride a bus 4 or 5 miles to a school that was clear out in the boondocks. We soon relaxed. The boys enjoyed the school and the bus ride was no big deal.

The home was on a 1/3 acre lot so there was plenty of room for the kids to play. There was a small corral with a shed, so I was able to keep a horse. Actually, we started out with a Shetland pony for the kids, but the little devil was so bad about biting that we took him back to the horse ranch in Poway, and traded him in  on a horse for me.

The lot behind us was  a terraced hillside that had once been a grape arbor. On that side of our back fence was a pomegranate bush and when the fruit was ripe, it was hard to keep the kids away from it. While in season, they had that red stuff all over their hands, faces, and clothes.

Three houses down from us lived Norm and Margaret Trivett and their three daughters, Karen, Laurie, and Susan. They had a swimming pool and were good about inviting Pat and the kids over to swim.

We didn’t have any family in California, so the Trivett’s invited us to spend Christmas Eve with them. They had a lot of family, so, during the evening, there were probably 30 or 40 people in and out. From 1964 until 2021, we spent almost every Christmas Eve with them. Sadly, we lost both Norm and Margaret in 2022.

By the summer of 1966, the boys’ health problems had cleared up and we all enjoyed living in El Cajon. Pat located a nice 3-bedroom home about a mile away in a sub division known as “Olive Hills Estates.” They weren’t really estates, but were nice homes on standard city lots. The area was hilly, and many years before had been an olive grove. We had an olive tree in the front yard and one in the back. Both trees were effusive in the number of big, black olives they produced. We soon learned that when the olives ripen and drop from the trees, you have to be careful about stepping on them and tracking it in on the carpet. We learned that a company in San Diego would harvest the olives for free and then they processed and sold them. After a few years of that, we learned that the trees can be sprayed with a chemical that inhibits blossoming and development.

Behind our house, the entire block was just a vacant lot. After a couple of years, the California Highway Patrol built a sub-station directly behind us. They built a six foot cement block wall clear around their place. A few cops next door certainly makes you feel safe.

There weren’t any parks or playgrounds near us so we were worried about finding a way to entertain three rambunctious kids and burn off some of their excess energy. We decided that a good portion of the year would be covered if we had a swimming pool. We got some estimates, made a decision, and planned to get the pool done before spring. The design we chose was an oval that was 12 feet wide at the shallow end, 16 feet wide at the deep end, and 40 feet long. It had a black gunite bottom so it would warm up faster, and it had a diving board.  A deck made of Arizona flagstone finished it off nicely.

The pool was completed on time. Pat went to the Red Cross and signed up for the Red Cross Backyard Swimming Course. Pat was a strong swimmer, and she enjoyed the course and was certified to be an instructor.

Pat announced that the pool would be open from 8:00am until 8:00pm, and neighborhood kids were welcome. She said that if any kid needed lunch to go in the kitchen and help themselves. There would be a big jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread, jam, and a pitcher of Kool-Aid on the counter. This was all high energy stuff to replace all those calories burned in the swimming pool. Additionally, if anyone needed a snack to tide them over, there would be cupcakes and bananas available.

The pool was an instant success. Our kids practically lived in it and the neighborhood kids enjoyed it, too. We lived there for eleven years, and that pool really got a workout. The kids learned to be good swimmers, played games, dived for rocks, and just had a good time. Pat had a great time, too. However, she said that when they played Marco Polo and she was it, she had to cheat and keep her eyes open because the kids were so fast she couldn’t catch them. We’ve talked about the pool many times over the past 50 years and have always declared it to be the best investment we ever made.

Our 11 years on Olive Hills Avenue were a great growing up time for the kids, and we all have a lot of memories of the place. I’ve documented some of them in this blog, and I’d like to recall a couple of them.

Putting our little five year old daughter, Terri, on a school bus and sending her off to Ballantyne School was nerve-wracking. The, it got worse when she was accepted into the gifted program and was transferred to Avocado School which was even farther away.

Once, Terri thought she had discovered a real treasure trove behind the 7-11 store. She didn’t realize it was a storage area, but thought it was just a place where people were dumping their pop bottles. Now and then, she would gather up an armload of bottles and take them into the store and redeem them. Then she would use the money to buy a Slurpee. Mr. Bert, the manager, knew what she was doing, but thought to was funny so allowed it to continue. However, Terri wanted to share the wealth and started bringing her neighborhood friends along. This was getting too costly, so Bert had to shut it down and tell us about it.

Another funny memory is when Pat brought Doug home from the dental surgeon’s office after a procedure. She knew he was still doped up, but she had to go to the grocery store, so she told Terri to keep an eye on Doug. Doug’s doped up brain told him to strip the interior of his VW car.  By the time Pat got home, he had removed the interior door panels and was starting on the headliner. Terri said she kept an eye on him, but didn’t know she was supposed to stop him from doing anything.

Another time, Russ was accused of urinating on a neighbor girl. The investigating officer could hardly keep from laughing when he learned that Russ had just squirted her with water from a syringe.

Life is never dull when you are raising kids.

Dave Thomas