Boring Stories

Foreword

I chose Boring Stories as the title for this autobiographical collection of anecdotes. This is the name given by my daughter, Sue, to the nighttime tales that I related to her as she was trying to get to sleep at night. I thought that I should record these personal fables before they were erased from my memory by age or continuing brain deterioration. There is a humongous dead space in the 70's where I can't remember anything happening to me. If anyone has a clue, please fill me in.
Some of these tales are funny, some serious and some just downright stupid. I leave it to your discretion to decide which. Please, give me the benefit of the doubt by not rating them all as stupid!
These stories have been arranged in chronologic order as best as I can remember their happening.
Those marked with an are X-rated and should be read only by those older than 17 years of age or when accompanied by a parent.

Table of Contents

  • Boxing with Doc
  • BB Guns and Hornets
  • Sunday School at Aunt Ev's
  • Shoplifting and Horry
  • Hello, Popeye
  • Burning Up the Junkyard
  • Dad Eats the Duck Egg
  • White vs Black (as in rabbits)
  • Big League Chaw
  • Matchball
  • S-pee-ch at High School Assembly
  • Jay Huey and the News
  • Life as a First Baseman
  • On Cutting a Toe Off
  • Up on the Roof Top
  • Fraternity Initiation
  • Freshman Football Team - 42 Roommate - 0
  • Big-Boying the Nerd
  • Car in Water
  • Fired from a Co-op Job?
  • Please Standby for Perry Como
  • Armpit Sniffing
  • Picnic in the Park
  • Martha Sings
  • Garbage Can Man
  • Achtung, Dummkopf!
  • Bail Me Out
  • Albany to Kennedy to Cincinnati
  • Drain Tiles, Sweat and the Neighborhood Pool
  • Meet Mrs. Clemente
  • Out of Gas in Mass
  • A Trip to the Emergency Room
  • Lunch with Lou
  • Money for College
  • A Not So Lofty Weekend at Clemson
  • Bad Timing in Knoxville
  • Snow and the Front Facia Board
  • Gethsemane
  • Edisto Island
  • Flu and the Stones
  • Stay Off Cross County
  • Out-Out Damn Tube!
  • Too Much Robin Cook
  • Buying Ginger
  • Almost Keeneland with Hubbard
  • Joe Bianco's Death/My Visit to Helen
  • Schreck, Hubbard and Cutco
  • Sue's Graduation and the Shoulder Tap
  • George and the Shoulder Tap
  • Where's George?
  • Don't Cry for Me, Cooper Judy
  • Becca's Fish
  • Boxing with Doc

    My cousin, Butch, AKA Clarke Ralston Ketter, was my favorite playmate when I was young. He lived with his divorced father, Doc, AKA Clarke Ketter; our grandfather, Horry, AKA Harold Ketter; and our grandmother, Popeye, AKA Edna Ketter. Horry ran a taxicab service, 97 Cab, out of his house, the 97 coming from his phone number. (In those days in Ironton, phone numbers weren't as complicated as they are today). Butch, being an only child, had lots of stuff to play with.
    There was a window seat that ran the length of the living room that was filled with toys and games just waiting to be enjoyed. Among the toys was a set of boxing gloves.
    Before describing what led to boxing with my uncle, let me describe the personality of Butch. Butch was a skinny, timid, spoiled sissy, unlike me who was a little, skinny, timid, spoiled sissy. Whenever we played together and something happened to Butch that he didn't like he would go crying to his dad, grandpa or grandma. I guess that on this day Butch's dad was tired of hearing his son come crying to him every time he didn't get his way. So Doc proclaimed, when he saw that we had taken the boxing gloves out of the window seat, that the first one to make the other one cry during the boxing match was going to get to fight him.
    Well, it didn't take long for me to hit Butch hard enough to make him go running into the house screaming. No sooner had he disappeared into the back door than Uncle Doc appeared with a boxing glove on his hand. With a right hook that connected with the side of my head, he won the match. I went down and came up dizzy, crying and ran for home still with the gloves on.
    By the time I got home, I figured that I would get in big trouble if I told what had happened, so I dried my eyes, took the gloves off and threw them away and never mentioned what happened.
    I never did hear anything discussed about that incident.

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    BB Guns and Hornets

    One of my favorite toys was a Red Ryder BB gun. I had gotten this gun for Christmas and was admonished every time that I took it out, "be very careful because you could shoot someone's eye out." I never shot at anyone's eye, when we shot at each other, we had a rule that you never aimed above the waist. After a while the novelty of shooting at a paper target or a tin can wore thin, and we would have BB gun battles. After shooting Butch in the lip with one errant shot, we had to promise that we would never again shoot at each other.
    We had to shoot at something besides those immovable pieces of paper or stupid old cans. Aha, target practice on pigeons! Nobody likes dirty old pigeons, so what if we do injure or better yet, kill one! We practiced our marksmanship on pigeons until they got wise to us and no longer came around.
    Now what do we attack? What is this? In the backyard is a large mound of dirt built up by some flying insect. Let's wait and see if these filthy critters make challenging enemies for my gun-totin' partner and me. Wow, those things are sand hornets - they are about two inches long and half an inch around. We can really have some fun with these babies. Wait until they land and start entering their hole and then - BLAM - GOTCHA! After managing to miss several of them but making them quite mad, we retired to the safety of the back porch to reload and think this out.
    At this point, Horry came out the back door and got something from the shed down by the hornet's nest. As he went past the nest, one of the angry hornet's came flying at him. He started running for the house and about halfway there, the hornet stung him in the back of the neck and knocked him to the ground.
    We don't know what happened after that because we both ran inside, put our guns under the bed and hid upstairs.

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    Sunday School at Aunt Ev's

    I had two old maid aunts who lived together just down the street from Butch. Aunt Helen was probate judge for Lawrence County. Aunt Ev was I don't know what. They sure had a lot of money and stuff. They went to New Orleans all the time - for what I was never told. They had a black Scotch Terrier which was mean as a terrier can be. He didn't like much of anything and would bark whenever anyone came in the room with him. I think I was afraid of him. What I liked most about Helen and Ev was that I could do almost anything around them and they never would tell on me.
    That's why I used their house once a week as sanctuary from Sunday school and church. My parents weren't faithful church attendees, but thought that I should get some religion. I was relegated to catechism classes in the Presbyterian Church. After graduation from these classes, I was baptized into the church. This meant that I was obligated to attend both Sunday school and church every Sunday. This got old real quick. Not only was going to church boring, it was hot.
    I worked out a plan. Put on your Sunday clothes, make a big deal out of having to walk all the way to the other end of town to worship, (we never had a car until I was in college). Walk down Fifth Street, turn right at Jefferson, go two blocks and visit my aunts until it was safe to go home.
    How in the world did I get away with this without being found out? I don't know.

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    Shoplifting and Horry

    Thank God for Aunt Helen, the judge, and Horry, the cab driver. Between them they knew every influential lawyer, policeman, judge and shop owner in the city. I was at Butch's house one day when the phone rang. Someone wanted to talk to Horry. It was the police chief.
    The owner of the Lobby News, a magazine and newspaper store, had reported that I had been seen shop lifting some baseball paraphernalia. Horry asked told me that he was going to go pay for whatever I had stolen and for me to not steal any more. Whew, what a close call!
    But believe it or not, I hadn't ever stolen anything from there.
    But I would keep that off my target store list from then on.

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    Hello, Popeye

    One thing that I really enjoyed was eating supper at my grandmother's house. I liked eating there because she always fixed what I liked best to eat, never made me eat anything that I didn't like and Horry would always let me have a cheese glass of beer to drink while he drank the rest of the bottle.
    One day, I found my mom fixing the most disgusting main course, meat loaf, for supper. I knew that I would have to gag down a serving of meat loaf along with mashed potatoes and some kind of green vegetable. Why must I be subjected to such torture!
    How could I make Popeye call and ask me over for supper? Remembering a trick that I learned from an old movie, I picked up the phone and asked the operator to give me 1008, my own number, then quickly hung up the phone and ran to my room. When the phone rang, I yelled, "I got it", and in a voice loud enough to be heard by my mother in the other room, carried on a make-believe conversation in which Popeye was inviting me over for dinner. It worked.
    I showed up at Popeye's, got my cheese glass of beer and ate supper there.

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    Burning Up the Junkyard

    Behind our house was a vacant lot on which all manner of games and sports was played. This playground was dubbed the Junkyard only because there was a small section in one corner that was used by the neighbors to dump and burn any garbage that they wanted to get rid of.
    One day, the big guys were having a football game there. Charlie Lutz, whose house abutted the Junkyard, and I were not chosen by the big guys to play so we were sitting on one end of the Junkyard with nothing to do but get into trouble. It just so happens that I had found some really neat matches that day and Charlie and I decided that we should build a little campfire to keep us warm. It was a dry fall and the grass on the Junkyard was good for starting a warming fire. Unfortunately, it was too dry and the wind was unfavorable for containing our campfire. Before we knew it, the grass in the Junkyard was burning out of control.
    Charlie's mother had seen the smoke and was running in and out of her house with a dishpan throwing water on her wooden fence posts. Someone called the fire department, but by the time that they got there, the Junkyard had burned completely and the Lutz's fence posts were ablaze.
    Charlie got in trouble, but I don't think that I did.

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    Dad Eats the Duck Egg

    My brother and I each got a baby duck for Easter one year. We fed and watered them and kept them in our fenced yard. When they got big, they would chase my mom every time she would go into the back yard. They were especially fond of biting her on the back of her ankles while she was hanging clothes outside.
    One day, I spied what looked like an egg under one of the bushes in the back yard. I took it inside where my mom diagnosed it as a duck egg. I didn't know what to do with it so I just forgot about it and left it on the table in the kitchen. Days later I remembered the egg and asked mom what had happened to the duck egg. She said that she had put it in the refrigerator to save it.
    My dad overhearing us talking about the duck egg, came into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and exclaimed that he had eaten that egg for breakfast last weekend.
    My heart was broken - someone had eaten a part of my pet.
    I got over this trauma after some time only to have my dad announce that he had sold both our ducks to a neighbor who had eaten them for dinner.
    That was my first taste of cruelty to animals.

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    White vs Black (as in rabbits)

    Here's another Easter pet story. Jerry and I got Easter bunnies one year.
    His was white and fat. Mine was black and skinny. His was mean and wanted to fight. Mine was cuddly and wanted to run away. We kept them in the same cage where they constantly fought each other.
    One morning I got up and went out to talk to my rabbit, sometime during the night they had a fight and one of my rabbit's eyes had been torn out and was lying on the floor of the cage. Jerry's white rabbit was sleeping contentedly on the other end of the cage.
    I cried and wanted to have Jerry's rabbit's eye ripped out in retaliation, but was denied this pleasure.
    I never forgave Jerry's rabbit for that.

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    Big League Chaw

    I was an outstanding second baseman for Jim Corn's Pee Wee League baseball team one summer. Just to show what kind of a real ballplayer that I was, I was going to emulate a big leaguer. I stopped at Champer's grocery store on the way to a ball game one summer morning and bought a pouch of Red Man chewing tobacco. Right before we took the field for the first inning, I ripped the top off the 'backy' pouch, crammed a handful of the sweet tasting tobacco into my jaw and raced to my position.
    As I chewed and spit, I felt like Johnny Mize or Birdie Tebbetts with brown spittle running down my chin. Unfortunately, the second batter of the inning hit a ground ball right at me. In my haste to field the ball, I forgot that I shouldn't swallow. Too late, I swallowed a huge wad of tobacco along with a mouthful of spit. It didn't take long for my head to start spinning and I fell to the ball diamond dizzy and throwing up.
    Needless to say, I changed my chew of choice to bubble gum for the remainder of my baseball career.

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    Matchball

    We were all baseball nuts the whole summer long. We talked, ate, slept and played baseball all day and often into the night. We used everything we could think of as a baseball - a ping pong ball - a wad of newspaper wrapped with adhesive tape - a tennis ball - crabapples - cherries - marbles - and the most imaginative and spectacular of all, a box of kitchen matches.
    I was standing in the back yard of my house one day with a baseball bat and a box of kitchen matches in my hands. How about some batting practice? I tossed the box of matches into the air and swung and missed. The next time I didn't miss. I lined the box of matches straight onto the roof of the barn at the back of our yard. The impact of the bat on the matches had ignited the whole box of matches and they were burning furiously on the barn roof.
    Fortunately for me, the roof was made of tin and the only damage that the roof suffered was a dark spot from the fire.
    Like the roof, my butt also got burned that night when my dad got home and found out what I had done.

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    S-pee-ch at High School Assembly

    When I was in the eight grade, I was selected to read an Abraham Lincoln essay at an assembly observing Lincoln's birthday. I was thrilled to be able to quote my favorite president before the whole school in the high school auditorium. I was also very scared. On the day of the assembly, I dressed in my Sunday school suit and tie and took my place in the wooden chairs provided on stage for the speakers.
    As the time approached for my speech, I had an ever increasing urge to pee. Right before they called my name to take the podium, I could hold it no longer and completely soaked the front of myself and the chair that I was sitting in. I self-consciously strolled to the podium and presented my reading, fully knowing everyone in the audience could see my predicament and I would be the laughing stock of the whole school.
    To this day, no one has ever mentioned this to me.

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    Jay Huey and the News

    "I don't ever want you playing with Jay Huey", was the daily admonition from my mom and dad to me and my brother, Jerry. Jay was a bad influence on anyone that he was around. He, himself, never got into trouble, but anyone who was around him did. He did such socially unacceptable acts as taking orders for sporting goods and then stealing them from local merchants and selling them to the person who requested them. Of course he never got caught. We were all greatly enamored by his guile and courage. He would go into a Sears store and stuff a baseball bat in his pants leg and walk stiff-legged past the clerks out of the store.
    One day, he asked Jerry to be his accomplice in a daring, daylight heist of a dozen American League baseballs from the hardware store. Jerry was to stand at the back door of the hardware store and Jay was to pass the box of balls out the door to him. This caper went off without a hitch until Jay panicked as he was leaving the store and took off running. The owner of the hardware store saw Jerry with the box as he and Jay met at the back of the store and gave chase, but ran out of gas before he could apprehend the two. The two escapees split and later rendezvoused in the barn where they stashed the balls in an old chest of drawers designed for just such an occasion. There the balls stayed for many months because everyone was afraid to be caught with one of them.
    Somehow mom or dad must have found out about this escapade, because we were forbidden to ever be seen with Jay Huey shortly after that.

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    Life as a First Baseman

    I had graduated from the Pee Wee League to the Intermediate League as I got older. I didn't get bigger or better at playing baseball, but I was on the Culligan Soft Water team. I rode the bench all year until late in the summer when our first baseman went on vacation. I was called on to substitute at first base for him in the playoffs during his absence. We won our first three games in the playoffs and were scheduled to play under lights in the championship game. I was really excited because not only was I going to play in the championship game before many of my friends, but I was going to play under the lights for the first time ever.
    The day of the ball game I could hardly wait to get the ballpark and start getting adjusted to the lights and warm up at first base before all the fans who were going to be there. I remember being the first player to arrive at the park even before the lights were turned on. The ground crew was just starting to drag the infield and put down the lime for the baselines. I sat expectantly on the bench for the rest of the team to show up. One by one they came. The stands started to fill up. I took infield practice with our team. I casually played catch with our second baseman in front of the first base stands behind our bench while the other team took infield practice. The umpires showed up and just about the time that they called "PLAY BALL", our regular first baseman came walking through the gate with his uniform on. Our manager was elated to see him and quickly replaced my name in the starting lineup with his. I was relegated to the bench from where I watched the whole game.
    I don't remember whether we won or lost, but I know that I didn't feel very happy that night.

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    On Cutting a Toe Off

    I had a really good summer job one year. I got it partially because my uncle was the head of the recreation department. My job was to maintain the city's playgrounds and parks. This included painting the playground equipment, dragging the baseball diamond at the main park and cutting the grass at all the parks. This cutting grass task gave me the opportunity to have a Jeep at my disposal to tow the lawnmower trailer from park to park. I would often disconnect the trailer from the Jeep and just joy-ride around town with the wind blowing through my flat top haircut, my shirt off, displaying my perfectly tanned body for all to see. Every now and then I had to cut the grass, though.
    The mower was a huge riding mower which originally had guards on it to protect the operator. I had to take these guards off so that I wouldn't have to stop every few minutes when the guard would hit a rock or other obstruction and keep the mower from moving. That way I could cut the grass faster and have more joy-riding time.
    One day, just before lunch, I started cutting the grass at the main park. I got about half way done and broke for lunch. As I walked around in front of the mower to shut it off, my foot slid under the mower and when I looked, there was no end on the shoe that had just been under the mower. Then blood started flowing out of the front of the shoe, and my foot began to hurt. I thought that I had better get home and have mom see what I had done, so I got into the Jeep and raced home.
    When I got home, my mother was talking on the phone and told me to just sit down in the kitchen until she was done talking and she would fix my lunch. When she got off the phone, I asked her what to do about my foot. When she saw the shoe and the blood, she fainted. Now what do I do? I called my dad at work and explained the situation to him and he said for me to meet him at the hospital. I drove to the hospital and met him there. I got the foot cleaned off, x-rayed and a bandage put on it. I had been very lucky, I had only cut the top off one toe and destroyed the nail on another.
    For the next four weeks I soaked the foot three times daily and collected workman's compensation. What a life! Getting paid for not working and receiving all that sympathy and care from my mom, who by this time has awakened from her faint. At the end of this four week period of paradise, my dad sensed that I was milking this situation to the hilt and demanded that I quit acting like a sissy and get back to work. I took his suggestion and started to resume my regular activities against my mom's reservations. Two days later I had a severe infection in my foot which reached all the way up to my groin. The doctor said that I may have to have my foot cut off if I didn't take care of it, so I went back to being a sissy for about four more weeks. This made my mom very glad that she could take care of me again and she scolded my dad for his insensitivity.
    I still don't have a very pretty toe nail on one of my toes of that foot.

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    Up on the Roof Top

    One of the members of our gang, The Prontos, was the preacher's son. He was one of the wildest guys in town. He would sneak out of his room at night, hot wire his dad's car, come pick up other gang members and drive all over the county. He would then return home and sneak back into his room without his dad ever knowing he had been gone.
    One Halloween he picked us up in his dad's car and we went out tricking. We found a trench that had been dug in one of the side streets. We took all the lights and sawhorses which were marking the hole in the street and hid with them behind some bushes while we waited for a car to come down the street.
    It wasn't too long before a taxicab came barreling along. WHAM! into the ditch goes the taxi, leaving the wheels in the ditch and the rest of the car on the other side of the ditch. The cab driver came out of the taxi cursing and waving a gun, threatening to kill whoever did this to him. We took off in all directions with the cab driver still standing in the street cursing.
    We rendezvoused at the preacher's car and planned the entertainment for the rest of the evening. Someone had heard that there was a vacant house close to where we were, so we decided to play roof tag using the roof of the vacant house as base. We all climbed onto the roof of the vacant house and started jumping from roof to roof of all the houses in the neighborhood.
    I guess someone in one of the houses must have called the police, because we heard a car stop in the street nearby and saw a couple of policemen with flashlights searching the area. Everyone except the preacher's son jumped from the roofs and got away. The preacher's son got nabbed by the cops. They put him in the cruiser and took off. We imagined that he was being taken to the local jail, so we went to check on him.
    Sure enough, when we got to the jailhouse, we could see that they had put him into a cell. We were able to talk to him through an open window on the street and found out that he was being booked for trespassing and his father was on the way. We convinced him that he should tell them that he was alone so that none of us would get a police record.
    Just as we were about to leave, his father showed up and caught us talking to him through the window. He demanded that we all come in with him and face the music together. There was no arguing with a man of the cloth, so we complied. The officer at the desk was glad to see such a throng of criminals to book. After we were booked, each of our parents were contacted to come pick us up at the police station.
    My mom said that she had a small child at home and couldn't leave her alone, but instead they should call my dad at the Elk's Club. They called my dad and he said, "Hell no I won't come get him. Let him spend the night in jail." When the police called my mom to tell her that I was spending the night in jail, she pleaded with them, reminding them that my aunt was a probate judge.
    This must have convinced them that I shouldn't spend the night in jail. So they escorted me home in a police car and put me under house arrest for the night under custody of my mom.
    My dad wasn't very happy when he finally got home that night.

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    Fraternity Initiation

    Before my initiation into a fraternity at college, my fraternity's pledge trainer told me that anything which happened during the rites was secret and should never be discussed with anyone. If I so much as hinted as to what went on, the integrity of the fraternity would be compromised and I probably would be blackballed, dismissed, castigated and have other bad things happen to me too terrible to imagine.
    At great risk to my personal well being I am going to divulge what happened to me and my roommate at initiation. ( Don't tell a soul about this )
    Initiation started off with our pledge class being led into a candlelit meeting room in our fraternity house's basement. Each member of our pledge class was fully hooded as if in the KKK. The Grand High Poobah of the fraternity read some mystical mumbo-jumbo to us. I was led before the Grand High Poobah who asked me some cryptic double-talk question. When I answered, all hell broke loose!
    All the active members in attendance, oohed and exclaimed "I can't believe he said that!" I was whisked upstairs and my big brother, along with the pledge trainer and some other senior members of the fraternity joined me in disbelief over what I had done. They were mortified that I has caused such disgrace before all in attendance. I had ruined the initiation not only for myself but for all my other pledge mates. I didn't understand what I had done, but I figured that I should really be upset, because now none of my pledge class could be Greek. Like whats-her-name in A Chorus Line I felt nothing, but I figured that I had better dredge up some tears and act as if I was miserable. I did, and it seemed to work, because my big brother said maybe he could go talk to the Grand High Poobah and see if some provisions could be made to allow me to make restitution and possibly save the initiation ceremonies.
    Was I relieved when he returned and said that I would be allowed to return and be given a second chance. When I returned, I was informed that those other hooded pledges with me weren't my pledge class but were other active fraternity members posing as pledges. Each pledge in turn had been subjected to the same sort of sham that I was. That was just the fraternity's way of seeing if I really wanted to be a member enough to show some emotion when confronted in this manner.
    Boy was I glad that I had acted miserable, I could have failed the test and been not accepted.
    Later that evening, after celebrating with all my new-found fraternity brothers, I learned that my roommate, upon being confronted with the same treatment as I, had told them to "go to Hell!", and had walked out of the house refusing to be a part of such an organization.
    I was pretty proud of him for that, but I couldn't let anyone know that I felt that way, too.

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    Freshman football team - 42 Roommate - 0

    Freshman year in college was a never-ending series of learning experiences and making new friends. My roommate was one of those brilliant students who came from a large city high school which had advanced science courses. He had previously taken almost all the freshman courses offered by college while he was in high school. Therefore, needless to say, he didn't have a lot of studying to do, so he would stay out late at night and go home every weekend. This left me to make friends with other dorm members on my floor which consisted of a considerable number of freshman football players.
    My next door neighbors, a fullback and a tight end on the team, and I became especially close friends. Because of my small size they called me Shorty and adopted me as sort of a mascot for their team.
    One night, my roommate came home very late and very drunk. He woke me up when he got home and started yelling at me for some reason. Then he locked the door and started punching me. The commotion obviously aroused my neighbors because they came to the door and asked if everything was OK in there. My roommate cursed them and told them to go away and leave us alone. They didn't ... what they did was break the door down, saw that my roommate had been beating on me and gave him the whipping of his life, almost tearing one of his ears from his head.
    From that time onward, my roommate and I never had another confrontation, although he did come home on consecutive nights and throw up out our window onto the window below.

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    Big-Boying the Nerd

    There was a sissy, suck-upping, whining, butt-kissing, brown-nosing nerd in our freshman class in college. We were all really macho men who had the world by the tail. The last day of our freshman year, all of us went to Frisch's for lunch and ended up with an extra Big Boy with extra tartar sauce to take home with us. When we got back to the dorm, the nerd was hanging around wanting to take part in the last hours of our first year at school.
    Naturally, we took advantage of this opportunity to enjoy ourselves at the nerd's expense. With great enthusiasm we apprehended the nerd, undressed and tied him down on my dorm bed. We then proceeded to smear the extra Big Boy all over his body. He protested violently and finally broke down and cried.
    After we allowed him to humiliate himself for a while, we untied him and let him go.
    When we arrived back at school the next year, we learned that he had quit school and wasn't ever coming back.

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    Car in Water

    One of the engineers at my co-op job had a 1938 Ford sedan for sale which he had kept in immaculate condition. It was in such good shape that most of us thought it to be a new foreign car.
    I had been living out of town while co-oping and my father and I decided that I could save some money if I bought the car and commuted to work. What a thrill! I had my very own car. I was the first person in our family to own a car, ( my father always used his company's car or he would borrow his boss' car when he needed one ).
    I drove this little black bomb back and forth to work every day and on weekends would chauffeur all my home town buddies to our favorite watering holes.
    One Friday night, a bunch of us were at a local bar sloshing down beers and playing shuffleboard, when the preacher's son, of Up On The Rooftop fame, stopped by to get directions to the high school across the river in Kentucky where he was to pick up his date for the evening.
    I volunteered to lead him in my car to the high school, so two of the guys and I got into the car and we took off for Kentucky with the preacher's son close behind. We made it across the bridge into Kentucky and started up the main street toward the high school. When we made the turn from the main street, I noticed that there were some sawhorses in the street. As I was straining to see where the street was being repaired, I felt the car come to an abrupt stop and a hissing was coming from the front of the car. When I regained my senses, I realized that the sawhorses were placed there as a warning - a heavy thunderstorm had occurred earlier that evening and the viaduct had about four feet of water in it. We had gone into this water and my car was floating.
    I looked back up to the top of the viaduct where the preacher's son had stopped his dad's car before it entered the water. Rolling on the street in uncontrollable laughter was the preacher's son. The other two guys with me thought this was the funniest thing that they had ever seen. I didn't. My poor car!
    There was another car which had suffered the same fate as mine and a wrecker had just arrived to tow it from the water. I was able to persuade the tow truck operator to remove my car first.
    I left the car overnight on the street just at the top of the viaduct and came back the next day with one of my friends who owned a Jeep and he pushed it home for me. The rest of the weekend was spent pushing my car in second gear trying to get it started. Needless to say, this didn't work.
    I ultimately had to have a mechanic replace plugs, wires, points and other miscellaneous parts before it would run again.

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    Fired from a Co-op Job?

    I had always been taught that honesty was the best policy. Frankness is also a virtue which everyone should be proud to have. I learned differently in an incident which occurred after the last co-op session of my sophomore year.
    The boss at my co-op job asked me to come into his office one day and discuss how I had liked my work assignments during the first year of my co-opping. He said to be frank and candid.
    Unfortunately I was too frank and too candid, because that afternoon there was a letter on my desk from him which was a copy of the letter that he had sent to my coordinator at school.
    The letter informed my coordinator that I was no longer welcome as a co-op there and had made disparaging remarks about some members of his staff.
    I was rather proud of the fact that I had been fired because of my honesty and kept the letter to show off to anyone who wanted to see it.
    When I got back to school following the firing, my coordinator wasn't as pleased as I was for what had happened. Actually, he had never had to deal with a co-op being fired before, but he had a solution to the problem.
    There was a co-op job just suited for someone with my credentials. I was sentenced to co-op at a local television station where I had to watch commercials for eight hours a day.
    More on this later - film at 11.

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    Please Standby for Perry Como

    This is the co-op job to which I was sentenced. The job consisted of sitting before a television monitor at the transmitter and logging commercials. Logging commercials is a process which requires an exceptional amount of scientific acumen and lightning reflexes. To be successful at this process, one has to recognize a commercial when it comes on during the program and record at what time it came on. In addition, one has to recognize when that commercial is over and record that time.
    This is exhausting and stressful, but paid very poorly. Every now and then, I was given a task which would be more challenging than logging commercials ... such at testing the vacuum tubes in the transmitter.
    Another really exciting thing which I got to do was to record the 'color burst', whatever that was. Since color television was in its infancy at this time, there were very few color programs on, so recording the color burst was quite an occasion. Especially one night when the Perry Como Show was on in color.
    That day, the chief engineer had left word for me to remove some equipment from the transmitter right after I had recorded the color burst for the Perry Como Show that evening. I dutifully recorded the color burst and as I was removing the chassis which had been disconnected earlier a flash and a sickening "THUNK" resulted; upon which the engineer on duty yelled, "what did you do? the transmitter's off the air!"
    It took about fifteen seconds before the telephone in the control room started ringing. It was the general manager of the television station who was having a dinner party at his home and everyone was there glued to his color set to watch Perry Como.
    Whoops! I told him that I didn't know what had happened, but that we were working on fixing it. He said that this was quite embarrassing and wanted to talk to the engineer on duty. While he was talking to him, the chief engineer raced in and after about an hour discovered and corrected the problem that was caused by some wires falling and shorting out something.
    The transmitter became functional again just in time for the closing credits of the Perry Como Show to scroll by.

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    Armpit Sniffing

    A local lab had a contract with a soap manufacturer to test their deodorant soap. A perfect place to do comparative testing was on college men. Most of the freshmen in our dorm were recruited to be guinea pigs in product testing. This testing entailed that we submit ourselves to a team of lab employees who would sniff each of our armpits and record a number from one to ten according to the stink level of each armpit. After the figures were recorded, we would wash one armpit with one soap and the other with a second. We were not to wash our armpit again until after the next sniff was taken a week later.
    My test scores were nothing to write home about but my roommate's were. As a matter of fact, when the sniffers would see him coming they would all gasp and try to hide under the lab tables. If he were a gymnast or diver he would have a trunkfull of gold medals.
    He would get perfect tens on both armpits every time.

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    Picnic in the Park

    Buying booze by the bottle when we were in college was really difficult, especially at night. The only place to legally buy it in Ohio was at a state liquor store. This presented several problems;
    1) you had to be twenty one years old
    2) the price was high compared to what we wanted to pay
    3) there wasn't a liquor store open past five o'clock.
    Whenever we wanted to party, we would board a bus; go downtown; get on a bus to Newport, Kentucky; buy the booze at a store there; and repeat the bus process. After we got our half pints of booze, (usually Southern Comfort or some equally obnoxious liquor), we would go to the park and get plastered.
    One particular night Tex, my roommate, Moldy Dold and I had each gotten a half pint of something and after drinking most of it appeared at the door of one of the sorority houses.
    We were greeted by some really lovely and charming sorority ladies who invited us in for some enchanting conversation.
    We were sober enough to recognize that these ladies must have a life much less exciting than ours and we excused ourselves and hoped we would never be identified by them as having visited.

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    Martha Sings

    I was enamored by a cute young thing who dressed quite differently and seemed to be way ahead of the times in her approach to life. I learned that this lovely coed was an applied arts student majoring in fashion design. She was a sorority sister of another girl that I was dating at the time. Lucky for me, the girl I was dating asked me to her sorority's pledge formal.
    At the pledge formal, the active members of the sorority formed a chorus to serenade the pledges. Everyone gathered round the chorus as they sang, and I was in the front row admiring, (actually flirting with), the girl of my dreams. Unbeknownst to me, my dream girl noticed my ogling her and later inquired of a friend of hers who I was.
    Later I asked her for a date, she accepted and thirty nine years later we are married with three children and three grandchildren.

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    Garbage Can Man

    Three times a year, co-ops would stop going to school and start their co-op job. At the end of each school term, a section change party would be held. One year, the engineering college held a section change party in the park adjacent to the university. What went on at this party was a lot of beer drinking. This shindig wasn't very formal, the beer was in garbage cans full of ice.
    I had made arrangements to double date with a friend of mine after the party was over that afternoon. My friend came looking for me when I didn't show up at the dorm to get ready for my date that evening. He found me bottom down, floating in the ice in one of the garbage cans. He rescued me from this disastrous position, threw me in a shower at the dorm, dressed me and presented me at the front door to pick up my date an hour late.
    I think we danced until the dance floor closed that night.

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    Achtung, Dummkopf!

    The only job that I was offered when I graduated from college was working for the government at WPAFB in Dayton. I worked for Dr. Rundke, a former Messerschmitt design engineer for the Nazis during WWII. Dr. Rundke was a strict disciplinarian and was very cognizant of his image.
    In our office, B.J. Doodey's desk was right next to Herr Dr. Rundke's. Every day after lunch, B.J. would prop a book up in the center drawer of his desk, and resting on his elbows, pretend to read the book, while he took a half hour nap. Herr Dr. never questioned B.J.'s activities because it looked like B.J. was actually working.
    One day, two technicians and I were studying some chart recordings from a test that we had just run. In order to get a better look at the charts, I hiked one leg up on the corner of the desk directly across from Herr Dr.'s. When Herr Dr. saw me sitting on the edge of the desk, he blew up and yelled at me, "Mister Frecka, get off the desk immediately ... this does not look professional ... never let this happen again!"
    Needless to say I was shocked and embarrassed ... quite a lesson for a young engineer!

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    Bail Me Out

    Martha and I had just seen the UC Bearcats defeat the Oregon State Beavers in the semifinal game of the 1961 NCAA basketball finals and were returning home from Louisville after the game. It was about midnight when we got to Erlanger, Kentucky and were looking for somewhere to get something to eat.
    As we went down into a railroad underpass, another car shot by us at supersonic speed. When we emerged from the underpass, a police car with lights flashing was right on our tail. Being a law abiding citizen, I pulled to the side of the road to allow the police car to pass. Much to my surprise, the police car didn't pass but stopped behind us instead.
    The policeman requested that I come back with him and look at his radar which displayed 69 miles per hour. "There must be some mistake, officer, I couldn't have been going that fast. We were looking for somewhere to eat", I said. To which the officer replied, "The radar doesn't lie. Come with me to headquarters."
    We followed him to headquarters where he told me that the fine for speeding was $35. I said that we only had about $20 at which point he decided to call the judge and get him out of bed to see if the fine could be reduced since I looked like an honorable person. After waking the judge, the officer told him that we only had about $20 and got the fine reduced to $30. Not having the $30 any more than we had $35 and being out of state, I was going to have to go to jail until bond was posted.
    I was allowed to make a phone call to my baby sitting father. I explained the situation to him and he agreed to get one of my neighbors to watch my son, and come post bond for me.
    I explained to the police that my wife, who was still sitting in the car by the side of the road, couldn't drive and asked if she could be given sanctuary in the headquarters while I went to jail. The answer was NO, she is not under arrest, you are!
    I was subsequently taken to the Covington, Kentucky jail where I was searched, my personal possessions were taken from me and catalogued, and I was placed in a holding cell with a fellow criminal. In about an hour my father showed up with my wife and the $30 fine money and bailed me out.
    The next night my father and I returned to Louisville for the NCAA final game between UC and the Loyola Ramblers. If you recall, that was the game for the national championship where UC had a large lead in the closing minutes of the game, went into a stall, kept losing the ball, and had to go into overtime where they lost. So much for a fun weekend!
    I subsequently, remembering that a car had passed us in the underpass, went back to Kentucky to explain that the radar had probably registered someone else's speed and not mine and that my fine money should be returned to me because of this mistake. I was told that was too bad, but the matter had already been settled by my paying the bond to get out of jail.

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    Albany to Kennedy to Cincinnati

    Working as I did on nuclear stuff, I had to go to Schenectady, New York, where there was a nuclear reactor to test a design we had done at work. When I completed my work there, I took a bus from Schenectady to Albany where I caught an early morning flight through Kennedy airport in New York City to Cincinnati. When my plane arrived in New York, I was informed that the connecting flight to Cincinnati had been canceled and I could make another flight which left me three hours to kill in Kennedy. I asked for a meal ticket and they gave me a voucher for three dollars.
    The cheapest breakfast that I could find at the airport was over five dollars, so I spent the money much more wisely. I went to one of the airport bars and drank two manhattans for breakfast. This jump-started my day. From then on I was highly motivated.
    I remember getting on the plane and pretending to be from England and talking with a very British accent and drinking scotch all the way back to Cincinnati. I was told that when my wife came to pick me up at the Cincinnati airport, I was crouched on a pillar by the door of the baggage pickup area roaring like a lion.
    I awoke the next day and realized that I had failed to pick up my luggage and had to return to the airport to do so.

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    Drain Tiles, Sweat and the Neighborhood Pool

    After my next door neighbor had a concrete patio built in his back yard, my back yard became the drainage path for all the water which fell on this patio. After watching my basement's window wells fill up every time it rained, I decided to place drain tiles from my back yard, around both sides of my house and into the street. I spent one whole weekend digging in the dirt and clay installing the tiles.
    When I had almost finished, another of my neighbors came over and invited me to come over and enjoy his new swimming pool with him. I took him literally ... I immediately followed him and dove into his pool in my sweat, mud and clay covered work clothes, Lil Abner shoes, and all.
    This turned out to be one of the funniest things that he had ever seen. Whenever we saw each other again he would tell that story.

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    Meet Mrs. Clemente

    The Reds were playing the Pirates in the last game of the National League Championship series and I was lucky enough to get a box seat right behind home plate. The game was very close and came down to the last inning with the score tied. Johnny Bench hit a home run which won the game and the National League pennant and the fans went wild.
    As I was celebrating and high fiving with the rest of the fans in the box seats, I noticed a very good looking young lady sitting very soberly in her seat all by herself. I went over to her and in my most exuberant manner asked her to get with it and start celebrating with us. She said that she didn't very much feel like celebrating because she was Mrs. Roberto Clemente, the wife of the Pirates all star center fielder. I gulped, and hastily excused myself with egg all over myself and quietly stole home.
    It turned out that this was the last ball game that Clemente ever played. He was killed in a plane crash that winter while delivering food to his fellow Dominican Republic citizens.

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    Out of Gas in Mass

    Every time that I went to our plant in Worcester, Mass I would get lost trying to get from the Boston airport to the Massachusetts Turnpike, ( the MASSPIKE ). I would invariably drive around downtown randomly for about twenty minutes and finally somehow end up on the MASSPIKE.
    One particular trip, the plane that I was on was delayed by thunderstorms and got into Boston quite late at night. I had been drinking more than usual on the flight and was quite tired from all the tension of the delay. But as luck would have it, after I got the rental car, I shot right from the airport through the tunnel under the Charles River and voila! appeared miraculously on the MASSPIKE.
    I was thrilled beyond belief to be headed for Worcester without any fooling around, but alas, I looked at the gas gauge on the rental car ... it registered empty. Since it was close to midnight, there were no service stations open that I could find.
    Finally after about fifteen minutes of driving, I spied a service station's light still on at an exit. As I pulled into the station, the station's light went out. I hailed the person who was closing the station and explained my dilemma. He said he was sorry, but the pumps were all shut off and he didn't want to turn them back on. I had become disoriented when I left the MASSPIKE and couldn't figure out how to get back on it. Fortunately for me, as I was driving around aimlessly in the Massachusetts dark, a police car stopped at an intersection right in front of me and I was able to persuade them to give me a police escort back to the MASSPIKE.
    At this point, I resolved that I would drive on the MASSPIKE until I ran out of gas and then sleep in the car until it became light the next day. So I drove, but not for long, because I came to a highly lit, all night gas station. I was relieved and started filling my gas tank. It took less than a gallon of gas to fill my tank. Aha, the gas gauge was broken. The tank had been full when I got the car at the airport.
    I drove this car all week never worrying about the emptiness of the gas tank. Finally on Friday I was on the MASSPIKE heading for the Boston airport and home, when the car started missing and finally stopped altogether. I was out of gas. I had to get the official MASSPIKE truck to bring me a gallon of gasoline for $5 and pay a $20 fine for running out of gas on the MASSPIKE. When I went to return the car to the rental agency, I threw they car keys as far as I could into a field of snow, checked the car in and told the rental agency manager the story of the gas gauge and that his keys were out there somewhere in the snow. He said I couldn't do that.
    I guess he meant I shouldn't, but I had.

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    A Trip to the Emergency Room

    For several weeks I had been jerking into stark, frightening awakeness every time I started to fall asleep at night. I began to drink more beer in the evenings to calm myself. I even went to the company doctor who gave me some "muscle relaxants" to solve my problem. These didn't help ... I still jerked every night. Accompanying the nightly jerking was a nervousness and constant stomach cramps.
    One fateful Saturday I decided that I needed stronger medication. I got myself a fifth of scotch and hid it in the basement. I would make frequent trips to the basement during the day to reinforce myself. This remedy seemed to be working since my hands stopped shaking so badly and my stomach knots eased somewhat.
    That evening I took my dinner with me to the basement, ostensibly to watch Lawrence Welk. I crammed my dinner down the drain since I couldn't swallow because my saliva had dried up due to the scotch. In place of my cheeseburger, french fries and baked beans I substituted scotch. I went to sleep, ( passed out ), on the couch in the basement that night and awoke to a pitch blackness at about three the next morning.
    I was certain that I had resolved my jerking problem, so up to my bed I went to continue my night's sleep. Unfortunately I had not cured myself but the alcohol in the scotch had anesthetized me. When I got into bed I commenced to jerk again. The alcohol had worn off. Terror set in. I took about three or four of the muscle relaxants. This overdose caused two new symptoms to appear - dizziness and light headedness.
    Frightened beyond belief, I awakened my wife and told her that I was going to die. She replied "just go back to bed and go to sleep". After lying paralyzed with fear for what seemed like an eternity, I heard my wife fixing breakfast for our two girls. I went out to the kitchen and tried to drink a glass of juice, but I spilled more than I drank.
    My wife promised that she would take me to the hospital for tests just as soon as she got the children off to Sunday school. She picked me up after she dropped off our girls and we headed for the hospital. She let me out at admitting and went to park the car. I sped right past the admissions desk and raced to the emergency room.
    The nurse at the emergency room desk showed me no respect when I told her that I was going to die. She asked me for my insurance card and social security number. Fortunately for me, my wife showed up from parking the car, tracked me down in the emergency room and took over answering the emergency room nurse's questions. I was told to take a seat and they would call me when a room was open. I sat mournfully in the waiting room trying to figure out how all the things that I did at home would get done when I was gone.
    They finally called me to come to the examination room. I said goodbye to my wife for the last time, and slowly made my way to the examination room. The emergency room nurse took my vital signs, gave me a sedative and left me to what I supposed was going to be my death. When she returned, I tried to give her my watch because I had no further use for it. She refused and left me to await the doctor.
    When the doctor showed up, he asked me what happened. I told him the story of the night before and he said that he would probably be here himself if he had done what I had done. He left me and about ten minutes later, the nurse returned and told me that I could go home.
    I stared at her in disbelief ... go home? I thought that I was going to die. No, my wife had a prescription for some librium and I was to stop on the way home, get the librium and that was that. I went out to the waiting room where my wife was waiting. She had moved the car to the emergency room door. I got into the car, she drove to the pharmacy where she picked up the librium, and drove home.
    I took the first dose of librium and by noon that day I was sitting at my kitchen table eating a bologna sandwich; sipping soup; and drinking a can of beer.

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    Lunch with Lou

    If you didn't figure out from the last story that I had a drinking problem, you just weren't paying attention. My doctor finally figured out that I drank too much when I reported to him that I was jerking at night once again. He recommended that I stop drinking and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
    One of the steps recommended by AA is to make amends to persons that you have harmed. When I got to that step, the first person that I chose to make amends to was my former boss, Lou Cook. I mustered all the courage that I could and invited Lou to lunch, explaining over the phone the reason for my wanting to meet with him.
    We met for lunch and I explained that I was sorry for all the grief that I had caused him over the years that I had worked for him. He replied that I hadn't caused him the grief that I had imagined, but instead felt that I had merely been a conscientious, hard working engineer who sometimes disagreed with him, but certainly not an adversary.
    After completing our lunch, Lou wanted to hear more about this program that I was in, because it turned out that he himself had a drinking problem and that he had set himself on fire while in a drunken state at home. Subsequent to this lunch meeting, Lou started going to AA meetings. Several years later he died a sober man.
    I have since had love shown to me on many occasions by his widow.

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    Money for College

    Three weeks before my older daughter, Jo, was to report to Clemson University for her freshman year, I realized that I had to come up with her first year's tuition before she could enroll there. Where was I going to get this kind of money? Our savings account contained only enough money to meet our property tax each time it was due, but definitely not flush enough to put a daughter through four years of college.
    "What did other people do in this predicament?", I asked myself. I found out that they:
    1) saved for just such an emergency
    2) invested for the future, or
    3) borrowed money
    It was too late for 1 & 2, so off to the bank I went to learn about borrowing money. Fortunately for me, there was something called a home equity loan, whereby one could borrow money against the equity that he had in his home. Since my home was completely paid for, I was able to borrow up to 85% of the market value of my home.
    Phew, that was close, I was able to obtain the loan in time and saw that the first tuition installment was received by Clemson before Jo had to register.

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    A Not So Lofty Weekend at Clemson

    At the end of Jo's freshman year at Clemson, she purchased a loft for her dorm room. This loft consisted of eight or ten different pieces of lumber which had been cut to form a structure when assembled which would allow a bunk-type bed to be suspended off the floor, thus leaving much needed space underneath for a study desk and other necessary furniture. This loft was disassembled and stored in a locker during Jo's first summer break.
    I drove Jo to school for her sophomore year and went to the locker and picked up her loft. Upon starting to assemble this Chinese puzzle in her dorm room on Sunday afternoon, I realized that I hadn't a clue as to which piece went where. After a hot and frustrating three hours with much anger and friction between my daughter and me, I finally got the *&^%$#&^%* assembled and left in a huff.
    The long drive back was an agonizing one because I was very sorry that I had been so nasty and disagreeable with my daughter. When I finally got home that night, I called her and apologized to her and said that I didn't know what was the matter with me - I really didn't know what was the matter with me for acting like that.
    Fortunately for me, my friend Al had invited me to go to the Reds-Cubs game the next night. When I related my obnoxious actions of the previous day to him, he said that my problem was that I was normal ... that what I had experienced had been separation anxiety, and was natures way of having a person's dealing with leaving a loved one by causing him to get mad at that person so you don't miss them as much.
    What a lesson. I will always remember this.

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    Bad Timing in Knoxville

    For some reason my higher power decided that I needed some "quality time" with Jo, so as we were returning from Clemson for Jo's summer break, my car's timing belt broke just outside Knoxville, Tennessee. After standing in the median strip of I-75 for about an hour, a passing tow truck finally saw us and towed us back to a service station outside Knoxville.
    Since it was Sunday evening, and there was no place where we could get a mechanic to look at it, we registered at a motel; walked to dinner; and played gin all night.
    The next morning we scheduled an appointment at the local car dealer; hired a cab; and met our disabled car at the service station where we followed the tow truck with car in tow to the dealer. After a few hours, we were on our way and arrived home without any further incidents.
    From that time on, Jo and I have maintained that there is no reason to observe the speed limit in Tennessee, since there are obviously no police patrolling their interstate system. We arrived at this conclusion because for the entire time we were disabled that evening we didn't see one Tennessee police car.

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    Snow and the Front Facia Board

    One very cold, snowy night in December, I was awakened by sharp cracking sounds outside our bedroom window. Upon investigation, I determined that the source of the noise was tree limbs breaking under the load of the recent ice/snow storm.
    I was fascinated by the beautiful, yet eerie, sight of the snow on the trees outside. I was so overcome that I got dressed and went outside to investigate further.
    The trees on our street were bent over forming an archway all the way down our street. I got in my car and drove around the area to admire the phenomenal ice show. After an hour or so of sight seeing, I returned home. The driveway was too icy to allow me to park the car where it had been when I started my tour, so I parked it on the street and went back in to bed.
    Fearing that the tree which was hanging over our bedroom might crack and fall through our roof onto our bed, I chose to sleep on the couch in the living room. As I was walking from our bedroom to the living room, I heard a deafening crash. I looked out the window and saw that one of the large branches on the aforementioned tree had cracked and fallen to the driveway taking with it the telephone wire and the facia board on the roof.
    The branch now lay with its largest part in the same position that my car had occupied some hour or so ago. The trunk of the branch was impaled in the ground. Close call, eh!

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    Gethsemane

    Many of my close friends extolled the virtues of a retreat at a place called Gethsemane in Kentucky. They would suggest that I join them every time that they were to go there for a weekend. But I would decline the invitation until it became embarrassing to do so... so I gave in and accompanied them one autumn day.
    You wouldn't believe how uplifting that visit was!
    I promised myself that I would return alone as soon as possible.
    I kept my promise and returned on a cold January weekend. I performed my Fifth Step with one of the monks; took extended walks around their grounds; attended many of their church services; and, most amazingly of all, called Martha to tell her that "There is a God." Remarkably, she told me that she already knew that.

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    Edisto Island

    Many people have said, "Never take a vacation with anyone but your family!". What could that possibly mean?
    I have four very good friends who asked me to join them when they went to Edisto Island, South Carolina. One of these friends had spent a week the previous year at this vacation spot and praised it highly for its serenity.
    We left in two cars on a Friday night. I should have guessed something unpleasant was going to come from this because we had to stop at every rest stop between Cincinnati and Edisto. When we finally arrived at our vacation haven, there was a mix-up and we had to track down the realtor with the key to our bungalow.
    We were several blocks from the beach which allowed for not only a long, hot walk to the beach, but a roasty, toasty time when we were outside the bungalow.
    As the week drew on, we became more bored with the same-old-same-old. The last evening that we were there, we went to the market and upon returning, one of the party became so upset that he made up his mind to not speak to me for the rest of the trip. This made for a tense atmosphere which pervaded for the entire return trip home.
    Fortunately for me, one of the other members of the party drove back and we were spared the agony of stopping at every crossroads on the way back home.
    As luck would have it, when I got home my sewer was backed up. Who do you suppose I had to call to get some help with the sewer ... you guessed it ... the same person who was so mad at me in Edisto that he wouldn't talk to me.

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    Flu and the Stones

    I had a brilliant idea one year. I was going to become an usher for the Reds, Bengals, etc. So I joined the Cincinnati chapter of the ushers' union.
    Being such a new member of the union, I was not offered any popular ushering jobs. After attending union meetings for about six months, I was called on to usher the Rolling Stones' tour performance at Riverfront Stadium. This entailed arriving at the stadium two hours before the concert began.
    To accomplish this, I went straight from work and parked on the public landing. I ate downtown and rushed to the stadium where I received instructions with the other ushers and security personnel.
    I was assigned a gate which was there to keep people without appropriate tickets from getting onto the infield section of the stadium. I had to stand at this post from about seven o'clock until the concert was over about eleven o'clock.
    Not only was it hot, but it rained. Not only was the music loud, but it was deafening. I had ringing in my ears for a week following the concert. But the kicker of the whole affair was that I awoke the next morning with the flu and had to stay home from work for two days.
    I ultimately quit the union because I never got another job after that and had spent more money on union dues than I had made in my one ushering job.

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    Stay Off Cross County

    I awaked in the morning after a late Mexican dinner at Hubbard's Super Bowl party the night before with a sickness in my stomach. I thought, ' if I get out of bed, I'm going to be sick ' ... but I got up anyway, got dressed and fetched the paper.
    I called my daughter outside to see the weird effect that the ice crystals in the air had given to the morning light. Everything was covered with a thin layer of ice.
    After drinking my breakfast coffee, I attempted to get into my car only to find it frozen shut. I used my old time-tested method of thawing with the hair dryer and proceeded to work.
    The last thing I knew that day, I was passing under the Ridge Road overpass on the Cross County highway. The next thing that I knew I was viewing a scene from the ceiling in the corner of a room which appeared to be in a hospital setting. What I saw was several people bent over a figure lying on what appeared to be a bed. I invoked my superviewer and zoomed in on the scene. As I zoomed closer, I was able to identify the people bending over the person on the bed as medical personnel dressed in white. I then realized that the person on the bed was me. The people who were bent over me were working frantically on me and I was strapped onto a stretcher or examination table. With this realization I drifted back into sleep.
    Some time later I woke up again to find myself in a bed. I figured that I must be in my bed at home and had just had a bad dream ... but on the wall at the foot of my bed were two pictures which I didn't remember having hanging on my wall in my bedroom. Oh well, back to sleep to dream again.
    The next time that I woke up the unfamiliar pictures were still hanging on the wall at the foot of my bed.
    Oh, oh, it dawned on me that I must not be in my bed at home but something terrible must have happened to me and I was in a hospital bed somewhere!

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    Out-Out Damn Tube!

    Unfortunately, I had damaged my face so badly in the accident which hospitalized me that I had to have a tracheotomy, which meant I had a tube down my throat for breathing purposes. Every now and then, a nurse would come into my room and suck the mucous out of this tube. This was a painfully uncomfortable procedure and I dreaded this process.
    During the night on the eve of one of my operations to fix my face I had a strange dream. In this dream, I was in college where our senior class had developed some kind of electronic breakthrough on which we had gotten a patent and we were going into the business of marketing these gizmos.
    In celebration of the introduction of this electronic wizardry onto the market, I felt justified in removing the tube from my throat. So in the early morning hours, I awoke from this fanciful dream and pulled the tube from my throat. Needless to say, when the nurse on duty came to check on me and found the tube on the bed he was quite upset.
    Fortunately for me, the operation the next day relieved the necessity for this tube and I was partially forgiven.

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    Too Much Robin Cook

    The night before I was so ungratiously admitted into the hospital I had been reading one of Robin Cook's novels. Naturally I suspected every unusual situation which occurred around me during my stay. Being confined to my bed, I had to use the bedpan which was always being placed too far away from my bed for me to reach it. Every time that I had to use the bedpan I had to call the desk for help. This practice became quite critical to me because I had not gotten assistance once and had made one of the nurses change my bedclothes which caused her great consternation.
    One evening I required assistance and was told by the attendant at the desk that someone would be right there. By this time I had started to keep a written log of the goings-on around me. I entered the time that I had asked for help in this log and fifteen minutes later I rang for help again and listed that time. About one hour after I had originally rang for help, a nurse arrived and informed me that the regular night nurse who was on duty had been involved in an accident and had to be taken to the emergency room for stitches to be taken. She had been run into by a gurney which was being pushed in the hallway. After this substitute nurse left, I recorded this information on my log pad so that I could recall it in detail later.
    The next morning, I asked the nurse to retrieve the log pad for me and guess what ... the log pad was nowhere to be found in the whole room. The next evening the original night nurse showed up at her regular time. I asked her how she was doing and she didn't understand what I was talking about. Nothing had happened to her. She had not gotten run into. She had no stiches. Did I dream this? Where was my log pad? What the heck?
    The lesson to be learned here is that one doesn't ever want to read a Robin Cook novel before being admitted into a hospital!

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    Buying Ginger

    One night a party had been scheduled in my hospital room for a small group of my friends to celebrate my tenth AA anniversary. Before the party started, Martha and Jo came to visit me. We talked for a while and then they said that they had to leave.
    Poor Tom ... here he was confined to a hospital bed with nothing to do and his wife and daughter were rushing off and leaving him with over an hour to kill before his friends would show up ... boo hoo!.
    When I expressed by disappointment with being left alone, Jo asked Martha if she could tell me what was going on. They huddled in the corner and had a whispered conversation. Then Jo and Martha returned to my bedside and, with one on each side of me with their arms around my neck, they informed me that they had planned to surprise me.
    They had arranged to purchase me a dog to replace Daisey who had been our dog for fifteen years but had died some time ago. When I heard this I felt ashamed that I had been so selfish.
    Jo called me later that night when they got home with our new dog, Ginger, and Jo and I cried together over the phone.

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    Almost Keeneland with Hubbard

    My friend, Dave Hubbard, served as my personal valet and chauffeur during my recuperation period at home. We would take motor trips to airshows, shopping, golf tournaments, dinner and other fun trips.
    He had never been to the Keeneland racetrack in Lexington, Kentucky so we decided that we would take a trip to the races and spend the day betting on the ponies. When we got close to Keeneland, we noticed that there wasn't very much traffic and became suspicious. When we arrived at the track, we realized why the traffic was so light ... Keeneland didn't run on Tuesday.
    As long as we were in Kentucky we might as well enjoy the state. After a nice lunch at an outside cafe under sunny skies, we decided to go see Shakertown. We toured Shakertown and agreed to head for home.
    Instead of using the interstate highway to get home, we took the old route through the countryside. After the leisurely drive home and a meal at a Mexican restaurant on the way, Dave and I agreed that this was one of the nicest days that we had ever spent, and our enjoyment had been the result of what might have been a disappointing day.

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    Joe Bianco's Death/My Visit to Helen

    Our family had just spent a relaxing week vacationing at the beach and had stopped on the way home to spend the night with my son, Jim, and his family in Tennessee. We were awakened by the phone early the next morning. Joe Bianco, the brother of Jim's wife Anne, had been in a serious auto accident and was in critical condition in a hospital in California.
    Later that morning we left and returned home. Jim called us later that week to tell us that Anne had flown to California to meet with her parents and see Joe. During this conversation with Jim, he lamented "Anne had been wanting to go see Joe for the last year or so, but didn't have the time or money to do it. Wasn't it sad that we don't have time or money to show our love for our friends and family until it is an emergency."
    This conversation caused a bomb to go off in my head. I had been putting off a visit to my sister, Helen, in New York for ten or twenty years because I didn't have the time or money. After I hung up from talking with Jim, I called Helen. Her husband answered and told me that she was in the hospital. Fortunately, it wasn't anything serious, just back spasms, but it sure startled me when I heard that.
    I arranged to visit them and drove there where I spent a week at their house and renewed our family ties.

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    Schreck, Hubbard and Cutco

    On my way to visit Helen, I stopped in Olean, New York. I had informed Dave Hubbard that I was going to stop in Olean to see Jim Schreckengost, the best man in our wedding. Dave said that while I was there that I should visit the Cutco Company and give his father's greetings to the president of Cutco, who Dave's father had tutored on how to run a business. When I arrived in Olean, I went to Cutco and asked to see the president. He wasn't there, but his secretary came to see what I wanted. I was fairly embarrased that I was bothering to tell someone's secretary that my friend's father said "Hi!".
    After passing this message on to the secretary, I told her that I was in Olean to see Jim Schreckengost. She said that she had worked with Jim at her last job and knew him well. I hastily took leave and breathed a sigh of relief that I was done with this embarrasing chore.
    I showed up at Jim's house later that evening and as we were eating dinner, the phone rang. It was the secretary. She had been in contact with her boss and he was delighted to hear that Dave's dad had delivered greetings to him and wanted to know how to get in touch with Dave's dad. I gave the secretary Dave's phone number and thought no more of it.
    When I returned home after my trip to my sister's, Dave called me at work and said, "You made my dad the happiest person in the world. The president called him and they talked at great length about old times. My dad called me and was the happiest and most lucid I have heard him in a long time."
    Let that be a lesson to me. It should never stop me from doing something nice for someone no matter how stupid or embarrasing it seems at the time.

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    Sue's Graduation and the Shoulder Tap

    My daughter, Sue, was to graduate from Ohio University in June of 1991. While I was in the hospital, I had spent many nights talking with my Higher Power. During these chats I had asked Him why He had seen fit to allow me to live. He said "I have a purpose for you and you will know when the time comes." Sue and I decided that I had been spared to allow me to see her graduate. The day of her graduation we sat in the last row in the convocation center ... as close to heaven as we could get. As Sue's class was announced, and I saw her receive her diploma, I felt a tap on my shoulder and a feeling came over me that this was the time.
    Since that instance I have realized that I was meant to be here for more than just that one occasion. Many times I have felt that tap on my shoulder and goose bumps appear.
    As a matter of fact, they appeared as I was editing this story.

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    George and the Shoulder Tap

    Sue asked me to find her a kitten to adopt. I tried all the logical places, newspapers, SPCA, friends, to no avail. Finally, after days of searching, I found an adoption agency in Silverton who had Romeo pending adoption.
    I visited the agency and was informed that Romeo was being taken care of by a family in Pleasant Ridge. This family informed me that they were waiting for Romeo to mature before giving him up. So we waited.
    A week or two later, I received a call that Romeo was aged enough to go to a new home and I arranged to meet my daughter at Romeo's to adopt him. Sue showed up with afriend and the adoption ceremonies were performed.
    As we parted and I was getting in my car to drive home, I got a tap on the shoulder informing me of another reason. I hastily pursued Sue where I overtook her in the parking lot where they had stopped to get Romeo some food. I related the shoulder tap to Sue and we hugged and teary-eyed together.
    Afterwards, Romeo was renamed George in honor of Curious George.

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    Where's George?

    While we're on the subject of George, he needed to go to the vets, so I volunteered to take him. I had arranged to finish the building of a computer desk for Sue at her apartment, and when I was finished, take George to his appointment at the vet. George had become an expert at hiding in his apartment, but I was aware of all of his hiding places ( that's what I thought ).
    After finishing the desk, I began looking for George. I looked in all his favorite spaces... but no George. I panicked. Did he sneak out while I had gone to get some tools earlier? After over an hour of searching for him, I called Sue and told her that I couldn't find him. She said that he porbably was hiding in the stereo, his newest, best hiding place, and if I couldn't get him to come out, just cancel the appointment.
    Reluctantly and sheepishly I called the vet and informed them of my plight. I was assured that this wasn't an unusual situation and when I found him to call and reschedule his appointment.
    I never did find him, but Sue got him to come out when she came home. She arranged to take him to the vet herself.

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    Don't Cry for Me, Cooper Judy

    Ever since I was four years old, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has been my vacation spot. What made it special for the last several years was that a friend of mine from Cincinnati, Cooper Judy, had moved to there. He, his wife, and dog lived on a golf course just miles from the condo that we rented every summer. I looked forward every year to linking, (no pun intended), up with him and his wife for dinner, golf, and just good old fashioned bumming around together.
    He had purchased a boat and one year Sue and I joined him for a cruise on the intercoastal waterway to Georgetown for lunch. What a pleasant trip! Later, he had traded for a larger boat which he kept north of where we stayed and we would rendezvous on this boat and spend many happy hours together.
    Cooper passed away in his sleep several years ago and I haven't returned to Myrtle Beach since. It just wouldn't be the same.
    I didn't realize how much I missed Cooper until one Sunday afternoon my pal, Al, and I went to the art museum. As we were viewing the paintings, I was attracted to one depicting a harbor with boats tied up at the pier. This painting brought back all the good times that I had spent with Cooper and I began to sob uncontrollably. How embarrasing!
    Just as Al had consoled me in A Not So Lofty Weekend at Clemson, he pointed out that my emotional outburst caused by viewing this painting was my way of grieving for my friend, Cooper.

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    Becca's Fish

    It all began one bright, sunny early-fall morning when I picked up my five year old granddaughter, Becca, at school. As I was driving her to my home, I asked her what she would like to do until her mother joined us later that afternoon. She replied that we could go to Johnny's Toys and buy a butterfly net that we could use to catch some fish at the Billy Goat Gruff Bridge. (For those of you who aren't familiar with the Billy Goat Gruff Bridge, this is a bridge over a creek in Winton Woods that her mother, and her mother's sister had explored with me when they were growing up.)
    When we arrived at the Billy Goat Gruff Bridge, Becca was successful in netting three tiny fish from the stream running under the bridge. I asked her how we were going to get the fish home and she replied, "Use one of your Margaret poop bags.". (Margaret poop bags are plastic bags that I carry with me to clean up after my daughter's dog when I walk her). We transferred the fish from Becca's butterfly net into one of the bags that we had filled with stream water and Becca held them on her lap as we transported them home.
    Upon arriving home, I was instructed by Becca to fill a scrub bucket with water into which she placed her prize catch. They looked so small in the large bucket and I suggested that we get them a small fishbowl at the local pet store. Up to the store we went, picked out a fishbowl and fish food. As we were leaving the store; hand-in-hand; bright sunshine in a clear blue sky; Becca exclaimed, "I just love my life! I just love my life! I just love my life! I just love my life!". It doesn't get any better than that!!!!
    Back home, we transferred the fish from the bucket to the fishbowl. We then waited for Becca's mother and grandmother to show them Becca's new pets. When they arrived, they were impressed, but "gramma" insisted that they be returned to their home in the stream. Not wanting to dampen Becca's enthusiasm, I said I would take care of them.
    The next day, I phoned Becca to ask her if it was all right to take her fish back to their home in the stream. She said, "Yes, they would be happier there.". So, back to the Billy Goat Gruff Bridge, and back home for the fish. Where they lived happily everafter.

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    The End