Time Marches On

© 2017 Bill Murphy Time:Clock

I’ve decided that time no long marches on.  Today it runs.  I’ve also decided that time doesn’t always make forward progress.

Consider the evolution of the English language,  and what’s happened to correct grammar!

When did said change to goes, and to went?

When did the salt-like sprinkling of the word like become necessary,  and acceptable?  When did the maddening habit begin of inserting, as if a comma,  you know between every breath when speaking?  And when did teenage speech become the standard we’re to follow?

 

Perhaps we should be saying that time marches backwards!

8 years ago,  while working in a middle school,  I wrote the following piece.  Spoken English has not progressed much since then!

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LIKE by Inez Huddleston,  September 9, 2009  (This can be read as if spoken.)

This is like, my paper on like.  Yesterday my teachers goes,  “Write a paper on LIKE,”  so this is,  you know,  like it.  When I got home yesterday,  I went,  “Momma,  would you like,  you know,  help me write,  you know,  this paper?”  But she goes,  “No.  I’ve gotta go like, you know,  grocery shopping.  Then she like goes,  “You’d like better like,  have it like done when I,  you know,  get home.”

Before I could begin –  my brother like,  you know,  comes in and went,  “I’m like going next door to see the girl I,  you know,  like,  like.”  And I go,  “No, you can’t go.” And he  went,  “Yes I can like go!”  And I,  you know,  go,  “No you like can’t go.”  And we kept going on about his going for like,  you know,  an hour.  (He like really likes her!)

Then,  Momma like calls and she went,  “I’m like,  you know,  going to the gym.”  And I like went,  “Don’t go.”  But she like goes,  “I am going.”  And she like goes.  I like didn’t,  you know,  like that.  I like don’t know what to,  like,  you know,  what to write about like.  So I like started anyway,  writing about,  you know,  things I like.

I wrote about things like bologna,  french fries,  and,  you know,  Mountain Dew  and stuff like that.  I,  you know,  like really like things like the likes of,  you know,  them.  So here,  you know,  it goes.  Things I like,  like:  Clifton,  Bologna,  Bob,  Texting,  Johnny,  Music,  Scotty,  Movies, Thomas,  Lunch,  Trey,  Days we don’t,  like,  you know,  have homework , and Arthur.

I like hope you like,  like what I,  you know,  wrote about like.

 

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The Dog Trot

© 2017 Bill Murphy

Uncle Earle received a letter from Tennessee.  His favorite uncle,  his Half-Uncle Edward, passed away.  This is the story of Edward:

Uncle Earle’s Grandpa Clovis settled in Tennessee, way out in the sticks … in the foothills of the Smokies.  Grandpa married late in life, after he’d started a little pig and tobacco farm,  supplying all the snuff and bacon he wanted!  Back then, you didn’t hire farm hands,  you HAD ‘EM!  So Grandpa Clovis married Adeline Wilson and started a family of farm-hands.

Dog Trot Blog

While she was expecting their first child,  he built a simple,  but comfortable, ‘Dog Trot’ house.  A dog trot was somewhat like two houses joined together,  but sharing one big roof and floor.  The two house areas were separated by an open hallway.  Because this hallway was open,  yard dogs simply trotted through,  hence the name.  It had a porch all the way around,   with bedrooms on one side and kitchen and entertaining on the other. Of course the privy was out back.  Grandpa Clovis expected to have a large family, so he built a three holer.

About that time,  Grandma Adeline’s younger sister Elvira married a fine hunk of a man named Rudolph Benson,  who worked at the local saw mill.  The old saw mill was shabby and barely hanging on by a thread.  The huge yard wide saw was powered by an old stripped down Model-T Ford on blocks,  and with a long belt from Ford to saw.  As I said, the old sawmill was run down.

From time to time, the apparatus that fed logs into the spinning saw needed manual assistance.  And Elvira’s new husband Rudolph provided the muscle,  manhandling a 4 x 4 as a ram to push the logs forward.  If you’ve ever used a table saw,  it’s the same principle.  If you’re not careful,  the spinning blade will KICK the wood back at you.

That’s what happened one day to Rudolph.

One moment Rudolph was pushing a log forward with his 4 x 4 ram,  then suddenly log and ram kicked back.  They struck Rudolph squarely.  The blow crushed his chest like an egg,  killing him instantly.  The rough wood hurled him backward,  slamming him into the Model T and rupturing the gas tank,  splashing Rudolph and everything for six feet in all directions with gasoline.

It was early spring,  with a nip in the air … and they had a fire going in a 55 gallon drum nearby.  WHRRRRRRUMPHHH! … everything exploded in a fireball.  It quickly consumed   the old T-Model,  the saw mill,  Rudolph, and everything.  Everyone escaped but Rudolph. After the fire died down,  all that remained of Elvira’s poor husband was ashes and a few brittle bits of bone,  charred to a snowy white.  Perhaps this was a blessing,  for had Rudolph’s body survive the accident complete … Elvira would have had SOMETHING to cling to,  a tangible OBJECT of her love.  But now all was gone,  except for a small jewelry box of ash and bone.

After the funeral,  Clovis and Adeline invited the grieving Elvira to move in with them … for a while.  Grandpa Clovis converted one of the rooms on the kitchen side of the house into an apartment for her.  ‘For a while’ stretched into years,  and years,  and more years. The three of them lived in that house for the remainder of their lives.

It wasn’t long before the grieving widow and hospitable sister were sharing more than just the kitchen and privy.  And the yard dogs weren’t the only ones trotting back and forth through the hallway.  You see,  Grandpa Clovis and his wife Adeline raised six kids in that old house,  and Grandpa Clovis and Elvira,  (his wife’s sister),  raised five kids there.

“Clovis was no better ‘n a dog his-self,”  raved Aunt May when she first heard the story. “DOG TROT was a fittin’ name,  that’s fer sure!”

Uncle Earle’s father was Clovis’ six child by his legal wife Adeline.  And Uncle Earl’s favorite uncle,  Edward,  was the fifth child of Clovis and Elvira.  So because those two boys were HALF brothers,  Uncle Earle just naturally considered Edward to be his HALF-UNCLE.  Hey!  It makes sense to me!

This story is loosely based on my real great-grandfather!  Names have been changed to protect the ‘innocent.’  The photo, taken in 1937, is believed to be the actual dogtrot.

 

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Put On Your Thinking Cap

© 2017 Bill Murphy

Oh that it was always that easy. The first step is to find your thinking cap, what ever that is!

I can’t remember the first time I heard that time-honored admonition. But I must have paid attention. Carol says that I can make (or repair) anything using DUCK TAPE. Not so. My Dad was the Duck Tape Hero and Poster Child. He was always Duck Taper of the Month.

Just a few minutes ago, I discovered a sidewalk, solar powered path light which had not survived the last weed-eater edging. It was sheared off at ground level. With thinking cap on my head – hot glue gun, section of coat hanger wire, and a small amount of mandatory duck tape – I repaired the thing. Don’t say that I’m not a chip off the old block! Now that light is (almost) as good as new.

But years ago, the following (simple) problem stumped me.

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Everyone SAID it was simple. And now, that I know the solution, I understand that it is.

Using only 4 (FOUR) straight (STRAIGHT) lines,      connect ALL the dots. 

One. Two. Three. GO!

 

That day on my attempt, my thinking cap did me absolutely no good, much to my shame and embarrassment. It really should have been a snap for me. I’ve always enjoyed picture-based puzzles.

In school, one of my favorite subjects was GEOMETRY! Algebra was a chore, but geometry was a world filled with lines, shapes, and spaces. Pi and square were only concepts – but triangles, rectangles, and circles are REAL things!

And SOLID Geometry was a dream come true! I still use it today in my model airplane building and design.

So – how are you coming so far?

No, I won’t be so crass as to tell you to come back next week to the exciting conclusion of “Put On Your Thinking Cap” and find the solution to this perplexing problem. That would not be nice.

Don’t skip too far ahead – the solution is below.

Don’t cheat!

 

 

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So here’s the solution: 

 

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So now you know. This problem is the famous one that inspired the phrase “Thinking OUTSIDE of the box.” A simple thinking cap won’t do here. Sorry.

 

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Bare Buns

© 2017 Bill Murphy

When I began this blog, I vowed that I would not stoop to ranting and raving – ever! Therefore, the following is only an OBSERVATION over the course of some 70+ years.

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As for ‘bare buns,’ I’m not speaking of those you see everywhere on 36 inch waist individuals who insist on wearing 48 inch pants – with no belt. I hope this fad soon goes the way of the duck tail haircut. I’m talking about HAMBURGER BUNS.

Hamburgers have an upper and lower bun. Back in ‘my day’ BOTH of these buns were smeared with condiments. Yes, they really were – and at EVERY place that made burgers! But not today.

Today, the bottom half of the bun is as naked as if it were taking a shower! Although I don’t agree with this short cut, I can understand the reasoning behind it.

If you’re in the business of selling burgers, sales volume interrupts into sales profits. Lets say that you can make 100 burgers in and hour and can sell those 100 burgers in an hour. It would not be wise to MAKE only 80 burgers per hour. (You’d lose 20% of your profits!) It takes time to paint that bottom bun with condiments – time that merchants today think of as wasted time. (Who looks at the BOTTOM bun besides Bill Murphy?) So the bottom is left naked.

And then there is the COST of those ‘wasted’ bottom bun condiments. The merchant POCKETS the cost of these un-used/unneeded condiments. (Profits go up!) The boss can now go to Hawaii this Summer!

Also, by their very nature, when you cook hamburger meat, it becomes GREASY. Placed on top of a spread of mayo/mustard/ketchup mix, the grease has no where to go but over the side! Drip, drip, drip. The nude bottom bun gives the hamburger grease a place to soak into. Tasty! Otherwise, time would be WASTED by de-greasing each patty.  And as we have seen, wasted time is wasted money! (The bottom bun serves today as a grease trap.)

And so, there you have it. It’s all a capitalist ploy to make money, at the expense of old geezers like me who remember the good old days of a COMPLETE hamburger. That’s not a rant. It’s “Just the facts, ma’am” – like Sgt. Friday said. Some ‘old fashioned’ things are  ‘good fashioned’ things too!

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Hey Boy, Don’t Run!

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 1.21.47 PM copy© 2017 Bill Murphy 

My e-Mail and model airplane building buddy that hails from the great state of North Carolina is on a fitness regime. In addition to being enrolled in a quite active RUNNING class, he also participates in local running events. So, in addition to our regular e-chats concerning model airplane plans, building, and flying – he’s also keeping me abreast of his exciting life of RUNNING.

And Dave is quite close to my own age. Shame on me.

But I do have a few interesting, even exciting running stories myself. My stories, like Dave’s, may be from yesterday – but not yesterday in a literal sense!

I’ve said before that it’s no small wonder that I survived childhood. My childhood friend Buddy Gorday and I were always ‘daring’ one another to attempt some hair-brained stunt. ’I’ll bet you can’t jump that!’ And off we’d go. I can remember crashing into more than one hedge or fence at full tilt, because I really COULDN’T jump it! But I tried.

But once – I didn’t try. I chickened out instead.

I probably have LEGS today because I refused to be dared to jump onto a rolling flat car on a local freight – and ride it from one crossing to the next. (That would have entailed running.) Buddy wasn’t with us that day, as a group of us walked home from Enochs Jr. Hi along Terry Road. A slow freight was crossing Terry, heading into town. If I remember correctly, one brave (dumb) soul actually did it!

So, I’m a WALKING chicken today. But that’s OK with me.

At Enochs we did LOTS of running in gym – and I proved to be especially fast on the shorter sprints. I was usually FIRST in my gym class. I’m sure you find that difficult to believe today. But that was then. The coach wanted me to try out for track, but I’d heard too many horror stories about how physically taxing ‘track’ was. I never cared for taxes.

Across the street from Enoch was Poindexter Park. The park was our playground and gym field. There was little grass on the side of the park closest to the school. We kept it worn down. This lack of grass cause erosion around the large trees which bordered the park. Because the park itself sat a bit higher than the street, most of the trees had huge, exposed roots near their base. One day, during football practice, I was running downfield, chasing after the ball carrier. Just as I reached him, a down-field blocker from the runner’s team threw an illegal block on me – CLIPPING. My feet went out from under me, and, running full speed, I handed tail-bone first onto one of those roots! Ouch! And I mean ‘ouch‘ in its truest sense. It HURT! I limped for days.

Oh, the title of this piece. That came from the public Swimming Pool which at one time was in Battlefield Park. Because it was a concrete pool, the concrete apron which surrounded the pool could get a bit slippery when wet, which it usually was. Running at the pool was forbidden. The lifeguards would bellow at us, “Hey boy – don’t run.” We heard this so often that it was forever ingrained in our psyche. It because a part of our very vocabulary. If we were, say, at the drive-in theatre, and while walking to the concession stand, we happened to see someone we knew, in a vehicle and in a passionate embrace with their girlfriend – we’d approach the vehicle and scream loudly – “Hey boy, don’t run!”

‘Run‘ assumed many meanings.

In the mid 60s, in basic training with the ANG/USAF at Lackland Air Force Base, we ran every day. The running track required 5 laps to make a mile – so we began with 3 laps and worked up to 5 – and then 6. Some poor guys had difficulty managing 1 or 2! This was SUMMER – IN TEXAS – and it was HOT. A few days it was deemed TOO HOT for PT. (But just a few).

I remember literally DRAGGING my exhausted frame back to the barracks, and stumbling into the shower. These were ‘communal’ showers, designed for mass-showering of 18 or more. No one cared. It might well have been male AND female in that shower! Like I said, no one cared. We were beyond exhaustion. No one was interested – in anything but COOLING OFF – of REST – of blessed RECOVERY! Most didn’t even stand – we simply LAY where we dropped!

Just before we left Lackland, the instructor told us that he’d lied – the track was actually a quarter mile around. We ran more than we thought.

Because Jackson is so close to Vicksburg, I’ve made innumerable trips to Vicksburg National Park in my life. On the west side, there’s a steep hill which overlooks a bend of the river. It’s a high hill, and like I said, steep. In those days, there was no fence or barrier – not at the top, not at the bottom, not in the middle. You see what’s coming.

“I bet I can beat you to the bottom.”

I can’t remember who won. In fact I can’t remember too much about that run downhill. One minute we were running, and the next – everything was an insane blur as we tumbled end over end downhill – in unplanned for cartwheels. Again I ask, how did I ever survive childhood?

1960 was the year of my first marriage. I had the chance to run then, but I didn’t and should have. Like that hill at Vicksburg, I blindly forged ahead. And like the hedges I crashed into earlier, I later found myself asking, ‘What on earth possessed me to do that?’

Running can definitely have it’s ups and downs.

I do most of my running today from in front of the TV to the supper table!

 

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Just Call Me…

The following short piece is yet another Little Egypt Writer’s Society writing challenge. Our subject assignment was NICKNAMES.

 

Just Call Me    © 2017 Bill Murphy

If nothing else, I’m well documented.

My first documentation being the hospital birth certificate issued minutes after my birth. The second, my official State of Mississippi birth certificate, followed by the certificate issued for my very first day of Sunday School at Grace Methodist Church on Winter Street in Jackson. And, yes, I still have them, as well as my one and only Social Security Card issued in 1953.

The list goes on and on from there.

If ever my identity needs to be changed, someone is in for a LOT of paperwork! And that’s just for my official (legal) name.

That official name is William Hendrix Murphy, Jr., after my father, who was named after his Great-Grandfather, William Hendrix. In reference to the Hendrix name, my Dad went by ‘Hendrix,’ shortened by his family to ‘HINX.’ My mother chose “Billy’ for me, and so it was, for the next dozen and a half years.

The family Hendrix/Murphy name brought on my first nickname. ALL of the relatives in Carthage, even to this day, call me BILLY HENDRIX. When I graduated from high school, one of my Carthage aunts gave me an engraved key chain – engraved with the initials B.H.M. I still have that too.

I really messed up the records for the Jackson Public School System during high school. In the 10th grade, I was still ‘Billy.’ In the 11th I went formal with ‘William.’ And then back to informal with ‘Bill’ in the 12th.

I picked up two nicknames during my 1967 to 2001 years with Jitney Jungle, both of which have endure to this very day. We always considered ourselves over-worked and under-paid in the advertising department. If nothing else, EVERYTHING was ALWAYS on a TIGHT deadline. It was stressful.

BreakThe smokers went outside to smoke to relieve their stress. I never smoked. But in a bottom drawer, I kept a small model airplane (under construction) and a few basic modeling tools. While they smoked, I cut balsa wood. One day, Mr. McCarty came in, not at all happy with my stress-relieving activity. He blared something like, “If you don’t put that airplane away and get back to work, you’re name’s gonna to be Mudd! And it was, from that day forward.

Oh, that – and Murf. I still answer to Mudd, Murf, William, Billy, Bill, and Billy Hendrix, and hey you.

You can basically call me anything. But just be sure to call me for lunch!

 

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THE BABY THAT REFUSED TO COME

© 2017 Bill Murphy

Carol and I had the most amazing courtship that one can imagine. It was unusual in more ways than one. As things have turned out over the years, our lives together continue to be both amazing and unusual. Both of these qualities are fraught with writer-material.

It was a second marriage for both.

Fortunately (for me) my first marriage produced no children. The same can’t be said for fertile Carol. She had two toddlers, Liz and Tricia.

Baby

When we met she was separated from her first husband – and in the process of divorce. Obviously there was more going on in their rocky marriage than just fussing and fighting. As the divorce papers were being signed, she received the unexpected news that she was pregnant with her 3rd – Lois.

A few weeks later while on a double date, the other girl in our group just happened to be Carol’s sister, Mary Ellen. I didn’t even know that Mary Ellen had a sister.

That night she commented that I might like to meet her sister. Why not? A soon-to-be-divorcee with 2 toddlers – and one on the way? Hey, you said MEET her, not MARRY her! Famous last words.

That weekend I met Carol, pooch belly and all. The next day I was introduced to Liz and Tricia. Before the week was out, Carol and I were talking marriage!

But first, there was this small ‘issue‘ concerning baby number 3.

Soon the divorce was finalized. The ex-husband all but rode off into the sunset. We hardly heard a peep out of him. We set the date for Valentine’s Day.

I took Carol to church with me, and proudly introduced her to my pastor, S. W. Valentine. “This is Carol, my pregnant girl-friend.” Hey, it was the truth! Much to Carol’s chagrin, I used the “pregnant girl-friend” line a lot. I received a deep, satisfying pleasure in using such a shadowy, shameful line in such a totally innocent and honorable manner.

Carol must have enjoyed pregnancy, or maybe her doctor charged by days-of-pregnancy. Liz was 2 weeks overdue. Tricia had been 3+ weeks overdue. Lois broke the record. It got to the point where in calculating the time we met and adding the usual 9 months gestation period – I was beginning to look like the guilty daddy.

We moved the wedding back.

There are dozens of old-wives-tales on how to induced labor. Believe me, none of them work. We tried. Carol drank yucky concoctions that would make a virgin go into labor – but nothing. She tried physical exercise. Nada. Concentration didn’t help, even with me helping. Day after day we failed to launch Lois from of Carol’s belly. The kid was obviously happy where she nested.

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The car I drove at this time was a 1968 Dodge Charger – a real ‘muscle car.’ We’re taking Dukes of Hazard Dodge Charger. It had magnesium wheels, wide-oval tires, and an 8 track tape deck. That car could MOVE!

Late one night, when the city streets were deserted, we took the Charger down on South State. There’s a railroad crossing not far from the south end of State. The track sits higher than the street, so the street’s elevated, RAMP-LIKE, to make it level with the tracks.

We hit that crossing going at least 90, all 4 wheels leaving the ground. It was a flight worthy of the Dukes. We even tried it from the opposite direction. But alas, even that didn’t dislodge Lois.

“She’ll come when she’s ready,” said the doctor.

She finally arrived, 5 weeks overdue. And like the others before her, when she came, she was READY! I got the call at home, around 1 AM. “Come quickly,” I was told. I was needed to baby-sit the other two while Carol was rushed to the hospital. Expecting a long delivery time, I settled myself comfortable on her mother’s sofa. Before I had time to hardly close my eyes, the phone rang. “It’s a girl.”

Our 4th, Molly, was also late in coming, but not nearly as late as Lois. But her actually delivery time was even faster.

Carol had a “standard” late-term check at her doctor’s office that day. I was at work, so Carol’s sister took her to the doctor. Just about the time I was preparing to go to lunch, I got a call from ME. “Come to the hospital. Carol’s in labor!” Before my lunch hour was over, Molly arrived! I barely made it to the hospital.

I told you that our lives have been amazing and unusual. Why just this past week…

 

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