Aug 31, 2016

Kids These Days

I owned a number of motorcycles over the years but there was only one that was my pride and joy-- a brand new 1978 1/2 Harley Davidson Superglide FXE that I rode for many a happy mile. Yeah, everyone else was buying Lowriders back then but the Superglide fit me better and came with the same engine and transmission.

So it was with a heavy heart and under a lot of pressure from family members, that I sold my Superglide to come up with money to give my son to go to college years later. But parents do what they must do, right?

Nor was I pleased when he decided not to go to college and spent the money on whatever 18 year old boys spend money on. But I never said a word. I never complained.

You see, before you say it, kids these days aren't really all that different than they were back in our day. Call it Karma or call it life but I bought my first motorcycle using the Pell Grant I never went to college on either.

I outlived my son and I'll probably never be able to afford another motorcycle as nice as the Superglide but I have an old Yamaha that stays broke down most of the time and fond memories of a son who made me proud.

Silhouettes

Several years ago when my boss and I went together to qualify for our Concealed Carry Weapons permits, and we both placed 50 out of 50 rounds in the center of the black, life sized silhouette targets, my boss thought placing the targets on display in the office lobby might be a potential deterrent to potential robbers as it was a big cash business. It was his hope the sight of the targets would be enough that we would never have to use our weapons.

The next person to walk through the door was a very valuable and well liked African-American employee who stopped dead in his tracks and said, "What's this?"

My boss replied, "Billy and I qualified for our CCWs last night."

And the African-American employee asked, "And you had to kill 2 black dudes to do it?"

The targets were removed from our offices.

Whatever Happened To Tact?

No one has tact these days. For example: some years ago... Well, quite a few years ago, I was dating a young woman in Floyd, Virginia who worked in a little shop there that sold locally made, hand made women's clothing. All one of a kind and of the highest quality.

One Friday evening I arrived in Floyd a little early and my then girlfriend was still at work so I decided to hang around the shop a few minutes and wait for her to close the store.

There was a couple in there, late 50s, perhaps 60s, obviously Brooklyn accent and the woman was giving my lady friend down the road, being a real bitch about the prices. Her husband just looked down at the floor without saying a word.

Now again, I admit this stuff was expensive but it was also top quality and worth every penny. But the woman continued being a real bitch as my girlfriend smiled and continued to take it. Every word of it as if she were responsible for the prices herself. Hell, she was hardly making more than minimum wage.

Well anyone who knows Billy knows I don't take but so much but when it comes to getting out of line with someone I care about my line is a damned sight shorter. But I do have tact.

I interrupted the lady and said, "Lady, did you know black bear eat carrion?"

She looked at me like I was crazy and asked, "What are you talking about?"

"Black bear eat carrion," I repeated matter of factly. "That's why they never find the dead bodies up here in these hills."

She stared at me her mouth agape and trembling. Obviously she had seen the movie, Deliverance, and believed all the stereotypes that Southern men were all psychopathic killers always in search of big city prey. Her husband took her by the arm and said, "We'd better be leaving Dear."

Then, as they went out the door he looked back at me and grinned as if he was about to bust out laughing.

Tact, learn it. Beats the hell out of getting your ass kicked.

Denouncing The Slave Trade

Remembering Those Left Behind

For some it seems
we have it all,
we've finally found our place,
gotten what was owed to us;
advanced the metered race
but while the left, the honor us
for all our hard fought bravery
on the right our brothers fall
sold back into slavery.

It seems the recent victories of San Francisco's parking meters ring hollow with the sale of parking meters in the Midwest where, as always, human rights lags decades behind the left coast. Will privatization eventually lead to a return to the days of old and a return to a time when all parking meters live as slaves?

Aug 30, 2016

Terrapene Carolina Bauri



Secret To A Long Life

Turtles never practice war,
and greed they never know.
For politics, they have no need,
nor running to and fro.
They tend to but their daily lives,
live long and always slow
using shells to keep bad out,
not keep it stowed below.




Photo Common Box Turtle via Wikipedia.

Aug 29, 2016

No Matter Where You Go You Park And There You Are

Free Poems

Paid parking, free poems,  
yes that's just the way.
You pay for parking
but the poet's not paid.
I leave you my verse
to hang from this pole.
Paid parking, free poems,
the world has no soul.

And so it is, the poem that started parking meter poetry continues its rhyme as the meter winds down on the poet. May I get some change for the meter, please?

San Francisco Parking Meters Get Human Rights

No More Small Change

No more are we pushed down,
no more are we slaves.
We work by the hour
at maximum wage!
And when we work hardest
that's when we'll get more
for we work to live,
not decorate your store.

Parking meters in San Francisco have laid down the law and taken control of their rates basing parking fees on demand and charging from $5.25 to $18.00 per hour for special events giving San Francisco parking meters better wages than people in many parts of the world.

Aug 28, 2016

Where Did All The Heroes Go?

When I was a young man I always tried my best to be the hero, the cowboy with the white hat, the knight in shining armor, always at the ready to rush in and rescue the damsel in distress and ride into the sunset in a storybook ending.

But the damsels I rescued were rarely grateful. Some didn't even want to be rescued, preferring instead to remain tied to the railroad tracks or kept prisoner in the tall tower in the dark castle. When Rapunzel let down her hair, it wasn't for me to climb up to rescue her. Her hair dryer was broken.

Talk about a grimm tale-- Brothers, that was the worst. I almost didn't get out of that tower alive.

My mother used to warn me but I never learned. My friends tried to tell me but I didn't listen. I had to learn it all the hard way and learn the same lessons again and again.

So now days, no more playing the hero for me. What's that? The ship is sinking? I got to do something! Lady, I'll put the children on the lifeboat. For your sake, I hope you know how to swim.

Consider this your liberation and mine.



Harry Ramsden Goes To America

Fish And Chips Across The Pond

Big Mac was chained in onion rings,
the Fries, all standing guard
while Fish and Chips in blue helmets
flew in from Scotland Yard

"Harry Ramsden's moving in,"
a spud was heard to say,
"and things will never be the same,
the Brits are here to stay."

Is it true? Are we once again to hear the call, "The British are coming, the British are coming!" on American soil? Will Big Mac ever free himself from his chain of onion rings? Find out next time when Ronald McDonald says, "........."

Oh, that's right, Ronald never talks. Find out next time when the Burger King says, "..........." Oh wait, BK never talks either, just stands there with that evil, perverted look on his face.

Oh well, stay tuned for the latest news from the front of the Fast Food Wars right here at Wackemall.com.

Fast Food Skates Past The King?

Freshville Follies

The King, he drove to Freshville--
found Sonic waiting there.
The tots sped past on roller skates.
Chill Thrills were everywhere.
He reached to push the button.
He's planned to mix it up
but Sonic double dogs the King
and Happy Hour erupts!

Another setback for BK as he attempts to rule the world and World War III, more commonly know as the Fast Food Wars, continue here at Wackemall.com.

It Comes With The Territory

I decided this morning that because most of the garden has been harvested it would again be okay to allow my chickens free range of the entire back yard until planting time rolls back 'round. I really don't like confining them to the small chicken yard but the damage they do to the garden is completely beyond belief so throughout the Spring and Summer growing seasons their vegetables are all cuttings, trimmings, table scraps and the occasional fruit and vegetable that doesn't look as good as those we reserve for our table.

In other words, my chickens eat better than some people in the world and all I ask is eggs.

After releasing them to the yard they happily scattered out looking for bugs, grubs, plants, worms and anything else they might scratch up to eat, ignoring their chicken feed altogether. That is, all except the old rooster who followed me as I walked back into the garden to survey the few things left growing there.

When I turned around, there he was-- attack mode, wings outstretched, feathers ruffled, feet ready to flog. He pecked me on my boot-- a challenge. "Really," I said, "You have this whole yard and you have to have this spot? Why don't you get something to eat instead? And I'll go in the house and do the same, deal?"

I assumed the most non threatening posture I could imagine and attempted to walk around him but no, he blocked my way again, and again pecked my boot.

Now I could easily kill this rooster but I don't. As far as roosters go he is a lousy fighter who always attacks from the front and always attacks my boots. He's probably too fat to fly up and flog my face where he might actually do some damage. Besides, I've grown fond of him over the years. I just know to always wear boots when I'm near him.

He repeatedly blocked my path despite my every effort to make a passive escape. No, I didn't hurt him, I just allowed him to attack my boots just as he always does and as I locked the gate behind me he crowed his victory crow, again, just as he always does.

So why does he attack me? He never attacks my mother. He never attacks women, He never attacks children. He doesn't even attack the younger roosters. He only attacks men-- grown men. That old rooster attacks me because I'm a man.

Just like some people I know.

And I continue to allow them to hang around unmolested as well.

Territory, think about it.

Downtown Greensboro Parking Blues

They gave you a ticket,
it's not our fault.
We warned high tech would be that way
before that crap was bought.

But you just had to have it,
you had to cut us down
so now we meter deserts
and you can't park downtown.

Once again, Another American city sells their reliable old parking meters at public auction only to replace them with high tech electronics that never work but in Greensboro, North Carolina they take it one step farther, they ticket drivers for parking at broken electronic meters.

Aug 27, 2016

North Carolina Under Attack

Raleigh, NC-- Satellite images show a strange green invader has covered much of the State of North Carolina. Millions are trapped with no way out as this strange green mass threatens to move north to Virginia. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has declared a state of emergency but the North Carolina National Guard is already trapped.




Learn more at VegetableStalker.com.

And stay tuned to Wackemall Network News for the latest updates.

Northampton's Racist Parking Meters?

They talk about upgrades,
credit cards and dumb apps,
while we try to warn you.
Are you deaf, perhaps?
We're always work ready, always embolded,
and here in Northampton
we're color coded!

As always, the parking meters of the world continue to send me Parking Meter Poetry to tell me of their plight and warn you, Dear Motorist. of the scourge of technology driven by greed. Why before you know it cities will be using technology that automatically charges your credit card for parking any time your car should even get near one of those new fangled electronic app thingies.

What then? You'll wish for old school parking meters, that's what.

Parking Meters Reject App Technology

First you try to cheat us,
just not pay at all.
Then you switched to credit cards
to bring about our fall.
Now with new technology
you lure us to your trap.
Well just show us your money
'cause we don't want your app!

Sad but true, parking meters all over the nation are growing concerned that new technologies might not pay off for them and only end up being profitable for the designers of high tech applications and software designers who cash in via remote and run with the money while the parking meters remain attached to their polls unable to pursue.

Aug 25, 2016

I Didn't Mean To Start A Fight

One day, as I was coming home from running some errands, just as I approached my driveway I came upon a skateboard in the middle of the street sans any rider.

I managed to get the car around it and as soon as I parked I walked out into the street and retrieved the skateboard. My first thought was that it was probably broken like the board with the missing wheel I found last week but upon inspection I found it appeared to be in perfect working order.

I must admit that just for a moment I thought about keeping it but then remembered that I was pushing 60 years of age and never learned to ride a skate board. To attempt to do so now would almost certainly result in something being broken and odds are good it would be bones before board. I decided a better idea would be to take the board and see if I could locate an owner.

In a few minutes I came across a group of kids riding an assortment of skate boards, roller skates and strange contraptions that wobble about as a means of propulsion. "This belong to anyone you know?" I asked.

"That's mine," One of the boys shouted frantically, "How did you get it?" I have seen the kids playing around the neighborhood but have no idea who they are. Seems every year we get a new crop.

"I found it in the middle of the road," I answered. "Leave it in the road and a car will run over it."

"I told you to leave my board alone!" he shouted as he slugged another boy.

A neighbor came out and helped me separate the boys. Turns out they were brothers. Thinking back to when I was his age I would have handled the situation in pretty much the same way... After all, boys will be boys.

Make Mine A Coney

Fascist Footlongs

Sonic's going main stream,
no girls on roller skates,
no tough guys with their Blasters
a hangin' by the gates.
Ol' BK calls the shots now,
he owns the Frozen Zone
and Tots who venture too far in
ain't never goin' home.

And so it is the Fast Food Wars continue right here at Wackemall.com. Stay tuned for our next episode when Ronald McDonald says, "........"

What? You thought the clown could talk?

Aug 24, 2016

Not My Baby!

When I was in my late 30s this redneck white boy happened to meet one of the most attractive young black women I have ever met in my life. And not only was she attractive but she was sweet, had a good job and made far more money than I made.

Now a lot of men are intimidated by women with money but not me. I would have liked her with or without her money but not having to worry about money for a change was a huge relief. Dating is expensive even with girls with practical and modest expectations.

It very well could have been she was the perfect woman for me. She gave me lots of space and was close when I wanted her close. But our relationship was soon to end for reasons that caught me completely by surprise.

I had been married twice before. She had never been married, having spent her time and energy on education, degrees and climbing the corporate ladder. Whereas she was getting her first college degree at 22, when I turned 22 I was divorcing my first wife and beginning what would be 17 years of child support, fighting with my ex over custody and pulling over on the side of the road and crying my eyes out every time I dropped my son off at his mother's house.

So when the night came when that beautiful, sweet, intelligent black woman leaned up against me and whispered in my ear, "I want to have a baby." All I could do was walk out the door without ever saying a word and never look back.

I know it was wrong. I know I should have done better. But she could not have scared me more had she held a loaded gun to my head and threatened to shoot me. I don't dislike children but at that moment in time all I could imagine, all I could picture, was 17 more years of child support, fights with my ex, and crying on the side of the road.



So if someone tells you Billy Jones isn't scared of anything... Well there was that one thing that scared me worse than anything has ever scared me before or since.

I hope she's well and found someone who could give her that baby. I'm sorry it wasn't me.

Aug 23, 2016

Guinea Pig Tractor-- Sold

Ever heard of a guinea pig tractor? The link goes to Google where you can find several examples and instructions on how to build your own.

(Click on the photo to enlarge.)

A guinea pig tractor is without a doubt the easiest and cheapest way to raise guinea pigs. For starters, a guinea pig's favorite foods grow in your yard. Up to 80% of a guinea pig's diet can be grass. And here in the Piedmont of North Carolina your guinea pig can live outdoors 10 months out of the year.

I built this guinea pig tractor when I was raising guinea pigs for sale. Since our farm is 45 minutes away from my home I needed an easy way to keep a few piggies close at hand to drop off at customers nearby without having to travel to the farm with every order. This did the trick.

Using the guinea pig tractor is easy. Lift up the metal roof and put your piggy inside. Your grass will be accessible to your piggy through the chicken wire on the floor. Don't worry about Piggy's feet, the chicken wire lays flat on the ground. And to make sure Piggy's feet stay healthy there's a ledge Piggy can climb on to rest her feet if necessary.

Of course you'll want to hang a big water bottle on the shaded side and move Piggy to the shade on really hot days. And always make sure you have store bought guinea pig food available for him as he needs more Vitamin C than he can get from eating grass, clover and weeds. Or add just enough pure cranberry juice to his water to make it turn pink.

And be sure you are not spraying any chemicals on your lawn.

Then just use the handles to move the tractor it's own length or width most every day depending on how fast your grass grows and how much of a pig Ms Piggy happens to be.

Piggy will help mow your lawn and help fertilize at the same time. And if you move the tractor almost every day there's no stink and almost no clean-up ever needs be done.

Since I'm not in the pig business any more I'll let this Guinea Pig Tractor go for $10.00 cash, in Greensboro, North Carolina. Or I'll deliver anywhere in Greensboro for a total of $25.00. Just send an e-mail to RecycleBill@gmail.com


Remember: There's only 1 and when it is gone it is gone.... Sorry, this one is sold. I can design and build another but not for that price as I'll most likely have to go out and buy new materials.

Aug 21, 2016

Not So Holy Wedlock

I knew this girl that worked at a truckstop in Winder, Georgia. She was 25 and had been married 5 times.

I was trying to pick her up but she kept telling me she was a Christian and never had sex outside of marriage. Finally, knowing I wasn't making any headway I looked at her in front of the other waitresses and said, "So let me get this straight, you've been married 5 times and you're only 25 and you never have sex out of wedlock?"

"That right," she smiled.

"So in other words," I replied, "Every time you get horny you get married."
 

The look on her face and laughs from the other waitresses were worth being told I had to leave the truckstop and not come back.

Old Habits

Old habits die hard... And rarely for the right reasons.

Sheryl Crow, Nude Page 3 Girl

This week’s all nude Page 3 Girl is none other than Cheryl Crow. No, not that Sheryl Crow, this Cheryl Crow.

Cheryl Crow, Page 3 Girl Cheryl, along with her band of birds that include Tim, Shawn, Mike, and Peter, have been flying all over the country since leaving Missouri a few years ago. “Are they trying to become famous?” you ask.

No, they’re crows, remember: they’re looking for corn fields. Or perhaps to crash and burn.





This particular photograph was taken in the parking lot of of a Tuesday night music club on Diamond Road where Cheryl was heard to squawk, “All I wanna do is soak up the sun and hide from Kid Rock so I don’t get hit with the difficult kind of... Na-na, you missed me. A change would do you good.”

To which Steve McQueen was heard to reply, “There goes the neighborhood. I’m over you and I’m leaving Las Vegas to find a place that’s safe and sound.” We wonder what hubby, Lance Armstrong thinks?

Come back next week to view our next look at all nude, Page Three Girls... or we can talk about the hole in my pocket.

Aug 19, 2016

Babies, Blue Hearts And Pot Brownies

"Oh Baby, do you look hot in fur!" I shouted. And as she stripped in front of me, she held my world in her hands, so I gave her my blue heart.

But alas I had to get on up the road and pen a pretentious poem while eating her pot brownies.


This was another of my hyperlink poems, or guided Internet tours as I sometimes refer to them. To really enjoy the full effect of this multimedia poetry you must click on each link to view what is behind, giving the text a 3rd dimension. It's a form of text that can only exist on the Internet but sadly, because of link rot, does not last forever.

Aug 18, 2016

Eating The Empire

Big Mac Attack!

The Big Mac Attack is coming soon
and all will then be lost.
The red headed clown will put us down
no matter what the cost.
So hide your chicken sandwiches
and all that you hold dear
for all that is left will be sesame seeds,
when Big Mac, he gets here.

Could the end of the Fast Food War be near or are the fries just overcooked?

Food Fight!

Submariners Attack

Jersey Mike And Jimmy John each took the Subway
no doubt of the invasion they had planned.
While Blimpie floated far above, relaying their commands.

Quizino, he waited in the harbor
beneath the murky waters cold and deep
while dreaming of the day fries would perish in the streets.

But when the day was over, there was no turning back.
The red headed clown was laughing, found
where the Subway jumped the track.

The Micky Ds terrorists strike the homeland for a second time and the Main Stream Media still refuses to tell the story. Can no one see what is going on? Am I the only one? Remember: conspiracy starts with a con... And you are all being conned.

The Blogging Cow

The Blogging Cow to the left was rustled from Chick-Fil-a, a popular fast food restaurant that specializes in serving chicken in stores generally placed in malls and shopping centers located in upscale neighborhoods. Rustling the cow out of the mall was easy, all I had to do was promise her warm hand jobs and no more cold electronic milking machines, and she followed me right on the truck. The hard part was teaching her to repaint the sign.



I hear they still hang rustlers in some states so I'm forced to lay low.

And remember, like the cow says, "Eat more people."


How Hot Is It?

It's So Hot...

The rooster done stopped crowin',
the beans, they ain't growin',
the 'possums sit and beg... 

A baseball, no one's throwin',
as ice, we're all a stowin',
to cool down all the kegs.

 I'm dreaming of it snowin'
an folks, they ain't goin'
just restin' tired legs...

The ol' spring, it quit flowin'
the winds, they quit blowin'.
and the sow stopped layin' eggs...


Aug 16, 2016

Wackemall 1 Sold

So how did I come up with the name Wackemall? About 30 years ago I attempted what became an unsuccessful venture at building better roof racks for cars and trucks. Making better racks wasn't as hard as marketing. I decided on the name Wackemall as a spoof on the Yackima brand of vehicle roof racks that was already very popular at the time and remains so today.

The roof rack business never took off but in a way Wackemall did take off in 2004 when I created the Wackemall 1, the world's first Streetplane, which was in reality a street legal moped under North Carolina law at that time.















 That photo was at Horizon Park in Downtown Greensboro. This next photo was taken in Textile Drive Park near my home. I used to "fly" my Streetplane everywhere getting 100 to 150 miles per gallon using a 33cc Robin-Subaru 4 cycle engine.

 
  
The Wackemall 1 attracted nationwide attention for a while, getting us a mention in the Make Magazine blog in 2006. Along about that same time we became the feature of a Discovery Channel, Canada segment. Here's a shot looking from inside the hangar




It was fun while it lasted but it is no more. But I do still have the little red and white ant wagon with 6 wheels collecting dust in storage should someone want to buy it. It's of my own creation, the sideboards are removable, and all 4 front wheels steer together.


Tuscon Parking Meter Plague

'Twas a time when we were healthy,
ate coins, took daily craps
but now we're sick, a dying breed
infected with the apps.

Alas, is there no hope for our old friends the Parking Meters? Will no one find a cure? Tune in next time when a meter maid says, "What, do I look like a nurse or something? Just swipe your card and sign the ticket."

The Bench

"Right over there, Officer," the shopkeeper ordered pointing at an old man sleeping on a bench. "He's sleeping on that bench right over there. The old fool claims he's a cop. I want him gone before he scares all my customers away."

"Yes Sir," the young police officer replied. "You just go on back inside your shop where you'll be safe and I'll take care of him."

"You just do that," the shopkeeper insisted as he went back inside to watch from the window of his shop.

"You can't sleep here," the young officer said to the old man wrapped in a blanket and laying on the bench across the street from the shop.

"You're right, I can't sleep here," the old man replied looking up at the young police officer. "Too many people keep waking me up. But I can rest here."

"You can't rest here either," the officer insisted.

"Why not?" the old man asked.

"Because it's against the law to sleep here?" the officer answered.

"But I'm not sleeping, I'm resting."

"You were trying to sleep."

"So what's wrong with sleeping?" the old man asked. Everybody does it. Why I bet even you sleep."

"Not here I don't."

"No you don't," the old man complained. "I bet you sleep in a nice warm bed under a nice dry roof, don't you?"

"I sure do," the young cop couldn't help but smile.

"Well if I'm not sleeping in your bed then what's wrong with my sleeping here?"

"It bothers people," the officer politely answered.

"I'm not bothering anyone," the old man grumbled, "I keep all to myself, don't bother nobody."

"You're taking up the whole bench so no one else can sit down," the officer explained.

"There's no one here but the two of us," the old man fussed. "If you want to sit all you've got to do is ask. I'll share the bench with anyone."

"I don't want to sit."

"They why do you want my bed?" the old man asked.

"I don't want your bed," the officer insisted, "I want you off of my bench."

"So this is your bench. Sorry, I didn't see your name on it. As a matter of fact I didn't see anyone's name on the bench. Perhaps you should mark it better. Old eyes you know." The old man grinned.

"Well actually I work for the city and the city owns this bench," the young officer insisted. "And if you don't stop wasting my time I'm going to have to run you in."

"I used to work for the city," the old man said.

"Really," the officer asked, "what department?"

"I was a cop," the old man answered, "until I harassed the wrong old man for sleeping on a bench."

"So you're the one," the young officer said. "My training officer told me about you. Why don't you just see if you can get some sleep then move on along when you're feeling more like it." The old man nodded, smiled and pulled his blanket up over his head to block the cold.

As the young police officer walked away the shopkeeper came running out of the shop, "Are you going to let him stay?" the shopkeeper asked, "What about my customers?"

"He's a cop," the young officer replied.

"Dressed like that?" the shopkeeper complained.

"He's working under cover. You'll do well to keep away from his investigation or you could be charged with interfering with police business."

Aug 14, 2016

Simple Poetry With Another Side

Coupled Couplets

A barefoot walk along the road
to destinations never told.
We find true love, each our own way
and dream we'll see the light someday...

Will The Real Shelly Please Rise From The Grave?

Look Shelly, I Fixed It

I think that I shall never see
a poem as lovely as a tree
for if I may, for if I might
I think I'd surely die of fright.

Meryl Streep, Nude Page 3 Girl!

She told our photographer her name was Imogen Parrot, but some on our staff believe her real name to be, Meryl Streep. But then we could be wrong. It may not be she's Sophie's choice but she's our choice. The devil may be out of Africa but she wears prada!


Imogen-- or if you prefer, Meryl-- claims to be an accomplished actress of stage, film, and television. She talks about a relationship with some guy named, Oscar and some gal named Emmy, but we were unable to verify. As you can no doubt see, our Imogen is a flamboyant and colorful character who-- despite her age-- still remains very attractive.

Update: We’ve since learned that Imogen is in-fact-- a man. A pretty man but a man just the same. All I’ve got to say is, Buddy, you’ve got a lot of nerve trying to pass yourself off as Meryl Streep, Page 3 Girl. The staff here at BloggingPoet.com promises to be more careful in the future.

Memories Of Chapel Hill

Back many tears ago I found myself a newly divorced 20 something driving a tractor-trailer for a living, hauling steel to construction sites. At the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, the new Dean Smith Center was under construction requiring perhaps millions of pounds of steel beams. For almost an entire summer I hauled steal beams to the site almost every day, five, sometimes 6 days a week.

On one of my earliest trips there, as I pulled out of Chapel Hill on NC 54 I noticed this beautiful young woman about my age walking up the road. As Chapel Hill is only an hour from my home I thought this beautiful woman might be single and might be someone I'd really like to know. Yes, like all young men I wanted to have sex but what I wanted most was someone to spend forever with.

I slowed to a stop and asked he if she would like a ride.

She flipped me the bird.

Undeterred, day after day, week after week, I would see her walking up NC 54, books in hand and every time I would pull over and offer her a ride. How far she walked I don't know but I sometimes spotted her 5 miles away from where I'd spotted her before.

Every time I stopped she flipped me the bird. I never pushed the issue.

One day after leaving the Dean Smith Center, having just pulled onto NC 54, I spotted her at the top of a hill. I was planning to stop as the old truck slowly accelerated up the grade but before I got half way up, a huge summer storm hit and the bottom fell out.

She was immediately soaked to the bone, her long dress sticking to every detail of her beautiful body, a sight that would stir any man. She turned to see me driving up the hill and began waving her arms to flag me down. My chance to talk to her had come at last.

I've never figured out why I did it but just as I got to where she was I flipped her the bird, shifted gears and left her standing in the rain.

Chapel Hill would for me, always remain but a memory.

Aug 10, 2016

You Never Forget

How many of you remember learning how to ride a bicycle?

I was 6 years old, in the first grade and had never had a bicycle before. Having long outgrown my tricycle I was just dying to get a bicycle but I had 3 younger brothers and money was tight. I kept asking my parents and they kept telling me I'd have to wait a little longer.

There was this kid in my class named Robin Beaker who lived on the block of Peterson Street that runs between Elwell Avenue and Sykes Avenue. On the way home from school I would go one block out of my way to go play at Robin's house. Robin didn't have a bicycle either but his much older brother who had already left home had left behind a huge English racing bicycle-- the first I had ever seen.

Now the fact that neither Robin nor I were tall enough to climb up on this bicycle wasn't a deterrent to two 6 year olds determined to learn to ride a bicycle. Neither was the fact that we couldn't move the pedals a full rotation before running out of short little legs.

So with the help of Robin's front porch we took turns mounting the giant bicycle, pushing off and riding the gravel driveway a few feet into the street... Well, usually we fell onto the gravel and got skint up before we got to the street but even after a few tears that neither of us ever told anyone else about until now (Sorry Robin, but it's been 54 years) we each took our turns at getting back on and trying again and again day after day.

Of course, all the gravel rash didn't go unnoticed by my mother and I had no issue telling her Robin and I were learning to ride his brother's bicycle all on our own but the frequency of my wounds was beginning to become an issue with her. So was the possibility that I might actually make it to the street on a bicycle much larger than was safe for me to be riding.

Little did she know... Well do I have to spell it out for you?

Like most towns in 1962, Greensboro had a radio station that featured a Saturday morning swap shop where people could call in with items they would like to sell or trade, leave their telephone number, and others could call them. It was without a doubt one of the most popular programs on AM radio back in the day as the service was 100% free to callers and listeners.

As it so happened, one Saturday morning a lady called in to tell Greensboro that she had a red 20" boys bicycle for sale for $5.oo and I just happened to be sitting directly across from Momma and Daddy at the kitchen table.

Apparently the expression on my face said it all as I never said a word. Momma said, "It would be better than his constantly falling off that bigger bicycle."

"Call the woman," Daddy said as he finished his coffee.

That's how I got my first and to this day, all time favorite bicycle. Fifty four years later I still prefer that anything with 2 wheels be painted red or black. It was that bicycle that taught me to turn wrenches and do repairs for myself. Many a time I made the trip to Dockery Lumber Company to buy tire patches and put them on myself. Having that red bicycle gave me confidence and skills that have carried me throughout my entire life.

Yesterday I was driving down the street when I saw 3 small children's bicycles in a pile of trash by the side of the road. I like to pick up junk, cut it up, make things out of it and sell for scrap metal anything I don't use so I stopped and loaded the bikes on the back of my pick-up. But last night, when I started pulling them off the truck I noticed the only things these three bikes really need is air in the tires.

And the thought of taking a saw, torch or welder to any of the 3 just doesn't sit well with me. Not when I know there's someone nearby who is every bit as poor as my family was back then.

So those of you who found this story via Facebook have already seen the photos. The 3 little bicycles are free to the first people who want them for children to ride but not to go to the scrap yard. Not yet. I want to know that somebody's children get the chance I got.

Aug 1, 2016

22-270-223, One Soldier's Story

I don't know why Daddy hated yankees so much. The war between the states ended over a hundred years before Daddy was born and yet Daddy acted as if he's been wounded in battle or lost his brother in the war. And I eventually began to think it a bit ironic that just after I was born he moved Momma and me from North Carolina-- a state he said was overrun with yankees-- to, as Daddy called it, West, By God, Virginia, which according to the history books was a Union and thus yankee state.

Of course, you never wanted to push the issue with folks from West Virginia as a lot of them seemed to think the same way as my Daddy did. Even my Momma's homeschooling classes couldn't explain that.

The only thing I understood for certain was that about the only thing Daddy ever did that I didn't get to follow along was when he went hunting. And from the time I was a little bitty feller, as early as I can remember, I can remember Daddy going off for days and coming back with deer, bear, squirrel, rabbit, ducks and other critters for meat, pelts, fur and feathers. Sometimes he even went off to Kentucky to go elk hunting.

And the pictures he took made me want to go even more.

Daddy and his friends talked about hunting all the time. To hear them tell it there was no greater achievement in the world than to kill the biggest buck, bear or whatever kind of wild game was in season at the time but despite all my pleading Daddy always said I wasn't big enough or proficient enough with a rifle to go hunting.

Looking back, Daddy was right, but try telling that to a little boy who is dead set to go.

The shack Daddy had built for us to live in was pitched high upon a mountain where we could see everything for miles in every direction as was Daddy's intent when he built it. To the south of our shack, about a half mile down the hill was a holler with a wash on the other side left by the coal company that had strip mined there many years before. Made up of nothing but slate, shale and old remnants of the coal that was once mined there nothing much would grow on the wash so it was always bare. For whatever reason Daddy had planted a steel pole with a cast iron bell atop it in that wash when we first moved there-- I suppose as some sort of long distance door bell that visitors never got to use as that whole driveway washed out forcing Daddy to cut in a new road from the north.

The summer I turned eleven Daddy told me to go get my rifle and bring it out on the back porch.

Our back porch was covered and bigger than the rest of the entire 2 bedroom shack. Anytime the weather was warm enough it served the purpose of kitchen, bedrooms, family room, shop, parlor... pretty much everything except a bathroom, which was located in a smaller shack off to the east of the house so that the prevailing winds blew away from the house. Most of my friends think it funny that I grew up in a shack with Internet and no indoor bathrooms but when you never knew anything different it didn't seem strange at all.

Now before I even tell you, anyone who knows anything about guns knows that shooting anything a half mile away with a .22 rifle is impossible but that's exactly what Daddy wanted me to do. Daddy gave me exactly 100 rounds of .22 long rifle ammunition and told me to shoot at that bell. "When you can hit that bell more times than not I'll move you up to a .270," Daddy said. "And when you become proficient with the .270 I take you hunting."

"But Daddy," I asked, "that bell is so far away I can barely see it-- how will I know when I hit it?"

"That bell will ring when you hit it, Son. And your Momma will count those rings every day until you can consistently ring it more times than not."

I had no idea how hard an undertaking my Daddy had just set me out to do. I'd already been shooting that single shot rifle for a couple of years, always with supervision, but most of what I'd shot at before had been cans on fence posts not more than 50 feet away.  I missed all 100 shots that first day. As a matter of fact, I missed 100 shots a day for 3 weeks before I rang that bell the first time.

Then it took me two more weeks of misses to get my second ring.

But by the time I got that second ring I had learned more about shooting on my own than Daddy had ever taught me. I learned that even though it was impossible to see my hits it was possible to see my misses and adjust accordingly. I learned how I had to aim high above the target to get the bullet to carry that far and adjust my sights accordingly. I learned how important it was to position myself properly when shooting. I learned how the wind, sun and clouds effect your shooting. All of these things are things young shooters are taught but most never learn for lack of exposure or need

Oh there were days I just wanted to give up and quit and on other days I simply wasted away the ammo with no real intention of hitting the bell but then Momma who was always out there on the porch would cheer every time I rang that bell and tell me how proud Daddy was going to be that I was getting better and I would be inspired just enough not to give up hope.

One day, after over 4 months of practicing and almost at the end of another box of shells, Momma started shouting, "Fifty one, Fifty one, Honey you rang the bell fifty one times!"

"I did?" I asked, "Really?"

"You sure did!" she shouted.

"And I've got 4 bullets left over," I smiled.

"Don't shoot them yet," she laughed. Then she put 4 soup cans on the porch rail," Shoot these instead."

I effortlessly picked off all four. "Yea!" she shouted, "Now you rang fifty five!"

"But those four were cans?" I questioned.

"Do you see any cans?" Momma asked looking down off the mountain.

"No."

"Then keep it between me and you, your Daddy won't see any cans either. You rang the bell fifty five times."

The .270 was a completely different animal. For starters, it had a scope and I had never used a scope before. It took some getting used to. And while a .270 isn't the hardest rifle to handle in the hands of a smaller than average size eleven year old it seems like you're firing a rocket at first. And it's loud. Between the kick, the noise and the scope cutting my eye (Daddy called that a rite of passage) I found myself slightly intimidated by this weapon. But Daddy spent the first couple of days with me and before the end of the second day my first hit with the .270 shattered the old cast iron bell into dozens of pieces. "Well," Daddy said, "scrap metal is worth the same price in one piece or fifty."

Daddy went on to cut the tops out of some old 55 gallon drums and with Momma's help I painted targets on both sides of each one. Then he hung then up in the holler and practice started all over again. By the time deer season came there was hardly anything left to shoot at.

It wouldn't be until almost Spring before I got my first kill. Shooting things that run away is another skill altogether and no amount of still target shooting prepares one to lead his target as it runs and jumps through thickets and brush, across streams and behind trees but that 6 point buck I got my first year might as well have been the biggest deer in the world as far as I was concerned. Especially when I had to drag it out of the woods.

At eleven, I would have been happy to take a picture and leave it there but Daddy never left game behind. "Son," he said, "if it's too big for you to drag home then you should have waited on a smaller one. Two or three little deer will eat a lot more food than one big deer and the little ones are easier to take home."

Daddy had his ways about him. They weren't always easy but I always learned the lesson well. That was the best tasting venison I ever ate.

Over the coming years Daddy and I went on many a hunting trip for almost anything that lived in the woods. I often worried that we might hunt the animals into extension but Daddy said we'd stop long before it got to that point. He said loss of habitat had forced them into smaller and smaller spaces and the lack of natural predators made hunting all the more necessary as they would eat up all the food in those small spaces and starve to death if their numbers weren't kept in check.

It was as if we were doing the world a service.

The liberals blamed what became known as World War III on newly elected President Trump but Donald Trump had yet to be sworn into office when American and Chinese naval vessels started shooting it out off the coast of China. Of course the conservatives blamed President Obama but a lot of people were saying the war was manufactured by the US and China to keep their respective weapons manufacturing companies profitable and both countries' economies afloat as the war on terror could only sell the big guns, airplanes, tanks, ships and other big money makers to one side. In this war both sides are buying up everything they can get their hands on. After all, terrorists don't buy tanks, submarines and $35 million dollar a copy fighter-bombers. Only government backed armies buy such things.

Either way, that's why I, Private First Class Jacob Johnson, enlisted in the United States Army on December 31, 2016 and less than three months later saw targets with guns of their own for the first time in my life.

It was my first day in actual combat and not 15 minutes in we found ourselves pinned down by a Chinese gun placement somewhere high in the mountains of western China. Everything was on a need to know basis and most of us-- myself included-- apparently didn't even need to know where we were at.

It was cold, barren and isolated. And as far as I can tell, the only reason we were here was because the Chinese were guarding it and the only reason the Chinese were guarding it was because we were here.

The guys were all pinned down behind the rock foundation walls of a couple of what used to be houses wasting ammo trying to hit the two Chinese gunners taking turns spraying us with thousands of rounds of what appeared to be at least the equivalent of two fifty caliper, tripod mounted guns above us. We couldn't even see the gunners, much less shoot them.

Sarge ordered me to run to another old ruin off to the right to try to flank them while everyone else laid down cover fire. No one expected me to make it, myself included. One of the Chinese gunners managed to shoot the ground right out from under my feet causing me to fall down the hill and out of sight where everyone thought I was dead. That allowed me just barely enough cover to work my way up to the old rock foundation and crawl inside.

Once inside I made my way to the wall closest to the Chinese gun placement and found a crack in the old foundation wall just big enough to sight my .223 caliper M16 rifle through and take aim at one of the Chinese gunners. At about 500 yards out I adjusted my sights, took aim and gently squeezed the trigger. Moments after the first Chinese gunner dropped all hell broke loose as the second Chinese gunner turned his gun in my direction pinning me down.

The guys quickly figured out what had happened and again started hitting the lone gunner with everything they could send flying his way forcing him to turn his attention back towards them. Again I placed my M16 in the crack and started to take aim at the second Chinese gunner, and just as he turned to open fire on me again I squeezed the trigger and ducked as bullets and chips of stone came raining down on top of me!

Then the shooting stopped.

A few more rounds were fired when a couple of the guys ran to the gun placement and shot the dead gunners again just to make sure they were dead then everyone started coming out of hiding. "Johnson," Sarge shouted, "Where'd you learn to shoot like that?"

"Back home, Sarge," I answered, "hunting with my Daddy."

"What in the hell were you hunting that required that kind of shooting?" one of the guys asked.

"Bells," I answered.

Later when the Captain arrived he was pretty happy that I was able to take out 2 gunners with only two shots. "Show him your rifle," Sarge said.

I held up my M16 which had taken a round from the 50 caliper Chinese machine gun and exploded just above me. Only about half of it remained. "Sarge," the Captain said, "when you get back take Corporal Johnson over to field command and have him shipped off to sniper school."

"Yes Sir," Sarge answered. As the Captain walked away Sarge complained, "Just my luck, every time I get one that knows how to shoot they take them away from me, leave me with this bunch of lead chunking yahoos."