Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Rumbling along the narrow, potholed dirt lane in his 1940 Studebaker Champion, he realized he was almost home. Would they think he had changed? He knew he had. Even though he thought about what impact it would have on them and their reaction upon him, he was so tired he could not try to anticipate it. Let the marbles fall where they will.

There, ahead, it was the old homestead. Lights in the front windows. A welcome of sorts, at least. They were at least up for him.

Now along the rock wall in front of the property he turned through the drive entrance in the ancient tire wheel ruts toward the house.

Smoke rose from the chimney as he parked and got out. He stretched his legs and looked around at the pastures and then across the road towards the O’Keiths place set back farther off the road. No lights there. Tomorrow for sure.

He looked up and watched the clouds as they drifted overhead.

He took a deep breath. His eyes adjusted to the night and his gaze fell upon the house. His home. There his parents were, together at the entrance to his house, standing in the doorway, waiting.

He stood for a moment, returning their gaze.

He reached in the car and pushed the seat forward to grab his duffle bag from the back seat. He set it on his shoulder and pushed the seat back and closed the door.

Laddie was suddenly in front of him. Anxious. A whine. On his knees he took the dogs face into his hands and brought it to his to place his nose and forehead on Laddie’s nose bridge.

“Ahh, Laddie, I missed you terrible. How you been boy? Okay, let’s go!”

Laddie immediately healed to his right side and they walked the short distance to greet Dad and Mom in embraces. Dad patting him on the shoulder. Mom’s embrace tight and secure.

It was going better than he had thought.

How could I have known that they knew? I guess it’s one of the things we learn in life about life itself.

When you love your offspring you go to them, don’t you?

God it was good to be home.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I know! I know!

They all agreed to meet at the old baseball diamond where they used to play when they were kids. That was many years ago. Although there had been many changes in each of their lives since then, "the field" was, and will always be, "their field".
At the field, he turned off the street onto the grass that ran up to the grandstands along third base. That would be the place they would park.
No one else had arrived yet. He glanced down at the clock on his dashboard. "Seven-eighteen" he thought to himself. He was early, as usual. In this case though, he knew he would get there early just on the chance that...
He looks up at his rear view mirror and sees another pick-up truck turn off the road and maneuver its way next to his own. He rolls down his window and looks across the passenger seat to see his old friend, Kurt. He gets out and walks around in front of his truck towards Kurt’s truck just as a third vehicle pulls up next to the two of them. The glare of the headlights did not stop the first two friends from embracing each other in a friendly hug.
Once the lights of the third vehicle turned off and their eyes adjusted, they confirmed that Bob had finally arrived. He got out and joined his friends, “Hey you guys!”
Another embrace. Smiles. “Well, here we are... I know we're all a little early, but... "Anybody bring their glove?”
“Ha! Nope?”
It was quiet now... awkwardly quiet, as the three of them stood there, their hands in their pockets, each of them not knowing what to say, or what to do next. They instinctively walk over to the bleachers and sit down. Everyone remains quietly still.
The three men simultaneously look up at the sound of screeching brakes just as a fourth car pulls off the county road and comes to a stop next to their cars. Yep, it was Chris. He gets out and walks over to them and sets down the vase on the seat next to him.
“Well, let’s do this.”
Chris picks up the vase and transports it reverently as the four grown men make their way across the bleachers and through the opening in the fence into the playing field and out to short-stop.  There they remain silently standing for a moment in a circle.
Chris then says to the other three men, “Are you all ready for this?”
They all nod. “Okay! Turn around".
They all turn around and look out in the opposite direction from each other. Chris takes the vase and removes the lid. He grabs the base, holds it out in front of him, and then chaotically swirls it high above their heads causing the contents to fly everywhere. There, in the near-pitch darkness between second and third base, the men could hear the debris and slight whistling of the vase being swung about.
“Okay?" Chris asks. "On your marks. Get ready, GO!"
The four men dash about and scramble to collect the pieces. Everyone laughs and grabs what they can in the darkness. They push and playfully shove each other. It’s pure pandemonium. Finally, they slowly come to rest, each with their hands and pockets filled and chests heaving heavily for more oxygen.
They walk back through the infield, past the gate leading up into the bleachers along the third base side of the field. It is there, next to the single security light pole fixed to the food shack, they are able to lay out all of their pieces of wrapped candies. Each of the men slowly counts their booty.
“Ahh 36”,
“Shit, 25, again!”
Everyone laughs. “Well Chris", Bob says, "it looks like you're buying again!”
“I know. I know!”

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Tooth and Nothing but the Tooth, so help me God

A friend of mine from Winnipeg Canada chipped her tooth which after a day or two came out. I had some super glue and we were going to glue it back into place but she could not fit the broken piece back onto its home. So she opted to put it in a little cup with water. She said she was going to take it home to Canada and let her dentist deal with it.

It sat there in the little cup for a few days.

 One night I woke up and was thirsty and walked down to get a glass of water. I got a glass from the cabinet and filled it with water and drank it. I set it down on the counter and hit something. I flipped on the light and realized that I had put the glass down on the cup with the chipped tooth in it. But now the cup was on its side and though there was a residue of water in the cup the chipped tooth was gone. As the light that I had just turned on was an under the counter light I looked around on the counter to find the tooth but it was not there. There was a trail of water to the edge of the counter. I stepped over and flipped on the central lights for the entire kitchen and looked around for the tooth on the floor. It was no where in sight. I looked around section by section. Still no tooth. A little frustrated at 2:30AM I sighed and walked into the pantry to get a flash light. I thought I could kneel down and scan the floor at floor level. So I did. I moved the flash light slowly around and around the around until I had made a full circumference. Still no tooth.

Oh God! It must be under the refrigerator or the stove. I went up to the refrigerator and shined the light under it. No tooth. I went to the stove. Same thing. No tooth. I made another pass over the floor and was almost ready to give up and prepare my confession to my guest when I saw a little off-white piece of something in the corner. I crawled over and picked it up. Ah! The tooth. I proudly picked up my found piece and set it in the now righted cup. Filled it with water to what I had remembered it to have been. Turned off the lights and was off the hook as I went back to have a peaceful nights sleep.

I woke and as I laid there in bed heard my visitor in the kitchen and smelled coffee. I got up and went down to join her. I remembered the tooth and glanced over to the place where it had been the night before.

It wasn’t there. I looked around as inconspicuously as possible for the cup. But it was not there.

As I did not want to volunteer any mishaps I let it slide. The day went by with no mention of the tooth.

The next afternoon while dealing a hand of cribbage I casually mentioned, “Lorraine, I just noticed that your tooth is no longer in the little cup which you were keeping it.”

“Oh”, she says, “I threw it out. My tooth doesn’t hurt and my dentist can just fix it when I get back.”

“You threw your chipped tooth away?”


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hutch and Bob

     Photos: top: Jean and Bob Palmer Jr. bottom: Russell 'Hutch' and Barbara Hutchison

Two guys met in college at the University of New Mexico. They hit it off and became good friends. Russell ‘Hutch’ Hutchison would meet Barbara and Bob Palmer Jr. would meet Jean. The four of them did everything together. It was the establishment of a life long friendship that would have some very defining times that bonded them and their off spring together.

When WWII was upon them, they with the rest of the nation took it to heart to protect their country. Bob and Hutch were civil engineers. As Hutch was with the Corps of Army Engineers he served in the Philippines. Bob joined the Navy Seabees*.

The two men served in the Pacific. Their wives, who had become good friends, stayed in touch, corresponding by letters with them. Barbara and Jean both lived in Albuquerque just blocks away from each other. Frequently, they got together just to socialize, share tears, food coupons, victory gardens and meals - even gasoline when it was available.

Then one day Barbara received a telex from the State Department that Hutch was missing in action and was feared to be captured or killed. This was in 1942. She nor anyone would not learn more until the end of the war. No amount of inquires from Barbara, her parents, Hutch’s parents could produce any information about Hutch.

Can you imagine? Not knowing the fate of your husband for over two years!

The war went on. The tide turned. With the advance of the allied forces, Bob and his division of Seabees came, with horrific sacrifices, to all the battle scenes to rebuild the airstrips, the bridges, the roads and the quarters for the fighting men.

Bob would receive letters from Jean back home about life in Albuquerque, about Barbara and ‘no word of Hutch’.

Fatigue and exhaustion strained every fiber, tendon and every soul and yet, left the mind to ponder when it should have been better to rest but could not, would not. Never! Never let go of life and love and decency. Never! And so, Bob would be taxed with his love for his best friend and the thought that Barbara was worried a hundred times more than he – nay, infinitely times more.

The war was being won. Only in reflection could you look back and discern, yes, these were decisive victories and that it was suddenly going to be over. On Okinawa the allied forces readied for assault upon the main islands of Japan. Russia was pouring into Manchuria suddenly – in eight days annihilating the entire Western Japanese Imperial Army front with its’ learned blitzkrieg. With Russia poised to invade the islands of Japan from an unprotected Western front, Truman threw down the gauntlet.

The war was over.

Bob walked through the medical facilities on Okinawa. What needs were to be arranged?

Suddenly from a group of survivors from the Bataan Death March, someone called out, “Bob!”, in a weak voice, barely audible. Bob turned around and looked at the group of Americans. He looked into each skeletal face, each pair of sunken eyes. He did not recognize anyone. Was it his imagination? Maybe the person had called to someone else. Standing there scanning the faces, once again he hears, “Bob, it’s me!”

Bob steps forward looking at the unrecognizable features of a tortured skeleton among many other tortured skeletons, “Yes”, he says, “Who are you? Do I know you?”

“Bob, it’s me. Hutch.”

With unbelieving eyes, his soul discerns the voice. Bob steps forward. He kneels next to this soul and takes Hutch’s hand in his. Holds it. Looks deeply into his eyes and cries. He leans forward and embraces Hutch. Tears come to Hutch’s eyes in joy and gratitude in seeing his best friend for the first time in years.

Releasing each other from their embrace, Bob leans back and says, “I’ve got to call Jean and tell her. She’ll go over and tell Barbara. Barb, as you can well imagine, is living day to day, waiting.”

… Bruce Hutchison, Hutch’s son, is the godson of Bob Palmer Jr.

Happy Father’s day!

* Seabees were the Navy and Marine division’s engineers – roads, airfields, bridges, etc.


Lost in thought, I wandered down a side street which had a row of funky boutiques and miss match shops.  Then I saw it, in a window.

Standing there in front of the shop looking through the window display and up along the top cabinet of the aisle along the wall, there was the one item that I wanted.

I stepped back and went into the shop and walked past the window display to the last aisle. Now in the aisle I reached up and grabbed one. I opened and unfolded it. I set it aside and  before grabbing another making sure of the correct one.

They all looked the same but the wood was the thing that would make it last. So which would last the longest. I compared it to the one that I pulled off. Yes, this was the one.

With it under my arm I walked back through the aisles all the way to the other side of the shop. The owner having seen me and having completed the transaction with the other customer now followed me with his eyes.

Only to make the shopkeeper think that I might be interested in other items, I walked onto another aisle and feigned interest with some storage bowls, but then placed them back on their shelf. I deliberately walked into another aisle and looked and picked up some drinking glasses. I made an obvious ‘pffff’ sound, as if to indicate the asking price was totally ridiculous. Setting the glass down hard with a bang I deliberately walked without making eye contact to the shopkeepers’ counter where and placed my purchase on the counter. I took out my wallet and said, “Eser!”

It was marked as ‘esray’ but you never, ever pay full price.

“Esray”, says the shop owner.

I fold my wallet and turn to make a movement to put it back into my pocket, but he says: “Okay! Okay! Eser! For you!”

I can’t even fool a Jew after living here. Oy vey! “Thank you! It’s a Jewish treasure to be found nowhere else.”

“Oh, you will find them all over the Arab world, but don’t tell them I said so.”

We both smile and shake hands. “I have been working on the Mount Carmel projects. I have to have this as a keepsake.”

Still smiling, he says, “Yes, of course, where are you from?” He wraps the wooden folding dish rack in newspaper and ties it before he hands it to me.

“You will laugh, but here is my driver’s license.”

He takes it from my hand and I watched his eyes as they noticeably widen “Hawaii! Are you crazy? What are you doing here?”

“It’s a very long story” I tell him.

“It must be very interesting.”

“Oh, it is. Maybe some other time.”


“Shalom, my Brother.”