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Stories

The BB Gun


 

 

 

 

 

In the late 1960s, our family lived in Houston, Texas.  It was about a three-and-a-half drive north to our parent’s home in San Augustine.  Christmastime was always a hectic time for all of us.  My parents lived about twenty miles away from my wife’s parents. We, therefore, had to share time with both sets of grandparents when we would make the drive up north.

 

On this particular Christmas we had spent Christmas Eve in San Augustine spending the night.  Of course, Santa Claus came to see our two children while we where there.  He was quite good at finding us wherever we were.  Much to our surprise Santa brought our young son a real BB gun, a Red Ryder.  Although we were not too happy about this since he was so young, we did not want to spoil our grandparents’ Santa gift.  So, I took Doug outside and showed him how to use a BB gun, and included all the safety precautions.

 

Several hours later I went outside to see what was going on with Doug and his new BB gun.  I was shocked!  My parents had decorated their front yard, porch, and the cyclone fence with large Christmas lights.  To my dismay, I discovered that my son had shot out most all of the light bulbs in theses decorations.

 

I took him inside to “fess up” about what he had done.  He reluctantly apologized to his grandmother for this dastardly deed of shooting out the lights.  My mother hugged him and said, “Gosh, he really is a good shot.”

 

Well, it was difficult for me to say much to my son because I remembered when I got my first BB gun as a young lad.  In fact, one could look at the outside garage wall of my parent’s home and see the evidence. I perfected a game in which I stationed myself by the wall about eight or ten feet away and waited for flies to light on it.  Then I would shoot at them.  I did not hit every fly, but every BB left a dent in the wood.  So the evidence of shooting was still there until my dad had vinyl siding installed on the exterior walls.

 

This vinyl siding also covered up the sandy feeling to the wall.  It seems that my older sister and I poured sand in my dad’s five-gallon paint bucket years before.  Since paint was expensive, my dad tried to strain out the sand but could get all of it.  So he was forced to paint the house with gritty paint. But, that’s another story.

 

My son never shot at Christmas lights again, but he remains a good shot to this day.  As a retired police officer in North Carolina, he has had a lot of good training.  But, it all started with a BB gun and Christmas lights at granny’s house.

 

 

“THE BB GUN”

BY: NEAL MURPHY
107 HEMLOCK STREET
PO BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com

486 words

 

 

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The Confederate Giant


 

 

One can only imagine what the Union soldiers must have thought at the sight of a giant wearing a confederate uniform running toward them in the heat of battle.  Henry Clay Thruston was beyond a doubt the tallest man in the Confederate army.  Perhaps at the time he lived he could have been one of the tallest men in the world at 7 feet 7 ½ inches in height.  The average height of the Union soldier was 5 feet 8 inches, and the tallest Union soldier was only 6 feet 10 ½ inches.  This Rebel towered over all the other fighting men like a pine sapling.

 

Henry was born May 4, 1830 in Greenville, S.C.  However soon after his birth his family moved to Missouri where he spent his early years.  In 1850 Henry married a distant cousin, Mary Thruston, and they had four children.

 

When the civil war broke out, Henry joined the Confederate Army, serving as a private under Col. John Q. Burbridge in the 4th Missouri Calvary.  Thruston survived the war hostilities with only a couple of relatively minor wounds.  He became a prisoner of war late in the conflict, but did not spend long in confinement, being paroled in June of 1865.

 

After the war, Thruston reunited with his family in Missouri then migrated to Texas, stopping when he got to Titus County.  He purchased 100 acres of land east of Mount Vernon, Texas, and spent most of the rest of his life there.

 

For many years following the Civil War, he spent most of his time traveling with a circus, and was always billed in these side shows as being “The World’s Tallest Man”.  In order to accent his height, he wore a tall beaver hat, high-top boots, and a long coat.  This made him look ten feet tall.  In those days, one of the big events of a circus coming to town was the parade through the downtown.  When the circus was in any of the Confederate states, he would always walk in the lead of the parade carrying a large Confederate flag over his shoulder, much like a human flag pole.

 

However, if the circus was performing in a Union state, he would usually lead the parade dressed as Uncle Sam, and carrying both the Union and Confederate flags.

 

Judge R. T. Wilkinson, of Mt. Vernon, was one of Thruston’s closest friends, and he said that Thruston was a vain old fellow, and proud of his height.  He was always willing and ready to recount events of the Civil War and of his life.  The Judge said that his hands were as big as hams, and his feet were so large that he had to have his shoes specially made, as well as his clothes.

 

He rode horseback quite a bit and when he was riding a smaller horse, his knees were usually pulled up as high as the horse’s back in order that his feet would not drag the ground.  He had a buggy specially built for him with the seat built high up in order that he could ride more comfortably.  In fact, Judge Wilkinson said that the old fellow always took great pains to call attention to his great height.

 

On Friday, July 2, 1909, Thruston sat down to supper with his son, Edward, his daughter-in-law and their son.  Mrs. Thruston told him that since he had not been feeling very well, he’d better pass on the cabbage.  The big man began to butter a biscuit when he fell back in his chair in heart failure.

 

Before Thruston could be laid to rest, the local undertaker had to await the arrival by train of a custom-made casket from Texarkana.  Being eight feet long, it could not fit into the hearse with the doors closed.  They buried him in a grave much longer than deep in Mt. Pleasant’s Edwards Cemetery.  His house, which had nine foot ceilings, still stands in Mount Vernon.
 
The editor of the local newspaper spoke for the whole community when he concluded, “He was our friend and we shall miss his cheering words and hearty handshake.”


SOURCES:
Texas Tales – “Tallest Rebel” -  Mike Cox – 2/2/2007
Confederate Veteran Magazine -  December, 1909 issue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“THE CONFEDERATE GIANT”

BY: NEAL MURPHY

PO BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com

711 words

 

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The Yard Man


 

 


I grew up in that awkward time between reel mowers and power mowers.  During my early teen years one of my jobs was keeping our rather large yard mowed.  Using an old reel type mower can turn this task into a real chore.

 

Most people under age 50 have never even seen a reel type mower, much less used one.  They are blessed to have power lawn mowers today, and even more blessed if they have a riding mower.

 

The reel type mower was human powered, of course.  The thicker the grass, the more difficult it was to push the mower.  It cut grass fairly well, except for the tall weeds.  Whenever a weed was encountered the mower just pressed the weed down and rolled right over it.  The weed sprang back up to tickle your legs as you walked by.

 

Around the age of eleven or twelve, I was a regular user of our reel mower on the yard.  I always felt that I was somewhat skinny, and needed to gain some weight.  I recall that my mother would make me a milkshake with a raw egg in it to drink as I rested from my labors.  How I ever drank a raw egg is beyond me now.  The drink had a delayed effect as I did not gain weight until about forty years later.

 

I was very excided the day that my father, Cecil, purchased an electric lawn mower from the Deep East Texas Electric Co-Op.  Back in those days, the Co-Op sold all types of appliances, such as stoves, refrigerators, lawn mowers, and window air conditioners.  Now mowing was going to be fun.

 

The mower sounded like a siren as it powered up ready to slay the grass as well as the weeds.  No longer did I have to get the weed cutter to take down the tall weeds after I mowed.  There was only one problem with this state-of-the-art electric mower – the electric cord.  Our yard was so large that it took a couple of extension cords in order to reach the back forty.

For some reason I kept mowing over the cord with the inevitable result, a cut cord.  It would seem a simple thing to do to keep the mower off the cord.  It apparently was not.  After one summer of use the cord had numerous patched cuts.  And, the new wore off fairly soon.  No longer was it fun to use, it became a chore as well.  I used this electric mower all during high school.  At some point after I went off to college, my dad purchased a gas powered lawn mower.  However, I never did use it much.  After all, I was an expert on the old reel mower.

 

 

 

“THE  YARD  MAN”

BY:  NEAL  MURPHY
PO BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TEXAS 75972
936-275-9033
cell: 936-275-6986
sugarbear@netdot.com


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WHAT'S FOR DINNER


 

 


In the early 1950s I was dating a young lady from the small town of Hemphill, Texas. Her father was the pastor of the local Baptist church.  In those days pastors were paid very little in salary.  However, there were other “perks” that automatically accompanied being a pastor.

One of these perks was offerings of food from the parishioners. Almost daily a member of the congregation would stop by his home and leave some food.  On the surface this seems a very nice thing to do, and it was.  However, some of the food often was unidentifiable.

On the Thanksgiving before his daughter, Clara, and I were married, I recall that a church member stopped by their house on the day before Thanksgiving and left some kind of fowl.  It had been plucked and cleaned, but it could not be identified as either a chicken, goose, or duck.  I always thought that it was a buzzard, but the consensus of opinion was that it was a goose.  In fact, one member of the family bit down on a led pellet from the bird shot used to kill it.

My future father-in-law was concerned about how to respond to the members who had brought food that he was afraid to eat, particularly when he dumped it behind the garage. If he told them that the food was delicious, then he was obviously fibbing which is frowned upon in the Bible.  After pondering this problem for a while he had a brainstorm of an idea to solve his problem.

He named the place where the food was dumped “the spot”. Then when his members asked how he liked the dish brought to him he would respond with “It truly hit the spot.  Thank you very much.”  Thus, the giver was pleased and the pastor had not told a fib.  Everyone was happy.

Nowadays most pastors are paid a living wage, and only a few people bring fowl, eggs, milk, and, yes, some unknown items to the preacher’s house as a sort of offering.  Thus, the problem does not exist in that area as it once did.  Over the years my wife and I have had many a laugh about all the things that were brought to her father’s house with good intentions but bad selections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“WHAT’S FOR DINNER?”

BY: NEAL MURPHY

P.O. BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com
Web Site: www.etexasbook.com

389 words

 

 

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WISHING UPON THE WISHBONE


 


I vividly recall a “ritual” that we kids performed after the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals back in my early years.  This activity was passed down to our children but seems to have been lost to the current crop of kids.

 

I recall my mother announcing to we kids after dinner was over, “Here’s the wish bone.  Who wants it?”  Instantly there would be a flurry of activity toward that “Y” shaped bone garnered from the breast of the turkey amid cries of “I want to pull it this year”, or “It’s my turn. You did it last year.”  Eventually, things would be worked down to the two lucky ones who got to make a wish and pull the wish bone until it broke.  The holder of the longer piece was the “winner” whose wish would magically come true.

 

I am sure that the same ritual was played out in millions of homes each year.  Thanksgiving is a North American holiday of recent vintage, whereas the breaking of the wishbone comes to us from Europe. It was a tradition dating back thousand of years.

 

A bird’s wishbone is technically known as the furcula (meaning “little fork” in Latin).  It is formed by the fusion of two clavicles, and is important to flight because of its elasticity, and the tendons that attach to it.  We humans have a similar bone known as “collarbones”.  The question before us is - where did the custom of making a wish and then snapping the bone originate, and how did it get to America?

 

Research reveals that the custom came to us from the English, who got it from the Romans, who got it from the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization.  As far as historians and archaeologists can discover, the Etruscans were really into their fowls, especially chickens. In fact, many believed that the birds were oracles and could predict the future. They exploited the chickens’ supposed gifts by turning them into walking Ouija boards with a bizarre ritual known as “rooster divination”.

They would draw a circle on the ground and divide it into wedges representing the letters of the Etruscan alphabet. Bits of food were scattered on each wedge and a chicken was placed in the center of the circle.  As the bird snacked, scribes would note the sequence of letters that it pecked at, and the local priests would use the resulting messages to divine the future and answer the city’s most pressing questions.

 

When a chicken was killed, the furcula was laid out in the sun to dry so that it could be preserved, and the people would still have access to the oracle’s power even after its demise.  People would pick up the bone, stroke it, and make wishes on it, hence the modern name of “wishbone”.

 

As the Romans crossed paths with the Etruscans, they adopted some of their customs, including alectryomancy and making wishes on the furcula.  According to tradition, the Romans went from merely petting the bones to breaking them because of supply and demand.  There weren’t enough bones to go around for everyone to wish on, so two people would wish on the same bone and then break it to see who got the larger piece and their wish.

 

As the Romans traipsed around Europe, they left their cultural mark in many different places, including the British Isles.  People living in England at the time adopted the wishbone custom, and it eventually came to the New World with English settlers, who began using the turkeys’ wishbone as well as the chicken’s.

 

Pilgrims who immigrated to the United States are believed to have brought the tradition with them.  Once discovering that the wild turkeys populating their new home possessed wishbones just like the fowl from home, the wishbone tradition became a part of the Thanksgiving celebration.  Let us hope that the modern generation will not let it die completely.  It has come a long way and deserves to entertain children of today’s generation as it has so many others.

 

 


“WISHING  UPON  THE  WISHBONE”

BY: NEAL MURPHY

107 HEMLOCK STREET
PO BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com


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The First Thing We Do


 


The above line, first spoken on stage around 1590, and first published in 1594, evidences a basic animosity toward lawyers among the folk of the Renaissance period.

 

In the 428 years since the composition of this line, attitudes toward lawyers among the common folk have changed very little.

 

The Spanish novelist, Franciso Quevedo, suggested, “A lawyer is like a cartwheel – he must be greased before he’ll move.”  He also wrote, “A lawyer is one who picks your pocket, and shows you a law for it.”

 

Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the USA, said, “I used to be a lawyer, but now I am a reformed character.”

 

Sir John Hamilton warned his contemporaries, “An attorney is like a porcupine; it’s impossible to touch him without pricking one’s finger.”

 

The following lawyer riddles have been around for awhile, and have been voted the best by us common folk. 

 

1. How can you tell when a lawyer is lying?
( When his lips are moving)
2. Why won’t a rattlesnake strike a lawyer?
(Professional courtesy)
3. What do you need when you have three lawyers up to their necks in 
Cement?
 (More cement)
4. What is black and brown and looks good on a lawyer?
( A doberman pinscher )
5. What do lawyers use for birth control?
( Their personalities)
6. What do you call two hundred lawyers at the bottom of the sea?
( A good start)
7. What do you call a lawyer with an IQ less than 50?
( your honor )
     8. What do you get when you cross a lawyer with the Godfather?
          ( An offer you can’t understand )
          This is reminiscent of a remark made by Will Rogers, “The minute 
           You read something you can’t understand, you can be sure it was
            Drawn up by a lawyer.”
9. What is the difference between a dead skunk in the road, and a dead
Lawyer in the road?
( There are skid marks in front of the skunk)
10. What is the difference between an alligator and a lawyer?
( You can make a pet out of an alligator )

11. What is the difference between a chopped onion and a chopped up 
            Up lawyer?( People cry when they chop up an onion )
12.  Why are lawyers buried twelve feet deep instead of six feet?
( Because down deep they really aren’t so bad )

 

Did you hear about the blizzard in Amarillo?  The weather was so bad that schools had to close, pipes were frozen, and streets had to be sanded.  It was so cold that a lawyer was actually spotted with his hands in his own pockets.

 

One evening an honest lawyer, a dishonest lawyer, and the tooth fairy were sitting around a table.  There was a ten dollar bill on the table.  Suddenly the lights went out.  After a while, the lights came back on.  The ten dollar bill was gone.  Who took it?


     (The dishonest lawyer.  You don’t believe in the other two, do you? )

 

Once the Devil was walking through hell when he saw one of the big shot lawyers who was a resident.  Satan walked over to him and said, “You know, the trouble with you lawyers is you think you’re the best people in hell.  But you’re not. You are just the more numerous.”

 

All of these stories about lawyers help us to laugh at them, and at ourselves, and at the stressful situations which require us to deal with lawyers.  Some of my best friends are lawyers.


Excerpts from: corners of  Texas, by Francis E. Abernethy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“THE FIRST THING WE DO, LET’S KILL ALL THE LAWYERS”

BY: NEAL MURPHY

PO BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TEXAS 75972
936-275-9033
CELL: 936-275-6986
EMAIL: SUGARBEAR@NETDOT.COM


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COTTON, COURTSHIP, and CHEVROLETS


 

 

 


The summer of 1956 was an interesting one for me. I was out of classes from Baylor University for the summer.  I had purchased my first car, a 1950 Chevrolet two-door sedan.  My future wife and I were courting pretty often, and I found a much-needed job.  The only problem with this picture was that the job was in Houston, Texas.

 

A job had opened up for me with Anderson-Clayton Cotton Company paying $350.00 per month.  This was good money for a nineteen year old naive kid from East Texas.  I needed the money badly enough to accept the job, and rent one room in an elderly couple’s house on Pease street in Houston.

 

The job was located in a large warehouse on the docks of the ship channel. No heat or air conditioning made for an uncomfortable shift.  I had never seen so many bales of cotton in my life as were stored in this warehouse, and several more warehouses along the docks.  I soon learned that each and every bale of cotton received by the company had to be rated, weighed, and classified.  This is where I came in.

 

Situated at a long table with several other men, a bale of cotton would be brought to the table. One man took three samples from the top to bottom of the bale.  Another man would grade the color, another the texture, and finally a third man the length of the fibers of the samples.  My job was to write down all these ratings on a tally sheet.  I did not know much about cotton, but I sure could tally.

 

One week we were instructed to take inventory of the bales of cotton contained in these warehouses, which were stacked from floor to ceiling.  I and another man would start at either end of the cotton bales and start counting until the end of the row.  If we both came up with the same number, we could go to the next one.  Not only were there bales of cotton in those warehouses, there were also rats, spiders, lizards and other unidentified critters. Needless to say, I hated taking inventory.

 

Each Friday afternoon we were paid by check.  I would come to work Friday morning with my Chevrolet packed, then speed out of Houston at the end of the work day, stopping briefly in Cleveland to cash my check at a bank.

 

Once back in San Augustine on Friday night, I would call Clara and set up dates for Saturday and Sunday nights.  This worked well for us all summer.

 

One Sunday night while driving back to Houston after our date, my Chevrolet began to act up.  On highway 190 between Woodville and Livingston, the engine died and I coasted to the shoulder of the road.  I realized that I was stranded right in the middle of the Alabama and Coushatta Indian Reservation.  My only knowledge of Indians was reading about Geronimo and Sitting Bull, and they did not seem to be very hospitable.  I was more than a little nervous.  After locking my car doors, I dozed off to sleep.

 

The first car along the road after dawn contained an older couple, yes, an Indian couple.   Their car stopped, backed up even with mine.  The woman peered at me through the window.  I rolled down my window and told them I was stranded and needed help.  These nice folk drove me all the way to Livingston to the Chevrolet dealership.  The movies never showed this side of the Indians

 

Well, all’s well that ends well.  I saved up enough money to buy Clara an engagement ring. And the rest is history.

 

 

“COTTON, COURTSHIP, AND CHEVROLETS”

BY: NEAL MUPRHY
P.O. BOX 511
107  HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033


635 Words

 

 

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The Stop Sign


 

 

 


I feel that I was one of the fortunate ones to have grown up in a small town in East Texas during the 1940s and 1950s.  I was fortunate as well because my father was not a farmer or rancher during that era which would have required that I spend a lot of time working the fields, wrangling cattle, or harvesting timber.  As a result, I usually had some free time on my hands after school, on Saturday, and even Sunday afternoon.

 

The free time usually would result in a search for something to do to occupy my mind and abilities.  Living in San Augustine, Texas, with a population of less than 3,000, there was not much for a young teenager to do.  This was pre-television and pre-computers days, so I had to find my own entertainment.  I did learn to drive early, and got my drivers license at age 14, so this enabled me to drive to places of enjoyment.

 

One of those places of enjoyment was the fellowship hall of the Memorial Presbyterian Church.  Unlike today, the church buildings were left unlocked, a silent invitation for worshippers to enter and pray, or visit with the pastor.


The fellowship hall contained a ping pong table, the only one in town.  So, anytime the urge struck, I would call several friends and we would meet there and have a self made ping pong tournament.

 

It was there that I learned to handle a ping pong ball and paddle like a pro.  Along with friends Ben, Mike, Gayle, Bobby, Harold, and others near our same age, we crowned ourselves the ping pong champions of San Augustine.  Occasionally, some Methodist and Baptist kids would show up to play, but they were no match for the Presbyterian crew.

At our age we did not appreciate history.  We never gave a thought to the fact that we were playing in the fellowship hall of the oldest Presbyterian Church in the state of Texas. Records show that this church was organized on June 02, 1838, under the name Bethel Presbyterian Church.  They met in a country school house, Goodlaw School, about four miles west of San Augustine.  The church minutes indicate that twenty-two people organized this church, and sometime later called their first pastor, Rev. Hugh Wilson.


Around 1888 the present church building was erected at a new location in downtown San Augustine on East Livingston Street.  The fellowship hall was completed in 1950, directly behind the church building.

 

My close buddy, Mike, had bought a Cushman scooter around the time our ping pong  playing.  He would ride about a mile from his home to the church on his scooter to play with us.  One fateful day as Mike was leaving on his Cushman, he ran over an embedded stop sign at the end of the street.  He lost control and crash landed in the middle of the intersection.

Other than a few cuts and bruises, Mike was not badly injured.  However, his Cushman suffered severe injuries.  I don’t recall seeing him ever riding it again.  Mike had forgotten that the city had recently installed new metal stop signs, about eight inches high, at each street intersection.  Only one of these embedded stop signs remain in the city today, having been replaced with the more modern signal lights and octagon shaped stop signs.  This remaining old sign, located at the intersection of E. Main and Montgomery streets, is just a reminder of how things were in a small town over fifty years ago.  Mike certainly remembers.

 

In April of 2015, the city resurfaced that portion of Montgomery Street that intersects East Main Street.  The last of the embedded stop signs was removed at that time, being replaced with a regular metal stop sign.  I hope that the old one will be preserved as a part of the history of our small city.

 

Today you can see this old stop sign, refurbished, and housed in the new 1919 Jail Museum in the old restored jail on the courthouse square.  I urge you to stop by and say “hello” to this relic of the past.

 

 

 

 


“THE  STOP  SIGN”

BY:  NEAL  MURPHY
107 Hemlock Street
PO Box 511
San Augustine, Texas 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com

 

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The Addiction


 

 

I suppose than anyone can get addicted to anything.  People get addicted to alcohol, drugs, shopping, and all kinds of other things.  My addiction happens to be to popcorn.

It started at an early age.  My parents used to pop corn in a deep skillet with a lid.  They usually put a bit of butter in with the oil and shake the skillet until the corn was all popped, except for a few “old maids”.  I got addicted to that wonderfully tasting corn which has lasted a lifetime.

Fast-forward to around 1955 when my wife and I were courting and we see the popcorn addiction coming into play.  It turned out that Clara’s family loved popcorn as well, and popped it very frequently.  So, I was courting another addict which came out whenever we attended a movie.

Clara’s friend, Bessie Alford, owned and operated the movie in Hemphill.  She would always let us in the movie for free, but had to pay for any treats once inside.  I soon learned that one bag of popcorn was not enough.  Clara would need two bags at a minimum.  Luckily for me they cost only 15 cents a bag during that time.  Her love of popcorn became a private joke between us.  In fact, for her wedding gift I gave her an electric popcorn popper.  In the years since then we have worn out numerous other poppers.

 

Our love of popcorn prompted us to purchase a popcorn business while living in North Carolina in the early 1980s.  I purchased fifty unique small popcorn machines and placed them in businesses within a twenty-five mile radius.  I also furnished flavoring to put on top of the popcorn, such as taco, green onion, cheddar cheese, and jalapeño.  I ran my route of businesses twice per month, collected the money and re-supplied the retailer with more  popcorn and flavoring.  It was a great sideline business.

 

When our first child was born in 1959, we would feed her popcorn.  Of course we would pinch off a piece of white corn and give it to her.  She loved it.  Her name for popcorn was ‘knock knock”.  Naturally she became an addict, too.  When our son was born we introduced him to popcorn at an early age.  Even today when we all get together several bags of popcorn adorn the card table when we play forty-two.

 

It seems that popcorn has been around in one form or another for many years.  It is said that Native Americans invented, or discovered, popcorn around 3,600 BC in the area now known as New Mexico.  The Indians reportedly taught the early explorers about growing and popping the corn.  Today three states claim the title “Popcorn Capital Of The World”, those being Nebraska, Indiana, and Illinois.  In fact, popcorn is the official state snack food in Illinois.  So, they seem to know a good thing when they see it.

 

Most homes today no longer pop corn the old fashioned way, over the stove in a deep skillet.  With the invention of the microwave oven and popcorn in a bag it is a very fast and tasty snack food. I still feel the old way produced the best popcorn one could eat.  But, that’s just me - an addict stuck back in the 1950s.

 

 

 

 

“THE  ADDICTION”

BY:  NEAL  MURPHY

107 Hemlock Street
PO Box 511
San Augustine, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com


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Sticky Hands


 

 

 


When I was pre school age, a trip to Nacogdoches was always an adventure.  If I was with my mother we always stopped by the large Perry Brothers Five & Dime store on Main Street in Nacogdoches where I would purchase a small sack of warm cashew nuts.  These are my favorite nuts, but they have always been rather expensive.

 

On occasion I would ride with my Dad to Nacogdoches for various reasons and he would always stop at a store on East Main that was an ice house that also sold ice cream cones.  So I reasoned that if I did not get my warm cashew nuts, perhaps I would get a cold ice cream cone out of the deal.

 

My grandfather, Felix, loved to ride over to Nacogdoches as well.  I never recall “Big Daddy” driving a car so I assume he could not drive.  On this occasion the three of us motored to Nacogdoches for a bit of shopping.  After our business was done we pointed Dad’s 1941 Chevrolet east toward San Augustine.  I asked Dad if he intended to stop by the ice house and buy three cones.  My grandfather always called ice cream cones “say-so’s” - I never knew why and never asked.  So we decided to purchase two cones and one “say-so”.

We pulled up to the entrance of the ice house and a black gentleman met us, “What can I get for you today?” he queried.  My Dad ordered three ice cream cones and also asked what flavors they had today.  The man always gave the same answer, “We have chocolate, strawberry, and plain panilla”.

 

Holding our cold delights like small treasures, we began our trip home.  Cars were not air conditioned in those days so one had to eat the ice cream rapidly before it melted.  My grandfather managed to get melted ice cream all over his hand. That created a problem as he would be described today as a “cleanie”.  “Cecil, I can’t stand these sticky fingers.”  Dad looked irritated as he stared straight ahead, “Well, daddy, we will be home pretty quick and you can wash your hands then” my father replied.

We made it about half way home with grandfather fussing all the time about the sticky ice cream residue on his fingers.  Finally, I suppose Dad had heard enough and stopped the car on the shoulder of the road near a creek.  “Go wash your hands in the creek - we’ll wait”, Dad suggested.  (note - when one addresses his father one should always “suggest” rather than order).

 

Soon Big Daddy had clean hands which he held out the car window to dry in the hot air.  But our trip was not without additional interruption.  Several miles later we came over a hill to see several buzzards feasting on something that had not crossed the road fast enough.  All the buzzards flew away except for one that seemed to have trouble getting airborne.  We drove directly under the bird who then upchucked all over the front of our car.  The smell was terrible.

Luckily there was another creek nearby which provided enough water to wash the stinky mess off our Chevrolet.  We were able to get back home without further incident.

 

The Perry Brothers store has been gone for a long time, but the store that sold “say-so’s” to us is still there, but no longer an ice house.  Every time I drive by it I expect to see an old gentleman standing there to ask me if I want a “plain panilla” ice cream cone. But he has never appeared again.

 

 


“STICKY  HANDS”

BY: NEAL MURPHY

P.O. BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com


607 Words

 

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Law and Order


 

 
 
Way back when I was in high school I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer.  My dad, Cecil, was good friends with James Doherty, the county attorney in San Augustine at the time, and I had several conversations with him about law school.  He encouraged me to go to law school but warned me about the tremendous amount of research and reading required of law students.  So, I enrolled in Baylor University in 1956 as a “pre-law” student. 
 
After my first three semesters in college I decided not to work toward a law degree so I changed to a business degree.  Over the years since then, I have seen lawyers come and go, some very nice and some not so nice.  In fact, attorneys have managed to make the list of hated professions, whether deserved or not, as evidenced by the following stories:
 
A lawyer in Charlotte, NC purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against loss by fire or theft.  Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of his fancy cigars, the lawyer filed a claim with his insurance company.   In his claim, he stated that the cigars were lost in a “series of small fires”. The insurance company refused to pay citing the obvious reason – the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion.  The lawyer sued, and won!  In delivering the ruling the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous.  The judge stated nevertheless, that the lawyer held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what it considered to be “friendly fire or unfriendly fire”, and was obligated to pay the claim.  Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000 to the lawyer for his loss in the “fires”.
 
After the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON!  With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in   jail and a $24,000 fine. 
 
A man walked into a post office one day to see a middle aged, balding man standing at the counter methodically placing “Love” stamps on bright pink envelopes with hearts all over them.  He then took out a perfume bottle and sprayed all over them.  His curiosity getting the best of him, he walked up to the man and asked him what he is doing.  The man said, “I’m sending out one thousand Valentine cards signed, “Guess Who?”   “But why?” asked the man.  “I’m a divorce lawyer,” the man replied.
 
A sharp young attorney was cross-examining an elderly witness to an accident. “You say you were about 40 feet from the scene of the accident?  Let me remind you that you’re 86 years old.  Just how far can you see clearly?”  The old man responded, “Well, when I wake up I see the sun and they tell me that’s about 93 million miles away.”
 
In another case, the defense attorney asked the witness to tell the court how far he was from the spot where the shooting occurred.  “I was exactly fourteen feet, three and one-half inches,” replied the witness.  “How can you be so sure of the exact distance?” asked the lawyer.  “I measured it because I was sure that sooner or later some fool lawyer would ask me that question.”
 
The district attorney was questioning an elderly woman from the jury pool.  He asked her, “Mrs. Smith, I am John Brown, the district attorney.  Do you know me?”  “Why yes,” she replied.  I have known you since you were knee high to a duck.  And I must say that I am totally disappointed at how you turned out.  You are lazy, married to your third wife, and you are known to run around on her.  Yes, I know you.”  Stunned, the lawyer stammered, “Well, Mrs. Smith, do you know the defense counsel, Bob Jones, sitting over there?”  She eyed the other lawyer for a few seconds, “Yes, I know Mr. Jones.  He is a low-down scoundrel who has a gambling problem, and from what I hear, has a drinking problem as well.  Yes, I know him.”  There was a pregnant pause, then the judge hit his gavel and says, “Counselors, both of you come to the bench!”  The judge whispered to them, “If either of you two clowns asks her if she knows me I’m going to put you under the jail for contempt!”
 
A woman called to the stand was handsome but no longer young.  The judge gallantly instructed, “Let the witness state her age, after which she may be sworn.”
 
Finally, in summary, someone asked a man what profession his son was going to select.  “I’m going to educate him to be a lawyer.  He’s naturally argumentative, and bent on mixing into other people’s troubles, and he might just as well get paid for his time.”
 
 
“LAW  AND  ORDER”
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
PO BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com
 
861 words
 

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SAY IT WITH FEELING


 

 
When growing up in East Texas in the 1940’s and 1950’s, my mother made sure that I had all kinds of lessons….piano, choir, and one that I remember quite fondly – “Expression”.   Now, you younger readers probably never heard of such a thing, but it was a very important matter in my early days of development which has stood me well over the years.
 
“Expression” was a term used for the studying and practice of reading, memorization, and stage presence -  sort of like an early version of the Dale Carnegie course.  Many of my friends studied along with me in 1944 and later.
 
After my mother died a number of years ago, I was going through some old photo albums and scrap books of hers, and , lo and behold, what to my wandering eyes should appear but copies of programs of all kinds in which I had been involved as a kid.  I began to think back to those days and memories began to flood back into my mind of these instructive programs.
 
Among the things I found was a “statement” from the teacher for my November and December lessons in 1944.  The bill was for $5.00 for those two months.  The $5.00 covered a total of eight lessons – one each week.
 
Another item caught my eye….it was one of my poems that I had to memorize and perform before an audience.  It was entitled, “Take A Tater An’ Wait”.  For those readers anxious to find out about this poem, it is copied below:
 
“Take A Tater An’ Wait”
 
When I’se a little feller – littlest one at home,
I used to always have to wait, whenever the Preacher would come.
“Now sit right down Bro. Johnson, and pass your plate.”
Then Ma would look at me an’  say,
“You take a tater, an’ wait!”
 
Then when they were through, tho it took them powerful long,
They started in with praying and ended with a song.
I felt like bouncing a rock on Bro. Johnson’s bald pate,
When he’d look at me an’ say,
“You take a tater and wait.”
 
When I get up grown, and have children of my own,
I’ll ask the preacher Johnson to come and carve the bone.
Then I’ll say, “Children, sit right down,
This dinner looks first rate.
Bro. Johnson’s old, he’ll take a tater an’ wait.”
 
 
Though I do not actually remember presenting this little poem to an audience, apparently I did.  
 
I think it sad that kids now days are not being instructed in “Expression”.  They need to learn how to memorize material, how to properly communicate it to others, perfect their diction, and then overcome their stage fright at an early age.  Instead, most of them get to eat first, and make the adults “take a tater and wait.”
 
 
 
 
“SAY IT WITH FEELING”
 
BY:  NEAL MURPHY
107 Hemlock Street
PO Box 511
San Augustine, Texas 75972
Phone: 936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Bullying


 

 

 
 
 
 
We hear a lot today about “bullying” as though it is something new.  The fact is that bullying has been around for as long as there have been schools.  The truth is that some kids will always bully another child who appears timid or afraid.  The old cure for bullying is frowned upon by the experts today, but the practice worked. Most bullies will back down if they are challenged, or if they are subjected to a good smack down by the victim.
 
The year was 1950, and I had just entered San Augustine, Texas, high school where I was considered lower than a snake’s belly by the upperclassmen.  There was an initiation that all freshmen had to endure, an informal one, but an initiation nonetheless.  I had been warned by older friends that if one “took his medicine” willingly and without complaint, then he was generally accepted into the brotherhood.
 
Lunchtime seemed to be a good time to kidnap some low-down freshman boy and take him off campus.  So, here I was, kidnapped from off the high school campus by several senior boys and left half naked in the woods.  They took off my shirt, shoes, and belt and left me alone to figure out a way to get back to school.  However, there was one thing the kidnappers, or should I say bullies, did not plan on – they left me about a hundred yards from my home.
 
So, I limped home, barefoot, to find some replacement clothes.  Unexpectedly, my parents had come home for lunch, so I had to explain to them what had happened to me.  I had been kidnapped, bullied, and left alone in the woods, or the initiation into high school.  I hoped that my dad would just let the matter drop and not make a big deal out of it.
 
My father did not appreciate his son being treated in this manner, and he put me in his car and drove down to the high school.  He complained to the principal about my being mistreated and left alone in the woods.  The principal promised to talk to these upperclassmen and take appropriate action.
Now, put yourself in my position.  That was really going to make those older guys mad, and guess who they were going to take out their frustrations on?  Right, me.  And that is exactly what happened.  The remainder of my freshman year was pure torture as these older boys would taunt me, call me names, and threaten me with severe bodily harm.  Of course, they never actually harmed me, but the idea that they might was a constant fear.  I think that we call that “terrorism” today.
 
The next school year was much better, as all these older boys had graduated and were no longer around.  And added to that, I was no longer a “snake’s belly” freshman, but a sophomore, which, in the pecking order, allowed me to inflict some bullying of my own on the new freshmen.  Nothing bad, you understand, but enough for them to realize their place in the order.
 
My father, in his effort to protect his son had really made things much worse for me that school year.  But, I never said anything to him about it, because I understood why he did it.
 
My “kidnapping” was in reality an act of bullying by much older boys which, in the big picture, did not amount to a hill of beans.  Perhaps bullying today is much worse now that the kids have the social media as a weapon to use.  Except for a very few severe cases, I think our modern progressive teachers and political leaders have over-reacted to an age-old form of initiation into the herd.  As long as there are kids and schools there will be bullying, which can usually be settled by the kids themselves if they are left alone.  I feel I did not suffer any permanent mental damage from my episode.  You just have to roll with the flow.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“BULLYING”
 
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
107 HEMLOCK  STREET
P.O. BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TEXAS 75972
 
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com
 
671 words
 
 
 

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Are Men Still Relevant?


 

 

It seems that the twenty-first century has produced a general feeling among
the female of the species that men are no longer needed. I read articles and
see programs on television produced by young, liberated feminists who
espouse the idea that they have no need for a man in their lives. They are
educated, own their own businesses, and only need a man for pro-creation.
They can then rear their children alone – who needs a man around? Any
time a program or commercial needs a dufus, guess who gets that part – the
white guy. It would be a politically incorrect thing for a female to do.
In view of the above I was surprised to read an article which reported on a
recent survey among these women which revealed that they were still
interested in men, as long as the men did what they wanted them to do. The
article listed seven things these modern women think are missing in modern
men.
 
1. Elevator Etiquette - I suppose it is because there are no elevators
around here that I was surprised by the women’s complaint. The
ladies want the males to let them into the elevator first, then allow
them off first, according to this survey.
2. General Respect – the women complained of their perception that men
no longer show them the proper respect they feel they deserve. It
seems that a man staring at their rear end, or front end, and yelling
things such as “hi sexy” is no longer a sign of endearment.
3. Giving Up Your Seat – Apparently guys no longer let women have
their seat on the bus, train, or trolley car, and they resent it. I always
thought that this was a “built-in” automatic response of the male
toward the female, but apparently has now disappeared.
4. The World Is More Threatening To The Female – They feel that
women are being attacked more often and in more places these days.
The survey said that most women want a male to walk them to their
cars in a parking lot, or even walk them home.
5. Be Polite To Them – This covers a wide range of things. How about
reaching for something off a high shelf for them? Or, opening the
door for her to enter or exit? The survey reported that the women
 
would like for a man to help them carry a big box or package. Could
it be that men are no longer doing any of these polite things?
6. Hold The Door Open – Do not let the door close on her while she
enters or exits first.
7. Driveway Etiquette – This is not a new one. The women do not like
for men to drive up in their driveway and honk their car horn as a
signal for them to come out. They much prefer if the male walks up
to the door and walks her to the car.
So there you have the current ideas of the modern female regarding males. It
seems that in spite of the fact that most modern feminist have done their best
to emasculate men, they still have some need of them. They are trying to
“sissify” the young boys by forbidding them from playing “dangerous
sports”, and definitely not playing with a toy gun, and no playing “cowboys
and Indians” because of political correctness. In other words, manliness is
being discouraged, that is, until they have need of a man for one of the seven
reasons listed above.
Being a male is a matter of DNA.
Being a man is a matter of age.
Being a gentleman is a matter of choice.
 
“ARE MEN STILL RELEVANT?”
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
107 HEMLOCK STREET
PO BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com
614 Words
 
 

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Attack of the Gerible


 

 

 
Around 1965 a new store opened in the Meyerland area of Houston, Texas near where we lived.  It was a new kind of store, a forerunner of K-Mart or Wal-Mart.  It was a “Sage” store, massive in size, and contained most anything any shopper would need.  The only thing different was that you had to “join” the club in order to shop there.  I recall the price was somewhere around $15.00 per year for the privilege to shop, and you had to show your ID card in order to enter.
 
One summer day I took my wife and two kids, around 6 and 4 years of age, to Sage for a good look at this new store.  Being reared in a small East Texas town, all this was new to me-- all your needs under one huge roof, from groceries to garden tools.  The kids wanted to stop in the Pet section to ogle the puppies and kittens.
 
While we were examining all the exotic animals for sale I spied a lone gerbil in a cage.  I had never seen one before although I had heard of people who owned one.  I had read in the paper that they made good pets.  The little bugger looked cute and docile as I looked him over.  The kids need to see this little critter I though to myself.
 
I called out, “Kay and Doug…you need to come look at this one.”   I stuck my right index finger over the open top of the cage as I spoke, pointing in the direction of the gerbil.  In a flash this wild animal jumped up and bit down on my finger so hard it started to bleed rather profusely.  Everyone thought the attack was funny, including the critter.  But I had to wrap my hanky around my finger to stop the bleeding.  Now it was getting serious.  Suppose he had rabies, or some other disease.
 
Running up to the clerk in the pet department I showed him my injury caused by one of his cute little creatures.  He seemed to be thinking something like “you idiot, you don’t put your finger where a Gerbil can get to it”.  “Are these animals vaccinated against every disease before you put them for sale?”, I inquired.  “Yes sir, you don’t have to be worried.”  Easy for him to say, he was not the one bleeding.  “Well, then, is Sage prepared to pay for any medical expenses?”, I queried.  “You will have to discuss that with our manager, and he is not here right now.” so I was informed.  How convenient for him. 
 
Our shopping trip was now over, so there was nothing else to do but to go home and treat my injury.  “It’s a good thing that Clara is a nurse”, I thought to myself as we drove back to Evergreen Street in Bellaire.  A little cleaning with alcohol, anti-biotic ointment, and a band-aid were administered and my wound felt better.
 
“Daddy, can we get a Gerbil as a pet?”, asked my son.  “Are you nuts, Doug? Those things are agile, mobile, and hostile.  They are attack animals as you can tell”, I replied while holding up my bandaged finger to show him. “Why don’t we get you some goldfish?  I have never heard of one of them attacking anyone.  Just make sure there is not a piranha included .”
 
It has been over fifty years since the little critter attacked me and I still have a small scar on my finger to prove it. So, if you are ever in the market for a small pet I would recommend a rabbit, and leave the gerbils alone. They are vicious animals.
 
 
 
“ATTACK  OF  THE  GERBIL”
 
BY:  NEAL  MURPHY
P.O. BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
 
 
582 words
 
 

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WASHER PITCHING


 

 

When I was in high school during the 1950s, the game of washer pitching (Texas horseshoes) was a favorite pastime of us students.  Before school, during the lunch break, and even after school one could see boys pitching washers.  Occasionally a girl would participate, but it was mostly a masculine game.  I loved to play and got reasonably good at it.
 
The school yard was replete with holes dug in the ground in order to pitch washers at them.  I suspect that an inspection of the school grounds today would find no washer holes, as this game has been gone for many years, replaced by home computers, I pods, and MP3 gadgets.  Boys don’t venture outdoors much anymore to play the old games.
 
The game was very simple to play.  All one needed was a set of 2 ½ inch washers, and two 3 ½ holes dug in the ground approximately twenty feet apart.  Usually two players with three washers each pitched against each other.  Of course, the object of the game was to get the washer into the hole which was worth three points.  A “hanger”, a washer that teetered on the edge of the hole but did not fall in, was worth two points.
 
The history of washer pitching is unclear.  It apparently dates back to ancient Egypt and Greece around 500 BC, as evidence has been found of the game being played.  The first washers were made of fired clay, and because of this they were lighter than ours.
 
Tradition says that washer pitching was introduced into the United States around 1873 in Indiana.  It is said that pioneers took work breaks and used spare washers for their wagon wheels to play the game.  In the early West Texas oil fields, workers would pitch washers using the washers from their oil derricks.  However the game was introduced to the USA, I am glad that it was, as I spent many hours refining my tossing method.
 
In today’s modern world, I find that the game is still played, either indoors or outside.  The game is now played with two boards, each with one circular hole in the center as the target, usually made of four inch PVC pipe.  The boards are placed fifteen feet apart, with three washers per player.  It is said that these boards with holes are superior to the holes dug in the ground because you can’t take the holes with you when you leave.  I guess that logic makes sense.
 
Well, at least the game of pitching washers is still around.  I would like to see it get started again at our high school so the modern teenager could experience the thrill of tossing a washer twenty feet and have it land squarely in the hole for three points.  That is almost as exciting as scoring a touchdown, or making a three-pointer in basketball.
 
I grew up in a simpler time when we kids had to make up our own games to entertain ourselves.  Pitching washers was one of the best.
 
 
 
 
 
“WASHER  PITCHING”
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
107 Hemlock Street
PO Box 511
San Augustine, TX 75972
936-275-9033
cell: 936-275-6986
email: sugarbear@netdot.com
 
530 Words
 
 

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THE BIG CHIEF


 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
It seems that the cost of going to elementary school in going up in a big way.  I note that parents of these young students receive a list of necessary items the student will need from the school just to get started on day one of classes.  One harried mother told me that the items cost her almost one hundred dollars from a major discount store for her third grade son.
 
This ritual is now followed every August.  You must reluctantly drag your still-in-a-summer-vacation-mood bones to the store with your child and pick out the stuff that you need at the hated “Back to School” sale.
 
Back in the days when I was in elementary school no list of needed items were sent to my parents.  I went to the first day of classes with two soft lead pencils, and eraser, a ruler, a compass for drawing perfect circles, a plastic protractor, and a huge monstrosity made of processed wood pulp known as a Big Chief tablet.   We students had to furnish our own crayons, and paste when we got into the “cut and paste” class.  My mother would make up a recipe of flour and water to use as paste.  It worked wonderfully for a while until it began to sour.
 
The Big Chief tablet was a staple for elementary students.  Had you walked into my classroom at the San Augustine elementary school in 1947 you would have seen rows of small chairs with built-in-tabletops, each with a red Big Chief tablet nearby, ready to record the thoughts of its juvenile owner.  The Big Chief tablet was preferred for use by elementary students because it had around seventy-five lined pages.  The lines were wider apart which made more room for use in learning to print letters, or learn cursive writing.  After all, second graders were simply not ready for finer-lined spiral notebooks.
 
It is interesting that the noted Big Chief tablet has disappeared from the school scene.  This tablet was the brainchild of William Ablrecht, whose family had a stationery business in Quincy, Illinois. In 1906 he opened the Western Tablet Company in St. Joseph, Missouri, and it became the world’s largest paper tablet producer.  Western Tablet Company trademarked the Big Chief in 1947.
 
Western Tablet expanded in the 1920s and moved its headquarters to Dayton, Ohio, but most of the manufacturing components remained in St. Joseph.  In 1964 it was renamed “Westab”.  The Big Chief peaked in usage in the 1960s when another Westab invention – the spiral notebook – began to claim larger market share.  In 1966 the Mead Corporation acquired the Western Tablet.  After another company merger the Big Chief tablet was discontinued after some eighty years of production.  
 
It is said that Mr. Michael Martin, a Caddo Indian chief, was used as a model for the fierce looking Indian on the tablet’s cover.  However, that could not be verified.  The Indian on the cover looked like he was ready to take over Alcatraz, or anyone else who got in his way.
 
John-Boy Walton used a Big Chief tablet to hone the writing skills that would get him off the farm and become a professional writer.  So many generations of kids used the Big Chief you would have thought they would last forever.  Not so.  The last Big Chief rolled out of the factory in January, 2001.  I suppose that the Big Chief tablets would now be labeled as politically incorrect, along with about 90% of the things with which I grew up.  But, that is progress, I suppose.
 
 
 
“THE BIG CHIEF”
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
107 HEMLOCK STREET
PO BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com
 
590 Words
 
 
 

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Miss Kitty


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The veterinarian opened the door and said, “You can come back and look at the x-rays now.”  As my wife and I examined the film of Miss Kitty’s left front leg the break was evident even to the untrained eye. “The bone shows no sign of healing after a month in the splint”, he explained.  We had anticipated the bad news but still were saddened by it.  “Doctor, what do you recommend that we do now?”, I asked, perhaps knowing the inevitable.  “Well, she is over fourteen years old and I don’t think will ever heal.  I think the humane thing to do is to put her to sleep.  She will never be able to do the things that cats normally do.”
 
On a spring day in 1997 close friends brought us this little kitten that had wandered up to their home.  She was a ball of black and white fur that needed a new home. Who could resist this kind of temptation?  We took her in as an adopted member of our family.
 
She was not overly tame and hated to be picked up and cuddled. She loved to climb up tall trees and appear to be stranded.  Early on she climbed to the top of the tallest tree on our lot and remained there for several days.  No coaxing would get her down. Clara fretted and worried that she would starve to death.  But, I reminded her that I had never seen a cat skeleton in a tree.  Finally a crew from the Co-op drove their bucket truck to our house with plans to pluck Miss Kitty from the tree limb.  When they arrived, they discovered that she had already climbed down herself.
 
As she aged she mellowed out somewhat.  She loved to be petted, but on her own terms.  If she walked up to you and plopped down on the floor, that was her sign that she wanted some loving.  She liked for us to lay on the floor beside her and talk to her while we stroked her fur. She still hated to be picked up and held.  We decided that she must have been an abused kitten in her very early years.
 
She also hated to ride in the car.  We purchased a pet carrier to put her in whenever we had to transport her somewhere, like the vet or the boarding house.  She “squalled” the whole time she was in the car.  She usually spent the days outside exploring her territory, but enjoyed spending the nights in the house.  In fact, she normally would wait until we both retired to bed, then she would jump upon the bed and lay on my feet, always mine and not Clara’s.
 
She never ventured far from home.  She would occasionally walk to our neighbor’s house where Brooksie would feed her and talk to her.  Larry’s dog, Emmy, came over most every day and visited with Miss Kitty.  They finally reached the point that they would tolerate each other.
 
Several years ago she barely escaped the clutches of a large hawk who swooped down to pick her up.  However, she was a little too large for the bird, but suffered several deep puncture wounds in her flank.  She recovered from that injury without difficulty.
 
Last fall we did not see her for several days, which was unusual.  We concluded that she may have been killed by stray dogs, but we found her curled up in her favorite chair on the patio.  It was not until she jumped down that I saw her front leg dangling, obviously broken.  Cats don’t do well on just three legs.  The mystery is still unanswered - how did she break her leg?  There were no other injuries.  I think she climbed up a tall tree and fell out, after all she was fourteen years old, equivalent to an 85 year old human.
 
The vet was not optimistic, but he gave us two options - amputation or a splint to see if the bones would heal together.  Now we were hearing the results of that action, and they were not good.
 
“Let us think about this for a minute”, I told the vet.  “What do you think, honey?”, I asked.  “Well, I think we gave her a good chance to heal and it looks like she is not going to”, she whispered.  I glanced over my shoulder and saw her in the cage, still begging to get out.  Now we were about to make a life-or-death decision about our faithful pet.
 
It was painful for us to walk out of the vet’s office hearing our Miss Kitty meowing in her cage, knowing what was about to happen to her.  Were we letting her down, or were we doing the right thing for her?  We both swallowed hard and kept walking to our car.  The house seemed a little empty when we returned, and it still does.
 
Some people believe that our animal pets go to Heaven when they die.  I have never found any scripture in the Bible that supports this, but it might be a nice surprise that God has for us. If it is true, Miss Kitty will be perched on a limb on the highest tree there waiting on us to arrive.
 
 
 
 
“MISS  KITTY”
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
PO BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com
 
 
885 words
 
 

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A VISIT TO THE BRONX


 

 

Well, this should prove interesting, I thought to myself as I hung up my office telephone that spring day in 1983.  I had just had a conversation with a deputy District Attorney from the Bronx,  N.Y.  He was sending me a round trip ticket to fly to the Bronx to testify before a Grand Jury on a matter involving my insurance company.
 
I was the Vice President of Underwriting for the Bankers and Shippers Insurance Company of New York at the time, with headquarters in Burlington, N. C.  I had received a call from him a few days earlier inquiring  as to whether our company had ever insured a taxi company based in the Bronx.  A search of our records indicated that we had never done so.  His investigation revealed that the taxi owner had acquired one of our company’s Proof Of Liability Insurance Cards, and had committed fraud by typing in his company’s name and address, and a false policy number.  This small card allowed him to secure a permit from the city to operate a taxi cab.
 
I later learned that “gypsy cabs” were common in the New York area.  A person with a relatively good car would work his day job, then at night put a lighted “Taxi” sign on the top of the car, and drive around the city picking up unwitting passengers.  The fare was usually higher, they usually drove the long way to a destination, and cases were reported of the driver refusing to give the passenger his luggage without an “extra” charge.  It seems that the DA’s office had “busted” this operator and was facing a grand jury for his illegal activities.
 
The flight to LaGuardia  was uneventful, although the landing strip extended far out in the water and made it appear that we were landing on water, which produced some anxiety on my part.  However the interesting aspects of the trip were just beginning.
 
I took a taxi to the downtown Bronx courthouse.  The taxi driver commented to me in broken English that if I were to spend the night near downtown I should not walk around town by myself.  “I would just stay locked in my room if I were you”, he advised.  Thankfully, this was a one day trip.  So, I shrugged off his unusual advice.
 
After arriving at the courthouse around 11:00 am, I found the office of the assistant district attorney.  He was very friendly and talkative, although I had to listen carefully to his words due to his heavy accent.  I learned that there was a representative from another insurance company from Atlanta who was to testify before me.  The taxi operator had forged one of their insurance cards as well.
 
I found myself in the witness box facing the grand jury around noon.  The attorney asked me about four questions which I answered.  It was all over in about five minutes, and I was free to go.  Then things got interesting.
 
Back in the district attorney’s office, along with the gentleman from Atlanta, plans were being made to get both of us back to the airport.  “I don’t want you guys just hailing any old cab down there.  I am going to call the Yellow Cab Company and request a taxi for you”, he informed us as he was dialing the telephone.  After his conversation, he instructed us, “Just go down there on the street corner and wait for cab number 151.  Don’t get in any other cab but that one.”   That sounded good to me.
 
Suddenly, he had a change of mind.  “I think I will go with both of you and make sure you catch the right cab.  Let’s go.”  He grabbed his suit coat and escorted us down the elevator and out to the street corner.  “Now, another piece of advice – don’t let the driver charge you for this ride.  The county will be paying for it.  Sometimes they will try to collect twice.”  My first thought was that I sure was glad that I did not live there.
 
In a few minutes we spotted a Yellow Cab headed toward our street corner.  “Make sure it is cab 151”, he instructed.  It was, and we got in.  Then he yelled to the driver, “This fare is being paid for by the county.  No further charges are necessary.”  Then we were off on a wild ride to the airport.
 
On the flight back to North Carolina I reflected on the eventful day.  I had made a trip to the Bronx, testified to a grand jury, and been told to stay inside the hotel room at night.  Then just getting a taxi turned into a major ordeal.  I decided that my first trip to the Bronx would also be my last.  I think the assistant District Attorney felt that we two southern boys just were not quite sharp enough to handle our situation correctly.  He may have been right.
 
 
“A  VISIT  TO  THE  BRONX”
 
BY:  NEAL MURPHY
 
P. O. BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TEXAS 75972
936-275-9033
CELL: 936-275-6986
E-MAIL: SUGARBEAR@NETDOT.COM
 
 
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MADE FROM SCRATCH


 

 
 
I have often stated that I wish I knew what “scratch” was because I keep hearing people say that they made something from “scratch”.  If I knew what it was I could bundle it, can it, or bottle it for sale and make a lot of money.  I hear the term “made from scratch” mostly in the world of cooking, as women say with pride that they made that wonderful cake from scratch.
 
Research on the phrase reveals that it was begun in the 18th century as a sporting term.  Who would have though it?  The use of “scratch” derives from a line or mark scratched into the ground to indicate a boundary or starting point in sports, especially cricket.
 
“Scratch” later came to be used as the name for any starting point for a race.  The term came to be used in ‘handicap’ races where weaker entrants were given a head start.  For example, in cycling those who were given no advantage had the handicap of ‘starting from scratch’, while others started ahead of the line.  Other sports, notably golf, have taken up the figurative use of scratch as the term for ‘with no advantage”, starting from nothing.
 
The world of boxing has given us an additional concept of ‘starting from scratch’.  The scratched line there specified the positions of boxers who faced each other at the beginning of a bout.  This is also the source of the term ‘up to scratch’, i.e. to meet the required standard, as pugilists would have had to do when offering themselves for a match.
 
The British have long used “scratch” in various contexts to mean, essentially, nothing, as in starting a contest without a handicap.  It could also mean building something without tools.  Its use in cooking comes from England which means “from ordinary cooking ingredients that have not been pre-mixed or otherwise specially processed.”  Obviously, sugar, flour, baking soda and the like are the result of a long process which is the culmination of the history of agriculture and of chemistry, and God-knows-what.  But sugar, etc, are ‘ordinary cooking ingredients’.
 
The opposite definition of “scratch” is – a point at the beginning of a project at which nothing has been done ahead of time.  If you make pancakes, or a cake, without using a mix, you are making it from scratch.  If you and your child make a “volcano” for a school project without using a kit, you are making it from scratch.
 
The word was later applied figuratively with the meaning “from nothing”, and it was used thus by James Joyce in Ulysses, “A poor foreign immigrant who started scratch as a stowaway and is now trying to turn an honest penny”.  It modern times it was taken up in cooking once boxed mixes and prepared foods became widely available.  Today it is a badge of honor to be able to say one made a culinary delight from scratch.
 
So, in short, the word “scratch” referred only to sporting events and was first used in terms of boxing and cricket, after which the term was applied to all types of races.  Now in recent years it has also been applied to cooking with basic pantry items, or made with the most elementary starting materials.
 
So, now you are ‘up to snuff’ on the meaning of ‘scratch’.
 
 
“MADE FROM SCRATCH”
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
PO BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com
 
561 words
 
 
 
 
 

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Dilly, Dilly


 

 

 
 
Recently I saw a television ad concerning a certain beer or ale. The male character would swallow a bit of the concoction and say the words “dilly, dilly”.  All the other people sitting around the campfire would parrot back the words “dilly, dilly”.  
 
Those two little words, “dilly, dilly” conjured up a memory of years ago. I recalled them being used in a song way back when I was a young lad.  Naturally I had to do a little research and discovered that these words were popular back in the 1950s in a song titled “Lavender’s Blue”. I read the words of the song and they all came flooding back in my mind.
 
The song is an English folksong and a nursery rhyme dating back to the 17th century. The earliest surviving version of the song is in a broadside printed in England between 1672 and 1679 under the name The Kind Country Lovers.  It was to be sung to the tune of “Lavender’s Blue”, implying that a tune by that name was already in existence.  The lyrics printed are fairly bawdy by celebrating sex and drinking.
 
There are almost thirty verses to the song and some variations of each verse.  The typical verses, sung in the 1950s by artists Burl Ives, Sammy Kaye, Dinah Shore, and Sammy Turner, include the following:
 
“Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly, lavender’s green,
When I am king, dilly dilly, you shall be queen;
Who told you so, dilly dilly, who told you so?
‘Twas my own heart, dilly dilly, that told me so.
 
Call up your men, dilly dilly, set them to work,
Some with a rake, dilly dilly, some with a fork;
Some to make hay, dilly dilly, some to thresh corn,
Whilst you and I, dilly dilly, keep ourselves warm.”
 
There are many more verses, but I shall not bore the reader with listing them here.
 
So far we have not found the real meaning of the word “dilly” in English.  The closest one I can find is that it means “an excellent example of a particular type of person or thing”…e.g. – “That’s a dilly of a breakfast.”
 
Now, back to the commercial I mentioned.   It appears that the writers of the commercial are using this old English word to mean “ditto to that”, or “I agree!”  One actor takes a swig of the brew, holds it high in the air, and all the others repeat “dilly dilly”, meaning, “We heartedly agree with your statement.”
 
I don’t’ care for the product, but the commercial is pretty impressive...dilly dilly!
 
 
 
 
“DILLY, DILLY”
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
PO BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TEXAS 75972
936-275-9033
CELL: 936-275-6986
Humptydumpty1940@gmail.com
 
430 words

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WHERE'S THE FREE AIR?


 

 

In the last six months I have had two occasions when the “low tire” icon lit up on my car dashboard.  I had a very low tire and I needed to air it up as soon as possible.  However, I could not find a service station that offered air, either free or for sale.  Fortunately, I had purchased a small gadget when plugged into the cigarette lighter allowed me to put air in my tire.  That brings up the question, where has the free air gone?
 
Back in the late 1940s when I acquired my first bicycle, I had to learn how to maintain and repair it.  Low or flat bicycle tires were quite common.  I relied on a small filling station for all my repair supplies, particularly the air.  Walter Jones small store had an air compressor and the air was free.  Mr. Jones’ store was located on the east corner of SH147 and FM353 (the White Rock road).  The building is still standing, though vacant.
 
Back in those days filling stations, or service stations, were abundant in San Augustine.  I can recall at least ten stations inside the city limits.  They all offered gasoline and motor oil for sale, and when you drove your automobile to the pumps you also received service.  An attendant always checked your oil level, water level, battery, cleaned the windshield, and on occasion swept out your car with a whisk broom.  Most of them could change the oil in your car, grease it, wash it, and repair a flat tire…and give free air.  Many then gave you a sheet of S&H green stamps, or perhaps a cup and saucer set.  Those were the good old days.
 
Speaking of the old days, did you know that the very first places that sold gasoline were pharmacies as a side business?  The first filling station was the City Pharmacy in Wiesloch, Germany.  This is where Bertha Benz refilled the tank of the first automobile on its maiden trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back in 1888.
 
The increase in automobile ownership after Henry Ford started to sell cars that the middle class could afford resulted in an increased demand for filling stations.  The world’s first purpose built gas station was constructed in St. Louis, Missouri in 1905.  The second gas station was built in 1907 by Standard Oil of California (now Chevron) in Seattle, Washington.  The third station claims to be Reighard’s Gas Station in Altoona, Pennsylvania dating from 1909, and is considered the oldest existing gas station in the United States.
 
The first “drive in” filling station, a Gulf Refining Company store, opened to the motoring public in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 1, 1913 at Baum Blvd. and St. Clair Street.  Walter’s Automotive Shop is now located at this spot as of 2013.  Prior to this, automobile drivers pulled into almost any general or hardware store, or even blacksmith shop in order to fill up their tanks.  On its first day of business, the Gulf filling stationed mentioned above sold 30 gallons of gasoline at .27 cents per gallon.  This was also the first architect-designed station, and the first to distribute free road maps and free air.
 
The United States had 118,756 operating gas stations in 2007, according to the census.  However, they are closing in record numbers due to severe OSHA and EPA regulations being enforced by the federal government.  Very few “Mom & Pop” country service stations currently exist.  Most stations that have an air compressor, charge for the air. Most do not have the necessary equipment to change a flat tire, or repair a leak in a tire. Instead, many stations combine small convenience stores selling candy, soda pop, and snacks.
 
Every time I drive by Mr. Walter Jones’ old grocery store/filling station I can’t help but let my mind travel back in time when I would ride my bicycle the one-half mile distance from my home to repair a flat bicycle tire, or purchase a box of .22 rifle shells for .75 cents, buy a cold RC cola with a box of peanuts to dump inside the bottle.  And, the air was free.
 
 
“WHERE’S THE FREE AIR?”
 
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
P.O. BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TEXAS 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com
 
699 words
 
 
 
 
 

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The Spittoon


 

 

 
 
The spittoon has just about disappeared from the American scene.  In the late 19th century United States, spittoons were a very common feature in pubs, brothels, saloons, hotels, stores, banks, court rooms, and other places where people gathered. I recall seeing spittoons scattered around in our Court House, and even in churches as a young lad.
 
The present generation probably has never seen one of these receptacles as they have about worked their way out of our society.  However, I can almost guarantee that most of their great grandparents used them.  Most men used chewing tobacco, “Days Work”, being a good example.  Most women dipped snuff, “Garrett Snuff”, another good example.  Chewing and dipping tobacco required a place to spit, and in the late 1800s it was usually the floor or sidewalk.
 
I remember my father, Cecil, who was a painting and paperhanging contractor before he was elected County Clerk in 1938, telling of giving the pastor of a rural church an estimate on painting the inside.  He asked the preacher what color of paint he wanted from the floor to about three feet up the wall.  The pastor thought a moment then said, “The closest color to Garrett snuff that you can find.”  Apparently the chewing members were often missing the spittoons and splattering tobacco juice on the walls.
 
Brass was the most common material for the spittoon.  However, materials for mass production of spittoons ranged from iron to elaborately crafted cut glass and fine porcelain.  At higher class places like expensive hotels, spittoons would be elaborately decorated.
 
Spittoons were flat-bottomed, often weighted to minimize tipping over, and often with an interior “lip” to make spilling less likely if they tip. Some had lids, but they were rather rare.  Some had holes, sometimes with a plug, to aid in draining and cleaning.
 
Amazingly, the use of spittoons was considered an advance of public manners and health, intended to replace previously common spitting on floors, streets, and sidewalks.  Many towns passed laws against spitting in public other than into a spittoon.  Around 1909 the Boy Scouts organized campaigns to paint “Do Not Spit On The Sidewalk” notices on city sidewalks.  This campaign caught hold with members of the Anti-Tuberculosis League who painted thousands of such messages in a single day.  Soon signs were seen in saloons that read:
 
     If you expect to rate as a gentleman
     Do not expectorate on the floor. 
 
After the great 1918 flu epidemic, both hygiene and etiquette advocates began to disparage public use of the spittoon, and use began to decline.  Chewing gum replaced tobacco as the favorite chew of the younger generation.  Cigarettes were considered more hygienic than chewing and dipping tobacco.  While it was still not unusual to see spittoons in some public places in parts of the United States as late as the 1930s, vast numbers of old brass spittoons met their ends in the scrap metal drives of World War II.
 
While spittoons are still made, they are no longer commonly found in public places. A rare profession which commonly uses spittoons is that of a wine taster.  A wine taster will sip samples of wine and then spit into a spittoon in order to avoid alcohol intoxication.
 
Strangely, each Justice of the United States Supreme Court has a spittoon next to his or her seat in the courtroom.  However, the spittoons function merely as wastebaskets; the last time the spittoon was used for its customary purpose was in the early 20th century.  In addition, tradition makes it necessary for the U.S. Senate to have spittoons spread across the Senate Chamber to this day.
 
In this the 21st century, people who still chew and dip tobacco have generally made for themselves a small portable spittoon called a “spit cup”.  This consists of a Styrofoam cup with a paper napkin stuffed inside which is carried on their person and kept rather private and hidden.  For this we are very appreciative.
 
Spittoons are now the objects of collectors.  The largest collection of the cuspidors can be found at Duke Homestead State Historic Site in Durham, North Carolina.  This museum boasts of 382 spittoons, claimed to be the world’s largest collection.  Personally, they are welcome to all of them.
 
 
 
‘THE  SPITTOON”
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
107 HEMLOCK STREET
PO BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com
 
709 Words
 
 
 
 
 

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MOTHER-IN-LAW OR WOMAN HITLER?


 

 
Life, like dealing with your mother-in-law, is all the more challenging if you can’t laugh at it once in a while.  No other relationship has created more love or hate, depending upon your situation, than mothers-in-law. Men all learn, sometimes too late, that when they marry that beautiful young lady they are also marrying her family.  The mother-in-law seems to create angst more than any other in-law.  Consequently, there are more jokes told about her than any other family member.
 
The following are a few of my collection of MIL (mother-in-law) jokes that I would like to share.  
 
Isn’t it interesting that when you mix the letters in “mother-in-law” around they come out “woman Hitler”?  Is that a coincidence?
 
One man reported “I was out shopping the other day after a meeting when I saw six women beating on my MIL. As I stood there and watched, her neighbor said, ‘Well, aren’t you going to help?’  I replied, ‘No, six of them are enough’.”
 
The clock fell off the wall.  Had it been a second sooner, it would have hit my MIL.  Darn!  That clock was always slow.
 
Two men were in a bar.  One says to his friend, “My MIL is an angel.” His friend replied, “You’re lucky.  Mine is still alive.”
 
A son-in-law was driving down the road when he was stopped by a policeman.  The officer yelled, “Your MIL fell out of the car five miles back.”  The young man replied, “Thank God for that.  I thought I had gone deaf.”
 
I wouldn’t say that my MIL is ugly, but every time she puts on lipstick it tries to crawl back into the tube.
 
A man brings his dog into the vet and says, “Could you please cut my dog’s tail off?”  The vet examines the tail and says, “There’s nothing wrong.  Why would you want to do that?”  The man replies, “My MIL is coming to visit, and I don’t want anything in the house to make her think that she is welcome.”
 
Sometimes the father-in-law knows best.  At a senior citizen’s meeting, a couple was celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  The husband stood and was telling the story of his dating habits in his youth.  It seemed that every time he brought home a girl to meet his mother, his mother didn’t like her.  So, finally, he started searching until he found a girl who not only looked like his mother and acted like his mother, she even sounded like his mother.  So he brought her home one night to have dinner, and his father didn’t like her.
 
George went on a vacation to the Middle East with most of his family, including his MIL.  During their vacation, and while they were in Jerusalem, George’s MIL suddenly died.  With the death certificate in hand, George went to an American Consulate Office to make arrangements to send the body back to the United States for proper burial.  He was told, “My friend, the sending of a body back to the States for burial is very, very expensive.  It could cost as much as $5,000 dollars.  Therefore, in most cases, the family decides to bury the body here.  This would cost only $150 dollars.”
 
Upon consideration of this information, George then replies, “I don’t care how much it will cost to send the body back.  That’s what I want to do.”  The Consulate remarked, “You must have loved your MIL very much, considering the difference in price involved.”  “No, it’s not that,” George replies.  “You see, I know of a case many, many years ago of a person that was buried here in Jerusalem, and on the third day he was resurrected.  I just don’t want to take that chance.”
 
A beggar came to my MIL’s house and said, “Excuse me madam, have you got any old beer bottles you can let me have?”  At this, she indignantly replied, “Do I look like I drink beer?”  At this he replied, “Sorry, ma’am, I suppose not.  But, perhaps you have some old vinegar bottles then?”
 
I can always tell when my MIL is coming to stay.  The mice throw themselves on the traps.
 
I just returned from a pleasure trip.  I took my MIL to the airport.
 
My MIL said, “One day I will dance on your grave.”  I said, “I hope so.  I am going to be buried at sea.”
 
I haven’t spoken to my MIL for eighteen months.  I just don’t like to interrupt her while talking. 
 
A police recruit was asked during an examination, “What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother-in-law?  He answered, “I’d call for backup.”
 
Last night the local peeping Tom knocked on my MIL’s door and asked her to shut her blinds.
 
And finally:
 
A couple drove several miles down a country road not saying a word.  An earlier discussion had led to an argument, and neither wanted to concede their position.  As they passed a barnyard of mules and pigs, the wife sarcastically asked, “relatives of yours?”  “Yep,” the husband replies, “in-laws.”
 
 
 
 
“MOTHER-IN-LAW OR WOMAN HITLER?”
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
PO BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com
 
852 words
 
 
 

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Cheetos and 42


 

 
 
Both my parents and paternal grandparents were avid 42 players, and I was introduced to this domino game at an early age.  I began my 42 career around age eight or nine - they waited until I learned to count and cipher.
 
My grandmother, Mary Murphy, was a very serious player, you know the type who hates to lose, counts all the dominoes, and will know who has what domino in their hand.  I never advanced to her level of proficiency.
 
My parents hosted “42 parties” at least once a  month.  They had enough room in the house to set up four or five tables.  We had great fun with the winners of one table taking on the winners of another table until the champion team evolved.
 
It seems that after evening church services many times the pastor of Liberty Hill Baptist Church, Bro. Russell Smith, would join us for several games.  I recall him to be the most avid player of all time.  He would make very high bids with hardly any good dominoes.  I enjoyed seeing him in action.
 
Sometime before 1950 my mother introduced a new snack to the domino tables.  It was a cheese snack named “Chee-toes”.  I fell in love with these morsels and consumed more than my share every time.  This new snack was touted as “a cheese-flavored cornmeal snack” by their maker Frito-Lay Company.  The snack was introduced to the market in 1948 along with a potato snack, “Fritatos”.  I don’t recall the latter product as it must have had a short life.  I still enjoy a sack of Cheetos from time to time.
 
My 42 career continued during my college days.  I lived at a boarding house and a game was usually going most of the day.  I recall that we would begin playing soon after lunch and play continuously until midnight.  Some of us even cut our lab classes in order to play 42 uninterrupted.
 
I learned later on in my career that 42 is definitely a Texas domino game.  When in Colorado most people admitted that they had never heard of the game.   We found several transplanted Texas families and formed a 42 club.  We enjoyed the game one night a month, rotating to different homes.  All the couples were from Texas except a lone Louisiana pair.  We felt that they were close enough to Texas to qualify for acceptance.
 
I truly think that playing 42 helped me learn to count, to concentrate, and most importantly, how to lose gracefully. Eating a Cheetos snack did not hurt anything, either.
 
 
 
“CHEETOS AND 42”
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
107 HEMLOCK STREET
P.O. BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
phone: 936-275-9033
cell: 936-275-6986
email: sugarbear@netdot.com
 
434 words
 
 

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