Down the Hall on Your Left

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 – 2020

Archive for the tag “Nonfiction”

A Little Face In The Crowd

I find that the older I get I spend more time, while sipping my coffee, thinking about my younger days. It doesn’t take much to get me wandering back to the days of my life when I lived in a narrow valley in Western Pennsylvania.

These days my time is filled with thoughts of hi-tech computers and low-tech viruses. Neither of these are the sort of things that make for lingering memories. The things that did, do, and will continue to generate memories involve the people I’ve known and the places I’ve been. Today and tomorrow interest me less than the thousands of my yesterdays.

When I woke up this morning and turned on the TV in the bedroom one of the first images I saw was of a classroom. It reminded me of one in the elementary school where I was introduced to the world outside of my family. St. Mary’s Catholic Grade School was already old when i was enrolled in 1952. The school was started in the 1870s.

I was born in 1946 smack in the middle of the first wave of the Post-War Baby Boom. The hundreds of thousands of soldiers returning home from the horror of World War Two were thankful to be alive and they celebrated by starting families. My father was too old to be taken into the military, but he  got caught up in the spirit of the day and there I was six years later sitting in a classroom alongside 59 other First Grade Boomers. I sat there with the others, all of us staring at Sister Avila standing by her desk in her black and white nun’s habit.

You read that right. There were 60 kids in my first grade classroom and there was another classroom just as full across the hall. We were packed into our rows of little wooden desks like sardines in a can.

And we learned.

We learned how to sit quietly with our hands neatly folded on the desktop. We learned to stand up every morning and say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. We learned how to read. We learned how to write in cursive. We also learned how to get along with 59 other kids.

We learned how to be the good kids everyone expected us to be.

That expanding bubble of Baby Boom kids continued all through my school years and it is still there even now. Now, however, all of us who sat in that crowded first grade classroom are hitting 75 years of age. We are the Senior Citizens who are filling up the hospitals, nursing homes, and cemeteries.

Today the desks at St. Mary’s are occupied with a new generation born in this century. The classes are smaller now. There isn’t a rush to build new schools like there was in the 1950s. The old schools that had been filled to the walls with the sons and daughters of the returning veterans are being torn down and replaced with Health Clubs and Organic Food Stores.

My generation – The Baby Boomers are now fading from the scene. The nation’s population is still growing but at a slower pace. There might never be another classroom with 60 little kids squirming in their seats and practicing their penmanship. Today’s teachers are horrified when they are faced with more than twenty curious faces staring at them.

In 1952 our stern-faced nuns in black and white struggled through the turmoil and managed to have most of those 60 youngsters turn out just fine. If there was one most important thing we learned in those crowded classrooms it was how to work together and not be afraid to ask questions. Those skills have served us well over the years.

Thank you, Sister.

 

 

 

 

News From The Police Blotter

Sometimes I wonder.

I wonder about the nature of all sorts of stuff. I wonder about Life, the Universe, and Everything (I know – the answer to that is 42), but most of the time I wonder about People. Of the roughly eight billion souls on Earth almost all of them just go from day to day taking care of business and struggling to put food on the table. They don’t have time to roll around in Stupid Stuff.

But there are those people who, despite their need for food, lodging, and Pay Per View still manage to find time to get into some truly dumbass trouble.

For example: I saw on Facebook this morning a news item from right here in Indiana – Home of Biscuits and Gravy for Sunday Dinner and where Auto Racing and High School Basketball are considered Religious Sacraments.

And I quote… “INDIANA MAN FOUND PASSED OUT NAKED ON A TRACTOR”

Now THAT is a Headline!

The Story unfolded with the facts – just the facts. The names will be changed to protect the unbelievably stupid.

“A 43-year-old Hoosier may have just accidentally inspired a country song.

Just 25 minutes North of the famous Southern Indiana town of Santa Claus you’ll find the small community of Huntingburg. This tiny town is now on our radar after a confused and naked man was arrested according to the Tristate Homepage.

43-year-old Michael Blithering was arrested after police responded to a report of a naked man passed out on a tractor in Huntingburg Monday morning.

The streaking suspect was able to avoid the police for a little white until he was seen running across US 231. That is where officers found the man in his birthday suit hiding in a wood line near some local apartments.

Michael Blithering was charged with public intoxication with a controlled substance and public nudity after he was discharged from the hospital.”

As I read this story I wondered to myself “When was it that this naked man realized that he might be in trouble and should run for it?” I suspect that it may have been somewhere between his 12th beer and his third Meth hit.

When somebody dropped the dime on him and called the police they reported that Mr. Blithering was both naked and unconscious as he rode on the tractor. Unless the tractor was in motion I don’t see where any harm was being done. He may have just finished getting his “Back Forty” plowed and was just taking a break. It has been quite warm here in Indiana lately and perhaps his decision to go “Au Natural” may have been based on his exposure of his John Deere. I doubt if he will remember much when he sobers up and or comes down.

This morning when I went to my daily Playgroup – a gathering of a half dozen Geezers who meet for coffee and chitchat – I asked if any of those native Hoosiers knew where Huntingburg, Indiana was located. I was not surprised when one of the gentlemen said, “I grew up there.

I read them the account of Michael Blithering’s naked run in with the Law. They shook their collective heads as if to say, “Not again.” It was implied. The man who had lived in Huntingburg, Indiana spoke up. “I know that man’s family.”

Indiana is just one big Small Town when it comes to stuff like this.

It Is Time

TIME PASSES. TIME ALSO ARRIVES. AND TIME HAS ARRIVED HERE.

This blog has been going since November of 2014 with well over 1500 postings of varying quality and meaning to be sure.

But now I feel that it is time to pull the plug. Today will be the last day for this blog.

I am tired. My mind is tired and my body is not as cooperative as it used to be. I feel unable to sharply observe the world around me and I don’t really have anything left to say.

To those of you who have been with me on this excursion from the early days – I thank you for your mysterious loyalty and the countless comments you have launched in my direction.

So, as I wrap up this chapter of my life, I urge you to love one another.Tell people that you love them. Hug them often. Don’t let them feel lonely.

Thank You and Goodbye.

John

The Habit Of Love

IN ANSWER TO A NUMBER OF REQUESTS FROM READERS WHO WANTED TO READ THIS ONE MORE TIME. 

FROM JULY 3OTH 2019

 

THE HABIT OF LOVE

I WAS IN A DISCUSSION THE OTHER DAY ABOUT GOOD HEALTHY HABITS. There was talk about eating the right things, seeing your Doctor regularly, and getting enough exercise. I can’t really argue with any of those things. They all come under the heading of “Duh!”

As this discussion went back and forth with people offering up their own special dietary favorites and exercise routines I sat on the sidelines. I was taking it all in, but not offering anything of my own. I was thinking. That can take some time. My brain has to warm up first. Trying to come up with an idea too soon and I could pull a lobe.

While I stood by listening to the others I noticed that all of their “Healthy Habits” had to do with the heath of their physical bodies, but none for their spirit or soul. That concerned me. My physical habits are generally pretty crappy so I try to take care of my Soul/Spirit/Being – whatever you want to call it.

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Throwback Thursday From December 2016 – “I Have Not Done This Well”

new2OK, WE HAVE CHRISTMAS OUT OF THE WAY. The eggnog has been thankfully disposed of until next year. Christmas carols are over until Thanksgiving – except on the Hallmark Channel. New Year’s Day kind of takes care of itself with football, aspirin and drawn shades. I guess our next societal obligation is the making of New Year’s Resolutions. I suggest doing that before going out on New Year’s Eve. Doing it after that carries the danger of it being a product of desperation, shame, and physical pain.

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We’ve Made It This Far

 

OH, MY GOODNESS! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

It’s Christmas Eve already? The calendar says so, but I never completely trust those calendars anyway. Those are the crazy things that claim that March 21st is the First Day of Spring and I can usually look out of any window and see a foot of snow.

No, I realize that this is Christmas Eve by looking around this old house in Texas and seeing all of these people (half of them kids) gathered about awash in gifts and wrapping paper. That, not a calendar, tells me that it is Christmas Eve in Texas.

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“Gramma’s House.”

 

WE ARE BACK IN TEXAS AGAIN. We come down here every Christmas as the entire family gathers at the Family homestead.

Everyone calls it “Gramma’s House.” Married in 1941 just before the start of the Second World War the house finally got built in 1947 when the chaos subsided. It was a small house, but when the first baby arrived it was obvious that expansion was needed. When babies #2 and #3 showed up in 1949 and 1954 it became time for some serious additions to the original floor plan.

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Feuding And Fussing

FAMILY FEUD? OH, YEAH, LET ME GET ON THAT ONE FOLKS. Heh, Heh, Heh. I’d make Steve Harvey lose control of his… Oh, never mind. It ain’t gonna ever happen. It sure wouldn’t be a pretty picture.

I remember when that show first appeared on the scene with Richard Dawson as the Host. He was a British Actor/Comedian best known in the country from his regular stint on “The Match Game” (another game show) and the TV show “Hogan’s FAMILY Heroes.” For you younger readers “Hogan’s Heroes was a rollicking Sitcom set in a Nazi Prisoner of War Camp – a place always known for its laughs.

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Throwback Thursday From December 2016 – “Welcome To Whine Country”

giphy-3IF THERE IS ONE THING THAT REALLY TICKS ME OFF about my fellow human beings it is listening to them whine.

When I hear a grown person whining about anything I just want to walk right up to them and slap them silly. That would give them something to really whine about.

I know I can’t do that, but I can dream can’t I?

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Are You Being Served?

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN. We are now in the throes of the Christmas Shopping Season. The online vendors are doing business at an astounding level and Shopping Malls are hanging on by a slender thread.

The Retail World is changing…Again.

For thousands of years the individual merchant did business one customer at a time, one sale at a time. The customer went to the merchant’s shop to find what they needed. Then in the late 19th Century we saw (Well, not me personally) the rise of the Department Store.

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Searching For High Quality Trash

 

HOW SOON AFTER GETTING UP IS IT ALLOWABLE TO TAKE A NAP? I think I may be pushing it a bit, but I got up at 7:30 this morning. It is now 11:10 AM and I’m seriously considering a little nappy-poo. I know that sounds nasty but…I don’t care.

It is now 3:37 PM.

It was a good little nap. I agree with you. A four and a half nap does border on a coma, but I felt it was also somewhat medicinal. Take a pill or two; lay down for just a minute…BOOM! Its late afternoon. I had plans. So much for them.

It is time to go on to Plan B. Get up, put on pants, and go buy a couple of souvenir T shirts. It’s obligatory in Florida. There is probably a law on the books here, “Don’t buy a cheap T shirt and we feed you to the gators.” People disappear all the time down here. They vanish forever or just show up at the Mayo Clinic. “I was standing in the buffet line when, all of a sudden, I blacked out and woke up in Minnesota.”

I’m going out to hunt for cheap T Shirts. Wish me luck.

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Throwback Thursday From December 2016 – “The Name Game”

f0bf7e046eb40ca7200c68cb9f6c806bI 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.

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By The Sea, By The Sea

 

GUESS WHERE I’M AT? NO. NO. NO, NOT THERE EITHER. I AM IN FLORIDA -The Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Area. What am I doing down there when there is a perfectly good winter going on in Indiana without me? Well, for at least a few days, that is the idea.

Ever since our five week visit to Ireland I have been cold – freezing even. I needed to do something or I was afraid that I would not survive to see another Springtime. The cold feeling exhausted me. I was empty Physically, Emotionally, Creatively, and even Socially. I felt like I was an empty shell with freezer burn. I hated feeling like that and I don’t think I was very good company for anybody. I was either silent or snapping at everyone – and that’s just not like me. Going to where it was still warm so I could thaw myself was the solution. So here I am in Florida.

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Taxes On The Spin Cycle

 

THE WORLD IS MADE OF PEOPLE, THINGS, AND EVENTS. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell one from another. Which is it? Am I reacting to the person, what I am seeing, or what is going down? I guess the reality is that, in most cases, it is a combination of the three.

Such is one unusual thing that happened to me in, of all places, the neighborhood laundromat. The laundromat is not my usual haunt. I don’t think I have any “usual” haunts just a bunch of verifiably “Unusual” ones.

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Sic Transit Alfalfa

I HAD THE ULTIMATE FLASHBACK THIS MORNING.

The fact that it all happened at a little after 5 AM made it even more unusual.

As I do most mornings I am up early because… because my eyes pop open like two deviled eggs and I cannot roll over and go back to sleep.

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It Warms My Cockles

 

OH, THAT FEELS GOOD!

It may be 33 degrees outside, but I am roasty-toasty warm inside. The furnace is on. I’m wearing three layers (not chickens) and I have my electric throw plugged in and I have a Hunter’s Hand Warmer in my pants. I’m warm and I like it.

I would never have been a great Arctic explorer. Amundsen and Byrd would have pushed me overboard when they caught me trying to convince the crew that Miami was close enough to the Pole.

“Let’s all stop here and have a hot toddy.”

When the thermometer begins its slide into the range that causes talk of things like “Wind Chill” and “Antifreeze,” I break out my Thermal Thongs.

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Throwback Thursday from December 2015

Throwback Thursday 2

Keep Yer Wheel. I’ve Got Something Better

dollar store2

SOME SAY THAT THE WHEEL IS THE GREATEST OF ALL INVENTIONS. Others say it is fire, or the printing press. I disagree. I think that the greatest invention in the History of the Human Species is The Dollar Store.

Let me explain…

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States.

It is a day to be with Family and Friends.

Wherever you are – enjoy this day and we will see you tomorrow.

I Don’t Have Gas

SOMETIMES I JUST DON’T KNOW WHO TO BELIEVE. I hear somebody say something and I automatically take what they say as truthful. It’s not long before “WHAM!” I find out that the Truth is more elusive than a Penguin at the North Pole.

What gets me thinking about this was my recent experience of trying to buy fuel for the Toyota. It made my head spin.

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Why Am I Awake?

 

NOW THAT WE ARE ALL BACK ON OUR FAMILIAR SOD the next trick is to get reacclimated to the Eastern Standard Time Zone. Five hours is a lot of time to readjust to – at least for this old geezer.

It didn’t take long to get comfortable going the other way. That part of the journey took only a day or two because on the flight over I slept most of the way. I wasn’t the pilot so I felt fine with dropping off to sleep even before the wheels left the ground.

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