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

 

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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

 

George’s 86th birthday

Cousin George’s 86th Birthday

My cousin, George Phillip Sicks, had an 86th birthday party that is really worth talking about. It consisted of a boat trip to and from Catalina Island, lunch at a fine restaurant, checking out the local shops, touring the island, and just visiting with some nice people. George’s wife, Justine, and step-daughter, Kathy Kingsbury did an outstanding job of planning and organizing. They invited George’s kids, grand-kids, cousins, and friends. They came from the east coast, Missouri, and several places in California. I don’t know what the count was, but there must have been at least 30 people.

George and Justine lived in El Cajon, a suburb of San Diego, as we did. We were to catch the boat for Catalina at Long Beach harbor. Having previously lived in the Los Angeles area for many years, George and some of the others were quite familiar with Long Beach and were going to drive up and be there by the 7:30 AM boarding time. Pat and I didn’t know the area so well, so we drove up the evening before and got a motel room. The next morning, we were lined up on the pier and waiting for the 7:30 boarding call. As we waited, we visited with those around us and made the acquaintance of those we didn’t know. Along came Kathy and Justine, passing out blue baseball caps with”80SICKS” embroidered on the front. How clever and perfect is that for George’s 86th birthday? I thought that was special and almost 20 years later, I still have that ball cap.

We boarded the boat and found a good seat on the outside deck. We departed and settled in for the 22-mile trip across the channel to the town of Avalon on Catalina. The hydro-foil boats make the trip in about an hour. It was a beautiful day with a blue sky and small waves and we were hoping to see some flying fish. The flying fish visit the waters around Catalina for several months of the year. It is said that they can soar out of the water to a height of 30 feet and then glide for up to 2/4 mile. We saw a half dozen of them while crossing to the island. It takes you by surprise when they first get airborne and then you watch them in disbelief.

We soon arrived in Avalon and disembarked. We were told when and where to meet for lunch and were turned loose to wander around town and see the sights. I didn’t know anyone in this branch of the family but as Pat and I wandered around town and spotted the blue “80Sicks” ball caps, we would strike up a conversation with that new-found relative.

At the appointed time, we all met at the specified restaurant for lunch and George’s birthday party. It was interesting to be in a room full of relatives I hadn’t seen before. There was a lot of laughing and carrying on and George seemed to have a great time.

After lunch we were free again to wander around until about 4:00 o’clock when we would meet at the pier for the return trip to Long Beach. Pat and I took the tour of the island and got to see the herd of buffalo and the interesting views from up on top. It’s a fascinating place. About 4:00 o’clock we met back at the pier for the boat trip back to Long Beach. Pat and I had a wonderful day, and George had a jim-dandy 86th birthday party.

The reason I didnt know these relatives was that I just met George when he was 82, and I was 63. When we did finally meet, we really hit it off and visited many times. Pat and I moved to Texas for 7 years, and George and Justine flew down and visited us twice. The way I finally met George is interesting, and if youd like to know, please read my story Finding George P. Sicks.

Dave Thomas and Terri Gray
June 22, 2018

 

Patio Talk 8b: Miz Pat’s Wild Ride

 

Summer was ending. Russ, Doug, and Terri had enjoyed a wonderful vacation with their grandparents in El Dorado, Kansas. Pat was going to make the drive back to pick them up and bring them home.

Friday afternoon, Pat left work early. She drove home, changed clothes, grabbed a bite to eat, tossed her suitcase into the car and took off. It was a beautiful evening and Pat made good time, clearing the mountains and Imperial Valley and crossing the Colorado River into Yuma before dark. She continued across Arizona to Eloy and turned north, finally stopping for the night in Florence.

Pat was beat, working all day and then driving this far had taken its toll. She checked into a motel and pretty much crashed. She was awakened in the middle of the night by a lot of loud shouting. A man and woman were having a knockdown, drag out fight in the room next door. Pat tried to go back to sleep and after what seemed like hours, finally drifted off. Unfortunately, she couldn’t stay asleep. The noise next door seemed to rise and fall on a regular basis and she awoke as it reached it’s peak each time. Finally, she could stand it no longer. Sunrise was still something to be hoped for, but it wouldn’t be happening real soon. Pat gathered up her things, loaded them into the car, and headed out.

It was a joy to be in the car and away from the screaming. The warm Arizona night felt good and the clear desert air enhanced the abundant display of stars. Pat and her little Renault rolled across the desert floor, hit the first upgrade, and headed into the mountains. The sun came bouncing up and suddenly there was blue sky, red rocks, and green junipers to enjoy as she sped along.

Pat knew she was getting close to Salt River Canyon and, sure enough, she spotted the first signs,” Downgrade” and “Test Your Brakes.” She dutifully tested her brakes and then got to wondering what would happen if her brakes failed. Would she be able to get down the hill safely? By downshifting, could she control her speed and make it to the bottom in one piece?

To help you picture this, I should interject some information about the car. It was a 1969 Renault 4-door sedan. It had a 4-cylinder engine and a 5-speed transmission (5 on the floor). It had quick steering, disc brakes, and Michelin steel-belted tires.

Pat considered the attributes of the car and decided to give it the test. She knew that the road zig-zagged all the way to the bottom with a lot of hairpin curves and switchbacks. She downshifted as she headed into the first turn and was on her way. She was busy shifting up and down and steering into the tight turns and it seemed she was going faster than she was. The windows were all down and the radio was blaring and it all contributed to the thrill of the ride. “Woweeee…this is more fun than Disneyland!” She had a busy time of it but made the curves safely. As she reached the canyon floor, she could see two Arizona Highway Patrol cars blocking the road with lights flashing. As she brought the Renault to a stop, one of the officers

approached the car and gruffly demanded to know, “Why were you trying to evade the police?” “I wasn’t evading the police” Pat said. “Then why didn’t you stop for this officer?” he said as he pointed to a car behind Pat’s car that also had flashing lights and a siren that was giving its final screech. Pat was amazed to see the cruiser behind her. She had been concentrating on the road so hard she hadn’t noticed the flashing lights and with the radio turned up full blast, hadn’t heard the siren.

They ordered Pat out of the car and all three of them were barking questions at her. “Where are you coming from?” “Where are you going?” “Why were you speeding?” Pat explained what she had done and apologized for having made a bad decision. The Highway Patrol guys were getting agitated and were becoming more intimidating every minute. They stepped away, a few feet, and were discussing arresting her. Pat suddenly, with a stroke of brilliance, remembered that a former high school classmate was high up in the chain of command of the Arizona Highway Patrol. Pat yelled at the officers “Why don’t you call your boss, Ray Smith (not his real name) about me.” “What”, said one of the Troopers. “Call your boss, Ray Smith, and tell him you are talking with his high school classmate, Pat Lee. He’ll vouch for me.”, she said.

The Troopers talked it over and one of them got in his car and got on the radio. Pat could see him talking and gesturing as he tried to explain the situation to Ray Smith or whoever was on the other end of the conversation. The trooper finished with the radio call and got out of the car and talked to his fellow officers. After a short discussion, all three of them approached Pat. The officer who had made the radio call looked Pat straight in the eye and said “You are to proceed straight to the New Mexico State Line. You are not to speed or break any other Laws. Now, get in your car and get going.” Pat jumped in her car and got on down the road. Checking her rear-view mirror constantly, she observed tat an Arizona Highway Patrol car was behind her all the way to the New Mexico line.

Completing her trip with no further drama, Pat arrived at her folks’ house in El Dorado anxious to see the kids. They greeted her with a glum “Hi Mom” and no hugs or kisses. She was crushed, expecting the kids to be as overjoyed about the reunion as she was. “Have you had fun?”, she asked. Doug said, “Grandma is a good cook and she bakes bread!” “Yes,” said Russ, “and we had something fun to do every day.” Terri wanted to back up her brothers and said “Yes, the food was good, and we went some place or did something fun every day.” Pat realized that the kids had indeed had a good time and were lamenting the fact that their summer was over. She perked up as she listened to the kids’ stories and they all had a good final visit with her folks.

Pat and the kids left for California the next morning Pat had promised herself that she would be a responsible driver and would not engage in any downhill races or other high jinx. Wouldn’t you know that her resolution couldn’t last? They had gotten most of the way home. They crossed the border into California at Yuma and crossed the Imperial Valley. They had left the desert floor and started up that long mountain grade that eventually gets you up above 6,000 feet. The Renault, with four people aboard, was laboring as they went up hill. Suddenly, there

was a honk, and Pat looked over at the VW that was creeping up beside her. The young man driving the car made a motion and mouthed the words “Wanna race?” Pat laughed and thought to herself that a Volkswagen and a Renault racing would look like two turtles in slow motion going up that grade. The kids were all for it and were begging her to race. Pat is thinking that anyone can beat a little underpowered VW “toy car”. On the other hand, she remembered her promise to herself not to do anything stupid on the way home. The competitive Pat won, and they were in a race. The kids were yelling and as they inched past the VW, they were waving at the guy to”c’mon’. They won the race, such as it was. A kid on a 10-speed bike could have taken them both. Regardless, it was a fitting end to a wonderful summer.

This story never seems to come to an end. Twenty years later, Pat went to a high school class reunion and ran into Ray Smith and his wife, also a former classmate. They spent a few minutes “catching up” and then Pat recounted her Salt River Canyon story. They all laughed about it and then, as they were parting, Ray said “Don’t ever use my name that way again!”.

Dave and Pat Thomas
May 24, 2018