Thursday, November 29, 2012

Blog - November 29, 2012

From:  The White River Current - Thursday November 29, 2012

I informed you in the last episode that the number of readers of this biweekly column had increased tremendously because it can now be viewed as a blog on the internet.  So, let me take a deep breath here and welcome the thousands of new fans that have just joined us in this effort.  I should take a paragraph or two and explain a few things.  This column appears every other week in the White River Current, a weekly newspaper published here in my home town, Calico Rock, Arkansas.  I am a native, born and raised here as was Calico Joe, the fictional baseball player whose fame is documented in the exciting book by fellow author, John Grisham.  If, by a stretch of the imagination, you haven’t read “Calico Joe,” please take my advice and do so.  Also take in the movie which should be appearing on the big screen in a few months.  If you are reading this off the internet blog, you may be missing a lot of the other interesting columns that are regularly appearing in the Current.  Susan’s column “Not So Long Ago” and Freda’s writings about the Native American and early settlers are worth the price of a subscription to the paper.  You can receive the print edition, the on-line edition or both for a very low price.  And, I almost forgot, appearing on alternate weeks with the Rambling column is “Tom’s Tamperings” which is written by my mentor, Tom*.  I first met Tom* in, of all places, Trier, Germany.  We were travelling and he had recently arrived in Trier to work in the opera business.  He and his wife, a Calico Rock girl, moved back to Arkansas last spring when they retired after residing in Europe for thirty-five years.  While Tom* was living overseas, he attempted to improve his writing skills by sending e-mails to selected individuals almost on a daily basis.  This has carried over into his column which I know you will enjoy, even though it has a slightly “northern” flavor.  Both the Canada influence and the opera business have taken its toll.  He might refer to his dancing in tights in some opera as his terpsichorean performance.  Even in our church choir, I have caught him singing the word “people” as “pee-oh-play.”  I know this is only a temporary thing and everything will soon work out.  We love this couple and are all very fortunate to have them back in our community.  They both qualify as “characters I have known.”  Anyway, thank you for adding the Ramblings column to your reading list.  And, come, visit us.  It would make us happy to welcome you to one of the most interesting places in Arkansas to visit (according to World Book Encyclopedia).  Just Google “Calico Rock, Arkansas” and click on any of the websites.  You might also check out “Exploring Izard County,” a blog that contains a lot of photos and videos about the area.  And a personal note to my local readers:  Thank you for all your support and comments.  I started with a tongue-in-cheek article about the people from “off.”  Much to my surprise, this has blossomed into eighteen issues ranging all the way from “Dogs I Have Known” to my efforts to write a novel and compose a Christmas song.  I have no idea how long this will last.  I have a few more things to say before I turn off the old word processor.  I think I have alluded to some of these in earlier columns.  I haven’t forgotten and these will start appearing very soon.  Time is slipping away.  By the time you read this, the elections will be over, daylight saving time has disappeared until next Spring and the Giants have won the World Series (or was it the Tigers?).  We had our first frost this morning which reminded me it was about hog-killing time and I have a story about that.  I help churn butter at the “Reliving Calico Rock History:  Pioneer Life” festival at the Calico Rock Museum.  This reminded me of my mother and another story about my childhood in Calico Rock.  So much to tell and so little time.    I need to get busy.  Anyway, this is Reed, working hard here in my corner of the Queen City of the Ozarks, beautiful Calico Rock, Arkansas.  Bye for now!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rainbow - November 15, 2012

From:  The White River Current - Thursday November 15, 2012

I saw an old friend the other day.  Even at a distance, he looked great primarily because he had it all together.  Sometimes this is not the case but he is really a colorful character.  I referring to someone you all know.  His name is Roy G. Biv but you probably know him better by his nickname.  By now, I’m sure you know this is a “leg puller.”  Of course I’m referring to the rainbow.  Each letter of the name represents the colors of the spectrum (rainbow) which are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.  I mentioned this to a friend as we were admiring the colorful arc in the sky and he had never heard this acronym.  I am mentioning it now in the unlikely event some of you might have forgotten what you learned in eighth grade science.  Also to let you know I will be introducing you to some other “characters I have known.”  I have already mentioned two or three and probably will be adding others as the weeks go by.  There is no criteria to become one of my characters.  Some have departed this life.  Others are still on this side.  In this episode, I am adding two characters to the list, a husband and wife team.  I haven’t known Ed and Kay for very long but I recognized very early that they were my kind of people.  I saw them recently at the 20/20 meeting.  Let me digress here to point out something I find interesting but disturbing.  Of the fifteen people at the meeting, ten were from “off.”  This included Ed and Kay who were also at the Chamber of Commerce meeting a few days later where the “off/on” ratio of attendees was about two to one also.  Anyway, after the Chamber meeting, I stopped by Ed & Kay’s place where they gave me a large bag of raw peanuts that they had received by mistake.  You may be surprised to learn that every year they purchase over $500 worth of roasted peanuts.  If you didn’t congratulate them on their golden wedding anniversary earlier this year, it’s not too late.  They aren’t hard to find.  They have turned the old Harris grocery on lower Main Street into their residence.  Look for the neon sign in the front window announcing “Ed & Kay’s Place.”  While you are there, pick up a bag of roasted peanuts from the large pail outside the front door.  They’re free, compliments of two very interesting characters that have come my way.  I’ll have more to say about peanuts in a few weeks.  Anyway, back to the rainbow discussion.  I saw a cute photo of a rainbow a few days ago. It was a complete arc, very bright and one side seemed to end over an outhouse.  The caption was “The pot at the end of the rainbow.”  Everyone seems to be looking for that “pot of gold.”  I never wanted to be rich and famous.  I will not purchase a lottery ticket because I might win the big one and that would completely change my life style.  I’ve never won anything in my life.  Maybe that increases the odds of my winning the next time.  However, I have become sort of famous because of these articles that appear every two weeks.  It has been called to my attention that the Ramblings have been appearing on a blog on the internet.  That means that there could possibly be several hundred (or even thousand) out there in cyberspace that are scanning my writings on a regular basis.  That’s scary.  I may have to start proof-reading this stuff.  I already have a friend over in Ash Flat that is checking for spelling errors.  I do this for fun.  If it starts to be work I may have to consider spending all my free time on my novel and Christmas song.  I’ll discuss this again next time.  Until then, this is Reed, just sitting here in my corner of the Queen City, waiting patiently for that Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes check and worried about what to do next.  Bye for now.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lions - November 1, 2012

From:   The White River Current - Thursday November 1, 2012

It was a Thursday morning in early June, the latter part of the 1950’s.  I had just unlocked the front door of the store when I heard the amplified voice of Oran (Ding-Dong) Bell coming from the twin speakers that he had mounted on the roof of his pickup truck.  “They’re already gathering in” he shouted; “cowboys and cowgirls from all walks of life.”  Oran was busy driving up and down the city streets, announcing that the first performance of  The Calico Rock Lions Club Rodeo would be held at the local arena that evening.  The arena was packed for all three nights and has become an annual event in Calico Rock, held each year on the second weekend of June.  After over fifty years, the enthusiasm for the event has diminished some and even though performances have been reduced from three to two nights, the show draws large crowds of “cowboys and cowgirls from all walks of life.”  It was Oran, or as I should say, Lion Bell, that invited me to join the local club in the summer of 1951.  As a member for over sixty years now, I am the senior member of the club; Rayvon is close behind.  The local club was organized in 1947 and they are no surviving charter members.  Lion Bell was the sponsor for over seventy five members before  moving back to Yellville (his home town) after retiring from his position with Arkansas Power and Light Company (now Entergy).  Lions International was organized in about 1917 by a Chicago businessman, Melvin Jones.  Now worldwide, there are over 45,000 clubs with some 1.3 million members.  Most famous for the ongoing campaign to save the eyesight of people throughout the world, their motto is “We Serve.”  The local club pays for the exams and eyeglasses for several needy persons each year.  They also assist in many other civic projects.  Meanwhile, back to the Rodeo.  Rayvon and I were on the car-parking detail for that first night.  Big mistake!  As close as I have ever come to being run over, plus having to endure several “cussings,” I decided I was better suited for the concession stand or the ticket booth.  I have enjoyed working in the Lions projects which have included selling light bulbs and brooms from door-to-door to selling hamburgers and cold drinks at various events.  When I was more active, I attended the mid-winter conferences and state conventions.  It was at one of these that the speaker was Chet Lauck who played Lum on the old-time radio program “Lum and Abner.”  I used to listen to this program when I was a boy.  Chet told the story about “the preacher that they had in Pine Ridge who had absconded with the church funds. They caught up with him in Fort Smith but they found out that he had spent half of the money on some woman and the rest he had ‘just wasted.’  But they got their money back,” Chet said.  “They brought the scoundrel back and made him preach it out.”   You can google “Lum and Abner” and listen to some of the episodes of this great program.  I will have more on other old-time radio shows in a few weeks.
However, in this issue, I want to give a big tip-of-the-hat to the Lions Club and the other volunteer organizations and the members who generously give their time, and often, their resources, to make our town a more enjoyable place to live.  Well, I hesitate to do this, but I can’t leave the memories of the Lions Club of the past without recalling the minstrel show that some of the guys presented to packed audiences in Melbourne, Oxford, Norfork and Calico Rock.  The show consisted of the interlocutor (Lion A.B.), and six other Lions club members.  Picture this:  Seven chairs on the stage, A.B. in the middle chair with three Lions in chairs on each side.  I know this is unheard of in today’s culture, but that was then and this is now.  Anyway, there were some snappy lines like this:  Interlocutor:  “Rastus, how come you can grow such big watermelons?”  Rastus:  “I plants ‘em by the moon signs.”  Interlocutor:  “Ha!  Sounds like you are full of moon-shine.”  We all had a solo to sing.  Mine was “Mandy, let yo’ Andy in” but the show stopper was “Bones, you done me wrong” delivered in the proper tear-jerker fashion by Lion Harold Ray.  Hilarious!!  Just remembering the late Oran Bell, one of the characters I have known.  So long from the Queen City of the Ozarks.  This is Reed saying Bye for now.