Magic Words and Real Country- From the Older Guy

What passes for country music these days isn’t much to my liking. I think the people in Nashville are way off the track. I think they have left the country and gone to the city where they joined up with a bunch of teeny-boppers.

When I was working from the 1960’s through the 1990’s, my one way commute took from 25 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic. I would listen to the local news and then, for the rest of the time, listen to country music. I knew every song and every singer. Now, I don’t recognize anything or anybody. The last few years, I have really been down in the dumps about the music scene.

Fortunately, I recently learned some magic words that have straightened out my head and restored my good humor. I just step into my living room and say the magic words “Alexa, play Pandora Classic Country.” The next thing I know, I might hear Willie, Waylon, Kris, Johnny Cash, Loretta, George Strait, Tammy, George Jones, Barbara Mandel, Reba, Charlie Pride, Charlie Rich, Randy Travis, Eddy Arnold, Ronnie Milsap, Mickey Gilley, The Judds, or the Oak Ridge Boys, and many more. It’s really magic.

Dave Thomas


Christmas Eve

My hitch in the Navy was up in March of 1961, and Pat and I were happy to be staying in San Diego. We had purchased a home there in 1960 and thought we were there to stay. By 1964, our twin boys, Russ and Doug, were almost six, and our daughter, Terri, was almost three. The boys were continually suffering with colds and respiratory problems, and our pediatrician suggested that they might do better if we lived farther inland, away from the ocean breezes. We decided to try our luck in the city of El Cajon. It was probably 10 miles east, as the crow flies, and located in an inland valley that was normally 10-20 degrees warmer than coastal San Diego. We decided to rent for a year and try out the location before buying. We made the move in July of 1964. We found a nearly new 3 bedroom home on 1/3 acre that was on the eastern edge of town, and it even had a horse shed and small corral in back. They came in handy later.

It didn’t take Pat and the kids long to meet our new neighbors. The favorites were the Trivetts who lived on the corner, 3 houses away. Norm and Margaret Trivett had three daughters- Karen, Lori, and Susan. Susan was the same age as Terri, and the other girls were about the same age as Russ and Doug. Pat and Margaret became good friends, and the women and kids did a lot of things together. The Trivetts had a swimming pool, so our gang was over at their place almost every day.

When it got close to Christmas, Margaret mentioned the large family gatherings they hosted every Christmas Eve. She asked Pat what we would be doing that night, and Pat explained that our families were back in Kansas, so it would just be the five of us for the holidays. Margaret said that they had plenty of room for us, so we should spend Christmas Eve with them. Thus began a tradition that lasted for over 50 years.

The Christmas Eve parties were always a lot of fun. We enjoyed meeting and getting to know the extended families of both Norm and Margaret. We met their parents, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, cousins, and all of their spouses. As time passed, we got acquainted with kids and grandkids as they arrived. Our own kids and grandkids have attended throughout the years.

Lives changed over the years. When Norm retired, he and Margaret moved up to the four corners country in Colorado. They bought one of those log cabin kits, and Norm erected it using the construction skills he had learned as an ironworker foreman. He was an extraordinary craftsman, and had the eye of an artist. I think they made it back to California for Christmas most years. Pat and I moved to Texas for seven years, but we made it back for the holidays several times.

The hosting job got passed around some over the years. Margaret’s sister, Liz, held the party at her home in La Mesa for four years. Liz’s son, Brad, and his wife, Liz, hosted at their home in Escondido, CA for 2 years. Margaret and Norm’s daughter, Susan, and her husband, Chris, then took over. Susan lost Chris to cancer, but she has carried on the tradition since.

The last year we were able to be with Norm and Margaret was 2019. 2020 was the COVID year, and we weren’t feeling too spry anyhow, so we decided not to attend the party on Christmas Eve.  Pat, Terri, and Terri’s husband, Steve, had gone over on Christmas Eve day just to say hello to Susan and Margaret and the family as a nod to our long-standing tradition. We lost Margaret in January of 2021, and lost Norm a few months later. It’s hard to believe they are gone. It’s also hard to believe we shared Christmas Eve for 55  years. Merry Christmas, Norm and Margaret. Thanks for the memories.

Dave Thomas


Don’t Confuse Rights With Wrongs-From the Older Guy

Many Americans are whining about their Constitutional rights being trod upon by the mandates for wearing masks and getting vaccinated against Covid 19. They don’t stop to think about the loss of Constitutional rights of the 800,000 Americans who have been killed by Covid 19 due to people not following the rules. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams would likely tell you that there are a couple of silent companions that go along with the Constitution, namely, individual thought and common sense.

Dave Thomas


Cars That Disappeared

All this talk about the Tesla, electric cars and trucks, and driverless cars and trucks has caused me to think of all the changes in the automotive industry since I was a young man. Like a lot of the teenagers back then, I had cars on the brain. In my junior year at high school, I was able to get into a work program that allowed me to work afternoons and Saturdays. After graduation, I worked full time for two more years. All told, I was at Howard Motors from September 1952 until June of 1956. I mention this because a lot of bigtime changes took place during this time. Electrical systems were converted from 6 volts to 12 volts, overhead valve V8 engines became standard, transmissions were beefed up, and ancillary equipment like power steering and air conditioning were improved.

Howard Motors was a Chevrolet/Buick dealership. Our town, Augusta, Kansas, wasn’t large enough to support dealerships for all makes of cars, so the people with off brands took them to Howard’s for service. That’s how I got to drive and/or work on almost every car on the road at that time.

Again, thinking about those makes of cars that I worked on and drove from September 1952 to June 1956, many are no longer manufactured. They have disappeared. My eyes are so bad, I can’t do any research so I’ll give you what I can from memory.

General Motors gave up their big family sedans and station wagons. These were from the makers of Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac.

The Ford Motor Company gave up the Mercury. The Mercury was a little more car than a Ford. I had a 1951 Merc and being a brainless young man, I thought it was wonderful that the thing would do 90 mph in second gear and overdrive.

Chrysler had given up the Desoto, Dodge, and Plymouth. They were all dependable cars.

Kaiser, Frazier, and Henry J were an example of overconfidence. The Kaiser company set records for building ships during WWII and thought they could do the same with cars. They didn’t get the memo about the importance of styling. The Henry J was supposed to be an economy car, but was mostly junk.

Packard. An upper end car that I would score between a Buick and a Cadillac.

The Hudson was a nice car and a little bit more plush than most. The exterior had aerodynamic styling. The interior was different. I think it was the first car to have the floorboard down between the chassis rails so that you step down when entering it, just like the cars of today.

The Studebaker was certainly different. You couldn’t tell if the ugly little things were coming or going. The Studebaker Corporation started many years ago building horse-drawn wagons. They evolved into a maker of tough trucks and eventually started producing cars. The cars were ugly, but were of great quality and ran well and were very dependable. Pat’s first car was a 1947 Studebaker. It wasn’t cute, but it sure was dependable. One of the last models the company produced was the Golden Hawk or Golden Something (I don’t remember). It was painted gold and had a beautiful matching interior. A classy car. The company moved its production to Canada and continued there for a few years.

Nash and Nash Rambler- The Nash competed with Ford, Chevrolet, and Plymouth. Their attempt at an aerodynamic look actually caused the car to look like an upside-down bathtub. The Nash Rambler was probably America’s first compact car. Mechanically, they were a little bit on the cheap side, but they weren’t bad.

Dave Thomas


Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner

Like most families, we’ve got many great memories of past holidays and vacations. Most of the memories are linked to family and friends who have joined us for these occasions. We will never forget those Thanksgivings in Keller, Texas when most of the kids and grand-kids showed up. The differences in where we lived in Texas versus their lives in California were substantial and that alone made the trips exciting and added to the fun and joy for them and we felt it too.

I’ve got a little story here about a Thanksgiving when there was no family with us and it was just Pat and I. The three kids were grown and out of the house. They had all made commitments to spouses, future spouses, out–of-town hosts and others.

Pat and I hadn’t made any firm plans but Thanksgiving morning was so beautiful we decided to go to Mission Beach and ride our bikes for a couple of hours and then go find some restaurant that was serving turkey dinners.

We started our bike ride in south Mission Beach where man-made Mission Bay is only a couple of blocks east of the Pacific Ocean. Riding north on Bayside Walk,   the bay and its adjoining beach are on your right, while on your left you have the beautifully landscaped residences and vacation homes. It is always a stimulating ride due to the interesting beach-type homes and if you keep your eyes open you will spot some beautiful flowers like those of the plumeria plant that Hawaiians use to make leis. I don’t know the exact distance, possibly a mile and a half, and Bayside Walk takes you north until you get to the Catamaran Village Hotel. Just before getting to the Catamaran, you turn left onto San Raphael Street and go west about 2 blocks to the Boardwalk and the ocean. At the Boardwalk, we always turned north and continued to Crystal Pier, at the foot of Garnet Avenue.

It’s a great bike ride from Crystal Pier, south, to the Mission Beach jetty. It’s more than 2 ¾ miles and the Boardwalk is smooth concrete and probably 14 to 18 feet wide. There is plenty of room for walkers, joggers, skaters, and bicyclists.

Getting back to the story, Pat and I took off down the Boardwalk and were surprised at how few people were out and about. It was a pleasant ride down to South Mission Beach and we soon arrived at the parking lot south of the roller coaster where we had left our car. We were both getting hungry and as we loaded the bikes into the car couldn’t help noticing the large number of people around Doña Maria’s Restaurant about a block down and on the other side of the street. We decided to go check it out.

When we got to Doña Maria’s there was a line of people extending out through the front door. We got in line, figuring they must be serving up some excellent turkey dinners. The line moved right along and we were soon in the foyer and smelling turkey and stuffing and all the other wonderful things they were cooking. However, as we stepped into the main area of the restaurant we were shocked to see what was going on! There were a lot of people seated and eating and there were also bright lights and TV cameras. We were able to hear a reporter as he extolled the virtues of the local charity responsible for this Thanksgiving Dinner for the Homeless People of San Diego. As we heard that, we ducked our heads and tried to make ourselves invisible as we headed for the door. We had unintentionally tried to score a dinner as homeless people!

We got to the car and laughed at each other’s red faces and sheepish looks. We drove over to Old Town, San Diego and found an Italian restaurant that was serving turkey dinners. As we enjoyed the turkey and all the trimmings it almost became a religious experience. We were giving thanks that we had escaped Doña Maria’s without humiliation and were praying that we wouldn’t show up on the 6 O’clock News.

Dave Thomas
November 25, 2014

Quick and Easy

From the Older Guy-

Well, I’ve had both Covid shots and the booster. There’s nothing to it. They jab the needle in your arm, and inject the stuff. Then, they cover the spot with a Band-Aid to keep the vaccine from leaking out.

Dave Thomas


Much Obliged

Good morning! I am sitting here with a hot cup of coffee thanks to the magical Keurig coffee machine. The coffee is rich but smooth coffee is Costco’s Medium blend. I also enjoy their Breakfast Blend when I am sleepy and need a jolt to get my motor running. A couple of months ago, we had some Paul Newman that was equally good. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised when going to a restaurant and find that they serve Kona coffee, and, day by day, the best place in town for a cup of coffee is McDonald’s.

Who do you think we owe for this wonderful way to start the day? I can imagine some caveman out scouting for food, spotting some coffee beans, and popping them into his mouth. After a couple of chews and a swallow, he probably barfed up his guts. How then did we get from the caveman to a drinkable cup of coffee? Who figured out that you have to grind the beans, add water, and add heat? How long did it take? Was it a matter of centuries? Whoever figured this out, I would like for he or she or them to know that I am much obliged.

Dave Thomas


Sgt. Gee and Patriot One

Pat and I heard a very interesting and compelling story from our daughter-in-law, Cindy, regarding members of her side of the family. The story is of her cousin, Ed Langerveld and her brother, Bob Langerveld  and a good deed they both had a part in. Ed Langerveld is the owner, President, and CEO of Century Aviation, of Klamath Falls, Oregon. A pilot, Ed is qualified to fly many types of aircraft and has logged over 18,000 flight hours. Bob is a retired Air Traffic Flight Controller who worked O’Hare Airport in Chicago, one of the  country’s busiest sites.  

This past August 29th, a suicide bomber set off a blast at the Kabul Airport in Afghanistan killing 13 Americans and 170 Afghanistan citizens. One of the victims was Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee. Gee’s home town was Roseville, California where she graduated from Oakmont High School in 2016 and then enlisted in the Marine Corps. She worked hard, advanced quickly, and loved her job in the Corps. Her casket and remains were flown to Sacramento where she was honored with a procession from the airport and into the city. She was further honored and her life celebrated by a memorial service in Roseville.

Sgt. Gee’s remains were to be returned to Washington, D.C. for her scheduled burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Unfortunately, her family couldn’t afford the cost of a flight to the East Coast which would be tens of thousands of dollars. When Cindy’s cousin, Ed Langerveld, heard of the family’s plight, he volunteered to fly the casket back to D.C. on his jet at no cost to the family. To Ed, a former marine, it was a matter of Marine Corps tradition to take care of fallen comrades and their families.

Captain Ed’s mission on this flight was to pay homage to Sgt. Gee, and he wanted his plane to be referred to as something more special than just it’s call numbers. He proposed to call the flight “Patriot One.” There was only a week to get everything approved, and Ed wasn’t sure how to go about it. He called his cousin, Cindy’s brother, Bob Langerveld, and asked him what to do. Bob said he would make some calls and get back to him. One of the men Bob talked to said the change in call name would be acceptable if it were spelled out in the “notes” section of the aircraft’s flight plan. Easy enough.

The jet itself was dressed up for the occasion. A local Klamath Falls company designed a label with a Marine Corps motif. The decals were placed on either side of the fuselage, beneath the cockpit windows. The plane was also named for Sgt. Gee and her name was added just below the decals.

The flight made its way across the country. All radio calls were made to and from “Patriot One.” As each Air Traffic Controller dealt with the plane and handed it off to the next sector, it was “Patriot One” all the way.

As Americans, we can all be proud of the job that was done. And, thank you for your service, Sgt. Gee, and Ed, and Bob. Rest in peace, Nicole.

Dave Thomas


Bond Meets Bond

The latest James Bond movie is in theaters now and apparently is doing well. That reminds me that I have a short James Bond story.

This was probably about 2005, give or take a couple of years. Pat and I were living in Keller, Texas. I had a mole behind my right ear that was becoming a problem. Quite often when getting a haircut, the barber would nick the ear, causing it to bleed. Wanting to get it removed, I mentioned it to my primary physician, Dr. Phillips, and he referred me to Dr. James Bond  who had an office on the Baylor Hospital campus in Grapevine, Texas.                                                                                                                                              I made an appointment and went to Grapevine. While being examined, I asked the doctor if he got a lot of kidding about his name. All the time,” he replied, “and I’ve got a little story for you.”   He went on to tell me that while in medical school, one of his best friends was a girl from California. After graduation, the girl doctor returned to California, to the Santa Barbara area, I think he said, but they kept in touch. After some period of time, Dr. Bond received a wedding invitation from his friend.   He flew to California and attended the wedding. At the reception, to his great surprise, he was introduced to Pierce Brosnan, who was currently starring in the James Bond action films. Dr. Bond and Brosnan joked about the name then visited for a while. Dr. Bond said that Brosnan  was as pleasant a man as he appeared to be.

Dave Thomas