Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Whoopee!

My aunt worked in Atlanta for a printing company. Next door was a novelty shop that sold things like joy buzzers, card trick aids, little small telescopes that you look in and see a nude woman (“the kind men like”), and other things, which included Whoopee cushions. Then I was in high school.

My aunt brought home one day a whoopee cushion she bought for me. I carried it to school. Two of my friends and I had a ball with it in phys ed. The coach took it away from me.

Later in the day on the PA system I heard the assistant principal call my name and my two friends that were playing with the Whoopee Cushion – we were to report to the office, which we did.

The assistant principal, Lloyd Cox was his name, lined all three up and suddenly pulled his hands out from behind him and squeezed the poo poo cushion and it made its usual loud blasting fart sound. We all cracked up laughing.

“What is so funny about that?” Mr. Cox demanded. We giggled more, but tried to hold it in, which made it even more of a spontaneous thing – the more you try to keep from laughing, the harder it is.

Mr. Cox gave us a long serious lecture and told us we would have to spend that period and the last period in detention, which was a room next to his office.

So, it wasn’t a bad punishment. He stayed gone most of the time and we just got to hang out and talk and cut up a little and go through the drawers of the desks. It was also the room for the counselor’s desk and the truant officer’s desk.

When the last bell of the day rang we got up to leave. Lloyd Cox was out of his office, probably overseeing people leave the campus, to make sure they either left safely or left without trouble, like fights after school happened often. “Meet me after school!” was a common challenge.

So, we were fairly certain we could prowl through his desk and find the Whoopee Cushion without being caught. We found it. One of us, blew it back up and put it on his seat of his chair.

I expected we woould jerked out of class the next day, but in this case, silence is golden - and after he sat down I bet he felt the same. I don't know why our deed went unpunished.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

The Atlanta Aquarium


We went to The Atlanta Aqurium today and were very impressed with the many ways the live fish are displayed and almost went giddy each time a huge shark or some other sea creature would drift by, close enoough to reach out and touch, if it wasn't for the 2 feet plexiglass.

And each species of fish has something about it that makes it unique compared to the other fish. And the uniqueness is shared with us. We left, knowing more than when we walked in about aquatic creatures.

Years ago we took our sons to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga and we were impressed with that also, but I think the Atlanta has outdone the Chattanooga one.

However, it wasn't free. It had quiet an expensive, I thought, entrance fee. For us, taking advantage of our senior status bought two tickets for about $40. If we were ten years younger we would have paid much more. The parking lot was expensive and so was the food. Everybody had their hands out but the fish.

The founder of The Atlanta Aquarium, also was co-founded Home Depot. I think his name is Barney Marcus. He said it was his gift to Atlanta.

I think all the money it that it cost, and the many many people there, the people gave old Barney a nice gift too....$$$$$$$$$! !!!!

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Home Remodeling Show

Saturday we went to a home remodeling show down by the Atlanta Airport. We are sort of in the market for some things to be done to our house, such as a room built under our den that we had added about a dozen years ago, The space underneath would be a great storage area if it had walls – well, it is a great storage area now, but it is also an eyesore. So, we want some type of under pending and maybe replace the support poles . And we are also in the market to redo the kitchen again, redoing the floor and counter tops.

The home remodeling show we went to was held in an old closed discount store. I think there were 130 booths, all ready to charm you and show you why they are special. It seemed that almost everyone was going to have a giveaway drawing in the new future, so they would do all they could to get you to fill out a card for the drawing. I sort of expect in about a week or less we will be start being seized by greasy hair sunglasses with sunglasses and a clipboard, showing how they have just what we needed.

Of the whole show, I think only 3 showed any kind of promise, so those three I am looking forward for them to call and set up an appointment, but the rest that call, I will just have to swat them away like gnats.

One lady, while telling us her company’s sales pitch kept looking upward… I thought she was telling about a specific structure that she was presently looking at, so I looked up to and there was nothing there that we would be interested in. As we walked away, I figured out why she was looking up – that was the way she was recalling what she memorized for her sales pitch.

One booth reminded me of the old fashion infomercial. A quick talking sales type of person and his lovely teenage assistant had a counter top with several plates of different kind of meat morsels he cooked on the little gadget he was demonstrating. It looked kind of like a flying saucer, if the aliens were the size of mice. Or, it also looked like a fancy hubcap. It was a round contraction that had one metal doodad sitting on a different looking doodad. The bottom one had a liquid in it and it would give off a steam of that liquid to keep it moist while it cooked. He said you can cook it on stove tops, in ovens, on grills, on your camping grill… gad! There seem to be no limit what it could do. It also said it was smokeless and the fats would drip into the liquid in the lower flat, then its flavor would fizzle back up to the meat to make them tasty. They looked tasty, but he didn’t offer us to try the taste test.

He said he was authorized by the manufacturer to sell these great items for only $39.95 which was about half what it retails for in fine stores. And for today only the manufacturer authorized him to give us two for the price of one.

He looked like the kind of salesman that used to set up his table on a street corner, and snap it shut like a suitcase if a policeman happened to walk by.

How could we refuse? We bought one and received two.

Tonight we tried the thing we bought. We tried pork chops. The meat cooked slower than I have thought it should. It took almost a full hour to cook it, maybe between 50 and 55 minutes. But, it did taste very good – favorable and moist.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Year of the Dog



According to an article in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution newspaper the Chinese New Year, which is the Year of the Dog is upon us.

I studied over the article looking for the exact date and I can’t see where they said the exact date, which is unlike the Federal Government’s Fiscal New Year, which is October the 1st.

What kind of dog? Probably a little Pekinese Dog with little bows in its hair. Or maybe a Skewered Dog.

This reminds me a few years ago we read an ad in the Marietta Daily Journal that a local Chinese Restaurant was having its Chinese New Years party. The ad had an illustration of firecrackers going off.

We went to the Chinese restaurant thinking we would see those firecrackers bang away and maybe even a Chinese dragon, with two or three people underneath its skin dancing. And maybe balloons too!

We got to the restaurant and found to our disappointment we were the only customers. A Waitress was nearby for our beck and call; a teenager girl was the host and manned the cash register; and a toddler Chinese kid kept looking at us from the kitchen door. We were the biggest attraction there.

Not that it has anything to do with Chinese New Year, or the Chinese, but about a year later at lunch time a drug deal went wrong at the same restaurant there were some gun shootings. One of the allege drug dealers were killed.

Now, what if that drug deal went wrong and the shooting just started as we walked in the door and I thought the gun bangs were the firecrackers I was looking for, I would probably say, “Those Chinese really know how to have a New Years party!”

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Cultural Arts


Cultural Arts - The East meets the West.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Bye VCRs, Hello Whatever

The days of the VCR are coming to an end.

I was told that VCR pre-recorded movies are no longer made. And soon VCR machines and tapes will no longer be made. Today while shopping I bought 8 more blank tapes, and hope that will hold me off until we decide what to do.

There is Tee-Vo, which I am not sure I spelled it right, so maybe I didn’t hear it right. Both my sons have Tee-Vo (go along with me if that is the incorrect spelling). They both love it. You and program it to be on the lookout for certain people in sitcoms or movies and it copies them for you, without you even knowing they were on, until they are there on you machine. Like, if you want to make sure you catch all Woody Allen movies, it will be on the lookout for you. However, if I understand it correctly, it only holds 40 (or maybe 80) hours of stuff. So, it could fill up quickly and it is not on a disk you can remove and replace. You might find yourself hurrying to watch something so you can delete it and have room for something else. It is not a thing collectors would go for.

Another potential problem with that, my son found out is be selective what words you put in its system to watch out for. He put the Braves in it, to catch things about the Atlanta Braves. He got all kinds of Indian Braves movies come flooding in - and a few war movies with Brave in the title.

This morning at CostCo I studied the DVD recording machines. I wonder if once you copy a show on TV onto a DVD, once you watch it, is it reusable so you can copy over it again?

But if we do buy a Tee-Vo (?) or a DVD recorder it will only be a matter of time that it will as obsolete as the 8 MM movie camera and projector. That keeps the economy going and the rich getting richer, and the medium incomers held at bay.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

More about Ghosts


The man is running like he just saw a ghost isn’t he? Well, he thought he did (MAD #1, in HOO-HAH! Art by Jack Davis).

If there are a such thing as ghosts do you believe he/she/it would be about the same kind of person as that person was alive? Here are a few thoughts to ponder.

We once went on a ghost tour in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the houses on the Battery that is a bed and breakfast our guide told us several women who have spent the night there was grabbed or fondled by invisible hands. They believe it was the work of a horny Confederate Colonel that lived and died there. His affairs were known throughout the city. However! (I say this jabbing my forefinger up in the air) I understand that if a male (including animals) male is castrated he can no longer produce the hormones that produces the physical need or the mental need for sex….. so, why would a ghost with no testicles be fondling ladies?

That also could be applied throughout the brain. There are chemicals that are released into the brain to make us happy, giddy, sad, angry, relaxed, and whatever. And some people have the need to take certain medicines or drugs to keep the balance right – right? So, if you don’t have the organs needed to release these chemicals to the brain – wait! What brain?

Now, having said that, back in the late 1940s here in Marietta a girl, age 10, was chasing a ball across a busy street and was ran over by a teenager driving. She was killed instantly. No charges were brought against the teenager because the accident could not be prevented on his part. She has a name, I just forgot what it is… for the sake of this, lets call her Lucy.

Lucy is still seen today. For the past 20 or so years a doctor and his well educated family lived in the house. After the head doctor died the family sold the house and now it is part of the Kennestone Hospital complex. All members of the family have seen little Lucy often. They said often she can be seen running across the street, into the house, up to a room across from what used to be her bedroom, to what used to be a sewing room and go through the motions of sewing something, the whole time saying, “Oh dear, I have to fix this.” The family was not shocked by her, just mildly amused. One Sunday afternoon they had a pool party and a beach ball the partiers were bouncing around and the ball went into the opened bathroom window. Someone went inside to retrieve it and was shocked to see the ball bouncing on its own over the tub. It would be knocked up and then knocked town, and then back up again.

By the way, as I mentioned a big medical building was erected on the site. Now, the staff there have complained about the lights going off and on for no reason, and also some of their technical machines would do something crazy. Is Lucy thinking of taking up electronics as a career?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Smiling Man In the Blue Suit


This house is located on East Dixie Avenue in Marietta.

In 1937, my mother and father spent their first night of marriage in this house. My father was a patrolman, so there was no honeymoon cruise or anything like that. He had to be back at work the next day.

During that first night, Mama woke up in the middle of the night and saw that a man in a blue suit was standing near them, looking at them smiling. He was red headed and appeared to have one arm behind him.

Mama screamed and by the time Daddy was awake the man was gone.

The next morning Mama was telling the landlady about the man she saw after my father went to work.

The landlady was surprised. She said her husband was red-headed, lost his arm in an accident, and was buried with a blue suit on.

OOOOOOoooOOOOOOooooooo!

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Rambling Thoughts From a Hospital Room

I got my sister home from the hospital about 7:30 yesterday evening. So, all's well that ends well.

Hopefully, all ended well, but we won’t know that until all has healed without infection.
All’s well that heals well?

While sitting in her hospital for room for mostly of eleven hours I had a few rambling random thoughts about the joint:

There are a lot of nurses and technicians on the staff that speak with accents. I asked the lady that came in often to check my sister’s vitals where was she from and she told me Kenya. I noticed she was very sincere about her work. She was really dedicated. She calls her parents often on calling cards she buys – she said it is the cheapest way. Her mother just had another baby, which the next youngest one is a 20 year old brother. I was thinking she spoke perfect English, but yet she had yet picked up on the American native’s reversal of the English language. Like “Thanks a lot!” if someone does something to you that does not please you, why would you thank him? And I can’t imagine her saying, “I know that’s right!” with the gusto it is intended. She would more likely say, “Of course I know that is right.”

A custodian man that was kept the hallway spotless and shiny I thought had a foreign accent. But finally, I determined he has a thick Cajun accent. He is probably a Katrina tossed aside. Every chance he got he would flirt with the Kenya lady. I think he had a crush on her.

One lady that came by often was the nurse and was also very efficient and devoted to her job. She was laid back and casual and had a great sense of humor. And I think she is beginning to show she is in a family way, but would not dare ask her. There was a lady someplace nearby that would scream and holler and accuse the nurses of doing a bad job. I asked this nurse about the wailing woman and she laughed and said, “Bless her heart, I just don’t think she is all there.”

That is another expression I noticed southerners use a lot when they might feel superior to someone: “Bless his/her heart.”

In 1950 my grandfather died in the old hospital, which was no more than a little small building with only about three doctors and a handful of nurses. He was one of the last people to die there. No more than a few weeks later I broke my arm and was admitted to the new Kennestone Hospital when it first opened. Then it was two stories high for white people and the basement was for the black people. I know that doesn’t sound very equal, but it was a step forward comparing to the Old Hospital where they were not allowed as patients at all.

Now, Kennestone has grown to about seven or eight stories high and takes up a big block, and they also owns several specialty buildings on surrounding blocks. It has thousands of people on its payroll. I read within a week that it has the busiest ER in the state of Georgia. A company called Wellstar bought them out, so now it is Kennestone-Wellstar.

My parents died at Kennestone/Wellstar Hospital. My father-in-law died there as many uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws.

Thinking of all the deaths that the hospital hosted got me wondering about the hereafter. Are there really ghosts? And if so, one belief is that the spirit remains in the area or room that he or she died in. In that case it is probable that at least one person has died in the room we were in. If so, were they aware of us or just floating around moaning and groaning like stereotype ghosts? Do they stay up near the ceiling and look down, as people claim they did when they clinically died on the operating table – would I be out of line to look and give them a warm wave? Or, if more than one spirit is occupying the room do they realize each one’s presence? and if that is the case to they sat around and tell each other their stories? And do they speculate on the patient lying on the bed –“why is she there?” and probably more importantly: “Look at that Kenya lady’s ass!”

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Eavesdropping in the Waiting Room

Yesterday I spent most of the day and most of the evening at the hospital. My sister was having an operation for a torn rotator cup.

At one time I sat in the wrong waiting room for over an hour, before I figured, out , by overhearing conversations, that I was sitting in cardio-operating waiting room. Too many darn waiting rooms!

While sitting in the wrong waiting room I noticed a big family of middle aged people who were all siblings or spouse in-laws. They looked kind of country, or unpretentious and down-to-earth kind of people. They were 12 of them in all. There was a man sitting with them that was in a suit that was plainly not one of them. All of them were telling the man that they were all neighbors, living on land handed down to them.

The more they talked the more I realized they might be non-pretentious but not so much dirt poor. One spoke her son at Yale – another told of her son playing football for Vanderbilt, and a daughter who played basketball for the University of Georgia. They are the new salt of the earth.

They were all telling the man the man that wasn’t one them antics of them growing up, about the guy being operated on. I think by what they were saying they all live at the foot of a mountain near Cartersville, Ga.

I finally figured out the outside asking the questions was a preacher. He was there getting material in case the guy being operated croaked on the operating table.

Some of their stories were funny. And some was shocking. One of them told a funny story about one of their kids of the next generation was hiding drugs from the police and some funny incidents where the law was fooled by his cleverness. At the punch lines they would all laugh – all but the preacher that is.

After that drug and law little humorous story the preacher asked them to pray with him and they all bowed and he prayed.

Which brought up an interesting issue with me. I was not part of them, but I was sitting close. Should I take off my ball cap and bow my head or should I leave my hat on and continue to read? I chose to take off my hat at bow my head.

After the prayer the preacher got the hell out of there.

After the preacher left they all burst out laughing. They kept reliving telling the preacher of shocking incidents…. Saying, “Did you see the expression on his face when I told him…” And on and on. One lady close to me, said she kept her jacket over her book because she didn’t want to see the title, saying that would shock him.

They had a good laugh at the preacher’s expense.

Now, back to the hospital for another full day.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Brandi's World Famous Hotdogs


So! It is Bandi’s Famous Hotdogs instead of Brandy’s FHd. Photos hardly ever lie.

As I mentioned Brandi is still using the spicy chili recipe that the previous owner Betty used. Not only is she still using the spicy chili recipe but also still using Betty’s oldest daughter (or at least I think it is her daughter). She still works there in the same position in the kitchen area. Which she should get credit for honing in with sensitive ears when a customer gives an order. Many times before Brandi or the waitress can give her the order slip she has it ready.

Brandi looks to be under 30 years of age, maybe closer to 25. Not only did she keep Betty’s recipe for spicy chili but she added a little spice herself. Sometimes she wears short shorts and a lo-cut blouse.

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Betty's World Famous Hotdogs

There was another eatery near by in Marietta that is a more down to earth non-pretentious place, that if you complain about your food there you might just leave wearing it on top of your head. It was Betty’s World Famous Hotdogs.

Betty retired and sold it, now the name of it is Brandi’s World Famous Hotdogs. But this blog is mostly when it was Betty’s, since that is when I mostly there.

Betty’s was very close the railroad tracks. You could stand in the doorway and spit and hit a train roaring by. Once I saw a little boy standing by his dad at the cash register and when he looked up and saw a huge window-filling train flying by you could tell he was amazed.

On the door as you enter from the dirty, sometimes muddy, parking lot, is a sign that says:
No Shoes,
No Shirt,
No Service

As you can tell, Betty is more likely cater to blue collar (or no collar) working class.

Her menu was simple and short. Well, actually there was no menu you would hold in your hand. The menu was printed on a little sign above the cash register. It was Chili Hot Dogs, other types of chili hot dogs, such as chili slaw dogs, but I think you must eat the chili, then Chiliburgers, french fries, onion rings, and various Coca-Cola products in a cooler that you self serve yourself.

The chili is Betty’s secret. She says the ingredients are a secret that she will stay in her family. I don’t know the present owner Brandy got the list of the ingredients, but it still has the same taste and just as spicy. My sinuses still loosen up and run every time I eat there.

The building is a ex-old fashion service station. The dining area is the area that when it was service station, that you would drive your car under and someone would pump the gas with a roof over their head. The dining room is L shape, thus the counter elbows itself it what used to be the service station’s office. In the front, the counter separates the dining room and the kitchen.

Before Betty owned it it was Marble Mill Barbecue. Marble Mill Barbecue was owned by Judge Ravan, who also owned Ravan’s Barbecue a few miles away.

Betty and her daughters ran Betty’s World Famous Hotdogs. When I there along I always ate at the counter. It was always interesting to watch Betty and her daughters, and maybe granddaughters interact. The would have quick one sentence conversations without saying a word – just by their facial expressions and body language. I have observed these unspoken sentences, maybe not all in the same day:

“Look at Maureen over there flirting with that man!”
“Hah! She’s wasting her time, he an’t gonna leave a tip’!
Customer says a four letter word.
Betty’s eyes flaming – “Don’t he know better than that? I don’t allow no cursing!”
Customer again says a four letter word.
“Wait ‘til he comes up and pays his bill, I am going to tell him if he’s gotta sit there and curse, he needn’t come back.”
“You tell him Mama!”
“Hand me the slaw.”
“There she goes at it again, flirting!”
“She an’t hurting nobody Mama.”
“Just her reputation, that’s all!”
“Well…..”

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Fine Dining Critique


I mentioned in an earlier blog that on January the 6th we took my sister out to eat for her birthday and Anna was not happy with her steak and emailed the restaurant to tell them about it. And, they get her gift certificates adding up to $150.
Last night we made our return to cash in to eat on the house.

We also invited my mother-in-law, and two sisters. I had the ribs, which were very tasty and meaty. Anna ordered a steak with some kind of mini-shrimp or scampi covering the top.

After we had eaten and the bill was presented, we paid off in gift certificates, all but the waitress’s tip, which we paid with our own money.

Within two or three minutes after the waitress picked up the payment the manager was over asking how everything went. He went on to say he understood we had a problem previously and we hoped all went well. Just as I suspected - color coded gift certificates!

We all said the food was good. All but Anna, that is. She didn't say anything.

When we got home she went to her computer and typed the district manager another email. She told him he was paying for he opinion with those gift certificates and she was going to give it to him. She told him that one of the five plates of food was delivered much later than the rest, which she felt was a no-no. She said we had to ask for more rolls. She also said her little scampi or shrimp was warm but the steak was cold - bad timing?

So, eventually the email will work itself around to the manager. They now know what we look like. There will probably a note on their bulletin board with our descriptions, saying if we show up again, fell free to spit and fling your mucus into their food, and if you feel really creative, be sure to take the food to a bathroom stall.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

The Right Place At The Right Time


While I am on the subject of beams of light from the sun, like in Indianan Jones' Ark of the Covenant, let me tell you about finding my great-great-great-great grandfather William Trammell's grave in the First Methodist Cemetery in Franklin, North Carolina. Thelma, a distance cousin, wrote me and told me she believed that William was buried at the First Methodist Church Cemetery but couldn't find his grave.
So, after making plans on my calendar (I worked then), I took my two sons to Franklin with me. My wife Anna was in Ohio on business. I think it was the spring holidays for school.

I first took my sons to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, then we drove over the Smokey Mountains and stopped in Cherokee and then headed on to Franklin. We stayed in a motel and the next morning, after our run and breakfast we looked up Thelma.

She introduced her to Cecil Baldwin, a 97 year old first cousin of Thelma's (and also my distance cousin). Cecil was a bachelor, and he lived on the original home place of our ancestors John and Nancy Sumner Ray, that was built about 1820. Cecil was a very gentle man, sharp as a tack, and a hard worker on his small farm. He died two years later.

Thelma showed us two cemeteries of ancestor interest to me, then we proceeded to the First Methodist Church in downtown Franklin. We looked at every cemetery marker in the cemetery and narrowed it down to two markers that we could not read because they appeared to be weathered... growth of moss and mold and withstanding over 150 years of yearly harsh weather didn't help.

We decided we needed to rub the markers. I had luck with rubbing with other markers. You take a large sheet of sketch paper, and some kind of marker, like charcoal and rub the paper which is over the inscription, and the wordings will come out. Thelma suggested we go to a nearby K-Mart and buy the supplies, which we did. Then, across the street from K-Mart was a Burger King, so we ate lunch while in the area also.

Then we returned to the Methodist Church graveyard. We drove up in the parking lot which is adjacent to the cemetery, we saw under a big oak tree was one marker which seemed to be glowing in the shade. We went up to it and it was my progenitor William Trammell's grave. It was glowing and every word could be read. If you can read it on your screen it tells his living dates (1752-1843) and it said Revolutionary War soldier.

The only thing I can figure out is that the sun changed position while we were gone. And now, not only was the sunlight hitting the stone correctly as to illuminate it, but the sunlight was also hitting other things near by which was reflecting light onto the inscription from different angles.

I have returned many times to the same spot and have never seen it illuminate itself in the shade as it did that day. The date - which would be the earth's position, probably was a factor too.

It was almost like it was meant for me to be there that date at that exact time.

The above picture was taken a few mintues after the premium moment. I am ashamed to say that the picture I took at the right moment is misplaced, but I am still looking.
I hope a higher power didn't do all that work for nothing.

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Lake Allatoona, part II, or pre Lake Allatoona, part minus 1

This is a continuation of Allatoona Lake that I talked about yesterday. Or this is about the part of the area which is now under water, but was once a thriving farm community. The name of the area is Allatoona Pass.

The lake was created in the early 1950s. About where Allatoon Dam is was Allatoona Pass. My great grandfather, William A. Trammell's (soon to be William A. Hunter) Confedrate Unit, 39th North Carolina Inf, Company I, fought at Allatoona Pass after they fought at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. William was wounded, shot in the knee at Kennesaw Mountain, so his fighting days (in the war) was over. But his friends fought at Allatoona Pass. What they were fighting over at that particular spot on the map was I think control of the railroad tracks that went in between two very high steep inclined hills or small mountains.

Only a few miles away from Allatoona Pass is the town of Cartersville. The Etowah River flows by the Pass, on by Cartersville, then by the Etowah Indian Mounds which is just a couple of miles outside of town.

The Mounds are big, some bigger than others. It has been discovered that on top of the highest mound, you can see at a certain minute twice a year, as the Sun rises in the east it shoots a beam of sunlight between these two high steep hills which lights up everything in such an awesome way, you think you are getting a message from God. There are a good number of people who come and witness this twice a year. Some are the hippy types and some are very religious.

What is the message from God saying? The only thing I can think it might say is: "Gotcha!"

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Houseboat days

Lake recreation was brought up yesterday in a blog. It was somebody else’s lake recreation, but it reminded me of mine.

North of our town is Lake Allatoona. Allatoona is a made-made lake, as all lakes in Georgia are. The Etowah River is the primary water source of Lake Allatoon. It serves two purposes, to prevent the flooding of Cartersville and Rome and of course it produces electricity.

It is a fairly big lake. It has a lot of landings, docks, weekend cabins, and several beaches. If you look at a map of the lake it has the appearance of a horny Chinese dragon (that is not insinuating the dragon is at the height of his/her sexual urge, but that it has huge wart-like growths all over it which are really coves). The lake from, snout to tail I think we estimated to be about 19 miles.

On the Lake Allatoona is an jutting out peninsular, which could almost be an island, a thin strip, the width of a single land road connects it, is the Atlanta Area Boy Scout Camp. Just before you cross onto the peninsular the clump of another little cove is there.

We decided to build a cabin there. We worked all fall and winter one year making the cabin livable. We even got a 99 year lease for a lot for something like one dollar. The only stipulation is that we make a shelter with walls, and we live on it at last one day a month. No problem, we were already doing that.

As teenagers, I thought we did a good job. We had concrete blocks as under pending, a fairly nice building, which never did live long enough to see doors with hinges holding doors or windows with glass.

One day when we arrived to work on it was a sign from the U.S. Army Corpse of Engineers, who controlled the lake, saying our structure was unacceptable, it was below the highest point of the water line. How were we suppose to know that? Well, I suppose if we were more inquisitive we would end of knowing that. But we didn’t, so we had to tear it down.

We carefully dismantled the building and used the lumber to make a houseboat. The only thing we had to get was 55 gallon drums for it to float on, and our ring-leader, a natural builder, had in his head how to put the drums under the platform. But that is a long story, but we had to get waste deep in the water to get the drums there, with nothing but our underwear on (it was a spur of the moment decision – too late to go home and get our bathing suits). This was in the winter. Brrrrr.

After we had the 18 - 55 gallon drums under the platform, next we built the building to sleep us. The cabin part of the houseboat was not very big, it looked sort of like a floating outhouse.

We enjoyed it for about a year. Then our ring-leader had something else in mind he just thought up. We again, disassembled the structure (just the cabin, not the platform) and lined the platform from one end to the other with huge A-frames. Then we nailed sheet of plywood up. We had us something like looked like a giant pup tent. Inside was a loft for sleeping and downstairs we had a counter with a Coleman BT cooking stove, chairs, and in the corner was piles of tools.

By this point we were docking it at Victoria Landing. We needed to pay $10 a month to dock it and for electrical privileges, which by now we had an electric saw.

During the time we were building another group of friends came up and started building a houseboat beside ours. They were more interested in drinking plenty of beer than building, so, their houseboat construction proceeded very slowly. The ring leader of that was a guy nick named Bubba, his real name was Paul. You may recall in an earlier tale I told of Bubba living in a mansion and our New Years party there. His father owned a knitting mill that made cotton underwear. And also, Bubba was found dead in a cheap room in Texas. He had been dead about 4 or 5 days when they found him.

Bubba and his crew finally got the frame built for their houseboat and decided to have a party to celebrate. They brought a bunch of girls up to party. They seemed to be hanging all over the frame work drinking and carrying on. A guy named Mike starting singing anti-religious songs, and one of the girls warmed him that he should quit that, something bad would happen to him. That seems strange to be prophesized from a teenage topless girl lying there guzzling beer.
Then, Mike, showing how brave and defiant he was, shouted, “Fuck Jesus!”

Believe or not, this really happened. Something went wrong, the frame works began to fold over like dominoes. The 2x4 lumber and the people sitting on the frames went splashing into the water. We all jumped in the water and pulled people out and then started to rescue the lumber.

The same girl said, “Mike, I warned you!”
Mike made no answer.
“Mike!?! – Where’s Mike?”

Then, we all looked at the lumber in the water. A arm was reaching out through the floating lumber, we heard Mike, in a whisper, say “Help me.” Which we did.

Mike was rushed to the hospital, where they discovered he had a punctured lung. A nail from the houseboat construction drove into his chest. He lived.

Later in life, Mike went to the county work farm for passing bad checks. I used to see him on road details with his white uniform with a blue stripe down the pants, and if he recognized me he always waved proudly. I haven’t heard anything about him for over 35 years.

While we were building our cabin and houseboat at the lake we developed a friendship with a certain rich man and his family. We were muscle power. When he needed help with his cabin, boathouse or whatever, he knew where to find us. And in return, we would visit his family in the warm summer evening after dark and they would give us drinks and food and nice conversations.

One Easter around noon, after spending the night at the houseboat, and sleeping late four of us decided to pay the rich family a visit. We thought we would take the houseboat. Their cabin, which was bigger than most houses at that time, was around the bend and in a cove from where we docked the houseboat. We had an old used outboard motor.

The night before, we drunk a bunch, and we had hangovers that morning.

I was the pilot. I was on the back side, steering the motor, looking around the corner, and through the doors, front and back to navigate. I had a hangover and the droning noise and the pounding of the water and all I realized I was sick. My other three friends were sunbathing up on the front deck. I had to barf and could not call them to give me a hand. So, I held my head over the deck and barfed in the water.

While I was doing this emptying, I didn’t realize it but we were going around and around in circles.

Also, what we didn’t know, was the family that we were going to meet was having a party on top of their houseboat with some of Marietta’s elite. A set of stars led to the top of the houseboat which had a little waist high wood handrail around it. It was perfect for hosting waterside parties.

And we were perfect for crashing parties. What they saw was our huge pup tent in the watercoming towards them, but yet going in circles. My friends up front fell asleep sunbathing.

As it got closer it was evident that we were going to crash into the boathouse. That is something – a houseboat crashing into a boathouse. They ran for their lives screaming.

Luckily, I barely missed the boathouse but did collide into their dock. The only harm it did was knock one of my friends into the water, which quickly woke him up. At Easter the water isn’t warm yet.

After everyone understood what happened everybody had a good laugh and the party continued. It was their best most exciting party ever, they said.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Running, Good or Bad?

I love to run. Afterwards, I always feel so much better. And I know, as a general rule, it is healthier for you.

I think, after you had ran maybe 30 to 40 minutes your body changes to a stress mode, the little computers in your body thinks you are about to die, so it releases a drug to relax you to help you step into death so much easier.

After this drug is released into your body things sometimes seem so much clearer, the grass seems greener, the sky is bluer, and every thing seems so much in tuned with each other thing. In other words, you are on a "Runner's High".

Back in February of 2002, I was running and my body must have released that drug, but this time my body went on to tell my brain, "OK, this time I am not joking, I mean it!" One of my arms ached like it was broken and my jaw ached like a very bad tooth ache. I was having a heart attack.

So, after my heart was repaired and I was back on my feet I started to walk for exercise. I didn't quiet have the nerve to take off running again.

But, watching how much enjoyment other people were having out running I couldn't hold myself down. I started running again. I was running a little more each time. After I built myself up to running a few miles. Then Christmas Eve of 2004 I had a stroke. Back in the hospital for a few days to be marinated with blood thinner. We were at my sister's Christmas Dinner when I had the stroke - talk about beeing a party pooper- sheesh!

Now, what effects I had from the stroke are gone. For a few days my eyes were frozen, looking in one direction only, but now I am fine.

And again, I quit running and started walking daily.

Now, last fall I decided I need to run again. So, this time I decided to start off in a very small amount. I ran 15 seconds. The next day 30 seconds, the next 45, and so on. Of course, I don't run every day, like in heavy rains, or sometimes I have other obligations. As of this morning I am up to 11 minutes and 45 seconds. Monday will be the next time I will be able to run and then I hope to run 12 minutes.

I am 64 years old. One of my friends does not beleilve anybody as old as we are should be running at all. He feels if the heart doesn't get me, my broken bones will - which he might have a point, your bones are more fragile as we get older.

So, I am thinking of swimming more instead of running. Decisions, decisions.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Socializing in the Pool

For exercise I go to a nearby county-owned inside pool several times a week.

The time that I go there not many people are there. I don't know why I do it, but each day I count the heads. Usually there are between six and ten. It is a big pool, so with so few people ever person has plenty of room. Mostly everybody there looks to be over age 60.

There is one cluster of women three to five who come who always stay in a little group and talk. I don't think they would ever consider getting their face wet because each one wears makeup in the pool.

There is one lady who, to me, looks like Paula Dean. She seems to be the group's social leader. She talks so innocent and bubbly - I suspect she was a cheerleader when she was in high school.

They all have long Styrofoam-looking floating things that is available from the lifeguard. You can wrap it around you, or straddle it, and float around - I don't see how that could help you do exercise.

Each one in her cluster of socialites always speak to me, as I do them. But, for some reason, I haven't figured out, she decided I do not exist. She is the only one in her floating group that does not speak to me. The few times I have looked her directly in her eyes and spoke she gave no recognition that a human being had just attempted to communicate a greeting to her.

Yesterday was a cold rainy day. When I got to the pool the only person in it was the Paula-Dean-retired-cheerleader. I suppose the bad weather just sort of delayed some people or prevented them from coming at all.

Just her and I were in the pool. I spoke to her and believe it or not, she returned my greeting. I think she thought it might be un-cheerleader like to ignore the only other person in the pool.

I went to the end I prefer and started my laps of swimming back and forth, back and forth. After several laps I looked over at her and she was floating casual over to me. She is a social animal.

I wasn't looking forward to our meeting. I would have to nice and stay in one place and chat with her, as not to appear rude. Just as she got close enough to talk she commented about how warm the water was. I agreed.

Then somebody hollered at her. One of her friends were lowering herself into the pool and behind her was another one of her friends.

"Saved!" I thought.

"Saved!" she probably thought.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Message from God's House


I saw this on a blog a few weeks ago. I would give the blogger credit but I swiped it and ran and now forgot where I got it.

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HAL The Cashier And I

I have an electric razor I bought about a year ago. The instructions say you are supposed to change the three little round shaver heads once a year. It was time.

I shopped around at the various drugstores, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, Linen & Things, the discount stores and discovered it was not an easy task to go buy a certain model head. There are too many models.

Finally, I found what I was looking for at the new Super Wal-Mart. I took it to the long row of cashier counters and picked one that was called "Self-Checking Out" or something similar. I walked up to the screen and the first question, which was already waiting on me was "English" or "Spanish". I chose "English". Then it blinked its lights, and changed screens, it was ready to get down to business.

Then suddenly, it interrupted itself and told me I had put something into the plastic bags already. I almost told it, "No I didn't!"

I just stood there, not sure what to do next, I couldn't remove something from the bags that was not there, although, I do admit, I pretended to - I rattled a plastic bag but it continued telling me something was in the plastic bag.

Then it got fed up with my side-stepping ways and its light high up on a rod begin to flash one and off. It was blowing its whistle. A lady, who carried herself like she might be the head cashier came by and before I had a chance to explain my side of the story slapped a button and the computer calmed down and told me to proceed with my next item, which I did. And that was all, I put it into the sack, completed the sales by paying for it. She probably already knew this particular electronic cashier was a little too fussy.

Then, thinking all was OK, I had my product, my receipt, so I proceeded to the exit door. Then, at the exit door, as I passed through two goal posts looking things the store's alarm went off. I bet at that very moment the electronic cashier was chuckling to itself.

The official lady at the door opened my package, checked my receipt and sent me on my way.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Divine Retribution?

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today is Martin Luther King day.

Living near Atlanta, I just want to ramble about not Martin Luther King, but the going on, concerning his death, that I witnessed or experienced. First of all, I never met the man. But I admire him foe what he did, the non-violent force that turned this nation around and even changed a lot of people's frame of mind.

The night of his assignation Anna and I were in Atlanta at a bistro type place named The Bottom of the Barrel to hear Odetta, a back folk singer with a booming voice, sing. We were waiting and somebody came on the little stage and announced Odetta would not be singing because Martin Luther King had just be shot and killed in Memphis.

We left and drove back to Marietta. We drove through the downtown section and clumps of blacks were standing around. It looked scary. I was keeping an eye on the black groups and making a turn at the same time, in other words, not watching my driving, and I almost had a wreck, I almost ran into something, I forgot if it was a person or another car, or an object. I slammed on my breaks and made a squealing noise – when I slammed on the breaks Anna fell forward… that was before seat belts. By reflex, I held out my arm to keep her hitting he dash, which worked. But, it did make quiet a show among the group of blacks. Luckily no damage and no one was hurt. I sped away.

It reminded me of the time at night when I first started driving instead of waiting for the turning of a traffic light, I turned off my lights and drove through a church’s parking lot, while church was in progress. As I was silently and smoothly driving through the corner parking lot. I noticed a police car was sitting at the light, facing the opposite way, hopefully they hadn’t noticed me, and then for no reason, but maybe Divine intervention, my car horn starting blowing. I thought I had better turn on my car lights to appear I wasn’t trying to pull one over on them or anything. The horn stopped when I pulled out of the parking lot and the police maybe didn’t even notice me. Not that this had anything to do MLK.

Then, for some reason, the FBI figured a certain color Ford Mustang had something to do with the shooting and on TV a telephone number flashed for anyone to call if they see that Mustang. At the time I worked in the office of Sinclair Refining Company. The manager, Barry something, of the company-owned station at the corner of Peachtree and 14th Streets called me very nervous and told me the Mustang was there at that very moment. I told him to hang up and call the FBI. I was the last person to speak to Barry, he disappeared off the face of the Earth.

About a year later, Barry’s wife sold me his PV545 Volvo, he never again, as far as I know, has shown up.

During the funeral of Martin Luther King, Lester Maddox was Governor of Georgia. He made a complete fool of himself and Georgia, I think.

One rabble-rousing black militant said Atlanta was going to burn again. Because we worked at the base of three or four huge gasoline storage tanks we winced at that statement. Our boss told us we were going to have to stand guard at the tanks and each have a gun. I refused. I do not see putting my life on the line for the health and happiness of a large corporation. And others refused. Then they looked into hiring temporary guards, but kind of lost interest when they found out just complicated it could get putting up armed guards… all the bonding, paperwork, and all… like it is OK for us to put our lives on the line to save Sinclair a huge amount of stock, but when the boss had to do some complicated paper work and filing for different permits, then the work isn’t work it.

About a year later a friend from Chicago was visiting. We were in the Navy together. He, Anna, and I went to a Seals and Croft Concert (or is it Cross?) at the Art Center in Atlanta. Before the concert we went to the High Art Museum in the same complex. While appreciating the fine art I glanced over at a graceful black lady standing next to me. It was Coretta Scott King. She was so graceful and cool. I wanted to speak but did not know what to say. “Sorry about your husband”? “I think you have a graceful way about you”? So, not to spill the beans to show I had no dignity, I kept my mouth shut.

Years later I worked with Coretta’s niece Debby Scott, who is a very positive and seemingly happy lady.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Oil

It is a fact: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. But what kind of grease?

Case number 1: Not long ago my oldest son bought a new HD TV for about $2500. The company he bought it from did not deliver it on time as they promised. When he checked with them they told him they made a mistake, they did not have the TV he ordered in stock. They said they didn’t know when they would receive it.

I think he demanded to see the manager, the area supervisor, and anybody else who would listen.

To please him, as a customer, they told him he could have an upgrade of what he ordered from what they had in stock. He told them he wanted a HD TV that sells for about $4500, which is 2 grand over what he paid. They gritted their smiling teeth and agreed.

And he said he also wanted the extended warranty for the same price as the other one. They said, in so many words, “No way!” Then, he started calling again. He got the HD TV and the extended warranty at the old price.

They delivered it Saturday.

However! It was 35 degrees F when they brought it. The men who delivered it said he would have to let it sit for at least two hours before he can turn it on. They said it was so cold outside the fluid part of the HD had to stabilize to room temperature. After two hours he turned it on and it blew his electric circuit.

I don’t know but I suspect the delivery men might have known the electrical circuit throughout the house blow so they wanted to be long-gone before hand. They had a 2 hour head start.

Case number 2: A couple of weeks ago our family had one of family members birthday dinner at a nice steak house. Anna ordered her steak medium rare. It came raw. I also ordered mine medium rare and it was just right… red and juicy, but not gushing blood. Anna sent her steak back. It came back “medium” too done and tough..

When we returned home that night she went to the restaurant’s website (that was on the receipt) and found a way to email them to complain, which she did.

Wednesday or Thursday the manager of the restaurant called and wanted to speak to Anna. I told the man she was at work. He wanted to know when he may reach her and I told him when, About 30 minutes after that time he called again and spoke to Anna. He apologized and asked what could he do to get her back in there. She said don’t worry about it, she just complained to get it off her chest and to make their service better, she said she would probably go back in time.

Saturday we received a letter from them, again apologizing, and inclosing $150 worth of gift certificates in $25 increments. The manager knew what it would take to get us back there. It worked! We are planning on returning next week.

I told her we should not flash those gift certificates around until after we ate and ready to pay up. They may be color-coded or something to signal that we are complainers.

If the cooks knew we were getting a free meal on the house over their blunders they might want to spit on our food, or maybe even urinate, or worse, or maybe even worse.

I would hate to catch the AIDS virus from a loaded baked potato.

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About Face!

It was on the news that Bush was bragging to some citizens of New Orleans how well the clean-up of their city is going. He told them his political philosophy was that the locals should have total say of what happens in their community.

I think it was less than a year ago he meddled in the state and local laws of Massachusetts and California when gay marriages were legalized.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Landmarks - The Big Chicken



New York City has its’ Empire State Building. Chicago has its’ John Hancock Building and its Water Tower. Hollywood has its’ “HOLLYWOOD” sign. And New Orleans still has most of its’ French Quarters.

Marietta is known for a few things also. It is at the foot of Kennesaw Mountain, which a decisive Civil War Battle fight was fought. In of its cemeteries is the body of little Jon Benet’ Ramsey, whose murder made national news. It is the home of Lockheed-Martin-Marietta Aircraft, who has built many airplanes for the Defense of our Nation. Billy Joe Royal grew up in Marietta and still has a home here; Travis Tritt was born in Marietta and lived in our sudvision until just a few years ago; and Troy Donnahue lived in Marietta for a short time. Also it is the home of Mark Bagley, Spiderman artist, and Skip Williamson, underground comic artist. And it is the fictional home town of Andy and George "Kingfish" Stevens of "Amos & Andy". In Marietta also was the sight of the infamous Leo Frank hanging back in 1915, which many books have been written about.

But, just two blocks away from the site of the Leo Frank hanging is what Marietta is mostly famous for: THE BIG CHICKEN.

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home sick blues

We were away from home running errands for 12 hours and 5 minutes yesterday. We left and 7:30am and returned at 7:35pm.

I did not realize I was such a homebody. I figured we would be home by noon, but one thing led to anther, which inspired another... there seemed to be no end.

At 7:30 last night we were nearing home and Anna asked me about checking our mail at our Post Office box at the Post Office. I more or less said Nope! We have to draw the line someplace!

One of our stops was the library. There I checked out a CD of Joe South. I don't think he is a household word or if so, only briefly. He is more of a song writer than a singer. He wrote Games People Play, Walk a Mile in my shoes, and Down In the Boondocks. He lived in nearby Smyrna, Ga., but I don't know if he still does or not. And nope, he is not Billy I wrote about yesterday.

When we finally arrived home last night, the first line of a Simon & Garfunkle song came in my brain full volume: "Gee, it's good to be back home.!"

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Friday, January 13, 2006

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT


The above is a picture of the cover of the first issue of MAD comic book. The artist for the cover was Harvey Kurtzman who was also the editor and only writer. When I first picked up this comic book when I was in grammar school I fell in love.

Sure, in my teenage years I would fall in love with Playboy, but MAD was the first publication I fell in love with.

MAD was shocking. It poked fun of things I had respect for, such as The Long Ranger, Dragnet, Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan.... it was bringing making a farce out of everything I held sacred - it was love at first sight.

I got a kick out of way the writing and art would lead your mind down one avenue and suddenly pop the balloon it filled for you with an unexpected jab at your funny-bone from another direction.

Harvey Kurtzman was the editor of MAD for 28 issues, then because he wanted too much of the monetarily action, the publisher William Gaines fired him. He and his two main artists, Jack Davis and Will Elder struck out creating other MAD-like publications, but never could make a go of it because they were competing against themslves - the MAD ball with their style and even their lingering art was still rolling strong.

Later Jack Davis went back to MAD and also became a commercial illustrator and he does a lot of work for the University of Georgia's alumni and booster clubs, where I still see his work springing up. Harvey and Will Elder created Annie Fanny in Playboy magazine which carried they kept going for about 30 years. Harvey died a few years ago, and occasionally a movie poster may pop up done by Elder, and recently a book was published featuring his art, but mostly he is retired, doing friend's portraits.

Recently, at a newsstand I flipped through the latest MAD magazine and I just didn't think it was impressive as it used to be. I think partly because it is owned by a big corporation and they are giving it too much input, but they just don't deliver the shock they used to. Or maybe it is me that has changed.... no, it's them!

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

PCB and Billy's First Singing Gig

For a while now I have been copying old LP record albums into the computer into a MP3 format. Before we had children we accumulated about 500 albums of all types. Now, this is a way to archive them. Today I copied Al Hirt's Swingin' Dixie.

But while going through my collection to pick from, I came across an album of an old friend, who shall remain nameless. For the purpose of this entry I will call him Billy.

I grew up with Billy and his brother. We and other friends in the same little circle had some hell raising times. I remember on a country road one time Billy was driving behind me and I was driving about 70 mph and he eased up and he made his front bumper tap my rear bumper. It scared the heck out of me. Several times in high school we got caught drinking in the parking lots of evens and Billy was an expert lying out of it getting us off free.

Billy loved to sing. He could imitate any body, soul, rock, or country so close, if one didn't know better you would swear the sound was coming from the person that made it famous.

The night after school was out for the summer in 1959, Billy, his brother, three friends, and myself crammed in Billy's '50 black Ford and drove to Panama City, Florida, otherwise known as the Red-neck Riviera. That is where most of our high school friends were going.

We did not have much money. I had only $30 and that was more than anyone else in the car. We found a motel called Key of Rest Motel, which was a dump. It had no paved parking lot and you had to share a bathroom with the next room, and no air conditioning and the buildings were made of concrete blocks with no type of insulation, but that was fine for $8 a night. There were six of us, but the owner-lady charged by head. We told her there were four of us, which was $2 each. After we made the deal we went to the nearest package store and bought some Spearmen 8 six-packs of beer for $1.50 a six pack.

While driving around the area we ran into 5 or 6 more friends that did not have a place to stay. We invited them to stay with us. Then we played on the beach and layed in the sun.

I noticed that a sign on the beach put up by the City of Panama Beach, Florida, said, "No Colored Maids Allowed On Beaches With Bathing Suits". I thought that was very sad. We were living in a cast system and didn't even know it.

That night was a place called "The Hangout" which was a shelter overlooking the beach and the Gulf. The music was loud and people were dancing. Teenagers drunk their beer in the shadows and the police looked the other way unless there was trouble.

About 11pm we returned to our room at the Key of Rest Motel. I think there were about ten or eleven of us. We were feeling the effects of cheap beer and also feeling the effect of a Florida sun-burn. We could not possibly sleep against each other in a crowded room. One of us went through the bathroom to the other door to the other room and knocked on it. Nobody answered it. He eased the door opened and looked inside. It was all clean and ready for occupancy. About half of us moved to the newly discovered room. Needless to say, we had no pajamas. We slept in our jockey shorts.

In the middle of the night the door to the unpaid room opened. It was the lady owner showing the room to a newly wed couple. There was a bunch of screaming and hollaring.

We were evicted. The lady-owner checked our suit cases before we were allowed to leave. It is a good thing she did, she found four towels.

We had no place to go so we went to the beach. Panama City Beach has very beautiful soft white sand. So, each of us nestled us a comfortable mound of sand and fell asleep.

As I was sleeping I thought I heard the sound of a lawnmower approaching. Then, we were all showered with a chemical. What we didn't know was each night or early morning the City sprays the beach for insects... they ride by in a crop dusting kind of contraption that shoots out some type of insect killer.

That was about all of Panama City Beach we could take for that year. As I remember, we left sometime before noon that upcoming day.

We went to see Billy and his brother's uncle and aunt in Valdosta, Georgia. We ended up staying in the area for a week. After a couple of nights they decided there were just too many of us to sponge off them, so another uncle and aunt came and picked three or four of us up and carried us to their home in Tifton, Georgia.

The uncle that lived in Valdosta sung in a country and western band in a furniture warehouse every Tuesday night. Billy had never sung in public to a big gtoup of people before, but he was going to give it a try. The Tifton uncle and aunt carried us back down to Valdosta Saturday night for Billy's first time singing in public.

Billy did great. The crowd went wild. Also that night, Billy and his brother's mother and sisters came down from Marietta to hear him sing.

That next morning their mother carried us all back home to Marietta, except Billy, he stayed there for the summer singing.

After that he got a job singing in Savannah and later put out a record which became a hit and through the next dozen years or so he put out a string of hits and became quiet famous, here in metro Atlanta, anyway. Later, he became fairly popular in Las Vegas and Nashville. He stills sings professionally, and occasionally I hear him on the radio, but I don't think he has put out any top 40 kind of stuff in a while, but they still play his old top 40 songs.

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Sharyn McCrumb


In October, 2003, Sharyn McCrumb came to Marietta to sign her books at a book shop. Sharyn McCrumb is on the right and mystery writer Patricia Sprinkler is on the left.

Sharyn McCrumb is a writer. I stumbled across one of her audio novels at the library when I was recovering from a heart attack.

The name of the novel was “The Ballad of Frankie Silver”. She narrated the story in her Virginia accent. It was a story based on facts of the first woman that reportedly was hung in North Carolina. The story takes place (in the past) in and out of Morganton, NC, and a fictitious town in Tennessee, almost on the NC state border (the present). It was very good book, since I have bought the book and read it again and as far as I can tell is historically accurate. As far as the present time in the little town near the Tennessee-North Carolina border is a cast of characters that appear in all of Sharyn McCrumb Ballad novels: A sheriff, who has a laid back attitude that hates to see anyone in trouble, a deputy, who is more the Steve McQueen type, a dispatcher who graduated the same year from high school as the Sheriff did, and an eccentric lady who has the sixth sense of seeing dead people. All through her ballad novels the lady sees dead people come and go.

Then she has another series of books of mystery, or who-done-it novels that take place mostly take place in the south part of Virginia, near the area that Tennessee and North Carolina meet. The main protagonist is Elizabeth MacPherson, who is not a wise detective or anything. Her brother is a lawyer she seems to stumble across dead people and she kind of stumbles on the truth as the story unfolds.

In 2003 she came out with the book “Ghost Riders” which is about the Civil War in North Carolina and shows what a terrible thing it is to be civilian victims of war and sometimes the home guard is your worse enemy. Unfortunately, it came out about the same time “Cold Mountain” came out, so “Cold Mountain” overshadowed it, but I think Ghost Riders is better.

More recently she published “St. Dale” which is book which looks at NASCAR racing and Dale Ernhart magnetism. In the book she has a travel agency sponsered tour bus of all different types of people to take a pilgrimage of a sort, to all of the places “St. Dale” raced at and they are to place a reef at each place. It is similar in a way to The Canterbury Tales, and also similar to a bus tour Elizabeth MacPerson went on in England, on a British Mystery Writer Tour.

I like both series because it is great study of that area of the country and she knows how to pick up the pulse of the population in these small mountain towns.

Now, I just read she is planning another book about NASCAR. This time the story plot is a woman racer.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Greed

I am retired from the Postal Service. I worked with them for 33 years. About half the time I was a data technician in the time keeper's office in Atlanta and the other half I was mostly a scheme examiner at the Marietta Post Office.

Postage went up 2 cents effective Sunday, from 37 cents to 39 cents. Do they need the money? No. This is the first time in years they are not in the red.

Of course, when I heard that they were finally turning a profit my first thought was, "Is it because I left?"

Ironically, one year they were in the red so many hundreds of millions of dollars and it just so happens that was amount of bonuses handed out to supervisors and management that year. It was their way of patting each of themselves on the back in a meaningful way.

I never could figure that out one out... for the line employee they are expected to do their job for the pay they receive, nothing more. For management, who are supposed to be the company men, you have to bribe them with bonuses to do their job.

It reminds me of the first Federal Loan Delta Airlines got to help bail them out of the red, the first order of business after they receive the money was to give all the high up executive officers huge bonuses.

Does the word GREED come to mind?

Yesterday I bought 16 - 2 cent stamps to supplement my remaining 16 - 37 cent stamps. While transacting the deal, the window clerk, who knows me, told me the Marietta Post Office will have to send back to Atlanta about 40 clerks, which is about 25% of their clerk work force. Two of those being sent to Atlanta will be window clerks where I bought my stamps. I had to stand in a line going out the door, with 6 clerks waiting on the line. It will soon be only 4 clerks - the line is sure to be longer.

I think with mail processing mostly automated now and with emails they don't need as many clerks. That is why they feel the work force should be cut down, and shifted to someplace with maybe a heavier workload. But as far as I know the supervisors are not effected. They figure it takes a supervisor to oversee every 10 to 20 line workers. Shouldn't at least two, maybe three supervisors be transferred to Atlanta as well?

It doesn't work that way. One hand washes the other.

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John Hunter



John Hunter was the father of Jason Henderson Hunter (previous entry) and six more children.

The above cabin was built by John Hunter and his sons in about 1834-35 in Union County, Ga. It is now listed as the "oldest man-made dwelling" still in existence in Union County, Ga.

About a dozen years ago my two sons and I went through it. It was fairly small inside with only two rooms. I can not imagine how a family of any size could live in such small quarters. Anyway, in the main room was a fireplace made from crude rock. There was a snake skin in betweeen where several rocks jutted out, I suppose it is where a snake molted.

Before they moved to Union county they lived in the Buncombe - Henderson Counties area of North Carolina. John was a distiller. A whiskey maker. He made it legally. North Carolina passed a law to tax distilleries so John moved his operation not far away across the state border in Georgia where he did not have to pay tax.


John was born in Virginia about 1775 and died in Union County, Georgia, in 1848. When he died his single daughter lived with him but most of his other children lived near by.

There is not a whole lot known about John Hunter. Some of his children and their children, and more descendants have a fair amount of interesting history. Bert Lance (in President Jimmy Carter's Cabinet) is a descendant. So is Byron Hubert Reece. Byron was a world-wide known poet.

And also me.

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Jason Henderson Hunter

This morning on The Today Show they had an article about the hidden micro-things breeding and hatching away in the average pillow. They supposedly had 4 random people there who volunteered their pillows to be inspected. They showed that each pillow had its own little community of live critters. Some had more than others.

But that is not what this is about.

The first person was a young man who looked to be in his late 20s, who looked as if he had probably been a jock in high school. His name was Jason Hunter. I immediately wondered if we are distant cousins. If his given name Jason was handed down to him by his father, and it went on up a Jason Hunter line, indeed we would be related.

My great-great grandfather was Jason Henderson Hunter (c1810-1888). Jason was probably born in Henderson County, North Carolina, and as a young man moved with his parents and siblings to Union County, Georgia, about 1834, when that area was opened to the white man. In 1838-39, Jason and his brother Andrew were soldiers of the local militia who participated in removing the Cherokee and Creek Indians in the infamous “Trail of Tears”.

In about 1840 he settled in Macon County, North Carolina.. There he was a farmer and at times the local constable for Franklin, the county seat.

Jason married Elizabeth Sherril and the had four children. Not only did Jason and his wife have children but Jason and at least two other women reproduced. Jason was sued for bastardy twice by Catherine Davis. Catherine had two sons by Jason, Seth and Jason Davis. They both were killed in the Civil War. And Jason also had a fling with my great-great grandmother Rebecca Trammell. Again, they had two children, William, my great grandfather, and Rebecca. He was sued for bastardy four times and each time admitted he was the father, and each time the court ruled for that he pay $100 a year for child support. $400 a year was a lot of money back then.

He and his legitimate family moved to Cape Giraldo, Missouri, before 1860. There, Jason became a state legislator. With the on-coming Civil War he formed his own Confederate company, commissioned himself a colonel and they fought under Jeff Thompson, the famous Missouri Swamp Fox. They were very good in fighting Yankee boats going up and down the Mississippi River.

After the Civil War Jason was elected a state representative. After some years, before 1870, he and some others were accused of conducting some type of land fraud, and heir collecting fraud, where they would show up at a decease’s estate saying the deceased owed them money. That is what they were accused of, I don’t know how true it is, I do know politics can get dirty.

By 1870 Jason and his family was living in Greene County, Arkansas. Again, he was elected a state representative.

By this time he had went through at least three wives and had a trail of at least 15 children, and maybe 16. *

Interesting, the Trail of Tears trail from North Carolina to Oklahoma starts right in the Macon County, Area, and goes through Cape Giraldo, Missouri, and Greene County, Arkansas. So, possibly, Jason knew all three places before he settled down at each place.

*In Macon County he once applied for a sizable loan. An asset specialist visited his home to list what he was putting up for collateral for the loan. There was some live stock, some farm equipment, and also listed were two slaves. A woman slave, age about 30, and a daughter slave, about 3, with a yellow complexion. The specialist probably wrote down the words "yellow compexion" with a smirk on his face.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

True almost X-Rated Story

This really happened.

Years ago a person I know just got out of the Navy. He got a job. After working a month or so his boss asked him was he dating. The guy said "No", he went on to say all his friends were married and not many singles girls that age around.

The boss asked him what was he doing for er-needs. The guy said nothing much. The boss suggested a date with a spicy woman named Lolita. He said just don't use his name. And he gave him Lolita's telephone number.

On the upcoming weekend the guy called Lolita and asked for a date. Lolita, with a Spanish accent asked him where did he get her number. He told her he read it on a men's bathroom wall. She seemed satisfied with that answer. She gave him directions how to get to her apartment with on Ponce de Leon, in Atlanta, just across the street form the old Crackers Baseball Stadium.

When he met Lolita the first thing she asked was how much money did he have. He only had about $20. "Is that all?" Lolita asked. Although disappointed she took the money anyway. They went back to the bedroom and got naked and in bed.

Before anything got started good a key rattled in the apartment entrance door and the door swung open. A drunk man was in the living talking to himself and mumbling. Lolita quickly grabbed the person and whispered that was her sugar daddy who paid for her apartment. She told the guy to hide behind the bed. The old man stumbled in and fell on the bed and was mumbling to himself.

Lolita jumped out of bed and told the old man she would be right back. She grabbed the guy's arm and pulled him in the kitchen and opened a door and pushed him through the door and slammed the door. The guy realized he was standing outside on a set of stairs going up and down. He was naked and not knowing what to do.

He went down the several levels until he reached the ground in back of the apartments. He jumped from bush to bush until he got to his car. Back then crime was low and there was no need in locking his car. That was good. He could sit in his car.

But he couldn't go anywhere. His keys were in his clothes on Lolita's bedroom floor.
He sat there trying to figure what to do next, so finally he decided to creep up the front set of stairs, which were on the inside to her apartment. Just what he was going to do when he get there he had no idea.

He got to her apartment, tried the door and it was unlock. The drunk on man did not lock it when he entered. He tiptoed to the bedroom and heard the two of them in bed mumbling. The guy quietly picked up his pants, shoes, and shirt and eased out of the room and out of the apartment. He put his clothes on in the hallway and slipped away into the night.

Hugs and Direct Eye Contact

My wife Anna and I were in a restaurant for breakfast one morning getting an early start going somewhere. At two nearby tables were seven young men. They looked clean-cut and each had a Bible, another book, and a notebook. I guessed they are students from a nearby Bible College.

Then in came 7 more of the same: young men with their Bibles and school stuff. I thought this should be interesting and it was. In a matter of maybe a brief minute or slightly more, each of the seven from each group hugged a greeting to each member in the other group. That is 49 hugs! Some of them were quick embraces and some were lovable bear hugs.

Behind the counter to take your order was an aged woman that had the word “Hell Raiser” as her name on her nameplate. I couldn’t help but looking at Hell Raiser, and just as I thought, she had a smirk and whispered something to a co-worker behind the counter, which caused her co-worker to burst into a giggle.

Hell Raiser strutted off proud of her wit.

I remembered one time a religious person in religious surroundings gave me a big lovable bear hug as a personable greeting. But yet, when I tried talking to him face to face, eye to eye contact his eyes shifted from one side to the other. I think instead of having a one on one personable conversation he was looking around for someone else to hug….. a good big hugs shows how personable of a person you are.

Speaking of hugs and eye-contact, one time I read an article of a study in tipping in a newspaper. If the waitress makes eye contact with the person paying the bill the amount of tip, on an average, jumps about 20%. This is also taking into fact the person paying the bill is one sex, and the one waiting is of opposite sex. With same sex, the percentage drops a little. Then, if the waitress should make body contact, maybe a casual brush against, or maybe a pat on the back, or whatever, the average tip jumps even more.

So with that in mind. I remember one time a lady running for country commissioner talked to me giving me direct eye-contact and then gave me a big hug. I voted for her, not caring what she stood for.

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Shame on Us



Once George Bush with a mike in his face meant to say "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me". But he got it all jumbled up.

But the real quote still applies. He was re-elected. Shame on us.

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Death of a cousin's husband

My first cousin's husband died a couple days ago. He was found dead in his truck with they ignition keys in his hand and left a clue that he was trying to call out on his cell phone. His dog was there in the truck with him. The poor little dog must have cried for hours. The authorities estimated that he had been dead about 12 hours when he was found.

He was a lineman. He put up telephone poles, which I suppose are electrical poles also. A year or so ago he went to Afghanistan to put up poles to reinstall their power. About a week before Christmas he was on the Gulf reinstalling power lines. He went out on the balcony where he was staying at and the balcony collapsed with him and he fell a number of levels. Apparently no bones were broken, but he still had quiet a jolt and was out on injured-on-job duty when he died.

He was cremated.

A memorial service was given. A co-worker, ex-father-in-law, and a brother stood up and talked about the times they had with the deceased. They didn't paint him to be an innocent do-gooder. They told the truth, he was always getting into trouble and lived for the moment. He was full of life. There was not a dry eye in the room. His dog who was him when he died was at the memorial also, and also cried, or whined.

I have only met him only twice, ironically, each time at the same funeral home of his memorial service. Both times he came off to me as someone with nervous energy or hyper.

I always bring my camera along with me at places where my extended family might be, for a photo opportunity, if possible. At my cousin's mother's funeral last year I asked all the family to gather for a group photo of all my uncle and aunts children and grandchilden... which amounted to a big group, maybe between 18 and 20 people. Before going to the service today I pulled up that group picture in my computer and there was the deceased, standing up front, in front of everyone, who was politely giving me the "cheese" smile - all but him - he had his arms crossed and a dumb founded look on his face, like he was trying to figure what my angle was.

May he finally rest.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

I just read on my Uncle John's daily tear-off calendar that when the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian calendar 11 days were lost. So, today is really December the 25th. And there is one Christian sect known as Calendarists, that celebrate Christmas today.
So, I guess we can start planning another New Year Party for next Friday night.

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Relax and Pretend to Fly

Nervous? High strung? Just can't get to sleep?

I found it is totally relaxing to go GoogleEarth.com and pick an area you know and go to it and just sail around like a lazy buzzard enjoying the wind and try to recognize things from a high height that you know from ground level.

See ya! Here comes an updraft!

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Admiration but not Envious

Some people make quick decisions without giving much thought of the long range effects. The kind that win and lose big sums of money. The kind that enjoy a good barroom fight. And the kind who may get tired of his job or his boss and just quit and move on. Or the kind that gets tired of their environment and move on with no thought where they are going until they get there and know "this is it".

I am not like that. Maybe, when I was in my 20s I was something like that, until I got married. But after a while you start thinking about investing for your retirement, and I sure as hell didn't want to leave my job that kept me in an income and hospitalization.

Now I am retired and recently I heard of someone older than I talking about his adventures going from one job to the next, and picking up his family and moving whenever he got the fever. I admire him because he has memories he will carry with him as long as he can remember. I, on the other hand, can not even remember many of the books I read before I was 40.

But do I envy him? Nope! The poor guy is going to have to work the rest of his life.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Gourd Penis



Up in north Georgia between Helen and the Sautee Valley is a shop that specializes in gourds. Two pleasant looking middle-age women run it. They slightly resemble each other. They are probably sisters.

They have gourd bird houses, water dippers, flower pots, and it is endless of the clever things they made from gourds.

The yard and house is facing a curve of a bend (remember, this is the North Georgia Mountains). In the front yard is a scare crow looking thing about the height of a 10 or 12 year old boy. He has a gourd head. He is holding a long slim gourd and a round gourd with red baseball threads is hanging from a tree limb above. If you stand in at a certain angle it looks that the setup looks like the gourd-head kid is swinging a gourd baseball ball at a gourd ball.

However, if one is driving at a higher than legal rate of speed on the road out front and the person approaches the curve he or she might glance up at the property - at a quick glance it look, instead of a boy swinging a bat at a baseball, it might look as if the boy is holding a big erect penis upright.

On the edge of the road in front of the yard is a cross with flowers on it.

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Monday, January 02, 2006

The Kingfish in Marietta

In an earlier posting I mentioned that a distant cousin, Niles Trammell, an NBC executive, to be president of NBC later, was instrumental in signing up the sitcom, first on radio, then on TV, Amos & Andy. And I mused how I remembered they mentioned Marietta, Georgia, from time to time, and I wondered if they did that because Marietta was Niles Trammell hometown.

I have mentioned it to several people about the age as I am and they don't remember Marietta mentioned on the show. So that prompted me to buy a DVD of the Amos & Andy TV shows, Volume I, to see for myself, or was I just hearing things.

Last night I watched the first segment. On the inside case there is a brief story of the Amos & Andy Show and a brief history. It tells the genealogy of the program, first whites playing the rolls of blacks on the blind radio and later going to TV with an all black cast.

It went on to say the series was heavily criticized by blacks for stereotyping blacks and the NAACP tried to get it removed from the airwaves. The NAACP said, "Every character is either a clown or a crook. Negro doctors are shown as quacks. Negro lawyers are shown as crooks."

I started looking last night at the 10 shows. I watched the first one. Marietta, Georgia, was not mentioned. But, in order to swindle Andy out of a rare nickel worth $250 Kingfish knew Amos had, he pretended to be a doctor, temporary, to have Andy remove his pants to he could give him an examination, with the purpose of getting his hands in Andy's pants pocket and getting that nickel. And as a doctor he was making up medical terms as he went appeared to be a quack. So, that is where they said some Negroes came off as quack-doctors. Wait! He wasn't a doctor, only a make believe doctor to swindle Andy. Kingfish might have been a crook, but he wasn't not a quack, because you have to be a doctor to qualify to be a quack. Don't you?

This evening I watched the second show. Marietta, Georgia, was mentioned throughout the program. I wished I had counted, but I am estimating Marietta was mentioned at least ten times.

Of course I know the writers, directors, and producers have a creative license to embellish Marietta anyway they wanted. But as a Marietta native, I feel it is my job to set it straight, however the story will be better if my input goes unnoticed.

First of all, the Kingfish is looking at a Marietta High School yearbook the year he graduated - which was probably in the 1920s. There is and was Marietta High School now and then. But the Marietta High School yearbooks then you will see no black students in them. The blacks went to an all Negro school. Unfortunately, segregation in the quaint town was a fact of life until about the mid 1960s.

Secondly, the newspaper of Marietta was mentioned several times. Kingfish said the name of the paper was The Marietta Chronicle. WRONG! It is and was the Marietta Daily Journal.

I'm just trying to set the record straight - to make this sitcom more factual, which might drain the humor out of it.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year started right - so far

I started the new year off right. At daybreak I went out and walked almost 3 miles and ran about 4 minutes. I hope to continue that habit for the next 11 months, then go on my annual binge again.

We went to a New Years party last night. It was a neighborhood party. We have been dreading since we received the invitation about a week ago. We were remembering two other parties held at the same house in the past years that a few were so drunk and obnoxious they took all the enjoyment out of it.

But this year the drunken few did not show up. They phoned in their regrets and excuses.

All the dreading was for nothing. We had a good time. Which, by the way, I noticed that every time I have dreaded and anticipated some social gatherings, I found I had a great time.

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