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Stories Archives for 2018-08

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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