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Stories Archives for 2019-09

Clara's Culinary Calamities


When we were married in 1958 Clara knew nothing about cooking.  Since I knew a lot about eating she made it her mission to learn all about preparing food fit for a king.  I knew she must have thought of me as a king because she was always presenting me with burnt offerings.  My, how things have changed over the years.  I no longer receive burnt offerings from her as she has become a great cook.


One of her passions is sharing her culinary delights with other people.  Our car floorboard and seats are stained from juices of the many casseroles and other dishes that she has taken to people.  Our cat loves to smell around on our car as she discovers new food aromas.   All that being said, she has encountered a number of “calamities” along the way concerning her food.

In the summer of 1958, her parents drove to Beaumont to visit us in our very first apartment, a small roach-infested house on North Street.  Clara purchased a nice looking watermelon at Weingarten’s for us to enjoy.  Late in the afternoon I put the melon on the counter and stuck the large knife into the end.  The melon immediately burst and spewed its contents on us.  The melon was almost rotten.  Clara was upset because this was her first opportunity to entertain her parents as a married woman.


Several years later she decided to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving.  We were having a number of family members to enjoy the meal with us.  After cooking the turkey for several hours and putting dressing all around it, someone asked her about the packet of goodies stuffed inside the turkey which are to be removed prior to baking.  Clara responded, “What packet?”  In spite of the fact that the packet had not been removed, it was still delicious.


Back in the days when one could take most anything on an airplane with you, she decided that she should take a yellow water melon  to North Carolina.  She put the melon in a large tote bag and took it on the plane.  Upon arrival, the melon cracked open and made a mess in the bag. 

In a similar vein, she decided to take some fresh vegetables to our daughter in Wyoming since these items are rather rare there.  So she loaded up a large bag with fresh okra, ripe tomatoes, and a cantaloupe and carried the bag on the plane.  After landing in St. Lake City, our son-in-law commented that he smelled an odor coming from the tote bag.  Upon examination, he discovered that the cantaloupe had exploded at some  point in the flight.


Her most memorable calamity happened about ten years ago.  A couple that we had known for many years moved up from Houston upon retirement.  They had been here only a short time when the husband died of a heart attack.  Clara went into action in the kitchen.  She prepared much food to take to the family, including a large white cake.  It was placed on a cake pan which had a metal protective cover.  Several friends accompanied us as we made our way to the home.

Upon arrival the grieving widow met us at the door.  Clara handed her the freshly baked cake in its metal cover.  When the lady took the top off the cake pan, the cake had disappeared.  There were traces of it left on the bottom pan, so we knew that it had been in there.  Startled, everyone looked at each other silently wondering who had removed the cake and why.  Abashed, Clara asked for the cake pans back so she could investigate.  She found the cake stuck inside the top.  In spite of the sad occasion, we all got a good laugh out of that one.


Years ago there was a gentleman who had a vegetable stand on Hwy 147 north of town.  She referred to him as “the man who sells watermelons and peas beside the road”.  We still get a kick out of that one to this day.


P.O. BOX 511
cell: 936-275-6986

684 Words


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.




P.O. BOX 511
phone: 936-275-9033
cell: 936-275-6986

434 words


Don't Goose Me


When I was in Junior High in San Augustine, Texas back in the late 1940s, I had an acceptable mode of transportation to and from school – a Schwinn Bicycle.  Our home was only about ¾ mile from the school, so it was a good way for me to get to school, especially since the trip was downhill from the house.


We never met officially, this white goose and I, but he became my nemesis on the way to school every day.  Actually there were two of them in the yard, but only this one seemed to hate me.

The first time he attacked me on my bicycle I was shocked.  A mad goose is pretty intimidating to a 13-year-old boy, and they can bite a plug out of your leg. So, I had to take defensive measures.  From then on I would get up a good speed going by this goose’s house, then put my feet up on the handlebars and coast by.  The attacker could not reach my feet or legs and just flailed at the wheels.  I hoped that the goose would get its beak stuck between the spokes of my bicycle – would serve him right.


I then decided that the goose was mad at the bicycle, and not me.  So, I decided to walk to school so there would be no reason for the attack.  This did not work either, as the goose charged me, head down, wings spread wide, in full attack mode.  I had been told by some smart upper-classmen that I should not show any fear, just stand my ground.  Well, that did not work either as I had to fight him off with my books.  The goose owner never seemed to care whether his goose attacked me or not.


Eventually, my father began to allow me to drive his old pick up truck to school when I got my drivers license at age fourteen.  I kept hoping that the mad goose would charge the truck so I could extract revenge, but he must have been on to my plan.  He never charged the truck.

Pretty soon, the white goose became just a bad memory as I pursued other things at school.  Thinking back now, I never even noticed when the goose went away for good, perhaps as a Thanksgiving meal, or killed in some roadside mishap.  At any rate, he did make for a nice remembrance.  If only I had taken a picture of him, but I would have needed a “speed graphic” camera to catch him in his attack mode.



107 Hemlock Street
PO Box 511
San Augustine, TX 75972
cell: 936-275-6986

461 words


Driving Mrs. Thorp



When a young man is about to propose marriage to his lady, it is important that the lady’s family is in agreement.  That was the situation in which I found myself in 1956 at age twenty.  I was attending Baylor University in Waco, Texas, but my love lived a four-hour drive away in Hemphill, Texas.  Every other weekend I drove my 1950 Chevrolet to East Texas to be with Clara, my future wife.  I certainly wanted her family, all of it, to approve of my being grafted into their family by marriage.


A situation arose in which Clara’s grandmother, Mrs. Thorp, found herself in Waco and needed a ride to Hemphill on the Friday afternoon that I was going to see her granddaughter.  Here was a chance to gain the approval of another member of her family.  I agreed to her riding with me.  

Washing my Chevrolet made it look nice, and eased some of my nervousness.  I picked up Mrs. Thorp mid afternoon and we began what I hoped would be an uneventful journey to East Texas.  The fickle finger of fate, or Murphy’s Law, either, or both, decided that the trip would not be uneventful.


About one hour into our trip a tire blew out. How could this happen, I thought to myself as I struggled to replace the blown tire with the spare.  My spare did not get much attention, and I was surprised that it still had enough air in it to support my car.  Finally, we were back on the road again, my clothes a bit dirty.  I stopped at the first service station I saw and aired the spare fully.  I breathed easier now, and resumed the trip.  My passenger seemed unruffled about this event.

Still, I was not in the clear in trying to do my good deed.  About an hour later in our drive, another tire blew out suddenly.  This time there was no spare to bail me out of my predicament.  I was left to my own initiative to handle this crisis.  How I handled it would leave a permanent impression on Mrs. Thorp as to my abilities to care for her granddaughter.  Could I pass this test?

We were within a few miles of a small farm town so I decided to drive on the flat, slowly, until I found a tire store or service station.  The first business I saw was a Humble service station, so I limped onto the apron.  “Do you have any new or used tires in stock?” I pleaded.  After checking his stock, the attendant announced, “Well, don’t have any used ones, but I have a new one that will fit your car.  You want it?”   I really did not want it, but I had to have it.


Now, the big question – how to pay for a new tire.  I checked my wallet to find around twenty-five dollars, not nearly enough.  I began to feel panicky.  Then I spotted a Humble credit card that my dad had let me borrow, just in case of an emergency.  Well, I felt this situation would certainly qualify as an emergency.


Back on the road again, this time with a new tire on the front.  Mrs. Thorp appeared to be taking all this in stride.  She will never ride with me anywhere again, I thought.  What an impression I must be making on her.  How could anyone be unlucky enough to have two, count them, two blowouts on the same trip?


Then it came to me, the answer to my question.  A few months earlier I had seen a tire shop in Nacogdoches that specialized in recapping tires. For around twelve dollars one could take in an old, bald tire, and get a like-new retread.  I could not afford four new tires, so had all of them recapped.  They were supposed to be as good as new ones, I was told.  It never occurred to me that all those pieces of tires you see on the road came from recapped truck tires.  That should have been a clue.  Well, live and learn as they say.


The trip to Hemphill ended without further problems.  Mrs. Thorp was as happy to see her family as I was to see my young lady.  This unfortunate incident was never mentioned again, even at our wedding.  So, I assume that I passed the silent family test in spite of Murphy’s Law and the fickle finger of fate.


P O BOX 511






So You're Married to Type "A"

Medical experts tell us that there are two personality types of people – Type A and Type B.  Those who would be considered on the Type A side of the spectrum are those that are more driven, more focused, more goal-oriented, more diligent, more likely to get stressed and emotional, and more  likely to have heart attacks and/or mental breakdowns.

The other side of the spectrum includes everyone else, who are called Type B personalities. These people aren’t as driven or goal-oriented, are more laid back, and more careless.  

My wife, Clara, is definitely a Type A personality, and I tend toward a Type B.  If you happen to be married to a Type A person, then you will probably appreciate the following list of the things that the Type A person does.  One does not necessarily have to possess ALL of the following characteristics to be a Type A, but most will have several of them.

The experts tell us the following about the Type A person:

They don’t procrastinate.  They hate the idea of wasting time so they do things the moment they come to mind.  Why wait and do it later when you can just do it now?  My wife definitely has this one.
They always have a task list – a never-ending one.  If there is another day to be lived, then there is another set of tasks to be accomplished. They would be lost without a “to-do list”.  My wife has this trait as well.
They have several alarms set throughout the day so they always stay on top of things.  
Waiting in long lines kills them a little bit inside.  Type A’s are deeply irked by anything that slows their progress, or needlessly keeps them from getting things done.
They bite their nails or grind their teeth.  They are more prone to nervous behaviors like nail biting, teeth grinding, and fidgeting.
They are highly conscientious.  They may get stressed and anxious more often than others, but it’s because they really care.  It is important that they stay on top of all things.
Type A’s frequently talk over and interrupt people.  Not on purpose, of course. But they still find themselves cutting off their friends and acquaintances in order to make their points and advance the conversation.
They have a hard time falling asleep at night.  They tend to dwell on frustrations and worries, and it can keep them up at night.  Their brain goes into overdrive when their head hits the pillow.
People can’t keep up with them.  They like being on the go, and they love getting things done.  The result is more often than not, they’re in a rush.
Relaxing can be hard work for them.  Taking time off to relax can feel 
un-natural - after all, time is money.
     11. They have a low tolerance for incompetence.  Type A’s are driven 
goal centered above all else, which means they can be less accepting
than others when it comes to anything that gets in their way, or any 
person who doesn’t have the same sense of urgency.
12. At work, everything is urgent.  For Type A’s everything has to be done yesterday.  There’s a sense of time urgency that goes along with their impatience and need for deadlines. 
13. They are sensitive to stress.  Type A’s experience stress more intensely than others seem to, and either internalize or externalize it in response. The result is high blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease.
14. They make things happen.  People with this personality type tend to be very good at accomplishing their goals.  Many managers want Type A employees because they know that they can be trusted to get things done.
15. Being late to any function is a sin.  They are punctual and expect others to be the same.  Other peoples’ time is worth respecting.

My wife possesses a number of these traits.  How does your spouse rate? I have always heard that “opposites attract” which may be the reason that I was so attracted to her the very first time I saw that beautiful, sixteen year old girl playing the piano at church. This attraction has lasted many years even though I am a Type B personality.  The answer is simply respecting and accepting each other’s differences and laugh together when you can.



P.O. BOX 511
Cell: 936-275-9033
Web Site:

741 words


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