Who Are These People?

During the early 1970s my family and I lived in rural part of the northern United States. We hadn’t been there long before a neighbor bought property a stone’s throw from us and began an egg business. Within ten years his enterprise had grown into several large chicken houses and 200,000 laying hens. Then came the folks campaigning against eggs. They made such a strong case that within three years the egg man was bankrupt. Only then, after it was too late, did the group decide they’d been hasty and that perhaps eggs were not such a bad food after all.

So now we have another person, claiming to be a doctor, urging people to throw out their tomatoes, potatoes, and bananas. I’ve eaten tons to tomatoes, and potatoes. And during my three years in the West Indies, where bananas cost one cent each, I devoured tons of them as well.

This autumn I shall turn 82 years old. I still walk about a mile each day, roll out of bed at 0600 every morning, turn in at about 2300. And I continue to eat my eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, and bananas in moderation, of course.

Who are these people who are spreading these falsehoods? Someone should bring them to task.

The Curve

I knew we was in trouble as soon as we settled into that curve, Dan and me. He’s slipped halfway off the side of his Blackbird, his right knee is almost on the pavement. An inch? I can’t be sure. My hands was full with my CB-900. That thought hasn’t cleared before his rear tire slips. Flipping once, his bike cuts across the oncoming lane and then cuts a swath into the Arizona sage brush. Dan is airborne, his arms and legs flopping like he’s a rag doll thrown from a window.

I’ve done my share of flat-tracking in Texas Dodging wrecked machines and riders was part of the sport, but twenty years have passed since, and I’m an old man now. I’m calling on long forgotten skills, missing Dan, watching his motorcycle.

I’ve seen some of bike crashes. Survived a few. But not many at speeds exceeding a hundred miles per hour. I’m certain Dan’s a dead man, and I’m not anxious to verify it. But when I get to him he’s moving and moaning. His glasses are gone. So is his helmet

DAN! TALK TO ME, DAN,” I shout.

Dan opens his eyes, but they aren’t focusing. “I think I’m alright,” he whispers, moving his fingers. “My bike! Where’s my bike?”

It’s okay. You stay put. I’ll take care of things,” I order.

But Dan isn’t listening. He’s standing now, swaying like a drunk man and trying to follow me. “I must have lost my concentration,” he mumbles, staggering along the shoulder.

I find his glasses hanging on a cactus thorn. His handlebars are bent, but the motor starts.

We sit in the shade of a Palo Verde tree drinking water for an hour. When he’s ready we start the two hundred mile trek back to his trailer in Show Low. It’s a slow trip. He’s lost his cool.

I visit him twice. He hasn’t been riding – claims something is wrong with his machine. Honestly, I think he’s scared. So I wait.

This morning the phone rings. Dan wants to meet me at Salt Creek Canyon and take another run at that curve.

Cheers to the passengers aboard The Number 26

The Number 26

Cheers to the travelers, the runaways, vagabonds, commuters, and the lost. The strangers, the outsiders, locals, newcomers, and the sheltered homeless.

Cheers to the ones life dealt a bad hand, with everything they love on the table. Who cling to unfavorable odds like a life raft stranded in the ocean, with unwavering, unabating, faithful hope.

Cheers to the ones with calloused palms. With bloody fingertips, and chipped nails, from clawing at the bottom of the barrel.

To the ones running on fumes, sustained by air, who keep moving forward, their eyes toward the horizon, one step after another.

We’re going nowhere in a hurry, and we’re seeing all the sights along the way.

To the ones ready to run, with passports in their bed stands. The ones who whisper the mantra “one day” over and over in their sleep.

To the ones with cracked open piggy banks, paying unexpected debts…

View original post 88 more words

Strawberry (flash fiction)

I was a farm boy, still in high school with a car and a girlfriend during the early 1950s. She lived fifteen miles from my front door, so cash played an important role in my social life. But my choices for earning money were limited – storing a farmer’s hay in his barn or digging his wife’s potatoes. Both or either paid five dollars per day whether that day lasted a few hours or dark-to-dark. That was when I met Strawberry.

Strawberry was name of a Korean War Veteran, one he’d earned from his complexion, the result of shell-shock, someone told me. I don’t know how much his mustering-out pay amounted to, only that it enabled him to buy a used Chevrolet truck for hauling hay to farmer’s barns. I was paid for loading and unloading. Our relationship worked out well. I always had enough cash to get to town and take my redhead to the movie. Sometimes I even had enough to buy her a hamburger.

I knew little about Strawberry’s personal life. What I learned seemed strange.

Late that summer he bought an aging 1946 Chevrolet sedan. He told me he got it cheap because the paint looked so bad. At the first opportunity, he bought a gallon of black paint and a brush. “Where the masking tape?” I asked. “Don’t need no tape. I got me a forth grader.”

Strawberry painted everything – chrome and glass. The forth grader, with an apple box to stand on, wiped the paint off the chrome and glass. They both got done about the same time. Strawberry stepped back to admire his work.

It was crazy. I was glad I watched.

The Hotwater-8 background

One cold October night I copied a CW signal on the 40-meter band. It was N7JEU (I’ve forgotten his name) using the Heathkit HW-8 (aka Hotwater-8). I went back to him that night and many nights there after. Eventually, I learned that during the Korean War he was a marine forward artillery spotter. Using a CW mobile receiver-transmitter, head phones and a thigh-mounted telegraph key and a Jeep, he reported the position of the artillery strikes. That had occurred some 40 years in the past.

As we conducted our nightly chats, he located on the southern ridge of the Columbia Gorge, me in the southwest hills of Eugene, Oregon, I learned he was suffering with lung cancer. He’d lost his voice and his fist and the Hotwater-8 was his last means of reaching out. I’m not certain when, other when than it was spring, when his wife dialed me on the telephone. N7JEU had passed and he’d willed his station to me. Please come get it as soon as possible, she stated.

I made a few contacts with it, but time free time was critical. I was heavy into Oregon Army MARS where participating meant using my Swan 400 and SSB for military traffic handling nets in support of the ’91 Gulf War. The HW-8 spent a great deal of time on the shelf.

Time passed. Years. Eventually, my close friend and fellow MARS member, KB7LOC, had experienced a lightning strike that had totally ruined his station. He called me when I was in Arizona, asking if I had any spare radio station lying around. If so, could he borrow one?

I had just finished building a solar-powered ham radio station. The Swan 400 was a power hog. It drained my eight deep-cycle flooded batteries faster than I could recharge them, so I sold it and bought a MFJ-9420 with a CW add-on board so I do both CW and SSB and got operational just in time for the 9/11 event. The only other radio I had was the HW-8. With a heavy heart I packaged it up and mailed it to Leo and said nothing about my MFJ station.

Barb and I were renting trailer space in an unimproved park called Coyote Howls Campground. Communications with the outside world was via ham radio or a pay phone near the office. One day, a neighbor answered the pay phone and delivered a note from Leo with a callback number at Seal Rock, Oregon.

We need to have a CW QSO, he said.

Okay. When?”

Well, I’m giving guitar lessons and Wednesday evening between 7 and 8 is best for me, he stated.

He was taken aback when I informed him my radio was mono-band 20-meter rig, a daytime band.

Well, I’ll CQ for one minute on the quarter-hour and listen for the remaining fourteen minutes, he suggested frequency.

I was game for anything. Every Wednesday from 7 until 8 I gave the radio my full attention. During that winter, we made three contacts, Leo’s 1 watt and my 9-watts. Once his signal was no stronger than a puff of cigar smoke. We exchanged QSL cards for proof. I still have mine.

I don’t think Leo ever found another station. I don’t think he ever looked. Then late one night his wife called me. Leo had passed and what should she do with the radio?

I drove from Dallas to Seal Rock to get the radio.

And the rest of the story is published under the title: QRP the Hard Way. With the exception of the last chapter – mailing it to Bill.

QRP the Hard Way (revisited)

A photograph here soon

When I’m finished using it I’ll be casting about for someone with good ears who is interested in doing QRP the hard way.

The above paragraph was contained the final words of my article QRP the Hard Way.  Late last winter, after a dozen years, I decided who should receive the HW-8. I mailed it to Bill, K7WXW in Portland.

73 de Scott/n7net

Big Red

Image-1 (1)

Streetcar Diner about date unknown

IMG_3394Me, my dad, My mother in front of her Streetcar Diner, about 1942

Scan0050_050

The rented house with the Big Red’s house behind.

My first grade was still months away when Mom bought the Streetcar Diner, about 1942. It was a 24/7 cafe located on US 71 in Missouri. It was a popular gathering place during World War II. Folks didn’t have much money, so they claimed. However, they had nickels for the jukebox that stood at the north end. I grew up to the voices of Jo Stafford, Tex Ritter, Bob Wills, and others I can no longer recall.

Mom rented a two-story frame house across the highway from the diner. Much to my delight a large red dog occupied the doghouse located in the back yard. For us it was love at first sight. Our relationship continued until Christmas 1945 when I was informed we were relocating to Southern California.

Coping with wartime rationing had prevented Mom from accumulating an abundance of personal possessions. Inside of a week things had been sold, stored, or given away. We were ready to roll. Unfortunately, I assumed Big Red would go with me – he was family. But an eight-year-old has no voice in such matters. My tears blurred my vision the morning of our departure.

Seventy plus Christmas seasons have passed since that morning, and I still miss Big Red. He was family.

Journal-keeping

image

Journal-keeping is a large part of my daily life. For some thirty years it has been how I start my day, how I recall a situation. There are no dark secrets recorded therein. They are just ongoing brain-storming sessions – some abandoned, but still a crutch that is often beneficial when developing a fictional character or a sense of place. Therefore all my entries are recorded in #2 pencil. Always subject to change.

My entries began in spiral notebooks, and then computer files when the Commodore 64 became available. Situations were easier to research. But computer files didn’t seem to reflect all situations. Sometimes I move to the porch with a typewriter and hammer out six or eight pages before I nail down what I was trying to accomplish. Eventually, I went back to spiral notebooks and #2 pencils. Last year I began fabricating my own notebooks – 20 sheets of 8.5 x 11 copy paper folded and stapled with a 70 lb cover, dated. It fits in my pocket, my glove box, or a drawer.

For now that seems to work.

GIVE ME TEN!

Thirty years may have passed since I was on southbound motorcycle trip into California. I had stopped at the northern most rest area on Interstate 5 when an army van stopped. Five prisoners, four men and one woman got out, snapped to, and awaited instructions. From my strategic location I was fortunate enough to see one of the men grab the woman prison’s ass. The female MP saw it too.

“GIVE ME TEN!” she shouted.

I saw no remorse on the man’s face as he dropped to the ground and complied.

After the pit stop was complete everyone was ordered back in the van and they resumed their southbound journey.