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Posts published in “Columnists – Thoughts of an Old Georgia Boy”

Experiencing the San Francisco Treat

We had company from across the Mississippi for a few days, South Carolina to be exact. Ole sister decided it was time to visit her brother and his wife. We took off for San Francisco for a few days to see the sights and to watch her expression when she saw some of the goings on out there on the West Coast.

We didn’t miss much and had a large time seeing things one does not normally see. We rode the cable car to the end of the line which is downtown San Francisco in front of or near Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s in the high rent district.

We decided to make a pit stop and into Bloomingdale’s we went. Women’s is on the second floor and men’s is on the fourth floor. They call theirs a lounge and a nice one indeed. Afterwards we were sashaying around like we were somebody, looking at things. Came across a nice men’s sweater and checked the price, near spit my teeth out when I saw $395.00 and the same price for a pair of ugly men’s shoes.

Later on out on the street at an intersection, this dude in a dress walked by and crossed the street. Sister asked me if I saw that and what was it, a man or a woman. It was a he dressed as a she with a cigarette in his mouth pointed up, mercy day it was tacky too.

Next day on the street car (F Line) we saw one man (salt & pepper) kissing another man. She looked at me and simply shook her head. I told her it was the city of brotherly love.

The seals are back on Pier 39 and a good many of them. They are as large as a bunch of hogs lying up on the floating docks; some probably weighed 600 pounds.

The women shopped till I was ready to drop; lots of stores sell the “SAN FRANCISCO” colored shopping bags, various colors and all with a zipper closure. The prices ranged from $12.95 to $2.99 for the same bag a couple blocks off the main drag, Chinatown too.

Riding the cable car one day I slipped my Bubba Teeth in and had my own laughter. People were looking at me like we were looking at the sweeties. It was hard not to bust out laughing at some of the younger people staring at my teeth. Of course it didn’t settle well with ole sister as I was sitting next to her.

Think it is fun to ride a cable car and hang on from the side? A little girl down from where I was sitting got tagged on the elbow by the side view mirror on a parked car. It didn’t hurt her but her father scolded her in German. I can just imagine what he said.

If you ever get to the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, by all means go eat a hamburger and fries at IN & OUT BURGER. Just plain good eating and probably the cheapest burger around the wharf.

Spring Fever and Spring Cleaning…

Spring is so close one can smell it. That must be why all these sneezing fits have occurred. The neighbor’s Arizona Ash tree is budding out and the other neighbor’s pear tree will be in bloom once it gets a good drink of water as it is full of buds. Pear trees are so pretty full of white blossoms.

Spring will officially be here next month just after you turn your clock forward one hour. Looking forward to the time advance, although Spike cat will not know the difference as he likes to walk around the pillow before daylight so someone will go get his breakfast snack of Whiskas Temptations treats. Spring Fever as defined by Ms Merriam-Webster is “a lazy or restless feeling often associated with the onset of spring”.

You can tell its spring when all the male dove start cooing to the nearest female dove. It is also time for the white perch AKA Crappie to bite. Actually the Crappie are already biting on Luce Bayou above Lake Houston. Spring runs from March into May down here in Texas and at the end of spring is the beginning of hurricane season.

Spring is also the time to do your spring cleaning and, being the head janitor of the house the job has already begun. The biggest chore at the house is washing the fascia and eaves on the house; next biggest is the blinds and windows. Guess I’ll have to turn the ceiling fans on high to dust. Don’t care what she says, that’s woman’s work. About decided when she retires, I’m going back to work.

Drove to the fresh water pond in the big city last week to check out a crappie hole found over the web; hope to wet a hook this coming week, but weather forecast says it’s going to be cold so Charlie might not make it.

Got a box of Jerusalem artichoke to plant one day this week, hope to have a pint or two of them pickled as Pop and Pearl Farrar grew them out at their place on the Liberty Hill Road. Pearl would pickle them and they were right tasty, crunchy too. Of course she would put a pod of red pepper in the jar for a bit of spice, hot but good.

We used to take the mattresses out each spring on a pretty day to air out; it was a job momma always had me help doing wrestling those heavy cotton mattresses out to the back yard for a day. Nowadays you have febreze.

To store or not to store…

It is going to be a race as to what comes first, the first frost or the making of tomatoes in the garden. Finally got some blooms on the tomato plants and they will make if given enough time. If the tomatoes do make, they will eventually end up in some glass jars with my chowchow makings.

Me and the Mrs. celebrated our fortieth anniversary recently and drove her new car to Lake Rayburn where we stayed at a bed and breakfast. While up there, we looked and looked for a place on the water to consider purchasing. She has told me when she plans to retire and we hope move at that time. After we rode all over the place, she made the comment, “I don’t know if I want to live this far out from everything.” So what does that tell you?

Anyway, we looked at numerous places on the water and the thought of moving to the lake is getting about as much fan fare as us moving to the Smokey Mountains. That is not going to happen ‘cause I’ll not move anywhere it snows. Besides all those deer around the lake would be in my garden.

Have been assigned the task of cleaning out the garage so the new car can be parked inside. Not only is the garage full but one of the twins use it as his storage shed too, rent free mind you. Got two of everything from shovels, rakes to pump and sprayer. He has a welding machine in there, now that might be fun to play with but I don’t even know how to turn it on yet. Thinking about getting a rental storage place or having another shed built around back. Does that make sense to build a place to store junk?

If I could keep her out of the resale stores on the weekend there would not be as much junk accumulated. Got more shirts now than I ever had in my life. Probably get a couple more with Christmas coming around the corner. Those resale stores are the very reason she does not want to move to the lake. She has six stores she tries to checkout every other weekend, Sand Dollar, Bluebird, The Guild, Value Village, Houston Area Ministries and one more. Reckon I should be thankful she does more looking than buying.

Those Summer Daze…

Finished reading an eBook this weekend, a first for me and enjoyed it so much, I ordered another eBook to download. An eBook is read over the computer once downloaded for a nominal fee.

The program to read the eBook was free so I am good to go. The particular book just finished was LONG HORN II by Dusty Rhodes. AMAZON.COM has the book for $35.95 + S & H and it is a paperback edition, used at that.

The eBook was purchased for $5.50 with the only drawback being it must be read over this computer and one cannot go lie down to read and catch a snooze. It cannot be copied, printed, transferred or forwarded. Like the Vegas theme, “What you read here, stays here”.

Our oldest boy by 9 minutes and his clan are down from Pennsylvania. They head back up and across the Mason Dixon Line tomorrow, none too soon for the cats. Must admit the boy has become a good cook over the years and gladly turned the cooking over to him while he was home. Reckon we’ll be eating leftovers for a week after they leave.

Grandkids sure are nice and fun loving to have. Some good, some bad and folks say you reap what you sow. The reason kids today are such picky eater is because the parents ask them if they want some of this, that and the other to eat. Prepare the kids a plate and expect them to eat. If they do not, do not reward them with cookies and ice cream. GOOD GRIEF!!!

That is old school maybe but I am sure there are some of you who will agree with me. Took the granddaughters (7 & 12) to Wal-Mart the other morning @ 0600; advised them to stick close to me because somebody might get them and they be making tamales for the rest of their lives. Do not have to worry about the girls running around whooping and hollering like some you see in the stores. Reckon you could say that is why little brother got left behind because I too would whoop and holler too if I had to tag along with two girls in the girl’s britches department.

These kids do not know how good they have it. All they did while in Texas sure beats sitting outside in a swing shelling beans and peas, shucking corn and putting stuff up, canning and all. That may be productive and it sure beats watching SQUARE BOB WET PANTS or the Nick channel. Guess that is why they are at their great aunt’s house swimming in the concrete pond and not in the creek outback.

Spending time on ‘The Rock’

Spent a little time behind bars recently as me and the Mrs. took a boat ride to the island of Alcatraz just off San Francisco. A worthwhile endeavor indeed not to mention all the stories behind the self guided tour.

The whole place has deteriorated very much but could still house a few prisoners. The Box was something to see as was the visitation area. An interesting sign during the tour read, “Break the rules and you go to prison, break prison rules and you go to Alcatraz”. Lots of bad people spent time there and heard some interesting facts about the Birdman of Alcatraz. He never had birds while he was at Alcatraz (it was against the rules) but had birds when he was at Leavenworth.

There ain’t nothing cheap in San Francisco. Parking at the hotel was forty bucks a night even if you stayed there. We did not rent a car, but fully used the public transportation system. The cable car was.well, I will not wait in line that long again to ride the thing. It was packed like sardines on the inside and we managed to have inside seats. But if you sat, people standing faced us or you get their rears in your face and you couldn’t see the city. No Mas.

The street cars (F Line) with overhead wires were the best mode of transportation. We got on one the first day there just to get our bearings. We rode it from one end to the other and back near our hotel. That in itself was a tour of the city and a sight to see for a buck fifty each. The ticket stub can be used again within four hours.

Night lights mean bright colorful lights along Fisherman’s Wharf. Made it to Chinatown one evening riding on the street car in San Francisco. Have not been in that hilly of an area since I went back to Georgia. Told one fellow from there that it is a wonder they don’t have one leg longer than the other with those hills.

It was cold in San Francisco most of the time and we took jackets having been forewarned. Lots of stores sell sweats and $19.99 lite weight jackets with San Francisco embroidered or something on the front. Nice jacket and one would make you smile when all you brought were pull over short sleeve shirts.

Out from the end of the building area was a swim club and folks were actually swimming in that frigid water. Air temp was good jacket weather and water temp in the high fifties. My Wranglers felt good too, so you can imagine the water. Some had on wet suits while others had simple bathing suits. You can see everything in California; I can believe that after this trip.

Took one tour bus trip across the Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Woods, the place where the large trees grow and enjoyed it a whole bunch. An interesting fact at the bridge is that it is painted every year. Six months to do one side and six the other, then they starts over again – interstate orange. Glad to be back home even with this sweltering heat.

My sister got a real taste of Texas

Had company last week, my ole country sister came to town. She stays in the deep woods of South Carolina on the Catawba River and she drips country; from the way she talks to her eating habits.

We attended the Strawberry Festival in Pasadena with the real feel temperature hovering around a hundred. Tried my best to get her to ride in the helicopter but she would have nothing to do with it. Said, “I ain’t getting in no helicopter!” So me and the granddaughter got tickets and took a quick up and around the fairgrounds ride. Quickest twenty bucks I ever spent but it was worth it to see the little girl smile as we took off. This was her first time to ride in a chopper, my second and this one was jet turbine. I asked the fellow taking up tickets how much one of those helicopters cost, he quoted $1.2 million.

Ole sister had her first beef brisket at the Catholic Church Bazaar Sunday. Said it was good and cleaned her plate…as usual. She was much surprised that beer was sold at the event but I told her it was to wash down the barbeque for the auction buyers.

She cracks me up, at the dinner table; we have grinders for salt and pepper – remove the top, turn upside down and grind out the salt. She was sitting there twisting the dickens out of the salt and nothing would come out. She did not take the cover off and when she did, it was full of salt.

Took her to our favorite Mexican restaurant and suggested she get a Summer Special. When they brought it before her, she looked at me and said, “How do I eat it.” There was fresh guacamole, a bean chalupa, a beef taco and chili con queso tostada. She managed to get through the meal and said it was very good. Lots different than the Taco Bell they have down in Columbia, SC.

Quick witted she is, I made a comment about something saying, momma only raised one fool and she cut in and said, yea, he is in Texas.

She worked at the bleachery for years, later going to work with Mack Trucks. She had me arm wrestle her one time and she beat my socks off. She used air tools to put the brakes on those big units and was strong from doing so.

She worked on the line and said one of her girlfriends had placed a rubber snake up under a truck where she would be putting on brakes. Said that truck came down the line and she got down doing the brakes and seeing that snake, came up from there screaming and hollering. All her workers around were laughing at her hysterics.

When it comes to sisters, I got the best.

Government paydays are back again…

The eagle screams this week. In case you do not know what that is, it is payday for government service. That is what it was called aboard ship in the Coast Guard and they paid us in cash. Generally the supply officer and a gunner’s mate, both armed with .45’s, made the trip to the bank to pick up the ship’s payroll.

Those once a month paydays are back now that yours truly is drawing social security. While working in the banking industry for years, we were paid on the 15th and 30th of each month. Never received an actual paycheck, everything was direct deposit, still is. During my last year, the bank changed our paydays to every other Thursday and that was a nice treat. Sometimes before on those long weekends before payday, you would have to wait for payday to do something and to buy groceries.

One thing about the social security, and you have probably heard about it before,I’ll tell you flat out if you expect to live just on social security alone when you retire, you best move on into the poor house. You might think you are there now but you are in for a big surprise. Ma said if you think we are poor this week, wait until next week.

What I draw from the government is just enough to pay required insurance on the old truck and old car, the old house plus all the various and assorted taxes one must pay to live in the great state of Texas. Not to mention the light bill, water bill, phone bill, cable bill, Dr bill, drug bill, and incidental bill, and still out of your check is the income tax Uncle Sam charges you to pay you. Ain’t nothing wrong with cornbread and peas but some good fried streak-o-lean is good every now and then.

Enough of the poor mouth but fortunately for me, I married a woman younger than me and she is still working. She has a ways to go before she retires and continues to work to this day. As my old buddy would say, you cut a fat hog on that one.

Uh-O, that almost got me in trouble, I had to explain what that saying meant.

Charlie A. Farrar is author of many columns of homespun Georgia thoughts, that have appeared in local newspapers. He has published a book with some of the best, “Two Cents Worth.” To purchase a copy, send $12.95 to NEWSpaper, PO Box 405, Highlands, TX 77562.

Remembering an old friend

Lost one of my buddies the other day, this one was an old paratrooper from WWII and his picture has hung on my office wall for years. It was a photo of him with John Wayne. Had another picture below it of John Wayne and David Jansen which was photographed at Fort Benning during the filming of THE GREEN BERETS back in 1968.

Bob Fischer was my neighbor during my growing up days back in Georgia and an interesting man indeed. Being the military liaison for the State of Georgia, he had diplomatic status at the bases in Georgia. He enjoyed rubbing elbows while flying around with the General in his helicopter in those days.

He was a boxer and coached boxing at the Dixie Community Center. Having fought Golden Glove in Alabama, he knew how to box. He was a former Scout Master for one of the Boy Scouts Troops, having made a trip with his troop to the scout camp in Philmont, New Mexico. A big time Shriner, he loved to participate in parades around the state with his convertible having a large time enjoying life.

Talking about the war one time, he called me Bub. He said, “Bub, I’ve seen it all.” talking about the Germans and the mutilation that went on in Auschwitz.

Back as a chap, I was at their house next door down the hill; Bob went into his attic and came back with a Nazi flag to show us kids.

Guess you could say he has made his last jump in life, RIP old friend.

Old friends like that are hard to come by; it takes a life time to create something that special. Problem is, at my age, good friends like Bob are getting fewer and farther between.

Had lunches recently with some old banker friends. Interesting to be around people like that; find out what is going on in the area, people, events, happenings, this and that. Past dues are still past due. What areas are hot in value and what is this, that and the other going to be?

At least the working banker picked up the tab.

Who’s preyin’ on who?

Sometimes my ole cuz up Montana way sends items of interest about that part of the world. The latest was a newspaper article out of the BILLINGS GAZETTE regarding the use of birds of prey to rid starlings from one of the refineries.

As an admirer of birds, this article struck my fancy.

A refinery in Billings hired a company out of California which uses trained owls, hawks and falcons to rid the massive number of starlings.

In 19 days, the starlings were reduced from about 50,000 to about 50 using 12 different birds of prey.

Don’t go getting all huffy about that as the company does not want to hurt the birds, but simply gives them a fright to go someplace else.

They let the birds of prey out in the afternoon and evening to scare away the unwanted birds.

The article had some interesting facts that you may be interested in:

A hawk’s eyesight is eight times better than a human’s, allowing it to see a rabbit up a mile away.

A European eagle owl can see a hundred times more better than a person and is able to spot a mouse by starlight a football field away… yes more better.

Owl’s claws can exert a thousand pounds per inch compared to a human’s ninety pounds per inch.

An owl’s hearing is so good; it can detect a rat 2 feet under the snow or grass.

They say the birds will stay away until they go back south in the fall.

Sort of like me this past weekend with the Mrs. and grandyoungan looking at a potential fishing hole.

We went up to Liberty County to the Trinity River Wildlife Refuge to check out a fishing spot. The spot off the pier was so-so. I walked down the trail to another pond on the other side and down a bit while the girls went exploring the butterfly trail.

On down a ways this one little pond looked just right and down there I went. Water on both sides and possibly some fish in the one on the left. Eye balling the water and banks I gandered upon a rather large gator as it was eyeing balling me big time.

Like those birds leaving the refinery, you can have this place!

Dialing for dollars

Hey, the temps have already hit the 80’s, tomatoes and peppers are in the ground, NASCAR has started and finally received the first social security check. That is hard to beat.

Old cuz up in Montana said the snow is still coming down. By the time my tomatoes run out, old cuz will be planting and eating tomato sandwiches in August. Told old cuz they only have two seasons, winter and the Fourth of July.

Being retired from the bank and finance business, one has many tales of events, adventures and OMG’s.

The very bad past dues or way past dues however you want to call them, the branch manager would go with me, or I would go with him to see the customer. This customer lived in a mobile home not far off the beach and it was a very sandy area indeed.

The customer let us in the trailer and the boss did the talking. He got to be real pushy in trying to collect monies due. About that time, this ole customer come out and said, “By God, I’ll show you what you can do.”

You know if you explain to somebody in plain English what can happen in the collection of a debt from court to writs of sequestration, the customers get very offensive.

The weapon was a .30 lever action, I knew because I’ve seen lots of Westerns. About that time I’m nearest the door heading out and the boss gets in front of me at the door and started to get mouthy again. I told him “let’s get out of here.”

Ain’t no sense getting in that hairy of a situation. I am not that brave, that bullet would have gone through him, me and the trailer house.

One of my buddies was out in the country collecting and went to the barn where the customer was with several of his cronies. Long story short, they surrounded my buddy and gave him a few shoves. He came out of the situation ill as a hornet and told the district supervisor, who called the customer and read the riot act to him over the phone. People are real brave and brazen while on the phone. Face to face confrontations are very much different.

Glad to be out of that business. Always believed one can get more from honey than vinegar.

One fellow from my hometown in Georgia got shot and killed in Atlanta while chasing. Chasing is the slang for out collecting. He walked up on the porch and got shot through the screen door.

Another man from here was collecting over near the Louisiana border and got shot by the debtor.

If I ever do another book, I have thought of calling it DIALING FOR DOLLARS.

Charlie A. Farrar is author of many columns of homespun Georgia thoughts, that have appeared in local newspapers. He has published a book with some of the best, “Two Cents Worth.” To purchase a copy, send $12.95 to Newspaper, PO Box 405, Highlands, TX 77562.