Jay's Musing

Monday, June 13, 2005

How Do You Like Your Cartoon's

How Do You like Your Cartoons?

Ambling Along
by Jay Hudson

I have a confession to make about cartoons. Herman, is the only one I read. In my younger days I read them all. Every single one in the newspaper. I don't know why.
Maybe I read them for entertainment, or maybe just my natural curiosity. I know people read them. If they didn't, newspapers would stop publishing them. I loved the art work mostly, I think. I toyed with the idea of being a artist.

I started reading Herman in the last ten years or so. He kind of morphed on me I think. I just found myself reading it one day, and by the second day I was hooked. I knew that I had found a cartoonist that thought the way I do, at least most of the time.

The cartoonist signed his name, Jim Unger years ago. Now, the signature has changed. I can't tell if it is ' Unger ' or ' Hunger.'

I like the Herman cartoon so much, I started clipping them from the newspaper. What do you do with a clipping that you are proud of? Why, you stick it on the refrigerator, of course. Don't you stick your important stuff up there with those little magnets. My Herman clippings were important.

Pretty soon the fridge was covered. It looked like one big section of newspaper glued to the fridge. Cartoons everywhere. Pretty soon, the other person that lives here with me, started to protest. I wonder if she would have said anything, if I was saving recipes this way.

Now, back to the reason I saved them in the first place. I have such a corny sense of humor that I identify with Herman. He always seems to be in a situation that I have been in. I have to name some of them, and then elaborate a little. I do not mean any offense to anyone with regards to sex, gender, race, wealth, poverty, politics, and especially religion. People get upset very quickly if you don't agree with their politics or religion. Herman seems to be able to cross all these lines, and still make me laugh.

Just recently he was seen trying to carry his bride of at least thirty years, across the threshold again, I suppose for the second time in his marriage. His wife looks back at him and says, " honey, what's the matter? The first time you carried me you didn't struggle so hard." She hasn't weighed in thirty years. No wonder he has trouble carrying her. Ouch!

Here is one that I know all too well. Herman has just applied to a bank officer for a small loan. The bank officer falls out of his chair laughing while reading Herman's loan application. I don't think the banker actually laughed at my application until I was out the door. Now days they have a system perfected. The officer that takes your application will tell you what a wonderful place your bank is and how they are there to serve your financial needs. He will give your application to another loan officer to look over. Sometimes he might even say, "the board will have to approve it." He tells you that the bank will " be in touch with you in a few days to let you know." The second official will mail it to you a few days later marked " insufficient income," or whatever reason they have chosen to deny your loan. That way, everyone avoids an embarrassing situation, and the banks helpful public image is maintained.

Now here are two that fit my Dad and I. My Dad taught me by example in some things. Herman and his wife are shopping. They approach a flea market type vendor who has a display table covered with cheap necklaces, all priced at one dollar each. Mrs. Herman is admiring the beautiful necklaces, when Herman says, " honey, since your birthday is only a few days away, just get a couple, and we'll call them your birthday present." I see my Daddy's sneaky grin everytime I remember that one.

And another one. Our hero is down on his knees looking through the grass. His wife is telling a friend, " Everytime we come here, he gets down there and looks for that quarter he lost here in 1970."

Now that applies to me, and Dad. I went back too many times to mention, to look for a diamond ring that was thrown away somewhere in Rockingham, but I think it was in 1967. Oh, I remember the place all too well, but time has a way of changing the highest mountain, or the flatest meadow. The mountain erodes, and the meadow is full of trees. Never did find that diamond either. I am not saying where it is though. If you want it, get your metal detector and start searching.

I really know the feeling of this one. Our hero is face down in the mail box on the street corner. A policeman walks up, and the wife says, " He decided he didn't want to pay the electric bill after all." I sympathize with him completely. I didn't climb in the mail box to retrieve my payment, but after one memorable electric bill, I wrote on the face of the check in big letters, " Take it, my children and I will manage somehow."

Someone at the electric company must have a good sense of humor. They didn't cut my power off.

The wife is celebrating a different birthday from the one when she got the two dollars worth of necklaces. This time she and my hero are sitting at a table with the birthday candles glowing. She is waiting expectantly for a beautiful surprise present. The man looks at her somberly and says, " Honey, since I didn't have the money to buy you one of those fancy, expensive things you always wanted, I didn't want to hurt your feelings, so I didn't get you anything this year."

The last one was so long ago, that this character must have been related to Herman somehow. I don't remember his name either, but his DNA sure matches Herman. He and the wife were out west on a camping vacation. They had stopped their camper on the roadside so the wife could admire the wildlife she saw. It was a gigantic rattlesnake coiled to strike. The little woman had never seen a snake. She was a city girl, probably from Rockingham or Hamlet. This couple had to be from North Carolina. Her know-it-all husband said, " honey, that's one of those pet snakes like the animal guy on TV was playing with the other day. Go ahead and pet it. It won't hurt you."

Come on man, tell the truth. If you have been married thirty, forty, fifty years, at least once you probably felt like sauing the same thing.
The moral to this story, if there is one, is frugality.

Oh, I don't know about that either. I'll spend my last dollar for a semi-cold Pepsi.
Copyright (c)- 2004- Jay Hudson-All rights reserved. No reproduction or transmission by any means without the expressed written consent of Jay Hudson.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Here Comes The Ice Cream Man

Here Comes The Ice Cream Man

Ambling Along
by Jay Hudson

It happens in towns all across America on the day after school is out. That cussed ice cream man. He is probably the most often cussed merchant in America.

I hated the sound of his caliope music and jingling bells. He would come by at ten o'clock in the morning, and again at 4:00 P.M. in the afternoon. He would have his racket blasting for several blocks before he got to our street.

When he got to our street, he stopped right in front of our house, even though there were many kids living on that street. I think he was punishing me because he knew I hated him.

By the time he got to our house, the kids were in a frenzy. They were jumping up and down, pleading with hands up in the form of a prayer. It didn't matter to them that daddy didn't get paid until Thursday evening. Dad was supposed to have money available all the time for emergencies like the ice cream man. A cool treat is an emercency on a summer day.

I can't tell you the things I felt like doing to that man. Yes I will. I thought about the shotgun, but it was against the law to fire a gun in town. I could have tied thirteen knots in a rope and made a decoration in the old oak tree in our backyard. Nah, the dogs would never stop howling if I did that. But I wanted to do it.

I felt like ripping his radio to pieces, tying him up inside his truck, and turning all the kids loose on him for a few hours. Imagine how he would feel with a dozen kids screaming in his ears, " We want ice cream, we want ice cream, we want ice cream."

The kids could have the ice cream. I would drink all the sno-cones, every last one of them. Grape is my favorite, so I would start with that. When my lips turned blue, then I would switch to orange. I would drink up all his profits.

When I was a kid, the ice cream man drove a school bus that had been painted white. I didn't hate the ice cream man then. He was a nice fellow named Mr. Townsend. Daddy only allowed me to go on the bus once for ice cream. I think that was the only nickel daddy ever had, and he gave it to me.

I just realized a few days ago, why the ice cream man is so popular with kids. It's not the ice cream. They can get that at the neighborhood convenience store. It's the act of meeting the ice cream truck with all the music and noise.

It's simply an entertainment event.

Copyright-(c)-2005- Jay Hudson- All rights reserved. No reproduction without expressed written consent of Jay Hudson.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I Met My First Robot At Wal Mart

I Met My First Robot--At Wal-Mart

Ambling Along

by Jay Hudson

I know it happens all the time to people on tv, but I just went to Wal-Mart for a drink, and there he was, my first encounter with a real live robot. He didn't look so fancy though, to tell you the truth. He was just about as skinny as I was when I was a teenager, a real polecat type of guy, tall and lanky.

He didn't have any hair on his head either.

I didn't even see him until he spoke to me. I usually walk with my head hanging down so I can spot pennies that people drop, and then are too embarrased to stoop and pick up.

I pick them up. No shame here.

He introduced himself as Rick The Robot.

I didn't say a word. I just looked at him about the same way I would look at a used car that I can't afford anyway, sort of skeptical like.

I wouldn't mind having a robot like Rick if he could clean house, mow the lawn, and haul my trash to the dump.

I stopped and listened to him talk for a few seconds just to see if I could learn anything electrifying.

He had a real deep voice with a Texas drawl to it. It sounded real pleasant too.

He had absolutely mesmerized a little cowpoke that was standing there. The little fellow was listening to every word .

The robot moved his head from side to side as he talked, and his eyes were flashing red lights. He was dressed in tennis shoes and a baseball cap.

He was wearing one of those Wal-Mart name tags, and holding a bottle of coke in his hand. I knew then he was a Wal-Mart Associate. He was telling the little fellow all about the deals at Wal-Mart, and what a great place it was to shop in.

I didn't want to interfere with his sales pitch, so I didn't tell him that my favorite place to shop was at yard sales and fleamarkets.

It reminded me of a time when I was just a few years older than the little cowpoke that was being mesmerized. The little fellow was about four or five.

I was about twelve years old when a school classmate brought a book to school. It was Tom Swift Jr. and His Giant Robot. I was hooked on Tom Swift from that moment on. Those books got my attention, the way the robot had the little fellow's attention at Wal-Mart.

My classmate was also my friend, Donald Hammond.

I had some magazines he was kind of keen on, no they were not Playboy . They were recent copies of Popular Science .

Don suggested we trade. I quickly agreed. I never regretted the trade either. I had never heard of Tom Swift, but the book sure was interesting. Don had the first three books in the series, and he traded them all to me.

This trade opened up a whole new avenue of reading for me. The writers had a series of Tom Swift books, and each had a different theme. The publishers had a order blank in the back of each volume so you could order whatever you wanted. I bought as many as my little budget would allow. I ordered about ten volumes on my first order. They cost a dollar and twenty-five cents each, and they were well worth the price. They were very entertaining and educational. I learned many scientific things that I never would have discovered any other way.

This was in the days before calculators and computers came a long. A real scientist or inventor used a calculating tool called a slide rule to do complex mathmatical calculations.

I knew I had to get one.

I rode my little twenty-inch bike five miles into town to get a slide rule. I never solved any math problems with it, but I had it --"just in case."

While reading these books in the early sixties, I embarked on many imaginary journey's with Tom and his friends, inventing things, and foiling diabolical enemies.

I dreamed of replicating each of Tom's wonderful inventions, not fully understanding at the time that lots of money and new technology was needed to make those dreams come true. They were way beyond the reach of this country boy, but heck, I could dream for free.

I saved all those Tom Swift books for my grandchildren. They had become collectible. They were selling in antique stores for around twenty dollars each, and then online auction's came along. Seems like everybody has something to sell. The value of my books dropped to almost the original price I paid for them all most fifty years ago.

A few days later, after seeing the robot, I took two of my granddaughters to Wal-Mart. The robot was still working, entertaining customers, but his voice had changed. He sounded like a girl. I didn't catch his new name, but Wal-Martha crossed my mind.

The Tom Swift books are still worth a lot to me, just because of the wonderful memories of a little boy trying to find his way in the world.

The oldest grandchildren are about ready to read them. They have shown interest in the books. Now, if I can just make myself trust them with such a valuable keepsake.

Memories are made of this stuff you know

Published in The Post, 2003.

Copyright-(c) 2003 Jay Hudson , All rights reserved. No reproduction or transmission without expressed written consent of Jay Hudson.

When Will You Mow the Grass?

" When" Will You Mow the Grass ?

by Jay Hudson

My grandson had been pestering me to let him mow the grass all spring. He wanted money to take with him on a beach trip he and his friend were planning.

I had been planning on giving him that job for several years, but I had to wait until he matured enough, and wanted spending money bad enough to actually sweat for it.

We finally reached an understanding. He would mow the grass for twenty dollars. We made the same deal last year, but he mowed about thirty minutes and said he was finished. I made the mistake of paying him before he cut the grass.

I knew I was in for a lot of mental strain trying to convince him that he had not finished the job. I decided to just forget it and count it as part of my education.

I had visions of the same thing happening this time too.

This year he seemed to be serious. When the deal was concluded, he started the mower and went to work. I was shocked. He worked a couple of hours before he stopped to get a sip of Pepsi. He actually worked up a sweat.

I was beginning to think there was hope after all. After drinking his cola, he went right back to mowing. He worked at least three hours that afternoon. He did a very nice job on my yard.
When I paid him the twenty dollars, I don't know which one of us was the proudest.

The thought crossed my mind to go buy a new riding mower and trailer, and start a lawn care business so he would have a job all summer.

I had already decided on a name, Town and Country Lawn Care, with grandpa providing the know-how, and him providing the sweat.

I am glad I only had two dollars cash money left in my wallet.

The planned beach trip was a few weeks away.

The day after he mowed he came over and said, " grandpa, are you going to town anytime soon?"

I said I was going in a few minutes.

" Can I go with you?" He said. " I have my own money."

And the trickle started. A few days later he was broke.

He started watching the grass real careful then to see when it would need cutting again. After two weeks, I said, "ok, time to cut it again.

You would have thought I said, "gentlmen, start your engines." He grabbed the mower and started cutting. He cut the half of the yard between the house and the street, and then quit. He said since it was so hot, he would finish the next day.

He was tired from the mowing, so he wanted me to take him to the video store and advance him enough money to rent videos.

"Deduct the cost of the video rental from the $20.00 you owe me."

I said, "ok."

He had worked pretty hard and I wanted to show him I appreciated it.

The videos came to $3.00. That would leave me owing him a balance of $17.00.

Everything was fine until the next evening. He told me he didn't want to mow that day. He wanted to play the video games he rented.

The next day he came over about dark. I asked him why he didn't finish mowing. He said he was playing video games and just forgot about mowing. He reminded me that we had to return the video games before ten o'clock that night.

As we were driving in to the video store parking lot, he said, "grandpa can I get an advance on what you owe me so I can get a new Nintendo game that just came out? I need $2.00 for it."

Things were not working out the way I planned. I just wanted the grass mowed.

After deducting the $2.00 from the $17.00 I would owe after he finished mowing, I would owe him a balance of $15.00.

It's good that I know how to do math.

The next day he was playing video games again and didn't want to mow.

I decided it was time to stir up some trouble.

" If you don't mow the rest of the yard by tomorrow," I said, "I am going to let your sister's start mowing it. They will mow it all summer."

That did it.

" I'll finish it tomorrow grandpa," he promised. " But, we have to return the video game tonight."

I was caught in a trap and I knew it.

When we got to the video store, I just asked him, " How much do I need to advance this time?"

" I want a movie this time. It's just $1.75," he said.

Deducting the $1.75 from the $15.00 balance would leave me owing him $13.25 , if he ever finished mowing.

The next day he was the first to mention mowing.

" Grandpa, just finish paying me for mowing, and take me to the video store to return the movie, and I will finish mowing when we get back."

" Oh no," I said.

I thought I was beginning to see a way to motivate him.

" We' ll take the movie back, and then if you finish mowing after we get home, then, we will go back to the video store," I said.

" Ok, that's a deal," he said.

When we got home he jumped out of the car and grabbed the mower. He mowed for two hours without stopping. He was pouring sweat when he finished the yard.

I was beginning to feel bad about all his sweating until I remembered how many times I sweated when I was a kid.

It was a lesson he needed to learn.

When he finished mowing he came in the house to get a drink. While he was drinking his cola and cooling, I asked him if he wanted what I owed him in cash, or could I just give him a piece of paper called an I.O.U. It would say, " I owe you $15.00." And then I would sign my name to it.

He didn't think that was such a great idea.

" Nooooo grandpa, I want cash."

I paid him $15.00 for finishing. I was just glad to it over with by then.

He had a big grin on his face as he folded the money and put it in his pocket.

"Can we go to the video store now so I can rent a new game?"

"What about money for your trip to the beach?" I asked.

" Oh, I am not going to spend it all tonight grandpa," he said.

The founders of our country knew exactly what they were doing when they chose capitalism for our economic system.

If you don't think so just check your pocket and see how much cash you have.

I really have a problem now. The grass at the front of my yard is a lot taller than the back half. The front needs mowing now, but the back won't need mowing for a couple of weeks.

Well, as the lady said, maybe it won't rain tomorrow, and the grass won't grow so fast

Published in The Post, June7, 2005.

Copyright-2005-Jay Hudson- All rights reserved. No reproduction or transmission without expressed written permission of Jay Hudson.

Baling Pinestraw Is a Hard Way To Make a Dollar

Baling Pinestraw Is A Hard Way To Make A Dollar !

Ambling Along
By Jay Hudson

Everytime I see a beat-up old pickup truck plodding down the road with a load of pinestraw, my mind drifts back in time to the early sixties, and Patrick, South Carolina.

Patrick was such a small community back then. It didn't have much going for it. It didn't even have a caution light. But it had a crossroads, a general store, a tar paper shack right up next to the Atlantic Coastline Railroad tracks, a swimming hole dug out in the creek, and hundreds of acres of pine trees, and a bunch of rambunctious teenagers.

Some of them were Patrick natives. Others were from Richmond County, NC.

I was one of the others.

It was the summer of ' 61, or maybe it was ' 62. My memory is beginning to fade like some of my jeans.

My uncles and I, and several other boys were baling pinestraw for a Richmond County man. He had rented a shack for us to live in while we worked in Patrick that summer.

If you ever had any of those terrible dreams where you are about to be run over by a train, just try sleeping in a shack that is less than fifty feet from the tracks.

The nightmare is almost real then.

The first night we stayed there, the early morning train came roaring through the night without any warning. It sounded like it was going to run right through the shack.

How would you like to be awakened from a bad dream, by a loud train horn, and the house shaking so bad you thought it was going to collaspe on top of you.

We managed to bale a lot of straw anyway. We baled straw from gray in the morning until gray in the evening.

Then we hit the swimming hole until after dark.

After supper, we played penny poker until midnight. Sometimes the pile of pennies would grow to five or ten dollars.

I don't know how it happened, but the man we worked for won the pennies almost every night. With such a little amount of sleep, it's a wonder we were able to bale any straw at all.

Sometimes we baled two tractor trailer loads of straw a day. We didn't have the fancy equipment that farmers have today either. It was hard manual labor with a pitchfork and a willing back. We worked so hard the ticks and redbugs didn't bother with us.

We did have a tractor that towed the baler. The baler had a large opening where we forked the straw in with pitchforks. The straw came out in rectangular bales. A fellow at the back of the baler would run tie-wires around the bale before the machine spit them out.

That thing would work you almost to death if you were the one stoking the straw in the hole.

I wonder if teenagers today have ever seen a blister on their hands !

The farmer paid us such a ridiculously low wage, I won't even mention the amount. Yes I will too. He paid us $5.00 a day. I guess he figured the fun we had was part of our pay.

And we had fun at the local swimming hole. The local boys must have heard that we were coming, so they dug out a very large hole in a nearby creek. It was about fifty feet in diameter and at least twenty feet deep in some spots.

Don't ask me how they got it so deep.

Well, dynamite was easier to get in the fifties and sixties.

The swimming hole became the entire focus of our summer in Patrick.
We headed straight to the hole as soon as we baled the last bale each day.

It would take several books to list everything we did there, but I will mention just two.

A large pine tree was growing right up to the waters edge. It must have been about sixty feet tall. Some enterprising boy had tied a rope about halfway up the tree. With a few short pieces of wood nailed to the side of the tree, we could get up it real quick.

If any of you ever watched the Dukes of Hazard, you know that swinging out over the water and dropping, was a favorite stunt.

Sometimes it became extreme sports if you know what I mean.

The bravest, or the dumbest, depending on which side of the state-line you were from, was a local Patrick boy. I forgot his name, but it rhymed with Garth, so I'll call him that. He decided that it would be fun to dive from the top of the tree.

He climbed as far as he could go without breaking the top out of the tree. Giving a loud Tarzan yell, he leaped out as far as he could. His body twisted in the air as he fell, so that he hit the water on his side.

It almost killed him, but the only permanent damage was a torn-up ear drum. He was permanently deaf in that ear.

Another sport at the swimming hole was to fill an empty drink can with water, and then add a cherry bomb for the fish. I think this kind of fishing is illegal now. Might have been illegal then too.

It is amazing what a shock wave will do.

The boys around Patrick were the equal of any that I ever knew around Ellerbe or Rockingham. The pranks never ceased.

One night during the summer, they decided to steal a watermelon from a nearby farmer's field. They didn't just steal one. They stole a whole car load. They were driving a convertible with the top down. The entire back seat was filled with watermelons. They drove right down main street with the melons shinning in the moonlight.

This was a crime no doubt, but it was done just for fun, no evil intent at all like criminals now days.

These boys must have had relatives at Gettysburg in ' 63.

They often bragged that some of their distant cousins farmed the government timberland at night, using chainsaws. I know that had to be illegal.

I never did hear a chainsaw running at night while I was working and playing in Patrick. But then, some of the places we were baling straw had bare spots where a reasonable person would think a tree should have been.

Copyright-(c)-2005-Jay Hudson-All rights reserved. No reproduction without expressed written permission.