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Stories Archives for 2017-09

Tree Top Airlines


We all have many “firsts” in our lives – first kiss, first love, and first pet, all of which are memorable.  I would have to add to that list my first airplane ride which occurred in 1959 in Texas, and it was a memorable event to say the least.
Having been married for a year and unable to find a good job because of being classified 1-A in the government’s draft system, I was elated to receive an invitation from the Smith-Carona-Marchant Calculator Company to visit their office in Dallas, Texas for a job interview.  The prospective employer was about to make a hiring decision and requested that I visit them as soon as possible.  I made the decision that flying to Dallas from the nearby city of Lufkin would be the fastest way to make the two hundred mile trip.
At that time in history, there was only one airline that flew out of the small Lufkin airport which was TTA, or Trans-Texas Airlines.  They were affectionately also known as “Tree Top Airlines” here in East Texas.  They eventually changed their company name to Southwest Airlines, still in business.
My wife accompanied me to the Lufkin airport early the next morning, about forty-five miles from our home.  She was going to drop me off at the airport and drive back to her job. As we drove up to the terminal I noted the airplane parked and waiting for passengers.  It was a twin engine DC3 which looked pretty small to me, but I was a novice flyer so who was I to judge?
After boarding the airplane I had to walk “downhill” to find my seat.  I had just buckled my seat belt and relaxed a bit getting ready for takeoff.  Then I felt a bulge in my right pant pocket.  I pulled it out and almost panicked when I saw that this bulge was my key ring with the keys to our car and house.  Without the car keys my wife would be stranded at the airport.  I had to do something and do it quickly!


What's Up with Zombies?


It seems that zombies are on the prowl again.  They are appearing in movies, videos, and even television commercials. I have met a few “living” zombies driving automobiles while spaced out on drugs and alcohol and ushered them to the nearest jail.  However, these walking “undead” dead people seem to be gaining a foothold in our country.  A little research reveals that this is nothing new. Zombies have been around for many years.
First question is, “What is a zombie?”  Well, it is said that it is an animated corpse raised by magical means, such as witchcraft.  Since the late 19th century, zombies have acquired notable popularity, especially in North American and European folklore.  In modern times, the term “zombie” has been applied to an undead being in horror fiction, often drawing from the depiction of zombies in George A. Romero’s 1968 film Night Of The Living Dead.  They have appeared as plot devices in various books, films, television shows, video games, and comics.
In the book The Zombie Survival Guide, by Max Brooks, is listed all known zombie attacks throughout human history.  Brooks says that the first recorded encounter with zombies happened around 60,000 BC in Katanga, Central Africa.  He then lists many attacks through the year 2002, the last one in Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands.  He then lists eleven known attacks which occurred in the United States from 1578 in Roanoke Island, N.C. to March of 1994 in Santa Monica Bay, California.
It is said that zombies, like vampires, are great opportunists.  So it comes as no surprise that zombie outbreaks often happen in the wake of natural disasters.  Combine disasters with warm climates and you truly have a recipe for a major outbreak.
According to “The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency”, the top three zombie outbreaks in United States history are:
Key West, Florida, 1935.  On Labor Day, September 2, 1935, a category five hurricane hit the Florida Keys doing much damage from 150 mph winds. Amid the destruction, infected rats began roaming the island of Key West, and by morning the first of the zombies appeared.  Many of the islanders mistook the zombies for dazed hurricane survivors, and the plague spread across the island.  The islanders had no way of escape.  Scores of people drowned when they chose to leap into the choppy surf rather than face the voracious zombies.*
Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1863.  After New Orleans fell to the Union, the city of Vicksburg remained as the last Confederate holdout on the Mississippi river.  On May 1863, over three thousand Union troops arrived off the coast of Vicksburg and demanded an immediate surrender, but Confederate leaders refused.  The Union soldiers laid siege to the city with a month of heavy bombardment.  On June 17, 1863, city residents spotted the first zombie, and within days dozens were wandering about. The Confederate soldiers entertained themselves by conducting target practice on the zombies.  But they soon ran out of ammunition and the zombies kept coming.  To this day, Southerners claim that the Union let the zombie plague continue out of pure malice.  When the Union soldiers entered the city on July 3rd, hundreds of zombies roamed about.  The soldiers had to do the killing and they quickly found out that zombies do not surrender.  In the end, an estimated 2,000 people were infected and destroyed at Vicksburg.*
Honolulu, Hawaii, 1892.  In the 1890s Hawaii found itself in a tug of war between natives who wanted to remain independent, and powerful sugar growers who wanted to join the United States.  Fighting began in Oahu among Chinese laborers in the cane fields which then spread to Honolulu.  Wave after wave of zombies came staggering out of the jungle, forcing desperate islanders to board outrigger canoes and flee to neighboring islands.
It took several thousand troops to rid the island of the zombies. Just fewer than two thousand people were killed. *
Tradition says that zombies kill and eat the flesh of its victims, especially the brain.  Zombie experts say that the only way to kill one is to shoot it in the brain, or by decapitation.  It is said in the tenets of Vodou that zombies have a short “life” span because in a short time God will take the soul back making the zombie a temporary spiritual entity.  It is also said that feeding a zombie salt will make it return to the grave. But, how is this done – you want to try it?
So, there you have it – everything you ever wanted to know about zombies but were afraid to ask.  However, I am not sure but that the above information came from people with over-active imaginations.  You must decide for yourself.
Excerpts from - The Zombie Survival Guide 
                      - Known Zombie Outbreaks


Now, What's Your Name?


I felt totally sorry for the little old lady who was confronted by a younger and much larger man at the grocery store.  I felt sorry for her because I have been in the same situation myself and was totally embarrassed.  She was walking out of the store and the man was entering at the same time. He stopped the lady and they exchanged pleasantries.  Then he uttered this question, “You don’t have the foggiest idea who I am, do you?”
I hate it when someone asks me that question because it emphasizes and underlines my lack of memory.  I am already embarrassed that I can’t recall their name, and then they heap more coals on my head with that question.  As we age sometimes our brain has a “blip” and just does not work for some reason.  But, back to the little old lady at the grocery store.
I wanted to butt in and suggest a couple of responses that she could use on the rude guy but bit my lip and kept quiet.  She could have said, “Yes, I know you but I thought you were still in jail.”  Or perhaps this one, “Yes, I know you but I heard you had been killed in a shooting accident.”  I think he might have gotten the message.
I think rude questions like the man asked the lady stem from a lack of etiquette.  Now that’s a French word you never hear today.  Etiquette is a first cousin to “manners”, another word in short supply today.  Webster’s dictionary defines “manners” as:  a. the socially correct way of acting; b. the prevailing customs, social conduct, and norms of a specific society.
If the man who asked the woman a rude question had a good handle on his manners, he should have said something like this to her, “My name is Bill Smith and you might not remember me, but I remember you well.”  Now, isn’t that much nicer than emphasizing her lack of memory?   
The following are quotes from a number of famous people made over the years concerning “manners”:
Evil manners will, like watered grass, grow up very quickly.
Manners are like spices.  You can’t make a meal of them, but they add a great deal to the meal’s enjoyment.
Manners are like the cipher in arithmetic.  They may not be of much value in themselves, but they are capable of adding a great deal to the value of everything else.
Our manners, like our faces, though ever so beautiful, must differ in their beauty.
The pleasure of courtesy is like the pleasure of good dancing.
Manners are like an air cushion – there may be nothing to it, but they ease our jolts wonderfully.
Good manners are as polite as patients in a dentist’s waiting room.
Manners are as soft as wool.
Yes, manners help us through the day – everything from a quick greeting, to waiting in line, to eating a meal, to how you look.  No one wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, “I think I’ll be rude all day today.”  Yet, when we are in a hurry or dealing with strangers, we don’t always use the manners we know we should.  It’s not just about knowing hygiene manners, courtesy manners, or cultural norm manners; it’s about being intentional in their use.  See what a difference even the simplest courtesies can make to your day-to-day interactions.  Those of us with fading memories will surely appreciate it, especially if we can’t recall your name at the moment.


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