Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Dog Named Dollar

Why I was home alone that day I can't remember, but I had gone into the orange grove across the road from our house to get an orange or two. They were Temple oranges and pretty good sized ones at that, so I only picked one. I peeled and ate it right there beside the tree it came from, then headed back across the road and started trudging toward the house through that old sand pit we called a driveway.

 The truck must have been doing sixty or more down that old dirt road which wasn't meant for more than maybe thirty five or so. It was an old pick-up with most of the paint faded or scraped off. I had seen it many times flying by our house with a big cloud of dust boiling out from under the  back bumper. Usually it just went on by without my giving it a second thought, but this time the driver suddenly slammed on the brakes and the horn at about the same time. Of course I jerked my head around to see what was going on....And watched in shock as a yellow dog that I had never seen before tumbled wildly under the truck. The driver yelled out his window at me,"That'll teach ya to keep your damned dog outta the road kid."  Then he slammed on the gas again and disappeared on down the road in that big cloud of dust.

 I thought the dog was surely dead after seeing it tumble under that truck for what seemed to my twelve year old eyes like a hundred times or more. But when I got out to the middle of the road I could see that it was alive but was having trouble trying to get up.

 Knowing how dangerous an injured animal could be, I moved  slowly toward it. It was a male golden retriever, a beautiful dog, maybe about one year old. I expected him to growl or snap at me, but as I reached the back of my hand toward him, he stayed calm and started licking my hand.

 I wanted to get him out of the road as quick as I could, so I took off my shirt and spread it out beside him, then gently rolled him over onto it and dragged him into our driveway.

 I couldn't pick him up and carry him to the house like I wanted to, so I went and got him some water and stole a couple of chicken legs from Mom's refrigerator, then sat there with him and fed him water and pieces of chicken till my brother James came walking down the road on the way home from the school bus stop a mile away, just past the end of the dirt road where the road was paved.

 "Whatcha got there Phill?" he called before he was close enough to really see the dog.

 "It's a dog that got run over by a truck" I said "He's hurt and can't get up."

 When James got close enough, he kneeled down and put one hand on my shoulder and started to reach toward the dog with the other, but it started growling and snapped at him. James jerked his hand away just in time and said "That dog's got rabies or somethin, damn thing's crazy!"

 "No he don't," I said "I been pettin him an everything for a long time an he ain't tried to bite me yet."

 "Try it again," I told him, "just go real slow an I bet he'll be ok this time." So James put his hand on my shoulder again and the dog tried to jump and grab him again, even before he got a chance to reach his other hand out.

 "That dog ain't worried bout me touchin him, he don't like it when I put my hand on you," James said. Then he reached out to the dog without touching me and the dog was just as calm as could be. He let James pet him just like I had been doing.

 "Think you can you carry him to the house now?" I asked.

 "If he don't try to bite me," he said, so I backed away from the dog a little and James eased in and gently picked up the dog in both arms and started toward the house.

 "Where we gonna put him?" James asked.

 "Round the back," I told him, "in that big ol' cardboard box."

 The box was plenty big enough for the dog, so I sat down by it and turned it on it's side so that the open end was like a door.

 When we got the dog in the box, he crawled right back out again and laid on the ground with his head on my knee. We tried several times but he refused to stay in the box. So, finally we got him a pan of water and just left him lying there on the sparse little tufts of grass that seemed never to make  much of a lawn.

 I kept going out to check on him every little while that night till I had to go to bed and he seemed to be alright, but when I went out the next morning, he was nowhere to be seen. I figured he must not have been hurt as bad as it had seemed the day before.

 After school when I came trudging up the driveway, the dog came around the corner of the house carrying something in his mouth and when I reached out toward him, he dropped it in my hand. I unrolled it and found out that it was three one dollar bills. "Good boy." I said, rubbing him on the head.

 He stayed around after that and we fed him table scraps and kept a big pan of water out back by the well for him. He seemed to like wandering around the woods and orange groves with us kids, and never failed to tag along with us on our fishing and exploring trips. And every once in a while he'd come up to one of us and drop something in our hand.

 Sometimes it would just be pieces of paper, like a store receipt or a hand written note somebody had dropped or thrown away, but most of the time it would be money. Lots of people worked in these old orange groves during picking time, and we figured he must be finding things that the pickers had lost out of their pockets climbing up and down the ladders through the tree branches.

 My dad didn't seem to like that dog very much. I think it was because it would growl at him whenever he'd yell at me or one of the other kids for something we did or maybe something we didn't do when we should have. But other than that the dog got along fine with everybody.

 About a month or so after he brought me the three dollars, he brought home twenty two dollars. Dad got it this time. It was  all rolled together and looking pretty much the worse for wear, but it was still money, and I think Dad began to like the dog a little better.  "Looks like we oughta name this mutt Money, what do you think about that?" He asked me. "I think we oughta call him Dollar, Dad. He brings home dollars a lot."

 "Well, he's your dog, so that's his name then, Dollar." Dad said as he put the money in his pocket. Then he bent down and gave Dollar a couple of pats on his head.

 Dollar stayed with us for about four years, always wandering around on his own when we were at school, bringing something home, usually money, all twisted and wet from his mouth.

 He never tried to get into the chicken coop or chase the hog or her pigs the way a lot of other dogs that we'd had around there did. Then one day he was gone...We never saw Dollar again. I have forgotten, (if I ever knew) how many times old Dollar dropped scraps of paper or a few dollar bills into my hand. But I'm sure I will never forget that golden retriever who really earned his name....


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Donkey Raffle

One day a politician saw a farmer selling a donkey for $100. The politician paid the farmer the money and asked if the farmer would deliver it to his house. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day but when he arrived at the politician's house there was no donkey.

He told the politician that the donkey died during the night. Saddened, the politician asked for his money back. "I'm afraid I have already spent the money." the farmer said.

"Well, then just give me the donkey." said the politician.

What are you going to do with a dead donkey?" asked the farmer. The politician told the farmer he would think of something, so the farmer delivered the donkey the next day.

The next month the farmer saw the politician again and asked him what he had done with the donkey. "I made $895.00 off of that thing." the politician said.

"How could you make that much money off of a dead donkey?" the farmer wanted to know.

The politician said, "I didn't tell anyone he was dead at first. I just put up signs around town that said I was going to raffle off a beautiful donkey for $5.00 a ticket. I sold 200 tickets."

"Wait a minute", said the farmer, "you said you made $895.00 but if you sold 200 tickets at $5.00 each that's $1,000.00. After you subtract the $100.00 you paid me you should have made $900.00,"

"You're right", said the politician, "But when the winner found out the donkey was dead he was a little upset so I gave him his money back."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Star Spangled Banner (All Five Verses)

Oh! say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
Oh! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner, Oh! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blessed with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the Star Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

When our land is illumined with liberty’s smile,
If a foe from within strikes a blow at her glory,
Down, down with the traitor that tries to defile
The flag of the stars, and the page of her story!
By the millions unchained,
Who their birthright have gained
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave,
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse. For my grandchildren, I’d like better.

I’d really like for them to know about hand me down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meat loaf sandwiches.. I really would.

I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated.

I hope you learn to make your own bed and mow the lawn and wash the car.

And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen.

It will be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep.

I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in.

I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother/sister. And it’s all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he’s scared, I hope you let him.

When you want to see a movie and your little brother/sister wants to tag along, I hope you’ll let him/her.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely.

On rainy days when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don’t ask your driver to drop you two blocks away so you won’t be seen riding with someone as uncool as your Mom.

If you want a slingshot, I hope your Dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one.

I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books.

When you learn to use computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.

I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush on a boy / girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what ivory soap tastes like.

May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole.

I don’t care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don’t like it… And if a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he/she is not your friend.
I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your Grandma/Grandpa and go fishing with your Uncle.

May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays.

I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor’s window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Christmas time when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you – tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness. To me, it’s the only way to appreciate life.

Old Ed and a Bucket of Shrimp

 It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembled a giant orange ball and was starting to dip into the blue ocean.

Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier.  Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp. Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden bronze now.

Everybody's gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts...and his bucket of shrimp.

Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a thousand white dots come screeching and squawking, winging their way toward that
lanky frame standing there on the end of the pier.

Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings fluttering and flapping wildly. Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds. As he does, if you listen closely, you can hear him say with a smile, 'Thank you. Thank you.'

In a few short minutes the bucket is empty. But Ed doesn't leave.  He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and place.

When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the beach, a few of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the stairs, and then they, too, fly away. And old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end of the beach and on home.

If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in the water, Ed might seem like 'a funny old duck,' as my dad used to say.  Or, to onlookers, he's just another old codger, lost in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp.

To the onlooker, rituals can look either very strange or very empty.  They can seem altogether unimportant .... maybe even a lot of nonsense.

Old folks often do strange things, at least in the eyes of Boomers and Busters.

Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down there in Florida ... That's too bad. They'd do well to know him better.

His full name: Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a famous hero in World War I, and then he was in WWII.  On one of his flying missions across the Pacific, he and his seven-member crew went down.  Miraculously, all of the men survived, crawled out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft.

Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough waters of the Pacific. They fought the sun. They fought sharks.  Most of all, they fought hunger and thirst. By the eighth day their rations ran out. No food. No water. They were hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where they were or even if they were alive. Every day across America millions wondered and prayed that Eddie Rickenbacker might somehow be found alive.

The men adrift needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple devotional service and prayed for a miracle. They tried to nap. Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose. Time dragged on. All he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft...

Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap. It was a seagull!

Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning his next move. With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he managed to grab it and wring its neck. He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving crew made a meal of it - a very slight meal for eight men. Then they used the intestines for bait. With it, they caught fish, which gave them food and more bait . . . and the cycle continued.  With that simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea until they were found and rescued after 24 days at sea.

Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never forgot the sacrifice of that first life-saving seagull... And he never stopped saying, 'Thank you.' That's why almost every Friday night he would walk to the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude.

PS: Eddie Rickenbacker was the founder of Eastern Airlines.  Before WWI he was race car driver.  In WWI he was a pilot and became America 's first ace.  In WWII he was an instructor and military adviser, and he flew
missions with the combat pilots. Eddie Rickenbacker is a true American hero. And now you know another story about the trials and sacrifices that brave men have endured for your freedom.

As you can see, I chose to pass it on.  It is a great story that many don't know...You've got to be careful with old guys, You just never know what they have done during their lifetime.

“Demonstrate to the world there is ‘No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy’ than a U.S. Marine.”

What Would Grandpa Say?

 What Would Grandpa Say?

Born in the middle of the last century, I have seen our nation and the world go through some tremendous changes.

 Growing up in the fifties and sixties, we knew our neighbors and interacted with them almost daily.

 We were taught to treat others as we wanted to be treated and that everyone has a right to their own opinion about anything, and we respected those opinions whether we agreed with them or not. Nowadays, those who disagree tend to get personal or even violent.

 I guess every generation sees changes which they don't like. I remember my grandfather saying "This younger generation is goin' to the dogs." I guess he was right in a way...We all loved Elvis's "Hound Dog", but some of the older  folks thought Elvis was a bad influence.

 I recall the movies. We saw them mostly at the drive-in picture show. John Wayne and Roy Rogers dashing across the giant screen in pursuit of the bad guys. We never heard them curse and if anyone got killed, it was the bad guy, and they usually only got a shoulder wound which the town doc would fix when they got him to the jail.

 I wonder.....What would Granpa say about the younger generation now?