Friday, July 31, 2015

The FBI Visit

My sister Dorothy was still living at home with my parents when our brother Chuck called from Drop City, Colorado. He was actively dodging the draft at the time and wanted them to know he was leaving for Bellingham, Washington.

The next day the doorbell rang. Dorothy opened the door to find a guy in aviator sunglasses, a large belt buckle, and boots who asked if her parents were home.

Dorothy called Mom from the kitchen. When she got to the door, he flashed his FBI badge and Mom invited him to come in and sit down. He told her he was looking for her son, Charles, and it was in Charles' best interest that she tell him where he was.

The passionately honest preacher's wife sweetly replied, "I have no idea where he is". She never lost her sweet, innocent demeanor even as Mr. FBI became more hostile and insistent.

After he left, Dorothy looked over at Mom who said, "Well, I know where he WAS and where he WILL BE, but I have no idea where he IS."

Thursday, July 30, 2015


We lived in a small town in Nebraska where there were many who made other people's business their business.

One afternoon a member of the local "Nosy Old Ladies" cabal came to our house. Her express purpose was to enlighten my father, the minister, about the scandalous behavior of one of the young school teachers.

It seems that he had closed the curtains in his house while entertaining a young woman. This self-appointed guardian of the town morals went on and on about how shameful this was.

My father listened patiently until she finally wound down. Then he stood up, gave the woman a "look", and opened the curtains in our living room.

Mixed Signals

I really don't like shaving. When the weekend rolls around, I don't shave unless there's some special occasion that requires it.

One Saturday evening my wife, Lan, and I were relaxing together on the living room couch. Before long, Lan started gently rubbing my cheek with her arm. I turned, gave her a knowing smile, and she said, "Hey, don't get excited, big guy. You didn't shave this morning and I'm just using your whiskers to scratch my arm."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Hot Rodders

I had a car in the Army that was something of a hot rod. It was a 66 Ford Fairlane GT with the big engine, 4 speed transmission, chrome wheels, wide tires, and fairly loud pipes. When I was deployed to Vietnam, I left the car with my parents and asked them to drive it once in while so it wouldn't just sit for a year.

At the time, my father was a Presbyterian Minister in the town of Aurora Nebraska. One Saturday my parents had to go to Lincoln to visit a parishioner who was in the hospital. They viewed this as an official ministerial visit, so they dressed accordingly. My father wore his suit and tie and my mother wore what used to be called "Sunday Go To Meeting" clothes. They decided this would be a good time to drive my car.

After the hospital visit in Lincoln, they started out of town on O st. which was 4 lanes wide, had stop-lights spaced about 10 blocks apart, and a 45mph speed limit.

My parents rolled up to a stop-light and right next to them was a Mustang with several college-age kids in it. When the light turned green, the Mustang blasted away from the light squealing the tires and making lots of noise.

This same thing happened for 3 lights in a row. Finally, while sitting at the 4th light, my mother turned to my father and said, "When that light turns green, let's leave those losers".

The light turned green, my father dumped the clutch, smoked the tires, and left the Mustang in the dust. He let off the throttle and backed off the pipes as he rolled up to the next light.

When Mustang pulled up beside them the kids were flabbergasted. They couldn't believe that the distinguished looking middle-aged couple in the Fairlane GT had just blown their doors off.

My parents never looked over at the Mustang. When the light turned green, they eased away from the light as if nothing had happened.

No PIckups

Years ago a factory near Salt Lake City built International Harvester pickup trucks. I was making weekly trips from Iowa to the SF Bay Area at the time. I met a guy during that period named Bill who was making regular trips from Salt Lake to the Bay Area delivering pickup trucks on a car carrier.

One week we were running together west bound on I-80 out of Sacramento talking on the radio when we came to the truck scales at Cordelia. There was a big sign that read "All Trucks Stop At Scales" with a smaller sign below that read "No Pickups".

Bill, running ahead of me, completely forgot to pull into the scales. I pulled in and had to wait behind about 6 trucks before getting weighed. Meanwhile, the CHP wasted no time in blasting out in a patrol car to stop him.

I merged back onto the freeway after clearing the scales and saw Bill about a mile ahead just getting back onto the freeway. I got on the radio and asked him what happened.

He said the cop pulled him over, marched up to his truck, and demanded to know why he hadn't stopped at the scales. The cop said, "Didn't you see the sign that said All Trucks Stop At Scales?".

"I said, yes, I saw that sign, but I also saw that other sign."

"What other sign?", the cop asked.

 "The one that said No Pickups."

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Pace Setter

I was drafted into the army with a group of 80 other guys and started 8 weeks of Basic Training in Ft. Lewis Washington. One third of our group were black guys from Oakland, one third were cowboys from Montana, and the rest were from the mid-west like me. There were no volunteers in the group – we were all draftees and not especially pleased to be in the Army.

Every morning and evening all 80 guys would be escorted on a 2 mile run with a hyper-active drill sergeant running up and down screaming at us. Any group like that always has at least one guy that can't keep up and we had ours – Morris. He was about 30 pounds overweight and definitely out of shape.

Morris was a constant target of the drill sergeant's wrath and was ridiculed by him whenever he couldn't keep pace. After more than a week of this, I convinced the group that we needed to do something. I suggested that we all run only as fast as Morris and sold the idea as a way to mess with the mind of the drill sergeant.

The next morning we started our regular 2 mile run and after about the first 5 minutes, Morris couldn't keep pace and slowed down. Right on cue, we all slowed down to his pace. When he started running again, we started running again, when he slowed down, we slowed down.

The drill sergeant went ballistic! No matter what he did or how much he yelled, none of the 80 guys would go any faster than Morris. 

It was the beginning of a significant shift in the Basic Training balance of power.

Running The Scales

About 40 years ago I was driving a truck making weekly trips from Iowa to Utah with a load of pork for a wholesale meat company. I would get the truck unloaded and then go up to Washington to get a load of apples to take back to the mid-west.

The load of apples usually weighed significantly more than was legally allowed and required me to circumvent the truck scales on the way back. Loading the extra weight didn't pay extra, but I enjoyed  the challenge of getting away with it.

There was a truck scale on I-15 in Utah that I had to get around to successfully accomplish my chicanery. I found a small state road that more or less paralleled I-15 that allowed me to bypass the whole thing. This road went through a small town at the end of my scale bypass gambit and had a connector road back to the Interstate.

I was quite pleased with myself for figuring this out and made this detour almost every week for several months. One week in the winter it had been snowing recently and the roads were slippery.  I was loaded legally this time so I just went right down I-15 instead of taking my alternate route.

Just before the exit to the small town on my regular detour, I saw a car that had slid off the road into the ditch. It looked like the car wasn't damaged, but there appeared to still be people in it.

I stopped to check it out and found it was a nice middle aged couple who happened to live in the same town I had been going through almost every week. I helped them up into the truck and we had a nice conversation while I took them back into town.

I stopped in front of the general store on main street and as I was helping them out of the truck, a couple of old guys came out of the store. They thanked me for helping their neighbors and told me they'd get the local tow truck operator to tow the car in.

One of the guys commented on what a nice looking truck I was driving. He said, "We see you coming through here all the time running the scales. Why don't you stop in and say hello next time?"