Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Story by John the Apostle

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not ...

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth ...

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

to all our Friends in the Blogosphere!

vanilla and BBBH
(aka David and JoAnn)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Our Living Room

The entire house is furnished largely in retro, since antiques and old stuff are appealing to us. We especially like small tables and things with drawers. In the living room alone we see an oval gate-leg table where many people have a coffee table (in front of the couch). I have an aversion to coffee tables in the middle of a room. Chalk it up to clumsiness on my part; but I dislike barked shins. This table is quite ornate, with eight "twining vine" legs. It is two feet wide and just under four feet long when opened. Closed, it is a foot wide.

There is a very ornate table in front of a window. It was "found" at auction by my dad many years ago in a much-too painted state. He stripped the table and finished it au naturel wuth Min-wax. It has four curved legs converging on a center post, then splaying outward to their original width. The top is 18" x 30".

The third table sits at the foot of the stairs. It is a 24" round pie-crust table on a fancy post with three delicate legs spreading to a circumference equal to the table top. The top is hinged and can be stored in a vertical position.

The fourth table in this room is a small 2' x 4' drop-leaf that sits at the end of the couch. The legs are spindled and quite delicate, arranged in a trapezoidal array at each end.

Then behind the couch and serving as a divider between the living room and the dining area is an 18" x 66" library table, a very sturdy piece which BBBH had in her shop and which was covered in way-too-many coats of paint, the which I have removed. The object is now bare and unfinished. The debate continues (after two years of preparation). I prefer a natural, Min-wax finish. She prefers an ultra-glossy polyurethane finish. So far, the compromise is a naked table.

The sixth "table" is really a horizontal file cabinet from an old railway station. It sits against the stairwell wall and is the perch for the flat-screen TV. I met it in an antique shop eleven years ago, and such an object with 24 drop-front drawers was a "must have".

On the kitchen divider wall is a sewing cabinet. I have seen several of these in antiques stores, but I believe we have enough of our own!

Finally, next to my recliner from which I write, view TV and nap, and nap, there is an end table on which I keep the remote, the kleenex, the coffee cup, some telephones. Under its top is an L-shaped bookshelf in which to store my current reading material.

Now, if you only knew about the seating, the fireplace and the china cabinets, you could picture this room in your mind's eye!

These tables are pictured on "String Too Short to Tie".

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Moving Van

Cliched though it may be, it is true that all good things come to an end. One's fondest hope is that the end of one good run is but the beginning of an even better one.

Over the past six years, we have elevated ourselves to the point that we are able to rent a moving van, and thus we do not have to rely on borrowing a farm truck. So the truck is backed up to the front porch steps and the loading process gets underway. Our possessions are not sufficient in bulk to require a second trip, especially since we are able to get our clothing into the trunk of the automobile. We are leaving Loonville behind to take up residence in Perfect.

The attempt to find a rental property in our new "hometown" led to a certain degree of frustration. The real tooth-grinder was the following conversation on the telephone.

Runner of the Newspaper Ad (Hereafter designated "RNA"): Hello!

I: Good morning. My name is Vanilla (or perhaps I used my real name) and we are planning to move into this community. I understand you have a house to rent.

RNA: Yes, sir, I have. May I ask what you do for a living?

I: I am a teacher and I have been hired by your local school board to teach math at the junior high school.

RNA: I see. Well, Vanilla, this house is located on Green Street, which is a pretty desirable location. Teachers tend to be transient and unreliable, so I think I shall have to let the place to someone else. But thank you for calling.

I wish I were making this up. But sometimes the most aggravating experiences are blessings in disguise-- deep disguise sometimes, as in this case. We did find a suitable place-- less than a block from Green Street. As it turned out, we eventually bought the house and lived in it for twenty-two years. Then they let me move to Green Street.

Loonville faded into the distance in the rear view mirrors as the vehicle smoothly cruised between the walls of corn on either side of the road. We were moving ahead, forward into the Perfect phase of our lives.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Break in Loonville

Usually during the last week of October, schools all across the state closed two days for "Teachers' Institute". Teachers were expected to spend these days attending workshops which were held at various sites across the state, ostensibly to "improve the quality of instruction" in the schools. Most of the larger functions were conducted by the largest of the teachers' unions; though to be sure it was never called a "union"; nor is it to this day. Please, on with the story.

Since at the time, teachers were paid for these days, but were expected to be able to show that they had indeed attended workshops, it was important that one select a site which offered the best opportunities for "extracurricular" activities. I don't know, don't want to know, what this meant to anyone else, but to me, it was an opportunity to take the family to Ft. Wayne, home of the wife's parents and extended family. Thus the kids got to see their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and so on, and I was able to "fit in" a couple of workshops at the old "institute." Worked for everyone.

Some years I attended sessions in Indianapolis, particularly if there was to be a high-powered (famous) speaker at the opening session. Like you, I am (was) drawn to power and fame, even if it belonged to someone else. I've pretty much outgrown that.

One year, and as Dave Barry says, I am not making this up, Eleanor Roosevelt was the keynote speaker. I know some of you youngsters are saying, "Eleanor who?" but nevertheless, the educated or older ones amongst you know that Mrs. Roosevelt was a Force. And, yes, I am name-dropping. I haven't seen that many famous people in person.*
This two-day period is now and has been for many years, simply "Fall Vacation" and thus what one does with her or his time is, well, vacation.
*I could probably tick them off on the digits of my hands, and have two thumbs left over.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Grandparents in Loonville

While we lived in Loonville, our children were blessed with an "extra" set of grandparents. Their biological grandparents lived an hour away, one set an hour north and one set an hour west. So when my co-worker, Marie, with whom I shared rides to work, met my family she immediately adopted the entire lot of us. She and her husband Orville were delighted to have the company of small children, for though they had been married thirty-three years, they had never had children of their own.

We would visit at their house, the kids sitting four abreast in the garden swing while Orville regaled them with beautiful kid-type stories. It was a shining moment in his life, for he never got to say anything when in adult company with his spouse. To say that she was the dominant force in the relationship is a bit of an understatement. In fact the household duties were his province, while she went to work to 'bring in the bacon.' They gave the appearance of being completely happy with their arrangement, and I suspect they were.

This couple even went so far as to hire me to paper, paint and do some minor remodeling in their living room. Given the level of my skills and the degree of talent I possessed in this area, one has to believe that they were doing me a favor by utilizing this service. And yet they completely managed to make it seem that they would be totally lost without me, knowing not what to do.

Good friends may be hard to find; but don't be surprised if you find one or two when you least expect it! Cherish your friends.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Not a Dime

Tuesday evening. I stepped out of the drugstore with the PediaCare for which I had just spent my last dollar. Russell Reston had just pulled up to the curb in a spankin' new Olds "98" which still had the dealer-issue temporary cardboard plate in the rear window. Russ exited the vehicle, and we stood visiting a bit there on the sidewalk. Cars, crops, the economy in general; then Russ said, "You teachers got it made. Paycheck every two weeks. You got no idea what 'tough' is. Try bein' a farmer! I didn't make a dime this year. Not a dime!"

Sometimes enough is enough.

I said, "Russ, you maintained that beautiful home where you live, heated it, fed your family, bought the seed for next year's crop, and bought a new "98" and you don't have anything left. If I accounted for my income the way you do, I'd have to say I didn't make a dime, either. And it is three days until pay day and I don't have a dime."

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Football, You Bet!

Here we are in Loonville, Friday evening deep into high school football season! The air is crisp, but not bitingly cold. Nylon jackets will be the order of the night, as we gather at the football field for the kick-off between the Loonville Shawnees and the Podunk Hellions. Arch-arch rivals, districts separated only by county road 600 North, if you are coming from Podunk, or 1600 South if leaving Loonville. Same road either way.

Sometime since then, the mists of memory befogging the details, both communities recognized the political incorrectness of the one moniker and the social inappropriateness of the other. The teams have been redubbed "Hawks" and "Argonauts" respectively. These changes were just wrong on several levels, imho. Loonville is situated full within the stomping grounds of the Shawnees of old. What better way to honor them than by keeping their name alive? Yes, I know the history is not pretty. And as for Podunk calling themselves Hellions, I taught school there for six years, and that is not wrong.

Friday nights are no more intense in Texas than they are in Indiana when two hard-nosed teams harboring grudges and enmity meet on the field of honor. The Shawnees are coached by Jim Laird who for a man of his tender years (he's in his mid-forties) has the highest percentage wins over losses of any coach in the state. Virgil Grimes who coaches Podunk has more wins, but he is but a couple years from casting his bait into a lake in the Ozarks on a daily basis. The rivalry in football, back to the earliest date that both schools fielded football teams, stands at Shawnees 12, Hellions 11, deadlocks 4. Loonville must defend its honor and maintain the edge. Podunk, on the other hand, is riding a 32 game win streak and has only five more to go to set a state record.

There is no need relating the play-by-play, and how Corcoran, with but eight seconds, fourth and seventeen...

So anyway, Podunk is now riding 33, and there is no joy in Loonville.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I'm Still Hungry

or what do I do now that Mrs. Laine has turned me away?

There are two other places in Loonville to obtain a bite to eat. One is Rosie's Coffee Shop across from the post office. But Rosie is open for breakfast and lunch only, five to one-thirty, Monday through Friday. Rosie takes off two days a week because, "Why should I work six or seven days when you galoots only work five?" So Rosie's is not an option on this dismal Saturday evening.

The other establishment that serves food is located at the intersection of the state highway and County Line Road, the other side of the street and you'd be out of town. This is Jerry's Soft-Surv. It is an ice cream/hamburger shop. There are no tables inside, but there are half dozen of them around the exterior of the building. There are parking spaces for twenty cars, and the space is needed after school and on weekends. There are no carhops. You get out and go to the window to place and pick up your order.

Mrs. Laine has rejected you at her establishment, but she will be happy enough to count the coin you drop here at Jerry's, for she owns this store, too. It is managed by her son, Jerry, and he is good at what he does. Which, quite simply, is making the best hamburgers you will ever sink you teeth into. Plus you can have it with a shake, a malt, a sundae, or a plain ice cream cone. You may have water, ice tea or coffee, but no "soft drinks" for this is not a "soda shoppe". Neither is Laine's, and if you want "pop" in this town, there is a machine at the gas station; or you can buy a six-pack at the general store.

Jerry is a hale-fellow-well met, not a physically impressive specimen of the human race, but his glowing smile and raucous banter more than makes up for any lack he may have in the beef-cake realm. Besides, he's flippin' burgers, not pumping iron.

After just one of his "100% beef" burgers (no indication as to where on the cow the cuts came from, nor what percentage of fat is contained therein) with golden french fries, or better yet, in my opinion, with the nonpareil deep-fried onion rings, polished off with a vanilla double malted, you will have forgotten all about the slight you suffered at Laine's.

Have a safe drive home!

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dining Out in Loonville

Decades before America was introduced to the "Soup Nazi," there was Mrs. Laine. The old 1897 brick building on the southwest corner of Main and Water was home to Laine's Cafeteria. It was a cafeteria only one day a week-- Sunday from 10:30 to 2:30. The restaurant was also open on Friday evening and Saturday evening, but service then was not cafeteria-style.

Mrs. Laine during the week is the drama and literature and Latin teacher at the local high school. We have no idea how old she is, for most people under fifty remember her as their teacher; and yes, plastic surgery was practiced in that day and time. Also, we know that she has a son who is forty-six years of age, about whom more later. Let's meet her in her establishment on this beautiful Friday evening.

There are no gaudy lights, no signs visible from the street. There is a small bronze plaque, about six inches by twelve, affixed to the brickwork beside the front door on which is inscribed


As we pass through the vestibule, noting that the lights are becoming dimmer as we walk along the hallway, we soon come to the podium at which sits Mrs. Laine on a high stool. On the podium itself is a leather-bound menu, and the one is more than enough, for the menu is exactly whatsoever has been created in the kitchen on this day. That is what you will have, no more, no less if indeed you have anything. Mrs. Laine inherited the recipe collection from her great grandmother who was an immigrant from Eastern Europe. The food is worth the trip, as numerous souls from as far away as four neighboring states would testify.

Mrs. Laine raises her perfectly-coiffed head. With neither smile nor frown, she peers imperiously toward you through her lorgnette. "Yes?" You tell her how many in your party, and she looks down at her desktop as you note the triple strand of high-quality pearls that encircle her neck. This is where the "rubber meets the road." Even though a quick glance around the dining area reveals several empty tables, and you know as well that Laine's does not take reservations, you may or may not be admitted for dinner! Some have driven eighty or a hundred miles only to be rejected at the door. No one knows what system or set of standards the hostess uses to make her determination, but her decision is final. A few unlucky and unwise souls have attempted the ploy of sliding a folded twenty-dollar bill across the desktop. It is unfolded, daintily held now between thumb and forefinger, and thrust back toward the offending soul. Here the proprietor speaks, "You may be admitted at a later date; but if you make this mistake again, you will be banned forever." Here she taps with her lorgnette on an eight x twelve poster on the wall to her left. You look at it. It is headed "Persona non grata." Below, though in your haste to retreat you do not read all the names, you note a few that are immediately outstanding.

    • Fidel Castro

    • Lyndon B. Johnson

    • Matt Welsh

    • John Frederick

    • Anna Lighthouse

and so on. We would probably all ban Castro. Mrs. Laine has voided Mr. Johnson's privileges because, though she was a huge JFK fan, her suspicions regarding LBJ's ascension to the presidency are quite strong. Matt Welsh is the governor of the state, an all-around nice guy, but he had the misfortune of running against and defeating Mrs. Laine's brother in a heated election for state representative many years ago. Roger Branigin succeeded Welsh as governor in 1965, and shortly thereafter, his name was added to the list. I don't know why. John Frederick is the local "mayor," the title being an honorific since there is no such official position. The community can only speculate as to Mrs. Laine's dislike of him, but it is well-known. Anna Lighthouse and this is really ancient history was a rival for Mr. Laine's attentions when the three of them were students at Indiana University. Though Mrs. Laine prevailed in the contest for the man's heart, she has never forgiven Anna. Just for existing, we suspect.

Oh, dear. And having ourselves passed muster, we have yet to be seated. The Empress hostess lifts her right index finger slightly. A tuxedoed lad immediately appears at her shoulder, and she says, "Four for seventeen." We are escorted at once to our candlelit table and the feast begins.

The tureen is set on the table, the waiter takes the ladle and...

Thus begins a dining experience to which I am unable to do justice, so you will complete the story by simply imagining the most delightfully unimaginable dining experience you have ever had.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Amicable Divorce

One mile south of town, and half mile east, lived the Deutch family. Chester Deutch and Donna Devore had been high school sweethearts. Sort of inevitable in some ways, as the alphabetic propinquity of their surnames dictated that they were often seated one behind the other in class.

The development of their relationship may or may not have had anything to do with an incident that occured during their sophomore year. It was a hot, September afternoon and fifth period English class needed livening up, or so Donna thought. She therefore dropped just a pinch, a tiny pinch, of itching powder down Chet's shirt collar. The poor lad had a miserable afternoon. Donna and her best buddy, Jolene, had a near-uncontrollable snickering fit.

The lad eventually discovered the antagonist who had provided the misery, and he more or less demanded a sit-down over cokes at the local soda fountain. Which he got, and the rest led to the altar, as they were married seventeen days after the high school commencement program, 1952.

In May, 1953, Charles Donald Deutch was born to the loving young couple.

Time passes.

In the summer of 1959 the now not-so-happy couple decided that marriage was not for them. They opted for divorce, but they determined to keep things on an amicable basis "for the sake of the child." Their home place was eighty acres where they practiced part-time farming, as both had decent jobs at a not-far away GM factory. At the time of the filing, they started remodelling the two-car detached garage to make a small house suitable for human occupancy.

At the time I came to know this "family" Chester had lived in these small quarters for seven years and Donna had continued to live in the main house with the boy. Each member of the family had some benefits: she no longer had to put up with the foibles of a husband; he no longer had to listen to a nattering wife; and the boy had the benefit of two parents in spite of the divorce. Every Sunday Donna prepared and served a family dinner for the three of them in her home. Every Saturday Chester took the three of them to some nearby attraction or entertainment, or they all went fishing together. Worked for them.
So they said.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Toronado Comes to Loonville

Wilbur was the local auctioneer and real estate agent. One might say he had his finger on the pulse of the community. Well, except that he was using his fingers to count the money that flowed into his coffers. In short, he engaged in many enterprises.

Wilbur, known by all as "WT" always wore a white felt Stetson, always, winter and summer, spring and fall. Notwithstanding that he might be described as "portly" he dressed meticulously, was never wrinkled or spotted, and the wide ties he chose were first-cousin to the ascot.

In 1966, Oldsmobile Division of General Motors introduced a huge, heavy but sporty vehicle called "Toronado". This 5000 pound behemoth was powered by a 425 ci quadrijet carbed V-8. It was the first American-built front-wheel drive automobile produced since the demise of the Cord in 1937. WT was one of the first proud owners of a Toronado.

One sultry evening, humidity-laden air hanging heavily over the village as WT and I were standing at the curb following a Lions' meeting, I remarked that that was a beautiful wheel he was tooling around in these days. As he lovingly caressed a front fender, he went into a rhapsody of superlatives, praising his machine to the heavens. "Oh, man!" he said, "Get in; you gotta feel it." I got into the passenger seat, not really expecting to get the ride of my life. But I did. We had a seldom-used airport a mile west of town, fully equipped with a thousand-yard concrete runway. We were there in a minute and I was already semi-terrified. WT wheeled onto the runway and ripped off about a quarter mile, hit the brakes and spun a 180, hitting the accelerator again, we were seven seconds later in dead decelerating mode as he stood on the brake pedal to avoid flying through the fence onto the highway. Back down the runway at about 40, he spun the wheel to the left and shot onto the access apron. As he stopped he enthused, "Oh, man. How d'ya like that military turn?" Not so much, but I didn't say so.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Winter Warmth in Loonville

Ironically, I made a reference to the fire burning inside when we last visited Loonville. The old house in which we lived was heated with oil-burning space heaters, large stoves whose pipes connected to the central chimney. All went well more than 99% of the time. But on two occasions while we lived there, a tremendous wind, contrary to its normal routine, blew in from the northeast. Somehow this allowed the force of the air to push down the chimney, preventing the smoke from rising, and worse, blowing soot a-l-l o-v-e-r the interior of the home.

So there we were. Outdoor temperature below freezing, no fire now inside, and the whole place covered with black, oily grime. The amount of scrubbing, laundry, and overall thorough cleanup you really don't want to know about; and you certainly never, ever want to experience it.

Also, the tank for the fuel was a 275 gallon behemoth that stood on stilts beside the house. And even though the price of fuel was less than thirty cents a gallon most of the time, unbelievable as that may be, to fill the tank could easily take an "investment" of over sixty bucks. It was something one could not postpone to more flush times. If it was oil or bread, we took oil.

We did not have microwaves, garbage disposals, or television sets. Okay, okay. Finally when the oldest child was in fifth grade we bought a 19" b & w Zenith on which we could get two channels. We were no longer the only home on the block without this marvel, though we should have remained so. Two things I remember about this time frame. "Sky King" which we thought suitable for the kids after school; and Lorne Green and the Cartwright gang who changed the face of mid-America forever. How so? I hope you are asking.

To this time, most fundamental, evangelical, and even many of the old-line churches had Sunday evening services which typically were held at 7:30. Virtually all churches chose at that time one of two alternatives: move service up to 6 o'clock so everyone could get home in time to visit the Ponderosa; or, eliminate evening service entirely. Over the intervening years, many of those who chose the first alternative, eventually defaulted to the second, and churches all over the Bible belt sit darkened on the evening of the Lord's Day.
© 2010 David W. Lacy

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Back in the day, there were no computers. The interwebby thing did not exist. Television was a dream in the minds of the vacuum tube inventors. Telephones, yes. They were bolted to the wall, or they stood on a desk looking like, well they defied description The ringing of the phone was an event; and "wires" or telegrams were sure signs of tragic events in the lives of the senders. 89% of today's communications terminology had yet to be created. It may be 92%, but when one makes up statistics, accuracy is not gauranteed.
Pride of possession of a good fountain pen rivalled the pride that the young people today take in their itty-bitty hand-held communications devices. One should know better than to call them "phones" for, while one can use it to make a phone call, few actually do so. It is used for such a host of other tasks that I can only tell you that this old fountain-pen-using troglodyte does use it for phone calls. And for nothing else.
I have a stack of letters which were handwritten with a pen, delivered from one's place of residence to the home of the recipient by the United States Post Office. A first-class stamp cost three US cents. Mail delivery was effected Monday through Saturday, and it was brought to your door twice a day. I know. You are incredulous, unless you, too, can remember the day. Or unless you are so very young that you are thinking, "What do I care about the old poop and his day?"

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Off We Go to School, Tra La!

As I indicated, we lived in the last house but one on Water Street as you headed out of town. This location placed us just eight-tenths mile from the elementary school. Each day my wife sent the kid (only one in school so far) toddling off to the seat of learning, only to watch the Heton kids next door board the school bus bound for the same destination. Mommy very soon tired of this, and Daddy was directed to "do something about that."

So I approached the Superintendent of Schools. Was I thinking "professional courtesy" or what was I thinking? Dr. McClurg was a vast, I mean huge, Irishman who had served our country honorably during WWII as captain in the USMC. He affected the same military flattop he wore as an active-duty gyrene, though it was white now, but would still have been a full head of hair had he not had it shorn weekly. At six-five and two seventy-five, he was a formidable man-mountain.

He welcomed me into his office, and we exchanged a few pleasantries, a bit of banter actually, as his school district and the one in which I worked were keen rivals on the football field or in the basketball arena. Then, getting to the point, he asked, "What can I do for you?" I succinctly explained that my child was walking nearly two miles each day to and from school, while my next door neighbor's kids were riding the corporation bus; and since it would not require an extra stop, I would appreciate it if my child could board the same bus.

"Now, Mr. Lacy, it surprises me that you would ask that. You see, the alley between your house and the Heton's is also the town limits line. It is policy that no child who lives within the village proper may ride the bus."

"Well, Dr. M, Ann would be glad to walk across the alley to get on the bus."

"But, don't you see? the line has to be drawn somewhere. If Ann rides, then Mrs. Lewis will want her kids to ride, and so on, until the driver will be stopping 50 yards from school to pick up someone who could get there faster on foot. You take my point!"

Of course I took his point, and besides as a child I had walked farther than that to get to school. Didn't kill me; wouldn't kill my kids.

How cold it can get inside one's domicile, even with the fire burning brightly.
© 2010 David W. Lacy

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Retrotech on the Farm

The annual Mid-America Threshing and Antique show was conducted at the Tipton County Fairgrounds this past weekend. This provided an opportunity for collectors and old machinery aficionados to get together for show and swap. The sound of steam whistles cutting the air throughout the day on Friday lured me to the fairgrounds Saturday morning. Couldn't go on Friday: too hot.

The steam powered stationary threshing machine brought back memories from my early childhood; for until I was five years old, we lived in a tiny Nebraska village where our house abutted a huge wheatfield. One of my earliest memories was harvest time, watching the workers bringing the sheaves to the thresher as it stood in the field behind our house, belching smoke as it did whatever it did.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Getting the Job Done

I had to work, of course, and as I related earlier it was a twelve-mile drive to my place of employment. After a year in the elementary school, I transferred to the junior high to teach mathematics. Marie's classroom was across the hall from mine. She taught English to the seventh and eighth graders who were our charges. This lady was the same age as my mother. We worked together for five years until I left the community, and she still had several good years before her retirement.

We soon figured out that a good bit of gas (read: money) could be saved if we were to share rides to work, as we lived only three miles apart, and we were both a dozen miles from school. Thus, we alternated weeks, stopping by one another's house to pick up and drop off the passenger.

The farm of Jim Griggs was located along our route to school. The pigster had posted a large yet tastefully done sign at the entry to his property.

-------------Griggs' Pigs------------

----------Hampshire----- Poland China---------

Marie, in her typically pedantic manner, was offended by the sign, for she claimed the apostrophe usage was incorrect, and the sign should read "Griggs's Pigs." I allowed that that would destroy both the rhyme and the lilt, and should therefore read "Griggs's Pigses." Marie was not amused.

There was a saying amongst school people at the time that "every teacher should be an English teacher." But not all English teachers are so willing to share the responsibility. I had occasion, created an occasion, once in a seventh grade math class to assert that "ain't" was a valid word in the language, and that it could be correctly used. "Ain't I" is a contraction for the phrase "am I not" and may be used in a construction as follows: "I am going to town with you, ain't I?" This was reported by my students to the English teacher, who in turn sent a message back to me, telling the kids to tell me that she "will teach English, and Mr. Lacy should stick to arithmetic."

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Visit again tomorrow.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Retrotech in the Shop: Tools

I am not a handyman. Oh, I have managed to provide some home maintenance over the years. I even worked for a few building contractors from time to time. I learned a few things. But I am grateful that I do not have to put bread on the table today using the skills of carpentry, woodworking, masonry, plumbing or mechanics. I know enough about most of those fields to be a danger to myself and any inattentive bystanders; although I can drive a nail or a screw. I can measure a board and cut a pretty straight line.

My father was a craftsman. He could do more with a pocketknife and a pair of pliers than most guys can do with any tools that might be at their disposal. I let most of my dad's equipment go at auction, but I kept a few handtools, mostly for sentimental reasons. But I still use them from time to time.

I have a crosscut handsaw which may be the first saw I ever used as a child. It is small, easily carried in a handy-man tool kit. The upper ear is missing and has been ever since I can remember. I have a brace and several bits. These virtually never get used. I kept a pair of forceps (dental) which belonged to my maternal grandfather and which my dad used to pull teeth-- mine, from time to time, when I was a child. Squares, wrenches. I regret a little bit that I let all the hand planes go, but I hope someone is giving them the use they deserve.

The most modern of Dad's tools which I have is a 7" electric Skilsaw which I use in preference to my own much newer and very expensive high-end brand name saw.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Car for this Loon

I met the owner of the local Ford dealership at Lions Club. I had purchased a few small items from his parts department; and I had been "accosted" on the lot by one of his salesmen. In early 1965, I was driving a 1962 Dodge Lancer which now had 93,000 miles on it, and while it still looked quite spiffy, I was beginning to think new car. Who am I kidding? Most 30 year olds of the guy persuasion are always thinking new car. A shiny new 1965 Mustang (remember the Mustang had been introduced only a very few months earlier) was resting proudly inside the showroom; and I entered the store.

Mr. Ford himself (is that a name for a Ford dealer or what?) rose from the desk in his cubicle and sauntered over to me as I walked round and round the vehicle. I was not drooling on the floor, but I might as well have been to the practiced eye of the fellow who had "put" hundreds of people into vehicles that they did not arrive in. Gorgeous metallic green body, Ivy Green; and when Ford lifted the hood, what should appear to my wondering eye but a "289." Cutting this short for conservation of space, I took delivery on the vehicle the following day.

I had planned to depart for Portland, Oregon on June 16 as I was going to study graduate level mathematics at Reed College during the summer session. Friend Warren was going to go along, and we calculated that with perhaps one overnight stop in Wyoming, we should otherwise be able to drive straight through. Warren had an older brother who lived in Portland, and they had not seen each other in over five years.

On June 13 as I was driving home from work, a horrendous squalling signalled that I had big trouble. I managed to get the car into the dealership, the mechanic did not take long to ascertain that the transmission was shot. No, literally. A thrust washer had been omitted in the assembly and a shaft had eaten through a casing. How long for repairs? It will take at least three weeks to get a new tranny from the factory, and it will require that. I went up front to talk to the owner. I explained that we were planning to leave for Oregon in two days, and I didn't have any slack in my scheduled itinerary. Oh, I was told, I think I can solve your problem. He picked up his interoffice phone and called the service man. "Bring in that red Mustang that just came in on the truck today, pull the transmission and put it in Mr. Lacy's car."

And it was that simple. And we made the appointments scheduled in the Pacific Northwest.

Believe me, these are the kind of loons I appreciate knowing and dealing with. Good people are wherever you find them, may their tribe increase.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Retrotech in the House: Audio

I am not an audiophile. I enjoy listening to recorded music, but I do not go into rhapsodies over the equipment on which it is played. I started acquiring my small collection of vinyl in 1952. Any recent additions would have been found at a flea market, for I stopped buying "new" when I started having children. That was in 1957.

I have a so-so amp connected to a couple decent speakers. All pretty retro. But the turntable. Even more out-of-date, and worse, a belt-driven table with an ancient and floppy belt is, frankly, due for the trash heap. Much as I hate going "modern," if I am to continue listening to the LPs I am going to have to get a new turntable. There are times when a self-professed Luddite just naturally proves himself to be a hypocrite.

My mistake was taking the works out of my Victrola and using the cabinet for electronic stereo, circa 1970.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Friendship Begins in Loonville

Warren invited me to visit a local meeting of Lions International as his guest. I met two dozen citizens I had not previously known, and encountered several I had already met in the community. I liked the experience. Without going into detail, I will tell you that I "passed muster" and became a member of this group.

I met Phil at Lions, though I was certainly to have "business" with him as he acted in his professional capacity, for he was principal of the local elementary school. And I had kids. Phil could be fairly described as a feisty individual, not large of physical stature, sandy hair, and peering at the world through coke-bottle lenses. He affected a cookie-duster mustache, just enough to be called a mustache. I soon discovered that Phil and his family were thick with Warren and his trible. Soon I had been admitted into this orbit, and we became the Three Musketeers of Loonville.

When Thursday evenings rolled around, there were six adults and eight kids gathered at the home of one of the Musketeers. Good food, good conversation and lots of laughter kept this routine alive for so long as I lived in Loonville. We had much in common, though our professional lives differed, if not in calling, at least in the stage on the ladder. But we saw the basic requirements for proper living in very much the same light. Yet from the religion angle, we were a fundamentalist, a traditionalist, and a free-thinker. We got along famously, because, though we did not agree on many things, we harbored deep-seated respect for each other's right to formulate and express his own opinion.

Our sessions together were not gossip sessions as such, but inevitably our friends and neighbors contributed to the conversation, because in Loonville, well, how could they not?

Warren had a most interesting manner of speaking. He would make leaps from point A to point D, for example, without ever touching B and C. Until one got used to this, it seemed at times that he was dropping non sequiturs into the conversation. Phil and I both recognized that Warren could think so much faster than he could talk that it was up to us to learn to follow portions of "unspoken conversation." And since we could, in fact, do this, our bond of friendship grew ever stronger.

Even after I moved from the community, our friendships continued so long as we were all alive. Warren moved to the southern part of the state to become president of a bank overlooking the Ohio River. Phil remained in Loonville until after the death of his wife. My spouse was the first to pass away, followed shortly by Phil's wife. Then Warren's wife became terminally ill, and after a long battle, she too, was no longer with us.

It is almost incredible to believe, but the paths of our lives bore great similarity even after our respective tenures in Loonville were long past. Warren retired from the bank, married a widow lady and moved to a small acreage near I-65 north of Louisville. Phil remarried, and moved to Indianapolis with his new bride. I also married for a second time, and continued to live in Perfect.

We saw each other from time to time and always picked up right where we left off. Phil was the first to depart the group, and Warren and I met in Indianapolis to attend his funeral. Several years later, I got a call from his wife telling me that Warren had literally passed away along the berm of the road as he and his dog were on their morning walk.

Phil, Warren, I miss you guys.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Banking in Loonville

I had been in town but briefly when I deemed that establishing a line of credit with the local bank would enhance my reputation as a responsible citizen. So I entered the bank one sunny summer day and told the cashier that I would like to take out a loan. She ushered me to the front corner office where Banker Harley sat behind his mahogany desk. I introduced myself, he laid his seegar in the ashtray on his desk and waved me preemptorily to a chair. "What can I do for you?" I would like to borrow 150 bucks, a number that I only partly drew out of thin air, for I wanted to do a few things. Well, he asked me all the usual: why I wanted the money, how was I going to repay it, how many children did I have, and where did I obtain my livelihood. I don't recall that he asked where I went to church, but I have been asked that in interview settings.

I told him I was a teacher and was employed by the neighboring community. He picked up the stogie, took a long draw, then laid it back down. "Waaal," he drawled, "I can't say that being a teacher is a helluva recommendation." He then related to me about four stories illustrating his thesis that teachers weren't necessarily reliable. Then he picked up his pen, scrawled a note on a yellow pad, ripped it off and handed it to me. "Give this to the girl. She'll fill in when you're going to repay this and you can sign it." I walked out with $150.00, American.

Just outside Banker Harley's office was the desk of the bank veep. Unbeknownst to me, VP Warren had come back from his lunch hour and sat listening to the business being conducted between me and his boss.

Two days later, Saturday morning, I was filling the auto with petrol at the local station when Warren drove up on the other side of the pump. He introduced himself and said that he had heard that I was a teacher at Podunk Elementary School. Yes, indeed. "I", he said, "am vice-president and general flunky over at the bank. Why don't you stop by my house in a few and we'll chew some fat." Since he lived just around the corner and one block off the main drag, I thought, Why not? And thus began a life-long friendship. Warren was two years older than I, but his children were the same ages and in the same number as mine. Later, when our wives were introduced to each other, the foundation for a rewarding friendship was completed.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Retrotech in the House: Timekeeping

We have an old Ingraham Nyanza Banjo Clock on our dining room wall. It was manufactured about 1915 by the E. Ingraham Company. This is an eight-day key-wind pendulum movement. The case is 10 inches wide and 39 inches tall.

Elias Ingraham (1805 - 1885) was noted for his clock case designs, for which he held many patents. Following WWII, Ingraham Company continued making clocks, but dropped production of pendulum clocks in favor of electric and alarm clocks.

Our clock, when it is allowed to run, keeps very accurate time. Sometimes during a scrabble game, BBBH will say, "That ticking's enough to drive you to drink." There have been occasions when overnight guests have gotten up in the night and stopped my clock. Such nerve.

You may view pictures of our clock over at String Too Short to Tie, if you wish.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Engineering in Loonville

I am in the driveway behind the house cleaning the car. I have washed it and now I am vacuuming the inside. Delbert and his friend, Will, who lives next door to the east, are just the other side of the fence in our backyard. I stop the machine, as I have finished that chore, just in time to hear Will say, "Let's go over to my Grandfarter's. He'll give us a dime to leave him alone." Delbert said, "Don't you mean 'grandfather'?" Will replies, "Yeah, that, too. But I meant what I said. C'mon, you'll see. Just don't pull his finger!

Mrs. Lewis is a widow. She has two children, Will, seven and Pamela, nine. Like the neighbors on the other side of us, these are pleasant children, and our children have developed good rapport with them.

Mrs. Lewis, Carol to her friends, is a hard-working woman, clerking at the local general store by day, and taking in ironing which keeps her busy at all hours. She has her admirers; and has on numerous occasions, she confided to my wife, been asked "out." She has declined all these invitations, saying she is much too busy trying to raise her kids to get herself involved with a man who, "for crying out loud might need even more raisin' than they do."

On the other side of Mrs. Lewis live Mr. and Mrs. Adams. No one ever sees Mrs. Adams, except once a month when he guides her solicitously to the car. They always return in exactly four hours. I sort of got acquainted with Mr. Lewis when I discovered that he played chess. We would meet in the little park behind the firestation perhaps three or four times each summer for a game. I never learned much about him from the "horse's mouth." We were so evenly matched at chess that virtually all our games ended in a draw.

But talk is not an expensive commodity in Loonville, and many people over the years were quite willing to fill me in. Not all the stories would fit appropriately into a family newspaper such as this one, but one of the best followed along these lines.

Mr. Adams is a genius. I can believe it. Mr. and Mrs. Adams are reclusive. No kidding. In his youth, Mr. Adams studied engineering at Purdue and was employed throughout his career by a leading construction company, where he rose to the level of High Mucky-muck. They bought the little house on Water Street when he retired and moved into the community. (This datum in itself leads me to suspect that much of what I was told was created from whole cloth, inasmuch as they were not "local." Neither were we, and heaven knows what was said about us.)

Mrs. Adams liked her little house very much, and Mr. Adams found much pleasure in tending the flowers and dressing the yard. But there was one flaw. The house had no basement, and the Missus very much wanted one, for whatever reason no one could fathom. So the Mister devised a plan to create the desired unit. Having sources (from his past career, you know) he obtained an unspecified amount of dynamite. But then we don't need to know how much. Only he needed to know, and he did. He labored over his drawings and the mathematical calculations into the wee hours of many a morning, until one day the time had come. He went into the crawl space with his blasting equipment, wires and such paraphenalia and set his charges, oh, so carefully, in just the right places.

Shortly after eight the following morning, that is after all the neighbors had gone to work and the kids were in school, there was heard a dull "Ka-whump!" in the neighborhood. It was said that the chinaware in the cabinets nor the vases on the tables never so much as jiggled. Mr. Adams then hired a group of transient laborers to remove the loosened earth from beneath his house. Then he proceeded to construct a finished basement under his domicile!
© 2010 David W. Lacy

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Retrotech in the House: Sewing

Over on String Too Short to Tie, I have posted a sewing story which is accompanied by pictures of an old Abbott Sewing Machine which occupies a decorative space in our home. You may go there if you wish to see pictures.

The Abbott was, I think, produced in Ontario in the last half of the nineteenth century. The machine is a work of art. But the seamstress in the house uses a Singer 401 Slant Needle DeLuxe, which while a bit old itself, is still a very efficient machine. The Little Lady, in her younger day, was a sewing instructor and demo operator for Singer. She is still adept at the skills entailed in sewing. But while she has looked at the up-to-date offerings in the sewing machine market, she is satisfied that she prefers sewing to mastering computer skills, hence chooses not to buy new equipment.

Besides, I am fond of the old New England motto, "Use it up, wear it out; make it do, or do without." And the current machine is far from being worn out.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Independence in Loonville

Directly across the street from us lived Mrs. Smith. She was ninety-two years old, and as the cliche says, spry as a spring chicken. I had cultivated a friendship with her since she was a very interesting lady and seemed to have very few visitors. She would sit on her porch of an evening, gently rocking in the swing. I would saunter across the street and sit on the step and visit with her. But our relationship had gotten off to a rocky start.
This occured when, one Saturday as I watched her pushing her old reel-type mower across the front yard, I thought to do the Boy Scout thing, you know, the good deed. I walked over. She stopped. I reached for the machine handle, saying, "Let me give you a hand with that." Mrs. Smith jerked the handle away from me and snarled, "Look, Sonny. I'm perfectly able to take care of myself and my yard. I'm old, but I ain't dead yet." I allowed that I was sorry, only trying to be a good neighbor. She apologetically said, "I'm sorry, too. But if I stop moving, I'll lock up and maybe never get started again."
One evening, I confided in her that Dr. Malton seemed to me to be even more arrogant than the average sawbones. "Don't you give him no nevermind. I recollect that whippersnapper when he was nothin' mor'n a snot-nosed ragamuffin, runnin' 'round annoying all the neighbors. He ain't no better'n he oughta be."
Sadly, several years later, Mrs. Smith, now well past 95, said to me one day, "I just wish I could die." "Oh," I retorted, "you don't mean that." "Yes," she assured me. " I most certainly do. I've lived way too long. If you ever get to be this old, you'll understand."
It was not long before her wish came true.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Treasure Island

I have a much-too large collection of old books. (Nah, one can't have too many books) Occasionally I pick one from its shelf and peruse it for old-times' sake. I decided a few days ago to re-read Treasure Island. My copy was published between 1901 and 1904. I know this because the company that printed it was in business only during those years. The book is intact, except for bits and pieces of paper that have flaked off in handling; and a lot more of these bits fell to the lap and the floor during my recent handling of the book. But the text is all there, undamaged.

I have come to suspect that when most people say, "I am re-reading..." followed by the name of a classic, they in truth are reading it for the first time. I know that that is true for me in this case. As were you, if you are "of a certain age," I was introduced to Stevenson and this story in high school Freshman English class. And though I have been, since toddler stage, a voracious reader, guess what would "kill" the desire to read a selection quicker than anything? Give up? To have it assigned in class to be read. Thus I probably learned that RLS was a seminal novelist, that this particular story is a morality tale and a "coming of age" tour de force, blah, blah blah, and yet I never read it until last week! Shame on me? Indeed. But I was fourteen, what do you expect?
I quite enjoyed this story; and I think I would have done when I was fourteen. What's the difference between a fourteen year-old boy and a seventy-six year old man? About 62 years.
Here you go, Miss Long. I've completed that assignment.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ben Lacy

Ben B. Lacy was born September 25, 1919 in Wiley, Colorado. Uncle Ben passed away July 12, 2010 in Pueblo, Colorado.

I posted this tribute to Uncle Ben on his 90th Birthday.

I will miss this wonderful strong and righteous man.

Fun and Games in Loonville

The Heton kids were suitable playmates for our children, and since all our children had free-rein of the neighborhood, yet all were confined to the neighborhood, anyones yard in the square block was playground.

One weekend, the Hetons had burned a stack of trash in the edge of the alley between our houses. The following day, the kids were all out to play, and our daughter, Ivy, in her excitement, in the heat of the game, so to speak, ran through the ashes where the fire had burned. Unfortunately, there were still hot embers beneath the subtly silent ashes. Her right foot was quite severely burned. We called our local doctor, about whom more will be related. But, as with every emergency we ever had, it seemed, the guy was out of town and unavailable. It was clear that medical attention was necessary, so I called an old sawbones in a neighboring town. He agreed to see us, so the fifteen minute trip with a hurting child was made. The doctor took us in at once. Now "old" was not a mistatement of fact. In truth the old practitioner took down his shingle and moved to Florida shortly after this incident.

The doctor seated himself in a chair and had me place the child on a stool in front of him. He lifted the foot and visually inspected it, then to the eight-year old child said, "Jesus Christ, Girl. What'd you do that for?"

Not all the loons live in Loonville.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fuss and Feathers and Greatgrandpa

Genealogy led me to this bit of family lore, which I have combined with a bit of historic information I have gleaned from various sources. My maternal grandmother's grandfather served in the USArmy under Winfield Scott during the Mexican campaign. It is said that Grandfather, Spencer Lawson, was with Scott during the incursion into Mexico. It is historic fact that Scott took Mexico City. What role Private Lawson played in this is unknown, other than the fact that he survived and returned to his native Hawkins County, Tennessee.

Prior to this war and on a visit to New Orleans in 1846, General Scott was defeated at chess by eight-year old Paul Morphy. Scott was not amused. Though Scott was a Virginian, he maintained his loyalty to the United States when the Civil War wracked the nation. He is credited with the "Anaconda" plan by which the South was eventually strangled into submission.

Meantime, when the War Between the States started, Grandpa Lawson said, as did his general of the Mexican campaign, "I will not take up arms against the flag I fought under." It is said that he joined the Union forces; but while home on leave, he was betrayed by a relative, captured by the South and imprisoned at Andersonville. I visited Andersonville a few years ago and sought to verify this. While I found Lawsons from Hawkins County, there was no record of Spencer Lawson having been there. It is a known fact, however, that wherever he was held he was paroled due to illness, records of which I have obtained. He died in military hospital in Annapolis in 1864. His widow was eventually able to draw a pension for his service in the Mexican War amounting to twenty dollars a month.

Scott was the Whig Party nominee for President in 1852. He was defeated by Democrat Franklin Pierce. He died in 1866.

[Sources: Morrell-Palmer Family Records, National Archives,Wikipedia]

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Retrotech in the House: Compaq

I am the proud owner of a Compaq Portable Computer. This "portable" was released by Compaq in 1982. It is a nearly completely compatible IBM clone. I purchased it from my son several years after he had moved on to higher technology. He needed the money to purchase a piece of equipment to aid him in the care of his horses. And he no longer need the computer. Neither did I.

I still have this lovely item, which at one time was coupled to an Epson dot-matrix printer, which I also still have. My closets, barns, and even the rooms in which we live, are filled with ancient, nay, even nearly-extinct stuff.

The Compaq processor is Intel 8088 operating at 4.77MHz. RAM 128K, up to 640K; ROM approximately 12K. MS-DOS. Storage via 5.25 floppy drive, 360K. 320x200x16 color monitor!
It came with a padded carrying case, which we use to this day for transporting the spouse's karaoke machine. Nice looking item, too.

This computer sold at three grand and northward and Compaq produced 100,000 of them.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rootedness of Residents in Loonville

The Carnegie Library was built tall, literally, I believe, to tower over the smallness of the town. One ascended to the heights via a most impressive exterior stairway; but the rewards to be garnered therein were certainly worth the climb. This was the highpoint of life in Loonville.

Since one had to make his or her own entertainment in this village, the library was a godsend to those who could read. No, don't talk to me about videotapes, music CDs and other such johnny-come-drive-the-books-off-the-shelves that have afflicted modern "libraries." Oh, yeah. And computer rooms and electronic card catalogs and how many other ways have we lost something once precious?

In addition to the books and magazines, this little haven of intellectual challenge had a collection of newspapers. No, not microfiche or microfilm or digitized data. It had local newspapers going back to 1868. This little place-too-small-to-make-a-dot-on-the-map actually had a newspaper in the nineteenth century. No more, of course, even at the time this tale reflects.

It was in this town and partly with the help of this collection that I developed a sense of the meaning of "roots." I had been raised in a minister's home, and we had moved eight times by the time I left home and had lived in five different towns. Imagine the sense of wonder that crept slowly into my awareness when I would talk with an individual in the local drugstore or at the post office, then read that person's name in a newspaper from 1879 a few days later. Not just the family name, either, but the whole name just as it is carried by my acquaintance today. I would read, for instance "Jim Griggs transported eight head of hog to the railhead Saturday." And now in the middle of the next century, Jim Griggs is proprietor of the biggest hog operation in the southern half of the county. "Marcus Wright traveled to Muncie this past week for the funeral of his brother, Frederick Wright, late of that community." Marcus Wright is the fifth grade teacher in the local elementary school today.

I could cite many other examples, but this will serve to help you understand how I came to an appreciation of people's "rootedness", how those who are attached to the land develop a sense of belonging and right of possession. It is small wonder that newcomers to rural communities and small towns are viewed with suspicion and have such difficulty establishing themselves, having to prove themselves on a daily basis.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Thursday, July 8, 2010


The 'old' book collection that I maintain receives its share of criticism from the Little Lady. Or rather, I receive the criticism for maintaining it. But what fun. A while back, I picked up a "TV Guide" from 1960. It can easily be held in the hand, the listings are easy to find and easy to read, totally unlike what they call "TV Guide" these days. To which, by the way, I let my subscription expire, because it is neither easy to read, nor are the listings easy to find; not to mention the adverts which obscure any usefulness it might have had.

So end rant and share the fun. Here's what you might have watched on a Saturday night.
6:00 Amos & Andy
6:30 Perry Mason
7:30 Bonanza! [In color!] (If you had a color TV. I didn't.)
8:30 Have Gun, Will Travel
9:00 Gunsmoke, or bust up the Western string with "Lawrence Welk."
10:00 Pat Boone Variety show, if you can stand this after LW. Maybe if you watched Gunsmoke.
11:00 News, of course. Or if you're feeling daring, Playboy Penthouse.

Now, wasn't that a Blast from the Past?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Comers to Loonville

These tales from Loonville are populated with real people, both living and dead. Some names have been modified or changed to suit my whim; the events are true, for filtering and sweetening may slightly alter details, but truth perserveres. The sun continues to shine on the just and on the unjust; and Loonville is ever only a memory away.

We rented a small two-story house on Water Street, two blocks from Main Street, less than three blocks from the general store and four blocks from the post office and the library. The landlord, Rusty, was also the local barber whose shop was at the corner of Main and Water. We got along very well, he a good landlord; and we were good tenants. The only time of true embarrassment between us was on a Saturday morning during our fifth year in Loonville. I was in the chair, Rusty was cutting my hair. For some reason which I couldn't put my finger on, I thought the barber was a bit ill at ease. The conversation was not flowing smoothly. As I paid him at the cash register, Rusty flushed with embarrasment, stammered something to the effect that "he hadn't seen the rent this month." With immediate embarrassment and a totally sinking feeling, I realized that for the first time in my life I had missed a payment when it was due, and I was now almost two weeks late with the rent.

Across the alley to the west of us lived the Hetons. This family, at the time we moved to town, had eight children; and when we moved away there were eleven kids. Chuck Heton was an over-the-road truck driver, and it was laughingly said around town that Chuck came home twice a year, once for the birth of a new child and once for fun. These people were good people, their children were well-behaved and we were in town long enough to see two of them graduate high school and go on to university.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Two decades ago when I asked my father for family history since I had developed an interest in tracing my ancestry, he replied, "I was laid as an egg on a fencepost by a jaybird, hatched by the sun and blown away by the West wind." Further, he made it clear that he had no interest in looking backward into the generations that preceded us. Finally, he went to his file cabinet and pulled out a manila folder which contained two sheets of paper, telling me I could have it. This turned out to be a sketch of the research that one of my aunts had done and which gave me a starting point. From there it was to the library and the IGI on microfiche. Genealogical research bug had bitten me.

Someone once told me that one didn't want to look too far up the family tree, lest he find someone hanging there. This is virtually inevitable for most of us since our interconnectedness is bound to hitch us to the good, the bad and the ugly. Somewhere back in the branches of my tree I have found Frank and Jesse James; but I have also found Dolley Payne Madison, so President James Madison occupies a place in the family tree ("Husband of third cousin six times removed.")

This hobby leads to many fascinating stories, some of which are verifiable and some of which are questionable, or at least lack substantive proof. I like this one. My ten-greats grandfather was killed by my ten-greats grandfather.

John Woodson came from England to Jamestown in 1619, where he was ultimately killed by Opechancanough in one of his raids on the settlers. Woodson came to the "New World" to make a life for himself and his family, whereas Opechancanough was attempting to preserve the only world he had ever known. Fortunately for me each had offspring and two of them got together somewhere down the line. This is one of the tales which is reliably recorded.

Have you taken a shot at your family history?

Monday, July 5, 2010

We Move to Loonville

A few weeks ago, I started this series on String Too Short to Tie. I'll catch you up here over the next week or so; then we'll continue on Tuesdays as we are doing on STSTT.

Blog Pally Lin refers to her village as "Weirdville." A few nights ago when Morpheus declined to visit me, I got to thinking about the strange people and behaviors in my neighborhood. I realized that none of that was happening in the town of Perfect where we live. In Perfect, all the realtors, car salesmen and preachers are honest. The women are all comely; and just as in Lake Wobegon, the children are all above average.

But wait! I thought. Though it is ancient history, I did live for six years in Loonville. And my memory is quite good for details of experiences forty or fifty years ago. (Just don't depend on me to remember my dental appointment, or where I put the car keys.) And thus for the rest of the night I "wrote" the story of Loonville. I hope to share it with you in dribs and drabs from time to time. How do Tuesdays sound? I think I'll do it on Tuesdays. So excited was I about this that I had to grab my steno pad and write the first installment before the computer was booted up.

We moved to Loonville, Indiana in 1963. Loonville, not to be confused with Loov'l, which is a major city across the river from Indiana and in another state.
Loonville is today home to a little bit under a thousand souls, just as it was then: LOONVILLE
Population 949.
About half the population, as you might infer trom the name, were "looney". The other half were either on their way there or on their way out of town.

At the time of our arrival we had three children, the oldest just turned six. A fourth would arrive during our residence there. I had just taken a contract to teach in a community twelve miles south and west of L-ville. I chose Loonville deliberately so that my children would not have to attend school where I was teaching.

Loonville is situated in the extreme southeast corner of a very long county, north to south. This village was actually closer to county seat cities to the east, to the west and even to the north than it was to its own county seat. This created some issues if one had business in the courthouse, and who doesn't have? To its credit, the Indiana BMV maintained an office in Loonville, though it has long since been closed, which is less inconvenient today than it would have been in the 60s. I was lucky enough to obtain license number "49" preceded by the county code. So proud of my "low number". But I was young, and I thought that that had meaning. Ah, the delusions of youth!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Why Retrotechnocracy

It has come to my attention that there are users out there who are still using dial-up internet access, if not horse-and-buggy transportation. Some of them would like to access blogs that do not require a day and a half, or three hundred sixty-three hours to download.

I have been blogging nearly two years now under the title "String Too Short to Tie". It has expanded from spur-of-the-moment notions as they pop into my head to just such notions accompanied by photos, graphs and whatnot, just the stuff that slows down your downloads. I propose in this site to offer pure text, well text, anyway, without pictures, graphs and gobbledegook. Okay, the ideas may be gobbledegook, but you get the picture. Or rather, you don't get the pictures.

Many of these posts will be lifted directly from past issues of STSTT, but without the impediments to your swift download. It will be a potpourri gleaned from many bands on the spectrum of human experience, but political commentary will be kept to a minimum. If politics and vituperation are your bag, may I suggest that there are plenty, nay, too many, sites in the blogosphere where you may satisfy your yearning for such commentary.