Tuesday. Bluesday.

© 2019  Bill Murphy

It’s said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions… and I’ll agree.  Many of those mis-guided intentions begin right close to home… some even in the home.

In the closing years of the 1940s, my mother decided that I should take piano lessons.  I’m not sure just why this conclusion was reached.  I don’t think I was prone to play with musical toys, and I certainly was no songbird.  

But piano lessons were readily available.  The pianist from our church, Miss Nellie Robinson, lived within walking distance of our home.  She gave piano lessons in her home.  And she agreed to take me on.

Come to think of it now… our family must have had to purchase a piano on which I could practice.  Neither Dad nor Mom played, and my sister was far too young at the time to do anything short of banging on the keys.  Anyway, a playable upright appeared at 802 Evergreen.

What a waste!

Soon I was either stopping off for lessons on my way home from George School… or walking back the short distance to Miss Nellie’s on Walnut Street.  My lessons were on Tuesdays.  Always on Tuesdays.

I didn’t take well to the piano, neither Miss Nellie’s nor ours at home.  A piano is a piano I suppose… just as a scorpion is a scorpion.  I never got the hang of tickling the ivories, anymore than I’d have learned to tickle a scorpion.  My young heart and fingers simple weren’t in it.  Perhaps if I’d been born a few years later, Bill Haley or Little Richard might have inspired me to try harder.  But at that time, my time, I had no desire to try harder.  According to Miss Nellie, I didn’t try at all!

Tuesdays became a huge blemish on calendars everywhere.  Where everyone else saw the second day of the week, I saw the green wicked witch of the east mocking me!  “TUESDAY…  I’ll get you my sweetieeeee….”  

I learned to loath Tuesdays, to dread them.  The path to Miss Nellie’s became my green mile.

I don’t remember how long this piano-purgatory lasted.  It felt as though it was until I was twenty seven. When you’re in distress, young or old, time slows.  And it was Miss Nellie herself who finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel and led me to safety.

“Mrs. Murphy,” she said to my mother, “You’re wasting your money and my time with Billy.  So far, he’s not learned a single note past middle C.  Everything he plays… he plays by ear!”

Hallelujah, my days of musical misery were over!  I was free!  I’d done my small part to save the elephants!

But Bluesday was not through with me.  So deep was my disdain, so strong was my dread of the second day of the week… that it took many, many years for me to overcome my ingrained discomfort of every Tuesday… all fifty two of them each year!  Yes, I’m truthful when I say ‘many years.’  I finally ‘think’ that I can say that Tuesday is now, just what it is, and what it was always intended to be… simply Tuesday. 

A footnote to Music with the Murphy’s:  My sister, Mary Lily, went on to reclaim our family’s musical honor.  She also took lessons from Miss Nellie… and very successfully I might add.  So, the purchase of ‘Billy’s piano’ wasn’t for naught.  Mary, always a go-getter, went on to play in the Enochs Junior High and Central High bands.  And while not being content to simply do well with her Oboe, she also mastered every single instrument in the band!

Yes, we have a piano today in our home today.  No, I still don’t play, neither by finger nor ear.  Carol does, as well as one of our daughters.  And, as I write these words while not in a twit, today actually is Tuesday!  

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DREAM CATCHER

dream-catcher-902508_640© 2018  Bill Murphy

The object at left is called a ‘dream catcher.’  I dream every single night, therefore I don’t want one, and don’t need one – and never have.  I’ve longed for a dream blocker to give me a restful, dreamless night of sleep.

My dreams are always vivid, action filled, in color, and with taste, touch and sound.  I usually awake tired, and expecting to see dust on my feet.

That said, here is a typical example of my night-life… as actually dreamed last night.

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The dream began as I got off a train in Boston.  I was with a group of 9 or so other people,  composed of an equal number of men and women.  I did not recognize any of them. Carol was not with me.  We were told to pair off, giving each person a ‘travel-buddy.’ After this, we would receive a few rental cars, and drive into town.  I immediately spoke up, explaining that I’d been to Boston on numerous occasions, that I knew it ‘like the back of my hand,’ and would have no problem finding my way around.  I felt rather confident about this.

Looking around, I saw that the pairing was complete… except for myself… and a young woman.  She walked over and replied, “It looks like it’s you and me Ole Buddy.”  Four of us got our rental car, a very old and worn red Nissan convertible.  The top was up, but the operating mechanism was broken – so it had to be raised and lowered manually… and then tied down with bright red wires wrapped around the rear view mirror at the top center of the windshield.  (Yes, my dreams are always this vivid with detail.)  The 4 of us got in, and I drove… because I could find the way.  I pointed out interesting things along the route.  The streets were filled with traffic, and the downtown area crowed with bustling people.  When we got to the restaurant, we parked on the street, a few doors down from our destination.  When the guy in the back seat got out, he pulled me aside and asked, “Did you tell your travel-buddy that you’re married?”  I replied, “No, it never came up!”

As my group began heading for the restaurant, I stayed behind to lock the car, because our luggage was inside.  It took a while to get ragged vehicle locked, and when I looked up, no one in our party was in sight.  All I knew was the restaurant’s name… but could not see it anywhere!  I looked for a point of reference, so I could find my way back to the car, and walked off… searching for the group and the restaurant.  Suddenly… nothing looked familiar… I felt lost!

If dreams can have chapters, it was at this point that chapter 2 on my night-story began.

The fellow who had asked if I had told my travel-buddy that I was married, came rushing up, all out of breath.  “You’ve gotten a call from home… I have to rush you back.  The New Jitney Jungle Company is re-organizing, and they want you on the board!”

I’ve said that my dreams are realistically vivid… but the realism is in the details… but not always within the correct parameters of time and of space.  The next thing I knew, I was walking across what looked like the stately campus of an ivy league university… and my traveling companion was leading us toward a large building with ivy covered walls. This was where the board of directors of the New Jitney Jungle was conducting their organizational meeting.

As we walked toward the building, I remarked that I was not wearing clothing befitting the occasion.  My companion handed me a dress shirt and dress pants, telling me that he’d picked them up for me.  I quickly dressed in the men’s room near the front of the stately building.  But I discovered that there were numerous, large bright green paint stains on the legs of the pants!  “I can’t wear these,” I remarked, and he replied that I should just keep eye-contact at eye-level and all would be OK.  (Where did the paint stains come from? I explain that later.)

As I entered the room, I immediately recognized many of the well dressed men in attendance.  Many were former executives of Jitney.  Several came to shake my hand, and welcome me.  But it all seemed somewhat forced, even a bit stand-offish.  I felt very uncomfortable.

The man in charge, who I did not recognize, came over and shook my hand.  “I’m sure you’re surprised by all this,” he began. “We’re all a bit surprised by it all.  Everything’s happened so fast!  You see, several of us were discussing Jitney, and what a shame it was what had happened to such a fine company.  So… we decided to do something about it! We’re resurrecting it!  And because of your many years and experience with the company, we want you aboard in this endeavor.”

I reminded him that my father had been on the board of the old Jitney, back in it’s hey-day of growth and prosperity.  “Yes I know,” the man said, “and I know that he’d be proud to have you, sitting with us, on the board of the New Jitney.”  I was taken aback, not really knowing what to say.  Then I spoke, telling him that I didn’t understand what I could bring to the table… that I was only involved in one area of the company, advertising.  Then he put his arm around my shoulder and explained that I had far more to give than I imagined… that I had a wealth of memories, and understanding, and passion for what Jitney was and could be again.  He said that he wanted that input around the boardroom table.

I remarked that this position would be a great honor, and yes, my Dad would be proud.  Then I remarked that the new income would given my wife and I the money to travel more, as we longed to do.

The man then stepped back.  “More money?”  Now he looked confused.  “Perhaps I need to explain something to you.  Yes, you will be paid for time on the board of the New Jitney, and you will be paid handsomely.  However, you must understand, that although you will be paid many times more per hour than you were paid when working for the old Jitney – with the New Jitney, the board meets, and therefore you will ‘work,’ only two hours per month.  Therefore… your monthly income will be far, far less than you were making years ago… far, far less.

I was confused, and flabbergasted!  I tried to explain to this gentleman who was in charge, and who would be my new boss, that this didn’t seem quite kosher.  “Let me get this straight,” I said, “You’re asking me to come into the boardroom, with a brain and heart filled with memories, experiences, and understanding of this company, and relay those years and years of memories, experiences, and understanding… and be paid only for the time sharing it with everyone?  Are you saying that you perceive my value to be in the time sharing the message… and not in the countless hours I spent in acquiring the message?”

He looked at me as if I were loco.  “That’s just the way it works. What’s just the way it is. And that’s just the way it will be.  2 hours pay, each month, every year, for the rest of your life.  Take it or leave it.”

“I’ll have to think about this,” I said, as I backed away.  It just didn’t seem right.  The fact that this ‘deal’ sounded so one-sided weighed heavily on my mind.

I began to awake.  Yes, it was weighing heavily on my mind.  Something really was weighing heavily on my mind, and on my brain… something warm… something furry.

We have two dogs.  Both sleep with us.  Tiny little Chloe was under the cover, near Carol’s feet – as always.  But during the night, 20+ pound Amy had taken up position at the extreme top of the bed… against the headboard.  She was now draped across my pillow, wedged between the headboard and my head!

As for the green paint.

I think that must have come from my early days of working full-time for Jitney.  It was 1967, and Jitney was much smaller at the time.  We had less than 30 stores.  I was hired to set-up and run the new Graphics Department, tasked with creating and printing not only store window signs, but point-of-purchase materials.  It was a messy, silk-screen printing shop.

But in my pea-brain, it was a big step up for me at the time.  Now I wasn’t just one of the worker-bees, I was the boss.  So, each day, as befitting ‘management’ I wore a TIE to work.  And yes, I also operated the large, messy, ink-filled printer.

I carefully tucked my tie into my shirt, to keeping it from dragging in the ink – but it never stayed tucked.  Never.  Soon, practically every tie on my tie-rack had multi-colored tips.  I’m sure that some of that stray ink was bright green!  I guess that’s what dreams are made of.

 

 

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THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES

jetshot1@ 2018  Bill Murphy

Bob Hope had it right!  We can be thankful for some memories.  But for a toy?

A few of my childhood toys bring back memories…. like the large 3-wheel bike, without brakes.  I was 5 or 6 at the time.  The thing was really an oversized, stretched tricycle.   Boy was it fast!  I discovered that the very first time I rode it.

Dad unloaded the new toy at our driveway, and I immediately took off, lickety-split down Evergreen.  I should have gone in the other direction.  I was rapidly approaching busy Terry Road when I discovered the thing had no brakes.  I managed to pull off the sidewalk as I neared Mrs. Busby’s house, hoping I could slow it down in her front yard, or perhaps, as I circled her house.  I did neither.  Instead, I crashed full-tilt into the large tree, with larger roots, at the end of her driveway.  I think I went 5 feet UP that tree!

Things like that, one can’t help but remember.

But the toy which brought me at least as much pleasure, but with none of the pain, was a unique water-gun.  My guess is that it came from H.L.Greens, downtown.  It probably costs no more than 50c.  But it gave me many, many happy hours of flying and fighting fun!  This water pistol was made in the shape of an airplane!

Jets were new at the time, and this toy was a close replica of the all new U.S. Air Force Republic F-84 Thunderjet.  I’d fill ‘er up, grab the handle, and take off… zooming into action… on search and destroy missions all around our yard.  I’d sweep down low… making my best jet-fighter sounds… and strafed anything and everything that moved: enemy tanks (roly-polies), ants (troops), crickets (vehicles), and worst of all, evil spiders, (artillery)!  The fun only stopped when I was forced to return to base to re-fuel and re-arm.

A few months ago I saw this one pictured above (with missing canopy) for sale on eBay. Someone obviously knew just how much unadulterated fun was contained in this small plastic toy – because I could have purchased several dozen cases of them way back when… for what they wanted for this single item today!

No, I didn’t purchase it… it was that expensive.  Anyway, I suppose I would look rather silly now, running across the yard make jet-noises, and squirting at ants.

 

 

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Uncle Earle’s Half-Uncle

Earl.MayThe following story is a 2-part chapter from a collection of fictitious stories about my imaginary Uncle Earle and Aunt May.  I presented the first part on this blog around a year ago.  Last night, I took the 2nd part of this story to my writer’s club meeting – but I realized that the first part of the story is necessary to explain the second.  Therefore, I’m including both parts in this posting, in case you may have missed the first part.

 

UNCLE EARLE’S HALF UNCLE, Part One

Uncle Earle’s Grandpa Clovis settled in Tennessee.  Not Memphis or Nashville, but way out in the sticks – a place so remote, as they say, sunshine had to be piped in.  Grandpa Clovis married late in life, just after he’d started a little pig and tobacco farm.  Back in those days you didn’t hire farm hands, you had ‘em!  So Grandpa Clovis married Adeline Wilson… and started up a family of farm-hands.  While Adeline was expecting their first child (it turned out to be a girl), he built a simple, but comfortable, ‘dog trot’ house for his growing family.

A dog trot was like two houses joined together.  They shared one big floor, and one roof covered both.  The two ‘house’ areas were separated by an open hallway that ran front to back.  Because there were no doors on the ends of this ‘hallway,’ yard dogs simply trotted through, hence the name.  Bedrooms were on one side and the kitchen and sitting areas on the other.  Of course the privy was out back, as this was way before inside plumbing.  Grandpa Clovis expected to have a large family, so he built a three holer.  The first 3 children were girls, who unfortunately, don’t usually make the best field hands.

About that time, Grandma Adeline’s younger sister Elvira married a fine hunk of a man from the next county.  Rudolph, Rudolph Benson was his name, and he worked at the saw mill just over the ridge from the dog trot.  The old saw mill had seen better days.  It had been powered by a rickety, wood burning steam engine.  The mill owner complained about burning up all the profits fueling the steam engine – so his remedy was replacing the wood burner with an old T- Model Ford.  The old Ford had been wrecked, so he replaced the radiator, took off the wheels, put it up on blocks, and began powering the mill with that old Ford.

Like I said, the old sawmill was in sad shape.  The apparatus that fed logs into that big spinning saw blade needed manual assistance.  And like I said, Elvira’s new husband Rudolph was a hunk of a man.  By default, he became the log pusher, manhandling a rough-cut 4 x 4 ram.  If you’ve ever used a table saw, it’s the same principle.  When you’re not careful, the spinning blade can kick the wood back at you.  This is exactly what happened to Rudolph.

The day started out badly.  It was cold, damp and foggy.  It took quite a while to get the old Ford started.  Rudolph got a bad splinter picking up his 4 x 4 ram.  (He’d left his work gloves at home.)  As he was feeding the first log of the day into the saw… it kicked back violently.  The log struck Rudolph squarely in the chest.  The blow crushed his chest like an egg, killing him instantly.  The log hurled him backward, slamming him into the T- Model, rupturing the gas tank.  The gasoline splashed all over Rudolph and everything else for six feet in all directions.  Because of the nip in the air… they had a fire going in a 55 gallon drum nearby.  With a sudden WHRRRRRRUMPHHH… everything exploded in a fireball.  It consumed Rudolph, the old T-Model, the mill itself, everything.

Everyone escaped, except Rudolph.  After the fire cooled, all that remained of Elvira’s poor husband was a few brittle bits of bone, charred to a snowy white.  Perhaps this was a blessing.  Elvira was so attached to Rudolph that she’d have found it exceedingly difficult to let him go.  Now there was precious little left to hold on to.

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 old house for the remainder of their days.  But it wasn’t long before the grieving widow and hospitable sister were sharing more than just the kitchen and privy.  It wasn’t long before the yard dogs weren’t the only ones trotting back and forth through the hallway.  Over the years Grandpa Clovis and his wife Adeline raised six kids in that old house, and Grandpa Clovis and Elvira, (his wife’s sister), raised five.

“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 third child of Clovis and Elvira.  So because those two boys were HALF brothers, Uncle Earle just naturally considered Edward to be his HALF-uncle.  It makes sense to me!

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UNCLE EARLE’S HALF-UNCLE, Part Two

Uncle Earle received a letter from relatives in Tennessee, saying they’d just buried his favorite Uncle, his Half-Uncle Edward.  And… the letter also said that, at the same time, they’d also buried Edward’s wife, Connie.

Now Edward’s burial came as no surprise.  The old gent was way past ninety.  What came as a surprise was the burial of Aunt Connie.  Uncle Earle KNEW she’d been dead for fifteen years or more!  The letter contained a long newspaper clipping, which explained some of these strange circumstances.  Uncle Earl knew about Edward and Connie’s early years.  It took some digging to turn up the story of their latter years.

It seems that after the eleven ‘dog trot kids’ were grown, they moved away, all that is but Edward.  He stayed on and looked after the old threesome until they died.  2 years after the last one passed away, the old place burned.  By then Edward was thirty-seven, and ready to look for a wife himself.

Down the road lived the family of a staunch Baptist minister who presided over no less than three small congregations in the area.  His eldest daughter, Connie, was the conscripted organist/pianist for all three churches.  I suppose that 4 Sunday Services each week (one of the churches met Sunday Mornings and Sunday Nights) and 3 mid-week services a week were a bit much for Connie.  It didn’t take a crowbar to pry her away from her family.  After the wedding she and Edward promptly moved to the other side of the mountain, too far away to be the three-church organist/pianist anymore.

What Connie may have lacked in physical beauty she more than made up for in inner beauty.  As if in reward for caring for his elderly parents, Edward was blessed with the grandest wife a man could hope to find.  Although they never had children of their own, their home was a haven of love and joy to every child in the area, and for friends and neighbors alike.  And then tragedy struck.

Connie was stricken with a rare and incurable liver disease.  Edward was positively devastated.  I suppose Edward had heard his mother, Elvira, talk about the loss of his father, and all the pain caused.  As he approached the loss of his beloved Connie, Edward could not imagine that eventual reality.

Now Edward often hunted and fished with a strange recluse who lived in the next ‘hollow.’  Folks in the area called the ole fool Wild Bill.  He was a wild unpredictable half-wit… the often result of backwoods inbreeding.  But Wild Bill was an expert fisherman, and a crack shot.  His humble dwelling was filled with game trophies… a large mouth bass, seemingly as large as a tuna, adorned one wall.  There were snarling bobcats, dainty foxes, rabbits, squirrels, deer heads, and even a large black bear standing erect and threatening.  On a table near his front door was his pride and joy, a large bullfrog holding a lamp, the first animal he’d ever done.  Wild Bill was an amateur, yet quite proficient, taxidermist.

“Earle, one a these days I wanna to do me a person,” Wild Bill had once confided to Edward.

Connie lived only 3 months after her diagnosis.  By then, Edward had made his decision.  Like good economy, supply was ready to satisfy demand.

When you live as far back in the sticks as these people, the niceties of civilized law and custom aren’t always followed.  Few had birth certificates.  Death certificates were practically unheard of.  So Edward convinced everyone that Connie didn’t want a viewing… that she wanted everyone to remember her as she was in life.  She died at home, in Edward’s arms.

Edward built a pinewood coffin, beautifully varnished and waxed… and with brass fittings.  It was fitting tribute to his beloved Connie.  Into this farewell box he carefully laid several bags of sand… and nailed it shut.  The afternoon of her death, he and Wild Bill ‘did’ Connie.

Of course, a human doesn’t have the same hide or hair as a bass or rabbit.  So when finished, Connie left a bit to be desired.  Edward had to apply a LOT of make-up, causing her to look not at all unlike Tammie Faye.  But at least he still had his beloved Connie.

After dressing her in her finest Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes, he laid the body on an old frame bed hidden away in the attic.  Then he contacted her family.

After a tender and sweet farewell service at the Baptist Church, they took that beautiful pinewood box (of sandbags) and buried it beneath a stately oak in the REST IN TRUTH CEMETERY.  Rest in peace.  Ashes to ashes.  In this case would that be sand to sand?

Of course Wild Bill had been sworn to secrecy. He proved to be a man of his word. It was only in the past few days, when Edward too had passed way, and his few remaining relatives began searching his old house for family remembrances… that someone happened into the attic and discovered the true resting place of Aunt Connie.

For a man to have had such a checkered ancestry, dog trots, half-uncles, and a taxidermied aunt… I suppose we can cut Uncle Earle a little slack.  I know I can.

BARE BUNS

Hamburger© 2017 Bill Murphy

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

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 folks in a nudists colony.

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 means 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 anyway?)

So the bottom is left as naked as a newborn.

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. T he nude bottom bun gives the hamburger a built in grease trap.  Tasty!  Otherwise, time would be WASTED by de-greasing each patty.  And as we have seen, wasted time is wasted profits!

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!

 

 

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BC, AD, and PCP

telephone© 2018 Bill Murphy

In school, we learned that history was divided by the birth of Christ… BC before, AD after.  Allow me to add another time-division… PCP – Pre Cell Phone.

You’ll have to be less than 50 in age to appreciate the amazing changes that we old geezers have seen and experienced.

I remember when our home phone number was 32246. No prefix. No area code. Think about that for a moment. In my home town of Jackson, MS –  that meant the number of telephones was limited to 99,999 telephones… which included private homes, schools, businesses, hospitals, public services… everyone!

We had only one telephone in our home… no extensions.  It was a ‘land-line,’ and all connections were made ‘physically’ over wires.  My aunt and uncle who lived across the street had a pedestal phone.  I always wanted one of those. I think they were classic, as far as telephones go.

Our telephone was located in the hallway, near the center of our home.  It sat on a small shelf, in a ‘nook’ recessed into the wall, with a flat shelf underneath which held the phone book.  There were numbers, 0 thru 9, arranged around a dial.  Each call required 5 ‘dials.‘  WHERE you talked was limited by the length of the telephone cord.

There was no such thing as recorded messages. ‘Speed dialing‘ was determined by the dexterity of your fingers.

Then came prefixes, which allowed the number of telephones within an area to increase. Our prefix was FLEETWOOD.  It was dialed as ‘FL.’  New telephones were required for this, for the addition of these alphabetical letters.

To make a long distance call, you had to call the phone company and be connected to the circuits which led out of town and to distances beyond.  There were extra charges for long distance… and it was not cheap.  You were charged by the minutes you talked.

With the advent of area codes, you no longer had to call the ‘long distance operator’ to make a long distance call.  But… the long distance calls still costs extra.

The first person I knew who had a ‘cell’ phone was my mother-in-law.  But it was not called a cell-phone.  It was called a ‘mobile phone.’  It would not fit in your pocket!  The thing came in a box about the size of two shoe boxes joined side by side.  It had a receiver to talk into and listen with, just like the telephones at home.  She had hers sitting on the ‘hump’ on the floor of her car, between the front seats.  It was next to impossible to use with the car in motion.

When wireless transmission really took off, there were not that many ‘mobile phones’ around. But there was plenty of PAGERS.  Both my wife and her sister worked for pager companies.  A pager was a small hand-held wireless device, that when your pager was called, it buzzed, and displayed the phone number you were to call.  It could also display a brief message.  But… you had to call the pager company and tell them what pager to page, and give them the number/message you wanted displayed on that pager.  Because my wife worked for the pager company, she put the pager software on our home computer… and I could page her directly!  “We’re out of milk,” I could tell her while she was on the way home.  What a time saver!

The first time this modern technology really rocked my world was in the mid 80s. Carol and I were on vacation in Maine.  We were walking down the main street of Machias, ME.  Carol noticed something in the window of shop and commented that her sister would like that.  There on the street, Carol paged Mary Ellen, describing the item.  Mary Ellen paged Carol back, and said, ‘yes,’ she wanted it.  Carol made the purchase.  From Maine to Mississippi, the deal was settled almost instantly.  That was truly amazing at the time!

And practically overnight it seemed, we had cell phones.  Gone were the days of being anchored to a wire when you made a call.  Now you could talk anywhere… outside, up a tree, under the house.  And just as suddenly, that expensive bane in the budget – LONG DISTANCE – was a thing of the past.

Today the world is at our fingertips.  ‘Back then,’ if your family didn’t have a set of encyclopedias, it required a trip to the library to learn the capital of Ireland.

But… all this miraculous ‘convenience’ has come at a terrible price.  We’ve loosing the gift of gab.  Our kids are not learning to communicate, not face to face.  Today people can hide behind a tiny screen and lash out and rip apart the lives of others.

Today we’re still chained to copper wires.  Today’s chains are the chargers – which people continue to lose – or to borrow… because they lack the responsibility to bring their own along.

When I was growing up, there was a box to be checked (hopefully) on our school report cards.  That box was: PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS.  Our kids today, sadly, are in training to lose this ability.

Oh, what were you saying?  I was reading a text.

BACK IN MOLASSISSIPPI

DixieSorghum

© 2018 by Bill Murphy

Once a Mississippian, always a Mississippian I say.  I was born and raised in the fair Magnolia State, and until age 70, lived here.  I currently live in SOUTHERN Illinois, a far cry from the graft and guns of Chicago.  In the previous sentence, I used the word ‘here’ because I am HERE as I write these words, visiting friends and relatives.

I’ve just returned for a store which shall remain unnamed. The name doesn’t matter.  It’s just a deep-south-Mississippi type place.  OK.  It was Dollar General.

The store was crowded.  There was only one cashier on hand to accept my one dollar for my one item.  But I was the 9th one in line.  Patience is a virtue scripture tells me.  Mine keep trying to slip from my grasp.

There was one other ‘employee’ in sight, obviously one in management.  He kept ambling to and fro, in places that only employees should go, inspecting and moving around items that customers would not be allowed to handle.  I say he was ‘ambling,’ because his movement could in no way be labeled as walking.  It was more a slow shuffle, an amble… what one does when they have all the time in the world – and are using it.

Mr. Molasses was obviously being paid by the hour, and Dollar General and the 9 of us in the check-out line were NOT getting our dollars worth.

Yes.  I was back home… in Mississippi.  I didn’t need the cotton fields, cornbread, boiled peanuts, and Ole Miss bumper stickers to reming me.  And I sure didn’t need a map to tell me that I was back home in MOLASSISSIPPI.

 

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