Old Typewriters

  • Recently, after reading Charles Dickens’ novel, Bleak House, I decided to search the Internet to learn if Dickens owned a typewriter. A patent had been awarded for a typographer (read typewriter) some 20 years earlier. Apparently, he didn’t. All references I can find point to quills and special inks.

    I must tip my hat to anyone who can churn out a novel length text using a quill.

    My information source led me to the apparent value of some old, experienced typewriters.

    Mark Twain claimed to be the first author to own a typewriter, purchasing one for $125. He disliked it so much that he traded it to a friend for a $9 saddle and felt he took advantage of his friend.

    Jack Kerouac owned a typewriter which got its most use typing letters to his agent demanding royalty payments. Still, I’ve read that his novel, On the Road, was typed on a roll of Western Union Telegraph paper. The entire novel was one long sentence (perhaps that’s why Truman Capote said: “…he’s not a writer. He’s a typist.”) The editor who charged $500 to make it readable may have shared Capote’s opinion.

    Cormac McCarthy sold his 46-year-old typewriter for $254,500 and replaced it with an $11 Olivetti.


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Macaronic

My Nexus 7 tablet supports a dictionary app that publishes a word and definition each day. I’m subscribed to this feature in an effort to enlarge my vocabulary. Most words it offers are beyond what might be useful in my daily life, so I scroll on by. This morning, however, came the word: MACARONIC. This describes at least two instances where I could have used it.

Spanglish is one. During a three-year tour in the West Indies I experienced a language collision, a conflict between English and Spanish. It was most apparent with the children who enjoyed both languages, interchanging at will and with ease.

Box-car-ing is the second one which involves the use of Morse code – American and International.

Thirty years ago, while earning my amateur radio license I was required to demonstrate my knowledge and use of international Morse code. In doing so I rubbed shoulders with retired railroad and Western Union communications operators. Many of these folks had sent and received information of great importance – sinking of the Titanic, World War I, the stock market crash of 1929, The Great Depression, World War II, and many other events of great importance. The telegraph wires sang with train orders, personal telegrams, news, stock market reports. The list could go on.

During my early hamming days when code was the only mode I was allowed to use, I rubbed elbows with these “old salts” folks who even thought and dreamed in code. One of the places where macaronic occurred was on the West Coast Slow Speed Net which met daily on 3.702 mHz at 0200 hours Zulu.

These folks were quick with their Vibroplex and straight keys. Hardly a night passed without one train dispatcher passing traffic to another. When conditions were difficult and the receiving station sometimes asked for fills. The sender, in his excitement, sometimes mixed American Morse with International leaving us newcomers scratching our heads..

They called that box-car-ing. The dictionary calls it macaronic.

She Won’t Get Any Better

Those were the words spoken by a relative referencing my wife’s condition. A year ago last May she’d suffered two heart attacks and two seizures and our future seemed grim. I think he is a selfish, greedy man. I fear he let his wife go a few years earlier in order to collect a large insurance policy. So I wonder what he is suggesting; turn my back on my wife and give up on her?

My mind drifts back to Barb’s 27 days in a heart hospital. Her survival is touch and go, more so than I realize. Not until I hear her monitor sounding off like an aircraft stall-warning horn do I truly understand how close to death she actually is. “We still have other things we can do,”a nurse says to me as she quickly connects two smaller, brightly colored gas bottles to Barb’s machine. Nothing they do prevents her oxygen level from dropping. It’s now approaching 20%. I don’t know what percentage is acceptable, but I’m certain it should be higher.

I watch Barb while trying to stay out from under foot. Her lips move. Glancing at the nurses I notice they are all four leaning against the wall. Is there nothing more they can do? Are they waiting for her to die?

I move to her bedside and pull her oxygen mask away and ask what she said.

“I can’t take any more of this,” she whispers.

My medical knowledge includes the use of band-aids and administering cough syrup. Little else. However, my gut instinct tells me the words I chose during the next sixty seconds may determine Barb’s future. Putting her oxygen mask back in place, I bend over and whisper in her ear: “Please don’t go. I don’t want to home alone.”

Before the second hand on the wall clock has finished a full rotation her oxygen level moves. It increases. Did I cause that, Or would it have happened anyway, even if I’d been somewhere else? Within an hour the oxygen crisis seems less critical.

Twenty seven days later, fitted her doctor says I can take her home. “bear in mind,” he tells me in the hallway, “She’s been through a lot. Don’t be surprised if some mental issues surface.” Before she leaves her room, a nurse brings a box containing nine medications and an instruction sheet indicating what these meds are and when they are to be administered. The assigned hours are: 7AM, 9AM, NOON, 5PM, 8PM, and BEDTIME.

I’m overwhelmed, not at all certain I’m smart enough to keep my wife alive. But unlike my calloused relative, I don’t throw my hands in the air and leave Barb’s future to Lady Luck.

For several weeks I cook, wash dishes, wash clothes, and keep house, and see to most of her needs while she gazes out the sliding glass door. Eventually, she’s able focus better. We play slow games like Monopoly and Rummy.

I wonder about computer games. For years prior, she has played a Simms game on her iPad. Now she has no interest. None. Her stress level is low, so don’t press it. Instead, I wait and I watch and I hope – keeping the iPad battery charged. One day she asked if I know where she put her iPad.

Seventeen months have passed since she came home from the hospital. During this span of time her health has steadily improved. There have been issues, but she has taken over the domestic chores, but stress is still a constant snag caused by television and radio. Those are easily addressed.

This month she announces she is going to begin embroidering. A week later she’s ready to start a second pillowcase.

My relative becomes more like Scrooge McDuck with each passing year. He was wrong, saying: “She will never get better.”

Her.2 (Fiction)

 

Internet

Unable to sleep, I tossed and turned until dropped off from sheer exhaustion. The alarm on the table clock woke me at noon when. What time did I say I’d pick her up? Was it 1400 hours? That seemed right but while showering a voice in my head told me I’d said noon. Shit! The desk clock now read 1205. Setting some get-ready records, I was in the car by 1220.

The CQ assigned to the WAF quarters took her duty seriously, and she was large enough to enforce the instructions she issued.

“Sergeant, when you come calling on someone it’s your responsibility to know your friend’s name. Do you think that’s an unreasonable request?”

“Of course not, but we met on the Greyhound only last night. I only know her as Cynthia, dark hair, about five six, give or take.

“There aren’t many clues there, sergeant,” she states, peering at me through tired, uninterested eyes.

“She’s scheduled to sign in from leave tonight at midnight. Does that help?” I plead.

The CQ, Beatrice, her name tag stated, indicated only the slightest interest as she withdrew clipboard from beneath her work desk and ran her index finger down a column.

“That would be Airman Cynthia Holmes. Should I send someone to tell you are waiting?”

“Please,” i said, relief flooding over my like warm sunshine after a rainy day..

Turning, Beatrice summoned an E2 who sat behind her, her nose buried in a romance paperback. “Inform Cynthia Holmes in room 232 that a sergeant is waiting for her.”

The CQ runner, a young blond, bent over the corner of a page to mark her place, then laid her novel aside. With the grace of a Persian cat she mounted the stairwell and silently disappeared into a hallway.

Take a seat on the sofa,” Beatrice said without taking her eyes off the wakeup roster she was building. Minutes later the runner returned and took up her novel again. On her heels came Cynthia, with a broad smile.

“Hi Legs.”

“Hi Cynthia.”

I took pleasure in seeing the CQ’s reaction to hearing our exchange.

Once in the car I caught a whiff of Cynthia’s perfume. The scent was so light it was almost not there, yet it was fetching. Excellent choice, in my opinion.

I’d experienced just the opposite on a Portland street a few days earlier. A young woman in a short skirt, short jacket, and heels stepped from the doorway of a law office and preceded me by a dozen or so yards. She’d obviously bathed in a tub of cologne. Had the scent following her been colored, any color, she would have been engulfed in a cloud.

“Nice car.”

“Thanks. I like it too, even though it consumed most of my reenlistment bonus.” i said. “So you grew up in Gold Hill, Oregon?” I asked after we were headed along Beale Road toward Marysville.

“I did. It’s even smaller than it looks, two cafes, two taverns, a boarding house that was once the Gold Hill Inn, a hotel, in the stagecoach days, they say. There are five or six churches. I’m not sure of the count.”

“What do your folks do there?”

“Pop is a Baptist minister. He’s had the same church for as long as I can remember. Mama’s head cook at the school. Short work days. She’s extremely busy, but she manages to make time for her passion, reinventing the social functions that were popular many decades ago.”

“What kind of social functions?” I ask as I brought the Triumph up to speed and merged with the southbound traffic on US 99.

“The old ones – pie suppers and ice cream socials are the two she works hardest at. Both generate funds for the school and needy folks. What do your folks do?” Cynthia asked.

“Dad owns a hardware store in the Portland suburb, Gladstone. Kind of a Happy Days thing – don’t I wish?” I said, smiling. “Mom works in the store as bookkeeper and sales clerk. But tell me more about this social thing your mama does,” I urged.

“I must warn you, it’s a long story,” she cautioned.

“We have time.”

“Well, a pie supper is an informal dating game,  for lack of a better description. Women, married or single, make up a lunch of two half sandwiches and two pieces of pie and put them in a decorative box with their name on a slip of paper inside. No one is supposed to know who brought them, but you know how that goes. They are auctioned off, some bringing as much as ten dollars. The winner of each box is obligated to share the contents with the preparer, like it or not. The proceeds go into a fund to be awarded later.”

“I wonder who thought that up?”

“It goes way back to the old one room school days and even before. Mama once said that at the start of World War One the troop trains usually stopped at Gold Hill for water drawn from the Rogue River. Her mother knew the railroad agent and she’d get the train schedules from him. As the train time approached, she prepare food for the soldiers – fried chicken, sandwiches, and chocolate cake. She’d wrap servings in butcher paper and put her name and address inside. One soldier, I think she said his name was Peter.”

So the pie supper was a patriotic thing more than a century ago?” I said.

“You could say that.”

“Coffee time,” swinging into a diner that gleamed like it was covered in aluminum foil.

Easy (fiction)

From the Internet

A frigid wind whipped through the football stadium, and Edie thought she would freeze where she stood. She wished she’d stayed home and watched the game on TV. Rather than dealing with such discomfort. She could be curled up on her sofa with a bowl of popcorn and a hot buttered rum. For sure, she wasn’t a dyed-in-wool football fan. Stadiums were man-made low pressure areas, a place that generated arctic winds all their own. If her baby brother wasn’t quarterbacking for Colorado State she would not here at all.

“You’re a dollar short, lady,” the concessionaire growled.

“But that’s all the cash I have,” Edie said, gazing at the hamburger that, if measured, would be somewhat smaller than her father’s snuff can. “I can buy a Big Mac with fries for less than you’re asking for this miniature thing you’re offering me.”

“Then you’d best trot over to McDonald’s, lady. But If you want this one you’re gonna have to find more money.”

“Take this dollar and shut the hell up, Pal.” said a voice in the line behind her.

Edie whirled around to find a large man putting his wallet away. His sandy hair was parted on the left side. His well-trimmed beard and mustache were both a shade darker and curly. He smiled at Edie. “I’d wear a mask if I had to work here,” he said, directing his words at the concessionaire

“Thank you, ah, I don’t know your name.”

“Folks call me Easy. It’s short for my first two initials, E and Z, Elmer Zumwalt Tailor as your service, Miss.”

She waited while he bought coffee, then she introduced herself. Together, they made their way back to her seat near the fifty yard line, but halfway up. After they were settled she explained that winter sports were not her cup of tea. Adding: “If my baby brother hadn’t bought my ticket I wouldn’t be here at all.” Then she abruptly stopped talking. “But I’m ranting, aren’t I? Sorry.”

Easy didn’t explain what brought him to the game. Instead, she learned he is the new broadcast engineer for KPMG TV in Denver, having arrived from Seattle the previous day.

“Does that mean you are an announcer, or a weatherman?”

“No, it means that if something goes haywire with the transmitter I get called out of my warm bed – rain, sleet, or snow – to make the problem go away, no matter the hour.”

“Oh. I see,” she said, though she didn’t understand at all She didn’t have the foggiest idea what could possibly go wrong with a television station.

“I’m a CPA,” she ventured, hoping to divert the conversation to something of which she more familiar.

“That sounds interesting. It’s inside work. That’s a huge plus in this country during the winter months.”

“One would think so, that is until an auditor darkens the door. Then the environment can turn frigid very quickly while all CPAs do an instant recall of their previous six months, hoping there are no loose ends,” she said as they caught the shuttle for the trip up town.

“Without a doubt. I’m new in town. You wouldn’t happen to know of a Starbucks nearby, would you?” Easy asked as they stepped off the shuttle near the transit authority building.

“As a matter of fact, there is one two blocks from here,” Edie replied.

“Great. Will you join me in a cup?”

“Absolutely. It’s a great place to relax and warm our bones after that frigid football stadium.” And with that said, she guided him in the direction of Starbucks.

“So you said you’re new to town. How did you come to choose Denver?” she asked after they had their coffee and found a quiet, corner table.

“It’s my job,” he said, repeating the fact that was the broadcast engineer for a Denver television station, channel 7. “I was transferred from Seattle,” he relied, his pale blue eyes nailed to her face while he tested his coffee.

“I see. So are you an announcer, or are you the weatherman?” she asked.

“Neither one. I’m the guy who keeps the transmitter working properly,” Easy explained.

Easy sensed she was trying gloss over her last question, so he went into greater detail.

“I earned my electrical engineering degree at Oregon State and my first job took me to Binghamton, New York to help build a new station. From there I went to Scranton, Pennsylvania. The Scranton company owns the Seattle station as well as this one in Denver.”

“So your folks live in Oregon?”

“No, I grew up in Los Angeles. How about you?”

Edie remained silent for a moment, regrouping. “Well, I’ve done nothing so dramatic. I’ve worked for the same company, occupied the same desk in the same office since the beginning of recorded time – well fifteen years, actually.”

“Didn’t you ever marry?” Easy asked.

Wow, this guy gets right to the point, she thought to herself.

“Yes. I married Ted nine years ago. I’d probably still be married if he hadn’t died in a car crash four years ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Any kids?”

“No, we were never blessed with children,” she said. The thought of no young ones always stung. She quickly rose from her chair and went for more milk, a diversion until the moment passed. With her back turned, she added, “This stuff is bit too bold. It needs more diluting.”

“Mine too,” he said, following her to the milk pitcher.

“We’re you ever married?” she asked.

Following her back to their table, he seemed focused on something only he could see. She couldn’t determine if it was good or bad, so she held her tongue and waited.

“I married a girl I met at Oregon State. Sharon. She was a party girl. Hard to keep up with. Our relationship was physical. Exciting, but getting an engineering degree was no cakewalk. I had to work at it. She thought I spent too time hitting the books and she finally gave me a choice – be her husband or be an engineer. I was stunned, but most of the passion and smoke had cleared for me by that time, so we drove to Reno over a Thanksgiving weekend and unwound everything. That was about eleven years ago. I haven’t heard from her since,” Easy explained through a crooked smile, his eyes downcast.

Edie sensed he still wasn’t over her, so she waited for the moment to pass.

“Can we do this again?” Easy finally asked after throwing down his last swallow of coffee.

“I’d like that,” she said jotting her home number on a napkin.

“Great. I’ll give you a ring in a few days. Maybe you can show me around Denver.”

She smiled and nodded.

After they returned to the parking garage to retrieve their cars Edie headed for home. She was going start watching more channel 7.

A frigid wind whipping through the football stadium, and Edie thought she would freeze where she stood. She wished she’d stayed home and watched the game on TV. Rather than dealing with such discomfort. She could be curled up on her sofa with a bowl of popcorn and a hot buttered rum. For sure, she wasn’t a dyed-in-wool football fan. Stadiums were man-made low pressure areas, a place that generated arctic winds all their own. If her baby brother wasn’t quarterbacking for Colorado State she would not here at all.

“You’re a dollar short, lady,” the concessionaire growled.

“But that’s all the cash I have,” Edie said, gazing at the hamburger that, if measured, would be somewhat smaller than her father’s snuff can. “I can buy a Big Mac with fries for less than you’re asking for this miniature thing you’re offering me.”

“Then you’d best trot over to McDonald’s, lady. But If you want this one you’re gonna have to find more money.”

“Take this dollar and shut the hell up, Pal.” said a voice in the line behind her.

Edie whirled around to find a large man putting his wallet away. His sandy hair was parted on the left side. His well-trimmed beard and mustache were both a shade darker and curly. He smiled at Edie. “I’d wear a mask if I had to work here,” he said, directing his words at the concessionaire

“Thank you, ah, I don’t know your name.”

“Folks call me Easy. It’s short for my first two initials, E and Z, Elmer Zumwalt Tailor as your service, Miss.”

She waited while he bought coffee, then she introduced herself. Together, they made their way back to her seat near the fifty yard line, but halfway up. After they were settled she explained that winter sports were not her cup of tea. Adding: “If my baby brother hadn’t bought my ticket I wouldn’t be here at all.” Then she abruptly stopped talking. “But I’m ranting, aren’t I? Sorry.”

Easy didn’t explain what brought him to the game. Instead, she learned he is the new broadcast engineer for KPMG TV in Denver, having arrived from Seattle the previous day.

“Does that mean you are an announcer, or a weatherman?”

“No, it means that if something goes haywire with the transmitter I get called out of my warm bed – rain, sleet, or snow – to make the problem go away, no matter the hour.”

“Oh. I see,” she said, though she didn’t understand at all She didn’t have the foggiest idea what could possibly go wrong with a television station.

“I’m a CPA,” she ventured, hoping to divert the conversation to something of which she more familiar.

“That sounds interesting. It’s inside work. That’s a huge plus in this country during the winter months.”

“One would think so, that is until an auditor darkens the door. Then the environment can turn frigid very quickly while all CPAs do an instant recall of their previous six months, hoping there are no loose ends,” she said as they caught the shuttle for the trip up town.

“Without a doubt. I’m new in town. You wouldn’t happen to know of a Starbucks nearby, would you?” Easy asked as they stepped off the shuttle near the transit authority building.

“As a matter of fact, there is one two blocks from here,” Edie replied.

“Great. Will you join me in a cup?”

“Absolutely. It’s a great place to relax and warm our bones after that frigid football stadium.” And with that said, she guided him in the direction of Starbucks.

“So you said you’re new to town. How did you come to choose Denver?” she asked after they had their coffee and found a quiet, corner table.

“It’s my job,” he said, repeating the fact that was the broadcast engineer for a Denver television station, channel 7. “I was transferred from Seattle,” he relied, his pale blue eyes nailed to her face while he tested his coffee.

“I see. So are you an announcer, or are you the weatherman?” she asked.

“Neither one. I’m the guy who keeps the transmitter working properly,” Easy explained.

Easy sensed she was trying gloss over her last question, so he went into greater detail.

“I earned my electrical engineering degree at Oregon State and my first job took me to Binghamton, New York to help build a new station. From there I went to Scranton, Pennsylvania. The Scranton company owns the Seattle station as well as this one in Denver.”

“So your folks live in Oregon?”

“No, I grew up in Los Angeles. How about you?”

Edie remained silent for a moment, regrouping. “Well, I’ve done nothing so dramatic. I’ve worked for the same company, occupied the same desk in the same office since the beginning of recorded time – well fifteen years, actually.”

“Didn’t you ever marry?” Easy asked.

Wow, this guy gets right to the point, she thought to herself.

“Yes. I married Ted nine years ago. I’d probably still be married if he hadn’t died in a car crash four years ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Any kids?”

“No, we were never blessed with children,” she said. The thought of no young ones always stung. She quickly rose from her chair and went for more milk, a diversion until the moment passed. With her back turned, she added, “This stuff is bit too bold. It needs more diluting.”

“Mine too,” he said, following her to the milk pitcher.

“We’re you ever married?” she asked.

Following her back to their table, he seemed focused on something only he could see. She couldn’t determine if it was good or bad, so she held her tongue and waited.

“I married a girl I met at Oregon State. Sharon. She was a party girl. Hard to keep up with. Our relationship was physical. Exciting, but getting an engineering degree was no cakewalk. I had to work at it. She thought I spent too time hitting the books and she finally gave me a choice – be her husband or be an engineer. I was stunned, but most of the passion and smoke had cleared for me by that time, so we drove to Reno over a Thanksgiving weekend and unwound everything. That was about eleven years ago. I haven’t heard from her since,” Easy explained through a crooked smile, his eyes downcast.

Edie sensed he still wasn’t over her, so she waited for the moment to pass.

“Can we do this again?” Easy finally asked after throwing down his last swallow of coffee.

“I’d like that,” she said jotting her home number on a napkin.

“Great. I’ll give you a ring in a few days. Maybe you can show me around Denver.”

She smiled and nodded.

After they returned to the parking garage to retrieve their cars Edie headed for home. She was going start watching more channel 7.

Her (fiction)

Photo Source: Internet

I awakened from a fitful sleep when the southbound Greyhound rocked heavily and the diesel engine flared as the driver took the Gold Hill exit off Interstate 5. Darkness had settled over the Rogue Valley while I dozed and scores of glowing windows greeted us as the coach slowed. Then the air brakes hissed and the coach rolled heavily as the driver edged off the highway and then came to a stop at the Shell gas station that served as the Gold Hill bus station. This is unusual, I said to myself, as a young slender woman boarded and then made her way down the aisle.

“May I sit with you?” she asked in little more than a whisper, her hand resting on the aisle side armrest.

“Of course. By all means,” I said, quickly straightening up in my seat and then switching on the overhead light. I was pleased that she had chosen to sit by me. “It’s snowing?” I asked, noting her tracks on the aisle floor. In reality, however, I was trying to justify why I could not pull my eyes from her face.

“Yes, its started minutes before the bus arrived. My name’s Cynthia,” she said as she took her place beside me.

“I’m very pleased to meet you. My given name is Sonny, but everybody calls me Legs.”

“Legs? I’m certainly interested in hearing the story behind that name,” she said, a gentle smile spreading across her face, exposing straight teeth.

“Well, it’s a name given me early in my air force career.”

“You’re in the air force? So am I. I’d like to hear more of your story.”

I wished I’d not mentioned Legs. But…. “We were issued short pants at the start of air force basic training. I swore I’d never wear them, but it didn’t work out that way. In order to reach our electronic school we had to pass a reviewing stand, all 640 of us marching twelve abreast. The powers that be dictated a uniform-of-the-day. And every Wednesday, believe it or not, was short-pants-day.

The first Wednesday people made remarks about my legs and before the first day was out the others addressed me as such. I finally asked a friend about it, what was wrong with my legs. “They’re, twisted or something,” the guy said. “Gee, thanks, buddy. Thanks a lot,” I said.

Tech school lasted nine months. By the time I’d finished the name Legs had stuck. It’s followed me everywhere. It was like the word was stenciled on my forehead,” I explained.

She remained silent for a long moment, smiled but made no comment.

I asked how far she was going while my eyes admired her rich auburn hair

“California. You?”

“I’m returning to Beale Air Force Base. It’s near Marysville. I’ve been visiting my folks in Portland,” I replied. “Where in California are you headed, exactly?”

“I’m going to Beale also. I’m a clerk typist. What’s your job?” she asked, half turning in her seat. I tried not to stare, but her breasts were straining hard against her blouse and they captured my eyes like a magnet attracts iron filings. My groin tingled and for a moment I thought I’d lost my voice.

“I’m a maintainer in the A&E Squadron,” I replied after a pause that lasted far too long. I forced my eyes back to her face, but not before her breasts had burned an image into my retinas. My ears burned like they were recovering from frostbite. I could only imagine how red they were.

“Maintainer? What’s that?”

“i work on the flight line. I fix airplanes – avionics, com/nav shop. We call ourselves maintainers. It’s our job to maintain the communications and navigation systems, keep them working at factory specifications so the flight crews can locate their assigned targets and then find their way back home,” I explained.

“Okay. I think I understand.”

By this time her skirt had moved several inches above her knees. My brain began multitasking, at least trying to and I was thankful she didn’t ask me any more questions because I was having trouble focusing.

We both sat in silence for several minutes. The sound of the bus engine changed. Glancing outside I noticed the we were starting into the Siskiyou Mountains. Through the windshield I saw the snowfall had increased significantly. I turned to bring her attention to that, but in our brief silence she’d dozed off, and her head had rolled to the side facing me and she’d dozed off. Maybe I spent too long admiring her, because she seemed to sense something. Her lids fluttered. Then she came fully awake and smiling at me.

“I must have dozed off. I’m not very good company,” she admitted.

“No worries. You’ve just proven the truth in one of Greyhound’s jingles,” I said.

“And what is that one?”

“Take a bus and leave the driving to us,” or something to that effect.”

She smiled but made no remark, closed her eyes instead.

“You don’t care for bus travel, do you?” I asked.

“If I owned a car I would have driven and traveled on my own schedule. So to answer your question in one word – No.”

An extended silence followed except for occasional bursts of small talk. Soon, she dropped off again and as we rounded a turn she said over against me, her head on his shoulder.

Gray dawn was spreading over Marysville as we waited for the baggage handler.

“What’s your grade, Legs?” Cynthia asked.

“Staff Sergeant. Yours?”

“I’m just an E2. I’m surprised being an E5 you don’t own a car.”

“Oh but I do.”

“If I owned a car I certainly wouldn’t have ridden this bus,” she explained.

“You slept a good many of the miles we traveled. If you ask me, I think you’d have stopped at a motel during the night or found yourself stuck in a snow bank. There’s one thing for sure.”

“What’s that?”

”If you’d driven I would have never met you.”

She opened her mouth as though she had a response ready. But my statement brought her up short. A smile spread across her face and then she reached out and touched his hand. “You are absolutely correct, Legs. But now with that part of our trip solved how are we going to get to Beale, walk?”

“I’ll call somebody to come fetch us. But first things first. Let’s put our bags in a locker in the bus station. Then let’s hike to Richard’s Diner and solve our problem over a plate of ham and eggs, my treat.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. Come along, lady,” I said taking her hand. “So when do you have to sign in from leave?” I asked after we’d claimed a booth.

“Tomorrow at midnight,” she replied. You have any suggestions besides the barracks day room or the beer garden?”

“Well, I’m suggesting a few hours sleep. What say I pick you up about noon today and we’ll drive to San Francisco – check out Fisherman’s Wharf, listen to some Dixieland Jazz at Club Hangover, ride a cable car, for openers? What do you think?”

“That sounds wonderful.”

“Then it’s a done deal,” I said as I moved my arms so the waitress could deliver our breakfasts.

Travels With A Donkey In The Cerennes,

I was elated to discover Travels With A Donkey In the Cerennes on line, free of charge through LibriVox Recording. Strange as it may seem, I was not aware this book existed until a dozen years ago while reading Footsteps, by Richard Holmes, a British Romantic Biographer.

Holmes followed Stevenson’s path across France duplicating his trek, taking his meals at the same time and sleeping where he slept. Holmes achieved his goal for the mostpart. However, the driving force behind this journey would remain a mystery for awhile.

From published essays Holmes determined that Stevenson was on the trail of Fanny Osborne, An Indiana woman ten years his senior, the woman he would eventually wed.

1964 Hurricane

Our Rented House

The resent flurry of Atlantic hurricanes caused me to focus on my 1960s experiences. Of course, my recollections don’t nearly approach the damage Maria caused the island of Puerto Rico and her neighbors.

I think it was 1964 when a hurricane brushed across the southern part of the island, causing damage to the city of Ponce.

Barb and I were renting a concrete house near the village of Isabela while our landlord and his family lived behind us in a questionable house (causing me to recall the story of The Three Pigs) made of wood which he claimed his aunt had built sometime in the last quarter of the 19th Century.

Come stay with us so your family will be safe,” I suggested. “Thank you, but we will be find,” he replied.

Yet, sometime after midnight, while the wind shook everything that it could move, we awoke to a pounding at our door. He, his wife, and their three children were on our stoop and in dire need of shelter.

Unlike Marie, the hurricane left our electrical power and our other conveniences intact. Barb rolled out of bed to make sandwiches, coffee, and cookies for our wet visitors.

By dawn the storm had moved offshore and then stalled, churning in place, as it were. Noting this unsettling phenomenon, our “weather-guesser” assigned to our Ramey Air Force Base Television Station – a low-powered UHF station – assured us that we could forget the hurricane. “They can’t back up,” he stated. His advisory was still ringing in my ears when the storm began seesawing back and forth across Cuba – four times in all – causing Fidel to issue machetes to every able-bodied citizen in order to harvest the sugar cane before it rotted in the fields.

A few days later our bomb wing returned and life returned to a dull roar.

The Street Vendor

A lifetime ago I used to walk to Woolworth’s Five and Dime on Friday night and wait on my mother to finish cutting window blinds. She always stopped at the corner of Colorado and Maringo Streets to by ready-to-eat tamales from the street vendor. They were the size of today’s pound hamburger roll and cost five cents (It was 1945).

Fast forward 72 years….Barb made tamale pie for lunch today using cornmeal, chicken, brown sugar, and mustard seed. The first bite sent me back to the vendor man.

Once Again September Has Come and Gone

This year the trees answering their DNA memories are dropping their leaves in spite of an extra warm autumn. It’s time to give up what has been cherished all summer long. Some things are not so willingly released. The presence of our dog, Mr. Black, is one case in point.

He came to us from a Texas animal shelter as a $10 dog. And he stated low maintenance for more than a decade. We were honored to be his guardians for nearly 15 years. During that time he became a full-fledged member of our family with privileges given thereof.

The gleaming things on his color are bells. He rang them to gain our attention when the need arose.

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