Time for Breakfast

Pat was headed for Costco. As she backed out of the garage she noticed a crow standing in the yard by the small orange tree. Normally, if she saw a crow, she would feed it. Today, she just wanted to get her chores done so she continued on her way with the bird staring after her.

Pat was returning home. As she approached our house she could see that the crow was still there but was now standing on the driveway. There was ample room so she moved past him into the garage. She got out of the car, stepped out of the garage, and was immediately confronted by the bird. He locked eyes with her and began squawking. He appeared to be quite agitated and was pacing back and forth in a very animated way. Pat deduced from the crow’s manner that things were getting mighty serious. Pat guessed that he was probably telling her that he hadn’t found any road kill that morning, and therefore had no breakfast and was starving.  She said, “Okay, I’ll feed you in just a moment.” She got her groceries out of the car and went into the house. Once  inside, she grabbed a slice of bread and then took it outside and tossed it in front of the crow. Being ravenous, he attacked the bread and made short work of it. Once finished, he squawked a couple of times and flew away.        

Pat got busy in the house, but in ten or fifteen minutes heard the crow squawking out front again. She looked out and saw the one crow near our front door calling her.   The reason for all this carrying on was that five of the crow’s friends were sitting at the foot of our driveway. The crow  had gone back and rounded up his family or friends so they could eat, too. A compassionate crow! Pat took more bread out and fed the rest of them.

We think this is remarkable. This crow knows where to get a handout. He recognizes Pat when he sees  her. He knows she will respond when he calls her. He knows she will not harm him. He takes care of the family or friends that travel with him. He saw Pat leave but knew enough to wait for her return. Perhaps the use of the disparaging label “birdbrain” should be reconsidered. 

Dave Thomas


Me and Gillen at Lunch-Part 2

Vince and I had two Mexican restaurants that we really enjoyed. The first was Casa de Pico. It was located in the Bazaar del Mundo in Old Town San Diego State Park.    Old Town, San Diego, is where the Spaniards first settled back in 1757 or 1767, I forget which. Bazaar del Mundo is a collection of Latin America flavored shops surrounding Casa de Pico,  a patio or outside dining restaurant. The whole place is decorated in bright, festive colors and it feels good just being there.  On the weekends, there was usually a mariachi band circulating from table to table in the restaurant. The area is a favorite with both locals and tourists.

Pat was with me one time when Vince showed up with his mother and daughter. Vince’s mother, Nadine Gillen, had been our Cub Scout Den Mother. I believe we joined the Scouts when we were 9 years old so that would have been 1945. Considering that this lunch date was taking place between 1995 and 2001, a lot of water had passed under the bridge. It was a real treat to see Mrs. Gillen again.

I   hate to admit that I’m too dumb to remember the daughter’s name but it’s true. We only saw her once but she was/a real cute girl, and Pat and I liked her immediately. She had married a guy from New Jersey, and I think they lived in New York. She thought a lot of her mother-in-law, but couldn’t resist imitating her New Jersey accent. She did a whole routine and cracked us all up.

Another favorite restaurant was Las Ollas. It was located across from the public beach in either Solana Beach or Cardiff By The Sea. Those beach towns all run so close together, I’m never sure what town I’m in. Anyway, Las Ollas is located a little bit north of San Diego, up Highway 101. The restaurant is on the east side of the road, and you just turn off into their parking lot. On the west side of the road is the beach and the surf.

After eating at Las Ollas, Vince and I would jump in our cars and go a couple of miles north to Swami Beach. The parking lot for Swami is on top of a cliff, 30 or 40 feet above the beach. There is a stairway going down to the sand with more steps than Vince and I could navigate. There were concrete benches up on top, and Vince and I would just sit there and stare at the Pacific. It’s peaceful and mesmerizing. Vince’s son, Mitch, joined us at Las Ollas a couple of times. Mitch lived in Park City, Utah, where he tended bar in summer, and was a ski instructor in winter.

Pat and our friend, Judy, joined us for lunch at Las Ollas one time.

I think Vince’s mother was living in Joplin. His brother, Steve, had retired there after a career as a teacher and school principal. Vince’s sister, Kathryn, had been living in Anaheim. Her husband, Jim Stell, had already passed away.

Vince and I were both diabetics, and looked out for each other, and both of us had candy or glucose tablets in our shirt pockets to share in the event of a low sugar condition. Vince never complained or talked about himself. I didn’t know he was on dialysis until he told me he was tired of going to the dialysis center and was going to start doing it at home. He later told me it was a pain in the butt to deal with the buckets of fluid and all the tubing, but it was still better to be doing it at home.

Mitch and his girlfriend had come down from Park City to visit Vince. Vince had lost a lot of weight. He never was a big guy, and it looked like he probably didn’t with more than 120 pounds. On a Tuesday, I got a call from Mitch saying that his dad had passed away. So long, Vince, it’s been good to know you.

Dave Thomas


Me and Gillen at Lunch

A couple of days ago, I got a call from Keith Scholfield, back in Augusta, Kansas. He said he was updating the contact list for our class of 1954 at Augusta High School.  Keith said he hadn’t talked with everyone yet, but it looked like there were only 26 of us left of a graduating class of 72. As Keith filled me in on what he had learned from those he had spoken with, I enjoyed hearing where they were living and how they were doing. After seeing these kids every school day for 12 years, they just disappeared. By the time of graduation, you know so much about them, they are almost like distant cousins.  If you weren’t pretty close, you probably lost track of them.   I thought my classmates might enjoy hearing about our friend, Vincent Gillen and some outings that he and I shared. I’ve forgotten most of the dates but that won’t hurt the stories.             

Our 40th class reunion was held in 1994 and I went back to Kansas for it. While talking with Keith, he mentioned that Vincent Gillen was living in Oceanside, California.    That was good to hear as I lived in El Cajon, California which put me only 35 or 40 miles from Vince.  When I got back home, I called the information operator and asked if she had a number for Vince. She did, so that problem was solved easily enough. I called him and we had a nice visit and made plans to meet for lunch

During our phone conversation, Vince told me that he had lived in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and worked in Tulsa for Shell Oil Company as a manager in the credit card department. Due to a re-organization at Shell, Vince was offered early retirement. He jumped on it and being divorced and free as a bird, he headed for a warmer climate and ended up in Oceanside, California, a place his family had  vacationed at when he was a boy. Vince wanted to buy a home if he could find one near the beach and the price was right.  He said he looked at 130 homes before he bought one. I asked if his realtor wanted to strangle him. He said he was safe because the guy was new to real estate and was desperate to make a sale.

Vince and I met at Kono’s in Pacific Beach. Pacific Beach is one of San Diego’s seaside communities and is the location of Mission Beach and the boardwalk. It’s a fun place to be for both locals and tourists. Kono’s is located at the north end of the boardwalk at Mission Beach. It was originally started up as a place for the surfers to get breakfast. They start showing up at dawn and after a couple of hours swimming in a cold ocean they are starving. Kono’s has a deck overlooking the beach and the waves so you can sit there and eat while you watch the surfers. There is a full breakfast menu, but Pat and Vince and I liked the Breakfast Sandwich best. Two scrambled eggs, two strips of bacon, a slice of tomato, cheese, and some kind of sauce, on an English muffin. Mighty good.

Vince and I were on the phone one day, setting up our next lunch, and he told me he had gotten rid of the old Buick Riviera he had been driving and purchased a 1985 Chevrolet. I congratulated him on the buy but was having some serious doubts. Why would a smart guy like him get rid of an old heap and replace it with another that is already ten  years old?  Vince said he would show me the Chevy when we were at lunch. The next day, at Kono’s, we ate, and then went out to see the car. It turned out that Vince  was just being a smart ass. It was a Chevy, all right, a 1985 Corvette convertible.  The car was in perfect condition, and looked like it had just come off the showroom floor. Vince said the car had belonged to a doctor who had only driven it on weekends. The car was black and had no scratches or marks of any kind. Vince was a real convertible-type guy. I never once saw that Corvette with the top up.

Sometimes, Pat went with me to lunch with Vince. After eating, Vince and I would retire to a bench on the boardwalk to watch the surfers, waves, and sunbathers. Pat would go back to the car, put on her roller blades, and take off south, on the boardwalk (it’s actually a concrete walk).  The boardwalk extends for two or three miles down the beach, past the roller coaster, to the jetty that marks the inlet where the Pacific Ocean comes into Mission Bay. Pat would next go a block east to a sidewalk known as Bay Walk and head back north. Altogether, her course covered seven miles. Pretty good for a woman in her sixties.

Jo Lynn (Watson) Dennett, of Augusta, came for a visit. I called Vince and we scheduled a lunch at Kono’s. Pat and I wanted Jo Lynn to really experience San Diego by spending some time in one of the beach towns. Two of the words that describe Pacific Beach are “fun”and “energy.” On summer weekends, the ocean is warm, and there are plenty of surfers and swimmers. Every square inch of beach sand is covered by sunbathers and kids. The boardwalk is crowded with people walking, roller blading, and riding bicycles. A half block east of the boardwalk is Mission Bay Drive, a street that is populated with shops and small restaurants. Vince wanted Jo Lynn to experience all of it, so he gave Jo Lynn a ride in his Corvette convertible all the way down Mission Bay Drive, past the roller coaster, to the jetty and back. She got a charge out of it.

All of us got to see the Pacific Beach Flash. He’s a fun guy who dresses in costumes and roller blades up and down the boardwalk on weekends.

Pat had Jo Lynn put on her roller blades and try them out. That didn’t go so well, so we scratched that activity.  

This story is getting too long, so next week it will continue. Vince and I had some favorite Mexican restaurants, and we had some lunch guests such as his mother, his daughter, his son, and our friends.

Dave Thomas


We Would Like to Know

I was thinking of our Congress and how they are getting nothing done. They seem to be so conflicted by promises and contributors that they have lost all pretense of having any common sense. Who do they owe?

I’m reminded of a little story I wrote some time ago. As a kid, I saw a dog coming down the street one day. He was wearing a collar, so I caught up with him to see if he had a tag. Sure enough, he did. The tag read, “I am Ed Lietzke’s dog. Whose dog are you?”

Dave Thomas 2/10/22

Lunch Guests

Last year, I told you about some crows my wife, Pat, was feeding. It was an “on demand” kind of thing. They would squawk until she came out with some food. The way it worked was that the six crows would arrive, and five of them would settle in a tree across the street. The sixth one would land on the edge of our garage roof. Our attached garage forms a 90 degree angle with the rest of the house. The crow could perch on the edge of the garage roof and look across and into the picture window of the living room. When Pat heard the squawking, she would look out the window and make eye contact with the crow. When she opened the door and went out, the crow maintained eye contact at all times. It seemed to know that eye contact was an important part of getting your message across. Pat would put the food on the lawn or the driveway, and the boss bird and the other five would enjoy the feast. If they ate everything but were still hungry, the head crow would start squawking again and would keep it up until Pat brought more food.

Last week, after several quiet months with no crows, Pat thought she heard them out front. She went out, and sure enough, there were six crows on our driveway. Five of them were grouped at the foot of the drive, and a single one was closer to the house. The lone guy, the communicator, was yelling his fool head off. Pat said, “Okay, okay, I’ll get you some lunch,” and she turned and walked back toward the front door. The crow was following right behind her. Apparently, he didn’t want to lose sight of her. She went into the house and the quickest thing that came to mind was a handful of Cheerios. She took the Cheerios out and tossed them on the driveway. The six crows wasted not time in gobbling them up. After eating, they left, and we haven’t heard them around the neighborhood. I guess they were just passing through. I think that after all these months, it’s really strange that the crows knew which house to come back to for a handout.

P.S.- Here’s a little story Pat and I just heard today. Our grandson’s girlfriend, Meztli, says, “I just heard the strangest story. My grandmother feeds crows.” Our grandson, David, says, “There’s nothing strange about that- my grandma feeds crows, too!”

Dave Thomas


Thoughts Stimulated By The News- From the Older Guy

Mandates are issued when the people are too stupid, too short-sighted, too bull-headed, or too misguided to do what is best.

If a person refused to wear a mask and get the COVID 19 shots,  and they contracted the disease and they infected another person who died, could the errant person be charged with first degree murder?

Here’s another dumb one. The law says you don’t have to wear a mask and protect your fellow citizens, but you must carry a fetus full term regardless of viability.

The controversy over wearing a mask is being fueled by morons. It’s like a cop not wearing a bullet proof vest though he knows the situation Is about to escalate.                                       

I still can’t process the idea that nurses would refuse the COVID 19 vaccinations. What the hell?

Based on the movie box office receipts, it looks like Americans are becoming the inhabitants of fantasy land. It looks like America’s heroes are Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, and the Green Hornet. Maybe that’s why so many Americans have fallen for the b.s. espoused by the flim-flam man, the head scum bag.

The Bigot States or Red  States, if you prefer, are shutting down the right to vote if you are anything other than white skinned. Well, so much for democracy.

Not much has been done in Washington, D.C. these past 13 years. We can thank the GOP for most of that. Imagine where we could be if all 535 of our elected people were focused on the same problem. We could fix anything. I know that a few of our reps are trying to do a good job. What’s wrong with the rest of them? Are they owned by big corporations or fat hogs like the “Kook” brothers? Have they been threatened with black mail? Have they been threatened with physical harm? How can these guys look at themselves in the mirror each morning?

Dave Thomas


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