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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THE DIVORCE

Enough about Shorty for now. It's time to get back to my separation and Divorce from my first wife. She worked nights and I worked days. At that point we began going in separate directions. I went to the bar one evening and my wife's cousin was sitting with two girls. When he seen me come in, he motioned for me to come over. I almost didn't recognize him with the bars dark lighting. I was a little nervous going to a table that had two girls sitting at it, but I figured it was my wife's cousin so why not?
When I got closer to the table, I recognized one of the girls. It was Louise!
I hadn't seen her only once in the past four or five years. The last I had heard she was engaged to my old friend who was in the Army in Germany and she was pregnant. Then I heard he was out drinking and driving one super foggy night, was speeding through town and a car full of Cheerleaders from a neighboring school didn't see the caution light. They ran through it and he broadsided them( T boned) I believe it was three of the cheerleaders that died. And he went to court for vehicular manslaughter. He was only in prison for a few months before being released for a re-trial. His attorney told him if he wanted to stay out of prison, he'd better find a single girl with a child and marry her fast. He needed a ready made family. He found a girl and married her. Meanwhile, Louise was left out and then she lost the baby.
She was more beautiful than ever! I'm sure her fiancee had to realize the great sacrifice he had made to stay out of prison. My wife's cousin asked his girlfriend to dance and left Louise and me at the table alone. I felt very uncomfortable. About that time, my wife's best friend walked into the bar and seen me sitting with Louise. I knew she would run back to my wife with a big story. And run with it she did!
Her best friend managed to get things going. Several nights later I went driving around all night talking and drinking with a couple friends. We stopped at the bar and their sit my wife's cousin and his girlfriend again, plus, Louise. They invited me to sit with them. A while later, my wife walked in and dropped my wedding ring in my glass of beer, said nothing, turned around and walked out.
I spent the rest of the evening dancing with Louise, going out parking with her, and then going with my two friends drinking and driving the rest of the night. When I got home that morning, my cloths were bagged up in trash bags on the back porch. I threw the bags in the back of my pickup and left.Then I drove to a friend of mine house and he told me I could stay there. His wife and him had recently separated.
Seems a shame. We were teenagers trying hard to take on all the responsibilities of adults and raise our family. It seldom works out for teenagers. We were both good people, and we tried hard. I guess we just jumped into it all too fast.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"SHORTY"

It didn't take long to realize Shorty had more personality than most people, and he had his own way of communicating. I guess it would be called "Pony Sign Language." Ears forward meant he was happy. one ear forward and one back meant he was a little displeased. If he was slightly pleased he would quietly whinny. Shorty would fight the bridles bit. He would clinch his teeth together. When the bit finally got past the teeth, he was fine with it. He didn't like the saddles cinch around his belly too tight. When cinching him he would bloat out his belly and I would have to gently knee him until he released the excess air.
Shorty was quick to make Dad and Mom's farm his new home. In fact, we couldn't get him to leave it. We discovered he enjoyed following Dad around behind the tractor. And it seemed to be the only way I could get him to give me a ride. One day Dad was plowing the big field behind the house. He saddled up Shorty and put his bridle on. Dad lifted me up on Shorty's back. I was still only six and my feet wouldn't reach the stirrups.
As Dad plowed, I got a nice pony ride. The fresh plowed ground was a little rough with the sod rolled over into furrows, but Shorty went slow. On occassion he'd put his head down and get a bite of grass that stuck up above the furrows and then he'd continue on. We were on the far side of the field and Shorty discovered a furrow that was only half turned over and had lots of lucious grass sticking out of it. He put his head down and began munching on the delicious grass. He spent quite a while eating on it as Dad and the tractor rolled on ahead. Suddenly, Shorty looked up and realized the tractor was 2/3s the way across the field. It was as though he paniced. He bolted into a full run, as fast as he could go across the plowed ground. I was bouncing from side to side in the saddle, hollering at the top of my voice, "Help Daddy! Help!!"
Dad jumped off the tractor, and just as Shorty reached him, Dad leaped in front of him, waving his arms and yelling, "Whoa Shorty! Whoa!!"
But Shorty didn't Whoa. He didn't even slow down. He zipped around Dad and ran all the way to the barnyard gate and came to an abrupt halt. I had been going from side to side all the way, but when Shorty stopped that suddenly at the  gate, The saddle spun around to his belly with me still holding on tight. Dad came and got me.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

10 Little, 9 Little,8 Little... One Little Indian Boy

I thought it would be a good time to take a break from all the problems and troubles and tell about one of my childhood incidents.. Being born in 1950, by the time I was six years old my imagination was running wild playing Cowboys and Indians. I don't know why, but I seemed to prefer playing Indian. I ran around with no shirt on, war paint, and my Uncle had shot a rooster pheasant that Mom used the feathers to make me a headdress. She put the longest tail feathers in the front and they kind of drooped over.
My Mom had gotten new livingroom furniture, Fifties style of course. She had two, small, glass topped end tables, and a small, glass topped coffee table. With my over-active, Indian imagination, I pictured the couch as a mountain, and the coffee table as a river. I had my rubber tomahawk in hand and decided to jump off the mountain, over the river, and attack the settlers on the other side.
With a Mightly War Whoop I leaped off the mountain. Unfortunately, I didn't  make it over the river, and crashed through Mom's glass top coffee table! Amazingly, I didn't get cut! Mom was in the kitchen and came running when she heard the crash. Within a couple minutes, my rear end was turning into a red skin!!!

I remember begging my parents for a pony. They kept saying no, but I wouldn't give up, and not just any pony, I wanted an Indian pony. It had to be a paint with many spotted colors. My Mom yelled at me to quit teasing for a pony. Of course I didn't listen. They finally caved in to my constant begging and teasing. One day Dad put the stock racks on the pickup and we went after my pony. I was so excited!!!
When we reached the farm he was located on, there he was. He was beautiful.The man had convinced Dad that he was very good with children, He was Shetland and Welch which made him seem a little out of proportion. He had the bigger body of a Welch, and shorter legs of a shetland. The man said his name was Shorty.  Dad paid $210.00 for Shorty, a halter, bridle, and a Cuban made saddle. I didn't realize it back then, I was only 6, but that kind of money was the equivelent of $2000.00 now days!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Marriage Problems

I worked days, my wife worked until midnight. I'd go  home after work and her beautiful sister would feed me and the kids. I started having feelings for her sister and she for me. So I'd leave and go to frriends houses, or the local bar. My wife  would go to Becky and the gangs after work. Becky lived in a new mobile home next to her parents farm house. My wife was late getting home, so I drove out to Becky's a couple different times. They were laughing, drinking, and smoking weed. I couldn't believe it. My wife had always been so dead set against drugs!
December 27, 1971 our second child, Holly,was born. She was another beautiful baby. I believe it was about then that our marriage started falling apart. Money problems seemed to lead from one thing to another. I began drinking heavier and my wife drank some, but mostly enjoyed smoking weed with her friends. As hard as we had tried to live the lives of adults, we began to fail miserably,
While my wife worked the four to midnight shift, I worked the seven to 3:30 day shift. I liked my job. The pay was nothing like G.M.s pay and benefits. Between our two jobs we managed to get by. The problem was that we only seen each other on weekends and more often than not, one of us had to work Saturday. Our marriage slowly began to fall apart.
One evening while she was working, I went to the bar. A friend of mine was sitting at a table with two girls, and he invited me to sit down. We were all sitting there talking and drinking beer when my wife's best friend walked in. She had a very suspicious look in her eyes, and I could tell she couldn't wait to get back to my wife and tell her I was with another woman at the bar.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

December of 1971

It's hard to remember exactly how everything went, but to the best of my recollection, I went to work for an insurance company.I had to be in the office, located in Lansing, which was over twenty miles from home, by 8:00 a.m. in the morning. I had to do my four debits with an old adding machine. We didn't have calculators, or computers in those days. The company did a lot of Direct Mailing back then by mail and magazines. People were asked to mail them in for more information on Life Insurance and Health Insurance. Little did they know they would be greeted at their front door by me, or salesmen like me. And we were taught to put the pressure on with canned speeches. Good thing gas was a lot cheaper back then because I covered three to four counties. How much I made depended on how much guts I had. I sold insurance for almost a year until I couldn't take the pressure anymore. Meanwhile, my wife worked at Burger Chef ( much like McDonalds). We managed to survive, but barely. By the Fall of 1972 we both quit our jobs and decided to move Up North to Alpena. We had friends that lived there, Sandy and Dan. Dan had moved to Charlotte and worked with me at General Motors, but he didn't like the hard work on the Asssembly line, or the heavily populated area. He got homesick for Alpena and they moved back. We contacted them, and they were excited to have us come and stay with them until we got settled up there. I got lucky and was hired into Abitibbe Paneling right away. The pay was comparable to General Motors. We drove back to Charlotte to give all our families the good news!My wife's family took it very hard. They yelled at us and carried on. They didn't want us moving that far away. My father-in-law offered me G.M. wages if we'd stay in Charlotte and I'd work for him in the Furnace and Air-conditioning business. We thought about it and decided it would be the best thing for all concerned. The first couple weeks went well, and then my wife's Dad approached me and informed me he couldn't afford to continue to pay me the high wages. The next thing I knew, I was making $2.50 an hour. I began to get behind on all my bills. My wife was lucky enough to hire into a factory that paid more than I was getting. The only problem was that she worked night shift and I worked days. Plus, her father was quite a drinker and couldn't always afford to pay me. After a while I had to quit him and hired into a Tent Camper Factory. I was still on days and she worked nights. Her sister babysitted for us. Sometimes I was there and sometimes not. Sometimes she came home after work, and sometimes not. She made friends with a girl named Becky and Becky's friends.

Monday, June 25, 2012

WHEN THE DUST SETTLED

I'd given up my good paying G.M. job. I had a wife, a child, one on the way, and Christmas just around the corner. I had house payments, phone bills, car payments, electric bills and everything else that goes with being an adult. And no money coming in.
I felt very anxious and was experiencing panic attacks. I was young but regardless I had taken on all the duties of a father, husband, and a man. No thanks to my fellow workers, I had been teased and taunted until I couldn't take it any more, punched Dennis out, been moved to night shift on a different assembly line and quit.
I had to find another job and do it fast! Just down the street I walked into the Morman Feeds office and applied for a job. They hired me on the spot. The thing I failed to realize was it was a minimum wage job where we worked twelve hours a day unloading box cars filled with bags of heavy feed. We had a couple ten minute brakes per day and a half an hour of unpaid lunch. By the end of the day I was so tired and sore that I could barely walk the two blocks home. I spent most of the evening soaking in a hot tub of water.
I had farmed all my life. I'd thrown very heavy bales of hay around all day on hot days, butI had never worked this hard and steady. I managed to work there the rest of the week before quiting.
Christmas was fast approacing. I had no money, no job, and was getting behind on all my bills. My wife was due anytime for our second child. My first daughter was young enough she didn't miss getting very little for presents.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

THE FEUD

Dennis never spoke or looked my way after he got up and went back to his job. We silently worked as partners the rest of the day. I'm sure he felt my actions were not necessary, and I felt they not only were necessary, but long overdue. In fact, we worked together for the next week, never speaking, or so much as saying goodmorning at the start of the shift or good-bye at the end of the shift. The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
I don't know who made the arrangements, whether it was the Union or Management, or both, or someone else. All I know is they told me I had been bumped to night shift bolting down front seats only on the small car line instead of the big car line. I was on a special job that only people that held my classification could bump me. A man named Chester bumped me and oddly enough he was a dedicated night shifter. I felt I had been set up so they could seperate us,and Dennis had more seniority. I was to report to nights that next Monday. And report to nights I did.
I know I shouldn't have slugged out Dennis, but I had endured his constant picking and torment for as long as I could. And I came to a point where I just snapped! I don't think even with my actions that I deserved to be pulled from my job and placed on night shift on another line.
I was very upset. I hated night shift. After working it for one week and stewing over being moved, I gave the supervisor my weeks notice. When I went on first break, I walked up to him again and told him I was all done. When my break is over he'd better have someone there to cover the job because "I quit." I walked down to the front offices and officialy quit. I carried over my health insurance because my wife was pregnant and due in about a month.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

TIME CLOCKS & BOSSES

Time marched on. Everyday was repeat of the day before. Get up at 5:30 a.m., drive to work, punch in at the time clock, go to my job, my partner, Dennis, and the rest of the gang. A day didn't pass that the boys didn't spend tormenting me; especially Dennis. Even my one supervisor joined in on the fun. Fortunately, the two of them switched shifts every other month.
On December27,1971 my wife gave birth to another daughter, She was born so close to Christmas we decided to name her Holly. She was beautiful.
I was still working for my father-in-law during most of my spare time. The furnace business slowed down in the Spring and I was able to help my Dad and brother get the crops planted. In the summer I helped install a few furnaces and set pumps for my well drilling friends. By Fall the furnace service calls picked up. I'd be out servicing furnaces until late hours and had to be up by 5:30 a.m.
One day I went to work feeling totally exhausted. I told Dennis,"Don't mess with me today. I'm beat and I'm not up to any of your horse play."
Dennis left me alone for a little while, and then he came with one of his sneak attacks. He grabbed my leg while growling like a mad dog. I jumped, but this time, without any thought or notice, I swung aroung and slugged him in the face as hard as I could. He stumbled backwards into a grey, metal cabinet and slid down it. I don't know as I knocked him out, but I certainly knocked him senseless! Blood was rushing out his nose. People were stepping over him as an extra man jumped on his side of the car body to keep the line going. As I mentioned before, Dennis was a very muscular character. His arms were bigger around than my legs. I figured as soon as he got his senses about him, he'd no doubt jump up and beat me half to death. Then I saw the Supervisor walking up the line toward me. I thought to myself, "Well...I'm fired!"
Thank God it was Charlie and not the other one. He walked straight up to me, smiled and said,"Roger, I've been waiting for you to do that for the longest time!" He smiled again, tapped me on the shoulder and walked away.
Dennis started coming around. He shook his head back and forth, reached up on the work bench behind him and grabbed a blue work rag, and began wiping the blood from his nose and face. He sat there, on the floor, for a while, and then got up and walked straight across the line to his job.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Our House

I loved our home even though it was only a one bedroom. Within a year with Heather growing, we had outgrown it. Some how I had managed to put a new furnace in it during my spare time and redo the livingroom walls. I had only paid $6000.00 for it and sold it a year later for $8500.00. That was a good return in 1969 to 1970.Plus, with the down payment my loan only started at $4000.00 and with 6% interest, I was able to pay it down considerably within a year.
We listed our house with a Realtor and began shopping for a bigger home. It didn't take long to sell ours to a retired couple and it didn't take us long to find the perfect home for us. It was a big, square house with a screened in, enclosed porch that went down one side and across the back. It had all hardwood floors, ten foot ceilings, and a working fireplace in the Livingroom. It had two big bedrooms downstairs and a large apartment upstairs that had the same older lady that had lived there for 11 years. And best of all, her rent paid 2/3 of the house payment. It also had a two car garage, but the tenant laid claim to that. It also had a big, open front porch.
Mom and Dad had to come to the closing with us to sell our house and sign papers because we were under age. After paying the Realtors and all, we ended up with nearly $5000.00. We were in shock when Mom said the money was hers because it was their house and they had invested the $2000.00 when it was purchased. My wife and I well remembered when my parents gave us that money for all the help I had been on the farm. I guess because I was unable to remain being their farm boy, they were taking back their gift. We sure didn't need that kind of help!!
I told my parents that if they took all the money, we wouldn't be able to buy the square house. After much pleading, they agreed to give us $3000 for the downpayment. Once again, we were still under the age of 21, so my parents had to sign with us on the land contract. And they were able to recover most of the original $2000.00 they gave us a year before.
We bought the big, square house for $15000.00 with $3000.00 down on a land contract.

STRESSED

I hated my job on the assembly line, and quickly learned to dispise most of my fellow employees. With all the pressures and stress in my life it soon became unbearable. It seemed the only way I could hold on to my sanity while working was to daydream. My mind escaped back to those beautiful summer days swimming with my Texas Girl. I heard she had married and had a baby. And Louise was deeply involved in a relationship. I heard she was engaged.
I was so very proud of my beautiful, baby girl, Heather. I usually got home just as her Mom had her in the highchair feeding her. I'd go up to her and say, "Hi Heather!"
I remember how shocked, happy, and surprised the first time she responded with, "Hi Dad!"
Usually, I'd grab a quick sandwich and head out to the job wherever my Father-in-law was working. I hated my life, and didn't have enough sense to realize I was the only one that could change it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Working it Out

I was a teenager living in what I thought was an adult world. Most of the men I worked on the assembly line with seemed to have a strange transition come over them the minute they entered the factory. These were men in their thirties, forties, and fifties, and yet they became childlike on the assembly line. I was married, had a wife and baby daughter, owned my home, and had bought a new car. As far as the men I worked with,I was a teenager; not yet grown up, and their sole daily purpose was to make my working life a living Hell. And my work partner, Dennis, was the ring leader!
Dennis was supposed to be very religious, but you couldn't prove it to me. He was in his late twenties with a very muscular build, and could act goofy as a cookoo clock! Dennis and a couple other guys seemed to delight in tormenting me. I was usually very tired and sore. My Father-in-law would keep me out working on furnaces in the evenings and when he'd quit for the night, he'd head for the nearest bar and drink beers until closing. I wasn't old enough to drink beer so I'd sip on a cola. Often, we wouldn't get home until 2:00 or 2:30 a.m. in the morning and I had to be on the assembly line by 6:30 a.m.
My body ached from flopping over the seats while looking under them and bolting them to the car floor. My partner, Dennis, would run off when we managed to work up the line, and he'd return as the air hoses stretched to the max that ran our air tools. Or, he'd sneak around to my side and take me by surprise, grabbing my leg and growling like a dog biting. I'd jump and more often then not I'd bang my head on the dashes mounting brackets. Then Dennis would do his crazy laugh as he pranced and hopped back to his side of the car. I quickly learned to hate this torment while trying to do my job.
My Dad became very upset with me when I spent most of my spare time working for my wife's Dad when my own Father needed me on the farm and had to hire the neighbor boys. I did manage to help him on occassion, but my wife's Dad was very persistant. My parents resented me for my actions and as soon as my younger brother was old enough, they handed the management of the farm over to him.

Newly Weds

My Mom and Dad stopped by shortly after my marriage. They said they didn't like us renting and Dad said I had done so much for them on the farm over the years that they wanted to give me a couple thousand dollars to use for a down payment on a house. My wife and I were so impressed at their generosity! It didn't take us long to find a cute little house for sale on a land contract. Mom and Dad had to sign with us because we were under age.
My younger brother was only thirteen. He was too young to be much help on the farm. I didn't realize it at the time, but by my parents helping me buy a house, they were making me feel committed to continue working like a boy on the farm.
My new Father-in-law had three daughters and no sons. He had his own Heating and Air-Conditioning Business and I had married his oldest daughter. He intended for me to help with the business. Plus, friends of mine were starting a well drilling business and wanted me to go with their Dad on weekends, following behind them setting pumps. I was being pulled in all directions. And to add insult to injury, my job at GMC was nearly killing me. I was on the assembly line in the Body Plant on the Big Car Line. My job was to bolt down front seats. I worked the driver's side. After the seat was dropped in the car, my partner who worked the passenger side and I would pull the seat forward, tip it back, so I could hook up the wires for the power seats. After that, we would lower the seat, line up everything, lay over the seat and look under it so we could bolt it to the floor. And then go around to the back and bolt it down. It was also my job to stock the headrest which three men were building up on a table at the side of the line. In those days they could work us over nine hours per shift and most Saturdays. I would be so exhausted and just before quitting time the supervisor would come walking the line hollering,"Nine/four!"

Saturday, May 12, 2012

November 1968

Life felt very empty to me in November of 68. I got a job in a factory. The work was boring, long and tedius. I didn't work there long because one of the girls that hired in with me got her hand in a press and lost all her fingers. After they carried her out, they moved my Dad onto her press to finish the order. Management didn't even wipe all the blood off the press.
Everyday several of us boys went to a restaurant called, "The Copper Lantern," and had lunch. It was there that I got to know my first wife. Things moved very fast. By mid November we were dating, by late November we were living together with a married couple that were friends of ours. By January of 1969 she was pregnant. Soon we were engaged, and married by April. Then in October of 69 she gave birth to a beautiful, nine lb. seven oz. baby girl.
We met as two eighteen year olds that thought we were all grown up. We had a lot to learn about life. In reality at 18 we were all grown up. Sure there were plenty of things in life we had yet to experience and learn, but overall we knew all the necessary things. It was the older people that looked down on us and thought we needed to learn so much. And it seemed as if the generation prior to ours delighted in finding faults with us.
We moved into a small, one bedroom apartment. I had originally went to work in a small factory, but it had no insurance. I went to work for General Motors in June of 69 and my insurance paid for the baby being born.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

FALL OF 1968

It was the Fall of 1968 and it seemed like the Army Recruiting Officer was stalking me all over town. Louise was now going steady with her new boyfriend, and I had heard he was staying at her house most of the time. It wasn't long before I heard they were engaged. My Texas Girl also had a steady boyfriend.
The Army was looking better and better to me. I enlisted in early November of 1968 with the agreement I didn't have to report to get on the bus at the VFW Post until January 2, 1969. I did have to go to Fort Wayne, Detroit for my Army physical and Swearing In. We spent the night in an old hotel. My Mother was completely against my enlisting and went to the Draft Board and my Recruiting officer with all my medical records. They looked like a Sears Roebuck Catalog!! My Recruiting Officer came up to me at a restaurant one afternoon and told me I'd be receiving new orders in the mail, and I did. I was reclassified 1y(not suited for military service). I guess the fact I had severe Migraine headaches was one of the main reasons. At any rate, I was rejected.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

GUESS ALL'S FARE IN LOVE AND WAR

I didn't think of Louise much after she stood me up. My feelings were crushed, so I put her out of my mind. I met another girl that summer after graduation and we started going together. Once again, she was underage and her father took me aside and warned me about statutory rape and prison. When she tried and failed, she went out with what I had thought was one of my good friends and he deflowered her. Then she came back wanting to go with me. I was not impressed.
Soon after that I met up with Louise again and we began going out together. All seemed to be going well. One night I went to a friend of mines party and who should come driving up to it, but one of my best friends with his date and in the backseat was a guy I had considered a good friend until then. They were double dating and Louise was all cuddled up with him in the backseat. I heard he had been bragging,"Guess who I'm going out with? Roger's girl friend!"
I was furious!!! As I ran toward the car, they spun the tires and sped away.

Monday, April 30, 2012

AFTER THE FAIR

Seems like after the 4H Fair I didn't happen across Louise, or my Texas Girl for days that turned into months. I had an ache deep inside to see them both. Then one day during a trip to town I saw Louise walking on the sidewalk toward me. In those past months she had grown more beautiful than ever. Her shiny, long, straight black hair was gently blowing in the breeze. She had the sexiest nose, eyes and face and a perfect body. During our months apart I had two short relationships with girls that ended with hard feelings.
Louise and I talked a while, and then I got up the courage to ask her out on a date. I was thrilled when she said, "Yes!"
I showed up at her front door at 6:00 p.m. on Friday night for our date. Her Mother answered the door and was very apologetic. "Oh Roger, I'm so sorry, but a young man Louise has been seeing from time to time stopped in a little while ago and talked her into going out with him tonight. I feel so bad that she stood you up."
My head was hanging low. She's the only girl that ever stood me up. I thanked Louise's Mom for her honesty and kindness and left while feeling about as bad as anyone could feel.
Back in those days(the late Sixties) Teenage dance halls were popping up all over. I drove out to one called, "The Village." I walked in, sit at a table, and ordered a cola. Then I looked out on the dance floor, and dancing up near the band was Louise and her date. I quietly slipped out the door.

APRIL 30, 2012

I see it's the 30th and I haven't posted anything since the 9th of April. It's been a rough month for me, spending nearly half of it in the hospital, first with colitis (sp) and then with pnemonia. I have COPD and my lungs are about shot. I'm trying to tell my story while I still can. Please bare with me, and hopefully the Good Lord will let me finish.
As a child my parents didn't attend church, so I rode with the neighbors every Sunday for Church and Sunday School, and Bible School in the summer. I rarely missed until after High School Graduation, and then my life veered away from church for several decades. I found that when the Good Lord wants a person back, He will drive you to your knees, out of Love. And I am so very glad He did!
Praise God!! Look around you at His many complicated wonders and all the different Life forms. Only God could Create such miracles in our world and bring it all together, and make it work. Plus, creating the Universe. He truly is the Word!...The Alpha and the Omega!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

FIRECRACKERS AND DYNAMITE

I thought I'd take a little break away from my young love life, and talk about my fascination for explosives as a boy. I hesitated writing this story for fear it would give kids bad ideas. It was a time in the Sixties when way too many boys were playing with anything that exploded. Television had lots of Public Service Announcements condemning such practices, giving warnings of boys losing hands and arms and even worse.
David and I started with those little, Zebra and Black Cat firecrackers. Then we discovered the Big BOOM a homemade Carbide Cannon made. We took an empty paint can, hammered a nail hole into the bottom of it, dropped a couple chunks of minors carbide into it, poured a small amount of water in the can onto the carbide, and then hammered the lid on tight and got back. The water on the minors carbide started forming a gas, and we could see the side of the paint can expanding. Then, very cautiously, we lit a match and touched it to the nail hole in the bottom of the can. The explosion could be heard over a mile away as the paint cans lid blew off.
I've already told you about horse shit hand grenades, so I'll move on to cherry bombs and M80s. I choose not to tell what we did with them. Ok, maybe one story. We were driving around in a friend of mines car. It was a 1953 Chevy he bought for $35.00. There were three of us boys in the car. I was in the middle. We drove around throwing M80s and Cherry bombs in friends yards one night. As we came upon a friends yard, I lit the M80 and from my middle of the seat position, I tossed it out the window. The only problem was, My friend had rolled the window up. The M80 bounced off the glass and back into the front seat between us somewhere. I don't believe an old car had ever slid to such a sudden stop with three boys piling out as fast as they could move. It exploded and left a big hole in the front seat!! I don't know this for sure, but I've often heard an M80 was the equivelant of a fifth of a stick of dynamite.
You'd have thought by now we'd have learned our lessons, but we still liked explosives. I can't bring myself to tell you all our Big Bang Adventures, but I will mention that dynamite in a fish pond really does kill fish.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The 4H FAIR

In the days when I was growing up the County 4H Fair was later in the summer in August. This worked well for me, because it gave me the summer to bale hay for neighbors and save money to spend at the fair. Besides all the excitement with the rides, games, farm animals, grand stand events, and that wonderful fair food, it was a great place for all the teenagers to congregate and socialize.
Although everything about the fair was great, at my age my main objective was to meet girls. I got there a little too early, and after walking the midway I walked under the Grandstand that led out to the 4H barns. As I came out the other side, I was excited to see my Texas girl and another girl standing there. She seemed as excited to see me as I was to see her. We talked a while and all while we were visiting, I wanted to ask her to walk the mid-way and ride some rides with me, but as usual, I couldn't get up the nerve. We talked a while and went our seperate ways.
I went back under the grandstand, walked through to the other side and into the midway. As I walked passed the games the carneys hollered at me and tried to humiliate me into playing. It wasn't easy, but I learned to ignore their rude remarks as I walked by. While sauntering around watching the rides I noticed Louise, the beauty I met at the Shop Picnic. She was walking with a couple other girls. Not wanting to look to obvious, I walked at an angle that crossed in front of her. I heard, "Roger!"
I turned around, trying to look surprised, "Well Hi Louise! How ya been?"
We talked a few minutes and I asked her if she'd like to go on the rides with me? We had lots of fun riding the fair rides, and then we walked around talking to each other. Soon we were walking past the row of games as carneys yelled out at me, trying to coerce me into playing.
I decided to win Louise a stuffed animal. Like I've said before, I was a better farmboy than a ball player. I tried and I tried, but I just couldn't win a stuffed animal. Bound and determined, I kept trying until I had gone through $40.00 of the money I made baling hay that summer. At last, Louise said,"Let me try."
Her first try, she won a stuffed animal!! Needless to say, I felt slightly humiliated. It was getting time for me to head home and start doing my chores. I hated to leave, but I had to say my goodbyes. I wondered if I'd see her again.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

SHOP PICNIC CONTINUED

The three girls and I walked around the Amusement Park, rode rides, played games, and talked. It was a Great Day!! Somehow we got on the subject of ages, and I was in pure shock to find out Louise was 3 1/2 years younger than me. She looked so beautiful and mature for her age. All my thoughts of asking her out on dates were crushed. She lived in the town near our farm, so I made up my mind to keep track of her for a couple of years when our age differeces wouldn't seem so far apart.
Soon the day was over and everyone was packing up to head back to their homes. The girls and I said our good byes and we were on our ways.
My day at the amusement park with the three girls was over. It was back to the farm and settling back into the life of a farm boy baling hay. When we got all of Dad's hay baled, I hired out to the neighbors baling hay for $1.00 and hour. I had grown embarrased of my little motorcycle, so I bought a bigger Honda. One day while driving it around in the nearby town, I was driving around the boulevard in front of their High School when much to my surprise I seen my Texas Girl walking!! I was overwhelmed with excitment! I pulled up beside her and she said,"Roger, where've you been?"
I replied, "Oh, I've been around. I thought you lived in Texas."
"My parents decided to move to Michigan a few months ago and hear I am!"
She seemed as happy to see me as I was to see her! We both had smiles from ear to ear. While we made small talk, and did some catching up, my mind was awhirl. I wanted to ask her out, but just couldn't get up the courage. Over the years, I had put her on a pedestal, and even though I had overcome my shiness with girls, she was the one exception. We talked a while longer and I was on my way.

Monday, April 2, 2012

SHOP PICNIC..

Maybe it was my self-confidence, but as I entered my later teens I had no problems with girls. I was like a shark on a feeding frenzy! There were just so many cute girls and I had developed ways to get to know them and make out. I didn't get into any relationships, just a lot of kissing as I went from girl to girl. The girls liked me, but way to many jealous boys wanted to fight. I learned to take care of myself. I don't mean to sound like "God's Gift to Women" because I was a long, long way from that! I was merely a teenager testing his new found abilities.
Then one Saturday my family went to the shop picnic put on from the factory where my Dad worked. The picnic tables were all full in the shaded park near the Lake Lansing Amusement Park entrance. The owners of the factory gave each kid a huge role of tickets for the rides and games. It was great! After eating and playing some of their games, I headed into the amusement park. It was much like a fair, only bigger and better. It had the usual rides, bumper cars, fairess wheels, merry-go-rounds,etc. Plus, a huge Roller Coaster!!
I don't remember how I broke the ice with them, but the next thing I knew I was walking around, playing games and going on rides with three teenage girls. I was in my glory. The smells of popcorn, hot dogs, cotton candy and all the other fair type foods filled the air. Plus, the sounds of people laughing, talking, screaming, and the music from the Merry-Go-Round also could be heard.
The three girls looked to be all about the same age, maybe about a year younger than me. One was a blonde, one a brunette, and the third was so beautiful, she was hard to describe. She had soft, shiny, long black hair, a perfect hour glass figure, and a face that would put most movie stars to shame. The other two girls were quite the talkers, but she had a sexy, quiet way about her, speaking only when necessary. This caused her to have a mysterious, but very attractive way about her. I couldn't help but be drawn toward her. Her name was Louise. The three girls each had a parent that worked at the same factory as my father.
I tried to win them stuffed animals, but as always, the girls ended up winning their own. Then they wanted to ride the rides. I guess I made a fine target on the Bumper Cars. Next, after giving it considerable thought, they decided to go for a ride on the Roller Coaster! That drop down the first hill was a doozy! They took turns riding with me. I never knew girls could snuggle so tightly as each screamed and I wrapped my arms around them. Riding with a different girl each time, as I recall I rode the Coaster nine times in a row!!! The Merry-Go-Round was a much more peaceful ride.

Friday, March 30, 2012

SWING LIVELY!!

Besides being in all the Plays, and Variety Shows and All, I was at a School dance my Junior year, and they had somehow gotten one of the Stars from a television show called, "Swing Lively" to D.J. our dance. Swing Lively was taped in Lansing in the Channel Six News Room. MoTown in Detroit was BIG at the time and not that far from Lansing. It was very similar to "American Bandstand." Swing Lively managed to get most of the Stars from MoTown Records to come. You must remember this was during the 66/67 school year, quite a while back. The Big Acts came to Lansing to sing on the show.
I was dancing when Jay Stern called me over to him. He liked the way I danced and asked me if I'd like to be a dancer on his show? I was excited! He gave me a pass and said it would get me and one girl in every week.
Swing Lively had Jay Stern and Dennis Day as host. It was sponsered by Yankee Department Stores (Owned by Debbie Reynolds). It was a syndicated show that was on in quite a few states. We'd show up for the dancer's meeting and the taping on Thursday nights and watch ourselves on television Saturday afternoons. They had singers such as Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, The Supremes, Ike and Tina Turner, etc.
We didn't get to dance while they sang. They'd go in and tape their singing. I guess they didn't want distractions. After they sang, we,d be allowed in and dance to their music while those big, old style, t.v. cameras bumped us around as they taped us. Afterwards, we'd get to meet and visit with the singers.
One night during the Dancer's Meeting Jay told me to shorten my sideburns. I told him I was growing them out for a play I was in, but he said they had to go. So I quit.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

PLAYING WAR

I know this has little to do with my beginning life with girls, but it's a story involving David and me that I believe needs to be told. As young boys there were many war shows on the t.v. depicting WW11. And the neighbor boys and I would split up into teams and play war. We started out by shooting each other with toy guns and rifles, We would pretend we were hit, fall dead, count to ten, and jump up and continue playing.
Then we got the idea to make it look more realistic we'd go out into the field and get dried clumps of dirt and throw them at each other. If they landed close they would turn into a bomb of dust. I don't know who had the original idea, it could even have been me, but I really don't feel right blaming this next idea on David. We walked into the pony lot, and as you may or may not be aware of, horse manure is round or oval and fist sized.
From all the neighbor boys going out of state at one time or another, we had a near endless supply of those little, zebra and black Cat firecrackers. We walked around the pony lot looking for just right horse manure. We wanted it dry and crusty on the outside (so it wasn't messy to handle) and still nice and mushy on the inside. Then we'd bore one of those little firecrackers into its side. Walla! We had invented the horse shit hand-grenade!!! The idea was to light the fuse, throwing it over the other teams head before exploding. They were quite short fuses and on occassion one would blow up in our hands before we could let go.
We were laughing, and exploding horse shit hand-grenades when my mother came out of the house to see what all the comotion was about. That was the end of horse shit hand-grenades. How green the grass grew, and how thick and plush it stayed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hopelessly Homely Me

It seems like lots of teenagers go through a period of low self-esteem at one point in their lives. I certainly was no exception. Every time I looked in a mirror, I began picking myself apart. My nose was too big. My lips were to big. I had zits on my face. My ears were too small, my hair was ugly, and I had a dimple on my chin.
My low self-esteem lasted for several years and held me back from having relationships with girls, other than friendships. Afterall, who would want to go with the looks of me? My girlfriend broke up with me, and little did I know, my Texas girl was living within five or six miles of me.
So it must have been around the tenth grade I went back to being a homely, but very dedicated farm boy, and during the winter I tried to play basketball. To tell the truth, I was better at pitching cow manure. The fast turns and pivots in basketball caused my knees to dislocate (Very Painful). And I found myself spending most of the winter on crutches. The following year, during practice before the first game, I jumped up while trying to intercept a pass and went over backwards with all my weight coming down on my wright wrist, breaking it up really bad.
After that year I gave up basketball and ran track. Then I became involved in all the Senior, All School Plays, Junior Play,and managed to land the lead parts, Suddenly, I became very popular and didn't really know how to handle the girls actually chasing after me. I even wrote and directed the Varsity Club Variety Shows and played guitar in several Garage Type Bands. The problem was, I was over-doing and soon began having Severe Migrains. One complete side of me would go numb and then the blood vessels would open suddenly causing horrible pain for hours and hours. Mom took me to a Nerologist and I was pleased to find out it wasn't a brain tumor.My mentally impaired sister's room was next to mine. She talked to imaginary friends all night and sometimes she would scream, "Roger! There's a man in my room!!!!" She was going through a very difficult time, and the lack of sleep only added to my agony.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Worse Boyfriend

The rest of the summer past by quickly. I didn't make it to the lake. As before, I spent every afternoon at my girlfriend's house, in the livingroom, watching Soap Operas, sitting on the couch, and holding hands.Toward the end of summer, I guess my girlfriend had enough. Our relationship was going no place, and one afternoon she broke up with me.
I was crushed! I hopped on my Honda and went straight to Lacey Lake. I knocked on my Texas Girls door, but no answer. One of the girls at the lake told me they had left back for Texas a few days before. With my head hanging low, I drove my little motorcycle back home.
It was a long, cold, winter,but when the weather began to warm up, I rode my Honda back to the lake, only to find a gate across the Resort drive with a no trespassing sign attached to it. They had closed the Resort and I had no way to see if my Texas Girl was back,or not. Thus ended my experience with my first two girls. Sadly, the thing I failed to realize was my Texas Girl and her family had moved to Michigan to a near by town.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Facing the Music

I tossed and turned all night. I couldn't sleep just thinking about asking for my ring back. She was so sweet, and beautiful, and one of my very best friends. I didn't know how she would react when I asked for my initial ring back. I was so worried that she wouldn't want to be friends with me any longer. But thinking everything through, she was only here for the summers, and those long winters without even seeing her when she returned to Texas was just more than I could bare. I finally built up my courage and drove my Honda down to the lake. I walked up to their mobilehome and knocked on the door.
Suddenly, my Texas girl appeared in front of me with a big smile on her face. "Hello Roger."
I smiled and said Hi. Then I went on to explain to her that I had talked with my ex-girlfriend and she had agreed to go steady with me again. I was amazed at how well she took it. Then I went on to ask her for my initial ring. "Oh Roger! I'm afraid I've lost it. I'm not sure but I think I lost it in the lake while swimming. Can you ever forgive me? I am so sorry!"
I guess I would have to tell my girlfriend I lost it. Now I know why my Mother wouldn't let me give my class ring to any girls. I left the lake and returned to my girlfriends house. Once again, we spent each afternoon sitting on the couch, holding hands, and watching soap operas.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

STEADY AS SHE GOES

So it was settled. I was going with my Texas Girl, but other than giving her my initial ring nothing had changed. We didn't hold hands, or kiss, or have any kind of romance. Things were no different than when we were just good friends. I guess she was too young and I was to backward. Our days continued as they had since 1962. We swam and played and floated around in those big, black innertubes.
A week had passed since my girlfriend broke up with me. My Texas girl and I were floating in our innertubes when I looked up on shore and saw my ex-girlfriend. She was wearing her older sister's leopard bikini, and she had grown into it perfectly. All eyes were upon her. She walked around, never getting in the water, and then she she stopped and talked to a girl. She then left the lake as quickly as she had appeared. It was about an hour and a half before dark, and I decided it was time to head home. As I was driving my Honda past my ex-girlfriend's house, I noticed she was sitting outside at their picnic table. I stopped in, and we talked until dark. She agreed to go steady with me again before I rode on home. Then it dawned on me that she had no idea I was going steady!I would have to go to the lake tomorrow and ask for my initial ring back.

Friday, February 24, 2012

"It's Not a Big Motorcycle..." Continued

I dropped her off at the resort, and rode my Honda to my girlfriend's house. She was sitting on on the picnic table on the West side of the house. I tried to talk to her and explain that I was only friends with the girl I was giving a ride, but she had no response and handed me back my initial ring. I could see no point in trying to talk to her any longer. I got on my Honda and headed back to the lake.
I was feeling kind of low as I wheeled down the resort driveway. I pulled up to the cable that was strung from post to post and designated the parking area. I just sat there on my Honda with my head hanging low. I had lost my beautiful girlfriend. "Oh Roger! I am so sorry! It's all my fault. I didn't mean to cause you and your girlfriend to break up." Standing in front of my motorcycyle stood the girl from Texas.
"If you'd like, I'll go with you?" she said.
With a shocked look on my face and feeling a bit puzzled, I answered her, "You would?!"
She moved in closer, with one leg on each side of my front tire and placing her hands on my handlebars. She smiled and said, "Sure I would!"
I had been dreaming of this moment since first meeting her as young children, but I had convinced myself that we would be better off to just remain the very good friends we were. I had convinced myself that if we ever developed a romantic relationship at some point we would break up and I would not only lose her as a girlfriend, but as one of my best friends as well. It just wasn't worth the risk. And yet, here she stood in front of me offering to go steady, and I found it impossible to refuse. I took my initial ring off my finger and handed it to her.
I was still young and very inexperienced. These were my first two girlfriends I had ever been involved with, and I was very wet behind the ears. While handing her my ring I questioned her again while questioning myself.
"You would?!" I answered with a surprised voice.
"Sure I would!" She responded with an excited, reassuring voice.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"It's not a Big Motorcycle, it's a Groovy Little Motorbike"

    On occasion me and my Honda slipt passed my girlfriend's house and down to Lacey Lake's Resort. I had to know if my Texas girl was back yet. After making several trips there and sitting on a picnic table for a while, at long last, one day as I sit on the table, I saw her come out of her family's mobile home. When she saw me there, she smiled and hollered, "Roger!"
    We spent a while catching up on the past months. Then she noticed my motorcycle sitting where I used to park my English bike. "Is that your motorcycle?!" She asked.
    "That's my Honda! Would you like to go for a ride on it?"
    "I don't know." She responded. "My Mother would have a fit!"
    "Well, it's up to you." I replied.
    She thought for a minute and then said, "I guess it wouldn't hurt to go for a ride this one time."
    I pulled the back foot pegs down into position and she climbed on. She wrapped her arms around me and I carefully drove up the resort drive. I didn't want her first ride to frighten her. When we reached the road, I turned right and we rode to the stop sign at the cross road. I made a right turn, and much to my surprise, walking in the road ahead of us was my girlfriend walking with a neighbor girl. I pulled up beside her and tried to talk to her. She looked straight ahead while ignoring me. After a couple of minutes I drove on.
     We went around a curve in the road and past a small house. I noticed a big, black, dog crouched down in an attack position. As the dog began charging at us I twisted the throttle to speed up. It was a small motorcycle with two people on it up against a very fast dog. I was picking up speed, but the dog was gaining on us while growling, snarling, and barking! In those days there was no helmet law and I had no helmets, nor turn signals. Safety was up to the driver.  As my rider screamed and began climbing my back, the dog was biting my legs and ankles. It became increasingly difficult to maintain balance and control, especially as I was being used as a human ladder. As she screamed, she managed to wrap her legs around my neck. We must have looked like a Circus Act with no circus, or prior practice! We finally managed to out-run the dog and by nothing short of a miracle, I managed to regain control of the motorbike as she climbed down and back onto the seat. I stopped for a minute while we gathered our thoughts. "Well we can't go back the way we came, or we would surely be attacked by the big, black, dog.That meant we'd have to take the long way back. All I could think of was, what else could go wrong. We had to go about seven or eight miles out of our way to come back around to the Resort drive.
    When we pulled up to the parking area, she climbed off and said, "You'd better go see your girl friend. She didn't look or act very happy when she saw me on the back of your Honda."
    "I think you're right." I replied. "I guess I'd better get going."
    I wasn't gone long when I returned to the resort parking lot. My Texas girl could sense things didn't go well.
      

Saturday, February 18, 2012

1966...

    From 1962 to 1966 I matured from a twelve year old boy into a sixteen year old teenager. I still thought a lot of my girl from Texas, but I began to realize she lived so far away and 3/4 of each year was spent in Texas. I also realized how much I thought of her as a very, very good friend, and the distance between us kept it from ever developing into anything else. People tend to become attached to those they are near to daily. I would always have a place in my heart reserved for her, but as my love life matured I would move on.
    By the Spring of 1966 I was the proud owner of a small motorcycle, a Honda S 90. Plus, I was going with a beautiful, young, girl that only lived about half a mile from Lacey Lake's Resort drive. I seldom made it to the lake that early Spring. My Honda seemed to have a mind of its own. When it reached my girlfriend's driveway, it automatically turned in. I was still very backward and shy in the field of Love. As I said before, my parents never hugged us, kissed us, or used the Love word.
    Everyday my girlfriend and I spent the afternoon sitting on the couch together, holding hands, and watching Soap Operas. I guess you could say I was the worlds worst boyfriend. We never kissed. We never hugged. We just held hands and watched Soap Operas day after day after day.   

Monday, February 13, 2012

Back to Lacey Lake Again, and Again, and Again

    Sometimes I would go to the lake four or five days in a row, but when Dad needed me to cultivate corn, bale hay, fix fence, or combine wheat and oats, I was forced to stay and farm. Mom would tell me, "You don't need to be going to that lake every day when you're needed right here!"
     When I finally did get to go back to the lake, my Texas girl would say, "Roger, where've you been?"
And I always replied the same, "Oh, I've been around."
     I didn't know how to swim. In fact, no one in my family knew how to swim. The girls swam like fish in the water, and didn't hesitate to go into deeper water where it was over their heads. In the mean time I would only go out where the water was waste deep. One day another guy came swimming and was out in the deeper water with them. I couldn't stand it, so I made up my mind it was swim or drowned trying. Fortunately, I found it to be quite easy once I had gotten over the initial fear of it all.
    I spent every day I could at the lake, but  soon enough the summer days were over, and my Texas girl and her family had to return to Texas. This is how it was for the next few years. She would be gone all winter and I never knew for sure if she would ever return. I missed her dearly!
     It was my sixteenth year, and after much begging and teasing, plus, my parents figured I had earned it, they bought me a small motorcycle. I loved it! It was a Honda Super 90, It was 90 c.c., 8 h.p. and supposedly had a top speed of 65 miles per hour. I suppose riding my bicycle to the lake and all the swimming was better for strengthening my legs, and they were much stronger, but my Honda was much more fun!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lazy Days at Lacey

    I was eager to return to Lacey Lake, but found it to be a bit more difficult than expected. It was early summer. Dad and I had been up since 7:00 a.m. The corn was several inches out of the ground and the weeds were beginning to take over, so it was time to cultivate. In those days we didn't use herbicides to spray and kill the weeds. Cultivating was a much slower and lengthy task. We had to mount the cultivators onto the tractor so they could rip the weeds out of the ground around the corn. The corn was very small so shields had to be attached on each side of the corn to keep from ripping it out, or burying it with dirt.
     It was a beautiful summer's day. I asked my parents if I could ride my bike to the lake, but they had other plans for me. It was a perfect day for cultivating, and Dad had to leave for work by 2:30 p.m. That left me to cultivate. I looked out at the nearly 30 acre field of corn, and seeing how small it was, I knew I would only be traveling about two miles an hour. That meant I would be out there until dark and still wouldn't finish it that day.
     I wanted to return to the lake so badly that my insides ached with anticipation as the tractor crawled and I was unable to take my eyes off the row of corn for even a second or it would stray one way or the other and rip out the very small, delicate stalks of corn. By the next afternoon I had finished the field and gotten permission to go to the lake. I peddled my bicycle as fast as I could go.
    As I reached the parking lot, I seen the girl from Texas and another girl walking along the lakeshore. When they saw me, they smiled and waved. It wasn't long after that the three of us were sitting along the narrow beach, soaking up the sunshine and talking.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

David's Straw Pile

     One beautiful, Michigan, summer's day, David and I decided to walk  down the road to Howard's barn. It was a big old barn that was on his eighty acre farm. He lived a couple miles North of there at his other farm and used this as a sheep barn with a large pasture for the flock. The barn had a hip roof, which  was common in those parts and was considered a basement barn. You could drive a tractor in one side and the door on the other side was a story above the ground.
    We were exploring the old barn when David noticed the door was open on the other side. He walked over to investigate and looked down. Much to his delight, he spotted a large pile of straw. "Come on! Let's jump down into it!"
     As always, David was the Leader. "Ok David. You go first."
      With a large smile on his face and a loud yell, he took a flying leap! Unfortunately, what had appeared to be a large pile of straw from above was in truth a large pile of hardened sheep manure that Howard had stacked while cleaning  out of the barn. When David landed, his right knee came up and bashed him in the nose causing it to bleed profusely. I think probably he broke it. He cried the whole entire half mile walk home. And once again, I sauntered off in search of another Leader.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

PRAISE VS. LOVE

    Although my parents were good people, they had a few strange ways about them. Mom was very frugal and put a value on everything from empty egg cartons to empty, plastic, gallon, milk jugs. I think these ways dated back to her being raised in the Depression Era. And Dad was a hard working farmer who believed in always making a profit, but seldom invested in new equipment, or ways to simplify his work, and mine. He didn't have water run to the barn until after I had left home. Even in the dead of winter, I'd have to string out several water hoses from the basement door down to the cow tanks and water the cattle, and carry pails of water to the cows with calves in stalls in  the back of the barn. Dad worked the three to eleven shift at the factory in town, making it my job to do the evening chores. Dad also owned a farm about a mile and a half North of ours. It had a newer barn that he'd keep half the herd of cattle at in the winter. He never had a well drilled there, so I'd fill nine milk cans with water in the back of an old 53 Chevy pickup and though I was only twelve, I'd drive it there, back up to the barn door, and dump the heavy cans of water over the gate and into half barrels. Sometimes I'd have to make several trips.  Plus, all the animals had to be fed and bedded down. I always said, "I wasn't Amish, but I was raised Amish!"
    My parents had a strange viewpoint on love. The word was never mentioned in our home. I know this greatly effected myself, and I'm sure it had the same effect on my brother and sisters. Mom often said,"She couldn't stand people that were always hugging, kissing, and slobbering all over their kids."
     As a replacement to love and those acts of love, my parents used praise. My brother, sisters, and I would strive to please my parents to get this praise. Myself, I would work like a man to please my father.That is, until I discovered girls. Then pleasing my father and mother somehow didn't seem quite as important to me. It wasn't until years later that my mother was on her death bed that she looked at me and in an uneasy voice said, "I love you, Roger."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lacey Lake

     ""It was the summer of 1962. I was nearly 12 1/2 years old and felt strange things happening to me. At last I could ride my new, lightweight, 3 speed, English bicycle with limited effort, making it easier to peddle to Lacey Lake's Resort. The four mile ride there, and the four mile ride home was good exercise for my legs. It was early summer as I coasted down the hill to the parking area at the Resort. I parked my bike and walked over to sit on one of the picnic tables.
    At first, there didn't seem to be anyone around. It was a small, back roads, Michigan lake with a house built close to the water that had a small store built on the lakeside. It was a small resort with several picnic tables, an old bathhouse close to the narrow beach. I heard the store's screen door slam and looked up to see a beautiful young girl leaving the store. She looked over at me, smiled, and with a sweet, Texas accent said, "Hi. How y'all doing?"
    It was at that very instant that I realized I was no longer going to be quite the dedicated farm boy to my dad I had been in the past. My mind did a flip from tractors to girls. She was so cute, and had the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. Plus, the sexiest accent I had ever heard! "I'm doing great!" I responded. "Do you live around here?"
    "We live in Texas. We only come up for the summer. It's a lot cooler here than Texas summers.  I'm staying over there in my grandparent's mobile home. Do you live around here?"
    "I live on a farm a couple of roads from here. Maybe we'll see more of each other this summer. I come here swimming quite often."    

THE LEADER

                                                                         
    One summer day I decided to walk across the road to David's Grandparent's house and see what he was doing. He saw me coming across the road and came out to greet me. David was a born leader. As for me, I chose to be a follower. He noticed his Grandpa had been painting on the side of the house and had left the ladder leaning up against it. "Let's go up on the roof!" He excitedly proclaimed.
    "Ok David. You go first." I replied.
    So David climbed the ladder to the roof. It was a two story house with a high pitched roof. Then I joined him. The pitch of the roof made it hard to hang on. We carefully made our way to the peek. Let's play 'Rip Chord." David announced as his eyes lit up. (Rip Chord was a popular t.v. show of the times where two guys would parchute out of airplanes while hollering, "Rip Chord, Cut!")
I feared my skinny legs would snap like toothpicks if I were to jump off the roof. David was a solid, muscular boy with stout legs. I said, "Ok David, you go first." After all, he was the leader.
    He took a flying leap off the roof while hollering, "Rip Chord, Cut!"
   And when he broke his arm, I took the ladder down. I watched as his grandparents loaded him in the car and raced off toward the hospital. Meanwhile,  I sauntered off in search of another Leader.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Adventures With David

    Sometimes I think it's a good thing my dad kept me as busy as he did on the family farm. Even with my physical problems and all the time spent working, I still managed to have a few boyhood adventures. When David came to spend the summers at his grandparent's house my summers really livened up! They lived directly across the road from our home. David's family lived in the big city, and he got into so much trouble there that his parents had him spend the summers at his grandparents. He was average height, dark haired, muscular framed, and sort of talked through his nose. And the wheels in his head never stopped turning!
    One year his dad brought him out a new, three speed, English bicycle, much like mine. David wasn't much for riding bikes, so he completely dismantled it and sold it for parts to the neighbor kids. I bought a spare tire and wheel, myself. The next summer his dad bought him a big, red, classy looking, 26 inch bicycle. One day David said, "Lets make it look like a motorcycle!"
    We searched around his grandpa's garage and basement and found a length of three inch vent pipe and some wire. We wired it up the right side of the bike and then went into his grandpa's garage again. His grandpa owned a bulk station and gas truck that he delivered fuel oil to homes and gasoline to farmers with. In the garage we found a can of gas, a five gallon can of oil, a bunch of rags, and a broom. David quietly went into the backdoor of his grandma's house and got some matches from the kitchen.
    We began dipping the rags in gas and oil, and stuffing them into the vent pipe. The broom handle worked great for jamming them down in. Soon the vent pipe was full of gas and oil soaked rags. His grandparent's driveway and our drive across the road were perfectly aligned. David got on the bike and said to me, "Ok, light her up!"
    I struck a match and touched it to the end of the vent pipe. At first it was great. Big, black puffs of smoke came out, one then another and so on. David began vibrating his lips to mimic a motorcycle's sound, and then started pedaling down the drive. He made it to the end of the driveway, across the road, and into our drive when suddenly the side of the bicycle burst into flames. He slid it down and jumped clear. My Mom and my Aunt Wilene were having a peaceful, summer visit on the front porch when they suddenly screamed in horror and ran toward the burning bike. David was ok, but his new bike was destroyed.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Farm Boy

    I don't believe my father ever truly acknowledged my handicap.By the time I was eight years old he had me driving the tractor and hay baler while he stood on the hay wagon behind the baler and pulling up the bales of hay with a hay hook. He was always in such a hurry. He worked the 3:00pm to 11:00p.m. shift at the factory in town besides working his farms, and keeping a herd of cattle. All Dad ever seemed to think of was getting his work done. He had dual personalities. He could be the sweetest, kindest, man, but when he was working the farms, he was the meanest man ever. I remember one day in particular, I was driving the tractor and baler, and Dad was stacking the bales on the hay wagon. I seen a large clump of hay in the windrow ahead, and knowing it would plug the baler, I stretched for the clutch and brakes. We stopped abruptly, throwing Dad off the wagon. He immediately began cussing and screaming at me. I jumped off the tractor to see if he was alright. As soon as I reached him, he began kicking and slapping me. It was about then that my Uncle Leland came driving his old green truck around the corner of the barn and down the lane to the field we were working. He was Dad's older brother, and a big, rough looking bachelor. He grabbed hold of Dad and shook him around some. He told him, "Don't  you ever let me catch you hitting on that boy again!"
     I think Dad believed him, but that never stopped him from cussing me and the name calling. I believe I was in my mid-twenties before I realized my name wasn't "Dumb Son-of -a-Bitch!"
    I guess the thing that always amazed me was how we'd go to the Grist Mill and Dad would brag on me to the men that were there on how I was only eight years old and drove the tractor and baler.Judging by the looks  the men gave, I don't think they were that impressed. People just don't put children that young running such dangerous equipment.... Well, most don't.

Walking and Riding

    Seems like I wore that Dennis Brown Club Foot Splint for a long time. My feet at long  last outgrew the orthopedic shoes. I went to the doctor and then Mom took me to an orthopedic shoe store in downtown Battle Creek to be fitted for a new pair. I hadn't learned to walk yet, but shortly after arriving home, I took my first steps.The shoes were big and bulky. They resembled men's work boots. My legs were very skinny, having very small muscles. A visiting nurse came quite often and made me do exercises, and on occasion my Mother would take me to the 'Crippled Children's Clinics" where they could check me over and measure my progress.
    I learned very quickly not to wear shorts with my skinny legs and over sized looking work boots.I took a lot of teasing. One day when I had taken enough teasing and bullying from my cousin(who was considerably larger than me) we got in a knock down, drag out fight in the front yard. Growing up in the Fifties it seemed every boy wore tennis shoes, or cowboy boots. I wasn't allowed to wear either. I learned to put up with the teasing as I continued through grade school. My leg muscles remained very weak and at times my knees would dislocate causing extreme pain.
When I was a little tot, I used to love to ride on the farmall H tractor with Dad. While he was driving it up the lane one afternoon and I was a three year old sitting on his lap, I looked up at him and said, "Can I drive and you walk?" That tickled Dad so that he never forgot it and mentioned it often. Seriously, I don't remember learning to drive the tractors. I know my shoulders were against the front of the seat when sliding down to reach the clutch and brakes when stopping. And my legs barely had the strength to push down the pedals.
    My parents bought me a big, red, heavy, 26inch bicycle.  We lived in farm country on gravel roads that had plenty of hills. My weak legs could peddle the bike on the level fairly well, and I could coast down the best of hills.When going up hills, I tired quickly. The neighbor kids would reach the top of the hill and then wait somewhat patiently for me to walk my bike up the hill. We used to ride a little over a mile to the country store and I had tried to ride to Lacy Lake, but the three or four miles was too far for me. The start of the next summer, I was 12 years old, and my parents bought me a brand new, light weight, 3 speed English bicycle.It was much easier for me to keep up with the others and I had no trouble riding to the lake. I felt some of the kids were jealous because I got a new bike. I would have been perfectly happy with my old bike if I could have got along with it.

"THE BEGINNING"

    I guess there's no place to start telling my life's journey like the beginning, so here goes...I was born in February 1950 at Community Hospital in Battle Creek. I was born right smack in the middle of the Twentieth Century. As far as I'm concerned, my life started just as the two best decades of progress this country had, or has ever seen was getting under way. It was a great time to grow up in!
    I was the third born of my parent's four children. I had two older sisters and one younger brother. Marilyn, the oldest, was born in August of 1945 and is mentally disabled. Joyce was born in July of 1948. I can only imagine my parent's delight when I was born, and their disappointment when it was discovered I had a birth defect. My legs and feet were not completely developed. My Mom later told me the bones in my legs were soft and this might be a slight exaggeration, but she said they could have been tied in knots. My feet came up and were wrapped around my lower legs. My Mother also told me later that she made up her mind that she "was not" going to have a crippled son!
    Mom fashioned Popsicle sticks into make-shift braces, pulled my feet into position and some how managed to keep my feet in the proper shape until I was seen by one of the best known orthopedic doctors in the state. He put both feet and legs in cast to keep them developing properly. I don't know how long I was in cast, but I do know it was a long time. Mom used to tell me how women would come up to her in places like the grocery store, and seeing me in cast, say,"What in the world happened to that poor,little boy!?"
    Later, when the last pair of cast were removed, I was fitted with Orthopedic shoes (special shoes fitted to keep my feet in proper growing position). Then a steel bar was attached that kept the shoes connected to each other. This was called a "Dennis Brown Club Foot Splint."  I had to wear it day and night, 24/7. My Mom said I'd crawl on the floor with this splint attached to both shoes, and my legs and feet reminded her of a fish tail going back and forth. I've often wondered if my older sister's mental deficiency and my birth defect might somehow be connected. We seemed to have an abundance of mentally impaired children in our area of the township. Plus, this was in the days before the spraying of DDT was outlawed. No way of knowing for sure. Anyway, this is how my life's journey got started and how I became the "Forrest Gump" of the family farm.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Journey's Told By Roger

For those of you that don't know me, My name is Roger. This is my newly made blog. I look forward to sharing my memories old and new with you.  You will read about my journeys through life, some good some bad. I hope this inspires you to look beyond the bad and make the most out of each day. Now onto the journey's told by Roger.

My wife Louise & I

My Girls, Louise & I

Me as a Kndg.
Keep checking back. New posts to come!