They’re Still Around

Someone you love to hate

An invitation for dinner and the theater was instrumental in my loathing for him.  He has as many years under his belt as I, and yet his hair only shows a sprinkling of grey and his waistline does not give the impression of an over-inflated life preserver.  All of his muscles appear to be in the proper place and his skin is taut without the resemblance of cracked leather.

He neither groans nor reaches for support when he sits or rises.  He seems to be in complete control of his faculties.  When questioned about anything, his response is not the “Duuh-Ruu” which has become synonymous with our own mode of speech.  He does not receive a pat on the head and the words, “There-There”  from others on the rare occasions when he will appear in public.

His optimistic outlook contradicts the impression that most people hold for those of us who make up the ranks of “Senior Citizens.”  His accounts of eighteen holes of golf followed by a five mile run brings about a severe case of dry heaves from the ones of us who are still out of breath from merely putting on our shoes.  How do we tell him that his wanton display of vitality is despicable?  Would he be offended if we simply said to him, “You make me sick?”

This was my thinking for years until I discovered that all of this is a farce.  His salt and pepper hair is a result of many hours spent in the “Cut & Curl” salon.  The trim waistline can be attributed to “Platex.”

The tight, smooth skin attests to the fact that “Cover Girl” really does work.  Countless hours of practicing controlled breathing is responsible for the lack of grunts and groans.  What would normally be glances of sympathy, in his case are interpreted as looks of “I can’t believe it.”

Deep down, his life in general is as rotten as the majority of us.  The golf game consists of nothing more than the insertion of a floppy disc into the modem and following instructions from “Micro-Soft.”

The five mile run is accomplished through the auspices of a video tape of Bill Clinton’s latest excursion around Washington.  Let’s face it, he is as decrepit and miserable as we are; however, he does have one thing going for him.

He is an avid devotee of the acting profession.  His ability to hold the attention of his audience is second to none.  It concerns me that he has never been presented an award for his efforts by the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The ever present witty remarks which he employs in response to any and all situations can be found in the current issue of “Reader’s Digest.”  Questions about his youthful demeanor are usually answered with quotes from “Health & Fitness.”  His desire to remain forever young at whatever the price is of the utmost importance to him.

Even an invitation to dinner must be extended well in advance in order for him to “Touch-Up”  his face, Wiggle into the girdle, rehearse a humorous comment and wait for the heavy breathing to subside after putting on his shoes.


Jump School

Seven days leave was authorized after the rigorous eight weeks of basic training, and the orders stated that we were to report to Ft. Benning, Georgia, for additional instruction that not only would enhance our skills; but would also include the necessary training to become one of the Army’s finest, a paratrooper.

Arriving at The Infantry School, we were taken to quarters that were much the same as we had lived in at Ft. Knox, Kentucky.  Wooden, two story buildings and double decked, metal cots were the nearest thing to luxury that was provided for our short stay. There was one major difference here.

While the company grade and non-commissioned officers were in charge during off duty periods, upon crossing a painted stripe on the pavement at the entrance to the training area, their authority ceased and they became just another trainee. (Field grade officers were trained separately and had their own personal cadre.)

To some this was somewhat disconcerting since it was unheard of for a lowly private to order an officer to the leaning rest position to attempt 10 push-ups for some small infraction. Once we crossed that painted stripe, we belonged to the jump school cadre lock, stock and  “YOU MEAT-HEADS WILL NEVER MAKE IT!” 

The first week of our training was spent in attempting to build up our bodies to withstand the rigors that would surely separate the men from the boys. Hours of squat jumps, push-ups, pull-ups, leaning rest positions and of course the traditional five mile run; were commonplace for both officers and enlisted men.

When the cadre had deemed that we were sufficiently hardened, our training for the ultimate goal, (the leaping from an aircraft in flight), began in earnest. Taken to a low platform, we were instructed how to safely execute a P. L. F. (parachute landing fall).

This involved the jumping from the platform, landing first on the balls of the feet, rolling to the calf, buttocks, and the shoulder or “push-up muscle”“If you don’t have a push-up muscle now, you will before we’re through with you,” was a favorite quote from the cadre.  Next came Suspended Harness” training.

‘Suspended agony’, as it was commonly referred to by the participants, was nothing more than being strapped into a parachute harness that was suspended from a frame and required to hang in agony for what seemed forever while instructors taught the correct method of “slipping” or (maneuvering a parachute in the air).

The dreaded “34 foot tower” was next. Again we were strapped into a harness and ascended the steps of the tower to be connected to a cable that ran from the tower to a sawdust pile some 100 yards away.

On command, we were required to leap from the door to be caught by the cable with a bone-shattering jolt and be carried down the cable to the sawdust pile.  After mastering the “34,” came the most frightening of the towers, the “250 ft. Monster Tower.”

This time we were strapped into a real parachute and were pulled up to the top of the cross members or “arms” of the tower. When told just how to slip to avoid the cold, hard, steel” of the tower, we were released and floated to the ground, free-fall.

The final week was the BIGGIE, (jump-week). Jumping was strictly voluntary and there were a few that chose not to continue. If this were the case, the ones that elected to “QUIT” were brought before the entire training group and ridiculed by the cadre as not having what it takes to be a member of this, “The finest outfit in the world.” Then they were sent back to their respective units as ‘Non-Qualified’.

There was very little talk as we loaded into a C-82 (flying boxcar) for our first jump. As hard as we tried to hide it, the unadulterated fear was evident on the faces of the two “sticks” or troopers seated on each side of the plane. With a roar, the plane lifted into the air and we were on our way to whatever would be the outcome.

The jump master yells the commands, STAND UP; HOOK UP; CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT; SOUND OFF FOR EQUIPMENT CHECK;” and finally the dreaded; STAND IN THE DOOR!” 

On this command, both sticks shuffled to the rear of the plane and the first man pivots into the gaping door and waits for the Jump Master to tap him on the hip and yell “GO!”

Once the tremendous shock of the parachutes opening subsides, the realization that you have so far survived becomes predominate. Nothing can describe the elation of floating from a height of 1200 feet with nothing attached but a beautiful canopy of silk.

When four more jumps have been successfully completed, the entire class is paraded before the big brass, and one by one our “WINGS” were pinned on our blouses. We have now become official members of the Army’s Elite Forces. We are now PARATROOPERS”.


Authors note: ~ Being crazy is not a requirement; but it helps”!       Dj.  



You meet a friend whom you have not seen in some time and immediately the question is asked, “Whachew bin up to?”   Now, this is not that the person asking the question is trying to probe into your personal business.

Rather; it is more of a statement of inquiry.  “I have not seen you in a month of Sundays, and I was wondering if you have been ill; or if anything exciting has been happening in your otherwise monotonous lifestyle.”

Along the same lines is another inquiry into the state of your health.   “Howya bin?”  You explain that you were hospitalized for a period of three weeks and this will prompt yet another question, “You bin sick?”

In order to appreciate these methods of greeting, you must be well versed in the state-of-the-art language that is commonplace in the southernmost parts of this great country.  There are no courses offered in any school that can prepare you for these encounters  You are strictly on your own if and when you venture anywhere below the Mason-Dixon Line.

Only a few of these innovative expressions are included in this article in order to prevent complete shock and your first response of, “DUUGGHH.”

If you are a total stranger in the South, you may even become lost and require directions   Before asking, you should familiarize yourself with who lives where and who used to live where.  This could prove invaluable in deciphering the directions, i.e.—

“Ye go down this heah road ’til ye git to th’ Hylton place an’ turn to’ard th’ Jenkins’ old place.  When ye git to th’ big tree ’bout a mile frum they barn, take a right-han’ turn lak you’re headed fer th’ creek, but you don’t go that fur.  They house is on th’ lef.”  It really couldn’t be any clearer, provided you know all of the specified persons.

If, in fact, you did require directions, do not be surprised if you are asked the question, “Y’all ain’t nevah bin down heah afore, has y’all?”  This is simply to gain an explanation for your rather unusual appearance rather than to seem nosey.

It will be a wise individual that refrains from suggesting that appropriate road signs should be erected in and around this Utopia.  Doing so will surely bring about the response of  “Why?  We ain’t lost!”

Another important item that should be mentioned here is;  Even if you do not understand:  Never, EVER, raise your voice or show anger.  You must remember that these gentle souls are concerned about your welfare, and it would grieve them tremendously to; ‘Waste a 12-gauge shotgun shell on the likes of you’…

And besides;  “They’re home and you ain’t.”


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Read any book about the Deep South in the days before the Civil  War, and you will surely find that some lady; usually of genteel background, had suffered from an attack of the “VAPORS” at one time or another.  In many cases, the attack was so severe that they were required to “take to their bed” for an extended period.

The exact cause of this malady was never explained.  However, I arrived at the conclusion that it had something to do with shock or astonishment since it usually followed an announcement from a daughter that she was keeping company with a young swain who lacked the proper breeding which their exalted station in life demanded.

Although I am far removed from the aristocracy of the plantation owner set, it nevertheless caused me concern that a little of this disorder, could perhaps have made its way through the generations, and therefore be responsible for my many aches and pains.

Turning to the dictionary for guidance in my pursuit of the meaning of the dreaded ailment;  the best I could come up with was, “exhalations of the stomach believed to be harmful to one’s health, hypochondria or depressed spirits.”

Delving deeper, I discovered that exhalations means;  “Something exhaled, as air, steam, or an ODOR.” At last, here is the diagnosis for milady’s problem. “She was simply suffering from gas pains.  Come to think of it, this COULD have been passed down through the generations.

The thing that troubles me most is the fact that this affliction is only mentioned following some extreme tribulation. Were these sophisticated souls not affected by ‘Pinto Beans’ or ‘Sweet Potatoes’?

And, why take to their beds? It would seem to me that fresh air would be more of a solution than the confinement of a bedroom.  ‘But?  What do I know?’

Nothing is said about the rank and file members of society suffering from this illness. Perhaps they were immune since their physical makeup was not as delicate as the nobility.

Getting back to my aches and pains. Whether or not a touch of the “VAPOR” genes have been passed down; leaves room for question.

However, please allow me to make one thing perfectly clear. “If I suddenly leave the room during a conversation; you may be sure that I do this for a very good reason”.



The Minister entered the church through the back door and proceeded to the office to don his robe and to gather the notes for his sermon that the secretary had typed and left on his desk.

He was a bit late, so he rushed into the sanctuary and mounted the chancel just as the prelude was ending. After the hymns were sung; the offering taken; and the prayers were offered, he stepped up to the lectern and glanced at the notes. A look of dismay crossed his face as he addressed the congregation. Clearing his throat, he began…

“Brothers and Sisters, I dictated my sermon on Friday before leaving to visit the sick in the hospital.  I asked Mrs. Smith; my secretary,  to type it before she left.   I also asked her to ‘remove’ anything in the sermon that was ‘boring’ or uninteresting.”

“My friends:  Without Mrs. Smith;  This Church would be just another meeting place.  I will assure you that she is likened unto my right hand.  She has an uncanny knowledge of exactly what you wish to hear.”  “We should all give thanks for such dedicated and faithful servants; that make our struggles through this ”Sin-Cursed’ world easier.”

“When I arrived this morning, I saw a note that someone had left on my desk. Apparently, Mrs. Smith has seen the note and complied with both my wishes and those of the writer of the note. This is the note.”

Holding up a scrap of paper, he read it to the congregation…


“So; in conclusion, my friends;”   “A-MEN”    “LET US PRAY.”


I’m a walking storeroom of facts… I’ve just lost the key to the storeroom door. Without that key: I’m simply a “SIN-UR  SITIZEN”.  “JUS’ LIKE  ALL Y’ALL.”     Dj.


Recently, I have noticed a couple of signs advertising a new housing development. What caught my attention was the wording at the top of the signs; “SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE.”

I have not heard this term used in well over 50 years, although it was commonly used in the olden days. The best definition I can come up with; is that it is something ‘centered’ or ‘in between.’  When I was growing up, it was not unusual to hear someone say, “There I was; ‘smack dab’ in the middle of a dog fight.”

I am reasonably certain that the developer of these signs used the term to indicate that the project was 1/2 way between two towns; or two other housing projects. And; It is a sure fact that the developer is,at least, as old as I am.

Anyone who describes a location with the use of this term, not only creates interest, but also brands himself as eligible for a senior citizen discount at McDonald’s.

Scoff if you must; but the interest created by these descriptive signs is evident by the number of people slowing to read the smaller print. A couple of sheets of plywood and a little paint is doing more than expensive ads displayed on television.

It’s telling prospective buyers to purchase a home here; and; (“You’ll be “SMACK-DAB IN THE MIDDLE” of), “WHAT THIS COUNTRY IS ALL ABOUT!”   For Instance:  Did you know?; – That “WALKIE – TALKIE” – refers to more than one ‘woman,’ strolling through the mall; pretending to shop in a grocery store; or a couple of men, seated on up-turned nail kegs; under the shelter at “The Filling Station.”

Care should be taken when purchasing property; described on sheets of Plywood, (circa) . “Smack-Dab in the middle”  “The middle just ‘could be’ between the Devil & the Deep-Blue Sea”.     Dj.

Today, only:  “A Halloween;  “Trick or Treat Bonus.”

When we hear the word ethnic, we all tend to think of a grouping of females, from another world or culture. There is, however, another ‘ethnic’ group that is sometimes mistakenly included in today’s society. This group proudly lays claim to the fact that they are different. They are fishermen.

This unique group, (while usually honest to a fault), does not hesitate to lie when it comes to the fish that they were unable to land.   It does not matter to them that the strongest line that they own is 15 lb. test; and the fish that broke that line was at least 45 lbs. and would measure more than 24 inches. It is also not uncommon that this same fish increases in size and weight with each description.

Fishing is a passion of orgiastic proportions with most of this group. They live and breath the fine art of casting, trolling, spinning; boats and motors. Changing a subject while conversing with them is next to impossible. Their vocabulary consists almost entirely of “night crawlers, blood worms, lures, flies and the like”.

Some of my best friends are died-in-the-wool fishermen and they; like all the rest of this brotherhood, will not admit that they have ever added an inch, or an ounce, to the size of a fish. Their word is considered gospel within this close-knit group.

Spending an entire day in a boat, repeatedly baiting hooks, casting and returning to shore with nothing to show for their efforts but a bad case of sunburn is, in their opinion, a day well spent.

The ones that got away were worth all the energy that they expended. I don’t think that I’ve ever heard one fisherman relate with pride about the one fish that he caught that measured 3 inches and would weigh 4 ounces.

Fishing is a practiced art with this group and most of them have become experts and seldom return from an excursion empty-handed. They know their business and will even defend to the death, their right to miss-handle the truth now and again. Most of them are true sportsmen, refusing to utilize the latest of high-tech equipment in favor of their own ability to out-think the fish.

One of the most closely guarded secrets among this group is their favorite fishing spot. Not one of them will reveal to even a member of their brotherhood, their own special place where they “caught the big ones.”

Another belief that is practiced by many in this group is that they fancy themselves gourmet cooks. They believe that the only way to prepare a fish for human consumption is to clean it; build a small fire on a deserted island near their favorite fishing spot and roast their catch. Perhaps a cold, long-neck “Miller-Hi-Life,” to wash it down, would complete their meal.

Many things change throughout the years; but these dedicated sportsmen refuse to bend to these changes  Their Jon-boat; Casting Rods; Lures; as well as their obsession for fishing; will always be a part of thair make-up.

Although small in number, this ethnic group is composed of some of America’s finest. “They are Fishermen”.   They are a different breed entirely; and  I remember most of them: even back in “The Olden Days,’ when the word  ‘Farfetched’; – was the description Mavis used when telling about walking 2-1/2  miles; to borrow a cup of sugar.   “Happy Halloween!”       Dj.



Poverty  vs   Affluence

A fine line separates the two.  It is rare to find one who possesses both.  Such is the case with my friend R.T. Blake.

R.T. was born, the middle son of sharecroppers, when the country was emerging from the great depression of the early 1930’s.

Poverty was a way of life for the Blake family for all of R.T.’s childhood years.  Unlike many of his family and friends, R.T. never accepted this and from early youth became determined to remedy a bad situation.  With hardly any formal schooling, he nevertheless gained an uncanny knowledge for mathematics.  His ability to calculate complex problems soon was known far and wide.

Although his expertise was in the field of math, his wishes were to be assured that others did not suffer the hunger pangs which he had endured for much of his life.  At 14 he became the youngest short order cook in the history of Layton County, South Carolina.  It was here where he ignored the usual menus and experimented with foods that he, himself was fond of.  It did not take long until his unique menu’s became known throughout the entire area that the ‘Truck Stop Restaurant’ served.

The “Pit Stop;” where he plied his chosen trade was the talk of the town and soon was known throughout the state for his delicious concoction called “The R.T. Dog.”

For three years he combined the secret ingredients which had made the hot dogs famous and had propelled the Restaurant into the forefront as “THE” place to eat.  Even though he was somewhat of a celebrity, he still maintained close family ties and much of his meager earnings went toward a better life for them.

At 17 he opened his own hot dog stand in an abandoned corner building facing the courthouse.  With hardly room enough for his “bought on time” equipment and a counter with several stools, he began what would one day become a multi-million dollar chain of “R.T. Dogs & Fix’uns.”

His success did nothing to dramatically change R.T.  He still spent most of his time in assuring that his hot dogs were of the finest quality and his fame did not deter his goal of providing the “Best for the Least.”

Proof of his measure of success and status were offered at a gathering of the “Sons of Rest” at the barbershop.  Overheard were the remarks…

“Have y’all heard that old R.T. has become affluent?”

“I don’t care what his religion is; he still makes the best dang hot dogs in the whole state.  And besides, he’s just a good old boy.”  “What else is new?”




Have you ever?

Eaten breakfast in the dinning room of a hotel to the tune of $18.95 and then walked half a block past a restaurant offering breakfast for $2.99?

Been unable to look up the correct spelling of a word in a dictionary because you didn’t ‘know how to spell it?’

Tried to cut a tough piece of steak? “On a paper plate?” “With a plastic knife?” “On your lap? During a ‘tailgaters’ party?  At Night?”

Watched as the last few minutes of a T.V. newscast are filled with drivel from the “anchor and co-anchor;” making a weak attempt to be funny?

Used the excuse, “I bought you a birthday card but I misplaced it: When I finally found it, I did not send it because;”  “I forgot who you are?”

Received an elaborate invitation to a wedding; Spent hours shopping for the perfect gift; Carefully wrapped and mailed it and never received a ‘thank you note?’

Tried in vain to open a drawer with something sticking up and you “can’t push it down;” “until you open the darn thing?”

Been told by the hostess at a restaurant to wait in the bar for ‘forty-five minutes,’ before you can be seated when there are only ‘TWO COUPLES’ in the entire building?

Noticed that everyone on the sidewalk stops to watch when you try to “PARALLEL PARK?”

Sent money to “Save the Roaches Foundation” and the next week received twenty-seven requests for “$25.00____?, $50.00____?, OTHER____?,” from other charities?

Attempted to retrieve the; “one roll of film;”  that got lost at WAL-MART?  It was the one containing “twelve shots of you, sunbathing in the nude?”

Pointed out to the waiter that your coffee cup has lipstick on it and watched as she; “wiped it off on her apron and set it back on the table with no apology?”

Had the faucet in the restaurant bathroom splash water on the front of your pants and noticed that everyone turned; “to look at you as you came out?”

Explained in detail about your operations and all of your aches and pains when your waitress asks: “I’m Trisha. I’ll be your server tonight.” “How are you?”

If your answer to any or all of the above ‘life’s little frustrations’ is in the affirmative; you are a completely normal “senior citizen;” and you should ignore those who consider you; “Weird and / or Senile.” 

Remember the “Adage!”  “It takes one to known one!”     Demijon


In the lives of many of us, there have been experiences that, although we try, we can’t seem to forget. Among those were the times when we stood in line to do almost everything.  No, I’m not talking about waiting for a table at a favorite restaurant or for a ticket to a ball game or a movie.  Formations and/or long lines were the first of many regulations that introduced us to  A MILITARY LIFE.

Sadistic non-commissioned officers usually created the lines that I am referring to while we were being trained to serve our country as a soldier, sailor, airman or marine. If anyone has NOT experienced this type of punishment, I feel certain that you have heard about it if you have ever been as near as fifty feet from any ex-serviceman.

These verbal abusers were the old soldiers’ whose responsibility it was to mold innocent young recruits into fighting men. Their strategy was to intimidate to the point that following orders would become second nature and that the authority of a superior officer would never be questioned or tolerated;  DO IT: and then you can bitch about it.

The lines were established as a form of discipline. Before any activity was achieved, a formation and a line were formed. “Line up for roll call;”  “Line up for chow;”  “Line up for training;”  “Line up for this;”  “Line up for that!

There was one activity, however, that did not require a line. This was the most meaningful assembly for any young serviceman. One for which no one dared be late.  At a time between evening chow and “TAPS; a rag-tag group of “G. I.’s  anxiously waiting for the “Mail Clerk” to come out onto the steps of the day room and yell…MAIL CALL!”

Many of us were far away from home for the first time and letters from families, girl friends, neighbors or even strangers were a welcome distraction from our days of mental abuse by our instructors / Cadre  here in basic training / boot camp.

About the only time we were left without supervision was at mail call. Usually this time came after evening chow. Upon leaving the mess hall, we gathered before the day room steps and hoped that we would not be the one whose name was never called. In addition: Not being required to stand in formation for this event, was a reprieve in itself.

Finally, the mail clerk would come out onto the steps with his bundle of letters, home town newspapers and a few packages. At this point;  “He had everyone’s attention.”

There was not another sound in the Company Area when he  called out; “SMITH, JOHN J.”   “SMITH, BILLY B.”   “JONES, STEPHEN G.”   “ANDERSON, HAROLD P.”   After each answer of a resounding “HERE”:  Their letter or package was passed to that particular G.I..

When all the mail had been delivered, there were a few who wandered off empty handed and with a disconsolate look. The fact that some of us received mail made the next day’s ‘Line Up’ up for this or that, just a little easier to cope with. Nevertheless, we felt sorrow for those who attended mail call and whose names were never called.

Although basic training has changed dramatically since the 40’s and 50’s; I am certain that ranking a close second to ‘Payday,’ the largest boost to morale for any serviceman or woman is still hearing your name at MAIL CALL”.

Please, take a moment to write to a service man or woman. Let them know that we really DO CARE  Our continued freedom literally depends on these courageous folks.

I am reminded of a bumper sticker that I recently saw. It states simply,

If you can read this; thank a teacher.”                                                                          “If you read it in English; thank a soldier.”


No Trouble

The call came early in the afternoon: “We are shopping at the Mall and we thought that perhaps y’all would like to go out to dinner tonight.”

“No need to go out. We’ll just fix something here, but we won’t go to any trouble,” was the immediate reply.

The telephone was hardly in its cradle before lists appeared as if by magic. “Run to the grocery and get four steaks and stop by the Seafood Market to see if the fresh shrimp has arrived from the coast. If not, leave word for them to save me about five pounds, without heads. I’m going to the farmer’s market for some fresh produce.”

Before my car exits the driveway, I hear a scream. “If you get back before I do, please mop and wax the kitchen floor.  Get the good china out of the hutch and wash it.  Vacuum and dust and for goodness sake; hang that cruddy ball cap in the closet and put your work shoes under the bed.”

The rest of the afternoon was spent in a frenzy, the likes of which had never before occurred.  The propane grill must be scrubbed and the gas checked.  The deck chairs were washed and dried.  The lawn was mowed and trimmed.  The driveway was hosed down and the vehicles moved to the back.

Inside, the delirium was much the same. All appliances were utilized to their maximum capability. Pots containing tantalizing dishes sat on the counters; waiting their turn at the stove burners. The microwave, as well as the toaster oven, was pressed into service. Both racks in the oven contained more than one item that required baking.

The “good” china and silverware was placed “just so” on the dining room table alongside the newly washed and pressed linen napkins in their brass rings.  Showers were then taken and fresh “casual” attire was donned and finally, all was in readiness.

With smiles, we welcomed the visitors with an offer of hors’ d’oeuvres’ and a glass of wine.  The seven-course dinner was served promptly at 7:00 o’clock with coffee served afterward along with a snifter of brandy.

While relaxing after the dinner; our visitors expressed opinions that we had gone just a little overboard with the dinner, to which my lovely roommate was quick to respond: “Oh, no!  We went to no trouble at all.  We eat like this all of the time.”

Thank God it was only my brother and sister-in-law who visited; and not some dignitary. I’m not sure that I could have survived “going to any trouble.”