…””HAPPY FATHERS DAY”…

Out on The Deck 5-26-16Today is “Fathers Day”! To all of you FATHERS “HAPPY FATHERS DAY”! To both of my Fathers, Charles W. Gray (1953 R.I.P.) & my Step-Father Claude C. McGraw (2002 R.I.P.), I thank them for, both, the rolls they played in my life. My Father (Charles) passed away, in an accident, when I was only 20 months old. I really never knew him. I would also like to thank all of those “Neighbor Hood Fathers” who shared their time & leadership with me in my early years. To THEIR children thank you for sharing them with me, it meant more than you’ll ever know. To those of you who have lost your Fathers cherish your time & memories with them. To those of you who are lucky enough to still have your Fathers make sure you recognize them today. The day will come when you’ll wish you had. If you can’t be with them today CALL them, it’ll mean an awful lot. Folks of my age & older care NOTHING about getting a TEXT. DON”T DO IT!. Those are for you younger folks. As for Me, I’m blessed to have my Children & Grandchildren with me…”Hold’em Hook”…..BG>

…”livin’ in your town, on your streets!”…

Barrett School    1st grade  58-59 - CopyMay 21, 2017 is a sad day in American History, for many reasons. One of which is, after 146 years, The “Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus” is NO MORE! My mind takes me back to a song, by James Darren, “Goodbye Cruel World (I’m off to join the Circus)”. Who of you, as a child, ever dreamed of runnin’ away to join “The Circus”? How many of you, out there, as a child, got excited when you heard “The Circus is coming to Town”! I can smell the roasted Peanuts, in my mind, right now! “Cotton Candy! Get your Cotton Candy” echoes in my mind! I remember as a small child bein’ taken to watch the Elephants, Lions, & Tigers get unloaded off of the Train. We got to watch the Parade thru Birmingham, AL. I remember my Mother takin’ my brother & I to go see “The Circus”! THREE RINGS!!! More activity goin’ on at one time than my eyes & mind could really process. WOW! Did you SEE all of those Clowns? They were EVERYWHERE! They were {{{ FUNNY }}} back then. Now everyone is {{{ HORRIFIED }}} of’em! What changed? It was truly an EVENT! And now, It’s DEAD! Talk about Unemployment! Imagine HOMELESS CLOWNS livin’ in your town, on your streets! Think about!…Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

A Memory from May 19, 2015…”Thank you Coach Jimmy”…

Barrett School    1st grade  58-59 - CopyMay 19, 2015
Today being “Boys Club Day” here is a memory of mine:

My brother & I used to ride the Bus to the Boy’s Club (in Birmingham, AL), which was across the old football field of Phillips High School, down town from East Lake. We couldn’t “afford” a membership to the Y.M.C.A (thank GOD). But out of the goodness of his heart an “Ole Little League Baseball (Assistant) Coach” from Wahouma Ball Park, who worked @ The B’ham News, paid for us to have a membership there. And three (3) times we got to go to Summer Camp, @ Camp Jimmy Goodwin (a week long Camp) all (to my knowledge) paid for by The B’ham News under a Sponsorship Program, on Smith Lake. It was fun and very entertainin’. Thank you “Coach Jimmy”…..BG>

The “Ole Camp is long now closed. The property is being/has been SOLD & re-developed. The memories will be for ever in the minds all of those Kids that were lucky enough to attend “Camp Jimmy Goodwin…”Hold’em Hook”…..BG>

…”what I could & could’t spend”…

This mornin’ as I was sippin’ on my, second, mornin’ Mug-O-Joe I was listenin’ to the News. It seems like gettin’ caught up on local & world events, for some reason, is hard to do. You have to wade through all of the CRAP that is spewed out, from all sides, tryin’ to convince you that only their “Kool-Aid” is the one you should be suckin’ down. Talkin’ Heads…ya just can’t get away from’em. But I did happen to catch an article about todays College Graduates, with Undergrad Degrees, havein’ an average of $35,000.00 in Student Loan Debt. Could it be that money is just too damned easy to get or are the students livin’ way beyond their means? Then I thought back on my Junior College Career, that ONE long year, & I’m thankful I got out with NO Student Loan Debts. Hell my Bride told me what I could & could’t spend. And I damn sure listened to her! Oh well, lookin’ back now, I don’t regret it…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

…”Until next time”…

Today started out as “one of those days” none of us want to participate in. But, then, there is something deep inside of us that tells us, we know where we need to go. One of “The Ole Fourth Ave South Kids”, the older sister of two younger brothers, life long friends of mine, Passed just the other day. She/The older sister was several years older than me. She was always a very friendly person, just like her Mother was. We lived next door to their family from the time I was 20 months old until I was 11 yrs old. My Mother remarried & we (my Mother, brother, & I) left my Grandparents house & moved about 7 miles away. At that age it was a LONG distance. But we, the brothers & I, kept in touch through the Summer Swimming Pool/Cascade Plunge where we all hung out at & Wahouma Ball Park where so many of us played Summer Baseball. Anyway, the younger brother & I were the best of friends thru our High School years. I went in the Military, as had his older brother. We reunited after the four (4) years I gave The USAF. And as some relationships go we slowly sort of drifted (careers, marriage, & children) apart. But we ARE still Friends! Always will be! We, the three of us, got to  spend some time talkin’ after the Funeral today. I did enjoy it so, but just not the circumstances. And life goes on. Until next time, my friends, under better conditions I hope…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

…”FOSTERS (Australian For Beer!)”…

09-10-2016-watchin-bama-football Durin’ one of the many times when our group of friends were camping out at Wind Creek State Park there was one night in particular that really stands out in MY memory. Now, I know we all tend to remember things a little differently! Especially those of us who had  been consumin’ an over abundance of Adult Beverages, {{{{{ COLD BEER ! }}}}}, all day long, well let’s say, “WE have a tendency to remember things a little more vividly than others do”. Nuff said on THAT, for now!

AS I REMEMBER IT…we had had a wonderful day of swimmin’, towin’ the kids on various water toys behind the Bass Boats, cooked lunch & supper both that day. The men even snuck-in a little Bass Fishin’!  Well the evenin’ came & it got a little late. The kids had, for the most part been put to bed in their family’s tents. Earlier the kids & I collected Firewood with the ole Ski Rope trick again. The adults were sittin’ around a roarin’ campfire, on a 90 degree & 90 % humidity Alabama Summer Night! Now you don’t go campin’ without havin’ a campfire, no matter how hot & muggy it is, RIGHT? Y’all know how that goes. Well, the {{{{{ COLD BEER ! }}}}} was a flowin’. As the evenin’ got later most of the adults had slipped off to join their kids in their tents for the evenin’ Well, that just left “The Banker, his bride/The Teacher, my Bride & me. The stories got longer & deeper as the {{{{{ COLD BEER ! }}}}} continued to flow. Every time the Teacher would get us another {{{{{ COLD BEER ! }}}}} she would cackle to herself. Well, my Bride said, OR as I understood her to say, “I’m goin’ to bed”. I said “Ok, I’ll be there shortly,” or somethin’ like that. It has been debate over the years as to what was actually said! The night stretched on, the Banker, the Teacher & I were the only ones left by the roarin’ fire, sweatin’. We threw a couple a more (chattin’) logs on the fire. We didn’t want to get a chill in the 90 degree cool night air ya know. The conversation shifted to “our 5 Year plans”, you know, where do you want to be 5 years from NOW & what are we goin’ to do to get there, & the {{{{{ COLD BEER ! }}}}} still flowed, but it was startin’ to run very low. Now, the 3 of us were really enjoyin’ this. In those days I could hold my Beer pretty good & we always called the Banker a Professional Beer Drinker. But let me tell ya, that Bride of his I swear has a “Hollow Leg”! That gal was damn near goin’ Beer for Beer with the Banker & Me. I was impressed! Well as it always happens, when you’re enjoyin’ that many Adult Beverages, I was feelin’ the call of nature screamin’ at me. So I just politely excused myself, slipped off in the darkness behind a tree & relieved that back pressure. I was ready to go again. The Banker & the Teacher had done the same, I think.  As we gathered back by the campfire I said “I guess I need to head toward my tent for the night”. The Teacher, who was grinnin’, like a fox, let me know there was just one more {{{{{ COLD BEER ! }}}}} left a piece for us. She was a diggin’em out of the Ice Chest for us. We heard a russlin’ in the darkness behind us, & we were hopin’ it wasn’t a wild animal. There,  just out of the campfires light my Bride appears. Now this is where I go back to “we remember things differently” earlier. I hear what resembled her voice, about 5 octaves lower than normal though, her eyes appeared to be glowin’ in a reddish tent, & that voice said “Are you comin’ to bed tonight, I’ve been up there, with the children, waitin’ on you”! Then the Banker starts jabberin’ about somethin’. He wasn’t helpin’ the situation either. The Teacher says, somethin’ to the effect “we’re just goin’ to finish our last {{{{{ COLD BEER ! }}}}}. We all only have one each left”. Well, my bride mumbled somethin’ as she disappeared off in the darkness toward our tent. I knew I should follow, but the thought of that one last {{{{{ COLD BEER ! }}}}} just called out to me. The Teacher was just a laughin’. She opened the Banker’s for him, opened hers & set it down. Now she was laughin’ like a little school girl & the Banker had joined in, as I was waitin’ on mine to be served up. I heard that distinctive sound of  it openin’, the Teacher turns around & hands me “a 32 ounce FOSTERS (Australian For Beer!) {{{{{ COLD BEER ! }}}}}”, they had 12 oz Millers. “DAMN”!, I said. Now they were all but rollin’ on the ground laughin’. She had been plannin’ on doin’ that all evenin’/night long. She brought it especially for me. We finished our beverages, our 5 year Plans & all staggered off to our respective tents, & so ended that night. The sun came up, just a few hours later, much sooner than I wished it would have. But rise it did & we began another day…”Hold’em Hook”…..BG>

Part #5…”Bein’ Prepared”…”I’ve NEVER seen anything like what just happened”…

Part #5: …”Bein’ Prepared”: …”I’ve NEVER seen anything like what just happened”…

“Bein’ Prepared is somethin’ that was always taught to & instilled in me from my Mother”.

Once durin’ my Sales Career my Sales Manager just happened to be spending the day with me. We were makin’ Sales Calls on some Customers in the Ft Payne, AL area. We happense to be callin’ on a Playground Equipment Manufacturin’ Company. We had an appointment with the Plant Engineer who was in the process of takin’ quotes on new Lift Trucks, that’s what I sold. I had been there a couple of times to do my “Need Determinations” for a proposal. Well, this was the day! The weather wasn’t the best that dat. There were Thunder Storms movin’ thru the area all day. Our appointment was for after lunch. We were a few minutes early for our appointment,as was always the case with me. We were kept waitin’ as the Plt. Engineer we were meetin’ with was dealin’ with some plant issues, these always seemed to spring up in the manufacturin’ businesses. Time passed slowly as we sat in the lobby. It was durin’ this time there was one hell ofa Thunder Storm moved into the area. The receptionist spoke up & said “Mr. Gray the Plt Engineer will see y’all now”. She instructed us where he would meet us so we proceeded on our way. As we met I introduced my Sales Mgr., all the glad handin’ was done & we entered his office. His office was right in the middle of the plant, no windows, as many are in that type of an application. As we got comfortable, I pulled out my Quotation, for the 20 unit package. I just happened to have three (3) copies of it. I presented the Customer with the Original, a copy to my Sales Mgr. to follow along with, & I had a copy. All were complete with a professionally prepared Quotation, Brochures, & Specification Sheets (for each model unit), & Warranty Statements all in a neat presentation folder. As I was sittin’ across the desk from the Customer I proceeded to use my copy of the quotation, facin’ the Customer & me readin’ backwards, to cover line item by line item. My Sales Mgr would interject every opportunity he could, tryin’ to enforce the level of commitment our company offered our Customers. The Plt. Engineer would occasionally stop me & ask a question, I would address his objection & then move on. {{{{{ BAM-M-M ! }}}}}. Lighten’ struck close outside somewhere, a loud rumblin’ of Thunder quickly followed, the kind that rattled the ground under your feet, then {{{{{ POW ! }}}}}. The power transformer blew, the lights went out, & the plant went silent. Let me  just say “It was Pitch Black, I mean “Dark Thirty”, in that office. The three of us sat there wonderin’, in our own minds, what to do next. I didn’t even hesitate! I reached in the inside pocket of my Sport Coat & pulled out a Flash Light, shined it on my quotation, & never missed a beat. Out of my peripheral vision I could see the shock on my Sales Mgr & the Customers faces. I continued on for a moment then the Customer interrupted me sayin’ “you do know the lights are out don’t you”? “Oh, yes sir” I responded. I paused a moment then continued on. Then the Customer just started laughin’ like hell, my Sales Mgr. joined in as well. Then it dawned on me I should stop. After a few moments the Customer said continue on, Don’t Stop Now! So I did. A few more moments passed, the lights flickered, then came back on. The Customer just laughed even harder then. He said “I’ve NEVER seen anything like what just happened”! Long story short, I didn’t get the business, it was a PRICE issue. After that I became the story of many sales meetin’s. The theme? “Bein’ Prepared”!…“Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>