At this point in our history, this is my favorite quote: “Wearing a mask is not a political statement; it’s an IQ test.”
At this point in our history, this is my favorite quote: “Wearing a mask is not a political statement; it’s an IQ test.”
I need some buttermilk. I was sitting here at the desk, minding my own business, when all of a sudden, the word “Buttermilk” started flashing through my brain. I love buttermilk, but now that I think of it, it’s probably been a couple of years since I’ve had a glass of that wonderful, tangy stuff. It’s just not something that you think about that often. You can’t use it on cereal or anything else much, so nobody keeps it in the fridge. However, though you may not believe it, I actually have a buttermilk story.
One summer evening, Johnny Luding and I had gone out to Bill and Charlene Skaer’s farm. They had two saddle horses that were getting barn sour and ornery and needed to be ridden. Their daughter, Dolores, our classmate, had gone away to college, and their son, Stanley, was still a student at Augusta High and as a result, the horses weren’t being ridden and were getting fat and sassy. Bill told us we could come out and ride whenever we wished.
Our first ride was on a Sunday morning. There had been an early morning shower, and the barnyard was muddy. John saddled up and climbed aboard and was just sitting there watching me. I saddled up and got aboard and thought I was ready to ride. All of a sudden, I felt that horse’s muscles bunch up and he started to pitch. I got myself ready for a wild ride, but, thanks to the mud, his hooves slipped and he started to go down. He caught himself and regained his balance. By this time, he was both mad and frustrated. He wanted to buck, but the slippery mud wouldn’t let him. He was so snorting mad he started making little stiff-legged jumps all around the barnyard. It must have looked funny because Johnny was laughing so hard he was about to bust a gut. The horse and I both survived that one with no damage.
Anyhow, let’s get back to the Saturday evening we were talking about earlier. John and I had a good ride and cleaned up the horses and put them away. We decided to head for town and get a hamburger. As we headed for the car, we ran into Randy, Bill’s farm hand. Randy was 21 and a drifter, staying for a few weeks at one farm before moving to the next. Bill said he was a hard worker, and John and I got along with him. Randy had finished his day and was cleaned up, and we invited him to go with us. We went to the Seventh Avenue Café and were looking forward to one of their good hamburgers. When the waitress came, we all ordered hamburgers, and Randy ordered a glass of buttermilk. John and I liked the stuff, so we ordered the same. The waitress returned with the three glasses, and our eyes were immediately drawn to Randy. His conduct was almost ritualistic. He started by very carefully sprinkling salt on the surface of the buttermilk. Then, he took his spoon and carefully stirred in the salt. Five times clockwise and then five turns counter-clockwise. Then, he held the spoon vertically in front of his mouth. He extended his tongue and gave one lick to the inside of the spoon. Then he rotated the spoon and gave one lick to the outside. Next, he rotated the handle and licked it where it joined the ladle. It was all done very precisely and you could see that he wasn’t going to waste a drop. I looked at John who was rolling his eyes, and I said, “Boy, Randy, you must really like your buttermilk.” Randy then explained to us that when he was growing up on the farm, his mother would go to the well-house and get ice-cold buttermilk for the whole family. It was a special treat and just thinking of it always made him feel good because it’s part of a memory of his mom and his family. That explained it well enough for us. I could really use a glass right now myself.
Our grandson, Jeff Thomas, who did a couple of hitches in the Coast Guard posted a story on Facebook this Veteran’s Day. This was such a neat story, I asked him if it would be alright to post it on this blog. He agreed, so here it is!
Happy Veteran’s Day! This year I decided I would share a sea story from Coast Guard Station Golden Gate. This picture was taken from the north tower of the bridge and was submitted to the local paper. I was at the helm and we were picking up a kayaker in distress. This was one of the craziest days on the water I experienced during my entire tour there. It was Super Bowl Sunday, but also a historic day for a different reason. Queen Mary II was passing under the Golden Gate Bridge and it was the largest ship ever to come into San Francisco. You would think with a Super Bowl on, there wouldn’t be such a turnout. We were completely wrong, it was insane. If you’re really bored you can YouTube it and see how many freaks didn’t watch football that Super Bowl Sunday. The QM2 had to sail in during the ebb tide because the clearance was so tight under the bridge. The bay was the busiest I had ever seen it, I would argue more traffic than fleet week. This kayaker was caught in a 6 knot ebb current in Sausalito then flipped. With the strong ebb, the afternoon wind, and the wake from all the traffic it was like a messy river rapid and she couldn’t flip back over. She was swept passed the bridge to the west and we were heading full speed from Chrissy Field against the flow of traffic because a Ro-Ro (cargo ship for cars) was outbound in the lanes and heading right for her. If you aren’t aware, a ship that size cannot make any significant change of course, especially given the circumstances that day. We had to get on Channel 16 to let the captain know we were going to be within 100 yards of his bow while he was making about 15 knots directly at us. We got on scene and instantly swooped her out, then immediately had to get out of the way. Lucky for her ya boy Jeffrey is a straight gangster boat operator and got her first pass. It was so close that we kept her in the recess deck to wait until the large wake passed by before she was helped up. Aside from shivering and embarrassment, she was fine. We never saw a minute of the Super Bowl that day, tough duty for a Coastie haha
Credit: Jeff Thomas for the story
We are all captivated by stories of animals who exhibit human-like emotions or actions. Pat experienced something the other day that we thought was unusual.
A few weeks ago, Pat was cleaning out the refrigerator. She came across a dish of shelled English walnuts that had probably been there too long. She decided to toss them into the backyard where perhaps a bird might enjoy them. A while later she looked out the window and saw four crows prancing around the backyard and eating the walnuts. They were typical crows, black, shiny, brash, and noisy. Pat enjoyed the birds and after that first morning, threw out a piece of bread or something every day. The crows, being their obnoxious selves, stepped up their game. If Pat didn’t throw some food out before the crows got there, as soon as they arrived, they started raising hell. They were spoiled!
One morning, Pat threw out some bread crumbs and then went on about her business. Later, she looked out the window and saw a strange sight. There were four crows as usual, but one of the four was a pretty sorry looking specimen. Its feathers looked dull and dirty and it looked sick or beat up. And, the strange part was that one of the other crows was feeding it! The Good Samaritan bird would get a piece of bread off the ground, swallow it, then regurgitate it into the mouth of the frail-looking bird. It seemed quite strange. Was the bird sick? Was it young? If it could fly, why couldn’t it feed itself? Was the other bird its mother? Mighty strange. Mighty strange.
If I remember correctly, the Southland Corporation launched the 7-11 stores in the late 1960’s. The TV commercials were all about the convenience. Opening at 7:00am would make it easy for the commuter to grab a cup of coffee before heading out. Staying open until 11:00pm would make it easy for people to grab bread, milk, cereal, or cat food if they didn’t want to go to the supermarket. Things appear to have changed. I was listening to a commercial this morning and the spokesman ended by saying “Always Open.” This contradicts the name of the store. Maybe they should change their name to “24/7.”
Drafting has always fascinated me. The ability to create a picture that is so well detailed and dimensioned that it can be used to produce parts or structures is a great gift.
Entering 9th grade, my freshman year in high school, I enrolled in Mechanical Drawing. I spent three years learning how to be a mechanical draftsman and enjoyed the challenge. We might be handed a piston or a connecting rod or a fuel pump, and be told to produce an accurate representation of it. Interesting stuff.
My senior year, I decided to switch over to architectural drawing and learn how houses are built.
Our lone drafting teacher was H. H. Robinson. Mr. Robinson had come to Augusta High School when my folks had been students in the late 1920’s. Now, the only classes he taught were the drafting classes. His main job now was as superintendent of schools. He still enjoyed the drafting classes and always circled the room, going from drafting table to drafting table, overseeing the work and offering suggestions. He could be quite critical of lettering and dimensioning. He figured that a drawing was worthless if you couldn’t read the title block or dimensions. As a result, he gave a lettering test every week. I worked hard at both the drafting and the lettering and got good grades. However, I realized that mine was the work of a good technician, and that I had no artistic ability.
We were neighbors of the Robinsons. We moved to our Cliff Drive address a few days before my 5th birthday, and a couple of weeks before I started kindergarten. So, by the time I was a senior in high school, Mr. Robinson and I knew each other pretty well. He taught me to ice skate and skip rope like a boxer, and probably taught me a few things about being a decent human being.
We had come to the starting point of the last six weeks of my senior year. We students of the Architectural Drafting class were supposed to pick a final project. The home design magazines carried pictures of named home designs complete with floor plans. Our assignment was to choose one of those designs and create the elevations and construction details that would constitute a complete set of plans to build that house.
Mr. Robinson, with clipboard in hand, was going from drafting table to drafting table consulting with each student and then writing down the name of the design they had chosen. I had other ideas. Being a member of that sub-species known as “Teenaged Boys,” I had often heard the exclamation “Wow, she’s built like a brick shithouse!” Never having seen one of these facilities, I had wondered what it would look like. So, when Mr. Robinson stepped up to my drafting table with his clipboard, I said “Brick Outhouse.” He didn’t smile or blink, but simply wrote it down and moved on to the next table.
The project developed smoothly. Mr. Robinson dropped by each day with sound construction tips, but never with a grin or comment. For added comfort, I included a wall heater and a TV shelf with a small TV set. This was really forward looking for me in 1954 as my folks didn’t have a TV set until 1957. I finished the plans and got a good grade. FYI- it was a neat looking structure, but in no way compared with the girls formerly cited.
After graduation, I was working at Howard Motors, the local Chevrolet/Buick dealership and trying to figure out what I was going to do next. One Saturday evening I stopped in at the P & G Bakery for a cup of coffee and ran into Frank Edward Thompson. Frank Edward had been one year ahead of me, and I knew that upon graduation he had gone to work for one of the oil companies in Wichita. We got to talking jobs, and Frank said that he had become a cartographer and was drawing maps. He knew I had taken the drafting classes and wondered if I might be interested because his company was hiring. He said he would be working overtime the next Saturday and that he would show me around if I came over.
On Saturdays, the garage was only open from 8:00am until 1:00 pm. At 1 o’clock that Saturday, I went home and cleaned up, and then drove to Wichita. I found Frank’s work place, and he greeted me and showed me around. When I saw the work he was doing on those oil field maps, I was amazed. Where my drawings looked technical and stiff and boring, his drawings looked vibrant and artsy and alive. I realized then that I could never excel as a draftsman or a cartographer. I thanked Frank for the tour and went home.