Saturday, May 31, 2008

Let's Move On

by Pa Rock
Angry Democrat

The bitter remarks posted here several hours ago regarding the tacky show put on by Billary's people at the DNC Rules Panel meeting in Washington DC have been removed. Commenting on their behavior does not merit the use of available cyber space.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Boone Says Thanks!

Dear Pa Rock,

How are you doing? I have been doing fine. I wanted to thank you for the Christmas present. I like the books you sent me. They are really cool. I think I like the magic one best. Where did you buy them at? They'll help me with my next year's science project. They could last until the 8th grade. They have a lot of science projects in them. Thank you for them.


Dear Boone,

I'm glad that you liked the books. They were for your birthday (May 6th) and not Christmas (December 25th). I guess that when you are a happy nine-year-old everyday is like Christmas!

I found the books at It is a bookstore on the Internet. Your dad can show you how to find it, and any time you come across a book that you really want, just let me know. Pa Rock is a big fan of books - just ask your dad and Uncle Tim!

I know that you had a very clever science fair project last year with the study of how long it took different types of cheeses to mold. I hope that the books I sent can give you some good ideas for next year.

I will be at Pa Garland's July 11th through July 14th. Aunt Molly and Sebastian will be there with me. I hope that we get to see you then.

I love you, buddy.

Pa Rock

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rusty Pails #39
The Ruby Bee Caper (Part 2)

by Rocky Macy

After scribbling down the details for where to mail our movie, we adjourned to the kitchen to plan our small-time crime (and to be closer to the ice chest!). Heck and the Judge each took seats at the ends of my kitchen table thinking that would highlight their leadership of this adventure. I sat on one side, and directed Truman to the side nearest the back door in case he had a catastrophic eruption.

Heck called the meeting to order, and he promptly announced that he would be the director of this film. Judge Redbone almost knocked his root beer and mine off of the table as he shot straight up out of his chair and thundered, in a magisterial voice, “Sez who?”

“Sez me!” Heck shot back. “I’ve been to more movies than anyone here. Why, I have a reserved space on the back row at the Beau Jacks Drive-In!”

“Playing kissie-face with some bored waitress ain’t exactly like going to film school,” I pointed out.

“Rusty Pails, my waitresses ain’t never bored!” It seemed that I had inadvertently bruised Heck’s dignity.

The Judge was still standing, like a Roman candle waiting to shoot off another round. “It’s my camera, so I’m the director – and the producer – and the cameraman!”

“Then I’m the star,” Heck said.

“What qualifies you to be the star of our movie?” I asked, quite innocently.

“That should be obvious. I have the best hair.”

“You bought that hair out of a catalogue!”

“Doesn’t make any difference where it came from,” Heck snapped. “It’s still the best hair at this table!”

Judge Redbone opened two more root beers and sat down. He pushed one over to me. It was going to be a long night!

I took a slow sip out of the fresh bottle. “Okay, so you’re the star. Just remember, this has to be about small-time crime, so you’ll be the star criminal!” Then, anticipating the star’s next demand, I added, “And we split the ten grand equally – four ways!” It looked like I had become the gang’s business manager.

The next order of business was to plan the crime. Truman was in favor of the four of us streaking through the next meeting of the Sprung Hinge Sewing Circle and Bucket Brigade. "No can do,” said Judge Redbone, vetoing the plan. “The cameraman can’t be running around naked while he’s filming.” (Unspoken was the group’s suspicion that the Judge maintained his boyish physique with the aid of a girdle!)

“And what if we got caught?” Heck asked. “Would any of us really want to be strapped to the top of Gladys Clench’s Nash Rambler and hauled out of town like a trophy deer? Nekked?”

The Judge thought that particular ending would have great cinematic appeal, but I thought it was just plain terrifying!

We should have stopped right there, but the idea of focusing our mayhem on Gladys Clench had entered our collective psyche, and we were too weak to fight it off. Not surprisingly, along about the time the last round of root beer had been served, one fella mumbled, quite innocently and almost inaudibly, “Maybe we should kidnap Ruby Bee.”

Heck Frye jumped up and raised his bottle high. “I second Rusty’s motion!” Before I could clear my throat to withdraw my semi-coherent mumbling, Judge Redbone and Truman were also standing with their bottles saluting their host’s stupidity!

It was going to be a very long night indeed!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

McBush's Pickpocket

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Dear Leader swooped into Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport yesterday aboard his luxurious public transport. He was here to raise money for Arizona's favorite political miscreant, John McBush. The big fundraiser had been planned for the convention center, but it had to be moved when the McBush staff realized that a public setting would allow their candidate to be seen (and photographed) with the President - an image that the Straight Talk Express wanted to avoid at all costs. The event was hastily moved to a private home so that the press could be kept at bay.

Then, inexplicably, the McBushes showed up at Sky Harbor in the evening to see their visiting dignitary off. What followed was a comic ballet of the two hacks shuffling back and forth trying to avoid being captured in the same image. It was really funny stuff!

I have a serious question, though, regarding all of this political silliness. If John McBush is so loved in Arizona in general, and by rich Arizonans in particular, why was it necessary to fly in a professional pickpocket to relieve the suckers of their cash?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Dying Western

by Pa Rock
Proud Papa

Anyone who brags on one of my kids, especially in writing, automatically lands in Pa Rock's Ramble - whether they want to be there or not! The following email arrived this morning:

Hi -

I saw your blog entry on the movie that was made from The Brass Teapot. I certainly think that your son is a talented writer.

My son, Wes, is one of the core team now working on The Dying Western( He's doing the editing now for the screening on June 8th at Ohio University. I wish we could be there, but Athens, Ohio is quite a ways from Colorado.

It's a very talented group of guys and I have high hopes for the new film. Wes says he's pleased with the quality. Let's hope the film gets some notice.

Bob Cronk

Godspeed to Wes and his colleagues at Ohio University. I hope that their film is a blockbuster!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Indy Rides Again!

by Pa Rock
Movie Critic

The hat! The whip! The fear of snakes! It's all in the new adventure, and it's all fun! Harrison Ford is reunited with Karen Allen, his love interest from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and their chemistry from the first movie is still sizzles and pops like a pound of cheap bacon. And then there's Shia LaBeouf, their adult love child who looks suspiciously like he will inherit that hat and whip someday, the sinister Cate Blanchett who personifies the Red Menace of the 1950's, and the brilliant John Hurt at his quirky best as an addled archaeologist who leads the group onward through his semi-coherent ramblings.

This is a movie that needs to be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated. It is a constant explosion of special effects and stunts woven into a grand ballet of cliff-hugging, ant-feeding, and blow dart-dodging terror. But most of all, it is fun!

Welcome back, Indy. Hail fellow, well met!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rusty Pails #38:
The Ruby Bee Caper (Part 1)

by Rocky Macy

I hate being in jail, especially when I didn’t have control of the events that brought me here. As per usual, I am the victim of my friends and their harebrained schemes.

It began last night when I had Heck and Truman over to my place for beanie weenies – and root beer – lots of root beer! I was busy doing the dishes, Truman was on his third or fourth trip to the bathroom, and Heck was asleep in front of some shoot-em-up on television when Baker set to howling. She’s my doorbell. I made it through the front room and pulled the door open just as Judge Rufus T. Redbone was preparing to knock.

“Rusty, I’ve come to show you what the Missus got me for my birthday!” He said as he pushed his way past me and followed his nose through the front room and into the kitchen.

I made my way back to the sink, resisting the urge to ask the scalawag “Whose Missus?” As I concentrated on the dishes I heard the Judge dishing up some beanie weenies. “So,” I finally asked, “What did she get you for your birthday.”

“Look at me,” he ordered. I turned and found the political fool pointing a small, black gadget in my direction. “Smile, and say something profound.”

“So which is it,” I asked. “A tape recorder or a camera?”

“Both,” he shouted almost gleefully. “It’s a video recorder. A movie camera!”

Fat chance. It was smaller than my Brownie Hawkeye! “Put that toy up and eat your beanie weenies so I can finish the dishes. There’s root beer in the ice chest.”

Heck was beginning to stir by the time we finished up in the kitchen. The Judge plopped his behind down in my recliner before I could get to it, so I dragged a kitchen chair in for my behind. The Judge was in the middle of a long dissertation on what his amazing movie camera could do when Truman came walking back from the john. (Truman can’t handle beanies or weenies, and the root beer just aggravated his brewing dyspepsia beyond human tolerance! We all knew to keep him away from open flames when he was in this state!)

Truman parked his skinny behind down in my only other comfortable chair (besides the sofa and the recliner) and the television channel immediately changed. As Truman reached down in under himself to fish out the remote, we were all treated to some toothy, slicked-up announcer telling us that we too could win $10,000 and a trip to Hollywood, California, for a family of four just for making a wacky home movie. This week’s theme, he grinned, had to be small-time crime.

The plug had hit the water and four suckers were fixing to bite!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

How to Make a Newspaper Column Successful

by Rocky Macy

(Note: This was published by me in thirteen Ozark newspapers in August of 1989. It was the commemoration of the 100th issue of my genealogy column, Rootbound in the Hills. This particular issue offers a road map, or sorts, on how to promote and grow a newspaper column. --- RM)

This week's column is special - a milestone of sorts - because it is Rootbound's one hundredth issue. That's right! For almost two years Rootbound in the Hills has been helping folks track their ancestors across these old Ozarks...and what a trip it has been!

Getting started wasn't easy. Those early columns, the ones before people started writing to Rootbound, were often conglomerations of hints on how to climb family trees, lists of surnames taken from old public records, and queries about my own ancestors. It took some time for Rootbound to develop more substance and a loyal cadre of readers. The idea of a query-based genealogy column was, after all, fairly new to the Ozarks.

Yet despite the shortcomings of the first few columns, interest did begin to build. A list of surnames of Civil War pensioners from this area in issue number two caught the attention of a tourist who was just passing through. He spotted a familiar name on that list, contacted Rootbound, and discovered that the veteran in question was actually his great-grandfather! A small piece of family history that had been brought to light and preserved. It was a start, but if Rootbound was to succeed, more people had to become involved.

Assistance came from several quarters. Local librarians and courthouse clerks began telling researchers about Rootbound, and the column was plugged in some important publications including The Genealogical Helper and the genealogy columns of The Daily Oklahoman and The Dallas Morning News. Genealogy groups in the area were also cooperative. The Delaware and Ottawa County genealogical societies of Oklahoma each hosted a program about Rootbound in the Hills, as did the Genealogy Friends of the Library in Neosho and the Northwest Arkansas Genealogical Society. The column was becoming known.

The trickle of mail soon hit flood stage. The first one hundred columns have carried queries and other information from two hundred and eight correspondents in thirty-three states. The surnames gleaned from those queries have been sorted into a card file box that now has over thirteen hundred entries. That file, The Ozark Root Box, allows for quick cross-referencing to connect researchers who are working the same surnames.

As Rootbound has matured in style and substance, so too has it grown in circulation and readership. Originally with only one newspaper, the column has gradually found its way into thirteen newspapers in three states. And the mail keeps coming, a good sign that Rootbound is doing more than just taking up space on the printed page.

Writing anything on a regular basis can be a chore, but this particular endeavor is laced with rewards. Highlights of the past ninety-nine issues include winning an award from the Council of Genealogy Columnists (my peers), having the opportunity to pen special remembrances of two of my grandparents on what would have been their one-hundredth birthdays, helping an enthusiastic researcher in Tennessee find the grave of a grand-aunt and contact a cousin that she never knew, and assisting in reuniting a near-centenarian in Joplin with a memory book from her youth. Great moments, all! And there were many little victories as well!

But the highest reward has been meeting so many wonderful people through the mail. Each reader who has taken the time to submit or answer a query, offer assistance, or send a note of thanks, has helped to make this experience worthwhile and so very special!

Thank you, Good Readers, for nurturing Rootbound in the Hills through its formative phase. It couldn't have happened without you. Now let's all put our shoulders to the wheel and get started on the next one hundred columns.

Happy trails!

The "A" Word

by Pa Rock

Hillary Clinton is old. She is older than me and she has led a very full life. And she is tired. It should come as no surprise to anyone, therefore, when she suddenly jams both feet in her mouth as she did yesterday in Sioux Falls. She's old, and she's tired, and she has been relentlessly beating a dead horse for a very long time.

Obama supporters share a common fear. It isn't a fear that he will lose the nomination and slip quietly back into the Senate never to be heard from again. Even if he didn't already have the nomination locked up, which he does, he has brought hope back into the election system and presented us with real and meaningful challenges. He has inspired legions of young people to enter the process with the promise that their participation can mean something great for America and for the world. He has shown them that America can be a much better place, and that she can once again become a beacon of inspiration for the rest of the world. Barack Obama will continue to inspire regardless of his job title.

The fear that Obama supporters share is that he will be killed, that his dream, and ours, will be cut short by an angry fool with a gun.

I watched in near terror last Tuesday night as this young man and his beautiful wife weaved their way through a large and boisterous crowd in Des Moines just as night was falling. People were pressing in from all directions, and the two secret service agents who were in sight would have had a very hard time doing anything to stop somebody from rushing forward with a gun. It was terrifying. "Move," I thought. "Move, move, move!"

Hillary, while prattling on incessantly about sexism, has become the poster girl for the disaffected racist whites. Exit polling in Kentucky showed that two of ten Clinton voters said that they would never vote for Obama because of his race. If two of ten had the cahones to say it out loud, what was the actual percentage? Last week she highlighted her new constituency by making a statement about her supporters being "hard working Americans, white Americans." (Unfortunately for her, McCain will capture the cracker vote in November.)

But what was she thinking yesterday? Why did she think it necessary after stating that Big Bill hadn't sewn up the Democratic nomination in 1992 until the California primary in June, to add as a post script that Bobby Kennedy had not been assassinated until June? Has the wiring between her brain and her mouth been severed?

Hillary and her minions have often said and implied that anything can happen - a la Reverend Wright - that could put her back in contention. But to float an implication that her opponent could be assassinated is well beyond the pale of proper political conduct, at least in America!

I hope that wasn't what she was implying. I hope that she wasn't sending some sort of signal to the crazies that it is time to take matters into their own hands. I truly hope that it was fatigue and old age that allowed that awful word to slip out of her mouth an onto America.

And then to frost the cake, Hillary's apology (of sorts) was lame and ineffectual, and did not even express the courtesy of addressing Barack Obama directly. Poor form, indeed.

Hillary, it is time to pack it in. You are old and you are tired - and you are becoming mentally incontinent or very, very mean!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

No Such Thing as a Bad Day

by Pa Rock

Hamilton Jordan, the very young man who crafted the electoral plan that put Jimmy Carter in the White House, battled three different types of cancer over the past twenty years. During that time he worked tirelessly to provide moral support and encouragement to others struggling to overcome the dreaded disease. Jordan liked to tell the story about a visit that he made to a juvenile cancer ward. At one point he stepped to the bedside of a young boy and said, "Hey, kid. Having a bad day?" The boy looked him clearly in the eyes and said, "Mister, there's no such thing as a bad day."

That young man's inspirational rejoinder to Jordan affected him so much that he titled his book about living with cancer No Such Thing as a Bad Day.

Hamilton Jordan lost his two-decade battle with cancer yesterday. His body is dead, but his spirit will live on through the lives of those he touched with love and encouragement to fight for every day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

But It's a Dry Heat!

by Pa Rock
Itinerant Weatherman

Yesterday, the 19th of May in the year 2008, the temperature in Goodyear, Arizona, reached 113 degrees! In Phoenix proper the high was a more modest 110 degrees. The record high temperature in Phoenix for the 19th of May had been 105 degrees - and that mark was set last year! Today, in the early afternoon, it was 105 degrees here, and getting hotter! Dear Leader may say there is no such thing as global warming, but he has Crawford crap oozing out of his jug ears. Global warming is the real deal!

Yes, I knew when I moved to the desert that it would be hot. I expected to spend a couple of months each year suffering under the unrelenting sun. Those months that I expected to suffer were July and August. Nobody told me that I would be able to fry steak and eggs on the sidewalk in the middle of spring!

When God, in Her infinite wisdom, made the Valley of the Sun, I think She saw it strictly as being a playground for scorpions and Gila monsters. Surely She could have had no inkling that Man would be so masochistic (or dumb) as to try and live in the foyer of Hell.

I'd bitch some more, but it's too damned hot!

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Stolen Submarine

by Pa Rock
Seeker of Truth

Nine years ago while visiting Russia with a group of social workers, our tour bus pulled up next to a beautiful modern building that was very out-of-place in the gray, monotonous architecture of Moscow. I asked our tour guide, Cornelius from Great Britain, about that building. "That's the headquarters of Yukos," he explained, "the largest oil company in Russia." He said that Yukos had been owned by the state during the socialist years, but now it was independently owned. "How had that happened?" I asked. He explained that after the fall of the Soviet government, many state assets had simply been appropriated by the people who had been charged with running them for the government. Moscow today, not surprisingly, has the largest per capita population of billionaires on earth.

(Things may be changing. Last year Yukos was seized by the Putin government who had political issues with its "owner." It was later sold at auction to Gazprom, an oil conglomerate that is controlled by the government.)

My friend, Andy Cleeton, had been with me on that trip to Russia, and last week she was with me again when we visited San Diego. One of the attractions that we took in during the California trip was the Maritime Museum (actually several vessels) at the harbor in San Diego. One of the vessels was a Soviet B-39 Attack Submarine, much like the one that was featured in the movie "The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!" As we worked our way through the length of the submarine, I remarked to Andy that I was sure the submarine was stolen.

Back on shore, I had a visit with the lady who was running the souvenir shop for the Maritime Museum. "Hey," I inquired innocently, "Where did you get that sub?"

"We bought it from Vancouver." She replied without blinking.

"Where did Vancouver get it?" I prodded.

"I believe they bought it from Seattle." She was starting to get a little edgy.

"And where did Seattle get it?"

"Well," she replied with some finality, "It obviously came from Russia."

"Yes, it's a Russian sub. I'm sure that it came from Russia. My question is this: how did Russia lose control of it?

And then she blinked. "Well, I don't know exactly, but I've heard that a Russian Naval officer may have sold it after the fall of the Soviet Union."

You bet your sweet bippy he did!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Aunt Mary and Her Girls

by Pa Rock
Poor Relation

When I called my Aunt Mary a few weeks ago to tell her that I was driving out to San Diego, almost the first words out of her mouth were, "You have to see the girls while you are here." The "girls," my cousins Janet and Linda, are native Californians that I hadn't seen in half a century.

The last time that I was in San Diego was in June of 1958. I can remember the month because Janet celebrated her 10th birthday while were were there. I remember our combined families going to a pizza parlor (pizza was new to me at the time) where we watched pizza artisans toss and twirl their dough in the air. Janet and I were getting ready to go into 5th grade, and Linda, I believe, was probably in junior high or starting to high school. Their father, my Uncle Wayne Macy, had died of leukemia the previous year.

That trip was the last time that I had seen Linda. She had gone on to become a very successful teacher with daughters and grandchildren. Janet came to Noel the following summer, 1959, and I had not seen her since then. So my trip to San Diego was going to allow for some major catching up!

We planned on meeting at a certain restaurant in Old Town on the Saturday preceding Mother's Day. I got there early and staked out the restaurant that was unfortunately closed for remodeling. Linda was the first of her group to arrive. I had planned on being with my friend Andy, but she had gone off with some of her friends on another adventure, so I was a single for the day. Linda and I walked past each other a couple of times. I had an inkling that she might be one of my cousins, but wasn't forward enough to ask. She, of course, was looking for a couple.

Then I watched as this blond lady joined several others near the restaurant, and immediately recognized Aunt Mary, whom I have seen several times over the years. She was accompanied by Janet and Janet's husband, Michael. They were a warm and happy group - just what you would expect with family!

We had a very nice lunch at another Mexican restaurant and compressed fifty years into a couple of hours. I talked about my children and passed around a few pictures, and learned about their families. Michael has been a professional musician, and he and Janet are talking seriously about moving to the Ozarks at some future time and living in the Branson vicinity.

My lasting impression of that brief meeting was that Aunt Mary had raised two wonderful girls. Although I only knew my Uncle Wayne briefly, I know that he would have been very proud to see how well they turned out. Now that I know my California relatives better, I plan on visiting again. You can't do better than family!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Roses and Surfers of I.B.

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

I got off the bus at what I assumed to be roughly the center of Imperial Beach. When I asked the bus driver for directions to the beach, he pointed out the door and said, "Seven or eight blocks that-a-way." So off I marched, that-a-way.

The residential area that I was traversing was about what I expected. Small homes, some neat and some not. Several residences had rusting vehicles or boats parked in the yard, while adjacent homes would be very well maintained. One thing was certain, though, the value of these houses was minuscule compared to property prices just up the road in Coronado. Mrs. John McCain might own two multi-million dollar condos within hiking distance, but I was willing to bet that she had never parked her pretty pumps on the sidewalks of I.B. It was a whole different world.

I was heading down 9th Street when I came upon an Hispanic lady pruning the roses in her yard. Her house was modest, but her abundant rose bushes were in full, intoxicating bloom. "Your roses are beautiful!" I told her as I walked by. "Thank you," she replied. Before I could get past her yard, she stood up and started to engage me in conversation.

It was Sunday, Mother's Day. She told me that she had gone to Guadalajara (Mexico) yesterday to see her mother, because Saturday was Mother's Day in Mexico. She started showing me her roses, and naming them. They were growing all over the yard, and several were in large pots on the porch. There was also a gigantic amaryllis in a pot on the porch that had four gigantic blooms. She told me that she just put the bulb in the pot and gave it plenty of fertilizer. Anyone could do it - in the southernmost coastal city in California! The rose lady told me that she had two sons, and that she had told them she wanted twenty dollars from each of them for Mother's Day so that she could buy more roses.

I made an off-hand comment that I loved the scent of roses - those that haven't had the scent bred out of them. She rushed to a corner of the yard and clipped a fragrant bloom that she then handed to me. "Wait here," she then instructed as she rushed through the gate and into the back yard. She returned with another fragrant bloom from a different rose variety. She named the kinds that I held, and also started naming the others that were close-at-hand. "I have a book," she said, "that tells me all about roses."

Eventually she went back to her pruning, and I walked on that-a-way taking deep whiffs of my roses. The next time I am in I.B. I will be bringing a rose bush to the lady who loves roses.


Along about block seven I still had not even felt a hint of the ocean. I saw a man sitting at a bus stop across the four lanes of 9th Street. "Hey," I yelled, "is that where I can catch the 901 back to Coronado?" "Yes," he yelled back, and then he started walking across the street with a bus schedule in his hand. I walked out and met him in the middle where he gave me the schedule and told me when to expect the bus. When I asked for directions to the beach, he pointed to the upcoming intersection, told me to go right there, and it would be about a mile. (Lying bus driver!)

Well, I had come this far, so I took the right turn and started hiking off the next mile. I passed the fire station, library, and Mar Vista High School and not too long thereafter, spotted the seaside motels.

The beach was almost empty except for a few hardy surfers riding the waves close to the pier. One couple sat in a big hole in the sand and appeared to be playing some version of lick and tickle. The beach itself was covered with patches of seaweed and was nothing like it's highly groomed cousin behind the Hotel Del Coronado. Clearly I.B. lacked the ready resources of Coronado. I watched the surfers for awhile and then headed back.

I had been to I.B., walked its streets, and felt its pulse. The lost-in-time beach community was populated with real people. It had a beat, perhaps a rhythm, and it was much more real than its posh neighbor to the north. I left feeling that HBO had gotten it right.

Friday, May 16, 2008


by Pa Rock
Confidence Man

Last week while I was in San Diego I decided to spend a day exploring the seamier end of Coronado Island. The northern end of the "island" (actually a peninsula) is home to the beautiful Del Coronado Hotel, thirty-some retired Naval Admirals (including Jim Morrison's dad), two condos with ocean views owned by Mrs. John McCain, thousands of other parcels of very pricey real estate, and a large naval installation. Four miles to the south at the tip of the "island" is the other economic extreme: Imperial Beach (referred to by the locals as "I.B.").

Last year HBO aired a series about a family of worn-out surfers and their weird, druggie friends who inhabited I.B. The show, John from Cincinnati, bit the dust after just one season, leaving me and the other dozen or so regular viewers feeling devalued and betrayed by corporate America. Ratings trump quality every time!

That morning I stopped by a neighborhood Subway for breakfast before heading south. There was an old Hispanic lady (probably about my age) with dyed red hair and grey roots leaning over the sandwich ingredients and rattling on (en Espanol) about each ingredient to the server. I stood behind her patiently for five minutes or so while she carefully ruled out each option. When she finally left, sans a sub, I placed my order and then asked the server about where to catch the public bus to I.B. The bus stop, he told me, was just around the corner and it ran every half-hour on weekends. The fare was $2.25. "No, no!" his assistant interrupted, "tell them you are a senior and it is only one dollar. I do that all the time!" Gracias, senora. I paid for the subwich and headed out the door to catch the bus.

There was a three-person bench at the bus stop. The red-headed sandwich critic was in the seat nearest to the street, the middle seat was empty, and a beautiful young Weimaraner dog was tied to the railing of the third seat. I considered my options and sat down in the seat to which the Weimaraner was tied. Then the young girls began to descend on the dog like so many Hitchcock birds. "Your dog is beautiful!" they chirped and tweeted. "Thank you." I replied proudly.

Old Red looked at me dumbstruck and asked, in perfect English, "Is that your dog?" "No," I told her honestly. And she began to laugh, and the laughs turned into guffaws! I was suddenly funnier than Leno!

The next flock of girls swooped in and began petting the Weimaraner. "She's wonderful!" They twittered. "What's her name?" "Sugar," I replied politely. "Oh," they cawed merrily, "that's so sweet!"

When the crowd finally flew on by, Sugar and I were able to finish my sandwich in relative peace. Old Red struggled for breath for awhile, but finally got it together without wetting herself. She and I hopped on the bus to I.B., and Sugar was left behind to pleasure the tourists on the classier end of the "island".

Coming Soon: The Roses and Surfers of I.B.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Siss Sreaves

by Rocky Macy

(What follows is a tribute to my maternal grandmother that was published in my newspaper genealogy column, Rootbound in the Hills, nineteen years ago in May of 1989. It is dedicated to my children, with love.)

One of the rewarding aspects of writing this column is having the opportunity to occasionally digress through my own family history. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to highlight the lives of my forebears who did so much, often in quiet ways, for their friends and neighbors and family.

Last October Rootbound carried a special remembrance of my maternal grandfather, Dan SREAVES, on what would have been his one hundredth birthday. Now, a scant six months later, comes another family milestone - for it was a century ago this week that "Siss", Dan's wife and the center of his life, came into this world.

Nancy Jane "Siss" ROARK was born to Samuel James and Nancy Anthaline (SCARBROUGH) ROARK in McDonald County, MO, on 18 May 1889, the middle child in a family of nine. Though probably sharing the same dreams that many children have of travel and adventure, she and most of her brothers and sisters were destined to spend their entire lives in the Missouri Ozarks.

Siss met Dan sometime in the early part of the twentieth century. The couple married in McDonald County on 12 Mar 1913, and settled down to the quiet rigors of farm life on a place just south of the Newton County line. Their married life was happy, lasting nearly forty years and producing seven fine children.

Although life on the farm was agreeable with Siss, early on she showed a preference for indoor work. Embroidery was one of her specialities, as was cooking. Siss prepared a big country breakfast and dinner (lunch) each day. In fact, the first two meals of the day were generally so large that there were sufficient leftovers to take care of supper.

When Siss did work outside, she could often be found in her garden, an attractive mixture of flowers and vegetables. She was proud of her dahlias and equally pleased with the fact that much of the family's food supply was homegrown. And Siss had definite ideas on how and where to plant. The seeds needed to go in the ground on specific days, regardless of the weather or her husband's friendly advice to the contrary.

Siss SREAVES was a very religious woman and a good neighbor. She served as a midwife, helping to ensure that that her friends' children entered the world as safely as possible. The SREAVES table was always available to others, especially after church on Sunday when the children took it for granted that their parents would bring home guests for the noon meal.

It was on a Sunday after church in the late 1930s when Siss organized one of the biggest parties that the folks on Swars Prairie had ever witnessed. She and her daughters had picked blackberries that spring to earn money for a very special gift for Dan's birthday. They took their secret "pin money" and used it to have an enlargement made of a small photograph of Dan's mother.

When Dan's birthday rolled around that October, Siss and the kids were ready! Using some false pretense, she kept Dan at church after Sunday morning services were over, allowing everyone in the community time to gather at the SREAVES home. And gather they did! There are still some people around who relate with amazement stories of the many neighbors that were assembled to celebrate Dan's birthday. The feasting and good times lasted well into the evening.

Siss started suffering mild strokes in the 1930s soon after her last child was born. But being the tenacious farm woman that she was Siss held on to life for another twenty years. Though often ill, she was able to see each of her children through to maturity, and she had the opportunity to know many of her grandchildren.

I was just shy of being five-years-old when Siss SREAVES passed away in 1953. Although my memories of the time preceding her death are few and faded, I can still see my grandmother, quiet and caring, sitting down at a family gathering to share a piece of pie with her little grandson. We ate with our hands (perhaps the table service had already been packed away), and shared a moment - a moment that has stayed with me as a subtle and enduring reminder of a gentle woman who spent a lifetime caring for others.

It is a legacy that I treasure.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Del Coronado

by Pa Rock
Eternal Tourist

My friend from Missouri, Andrea Cleeton, and I were in San Diego last week where we stayed at the nation's premier seaside resort, the Del Coronado Hotel. The one hundred-and-twenty-year-old hotel is grand in every sense of the word: beautiful architecture, lavish interiors, world class views, and all of the amenities that the idle rich would expect to encounter. I have made house payments that were considerably less than our per-night room rate, and the Mother's Day brunch was a breath-taking $72 each for adults and $36 per child. But when it comes to wallowing in decadence, who worries about money?

The Del has hosted numerous Presidents starting with Benjamin Harrison who first stayed there in 1891. It has served as the backdrop for movies, the most famous of which was "Some Like It Hot" with Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis in 1958. L. Frank Baum was a frequent guest and supposedly got the idea for the "yellow brick road" in his book, The Wizard of Oz, from a yellow brick sidewalk at the Del. It is a very historic and glamorous place.

Our worst experience was free. Andy is mortally afraid of birds, and to her horror, a mama bird who must have had a nest in the bush that was right outside of our door, would dive bomb each of us as we walked by her abode. Andy finally took to using the sliding glass door that led to the beach for all of her entrances and exits.

And did I mention that the Pacific Ocean rolls up onto a beautiful beach just behind the Del? It's all there: the white sands, the surf, the history, and the glitz. It was a happy extravagance!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The High Cost of Life

by Pa Rock

I just returned from a mini-vacation to San Diego. The last time that I was there, I was ten-years-old. It's still a beautiful place, but the times they are a changin'!

The price of a first class stamp went to 42 cents today. The last time that I was in San Diego, the cost of mailing a first class letter had just jumped from three cents to four cents, and people were talking about what an outrage that was!

Also, fifty years ago you could buy gasoline any place for 29 cents a gallon - or less. Today it is selling for over four dollars a gallon in San Diego. I managed to hold my breath and coast into Arizona this afternoon where the gas was a steal at only $3.75 a gallon! I was able to fill my tank for a mere $50.75! When I bought that little car it would barely hold $20.00!

I realized during this short trip that the price of gas is having a major impact on travel and tourism. I make that statement based on the lack of recreational vehicles that were in evidence on the roads that I travelled. My round trip to the coast was approximately 700 miles along a major interstate highway. During all of those miles, I saw less than a dozen RV's! I predict that the high cost of gasoline is going to make the sub prime mortgage racket look like small potatoes by the time it filters out across our already ravaged economy.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could find another oil man to serve as President!

Obama '08!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Happy Birthday, Boone!

So, Boone, you're nine,
And doing fine,
You're quite a clever boy!

And I'm so happy
To be your Grandpappy,
My heart is full of joy!

Stay happy, Boone,
I'll see you in June!

Much Love,

Pa Rock

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Another Weekend - Big Deal!

by Pa Rock
Chronic Whiner

I'm old enough that the days seem to fly by. I manage to stay very busy at my job, and like the rest of America, I live for the weekends. Unfortunately, the weekends also seem to fly by.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, I am busy retyping my old newspaper genealogy column, Rootbound in the Hills, into a blog format that I will then carefully index six ways from Sunday. There are two-hundred-and-forty-two individual columns in the set, and each is loaded with specific dates, unusual surnames, and strange place locations from the last century that all require careful transcribing and proof-reading. I am also copying from the original clippings, which were banged out by newspaper workers in small towns who didn't have the luxury of working slowly - so I am encountering many spelling mistakes and obvious errors. It is not a chore for the faint-of-heart.

In order to get this project done in my lifetime, I have set a rigorous schedule and am trying very hard to stick to it. I retype one column every weekday evening, and three each Saturday and Sunday. That comes to eleven a week. This morning I just finished number seventy-five, and should be through number seventy-seven by the time I collapse into bed tonight.

The day will also include weekly grocery shopping, a trip to the gym, and a sojourn to Best Buy so they can fix a mess that I made while trying to load a software program onto my new computer. Sunday will be much the same, but the shopping will be replaced with household chores such as doing the laundry and any necessary cleaning. I don't have people or pets to pick up after, but I do have a couple of dozen plants that require regular nurturance and occasional bit of light conversation. If I have letters to write, that usually happens on Sunday also. And then I also try to post to this Ramble most days.

I have considered having a nervous breakdown, but there just isn't time!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Rusty Pails #37:
The Hornet's Nest

by Rocky Macy

On those rare occasions when I need any of my tools, I head straight over to Heck Frye’s place to “re-borrow” them. It rained last night, and now that I knew where the new leaks in my roof were, I felt obligated to fix them. My ladder, of course, was at Heck’s.

Heck has been painting his barn for about three years, and it is nearly half-finished. I ain’t saying that he’s lazy, because saying that would demean the word “lazy.” Heck just works at his own pace, which most days is just a tad north of dead!

“It’s out behind the barn, Rusty.” He said as we headed out through the weeds toward is multi-colored barn. Somehow I knew that my expensive, twenty-four foot, solid aluminum, extension ladder would be outside in the weather.

I was watching the ground, looking for snakes of other earth-bound varmints in the weeds, as we stepped around to the backside of the barn. He must have been focused on his feet as well, because neither of us had the sense to look up.

As we reached the ladder, Heck grabbed it and tried to lower the extension. “It’s stuck. Give me a hand here, Rusty.” I grabbed onto the ladder to help, but just as I did a little
panicky voice in my head asked why a perfectly good ladder should be stuck to the barn.

Heck and I looked up at the same time. There, fifteen feet or so directly above our heads, was a two-gallon hornet’s nest cementing the top of the ladder to the barn. We could see dozens of mad hornets launching out of the nest and heading straight toward us!

“Run, fool!” We yelled in unison. I headed right, Heck fled left, and we collided in front of the barn. The hornets were still bombing us!

“The house!” Heck Screamed.

“My truck’s closer!” I screamed back.

We flung ourselves into the cab of my old pickup, the Rust Bucket, and took stock of our situation. I had taken on hit on the arm, and a know that a rattlesnake bite would have been less painful! Heck had been stung on the arm and the lip. His lip was already beginning to swell. He wouldn’t be doing much romancing for a while!

I started up the truck and headed off toward town. As we passed my place, Heck finally asked where we were headed.

“Hardware store!” I snapped angrily. “I’ve gotta get me a ladder!”

“Rusty, you’ve got a perfectly good ladder at my place. Don’t you think that buying a new one is kind of an extravagance?”

“I’m not buying it, buddy. You are!”

Heck had the good sense not to argue – probably because he could see that I was madder than a hornet!