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Stories Archives for 2019-11

Have you noticed?


 

 

I realize that I am now an old feller, and things are much more complicated today than when I was a young man.  Things change rapidly, and old things pass away in the middle of the night.  I have noticed a number of things that have changed hardly without notice. The following are few of the things that I have noticed:

 

Have you noticed that when you are watching television and decide to do a little channel surfing to see what else might be on, the new channel is right in the middle of a series of commercials?  It happens almost without fail.  So, you have a choice of either watching through all the commercials to find out what program is playing, or go back to the one you were watching. Are the new television sets now programmed to do that?

 

Have you noticed the television ads about new drugs for various ailments?  They universally have the disclaimer, “do not take this drug if you are allergic to any of its ingredients”.  Question…how does one know if he/she is allergic without taking the drug?  Perhaps the statement is a CYA cover in the event someone is severely allergic to the drug and sues the maker.  The manufacturer can then fall back on their statement saying, “We told you not to take it if you were allergic to it.” Case then closed.

 

Have you noticed that you never see white walled tires on automobiles any longer? Well, I have.  I think a set of white walled tires on a car just adds to its beauty.  But, I look around at the new cars at the dealers, and there just aren’t any with white walled tires.  What has happened to them?  Natural rubber is white, and the makers have to add something to turn the rubber black, so why not just let it stay in its natural color?

 

Have you noticed that the four-door sedan is slowly disappearing from the automobile scene?  Check it out.  You will find that most of the new cars sold to families are SUVs.  It seems the SUV is slowly replacing the sedan and the convertibles.  Is that a good or bad thing, or just a “who cares”?

 

Have you noticed that no body “dies” any more? In the modern vernacular, the person “passed”.  It seems the word “dies or died” is rapidly being replaced with the softer word “passed”.  I am not sure why this is happening, so perhaps you, the reader, will have an explanation.

Have you noticed that no one knows how to give directions any more?  We men are accused of not wanting to stop and ask for directions when we get lost.  The reason is that we do not think we are lost.  The last time my wife talked me into stopping for directions at a convenience store, the owner had just moved there from some foreign country and did not know where he was himself.  I have learned one sure thing…if a person is giving you directions and he says to go north, and his hand points south, then you go south.

 

Have you noticed how men tend to spit a lot, and women never spit?  Ignoring the fellow who is chewing tobacco and has a spit cup, just notice how often men spit for no apparent reason.  Watch a baseball game and you will see what I am referring to.

 

Have you noticed that there are no longer service stations that have free air for your tires?  When I was a teenager driving, every station, large or small, had an air compressor with free air.  Now days, you seldom find a station with an air compressor.  If you do, the air is not free. At least the air we breathe is free, for now.

 

Have you noticed that preachers of the Gospel rarely wear a suit and a tie while preaching?  Back in my day any respectable pastor wore a suit and a tie any time he stepped behind the pulpit.  My father-in-law would not have been caught dead clothed otherwise.  What has changed?  I think that it is an effort to make those who dress down for church feel more comfortable since the pastor has “dressed down”.  As a youngster, I heard my parents talk about our “Sunday best clothes”.  This meant that we always saved our best clothes to wear to church and Sunday school.  Now days it seems that the old adage has gone by the wayside as I see people wearing tank tops and flip flops to church.  It seems that the respect for God’s house has practically gone.

 

Have you noticed that church choirs and church organs are a thing of the past?  Even the mega churches are doing away with choirs and organs in favor of “praise teams” with guitars and drums providing the music.  The old hymns are a thing of the past as well.  They now use the new praise songs with the words projected on the walls. That makes it difficult for the folk who want to sing parts to the music.

 

Have you noticed that people no longer are asked to “give a hand” to entertainers?  They are now asked to “give it up for” them.  I have wondered what is being given up in some fashion by simply clapping approval.

 

As you age it is more difficult to accept change in everything.  We like for things to stay the same.  But, we just have to roll with the punches and try not to say anything about them, such as I have done in this article.

 

“HAVE YOU NOTICED?”

BY: NEAL MURPHY

P.O. Box 511
259 CR 214
San Augustine, Texas 75972
936-275-9033
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com

926 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


679 words

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The Day the Texas Rangers Lost


 

 


The Texas Rangers have been known for always getting their man over the years.  However, they did lose a battle right here in East Texas.  In 1887 a squad of four Rangers entered Scrappin’ Valley with warrants to arrest the leaders of the feud going on there for a number of years. However, they were ambushed by the Connor boys and all the Rangers were killed.

 

So, where is Scrappin’ Valley, you ask.  The northern edge of Scrappin’ Valley blends into the Sabine National Forest.  It is located in northwest Newton county and southern Sabine county.  It was settled in the early 1800s by the Weekses, Connors, Lowes, Fergusons, Smiths, and Easleys.  These families treasured their independence and isolation and set their own rules. Scrappin’ was a way of life in the maintenance of territory and dominance.

 

An early feud was the Smith-Lowe-Connor feud which began with the killing of a Smith and a Lowe in 1883. It ended with Uncle Willis Connor and five of his six sons and one grandson dead.  The remaining son was sent to the penitentiary.

 

Things were so bad in Scrappin’ Valley that a squad of Texas Rangers were sent into the valley to arrest the Connors. Among the squad were Texas Rangers Capt. Scott, Bill Moore, C. Brooks, and J. H. Rogers.  They were promptly ambushed by the Connor boys.  Moore was killed outright.  Scott, Brooks, and Rogers were wounded, but managed to mount their horses and return to Hemphill.  However they all died a few days later.  In all, eleven men were killed, including the four rangers.  A man named Carmichael was the only Ranger to survive the battle.

 

This bloody episode could very well have given Scrappin’ Valley its name, but tradition says that it was not named until around 1905.  In 1932 four people were murdered in a feud between whiskey distillers. News of these murders did not reach the local sheriff until 1936.

 

Like moonshining, Scrappin’ Valley eventually dried up and people moved away.  It became a hunting lodge and recreation area of more than 11,000 acres in the 1950s.  The retreat was built by Temple Industries.  It served as a place where company officials entertained important guests.

 

So, Scrappin’ Valley became a peaceful paradise for many to enjoy.  However, this episode became the worse loss on record for the Texas Rangers.  They eventually succeeded in their mission, but at a high cost.  But, the creeks still run clear, and the old families still hunt and fish whenever and wherever they want.

 

Francis E. Abernethy
Joe F. Combs

THE DAY THE TEXAS RANGERS LOST

BY

NEAL MURPHY
P.O. BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TEXAS 75972
936-275-9033

441 WORDS
 

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The New Car


 

 

I had not anticipated buying a new car in this year of 2019, however an accident totaled my 2015 sedan.  So, purchasing a new car became a necessity.  I had only one day to find just the right one at the right price.  So, I purchased a 2019 model.  I was astonished to find so many “high-tech” features as are now on these new cars.

 

I learned to drive at age fourteen – my mother taught me to drive on a 1940 Chevrolet Stylemaster. This automobile was, I thought, way ahead of its time with “vacuum shift” ( a $10.00 addition ) and “knee-action” front suspension. The vacuum shift made the steering column shift lever easier to operate, as opposed to floor shifts like in trucks.

 

The year was 1950 and it was on my fourteenth birthday that I passed all the driving tests and obtained my first driver’s license.  I have been driving ever since and can boast of not having an accident, and only one speeding ticket in over seventy years of driving.

 

Back to the new automobile.  When I first sat down in the driver’s cockpit I was confronted with a number of new fangled gadgets totally unfamiliar to me.

 

First, there is no ignition key now days.  So, how does one start a car with no ignition key?  Well, you must have your new “fob” at least within three feet of the car, press down on the brake pedal, and push on a button….it starts!  Reminds me of my first car, a 1950 Chevrolet coupe.  It started by pressing a button, too.

 

I am sure glad that the dealer told us about this one.  When you stop for a red light, the engine will shut down if it idles too long to suit the car.  I assume that this feature helps save gasoline by not running in “idle” at the light.  Neat..!

 

Now, get this one.  My new auto has a back-up camera that comes alive when you shift into reverse.  Now I can back out of my driveway without ever looking back.  My wife really likes this one.  Now if I could just teach her to use the rear view mirrors..!

 

A new feature allows me to hook up my cell phones to be heard through the radio speakers.  I can also charge and talk on my cell phone, provided I have a “smart” phone, which I do not.

This new car is pretty smart.  Every time I put the car in “park”, a voice reminds me to look in the back seat.  I guess this is to prevent me from leaving a baby locked up in the car.  Clara and I have not had any babies in sixty-five years, so we won’t be paying attention to that little voice.

Now I will see at a glance which direction I am traveling. I now have an on-board compass which keeps me constantly informed.  This feature could come handy in my later years when I might get confused and not know where I am, much less the direction in which I am traveling.

Not only does it inform me of my traveling direction, it shows me the outside temperature.  Now I do not have to wet my finger and hold it out the window to guess at the temperature.  I can just glance down at my handy dash for the answer.

 

One thing I am especially appreciative of is this…you don’t have to restrict your driving speed to fifty-five miles an hour for the first one thousand miles.  I recall this was a requirement for any new car purchased back in the 1940s and 1950s. That was called “the break-in period”.

 

I am sure that my new car has other neat features on it that I have not discovered yet.  But, I still can’t make myself stay below the fifty-five mile per hour rule…..it’s just ingrained in me from years ago.  I only have another five hundred miles to go before I can put the pedal-to-the-metal.

“Hey! Get that bucket of bolts out of the roadway so I can pass!”

 

“THE NEW CAR”

By: NEAL MURPHY
P.O. Box 511
San Augustine, Texas 75972
936-275-9033
936-275-6986 (cell)


682 words

 

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