Important Advice

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.”

SEE! 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 to be prying into your personal lives.

It would 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 “We ain’t th’ one’s whot is lost.”

Another important item that should be mentioned here is; “Even if you do not understand what they are trying to explain to you;” “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.

Demijon

The Handyman

It has been said that one cannot serve two masters. This is probably true except in the case of a Handyman working in a resort community. Here; he must satisfy the renter, the owner, and the rental Agency. Being a jack-of-all-trades is not sufficient in that he is expected to be a master of anything that he attempts.

The renters do not want any problem to interfere with their leisure time and rightly so; however, things still have a tendency to go awry whether or not the time is convenient. In a lot of cases the problem is minor and can be solved with little or no disruption to the renter; therefore, the Handyman is dispatched to check and/or repair the problem.

Most Handymen are self-employed and they do not sport uniforms with the name of the Agency emblazoned upon them, and since the renters cannot be expected to wait for a repairman, this puts them in the unique position of entering a house when no one is there. There are times when entry is denied simply because of skepticism.

As a rule, the Agency will ask the renter for permission to allow a repairman entry into a house if no one is there at the time. Most of the time permission is granted, but there have been a few cases in which repairs could not be made because of denial of entry on the part of the renter.

The Agency is responsible to both the renter and the owner, and attempts to solve any and all problems with a minimum of inconvenience, and at the same time at the smallest cost to the owners. However; ‘small-needed repairs’ can be overlooked by the Agency’s ‘Cleaning Crew,’ and thus go undetected until rented again.

The larger repair companies cannot afford to take a repairman from a $100,000 job and send him to repair a $25.00 problem, so most Agencies utilize the services of a Handyman. Most Handymen charge less; because they are not dependent upon the small job’s for their subsistence.

There have been cases where the Agency made a decision to repair something that a renter complained about, and the owner felt that repairs were unnecessary and refused to reimburse the Agency for this expenditure. Since the repairman had to be paid for his labors, the Agency suffered the loss. Not completely fair, but it has happened.

This attitude has sometimes placed the Handyman as well as the Agency in a “damned-if-you-do”, “damned-if-you-don’t,” situation. Most Handymen are not dependent entirely on the income from the Handyman trade for their subsistence, but simply offer their abilities and services in order to keep busy and sustain a feeling of need. Most are dedicated to their work. No repairs will be made unless authorized by the owner or the Agency.

Serving more than one master is an accepted way of life to a handyman. It is definitely a tough job…

But someone has to do it!

Demijon

AND; ~~ Many times; “The Handyman has to listen to: ~~ “BACK HOME, UP NORTH; WE DON’T DO REPAIRS THAT WAY.” Dj.

MATURITY

There are times when I question designers of products that are advertised as something we cannot live without. I suppose the greatest flaw lies in the area of clothing.

Once, while shopping for a pair of walking shorts in one of the major retail outlets, I maneuvered my cart into the department displaying rack after rack of attire for men. I searched the racks of thousands of shorts with sizes from 28 to 34 only to find two pairs of size 42. One was the color of pale vomit and the other was a vivid shade of baby-sh*t yellow.

It became abundantly clear to me that the designers had determined that those of us who sport huge belly’s and gaunt legs are not to appear in public wearing shorts of any kind.

I then moved to the shoe department in search of a pair of soft, smooth soled loafers with bunion protectors. Every pair of shoes in stock were those with soles, apparently removed from tractor tires. I visualized attempting to stuff my corns and calluses in the thick, stiff, padded, nylon that would reach well above my ankles. To make matters worse, they were described as running shoes.

Can you imagine someone like me, who becomes winded rising from an overstuffed recliner trying to run in any kind of shoe? The next shock came when I glanced at the price tag, ($98.88). I vowed to go to the tool department before I left the store and buy a roll of duct tape to repair my tennis shoes that I purchased in 1966 for $3.97.

Shirts are another problem where clothing manufacturers apparently do not realize that us old folks sometimes have a need to replace garments that we bought in the early 90’s. Ten racks of shirts were on display with sizes ranging from 12 to 15 and priced $19.95. Almost hidden is a rack with sizes 17 to 19. A sign on this rack noted that the price for these was $26.45; (sizes 18 and above $38.66).

It is obvious that clothing stores have been led to believe that the only ones who have a need for clothing are the young people with plenty of money. It is also obvious that they have forgotten that most of their money came from us mature old folks.

From the looks of the attire that many teens wear today, they have been rooted from the high end of the money trough for quite a spell.

I can well remember when rips and patches were on practically every garment except the Sunday clothes. This was from necessity rather than style; but as a general rule, each item was clean.

Another rule was that no youngster would be allowed to stroll around with the crotch of their pants hanging to their knees and three or four inches of colorful, boxer shorts, showing above their belts.

It’s a shame that designers and manufacturers were not raised in an era when pride took precedence over style.

Demijon

When one is on the far side of Medicare, NO one expects them to run anywhere. Dj

EQUALITY

Before I begin, please allow me to emphasize that I am in total agreement with equality in the workplace. I firmly believe in equal pay and opportunity for both sexes and all ethnic backgrounds… “If they perform the same work with equal ability.” In my humble opinion, the only distinction that should be made is the number of bathrooms in the workplace. (And even that, seems to be ‘on it’s way out!’)

Granted that there are some jobs that can be performed by men better than women simply because of physical strength. These particular jobs should be rewarded with slightly higher compensation and should be accepted because of this. The key words here are equal pay for equal work.

Before the reader forms an opinion that I am a sexist or a racist, please let me explain that I worked for many years with people of both sexes and all ethnic backgrounds and I believed then as I do now, that ABILITY in ANYONE should be the determining factor in opportunity, be it pay, advancement or whatever.

During the span of my working life, I have seen cases where someone was promoted to a better job or more pay, not necessarily because of ability but rather the fact that he/she was liked by top management or, at times, simply to fill a quota. This is totally wrong. Opportunities should be available to ALL if they are willing to exert the effort to achieve it and have the ability required by the job.

Selecting people for advancement primarily because of sex or national origin is one of the primary reasons for dissension in the workplace. QUALIFIED people who have commanded respect before they are advanced to a better position will continue to earn this respect merely because of his/her ability.

I once worked with a member of the opposite sex whose job description was identical to mine and both our pay scales were the same. However, if certain work that she did not particularly like was required, she routinely refused on the basis that she was a woman and therefore did not have to perform this task. Now, I ask you, should she have received the same pay when I was required to do the job? I believe not.

I am sure that this is an isolated case and is not the norm, but these things happen and when they do they tend to strike a sour note with the rank and file. On the other hand, all that would have been required of this lady would have been to ask for help and then be willing to help if asked by any co-worker.

Most businesses hire on the basis of best qualified and this is as it should be. Qualified should not be defined by the fact that a person is male, female or from any ethnic background. It should simply mean that the best-suited person is awarded the job. When the position is filled, then the ability should come into play.

If he/she possesses this ability, give them anything that they earn; if it is an award, a promotion, better pay, or any other recognition. Just don’t give them the opportunities simply because they want them, and then require their co-workers to do work that should be theirs.

It is next to impossible to treat everyone as an equal and at the same time select a few from the ranks and place them on a pedestal. This just doesn’t work. “Willingness and ability in the workplace will guarantee equality, and ‘respect’ will form the steps up to the pedestal.”

If the above standards are adopted, there would be no need to set aside a day, a week, or a month to honor any particular ethnic background other than the fact that; “We are ALL EQUAL in the sight of GOD.”

Demijon

Without a Degree.

I am not sure my father knew that such a person as a Psychologist existed and yet, he practiced this art on us children almost on a daily basis.

We grew up during and just after the great depression and were very much aware that any available money was desperately needed to keep the wolf from the door. However, this knowledge did nothing to forestall our attempts to plead for 25 or 50 cents whenever a new issue of D.C. comics was on the rack at the local drug store. Perhaps even a schoolmate sporting a new sweater or a catcher’s mitt was responsible for our burning desire for a similar item; even if it were not necessary for our survival.

We raised most of our foodstuffs such as a hog or two for meat, a cow for milk and butter, chickens for eggs and meat, and a variety of vegetables from our garden plot.

Lacking both Electricity and a Freezer, our meat was usually salt cured and the vegetables were canned in Mason Jars; to provide us with food during the winter. The Fruits from several Apple and Peach trees were needed as well. They were peeled, sliced and dried in the sun. They were then stored in clean flour sacks to furnish the family with delicious fruit pies. Many times, this was our only desert during the long-cold days until Spring.

We were cautioned to be careful of the sparse, new clothing that Daddy managed to acquire for us, at the beginning of the school year. He also saw that we had Sunday clothing, which we were admonished to remove immediately after church.

To supplement the income from the farm, Daddy moonlighted as a Blacksmith. He had a small shop in town, where he spent most Saturdays shoeing horses and mules. Rainy days would also find him repairing farm implements for neighbors.

If we were elected to help him at the shop, by holding an Animal while Daddy shod it; or simply turning the Forge to heat the metal before the heavy Shop Hammer and Anvil produced a finished product. When we would request money for something that was unnecessary for our health and well being, Daddy would not totally refuse us.

His answer was usually; “I think I’ve got a dollar.”

This was his way of shrewdly asking us to withdraw our request. Not one of us had the audacity to ask if one dollar was ALL he had. We all knew better than to tempt fate.

You know what? It worked. It is truly a shame that Daddy was never rewarded for his ingenuity in teaching us to respect the true value of money, while enduring a crisis. Dj.

“MY” Roads!

Politicians are constantly telling us that they have to have more and more taxes in order to repair and maintain the roads throughout this country.

I am in favor of a modest increase in my taxes; only IF they will be used to make our roads better and safer. Somewhere along the way, these monies seem to disappear before reaching the committees that are responsible for the maintenance of the aforesaid roads.

We all have noticed at one time or another that a huge pothole appears in one of the roads in which we travel frequently. It gets deeper and wider as we bounce through it day after day.

After two sets of tires and numerous alignments, we call our Congressperson, to only find out that the funds that were allocated to our roads are exhausted and a referendum for a tax increase for road repair is pending. “I thought that we had just had one”.

With the pothole still in place, we read in the newspaper that our Ccongressperson is among the group of officials that are touring Lower Slobovia in order to study their road maintenance. It certainly makes one wonder if “OUR” pothole money went to finance this trip.

They return and hold a town meeting to inform us that a one mil tax increase would solve all of our problems with regard to our potholed road. When we finally get enough of bouncing through this hole; “We take the bull by the horns and throw dirt into the hole.”

We, then; are visited by an Inspector, who tells us that we do not have the necessary expertise to repair a pothole; and he will have to take the dirt out. He assures us that the State will repair it; ‘As soon as funds are available.’ Eventually, our taxes do go up; and the pothole is repaired.

Perhaps, I just don’t understand the workings of Governments; but it seems to me that ‘something is lacking here. Do they think that the fact that we are buying all those tires, and paying for all those alignments; is stimulating the economy? This may be true; but wouldn’t it be easier to get more taxes out of us; if we don’t have to pay for all those repairs to our vehicles?

As I stated before: I don’t understand their workings, or their thinking; but I am willing to listen if they are willing to explain. If they are not willing to, ‘unravel all of this for me:’ Here is my final word on the subject.

“Dear Mr./ Ms. Congresspersons:”

“For the record.” “I am hereby informing all of my Congresspeople that; “I PAY MY TAXES, THEREFORE; I DO OWN MY ROADS AND I WANT THEM KEPT IN TIP-TOP SHAPE!” “So, There!”

Demijon

Do You remember when?

“Car-jack” was the definition for a device used to elevate an automobile and the word “Hi-jack” was used to indicate elevating it further?

Screen doors at the grocery were emblazoned with the words “Merita is good bread?” and/or “Pepsi-Cola hits the spot?”

Shoeshine stands were standard equipment in all barbershops as well as a “Tonic” applied with every haircut?

Lace curtains, that were washed, starched and dried, on Curtain Stretchers?

Petcocks located underneath car radiators; that must be opened and water drained to prevent freezing during the winter?

The building of houses was accomplished with Handsaws, Crosscut Saws and Hammers with Galvanized TIN as the most popular roofing material?

Radios and Heaters were not included as standard equipment on any but the most expensive Automobiles?

A family was considered “Riff-Raff;” if their yard was not kept free of all Grass and swept at least once per week?

The most important mail that the majority of families received were the Sears Roebuck Catalog and The Market Bulletin?

The “Hoover Cart,” which was nothing more than an adaptation of an axle and wheels, from an abandoned Automobile; powered by a horse or mule?

Church Pews, were strewn with Hand-Held FANS; advertising Funeral Homes on one side and Paintings of Heaven on the other?

“Warming-Closets,” located above the cooking surface of wood – fired cook stoves that kept Leftovers warm with built-up heat from the stovepipe?

‘Chicken Wire’ enclosures for the Garden Spot: Used as a deterrent from rabbits and other predators.

An abundance of “Chinaberry” trees in every yard that provided a dense shade during the summer months were the norm?

The warm breezes and the aroma of freshly turned earth; that announced the arrival of spring?

Winter AND Summer “Union Suits” were essential components of men’s underwear?

Crinoline Petticoats were stylish; as part of all young ladies wardrobes?

Riding in a “Rumble Seat” with the girl of your dreams; was the ultimate enjoyment?

Every ‘Traveling Carnival’ included a tent to house the “Hoochie-Koochie” show?

These are but a few of the “Precious Memories” that I hold dear; and continue to savor as a part of my past.

P. S. “I always turned my head when walking past the ‘Hoochie-Koochie’ tent.” Believe me. Dj.

Demijon

Rumble Seats

There are still a few of us around that remember when automobiles were not as high-tech as they are today. Engineering and manufacturing skills leaned heavily toward simplicity and durability. There were a few, however, that would opt for designs, that they hoped, would revolutionize the industry.

Such was the case with General Motors somewhere in the early 1930’s. During this period Chevrolet offered a very unique front suspension system called “Knee Action.” The idea behind this system was great. These “Knees” were supposed to absorb most of the shock and allow the car to “Float” over the bumpy roads.

The knees were similar to today’s shocks except that they worked primarily with hydraulic fluid and were attached to each front wheel with rods in a fashion similar to bent knees.

Miles of washboard roads would take their toll and the fluid would begin to leak from the reservoirs. Worn bushings would cause the front wheels to lean to almost a 45-degree angle, thus wearing out the tires.

As I stated earlier, the idea was terrific if only they had today’s technology. There may be some form of this being used in today’s cars but since I know very little about them, I will not venture into this realm.

Then there were Rumble Seats, situated behind the enclosed cab of the Ford Model-A, “coupe.” Access to this seat was gained by opening a lid in the body of the car, just behind the rear window. Climbing upon the bumper and fender, one had to then step into the opening, which contained a seat.

Sometimes this entry presented a problem for young ladies with flared skirts and numerous crinoline petticoats, but usually their escorts were more than eager to assist them.

Rumble Seats were very popular with the younger set. With this seat open, the car would accommodate three in the front and two in the Rumble Seat. The fact that the rumble seats were outside meant that this mode of transportation was definitely a fair weather vehicle.

Coupes with Rumble Seats were not practical for families because of limited seating space and very few could afford more than one vehicle; therefore, a car with a Rumble Seat was considered by most a luxury.

Eventually, rumble seats, gave way to two seats inside with a “Trunk” for carrying cargo and evolved into the cars that we drive today. The cars that had only one seat or “Coupes” of yesterday; have now become Sports Cars.

Anyone that has never experienced a warm, moonlit evening in a Rumble Seat with the girl of your dreams has certainly missed a lot of living.

Nostalgia overcomes me when I visit an antique Car Museum and see shiny Coupes with the Rumble Seats opened, sitting beside a four door “Touring Car, with knee action suspension. The fact that I had arrived here in a computer-controlled vehicle does not matter. For a short while, I am living in a period when life was simpler.

I would like to see some enterprising manufacturer incorporate the technology of today with the Rumble Seats and Knee Action of yesterday. Of course, I would expect the price of a vehicle such as this, to be in the original $600.00 range.

When this happens, I will be the first in line when their doors open.

Demijon

The Mower; We Mow !

For most of my young life, I was forced to spend most of my waking hours applying the teachings from early childhood, that grass was evil; and all means were to be exercised to eradicate this scourge from the face of the earth. Our livelihoods depended on the ridding of the fields of this prolific deterrent to the health of the young, tender plants on which we depended for food as well as income.

The abhorrence that we held for grass in the crops was carried over into the yards of most farms. Hours were spent in hoeing, raking and smoothing the entire yards with “brush-brooms” that were nothing more than dogwood branches which had been allowed to dry until all the leaves had fallen from them. They were then tied into small bundles. These so-called brooms left the yards with a clean, swept look that everyone considered appropriate for a well cared-for appearance.

As time passed, the thinking of many farmers changed in favor of customs that were practiced by their “Town” neighbors, and they began to cultivate within the confines of the yards, the same grasses that they worked so hard to remove from their fields.

It became evident that a way to control the growth of this grass would have to be found, hence, the “Sling Blade.” A strip of flat metal was sharpened on both sides and mounted to a handle by means of metal bars shaped in a semi-circle. This tool, when used properly, would allow the operator to clip the tops from the grasses with a back and forth swinging motion.

Necessity for an easier and faster way to keep the grass in control prompted the invention of a series of blades, powered by cogs attached to wheels. These blades were positioned in a way that forced them to contact a sharpened bar, creating a cutting motion when pushed through the grass by the operator, holding onto a “T – Shaped Handle.

These “reel-type” mowers were used extensively until the invention of a small gasoline engine which could be attached to the top of this contraption and served as the power to not only turn the blades but could also propel the mower by belts and pulleys.

Eventually, this mower gave way to the modern “rotary powered” mower that is still in use today in many forms. Although the engines power a spinning blade that does the cutting, much effort is required by the operator to push the mower through the grass.

As more powerful engines were developed and easier ways to perform this laborious chore were sought, the invention of the modern-day Riding Mower changed our lives as much as any innovation in history. Instead of struggling with “Sling-Blades,” push type; and self-propelled mowers, we now can sit in a somewhat comfortable seat and simply guide the mower to the designated area and relax as it performs the work for us. Along with these power tools came a different designation of the areas around our homes.

We now refer to the grassy carpets that surround our houses and require so much of our time as “LAWNS” instead of yards. No more do we “Cut the Grass.” “Today; We Mow.” As a result of these innovative machines, our lives have been made easier and our waistlines have become larger. However, I for one, would not relish the thoughts of returning to the days of “Swept” Yards and Sling Blades.”

Demijon

“Like, You Know!”

I suppose that I am just a mite old fashioned, but I find it harder and harder to converse with the youth of today. For example: I was seated beside a young man at a dinner party recently, and I made an attempt to ask if he was employed. His answer was (I think);

“Well, yeah, like, you know. I boogied down to the Quick-Check; and I go ‘hey man:’ Do you need somebody to clean this joint up? And he goes, you know, like, ‘cool.’ So I; you know, sucked up to the old geezer, and like, you know, here I am.”

I desperately tried to remember what he said in order to question my 2 sons as to his answer. Was it yes or no? I am reasonably certain that he was not taught that this was the correct procedure for a job interview: But then: I have been told that I am out of touch with the real world; therefore, how would I know?

It has not been so long ago that a job interview involved; “Putting your best foot forward.” Neatly dressed; Shoes shined: Hair combed, etc. And most importantly, presenting yourself as attentive, polite and enthusiastic. Perhaps the lack of this line of reasoning has contributed to the rise in unemployment.

A visit to any Video Arcade, during a workday can attest to the fact that many young people favor entertainment in lieu of working. Dozens of young people are present on a daily basis. Most are so engrossed in the operation of some Video Game that they were apparently oblivious of the help-wanted signs in the adjacent shops. I, personally, can remember when the mere mention of an opening for a job could prompt long lines of prospective applicants.

This brings up the subject of where do they get the money that they evidently have in abundance? I realize that some work different shifts and this would be considered their “down time.” But there are still a few who are present morning, noon and night, with no visible means of support for their addiction to a “Video-Fix.”

The point in all this rambling is simply that I do not understand today’s youth. In another time, youngsters were expected: No, Required; to earn at least a part of their subsistence. Allowances were not feasible for a family who needed all of the income that they could get for survival. Also, I am not aware of any permanent scars on anyone who was required to help with this income.

Getting back to a job interview during the “Olden Days.” You dressed neatly; talked intelligently, convinced them of your willingness to work hard; and ONLY when you had secured the job did you “suck up to the boss….”

‘LIKE, YOU KNOW: “Hey man:” “I need more bread.”

Demijon