i A Time and a Place...: February 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

Another Great Day...

Today (Friday) was another great day! Donna, Mi Espousa, (a little Mex lingo here) and I entertained the old folks (some of them are older than are we)at the Frontier Hall in Anderson. The Frontier Hall is the Senior Citizen Nutrition Center and Activity Hall. We set up our equipment on the floor in the dining area. But there is a gap between our equipment table and the diners' tables so it works out fine.

We did a few of our 'regular' songs, such as, "When I Fall In Love," "Amarillo By Morning," "I Just Fall in Love Again," and others,ones we know are the favorites of some of the regulars. We, also, added a few new songs, ones we just learned within the last week. Donna did, "Singing In the Rain," a great song recorded by Gene Kelly from a movie of the same name.

A new one I did was a wonderful song, written and recorded by both Roy Orbison and Bill Dees, called, "Sleepy Hollow." It Starts: "There's a place I call Sleepy Hollow
Where I go when you're not around.
There's a brook running clear through the meadow;
I lose my blues in it's sound..."

I have had the recording of this song sung by Roy Orbison for years but I never heard Bill Dees sing it. He does a great job.If I can figure out how to do it, I'll put his version on my blog for you to hear. (Any suggestions on 'How To' anyone?)

I'll finish this later but now I have decided to go to the creek. See ya!


Monday, February 25, 2008

Post Script To My Last Post...

While I worked for my brother-in-law in Odessa, I was paid a dollar and ten cents an hour with time and a half for over forty hours a week. Our regular work days were ten hours a day, Monday through Friday and half a day on Saturday. We were paid for the time it took to get to wherever we had to go each day but came back on our own time.

My pay came to about sixty eight bucks and change a week. Take home after taxes was between sixty one and sixty three bucks. It was the most money I had ever had at one time. I thought I was "shittin' in tall cotton," as the saying goes. I gave my sister about twenty bucks a week for my keep.

With the second check, I bought a wrist watch from Zales Jewelers for 37 dollars and ninety five cents! It was the first wrist watch I ever had. It was an Avalon and sort of clover shaped with green facing. I remember that because, at that time I was going through an Irish heritage pride period; hence, the shamrock watch. I don't remember what ever happened to that watch but I was sure proud of it!

Thank God for whichever Angel He sent to watch over me and get me to where I am now!


Friday, February 22, 2008

The End of My Trip To Odessa...

Well, (I say that a lot)I guess I may as well finish my trip to Odessa, Texas. A couple of folks say they are curious about the rest of the trip so here goes!

"...When I got to the T&P yard, it was late evening and the train was about through making up. It was a long one, probably 130 or more cars. It is almost three hundred miles from El Paso to Odessa and I knew it would be an all night trip. And I knew it would be cold.

The train had four engines pulling it, two facing forwards and two facing backwards. That put the last engine with the door right at the first boxcar. There was no light showing in the back cab so, when the train started pulling out, I climbed aboard the last cab.

Inside were a lot of gauges I didn’t recognize so I didn’t touch anything. The seat looked like a captain’s seat so I sat in it. It was big and comfortable and I quickly fell asleep...'oops'

In a couple of hours, I felt myself being roughly shaken. I awoke abruptly and saw a big man glaring down at me. He asked me what the hell I was doing in this cab and I said I was sleeping. I was thoroughly scared and didn’t know what to expect. I assured him that I hadn’t touched anything. He told me that if I were discovered here the entire crew would be fired. I said I was sorry. He said that wasn’t enough and that I would have to get off the train. I asked him when it would be stopping and he said not until it got to Odessa.

Then he told me I would have to jump off the train while it was moving. I said I didn’t think I could and he assured me that I would indeed jump, and right now. I was scared half to death and it was pretty obvious to him that I was. He said that if I would do exactly as he would tell me, I would be all right.

The train was climbing a long uphill grade just west of Sierra Blanca and was going only about twenty miles an hour. He told me to climb down the ladder of the cab and let myself down toward the ground until my feet just touched the ground. Then start running as fast as I could without letting go of the ladder. When I was actually running and was sure I had my balance, I would let go of the ladder and, as soon as I dropped, reach up and grab with both hands and I would catch the ladder on the front of the first boxcar. Then I could pull myself up and ride on top of the train the rest of the way.
I stopped being petrified as soon as my feet touched the ground. Then I let go and grabbed. Everything happened just the way the engineer said it would. When I got to the top of the boxcar, I lay down on my stomach with my arms wrapped around the walkway under me in the warm exhaust of the diesel engine and slept until we were about five miles from Odessa.

It was just breaking daylight when I got off of the train and started walking toward my sister’s house on West Ada Street. When I was within sight of her house, I saw her waiting for me with a big smile on her face. She said it was about time I got here and gave me a healthy hug.

We went inside and Shike (Her name is Eva but we all called her Shike, short for Shi-poke because she dawdled so much while walking when she was little)told me to wash my hands and face and she would cook some breakfast for me. I did and she did. She kept cooking as long as I wanted to eat. I know I must have eaten six or eight eggs, a half-pound of bacon, a half loaf of bread and a quart of milk. Then she had me take off my dirty clothes and she washed them while I took a bath.

Her husband, Joe, had already gone to work when I got there but I saw him that night. He was a roustabout crew-pusher for an oilfield service company. It was the B&B Construction Company and he serviced oil wells and tank batteries for Phillips Petroleum.

Joe knew everything about hooking up tank batteries;i.e., tanks, heater-treaters, separators, pump jacks, christmas trees (a cluster of valves to route oil from the wells to tanks and wherever was needed) and laying pipelines, digging ditches and maintaining the area around tank batteries.

He and his crew of three men drove a rig-up truck (a winch truck with a rolling tailgate and a set of gin poles on it and tool boxes on the sides) They did anything that needed to be done at oilfield sites.

Joe was a good-natured man and we talked that night. He smoked Lucky Strike cigarettes and bought a pack for me. He had a terrible temper but didn’t lose it often.

I went to sleep early that night and was really getting my sleep caught up when I felt someone shake me awake. Bleary-eyed, I looked up into the face of my sister, Shike, who was standing there with a hard hat in her hand. It was still dark and I asked her what was going on. She said it was time for me to go to work and she handed me the hard hat.
She said Joe needed another man and had hired me. Off hand, I didn’t remember applying for a job with him. Eva said I could stay there as long as I wanted to but I had to work. So I got up, got dressed, ate and went to work. The first oil field order from the foreman to his brand new hand was, "Jamsie, grab a shovel!" I would hear it many more times until I would learn enough to handle the other tools of the trade!"

That's the end of my first trip on the freights from Modesto, California to Odessa, Texas. I hope you enjoyed it. One of these days I'll go back to Jim's Journal and write some more.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Texas and Pacific Railroad..The next part...

Again I've been reading my Journal and, having gotten a couple of nice comments on the last post, I have decided to post another part of my life story, then maybe one more. That would get me to Odessa, Texas. Enjoy.

"...I don’t remember much about the rest of the trip until I got to El Paso, Texas. When I pulled into El Paso, it was in the mid-morning and I was hungry and I remember I had been cold the night before.

I got off the train at the edge of the train yard and began walking through town. After I had walked a ways, I met a man who looked to be around 40 years old. He was a tall, skinny man and was wearing a long, horsehair army surplus coat that hung way down on his legs. He asked me where I was coming from and I told him. Then he asked me how old I was and I told him that, too. (Almost everyone I met asked me how old I was)Then I told him I was headed for Odessa to see my Dad.

He said he was going to get something to eat and asked me if I was hungry. I told him I was. He asked me if I had any money and I said I had a little change. He said if I would give it to him, he would get us something to eat so I gave it to him. He told me to wait there and he would be back.

In an hour or so he returned with a grin on his face. I think I gave him 30 or 40 cents, all I had left from scraping the paint from the windows of a house that had been painted in a little job I did in Colton. He said,” Let’s eat!” and walked over to a trestle piling and sat down.

I followed him, wondering how he could have enough food for the both of us. He had a paper bag with a loaf of bread in it. It didn’t look like much, then he opened his coat and took out a package of lunch-meat, several candy bars and a small carton of milk. He chuckled and said his big old coat sure came in handy sometimes. Then we ate and it sure tasted good. I don’t think I had eaten anything but oranges in the last couple of days.

We hung around there for a few hours and just talked. He asked me about my home and family and listened intently as I described my Mother and step Dad and my brother and sisters and stepbrothers and stepsisters.
He seemed kind of wistful and said he didn’t remember his family very well. It had been a long time since he had seen any of them. He said he had a sister somewhere but didn’t know where she was now. He didn’t know if anyone else was still alive. I got the impression he wanted to come to Odessa with me to meet my Dad and everyone but he never asked to so I didn’t suggest it.

When I met Hobos on the road, they usually acted happy-go-lucky or at least, content with their station in life, but there seemed sometimes to be a vague suggestion of sadness and melancholy among them, as if maybe there was something that might be missing and they weren’t sure what it was.

Except for telling their stories of how they got started hoboing, they said very little about their pasts or families. Their talk was, for the most part, about food or smokes or where to go and how to get there. And about friends on the road they knew or had known. I heard them discuss Hobos much more than their families; as if they had all become families amongst themselves.

It may seem strange and impossible but I can still remember exactly how the people I met on the road looked. I remember Blackie just like it was yesterday. I remember the old man from New York with the long, white beard at Colton and the younger man who told me about his family in Oregon. I can remember the men who a made the fish-head-stew and, also, the men in Los Angeles who sent me across the Los Angeles river to a bakery for day old bread. And I can remember this man in El Paso as if this all just happened. And I remember them fondly.

After a while, I said I’d better go so I could get to the other side of town to the Texas and Pacific yard before dark. He reminded me how to get there and not to let anyone see me get on the train.

Then he admired the Levi Jacket I had on. I told him it wasn’t very warm at night and he asked me if I wanted to trade for his big old horse hair coat. I told him I would and he took my jacket and gave me his coat. He said it would keep me warm on the train. I think that is what he intended. Then we said goodbye and I left. I never saw him again." I hope he stayed happy.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Headed For Texas...

I don’t remember if I ever told about the first time I rode a freight train from Modesto, California to Odessa, Texas, where my Dad and Sister lived. I met up with a man named Blackie, a man about 50 or so years old, who took me under his wing and showed me a lot about how to make it on the rails. Here is part of the trip, starting from the Colton Hobo Jungle.

…Blackie told me that when I got to El Paso, I would have to leave the Southern Pacific rail yard and walk across town to the Texas and Pacific rail yard to go on to Odessa. He described to me just which way to go. He said I would have to wait at the eastern edge of the yard until the train was made up and rolling to hop aboard and that the railroad dicks on the T P weren't as sociable as on the SP.

That evening Blackie showed me where to catch the train to Yuma. I asked him if he were going and he said no, he would be going back to the Bakersfield area. He said I should take the morning train so I would get to Yuma in the daytime. Then I should catch a night train east and would cross the Arizona desert at night while it was cool. Then he left me there and went on his way. I learned a lot from Blackie. I really hated to see him go.

I caught a train and headed for Yuma. On the way, the train stopped at a switchyard in some town and dropped off a car. While the engine was switching cars, I went to an orange grove and picked as many ripe oranges as I could to eat on the way.

The freight finally rolled into Yuma and I got off and headed for the east of the switchyard to wait for the eastbound train to start. I caught it just at dusk. I climbed into an open boxcar and went to the back of the car, out of sight of anyone who might be looking that way. After the train cleared town, I sat in the door of the boxcar and watched the scenery roll by.

I soon went to sleep and was really sawing logs when I felt the train hump and begin to stop. I got up and went to the door to look out. I could see the highway a ways off. I could see what looked like police cars on the highway with their lights flashing.

The train came to a stop and I really got worried. I had no idea why a train would be stopped by the police way out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. I first considered jumping off the train and hiding in the brush until the police left but it was too dark outside to see where to hide. I went back to the end of the boxcar and hoped I wouldn’t be seen.

In a minute or two I heard footsteps approaching and saw the beam of light from a flashlight coming toward the car. I was really scared. Then someone flashed a light on me. It was an Arizona State Patrolman. He told me to come there and asked my name. I told him and he asked me how old I was. (It seemed everyone would ask me that) I told him and he asked what I was doing out here. I told him I was from Modesto and was going to Odessa, Texas, to see my Dad.

I asked him what was wrong and he said there had been a breakout at the Arizona State Prison at Yuma and they were looking for two escaped prisoners. Then he was quiet for a few seconds. I thought he might take me in custody. He asked if my mother knew where I was and I said she probably did but she hadn’t told me I could go. I didn’t want her to get into trouble.

I told him I wasn’t running away from home, just going to see my dad. What he did then really surprised me. He told me to be careful and to stay on the train until daylight and be careful of anyone I might see on the way. I said I would and he left. A few minutes later the train started up again. I went back to sleep. I stayed on the train until it got to Tucson the next morning.

And the next part is another story.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Musical Interlude Day...

Well, (I say that a lot) today was another music day and I must say, it was a much better day than Sundays' jam session was! Sunday I went to Paskenta without Mi Espousa (a little Mex lingo there) because she was in San Francisco visiting her sister. It was a pretty good jam session, as jam sessions go, and I met a new fellow musician.

He is a black guy, a twin with his sister, and he played the bass guitar. Actually he had two basses, one black one that really sounded good (he had an amp about four feet long by three feet tall that had to have at least two 15's in it) and would really blow you out of the room!

He had another bass that I really admired. It was a 1950s or 60s Gibson thin line hollow body and it sounded extremely good. My only regret was I didn't ask to play it.

Anyhow, (I say that a lot, too) we played for a while and ate and etc'ed and I decided to go home so I'd be there if Donna came home early. (Little did I know she was already there, hoping to catch me doing something bad--sure,-yeah!)

Anyhoo, (again) I carried my junk out to the pickup and loaded part of it and walked around the truck and found the left, rear tire was flat. Bummer! I had a hell of a time with it because the long jack crank handle was supposed to go through the bumper (a hole) and into a guide to loosen the spare tire mounted under the pickup bed. I couldn't get it to work. Shucks! (actually, "shit"!)

Then a lady came by and offered her brother's assistance and I accepted graciously. (the 'gracious' part was to stop swearing profanely) He came on the scene and stuck the handle through the hole, twisted it and the spare jumped off by itself and rolled around and tried to get on the hub. It stopped only when I explained to it, the other tire hadn't been removed yet. Oh.

I thanked the stranger and finished up and left to go home....BTW...

In the interim, I had called AAA to come and help and had to call them back and tell them some other dummy had already fixed it. They responded with an emphatic, "Oh!"

So I went home and, the next day (right now it's the 13th) I took it to Les Schwab and got it fixed. I asked the tire repair man if he would replace the spare on the spare rack after he fixed the flat and he said he would.
However, (and I was watching) when he finished repairing the tire and had placed it into the hub, the spare jumped up onto the spare rack by itself and fastened itself down tightly and I'm sure I heard it say, "Whew', I'm glad that's over! I'm tired."

Now that was Sunday. Tuesday, Donna and I went to the Shasta Senior Nutrition Center, played and sang flawlessly, accepted seven bucks as tips, came home and reveled at the ease and grace with which we did our thing.

What a difference a day makes! (or, in this case, three days)

Of course, it may have been the Master Musician telling me that my music has to include, among other things, a Donna. You never know.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Mi Espousa No Es Aqui...

Mi Espousa es alli. (A little Mex lingo here) She's in San Francisco visiting her sister. Oh, well! I guess I'll just have to make the best of it.

Too bad Chico the Wonder Dog isn't here to 'look at' about things. He always had good things to say at the most depressed times. I still read over his witticisms once in a while. Does me good.


Mike Huckabee Comments on Romney News...

Former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate issued the following statement regarding the exit of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney from the presidential race.

"...I am redoubled in my resolve to carry on my campaign in a civil, dignified manner. The issues that got me into this campaign-protecting life and traditional marriage, enacting the Fair Tax, and border security are going to keep me in this campaign."

"As a true authentic, consistent, conservative, I have a vision to bring hope, opportunity and prosperity to all Americans, and I'd like to ask for and welcome the support of those who had previously been committed to Mitt."

You got me, Mike!


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Anyone For a Ride?...