Thursday, November 12, 2009

Frozen Soldiers

Frozen Soldiers
Dedicated to my father
RIP Lance Corporal Riley (B. 1920-D. 1966)
Born into a time frame that propelled him into WW II, my dad, Bob S. Riley, would join the Army under the buddy system.
At a time in history when young men went to war to fight not on political expediency or ideology or specter of an education, but on patriotic zeal and passion for freedom, was the watchword, the call that emblazoned young men’s heart. . If it meant dying in a blood strewn battlefield of foreign soil, filled with stench of death and mangled madness, then if that was where freedom lay, then freedom would be found. For what price is too much for freedom?
After receiving basic training, he had an opportunity to attend OCS( officer candidate school) though he only had an 8th grade education. My dad passed on the opportunity as he wanted to be in battle with his friends and if dying was his fate, then he was sold out to that fate.
Patton Speaks To The Troops - England, May 31, 1944
"Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country. Men, all this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. ALL REAL Americans, love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers . . . Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in Hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans. Now, an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post, don't know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating. Now we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know . . . My God, I actually pity those poor bastards we're going up against. My God, I do. We're not just going to shoot the bastards, we're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel. Now some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you'll chicken out under fire. Don't worry about it. I can assure you that you'll all do your duty. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood, shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo, that a moment before was your best friends face, you'll know what to do. Now there's another thing I want you to remember. I don't want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything, we'll let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly, and we're not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose, and we're going to kick him in the ass. We're going to kick the hell out of him all the time, and we're going to go through him like crap through a goose. Now, there's one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home, and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you're sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, "What did you do in the great World War Two?" You won't have to say, "Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana." Alright now, you sons of bitches, you know how I feel. Oh! . . . I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere. That's all."
Dad was a foot soldier in Patton’s Army and as such saw more than his share of bloodshed. Tired, hungry with death all around he would witness horrible atrocity. He would lose many of his buddies on the plains of battles and in the forests of fights. He would show heroism on many occasions and was awarded many medals.
He also drove tanks, blew up bridges and did whatever it took to advance the cause for which he was called. He single handily took out a German bunker when under fire, by attacking it despite the imminent prospect of death sailed on to his mission. Tossing hand grenades into the bunker, he wiped out German soldiers who would have surely taken out many more Americans. For this he was recognized.
He came home and was never wounded during all of the battles. His friends did not. He came alone. But he came home with the images of soldiers on the battlefield frozen in time, those who would not have families so that others may. He came home scarred and battle weary on the inside like most do. One cannot kill others and not be affected by it. He often lamented having to kill young boys barely teenagers, that Hitler threw on the battlefield in a desperate attempts to stop the advancing Americans.
Once, when I was about 14 years old, I was wearing a surfers cross around my neck. To me it was just a symbol of rebellion at the time. My dad saw it and approached me. The cross was in the shape of a German Swastika of which I had not considered. Instead of insisting that I remove it, he simply told me that I was free to wear it if I liked, but he warned me that other soldiers may not like it. No long speeches of why, none needed, I removed it and never wore it again.
Unfortunately, my father died of a heart attack at the age of 46 when I was 15. I never got to know him as a man. I miss that. I’m not sure what would be different in my life had it been different but I do know this. He would tell me too never quit, never let someone take freedom from you, never lay down when it’s time to stand up, stand up, be proud for rivers of blood have been poured and “Give Em Hell” to those who would come against.
Sadly, my dad and all others who fought the good fight would be stunned by today’s events. To sit and watch planes flying into buildings by Islamic Terrorist and not to answer with all out war. Making politics out of attack would be an abomination to him and his friends frozen in times on battlefields afar. Political correctness and sensitivity is a joke and one that my dad would surely fight against. You see he also knew the enemies within the camp and like then, now he would if he were here and able, gather his buddies frozen in time of foreign soils and gather them together in and all out assault. I can hear his battle cry “ Give Em Hell”. May we not forget from whom we have sprung and may we most honor all of those living and dead by not idly forfeiting what others paid for.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mrs. Marie Tye, A Teacher for The Times

Mrs. Marie Tye,
A Teacher for The Times

Mrs. Marie Tye, my 8th & 9th grade English teacher was my favorite overall. She possessed a number of qualities that made me feel that I was important. Not another student of the many she taught in her lifetime, but a student that she had confidence in and one worth teaching.
This was during a time in our country when teachers could actually mention God and the Bible in the classroom and not fear retribution. Morning prayers and the pledge of allegiance over the school intercom were daily rituals at school and no one was offended. This was all normal and no one believed their religious expressions were infringed on.
I was not brought up in an overtly Christian home so I had little understanding of biblical stories, books of the bible or things spiritual. I went to church off and on with friends that invited me but I didn’t have any knowledge of what it was all about. There was a picture of the Last Supper prominently displayed on the wall next to our kitchen table but that was the depth of what I knew.
Mrs. Tye was always dressed nicely and appropriately when she entered the classroom. She was no one’s fool as she had several children herself so trying to pull one on her was fruitless. Her facial expressions said it all. When she was perturbed at classroom commotion, she didn’t yell or threaten anyone with a trip to Mr. Havens, the school principal, where getting licks were unavoidable. She didn’t wave a board the size of Mt. Rushmore around as a warning. She simply would look at us and arch her left eye brow and silence would ensue. We knew! Mrs. Tye taught me that a lot can be said without saying it.
Mrs. Tye liked to test our knowledge on a number of subjects by having open quizzes. “Jeff, where can we find the Book of Deuteronomy?” she asked me. I was usually very good at these things, but I was stumped on this one. However, I took a stab at it and said, “In the library???” to which a portion of the class laughed. Mrs. Tye smiled at me and said” can anyone tell me where we can find the Book of Deuteronomy?” to which another female classmate correctly answered,” It is a book in the Old Testament in the Bible.” Mrs. Tye planted a seed in me that day about spiritual things broadening my horizons.
She also liked to conduct impromptu class spelling bees. I was an excellent speller and during elementary school I usually won most class spelling bees. On two occasions that I recall, only one of my classmates, Pat A. Phillips, could beat me when we had inter-class spelling bees. I was a visual speller, I could see the word in my mind, so I wasn’t prone to the rules such as I before e except after c. Although I relied heavily at times on my understanding of vowels, consonants, and syllables to get through, my visual ability was my salvation. If I had seen it, I could spell it.
One day the Book of Deuteronomy came back to haunt me in Mrs., Tye’s in class spelling bee. “Jeff” as she looked at me with a smile and look of re-assurance, “can you spell Deuteronomy?” Little did I know this would come back to me so soon. Trying to look as though I did my research by tracking down a Bible, I gave it a try by spelling it phonetically. “Du-Ta-Ra-On-Me Dutaraonme” it sounded and looked reasonable to me since we were talking about old things in the Bible. I was waiting for her to give me the eye brow arch of dissatisfaction, but true to her nature, she sweetly smiled, chuckled a bit at my attempt and asked the class if anyone could spell it. Again a female classmate got it correct. Must have been Pat A. Phillips! Mrs. Tye had taught me to not quit, keep trying, dig deeper to find the answers.
Mrs. Tye was the first teacher that I remember that had us memorize poetry. By this time in my education I had acquired a good memory of things and could use my visualization to learn. She usually gave us a week to memorize it and then each classmate would have to stand up and recite. One of the first poems I remember memorizing was Rudyard Kipling’s If:
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
I memorized this by the end of the class in which she gave it. Mrs. Tye allowed me to stand up and recite it although I had a week to do so. I did so flawlessly to which she gave me the I knew you could do it smile. I didn’t win a trophy, plaque, or certificate for my efforts. Mrs., Tye aptly rewarded me with not only a poem with which I have leaned on through the years to remind me of where I come from and have been through, but a reward of satisfaction and confidence.
Mrs. Tye was the only teacher besides 2 others that were neighbors that came to our home to visit after my dad died suddenly of a heart attack on December 29th 1966. She showed me her humanness, compassion and concern that night as she reassured my mother now widowed with 5 school aged children that all would be well in time. Her devotion to her family, faith, friends, and a student named Jeff Riley, made her a Teacher for The times.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Art of Nose Picking

Art of Nose Picking
There is an art to picking. I first became aware of this in the 8th grade at North Heights Jr. High in Texarkana, Arkansas. My 8th grade geography teacher, Coach McKinney, had the art down perfectly.
I sat in the middle row directly across from his desk but a couple of seats back. This provided me some level of security when the threat level went from caution to Red Alert, attack imminent.
At first, I believed Coach didn’t realize that he was teaching more about nose picking and its various nuances, than geography. This could be why I mastered the first and not the second. Once we were all seated after the bell rang, Coach would open up his geography book and look at us with a blank stare as though he wanted to say something. We looked back with blank stares as though we wanted to hear something. Coach, was the assistant football coach and head basketball coach because he was taller than the football coach. It all makes sense. I had to be careful though because I played sports and whatever I did or not do in class could and would be used against me later on in the Coach’s courtroom of Law. This was the basis of today’s Miranda warnings.
Once everyone got past the stare stage, class would begin. Coach would ask things like” can anyone tell me where I put my paddle board?” I usually raised my hand and would say something like” Coach it’s still stuck to Billy’s Butt.” That much I knew about geography, location is everything.
Then Coach would lean way back in his chair, with outstretched arms and clasp his hands behind his neck. I had seen this move before. I’m sure most of my classmates thought he was just bored and disinterested in being a teacher and took a casual laid back approach. Not me. This was his warm up signal usually accompanied by his head twisting side to side getting out the kinks. My early warning booger picking deflection system sent out an alert that attack was imminent.
Coach then would lean forward and gaze around the room as through it was an important thing to do and then ask Patsy to read page 1, paragraph 1 in our text book. Although we were almost to semester break, we were slow to learn. Once Patsy started reading, I fell asleep, but one eye cocked on Coach.
On cue, Coach went into the retrieve and load position. He was very particular about retrieval. Digging around is an art itself. Carefully selecting the most robust booger with proper form and texture was paramount to it hitting its target.
Once he had made his selection, next came the exam and roll technique. Coach would roll his choice selection between his thumb and forefinger, gently massaging it into a solid mass never taking his eye off of it. By now, the whole class has caught on and is on the edge of their seats and were preparing for the duck and cover. Everyone is looking around and a slight hum begins to ensue as we eagerly await the shot heard around the world.
Coach, was never one to hurry the process, including teaching geography. Once he got just the right firmness and texture, he would then raise it slowly to his mouth and gently spit ever so gently on his creation. One last tweak of his ammunition required taking it to his left ear after the spit on. Leaning his head to one side and rolling it around while listening intently to its peculiar resonance, he was satisfied that engagement was necessary.
Then came the lock and load. The entire class has now hunkered down into a full safety position leaning forward; face down on desk, geography book on heads, ready for a full scale launch. Coach didn’t notice that small fact as his mind was clearly fixated on completing his mission of not teaching geography, but warfare.
Suddenly and in one smooth motion his hand comes down from his ear, with forefinger cocked back, and ammo loaded on the end of his thumb. This was it, the moment of attack. All defensive positions were secured. I lay with my head firmly imbedded in my desk praying that somehow it would misfire, or fall harmlessly to the ground.
But the flick was on, confirmed by a whizzing that undeniably was the sound of artillery rounds being fired. At this point I was happy that Coach had not mastered an automatic flinger that would reload and bombard us unmercifully.
Then we heard a thud and a bang of broken glass. We slowly rose up, everyone checking for signs of a direct hit on their person. All hands were on deck.
We looked toward Coach who was grinning ear to ear as one who was content with his assignment of the day. He had clearly hit his intended target, a picture of Mr. Havens our principal, hanging on the back wall, now lying scattered on the classroom floor.
I think Coach was trying to teach us in his own subtle way, you never know what life’s going to sling at you, so be prepared, sometimes it can be a booger!

Ghost of Bosses Past

Ghost of Bosses Past
“Pick that sack up” he yelled. “Do you have any idea how much that sack cost?” as he pointed a finger in my face.

“No, not really( as though I cared )” I replied.

“It cost me $.01 and that’s throwing money away.” “If I catch you doing it again, we are going to the back room and having a little talk” he snapped. A little talk to him meant we weren’t going to be chatting over tea and talking sports, I was going to be the sport.

James Peek a man in his late 30’s , was the manager of the Piggly Wiggly I bagged groceries at during my senior year in high school. Red wavy hair slicked down with Ultra Brylcreem, a sheepish smile to say he was onto you, and eyes that would make you run for cover made it evident he was no fool. He had simple philosophies. Work hard, dress neatly, treat “his” customers respectfully, don’t waste, and you might survive.

My first day at work required a tour of the store and Mr. Peek was my personal guide. The last stop on this whimsical tour was the stock room (aka the back room). The entrance to the stock room was an old swinging steel door like one would see in a restaurant in between the kitchen and the serving areas. This one unfortunately didn’t have a window where you could see if anyone was coming through so proper caution when approaching could save a nose from being broken.

The back room was where Mr. Peek, gave his new recruits boot camp. Standing tall with his hands on his hips slightly bent over forward to make sure I could hear him he began to call out his repertoire of rules- “Rule #1- I’m the boss and what I say goes, understand?” as he held up 1 finger. “Rule #2- I will treat you like I would treat my own kids, understand?” as he held up 2 fingers. “Rule #3- If you are ever rude to “my” customers, we will have us a talk back here, understand?” as he held up 3 fingers. By this time in my indoctrination, I was hoping he was missing some fingers, so I could get out of there. I was wondering if he was going to tell me to hit the floor and give him 20. By now, my mind was thinking, the Marines were using Piggly Wigglies as a cover for recruiting and I’m standing in front of my Drill Sergeant.
“Do you understand the rules?” he said sternly looking straight into my eyes. “Yes Sir” I replied while my mind replayed the rule book. Let’s see, you’re the boss, you will beat me within an inch of my life like you do your kids, and if I break Ms. Smith’s eggs or squash Ms. Jones bread, I get an all expense paid trip to the torture chamber. Now I know why there was no window on that swinging door.
The store set up was all designed so Mr. Peek could watch all the action. His office was right inside the front entrance to the store. It was an elevated open office with half walls, so that it looked down at everyone and he had a clear shot- I mean view of everyone and everything. Strategically placed mirrors where he could see every aisle and I saw him toss out more than one shoplifter that he caught. Justice was swift. No police, just him as the escort out with a shout “Don’t ever come back in my store” like Marshall Dillon restoring law and order. From his throne he could rightfully claim that he was King of the Piggly Wiggly Empire and many people paid him homage and tributary by shopping there.
The store was built on a hill and the parking lot had a steep grade toward the end. The back entrance door had a steep decline that ran about 50 yards downhill and into the lower end of the parking lot which made for great downhill runs with the shopping carts while we rode them and used our shoes for brakes.
Mr. Peek reigned supremely and wisely. Saturdays were the busiest days and all hell broke loose if it was double or triple coupon day. I knew Mr. Peek would be more agitated on these days so I prayed for mercy every night before going to bed. “Dear God- Now I lay me down to sleep, tomorrow I might die at the hands of Mr. Peek, if I should die before I’m through, I pray the Lord, Mr. Peek does too.” Amen!
Mr. Peek knew the name of his loyal customers. Every old lady south of the Mason-Dixon Line and west of the Mississippi shopped there. He engaged his customers with a rousing robust southern, “Howdy, how are you today?” and with a hand on their shoulder and look into their eyes, “I appreciate ya.” He was a master purveyor of charm and wit, a true salesman and showman that rang up sales of twice that of larger stores in the chain.
“His” customers were quick to tell on you if eggs were broken or bread squashed from poor bagging. The cost of replacing them came out of your pay check and that could mean no money left over for date night. No one called labor boards to bail them out, that’s the way it was.
Mr. Peek had his good side and would also defend you. One of his customers, a man in his 40’s, was trying to “hit” on me. At first I thought he was just being friendly with me, a guy thing, until he made it abundantly clear that he had ulterior motives. To a 17 year old teenage boy in 1968 this was rather unsettling. I advised Mr. Peek of whom it was and he was astonished as it was a very loyal customer. However, he believed me and approached this man with my accusations and promptly escorted him out of the store and in very direct language advised him that he would personally take care of him if he ever came back.
We live in a time where we need more Mr. Peeks. Those who are not afraid to stand up and tell it like it is. Those who work hard, have values, and take action. Those who don’t pander to public opinion, or bow at the altar of compromise and that follow through on commitments on their beliefs. Mr. Peeks was fundamentally driven, nothing wavering, a true patron of the America I once knew. I’m grateful for those like him, although tough, that knew they were passing onto my generation the values and ethics that would be needed in my world. Though Mr. Peek is gone, his memory like all great warriors of those times, goes on in the hearts and minds of those like me, that he cared enough to tell it like it was—

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Health Care and Other Stuff

Health Care and Other Stuff
I actually listened to Obama’s speech last night. I will give the man good grades for being an orator but long on rhetoric lacking in specifics. However, here is MY opinion on several things:
Health care reform is needed. I haven’t run into anyone, no matter the political persuasion that doesn’t agree. The debate is how to achieve reform and who is to administer it is the bigger issue. I have some of my own ideas to add. This is by no means comprehensive, just talking points--
Tort Reform- This is a tricky area. We all know of doctors and hospitals that quite frankly are incompetent and those need to be held accountable for negligent acts that results in death or permanent injury. How much to hold those accountable are the questions. Allowing liability attorneys to run amuck is not the answer. I believe Texas where I live have tort reform which limits the amount of damages. Some tort reform also cuts down on frivolous actions brought on by unsavory attorney’s trying to make a buck by making the plaintiff pay the defendant damages if they lose. Obviously someone bringing this type of action stands to lose big. The downside of this is those that should bring actions don’t in fear that their attorney will lose the case. Tort reform is a two-edged sword. You can bet lawyers lobbyists are greasing major palms in DC and never want this to see the light of day, democrats, and republicans or otherwise.
Pre-Existing Conditions- This has always been an out for insurance companies. This needs to be banished no matter what reform happens, everyone I know agrees. Why should anyone be negated for 6 months or more due to a job change especially if that job change was involuntary? It’s time insurance companies come clean and by the way, the reason that government gets involved in our lives outside of idealism is that free enterprise( oxymoron) involves a great deal of unbridled GREED by huge corporate interests among others and public outcry for THE GOVERNMENT TO DO SOMETHING. Don’t you know politicians love it? How about free enterprise, become more enterprising and come up with marketplace ideas that will work and how about the government not trying to figure six ways to Sunday of how to tax it to death? Is it possible that CEO’s can live on less than a few million dollars a year and not have homes spread out across the globe? Take a Disney cruise every now and then and get down with the ‘little” people.
Illegal Immigration – Get to the back of the line please. I’m not against anyone no matter who, what and where they are from trying to do better. That does not mean doing better is freewheeling in the US as a means to an end. Go back to your country of origin and if things aren’t quite working out the way you like it there, then start a revolution and correct it. I’m tired as a natural born citizen who happens to be white, 58 and male being put to the back of the line. It’s not your turn because you have suffered more than I and it’s only fair that I spend time on the bench so you can rifle our social services. I have forefathers who built this country ground up and they all suffered, so take your suffrage act to another stage with you on the way out of the door. Starting now, if an illegal immigrant is treated in the US, the full amount of that treatment should be billed back to the country of origin for payment if the illegal immigrant can’t pay which usually is the case. If the country of origin refuses to pay for that treatment, then whatever aid we are doling out to that country gets offset by the amount of billings. Let’s not make this a government issue but a private issue. Private enterprise could do the billings and collections and not create another government run bureaucracy and we could send Dog the Bounty Hunter to enforce collections if necessary!
Taxing small business 8% of payroll to offset non-participation- Okay Obama, when did you own a business? This is absurd to say out of one side of your mouth that small business is the backbone of the American economy and then tax it for not participating. It’s not a tax but a penalty for not going along with the game plan. It’s a fact that 90% of small business fail in the first 5 years. Are we shooting for 100%, and then penalizing it for non-participation will insure that. I have started several small businesses (let’s call them micro business) and I can tell you it’s not a picnic. It is a lot of work and most are done on shoestrings, I know. Banks are not business friendly, and will not loan you a dime but they want your checking, savings and any other investment vehicles deposited into their institution. Unless you can collaterize you have nothing. I was fortunate enough at one time to actually grow a business to a point where I could offer health insurance to my employees. It gave me great pleasure to know that I could do that by being an enterprising and growing business, not because I was being forced into voluntary compliance (another oxymoron)- Give up on this idea
Indigent Care – I’m sure hospital emergency rooms are fed up with seeing the same people show up for emergency care due to gunshot, stab wounds, drugs, alcohol and such. You know the ones. These are the ones who are trying to do themselves in by their actions and they just keep doing it and keep showing up. I’m not advocating non- compassion,, God knows we need more, but there has to be a limit. I realize that a lot of them have mental issues, but maybe if they didn’t involve themselves in the ways they are going, they wouldn’t have mental issues. Not all, but some. I’m sure the think tank philosophy on this is they are collateral damage and it comes with the territory so why try to think of anything else. Where are the mega churches? Instead of begging for money endlessly and selling your books under the guise of evangelism why don’t you hit the streets with your “partners” and make a real difference. Those of you who “claim” you have the power to “heal” why aren’t you doing it? If I believed that I had the power to heal people by touching them, I would be in every hospital non-stop and then we wouldn’t have any need for health care! Get off the TV and get out on the streets and not just around the Holidays as to make a show. I’m sickened by your unfettered and unscriptural fleecing of others for personal gain. Praying over letters, handkerchiefs, trinkets as “healing’ methods is a joke. Wake up America and THINK for yourself.
Funding Health Care by eliminating waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid- Surely you jest. If you know that there is $500 billion of waste and fraud in these services, then studies have been done to discover this. If so then you know the source of the problems. What is being done NOW about that, and WHY hasn’t anything been done about it before? Why haven’t Republicans or Democrats done anything about it in the past? Political football maybe? No one gets any points here, if you know it then do something about it w/o creating more waste. Seems to me these oversight committees have poor vision. Let’s get real about how to pay for things. Yes, eliminating waste and fraud is a good step, but the likelihood of any significant gains there is unrealistic. It takes money so can anyone say TAXPAYER?
Funding Abortions- Nope, all that does is encourage bad behavior. Please don’t give me this women’s right argument. That’s intellectualism and has nothing to do with rights. Unwanted pregnancies? Then quit having sex or UNPROTECTED sex. I know I am stepping on toes but I don’t care. Your unwanted baby could make another couple happy that can’t have children for one reason or another. That baby could become somebody some day, like PRESIDENT, and do some real good. My paternal grandmother died at the age of 26 in 1929 from a botched abortion and subsequently bled to death. I’m not banging drums for “safe” abortions. In my book abortion is legalized murder. Hope your toes didn’t get too bruised. You men that get women pregnant and then desert them, step up to the plate. If you don’t then you are not men just nanny’s and all the tattooing in the world doesn’t make you anything other than trash.. 70% of black babies born today are born out of wedlock, and 15% of the remaining 30% desert, leaving 15% of blacks with a family. Can you say crime? Black people do your race some good and someone please step forward and say it. Are you listening REVERENDS?
Enough already—

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Walking Memory Lane- A Time of Reunion

Walking Memory Lane, Time of Reunion
The moment the last bell rung on May 29th, 1969 to now 40 years later seems all at once yesterday and vivid, yet distant and unattached like cells in my brain. August 29th, 2009 reunited classmates, who came from as far away as Japan to reminisce about old times, fun times, and the carefree days of our youth.
The reunion started with the meet and greet. The room was buzzing with smiles, hugs and old people. For a moment I thought I had stumbled upon Happy Trails To You Nursing Home. There was a table where we cashed in our tickets for wine, beer or other spirits but we had options on Geritol, Ex-Lax, Viagra with 4 hour warning label, or Grecian Formula at another table. Realizing I had entered into a production for a new reality show” Born to be Wild Baby Boomers Tire Easily” I quickly got past the denial stage of age and onto acceptance. Why waste time I grew old just standing there.
Reunions at this point in our lives spark fear and trepidation in some. Questions come to mind like, what if I don’t remember names, faces and do I measure up and most importantly can anyone see my Depends through my pants. None of us can see or hear at this age so recognition is quickly remedied by taking a quick peek at the name tag. Yes, I peeked while maintaining eye contact, while the other eye darted, scanned and uploaded the photo and name tag firmly attached to everyone’s chest into what’s left of my processing unit and matched it against the FBI’s most wanted list. This way, I appeared to be mentally intact with a brilliant memory and I think I fooled no one.
It’s easy to mis-associate at this level, like placing names with occupation or how you remember others. While shaking hands and speaking to a couple of classmates, Paula came up and made a gesture like she was playing an air guitar and said” Jeff, are you still playing music and do you still have a band?” “ I play some guitar but only to myself behind closed doors in a padded cell” I replied. She told everyone standing there, “I use to love to go and watch Jeff and his band play.” “It was so much fun” she continued. I thanked her for the kind comments about my music and band that I never had. It’s okay Paula, we will get you some help soon and thanks for the fantasy.
On the way to the rest room, I heard my name being called out behind me. Hearing voices at this age is a bad connotation. Most mass murderers claim they heard voices. I continued on but the voice wouldn’t leave me. Slowly I turned to look and I saw Richard waving at me to come over to his table. I first I thought he was swatting flies, but I ambled over to be safe. “Jeff, do you think Cabo is a good place to retire to?” he asked. “I’m trying to convince my new wife that it is” he continued. I’m nodding my head and pursing my lips and said “I’ve never been there, but I hear it’s great” I replied. “You are still in the travel business-- aren’t you?” he queried. “I was in the freight business for many years and long ago, but not the travel business” I replied. Sorry Richard, you’ve lost your first argument with your new wife but I think I can get you and Paula a group discount at The ‘Home.”
Men are lucky to live this long and never have to make a name change unless we convert to an Islamic Terrorist Organization and become jihadists. Being able to still pronounce names, most no more than 2 syllables like Bob, Jack, Ed, Sue, Gayle, Jim, Pat and Leslie is refreshing. Imagine that I changed my name to Akbar Said Mohammed Ephat- Try putting that on a name tag in small letters. Now along comes Paula imitating an explosive device saying, “Akbar- do you still blow things up?”
Women through divorce or death of a spouse may have 4-5 last names now. I think I saw this on a name tag. Linda (Jones, Smith, Woods, Brady, Martin____________) McNeil. I asked her what the blank was for after Martin and she said no sense in stopping now. I thought it was a brilliant retirement plan.
The DJ’s spun music of our time which I personally thought and still do was and is the best. White boys still can’t dance! When we were young we would get a bit intoxicated and relaxed and our brains would trick us into thinking we had soul. This would translate into our bodies through some metamorphic chemical mutation and make us bust out into” I feel good, like I knew I would” with all manner of jerking motions. Now, we don’t need intoxicants to convince us of this. We have less brain cells now competing for our bodies so while we still think we can bust out the moves; we can’t remember why we still can’t dance. It’s all good.
The time, as expected, passed quickly. In our younger years we would shut everything down and ask why everyone was leaving at 2:00 a.m. By 9:00 P.M. our spouses were in a complete coma of boredom, looking at their watches wondering when it was all going to end. By 10:00 P.M. we all had missed our bedtimes- As we departed there was still some Geritol, Ex- Lax, and Grecians Formula on the table, but there was a run on Viagra!
The world is much different now than as we knew it but maybe it’s a matter of perspective. When we were young we saw the possibilities before us not the dangers, nor the disappointments life dole’s out. We only saw the positive and us in it and how we would change things for the better. Have we succeeded? What has changed as a result of us being out there and does it matter? I submit that things have changed and it does matter in the sense we took our places, made our moves, immersed ourselves in whatever it was that drove us. In that effort we all made contributions to those around us regardless of how large or small we have made a difference. Hail to thee AHS class of 69.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Ramblings of Riley: Letting Go of Mom#links#links#links

The Ramblings of Riley: Letting Go of Mom#links#links#links

Simply Me- A Tribute

To Steve—A Tribute

Simply Me

From time to eternity you now find your rest-
Letting go of earthly things to be better blessed...
You walked the journey we call life-
You're music was not want of strife...

Perfect-- none of us could ever be-
We walked what we knew as far as we could see...
Out of step from what others claim-
You lived--and breathed not to be the same...

Music was your friend and a way to find-
Answers to questions of things we mind...
Les Paul, Gibson, and Martin you called friends-
Whom you shared with others with hearts on mend...

Rest easy now your road is left for others to walk-
To hear your music as they silently talk...
Of melodies of life fast and slow-
The way you played it and let it flow...

Eternity is time standing still you have found-
Now the beauty of streets of gold and angelic sound...
Play your smooth rhythms and driving leads-
In harmony with God--- you are now free... to be simply me.

Thanks Steve for sharing your life, your way, without apology.

Allen R. Jeffries
Aka, Jeff Riley

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Happy Ville

Happy Ville
Welcome to Happy Ville the sign read. Please check your glumness at the door before proceeding, it continued. Sadness, anger, bitterness, crying, depression shall not enter these gates. Happy Ville will provide joy, peace, tranquility, fun and laughter and will be your ever present companions.
Upon depositing my baggage upon the outskirts of Happy Ville, I proceeded through the gates. God met me there. Not like I pictured Him sitting on a big white throne, hurling lightning bolts at everyone on Earth. He was personal, jovial, a warm presence with a sense of Supreme assurance. We walked on for a while just chatting about good things. He listened very well to all I had to talk about. I could talk of none but good for I had checked my baggage at the door. I told Him how I remembered my mother and how she loved to laugh and he nodded his head in an understanding manner.
God pointed to a beautiful house, tall and majestic, laden in gold. The finest of architectural details were well apportioned on the outside. Looking at the house, I felt an overwhelming peace enmesh my soul. I heard laughter emanating from within. I heard my mother’s voice. I ask God if I could take a peak in and He escorted me to what appeared to be a window. He, with a smile on His face said for me to go ahead and peer in, taking great delight in my child like enthusiasm. The window was more like a cloud, yet transparent. I peered in and saw my mom arrayed in beauty of white, fully herself in appearance and with joy abounding.
We walked on and the further we walked the more beauty of Happy Ville was revealed. Water fountains that sounded like calm winds gently blowing through the air. Gardens of flowers and roses of every kind and color, more brilliant than the colors of a rainbow lined the walkways. There were strands of towering trees gently swaying as I walked by. I noticed a gardener busy tending the garden. He whistled beautiful old Gospel songs as he went about his work. I ask God who he was. God called him over and I instantly knew him. My dad gave me a hug that wrapped me in warmth much like a gentle fire feels when sitting next to a fireplace on a cold winter morning.
Everything was draped in a peace that was difficult to understand, yet I knew. The tranquil quietness was pierced with bursts of more laughter and harmonic singing in the distance. The sound of children merrily playing echoed throughout Happy Ville. There was no cold or heat in the air only a feeling of contentment embraced me. I looked up into the bright beautiful skies above and saw birds of every kind peacefully soaring and playfully indulging one another. There was no sun yet the light that prevailed over Happy Ville was bright enough to blind but I could see perfectly.
God was wonderfully enchanted with how I appeared while we were walking. I could tell He was well pleased with my excitement at all of what I had seen and heard. God was like a doting father with his child that he loves and adores and only wants his happiness.
As we strolled further along the walkways, more and more people began to appear onto me. I suddenly heard my name being called out from behind me in an old voice I once knew. “Jeff”, the old voice with a hint of Dutch German in it called out. As I turned to see, I saw my old friend and mentor, Art Haar. Art had been 90 years old and was now as lively and jovial as could be. With his rotund belly, steely hands, and grandfatherly gaze he looked me in the eyes and said, “I know longer have to kick sand in the devil’s face, Jeff.” With that he gave be a big hug and as he always would tell me” I love ya.” I laughed with him as we remembered those times we met and talked about better things that he now had. How wonderful I felt.
As I turned back around I was suddenly standing in the midst of a host of others and great commotion of excitement was all around. I had never seen such a display of joyful anticipation in everyone’s face. Though I knew not their names, strangely I knew them all. I could sense whose mom, dad, brothers, sisters, husbands and wife’s they once were. The overflowing abundance of tranquil joy in their faces gave me an assured hope that all is well with them in Happy Ville
I could hardly contain myself and thought what a wonderful place Happy Ville is. There was no place like it. Time was gone and no one hurried. There was no day, no night, only the eternal light that never stopped shining.
God then told me that he wanted to show me something extra special. We entered into a great expanse. Untold millions through the ages filled this expanse, yet there was still more room. All eyes were directed toward one person walking amongst them. Though millions surrounded Him, it was as though He knew everyone personally, face to face. No one had a better view than another. I then asked God “Who is this?” “It is my Son in whom I’m well pleased” He replied. I gazed upon Him and knew that I was complete.
I awoke from the night. Still groggy from sleep, I realized that Happy Ville had been a dream. I lay next to my wife and calmness, peace, and happiness over whelmed me. Though a dream, it was real enough to allow me to escape for a while my mortal bonds and conflicts of this life knowing someday I will return to Happy Ville--Today I will have contentment---