One morning last month, while walking Mr. Black, our housemate, I passed a clump of wild flowers over which a lone bumble bee was collecting pollen. Meanwhile, the workers back at the house awaited his arrival, anxious to relieve him of his burden.
A similar situation exists within the trucking industry. Folks known as lumpers loiter around the docks. They most often have a spokesperson who negotiates a fee with the driver – usually a hundred dollars – for unloading the trailer.
I doubt the bumble bees back at the house are so richly rewarded.
This is msuĺi delivery at Pie Town, New Mexico during the late 1930s. The flat crates tied on the back are baby chicks traveling as parcel post, probably 60 to a box. As you can see, mail arrival was like a circus coming to town.
Before and during World War II my home was on a Missouri farm. Life was simple but effective. Our heat source was wood, our lights were kerosene lamps, our water came to the kitchen sink from a pitcher pump, and hot water came from a tea kettle. The needs we could not grow or manufacture we bought from Collier’s Mercantile – groceries, shoes, stocking, boots, and heavy work clothing. Everything else we ordered from the Sears Roebuck catalog.
Anything and everything ca me from that source – baby chicks and ducks, mules, plows, tools, radios, phonographs, records, furniture, and more.
Baby chicks were delivered by the mail carrier. Heavy stuff like mules and plows, cars, and motorcycles traveled by rail. Sears had a system that worked.
But now Sears is going bust. Why? They invented the system. Basically, in my opinion, there is little different little difference between a paper catalog and a computer monitor. Sears made the transition from mail order to brick and mortar.
Whatever became of the decedents of those creative people?
During the days the American Civil War the Union Generals kept President Lincoln abreast of progress via wire telegraph. In order to accomplish this a team had to move the wire every time the general moved.
Information sent to the general – troop movement, numbers, locations, supply line, equipment – didn’t arrive by wire. It came in Morse code from individuals stationed on hills or rooftops armed with a flag attached to a four-foot hickory stick. It was called a Wig Wag Flag.
Messages began with the flag held in an overhead vertical position. Dropping the flag to a horizontal position on the sender’s right side made a DIT (dot). Dropping it to a horizontal position left side was a DAH (dash). Held in vertical position signified the beginning or end of a letter. Straight down meant the end of a word or finished.
vertical up meant the beginning of a letter
l,r,l,r, up was C
r,l, up was A
l,r, up was N
l,r, up was N
l,l,l up was O
l,r, up was N
down meant end of word or finished
- Slow but faster than sending a runner down the hill with a note.
Our garden space is cramped, but the zuchinni don’t seem to care…not yet anyway.
Stephen Hawking is now predicting that humans must vacate planet Earth within the next 100 years or face doom.
Obviously, not everyone can go. Most humans will stay behind and face this fate. If you are still in your prime years when this event takes place what would you take with you? Your sunglasses? An extra pair of shoes? A change of underwear? A tooth-brush? A Jug of Old Crow?
If you are fortunate enough to speak more than one language, which one do you think in? This is a question that has never been satisfactorily answered, to my benefit.
As one of the tests I sometimes ask an unexpected question of someone who had command of more than one language and then note the first word of their response. But I’m still not satisfied.
Years ago a friend was the father of two young children. Many of their playmates spoke Spanish. In a short period of time they were speaking Spanish as well as anyone on the playground and speaking English at the dinner table.
Their father once told me they talked in their sleep part English, part Spanish.
I wish I knew which language they thought in. Perhaps both?
Spring is making every effort to stay and I’m glad to see it. With it come the brave, wild flowers. And I enjoy the color they provide before the county comes around with their mowers.
It was April when my wife had just returned home from a month-long-stay in the hospital. I always remained within earshot. And while doing so I spotted a dragon fly perched on a limb about shirt-pocket level. His large eyes are what caught my attention. After I’d studied him for a short time he took flight, circled me and then returned to his post. That’s when it occurred to me that he was not out for some fresh air. He was on guard duty. Somewhere in that thicket something involving his species was occurring and his job was to keep predators at bay. He was a brave little creature. I could have crushed him.
A couple of decades ago I was at home writing while Barb was working. She was a nurse. A new hatch of crows were in the timber behind where we lived and they sounded like a herd of tree frogs as they found their crow voices. Then everything went silent. I paused to listen and when they didn’t resume their “chatter” I slipped outside to see what had happened.
The timber came out to a point near an old pond and as I scanned the area for anything unusual I noticed a lone crow, an aged crow, perhaps the alpha crow, perched on a limb facing the road. Slowly, I changed locations in order to see what he was watching. There, on the power line sat a hawk. It was a stand off.
Minutes passed. Perhaps two or maybe three. Then as the hawk emitted a high-pitched screech he vaulted from his perch and headed north.
The crow maintained his station for a longer period, Then he flew off the limb, made a one-eighty and headed back into the forest.
An instant later the youngsters resumed their practice at becoming crows.
Hilary, when she was still First Lady, stated that it takes a village to raise a child.
Perhaps it takes a village to raise a crow as well.
There was a time when I considered the words uttered by Stephen Hawking worth considering. However, about a year ago he made a bold statement that turned me off.
“Christians are afraid of the dark,” he said.
In my opinion no one is entitled to belittle another person’s faith. Not even, him.
During this weekend – February 25 and 26 – I watched two Roy Rogers movies on YouTube. They both were released during my birth year 1937. I saw them when my mother and I lived in Southern California during 1945 and 1949.
I had a job back then. Being the last one to leave the house, I washed breakfast dishes and put them in the cupboard every morning before leaving for school. The pay was twenty-five cents per week. That wasn’t a lot of money, so I spent it carefully. That allowance bought a pair of trousers, a week’s ration of Double Bubble Chewing Gum, and financed the ten-cent admission fee to the Early Bird movie each Saturday morning – Gene Autry, Tom Mix, Lone Ranger, Red Ryder, and others.
Sometimes the theaters provided perks. About once each month a Wonder Bread wrapper paid my way in. One Saturday morning before the movie a cartoonist illustrated,with an overhead projector, how to draw cartoon faces using number zero through nine. Another time a Duncan YoYo representative demonstrated all the special things that could be done with a YoYo.
We always exited the theater from the balcony and followed a concrete ramp to the street level. It was on this ramp that I heard and then saw my first shoe taps. And then I had one more item to fit into my budget.
Back to the movies:
Nobody but the sheriff and saloon keeper seemed to have jobs. Everyone else was free to play poker or serve on a posse at a moment’s notice. And the poor horses, always tied out front covered every inch of those dusty trails a full gallop.
George “Gabby” Hayes was often Roger’s’ sidekick. I seem to recall he was much younger than the part he played, but like Chester on Gunsmoke, he was a dead eye with a pistol and very capable of manhandling someone half his age. Seventy years later I saw good clean humor in his character.