This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018
THE OTHER DAY AN ACQUAINTANCE OF MINE moseyed up to me and asked me about the license plate on my car. What is on the car is called a “Vanity Plate” – a customized message for which I pay extra every year.
The plate on the Toyota reads: “KRAFTY.”
My acquaintance asked me what that meant, or to quote him – “What’s that all about?” If we had actually been friends he would have already known.
I explained to him that KRAFTY has been my nickname since childhood. It was a rational play off of my last name. Duh! He then asked me if I had any other nicknames. I didn’t know what he was fishing for, but I played along.
The other day the temperature got into the 70s and I was actually able to go out wearing one of my Hawaiian shirts (Wal-Mart Wonders) without feeling cold or having people stare. They do that anyway, but we’ll save that for another day.
The warm air made me think of my youth. By youth I mean age six to twelve or so – those years when you do stuff just because it is fun and not because you think it will fool your parents.
I grew up in a small steel mill town near Pittsburgh. Back then there were five mills operating. We lived two blocks away from one of them.
Every summer my brother Jimmy and I would try to come up with some way to earn some money to cover our vital needs (Candy, Baseball Cards, Soft Drinks – aka “Pop,” and miscellaneous inexpensive toys).
One scheme we used almost every summer was the Sidewalk Kool-Aid Stand. Our house was situated at the top of a hill, a two block walk up from the steel mill. The workers would finish their shift, walk uphill, and encounter our oasis of ice cold Kool-Aid. What a racket we had going there. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. These guys were dead tired and we were there with cold drinks that had enough sugar in them to kill a diabetic.
“Ten cents a glass! Get your ice cold Kool-Aid right here!”
We did alright with that little enterprise. Our secret weapon to increase the profit margin was to look innocent and pretend that we couldn’t make change for anything above a Quarter.
“Aw, keep the change, kids.”
That Kool-Aid stand was our tried and true operation for several summers, but it was not the only thing we had going. Not by a long shot.
Just up the block was what would today be called a “Senior Citizen Community.” We called it an, “Old Folks Home.” On those hot and sultry summer days their front porch would be packed with people trying to cool off. I saw them as an opportunity.
We didn’t make Kool-Aid deliveries, so we came up with another business plan.
What do hot, sweating people want -To not be hot and sweating, of course? A quick trip uptown to the store that sold Art supplies, back to our big dining room table, and presto!
“Don’t Sweat – Get Cool! Get your own personal, handmade fans, right here! Only ten cents!”
Just about everything we sold was “ten cents,” and, of course, we had that same problem making change.
The fans were made from heavy duty construction paper and really did work quite well. The Old Folks cooled off and we had enough cash to buy some cheap balsa wood airplanes to throw around until they either crashed and broke or got run over by one of the steel hauler trucks that drove past the house every day.
I also tried selling newspapers to the Old Folks, but that fell apart once they realized I was selling them yesterday’s papers.
Not every idea can be a winner.
These businesses faded away as I got older and started spending my money on things like girls and Aqua Velva. When you are eight years old and kinda cute you can get away with things that just don’t work when you look like you need a shave.
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Throwback Thursday from Jan. – “Memories Are Made Of This”
ONE OF THE MOST PRECIOUS THINGS that we, as humans, have is a memory. Our memory can keep the span of our entire lives and bring back to us people and moments long past. We have our memories, but how we remember something or someone may vary from the long-past reality. Our memory of time spent with a particular person may tell us that things were better or worse than they actually were.
I CAN AND WILL CONTINUE TO SLEEP just about anywhere. I can sleep on airplanes. I can sleep on a crowded bus. I even fell asleep on stage one time. I’m good at sleeping.
As I write this we are down in Texas once again. Family business brings us to the Corpus Christi area for the fifth month in a row and Christmas will send us south once again. This means a lot of sleeping in strange beds and some strange sleeping.
I DROVE PAST MY NEIGHBORHOOD TACO BELL yesterday. I was glad to see that they are continuing to value their staff by naming another “Employee of the Month.” This month’s winner of the coveted “Golden Taco” is named “Ant.” That’s it. Just “Ant.” I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that “Ant” is a nickname.
“Ant,” Not “An Ant.” Thank Heavens; I’d hate to think that one of the ways to work there and be named “Employee of the Month” would be to have six legs. Although during a busy time at the restaurant that could be an asset.
A collection of fairy tales written by child refugees in Greece has gone on sale to help those like the book’s authors.
Travelling Tales features a rugby-playing dog, a king who grew to love animals and chickens fighting an alien invasion among its eight stories.
The book is the brainchild of Brazilian journalist Debora de Pina Castiglione and her sister Beatriz. The two combined their love of words and illustrations to create the book but the ideas came directly from the children.
Debora ran workshops with Syrian and Kurdish children aged between four and 14 years old, at three refugee camps close to Thessaloniki in Vasilika, Lagadikia and Oreokastro.
It gave the children something to do without focusing on their own lives.“The idea was not to have the children talk about their journeys or experiences fleeing war, at least not directly,” Debora said. “It was to let them tell the stories they wanted to, in ways they chose themselves.
“I think it’s important for young people to engage with one another. Children all over the world are watching the refugee situation, or hearing it on news programmes their parents watch and listen to, and as well as hoping it would be an interesting project for the children at the camps, I wanted to do something so the children outside of the crisis could see the children caught up in it on their own terms, as children with fun and interesting stories, just like they are.”
And there is something entirely captivating about the stories. In The Travelling Princess, Amira shuns her royal title to live as a poor person who goes around giving away gold she found as she explored the world.
In Aliens vs Chicken, Earth is under attack from extraterrestrials who want to steal all the chicken eggs in the world. While humans are relieved about the aliens’ demands, the chickens are not happy and fight back, reclaiming the eggs.
The story was written by nine-year-old Shahd who lives in the military camp of Lagadikia. Debora describes her stories as “full of adventure. Her creativity reminds us that there are heroes even where we least expect to find them.”
“We spent four months with the children,” Debora added. “In some cases, the children spoke English very well, and had quite clear ideas of their stories. In others, we worked with a translator, and also spent time with them to help them develop their ideas, to make the stories hold together better.
“But the point was that these are the stories of the children, so we didn’t change their words, or add anything they did not include themselves.”
Five professional illustrators helped to bring the stories to life, including Beatriz.
The book was published last month and is available in English as well as Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Dutch. It is for sale via Amazon priced at £10.
Money collected from the sale of the book will be used to help support projects that look for alternative housing solutions to the military camps.
“hope is a waking dream.”
credits: the irish news, Debora and Beatriz de Pina Castiglione, child refugees in greece
#teachers for refugees
A thousand Thanks to KSBeth for allowing me to share this with you.
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I REALLY HAVEN’T WRITTEN MUCH ABOUT MY SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS LATELY. There is a good reason – they are not having a good year. No, it’s worse than that – they are stinking up the joint.
For the first time since the 1980s they have a chance to lose 100 games this season. That hurts.
I remember going out to games at the old Candlestick Park and watching them lose day after day. It was not easy to be a witness to that. Since then they have had some glorious years – winning three World Series rings in a three year period. But that was then and this is now.
I’M A FAN OF JIMMY BUFFETT. I’m not a fan to the point of calling myself a “Parrothead” which is similar to avid fans of the Grateful Dead calling themselves “Deadheads.” No, I’m not a “Parrothead.” I don’t hitchhike around the country to attend Buffett concerts and I don’t have any Buffett tattoos. I can’t afford the ticket prices and I’m too old to start siring kids named “Cheeseburger” or “Margaritaville.”
I guess I’m more of a “Parakeet” than a “Parrothead.”
I just like his music and I admire him because as a man of 70 he can still take his show on tour without the need for a fulltime medical staff.
MY WIFE, THE LOVELY AND WONDERFULLY OBSERVANT, DAWN, and I were having a discussion about our favorite movies when the “Star Wars” franchise came up. I remember seeing the first film back in 19…whatever it was. I know we had electricity, so it was sometime after World War One. It’s been a while that I know.
I enjoyed the movie, but despite all of the special effects and nifty costuming, I realized that “Star Wars” was really just a Cowboy Movie. It was a fun and rollicking Cowboy Movie to be sure, but an Oater nonetheless.
TODAY IS JUNE THE 6TH, A TUESDAY. It may be just one more day out of the 365 we will experience this year, but it also has some significance for me.
Being of a certain age this date is a reminder of a major event during WW II.
June, 6, 1944 was also known as “D – Day.” It marked the Allied invasion of the European continent leading to the defeat and destruction of Nazi Germany and the end of the war in Europe. That all came to a conclusion a little more than one year prior to my birth in July 1946.
MONDAY MORNINGS JUST AREN’T THE SAME AS THEY USED TO BE. When I was a kid Monday morning used to start on Sunday when there was a scramble to make sure that all my homework was finished. I’d had all weekend to do it, but it would be Sunday evening before I’d even look at it.
When I finished my education and got into the real world where people actually paid you to be somewhere on Monday morning things got rougher. How rough depended on how stupid I was over the weekend.
IF I SAY THE WORD “FLARP” TO YOU WHAT COMES TO MIND? If you are over the age of 12 probably nothing – I hope. Unfortunately, it does carry a very specific meaning to me and I can blame several children and one adult for that.
“Flarp” is a product that is gloriously described as “Noise Putty.”
I LIKE SNOW LESS than I like going up and down flights of stairs. I like snow less than I like going up and down flights of stairs that don’t have handrails on both sides.
I like snow less than I like Jeff Bridges movies – and that is saying something.
But why do I feel this way? Is there some deep, dark, pseudo-psychological, brain cell tweak memory that has made me feel this way? Could be.
Reaching back into the musty attic of my memory I am sure that, up until the age of ten or so, I was really into winter and snow. There were snowball fights defending the snow-fort we constructed in the back yard. And there was sledding down the sloping streets in the neighborhood. We did that, ignoring the fact that we lived two blocks from a steel mill, which had heavy duty semis going up and down the streets twenty-four hours a day. We rode our sleds down hills where the streets were under construction from dirt to pavement. I think that that might be the when and where that my feelings toward snow may have changed.
I was about nine or ten years old and just one block away from our house was a street that went downhill for three whole blocks until it hit the railroad tracks. There was a lot of work going on along the way downhill. Huge storm drain pipes were being installed and they sat along the side of the street waiting to be buried come spring.
To get a really good rate of speed downhill you would get a running start, then throw yourself down onto the sled and hold on. Steering was accomplished mostly by dragging one foot or the other into the ice. On the day in question, when my love for snow disappeared, I was just flying down that hill!
From what I was told by the other kids, I have no direct personal memory, I was going downhill at a good clip when another kid lost control and swerved right into my path. By reflex I dropped my left foot into the ice and made a sharp right turn right into a huge section of the storm drain pipe by the side of the street.
The next thing I actually recall is being carried by several kids back to our house and my mother screaming. It seems that my face was covered in blood and already swelling up to resemble an overripe cantaloupe.
After a quick preliminary inspection somebody drove us to the hospital emergency room. This was in an era before Paramedics came to you.
The immediate end result was three stitches under my left eye, a face so bloated that I ate soup through a straw for a week, and parental confiscation of my sled. They failed to appreciate my quick reaction time, avoiding a potential collision with another kid, and only saw my failure to choose the lesser of the two collision targets. There were few soups available that could be navigated successfully through a soda straw.
Yup. I think it was then that my love affair with winter and snow ended in an image seared into my brain of scar tissue and sucking up broth through a paper straw.
So, don’t blame me if I grumble and moan about winter. Blame that other kid who couldn’t keep his own sled under control.
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ONE OF THE MORE INTERESTING PARTS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON – maybe the most interesting part – is taking time to observe the children. Take a moment to watch a three year old when they first see all of the colorful and glittering lights.
I never knew eyes could be that big.
The look on the face of a Little One must be similar to when the first self-aware humans looked up at the night sky.
I TOOK MYSELF ON A LITTLE FACT FINDING MISSION the other day. It was inspired by seeing a picture of the actress Tuesday Weld. Most men my age remember her from the TV show, “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” She played the gorgeous blonde Thalia Menninger. After she left the show nobody cared about it any longer.
My research topic had little to do with the lovely Thalia, but more to do with Tuesday – and Wednesday and Thursday, etc.
IS LIFE A SERIES OF EVERCHANGING ILLUSIONS? Can we ever be certain that things are as we perceive them to be? I’m not all that sure, Buckaroos.
When I was a kid, when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, Time seemed to move much slower than it does now. Back then the span of time from Monday until Friday seemed to take forever. Each school day stretched out endlessly.
John Kraft is a writer living and working in Terre Haute, Indiana. He moved to the Midwest after 25 years in California where he worked as an actor, comedian, voice-over actor, as well as a writer. He now enjoys a saner pace of life with his wife, Dawn, who tries to keep him from embarrassing himself in public.
Perhaps I should explain the title of this blog: Down the Hall on Your Left.
My name is John. People are always asking where they can find "The John." My answer is: "Down the Hall on Your Left."