Monthly Archives: July 2012

Stuff That Coulda Killed Me

In her continuing quest to know EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD, The Princess was watching the NY1 television station last week.  She told me about a news clip she’d seen describing the rather nasty mosquito problem folks  (including the idiotic son, Andrew) are suffering from on the Lower East Side in New York City.  Just guessing here, but I’ll bet that on reading this, Andy will say, “Huh, mosquito problem?  Are you nuts!  Cops harassing  musicians in the subway and undercover cops subjecting pedestrians to illegal searches without showing police ID, those are some problems.  But, hey, nice to hear from you, dad.”  Ok, well, I was just going to say that the mosquito thing got me to thinking about the mosquito abatement programs of the 1950’s and 60’s as I was growing up. 

What I remember were peaceful, summer evenings, the air so still it gave no relief from the heat.  And then without warning a truck would come down the street with a gigantic blower in the back that sounded like a helicopter was buzzing the neighborhood.  Of course, the noise and wind and impressive white cloud were irresistable enticements to us kids.  Outdoor games of “kick the can” and “red light-green light” were immediately suspended as we poured out into the street to follow this Pied Piper spewing poisonous gas.  I’m not sure how much DDT I inhaled back in those days, but I gotta say I was relieved when I found out years later that I could still father a child.

Well, this memory got me thinking about all the other times when stuff I did could have killed me, or significantly changed my future.  Taking things in chronological order, and I’ve got to rely on the memory of others for this first one, it is alleged that at approximately age two I was found wandering out in the median of a four-lane highway in Westminster, MD.  I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking that there had to have been some serious parental neglect in this case, and/or the idiotic brother encouraged this misadventure.  I mean look at this photo of the IB from the era.

Does he look mischievous, or what?  And, hey, nice pants, Jim.

A bit later on, remember those machines they used to have in shoe stores.  You know, the ones where you’d stand up on a little platform, stick you feet in a slot and then peer in a little window to see how your shoes fit.  In a small, eery, green screen you’d see your foot bones in your new pair of shoes.  Or, your old shoes, if like us kids you’d just pop in off the sidewalk and take a peek.  I’m telling you, minutes at a time of actual x-ray exposure.  The only reason to stop peering at your foot bones was some other dude pushing you off the platform to get his dose.  It’s a wonder we didn’t fry our feet.  Before Gene retired he was heavy into this x-ray business.  What do you think, Gene, am I gonna live?  Could all this exposure to x-rays be the reason I have ingrown toe nails?

Of course, then there was the seven iron shot to the nose.  This was back in the years when I caddied at a local country club.  Like so many things, I followed the idiotic brother into this not so lucrative trade.  Jim was an “A” caddy, so he got $3.25, plus tip.  I was not a hot-shot (some would put another word here)like Jim, so only a “B” caddy.  We B’s got only $2.75, plus tip and, because we were only B’s, we didn’t get the pro’s to caddy for.  I remember a woman, she took a liking to me, probably because I didn’t ridicule her like others did, but she was deaf.  Talk about things that could kill ya.  I had to constantly reel that woman in to keep her from getting in harm’s way.  I digress a bit, but speaking of getting in harm’s way, I was not a stranger to that either. 

On Monday mornings we caddy’s were allowed to golf.  I was 14.  I’d put my golf bag over my shoulder, climb on my bike and ride over to the country club.  We played barefoot, because of the heavy dew early in the morning.  I gotta say, sun just up, bare feet in the grass, playing golf with your buddies, that was sweet.  One morning, I remember the layout of the hole to this day; it was on the back nine, I think number 15, I got a little too far out in front of one of my friends.  He pasted a seven iron shot, and it shot off the toe of the club at about 45 degrees.  I just remember turning around and seeing a white blur just before the ball hit me square on the nose.  Well after the incident there were comedians who’d say it was my prodigious nose that saved my life.  That may well be, because I’d hate to think what the outcome would have been had that thing hit me in the temple.  Even though my nose is, well, let’s say generous in size, it’s always been a bit sensitive.  Ooo, ooo, I thought of a couple more, a kid hitting me in the nose in the second grade…what the…why did I deserve that?  Then, there was the night my folks came home from a party, to find me in my bed, the sheets entirely soaked in blood from a nose bleed.  To have blamed this on uncontrolled nose-picking, I think that was entirely unfair.  But, of course, once again I digress. 

When that ball made contact with my nose I was absolutely stunned, and by golly, you would not believe the eruption of blood all over the 15th hole.  My friends gathered round me, and after a time, the blood-letting stopped.  I decided not to play on, so walked back to the caddy shack, put the clubs over my shoulder and rode my bike home.  Ooowee!  When I came in the door and mom saw me, I thought she’d have a heart attack. 

I begged her not to take me to the doctor.  I remember her sending me in to take a bath in order to clean all the blood off, while she made the call.  That the trip to the doctor was worse than getting hit by the ball.  He jammed a fork-shaped thing up my nostrils in order to straighten my nose.  Quickly he jerked it once to the left and once to the right, “crack, crack.”  Oh man, tears were flowing freely then.  After that, I didn’t trust my mom, or doctors for a long, long time.

Well shoot, I can see this is getting long, and I’ve got way more things that could have killed me, so we’ll have to save those for another time.  So stay tuned for “Stuff That Coulda Killed Me, Part Two.” 
Thanks for reading.

Hope “Springs” Eternal

In the last two weeks, storms have knocked our power out 3 times.  The last two times it happened near dinner, so we got to go out for dinner.  Last night’s outage brought big trees down in our little development and around town, so we were without power until after midnight.  We went out to dinner again, but this time we really scored, because it was “free cake night” at the restaurant, kind of the frosted nugget within the silver lining.  We stopped on the way home for coffee, and by candlelight enjoyed our treat.

The California trip was fun.  I rode with the usual group of old geezers, I believe at 65 I’m one of the youngest, and the rest range from my age up to 73.  We spent a good amount of time riding the Pacific Coast Highway (Rte 1).  Here’s a little evidence of that.

I’m wearing three layers there by the way, as each day along the coast, the day started out right around 50 degrees.  After six days of riding (over 300 mi) the tour company dropped me off at the idiotic brother’s place in Livermore, CA for a four-day visit.  I hadn’t seen Jim or his wife Minnie in 5 years, and I hadn’t been out to visit them in Livermore in probably 10 years.  My assessment, he’s not quite as idiotic as he used to be.  I’ll bet we went to the Safeway store 6 times, and he didn’t break open a single bag of candy.  And he’s been putting in long hours for the last 4 years on behalf of the Livermore Heritage Guild restoring a 1920 Seagrave fire engine.  That project is now complete, and I was able to enjoy the fruits of his (and other team members)labor.

The photo above was taken during a ride around downtown Livermore.  I even got to crank the siren.  For the record, the engine hood is complete too,  but was not on the truck for my ride.

Pony Progress?
Just a little.  I finished up the brake housing covers yesterday.  I had to fashion some wooden parts to replace some homemade pieces that fit inside the covers.  They don’t appear in any parts manual, but I figured if they were in there before I’ll put them in too.  Here’s what they look like.

After seeing the fabulous paint work done by Doc Fullofit and the exquisite woodwork done by Doc Deadrick out in California, well, I know I open myself up to criticism.  Please remember, I’m on a fool’s mission and it’s just the Pony.  By the way, that’s not an orange peel finish, that’s a mirror finish on a corroded piece of metal.

I’ve also been working the phones on the Pony’s behalf.  I’ve been trying real hard to find some new brake springs.  Here’s what the Pony’s look like.

I thought with that much corrosion I’d better replace them.  I tried Maggie Simpson, Parts Detective, at Kuhn’s, but she couldn’t find any.  I tried the guys in the Tractor Forum, and through them I got a suggestion that I try Kessel’s Massey Parts, but Terry didn’t have any either.  I tried to just get springs, not necessarily M-H springs from McMaster Carr, but they had nothing close.  Then this morning I had a thought.  Why not try Carolina Tractor, the outfit that miraculously came up with that vintage piece for the shifter some months back.  My heart sank again when the lady there said they didn’t have any.  But (flicker of hope) she checked what she called “The Parts Locator System” and noted that a tractor outfit in Lincoln, Nebraska had some and gave me a phone number.  I called the place in Lincoln, and they said that I’d have to call a related operation in Wichita.  In Wichita I got a guy named Frank, who said he’d have to check and would call me back.  He called back about and hour ago and sure enough Frank said he had three springs left, and they were $2.50 each.  They’re on their way here as I type this.  Woo hoo!

Poor Gene, he got caught out in that last big storm and ran into a fallen tree that went across the entire road.  He didn’t admit to any injuries, but his  Jaguar took a bit of a beating.  Here’s a picture Gene sent me.

As you see he’s parking that mess next to the Pony, and I’ll tell you, compared to that, the Pony’s looking pretty good!

Notice how you get lots of photos when “I got nuttin ta say?”  Well under the theory that a picture’s worth a thousand words here’s one more to close with.

That’s the idiotic brother with his restored Model A outside the restored Garage that houses the restored Seagrave.  The idiotic brother has not been restored.
Thanks for reading.

Don’t Bring Home Anything Stupid

I love grocery stores.  As long ago as the 1950’s I can remember the idiotic brother and I running around in the store causing mayhem among the shoppers and practically driving our mother to tears.  On more than one occasion she was asked to rein-in her off-spring.  Short of leashes, I don’t think this would have been possible.  A favorite isle was the one containing the bagged candy.  We’d check that out quickly to see if there were any loose pieces that might have leaked out of broken bags.  At some point, probably after a dry spell with no broken bags, we began taking matters into our own hands and creating broken bags.  It’s funny, but after over 50 years, I feel no shame for having done this, ahh, the “statute of limitations of the mind.”  Thank God video surveillance had not yet been invented.  But I guess this early experience, plus genetics (my Dad always loved shopping too), has led to a life long love of grocery stores.

Now though, they’re trying to ruin the fun.  I swear, I think they think we shoppers are a bunch of morons.  Do y’all carry around those little cards that you must show in order to get the sale price on stuff.  It’s ridiculous.  I now keep a full key chain in the car holding nothing but these stupid little “chips.”  Here’s a photo of mine.

Because I keep them in the car, I sometimes forget to bring them into the store.  This results in my arrival at check-out with no card and begging for mercy.  I sheepishly ask if the cashier will scan another card, feeling something close to a criminal in the process.  Last week I actually had one of these people say to me, “Well, this is absolutely something we are told not to do, but I’ll scan my card for you this one time.”  Sheesh, give me a break!

Then there’s the “buy one get one free” scam.  They price something up to the max and tell you that can have two for that price.  But of course no Boehmke ever said “no” to getting something for free, so even though we don’t really even need the first one, we end up taking two home.  Last week The Princess and I were picking up a few things we needed, actually had a list:  Mayonnaise,  it was buy one, get one free, pickle relish, same thing, barbecue sauce, again.  I felt like Noah, you know, putting two of each species in the Ark, I mean cart.  It got us checking expiration dates to make sure we could use the stuff up before it expired.  Honestly, can we use up two jars of piccalilli by May 10, 2014?Crikees, I could be dead by then.

And then The Princess tries to ruin my fun too.  For a recent solo outing, she’d  put ice cream on the list.  As I headed out the door she admonished, “Don’t bring home anything stupid.”  I tried to think where I’d heard that before.  Then I remembered similar words spoken by my Dad before going out on a date in high school, but I digress.  

To finish up at the grocery, I love it after I’ve checked out, and they hand me the receipt, “You saved $3.86 today.”  I did, compared to what?  I’m pretty dang sure I didn’t save anything, but I feel confident that I’m still riding on savings from purloined candy back in the 50’s.  I’d say we’re even.

Pony Progress
Things are moving along, well in the case of the Pony, not literally, but I’m working on that.  I put the final coat of Pony Red on the left front end and then what a relief to break into some Pony yellow and begin painting the wheel and hub.  The left front wheel and hub are now what is known in the Massey Harris world as “straw yellow.”  I was having coffee with friend of the Pony (that’ll be “FOP” from now on) Joe Strain, and mentioned how I was ready to grease the bearings and put the hub back together.  One thing led to another and Joe ended up in my garage to give me a lesson in packing a bearing with grease.  Here’s a photo, courtesy of Joe, depicting how it’s done.

It’s really pretty simple.  First you get a nice size gob of grease in your palm.  Then you scrape the bottom exterior edge in the grease on your palm until you see the grease come out the top.  I’ve put a little red arrow to show where the grease is coming out the top.  You rotate the bearing until you’ve completed the process around the entire bearing.  In no time at all we had the bearings greased and the hub put back together.  A look at the final product?  Shade your eyes; this is pretty dazzling.

Practically a piece of art ain’t it?  The Princess is always so helpful.  Upon showing her this, she  pointed out that I only had “three more to go.”  No kidding, and those two big ones on the back are going to be something!

Speaking of The Princess, she and I celebrated our 43rd anniversary July 5.  By golly that’s starting to sound like a lot.  Where did the years go?  We toasted each other at dinner, wishing ourselves many more.  She told me a little story.  When she was six or seven she says she often thought about death, I’m pretty sure thanks to the nuns at the catholic school she went to.  She has a specific memory of sitting at the kitchen table eating tomato soup and crackers and wondering what it would be like, not to feel anything.  Wow, really deep for a seven-year old.  I can remember many such moments, but all I was thinking was, did the idiotic brother get more soup than I did.

Listen, against my better judgement, I’m heading out to California for a week of cycling and then a brief visit with the idiotic brother and his wife, Minnie.  So, don’t despair, I will return.  In the meantime, do what they recommend on TV.  Go back and check out some reruns.  If you haven’t read em, they’re new to you.  I’ve picked out a few of my favorites, mostly from 2010, and they’re listed below.  All you need to do is click on them.

State of North Carolina v. Idiotic Author
Fire in the Hole!
All Aboard!
Thanksgiving, 1958
The Pony’s Christmas Letter, 2010
Maggie Simpson, Parts Detective
Rapid Attack Tractor

Finally, I was on the inbound leg of the morning 40 when I came up to a bridge that was under construction, and the road was closed.  Due to lack of rain, however, I could see that if I carried my bike down to the dried-up, rocky creek bed I could get across and not have to take a detour.  It was not easy, and I struggled a bit down in the creek, but I was finally coming up the other side when one of the construction workers up on the bridge hollered, “You got it pretty easy.  The last guy that did that was carrying a Toyota!” 

See you in two weeks, and thanks for reading.