A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Halloween Memories (from Tossing It Out)

The following post originally appeared at Tossing It Out on October 29th, 2009...

Halloween Memories

Jack-o-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
        Halloween undoubtedly evokes many different memories for different people. Some of you may have special memories from your own childhood or perhaps memories from when your own children celebrated Halloween. Maybe there is a special person or place that you will think of when you think of Halloween. Today I'm going to share some of my memories.

        The most recent memories certainly have to do with my previous job managing a warehouse for a Halloween wholesale distributor that this year closed the regional operation where I was located. Having been there for nearly 20 years, it felt like home to me. When my daughters were young, I would pick them up from school and sometimes bring them to the warehouse. Once they had finished their homework I would let them pull orders. It was like a game to them and they enjoyed it. But it was also training. When they were in high school they all were on the payroll at one time or another and were my most valuable employees. I enjoyed working with my daughters.

        Later, after my daughters moved away, the company started downsizing partly due to heightened efficiency but also due to diminished business at our location. But we were still busy at Halloween. Often leaving the house well before sunrise, I would stop by a 24 hour donut shop for some pastries and a large coffee and go to my office to prepare things for when the employees would arrive. I particularly liked that peaceful time of solitude, having my coffee and donuts and organizing the orders. When I finished the prep work, then I would usually go back into the frigid warehouse and pull several orders to get the packers started when they arrived. Alone in a big empty warehouse for me is a special time for thought and introspection.

        In the last few days before Halloween, work would slow down for the distributers like us. This is when the retail stores kick into high gear. We would have special orders to be shipped by air-- 3 day, 2 day, and then next day. We might have a few local last minute pick ups. But mostly it was time to wind down, reorganize the warehouse, and come to work later and go home at the regular time. When Halloween came it was like a holiday for us. I'd treat my employees to a pizza party and Halloween goodies and let everyone leave early. Then I would leave early so I could get ready for the trick-or-treaters.

      One memorable Halloween was in 1979. My wife, two year old son and I were touring with a stage production at the time. On tour with us was one of my good friends, his wife and their daughter who was about to turn three. We were not performing that night -- Halloween was typically not a good night for the show--and travelling a goodly distance that day from someplace in Texas to Lafayette, LA. As it started to get dark we decided to pull into the next town we came to along I-10 and take the kids trick-or-treating. The town was a quaint place called Jennings, LA. We stopped in the parking lot of a small shopping center and dressed the kids in makeshift costumes. We then drove to a fine neighborhood of older stately homes. We took our children door to door to give them their first experience with trick-or-treat. I don't think they really understood what was going on, but it didn't take long for them to get caught up in the spirit of the event. After we had completed our round of the street where we had stopped, we got back into the van and continued on to Lafayette to our motel. I'm sure that neither of our kids remember that night, but for me it was kind of special to drop into a place where I had never been before and feel like we were part of the community just as though we were back home.

       And home is what I really think of when I think of Halloween now. Aside from the years when I was on the road at Halloween, most Halloween nights I have been at home. In the parts of the U.S. where the air has started turning cooler and night comes sooner, Halloween has a special feel that means another year is drawing closer to an end. The autumn palette of changing leaves, big orange pumpkins ready for carving, and the smell of wood fires and leaves burning evokes a certain sadness that will soon be replaced by the warmth and excitement of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Halloween, like all of the holidays, has lost much of the old fashioned simplicity and has become industrial, has become big business. It may be good for the economic climate so far as business goes, but not so much for the economy of the heart and soul. Sometimes it seems as we become more wealthy in what we own, we become poorer in who we are.

       Make the best of what you have. And have a good time.

       What are you going to do this Halloween? What are you going to be?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Yard Work I Never Had to Do

         It's time for the leaves to change though here in California you wouldn't notice much.

English: Roller at Cockington A lawn roller le...
 Roller at Cockington A lawn roller leans against an oak tree at the side of 49773. Keywords: Cockington Court, autumn leaves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        In my lifetime I've put many a mile behind me while pushing a lawnmower.  We had a huge lawn when we lived in Tennessee and since I was a teenager when we moved there, the job of mowing that lawn fell upon me.   After I moved away from home my parents bought a riding lawnmower, but I guess they figured that since I was young and healthy I would be just fine pushing a lawnmower for a few hours on a hot summer day.   That story changed when they didn't have me to push the mower.  I'm not sure why my younger brothers didn't have to push a mower, but apparently my father ended up mowing much of the time and that was enough to inspire him to buy a riding mower.

          One job that I never had to do was rake leaves.  There weren't any leaves back then in the late sixties and early seventies when I was living there.  In the years after I moved away the trees in the yard grew bigger.  Hence in fall there were leaves on the ground and somebody must have had to rake them up.   Since I've rarely been in Tennessee during the fall since I left my parents' house, I haven't seen much in the way of fallen leaves.

            That is until late fall of 2014 after my mother died.   I stayed at my mother's house for a while in order to help get affairs settled.  As a matter of fact I was there nearly a month in November and December.  Since the young man who cut grass during the summer when the grass was growing didn't come during the winter, someone need to rake up the leaves that had accumulated in the yard. There was a leaf blower at the house, but I couldn't get it to work.  So I found a rake and began raking.  In that large yard raking was a formidable task.

             I raked once while I was there and because it was so late in fall and there were no more leaves in the trees to fall onto the ground, that was the one and only time I had to rake.  Raking was easier than pushing the mower on a hot day.  Still I'm glad that I didn't have to do any raking back then.  I would have done it if I had been given the chore, but thankfully the chore didn't exist when I lived there.

            Let's face it--I'm not a fan of yard work.  Even now I have somebody come over to cut my lawn where I live now.  Not that it's a big job--our lawn is about the same size as our living room and that's not especially big.  Our lawn guy has a blower and all the other lawn care tools to keep a well-manicured lawn for us.   I don't need to buy tools or exert any effort.   A few bucks twice a month is worth it to me.

            Mowing the lawn when I lived with my parents was fine.  It not only didn't kill me, it was also good exercise and a time to escape into my own mind while I walked in circles for a few hours.  Mowing was my job after all.   Raking leaves was the yard work I never had to do.

            What kinds of household chores did you have to do when you were younger?  Do you currently have a yard that you keep up yourself?     Have you ever jumped into a pile of leaves?


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Of Footballs and Falling Leaves

Front of a yellow school bus.
Front of a yellow school bus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        After summer is abruptly interrupted by the start of another school year, an almost imperceptible change occurs as students go to classes and daylight hours grow too short for lingering outside.   Besides, there is homework to be done and the new television season to sample.  Tree leaves turn from green to a myriad splash of yellows, reds, oranges, and eventually, brown.  Another summer gone as fall signals the end of another year.

         But first comes football season.   As in small towns all across America, Everett High School in Maryville, Tennessee is all about football.   The cheerleaders lead the student body in pep rallies during home room period.  It's all about the game on Friday night for most of the students.  Well, except for the non-sports-minded students like me.  I never got into football or any sports for that matter.  It just wasn't my thing.

          My sister thought that I should go to the games and become more involved.  Maybe find a girlfriend.  I would have liked that too, but going to the football game didn't seem like the way that I would have wanted to do it.

          When we hear that there is an away game scheduled in Cleveland, Tennessee some 80 miles away, I figure maybe this would be a time to go to a game.  I've got a friend living in Cleveland whom I can meet up with.  I call to make arrangements to meet up with him.  He's glad to hear this and so am I.  Secretly I'm hoping to see a girl who I had met over the summer when I stayed in Cleveland for a couple of weeks with my friend.

           On the Friday of the game, my sister and I are dropped off at the school by my mother in order to join the others who will be taking the bus ride to Cleveland.   It's one of the yellow school buses that take students to and from school every day.  Now a caravan of yellow buses will be taking a small army of Everett High students to the rival team's field.

          There's not much I can remember about the night other than I met up with my friend.  There was a crispness in the air with a faint smell of burning leaves wafting about.  An enticing aroma of popcorn and hot dogs emanated from  the refreshment stand.  We get snacks and hang out around the bleachers.  I hardly watch the game and neither does my friend since like me he doesn't seem to be much into football.  Maybe that's why we feel a kinship.  After the game we said our good-byes and parted ways.

        It's a lonely bus ride home.  I don't really have any friends who have gone to the game.  I sit by the window gazing out at the darkened landscape passing by.  I didn't see the girl I had hoped I would see at the game.  And truth be told I hadn't really expected to see her.  She probably had no idea that she'd even met me back in the summer.

        My mind starts wandering as I wish I had a girl to sit with on the bus ride home.  As I often do when I'm lost in my own thoughts, I begin composing a song in my head and my imaginary voice begins to sing,  "It's so lonely in the back of the bus."  That's the only line in the song for now but I sing it over and over in my head.  Not a bad song I think to myself.

          I don't remember much more about that night except that song which I can still sing those repeated lines, "It's so lonely in the back of the bus...It's so lonely in the back of the bus."  In fact that's the only football game I remember going to.  Never a home game.  No more football games after that.

         Did you go to the sporting events at your school?   Did you ever ride the bus to the away games?    What is your favorite fall high school memory?