Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Memory - August 1, 2013

As published in the August 1, 2013 edition of the White River Current

I believe it was Yogi who is credited with the remark about something being “déjà vu all over again” so here it is, again.  I write this stuff, usually in one sitting, and everything I say (write) is truthful and accurate, as I remember it (my disclaimer).  I pride myself with having a good memory.  I believe the brain is somewhat like the hard drive on a computer that stores a huge amount of memory.  The key is knowing how to access that memory.  In my case, I think it has been helpful to work crossword puzzles and other type of mental games that exercise my brain.  But I have been told that sometimes the brain can play “tricks” on a person without them realizing it.  Which brings me to the topic of this issue.  I’ll just call it “memory.”  For example:  We had a chance to visit the great-grandkids a few days ago.  Apparently Molly is in the middle of her “terrible threes” and pitches a fit now and then, sometime holding her breath.  All at once my memory kicked in and I remembered the times that Molly’s granddad, Steve, also held his breath when he got overly irritated.  On one memorable occasion, he had a loud tantrum and ran into the bedroom.  Anita went to get him and found him unconscious on the floor so she screamed and picked him up we headed for the ER but by the time we got to the car he was awake and breathing normally.  I also remembered the time when I was two or three years old and also guilty of breath-holding.  My mom splashed some water in my face and that must have startled me and caused me to take a deep breath.  I think that cured me from holding my breath again.  Ah, memories.  A recent memory I have had and have mentioned a couple of times is the location of the first house that my friend and fellow OFC member, Shelby, resided when his family moved to Calico Rock.  He strongly denies ever living there, insisting that his family lived in a house across the street and the house I am referring to was occupied by another friend, Earl Ray, and his mom and dad.  Shelby has also come up with a person (Harold, another OFC member) to confirm his side of the story.  This is very troubling.  Could I actually be mistaken?

I decided to go to the senior center in a neighboring town for some professional memory testing.  I was informed that the testing would take about thirty minutes.  Before the testing began, the attractive, young technician told me she was going to give me five words to try to remember and that she would ask me for the words some time during the procedure.  The five words were “apple, tie, pen, car and house.”  This is easy, I thought.  I simply applied “Reed’s method of word association” to the words:  Apple (fruit), Tie (neck), etc.  You get the idea.  After about fifteen minutes, she asked for the five words.  When I answered “apple, tie, pen, car, house”  I thought she was going to faint.  “You’ve got a mind like a steel trap” she said.  After making a perfect score on the testing, I promised her that I would return at a later date for a more extensive examination.  Steel trap, eh!  What a relief.  But what about the house in Calico Rock where Shelby first lived?  I decided to google my brain to find the answer and there it was where it had been all the time.  My brain was playing tricks on me.  You see, I first met Shelby (along with his brothers Jimmy and Gordon) one day when I visited my friend, Earl Ray.  He said that the boys and their parents had recently moved into a house across the street but that the boys were at his house quite often.  My brain had them “living” in the Earl Ray house but “residing” in the other house.  Thank you, brain.  I believe Shelby will buy this explanation.  Makes sense to me and my memory is still intact.  Steel Trap.  For a while there I thought I was wrong, but I was wrong.  Do I need to repeat that?  What did you say?  Oh, the five words.  Let’s see now (fruit) Banana, (neck) collar,------    

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Local News - July 11, 2013

As published on the White River Current - Thursday July 11, 2013

You are probably surprised to see me again so soon.  Our mutual friend, Tom*, very politely

asked me to swap weeks again because he would be en route to his summer cottage which is

located on the banks of Skiff Lake in New Brunswick, Canada.  Of course, I very graciously

agreed, not thinking that he would have the next two weeks and it would be three weeks before

you could have another Rambling column.  This could cause some of you readers to have a

severe attack of “Rambling withdrawal.”  I am going to suggest that you stop reading right now

and save this issue until next week.  This might ward off the attack, which I have been told can

be very distressing.  Please accept my sincere apologies.  I will discuss this with Tom* and make

his aware of the consequences of his actions.  In the meantime, I will use my time this week to

briefly comment on several issues, most of them newsy but probably not especially newsworthy. 

Shelby and Beth made it home safely after a long trip in their RV (a 1966 GMC bus/conversion)

to Washington (state) for a granddaughter’s HS graduation so we were able to have a semiregular meeting of the OFC.  You remember Shelby.  He’s the one who attended school here

until the tenth grade when the family moved to Oregon.  A graduate of the US Naval Academy

which may have waterlogged his brain, he can’t remember the house he lived in back when the

family was in Calico Rock.  I am fortunate to have a great memory and plan to devote a

discussion on memory in a future issue.  Anyway, moving on.  The Peppersauce Players had

their premiere performance at the newly renovated Music Hall several days ago.  The response

of the audience was, for the most part, positive.  Future performances are planned for the Fall

season.  Go by and visit the music hall and treat yourself to a breath-taking experience when you

observe all that Charles has done in restoring the old Methodist Church building.  Speaking of

Methodists, the local congregation has a new pastor.  Bill, his wife and two young children,

moved into the parsonage the last of June.  I hated to see Pastor Mike and Nancy move away

from us but I guess that’s the way Methodists do things.  I’m looking forward to welcoming the

new family to our fair city and wish them the best as they continue their ministry here.  And I

guess I should, although somewhat begrudgingly, give a symbolic goodbye wave to Mike and

Nancy, a great couple that I will remember for a long time.  The Lions Club Fireworks Show

was a great success last week.  A large crowd was assembled at the King Park to enjoy the

annual pyrotechnic bonanza that illuminated the night sky with silver and gold stars.  Did you

know fireworks had names?  Well, they do, such as Willow, Palm, Spider and Peony to name a

few.  We saw them all last week in what many described as one of the best shows ever.  Thanks

to the Lions Club and everyone who contributed in some way to make this event possible.  I

remember the very first fireworks show from several years ago.  Rayvon, Lions Club Treasurer,

made the trip to Jacksonville to purchase the supplies.  Members of the fire department

volunteered to man the cannons and do the necessary ignition of the shells to propel them high

into the air to provide the picturesque displays.  Sounds good but there was trouble ahead. 

Darkness arrived but it was several minutes before the first shot went up.  Then another five or

ten minutes before shot number two.  The show continued for what seemed like an eternity

before the last shell was launched.  My nephew from Salt Lake City was visiting us at the time. 

He couldn’t wait to tell his friends back home that he had been to a small Arkansas town over

the holiday and had seen a fireworks show that had lasted for almost three hours.  Now, and I

think it was a good decision, the show is handled by a professional group from out-of-town.  Just

another example of the fun it is to live in a small town.  That’s about it in the newsy department

of the Ramblings column for this week.  Have a good summer and I’ll see you in three weeks. 

Bye for now.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Cowboys - July 4, 2013

As published in the White River Current on Thursday July 4, 2013

I was driving home from a doctor appointment the other day when a familiar voice came over the car radio.  The twanging voice of Waylon (now deceased) was declaring, in a fast tempo,  something about being a “Rambling Man, just doing the best that I can.”  I decided right there that this could be my theme song so I rushed home and fired up the computer to see if I could find the rest of the lyrics.  Turns out that there are at least three versions of a Rambling Man song, one by the Allman Brothers, another by Hank, Sr. and even a Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man by Bob Seger.  I liked Waylon’s version the best and considered downloading it as a ringtone on my cell phone.  By this time I had begun to lose my enthusiasm so put the project on hold.  I do think the idea had merit because I am just doing the best that I can, but aren’t we all?  Anyway, I enjoyed hearing Waylon again.  Do you remember the song he did several years ago with Willie about going to Luckenbach, Texas, Waylon, Willie and the Boys?  Anita and I and friends, Don and Maxine, visited Luckenbach (pop. about 50) a few years ago.  It is an unincorporated hamlet
located in the Texas hill country near Fredericksburg.  Nothing much there except a post office and a dilapidated dance hall where they have dances on Friday and Saturday nights.  I looked up their web site and was jerked to an upright sitting position when I saw that a group who called themselves the Drugstore Cowboys were playing on a Friday night in June.  Well, that certainly got my attention because Don and I just happened to be the organizers of a group of nine pharmacists who adopted the name, Drugstore Cowboys, and entertained thousands of Arkansans back a few years.  I shared the MC duties with Don.  He was our primary vocalist, and I was the banjo picker in the group.  Some of you may remember our performance in the King Park bandstand at one of the festivals.  We also played at pharmacy conventions in Las Vegas, NV and San Antonio, TX.  I retired from the group several years ago but Don and two others are still playing several concerts a year in and around the Little Rock area.  Now calling themselves the Drugstore Cowboys Trio, they recently played in Conway for a group that included a former Calico Rock resident, Mary Jane Kerr.  One of the most requested songs that the group does is the old Waylon tune, “Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.”  Oh, those were fun times.  When I was active with the group, I used to close the store at 6 PM, drive to Little Rock for band rehearsal, drive home arriving in Calico Rock about 2:30 AM, get a little sleep, get up in time to open the store at 8 AM and think nothing of it.  I can’t imagine doing that now and I admire Don for continuing.  He turned 85 recently.  I have to place him at the top of the list of characters I have known.  He and Maxine (married for 62 years) are more than friends.  They’re Family.  By the way, Anita and I celebrated our 60th a few weeks ago.  I will probably talk more about Don and the other roommates in a later article which will be about college experiences.  I try not to bore you with these personal items, so I apologize.  So I’ll end this issue by going back to the top.  My favorite Willie song is “Ain’t it funny how time slips away?”  The lyrics of this song are about a guy who runs into an old girlfriend, maybe at a dance or something, it doesn’t say where.  “Well, hello there” he says, “It’s been a long, long time.”  I like this song and Willie does a good job of it.  But I really like the title because it is funny, or perhaps I should say sad, for opportunities that I have had but waited too long and now they are gone.  Too bad.  I’m not laughing as I sit here in my corner of the Queen City of the Ozarks.  If you are feeling sentimental, also, you can hear all the Waylon and Willie songs that I have referenced on YouTube.  Happy Independence Day.  See you in two weeks, maybe in a better mood.  Bye for now.