…”Indian cigar tree”…

Us kids, back in my years of early youth, were somewhat like animals. What I mean by that is that we were always patrollin’ “our territory”. You know, lookin’ for new experiences. Sometimes we found somethin’  but most times we didn’t. I remember there was a yard down on 3rd Ave South that had several Catawba Trees growin’ in it. Now Catawba Trees were good, to us kids for two (2) things. #1) Catawba Worms which were a free & abundant Fish Bait if you could climb a tree to pick’em. They were always available durin’ early summer months. For me they were most effective with the heads pinched off, turned inside out with a match stick, & used on a long shank Bream hook. Bream, Bass & Cat Fish could all be caught with’em. Some of us also learned we could sell’em to local Bait Shops, across from East Lake Park for pocket money. #2) Later in the Summer months the Catawba Worms would play out by the Birds that fed on’em, spinnin’ their cocoons to transform into butterflies, & of course us catchin’em for our use. The Catwaba Trees had “long green bean pods” on them that would eventually start turnin’ brown as they were gettin’ ready to split open & distribute their seeds & then fall to the ground or scatter in the winds. We always heard’em called “Indian Cigars”! I don’t remember where that came from but we did… Well guess what? Some one always seemed to have a couple of matches with’em. Now, never really knowin’ for a fact I did some research on the “Indian Cigar” this very mornin’. Here is a quote I found in an article, about the “Catawba Tree”, by Taylor Wilson from April 28, 2005 that the Native Americans smoked the bean pods of the tree for questionable “medicinal” or hallucinogenic purposes. Therefore, the tree has also been called “smoking bean,” “Indian bean” and (yep!) “Indian cigar tree.” Damn, ya just never know what you’ll find when you’re out on the prowl as a kid. We never really knew what we had, but we either puked or we were feelin’ good!…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

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Neighborhood Fruits #3…”{{{ Shew-wee ! }}}”…

Growin’ up on 4th Ave South, from a young boy’s view, we were blessed to have so many different types of Fruits & Nuts growin’ around us. No, I mean The REAL Kind! Usually in other folks yards. But the good part of bein’ a young child was we rarely recognized property lines! Now if there was a Fence there, well ya just looked around, to make sure no one was lookin’. Then climbed it! Across the street from our house were two houses/yards with Big Ole Plum Trees in’em. One was “Child Friendly” & the other wasn’t. The “Child Friendly” yard had seven (7) kids in it’s family. The other yard was owned by a “Crotchety Old Woman” who wasn’t “Child Friendly”. Now to many of us this Crotchety Ole Lady’s Plumb Trees became Targets! The first ones to be pillaged when the plums came into season. And we all knew she couldn’t get out there, in time, to us to catch us but we still “Scattered Like Rats” when we heard her {{{{{ SCREECHIN’ }}}}} voice as she’d yell “Who’s that out there in my plum tree”? AS if she thought we’d yell back our names! Ahh-hahaha…Hey, we were “young & dumb – but we weren’t STUPID”! But we still hit the ground a runnin’ & climbin’ fences as fast as we could. Yeah, this went on year after year. Now the family next door, with seven (7) kids, had a big plum tree as well. We were allowed to gather the ones off of the ground first, as we dodged the Bees & Ants for possession, & yeah every now & then {{{{{ Yeeeow ! }}}}} someone would get stung! I think that was a plan to see who wanted’em the most cause as the Bees started flyin’ some in the crowd would back off to a safe distance.   Then we were allowed to climb the tree & eat pretty much as much as we wanted. Then you’d hear a meek “hey man toss me a couple”! Yeah, like that was gonna happen. But then again, on occasion, someone, I would’t know who, would rear back & let one fly! {{{{{ WHACK ! }}}}}…then the threats would start about what was gonna happen when the thrower came down! After awhile, just short time later & it was kind of funny, because you’d catch someone hit the ground on the fly, I mean “a full-bore run for their life”! Their stomach would start grumblin’ or crampin’ & they were “on the fly” tryin’ to find a toilet? Bein’ young we never made that connection. But it seemed to happen no matter what fruit we were over indulgin’ in. Yeah you know what I mean. Some would make it & {{{ Shew-wee ! }}} some wouldn’t! It’s kinda funny lookin’ back on it now. The lesson here was “Moderation”. We all learned it too late in life..”Hold’em Hook”…..BG>

Neighborhood Fruits #1…”the grapes were ripe”…

Sittin’ around yesterday mornin’ my Bride & I were chattin’ about things that we wanted to do around the house. Then the conversation turned to “fresh foods & fruits” & how they fit into our diets. Who knows? At the same time I noticed somethin’ on the TV that sent my mind to wanderin’ again. Of course it really doesn’t take a lot to do that anyway. It took me back to the neighborhood I grew up in. We (my Mother, Brother, & I) lived with my Grandparents. Up in our back yard there was a huge fig tree on one side & on the other side a very large grape arbor that had two (2) vines growin’ over it. One from each end that Papa had planted many years ago & carefully tended it regularly. The grapes especially! I watched that Old Man, more times than I could count, as we’d be sittin’ on the little back porch, shoot birds out of that grape arbor with a home made Sling Shot! At 30 yards away & slightly up hill he could hit birds as they would land in there to “rob his grapes”. “Boy, get me my Sling & my bag of marbles from the house” he’d say. “Yes sir” I’d reply as I scurried to fetch’em for him. Upon my {{{ quick ! }}} return he’d look over his sling, to make sure all was good with it, reach down in his bag of little, light green crystal clear glass, marbles. He’d load one in the pocket of the sling, draw it back, & with a quick flick of his wrist, release it, & {{{ Whack ! }}}. Out of the arbor would fall a bird floppin’ around. Papa never seemed to miss! Then as out of nowhere at least one, usually more, cats would appear & pounce on that “Thievin’ Bird”. Then before I knew it {{{Whack ! }}} there would be a second bird on the ground, floppin’ around. And yes, more cats arrivin’. It was as though they could hear Papa diggin’ around in his marble sack & they’d come a runnin’. Feathers & Fur would fly, as always, then there was always a proud cat prancin’ off with a bird in its mouth while the others were still fightin’ over the second bird. I don’t know why, but it seems to my recollection, they always fell in pairs. The other birds would escape durin’ all of the fuss over their two fallen comrades. Sooner or later they would return & the process would repeat it’s self. But I must admit, my Grandmother/Mama sure turned those ole Concord Grapes into some wonderful “Homemade Grape Jelly”! When the grapes were ripe Mama would tell us, my brother & I, to go pick a couple large baskets for her. While we were pickin’ I remember we would first grab us each a couple of bunches & sneak off & eat’em first then get Mama hers. How sweet they were too!…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

…”those ole wrinkled faces”…

Heads with White/Gray/Silver Hair. Heads just tryin’ to hang on to Hair. Heads with NO Hair @ all. They weren’t always like that. The bodies aren’t as slim, trim, toned, nor as muscular as they once were. Most of us don’t like to admit to it. Time/Life has taken its toll on us. But we are still more fortunate than some of our “Ole Runnin’ Buddies” that are no long among us. To those I say “it was fun while it lasted”…Salute!

Many of the faces are heavily covered with facial hair. Some of us still have a hard time growin’ it. Voices are a bit different. Some broken, some more gravelly than before, many are more mellowed than before, several are still soft spoken, & others of us are still just as loud as always.

Lookin’ around me at lunch today was a sight. But a good sight! There are several “Old Men”, Fifteen (15) to be exact & One (1) Teenager/Grandson, that joined together, as circumstances allowed, to renew friendships. Most are retired but there are still some that are workin’.  We all looked around to see who was there. Greetin’s, hand shakes, cussin’, & yes even some “Manly Hugs” were shared. At the same time we are all lookin’ around & noticin’ “who’s not here” since our last get together. It’s as though we are inquirin’ to the others if who ever is not there is OK. It’s kinda funny, yet also serious. And as always if they’re not there they ARE talked about, good or bad, & laughed about.

We take/make time, out of our busy lives, to break bread, slurp some hot soup, sop biscuits in gravy, or graze their way around a bowl of salad (Yuck!). Cause their Wife’s or Doctor told’em they needed to & then take all the smart-ass comments about it. All in jest!

We come from various backgrounds. Many of us were from the same neighbor hood. Many of us played “Little League” ball together @ Wahouma Park. Many of us went to grammar school together. Many of us spent endless summer days at the same Swimming Pool (Cascade Plunge).

We were a blendin’ of different High Schools. But the comradery was always, and still is, there. Many were Academicians, many were Jocks, others just were what ever they wanted to be!

Many went on to College, several went into The Military, others went on to find Careers, & some started families. The years passed by, as they still do. Over the years (for various reasons) many of us kept up with others & some didn’t. Our paths went in so many different directions. That’s life!

But destiny has been kind to us. It has, for what ever reason, chosen to reunite many of us back together, once, a month to share little more than an hour to an hour & a half together. But what a fun & interestin’ time it is. Oh-h-h and the colorful conversations that are over heard! Some true, some distorted, & many just made up!

I consider myself lucky, fortunate, & blessed to be a part of this “Fellowship”. I’m sure I could use many more adjectives (there’s a $0.25 word throw-in) to describe how I feel. But then I would be admittin’ that, when I actually was in class way back when, I really was payin’ attention.

It was good to see all of those ole wrinkled faces today & I look forward to seein’em again next month.Until then,..”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

…”43 years ago today in 1975″…

01-31-75Linda & I on Our Wedding Day 01-31-75
What a day it was! 43 years ago today in 1975. It was a Friday. I was off work! My Bride to be worked from 8:00am till Noon that day & took the rest of the day off. I picked her at work. At 2:00pm that afternoon we met a couple of friends, who were our Witnesses, & her Parents at the Ramstein, Germany Rathaus/Town Hall. We were about to be married by the “Burgermeister/Mayor” of the Town. Her Mom served as our “Translator”, as one was required by German Law to make sure we understood what we were really doin’ & committin’ to. My Bride (to be) & I exchanged our “I Do’s”! Yes we were (& are still) Husband & Wife! Hell, I loved her so much I even married her again the NEXT day! But that’s another story. Wow, what a ride it has been. God has blessed us along our path with Two (2) wonderful children, a Daughter & a Son. We also have been blessed with a wonderful Daughter-in-law & three (3) beautiful Grandchildren! Yeah, I’m a very blessed man! To my Bride, thank you for sayin’ “I DO” back then. Oh, the $5,000.00 you had saved didn’t hurt either! It made a good down payment on our first (1st) house two (2) years later. I love you more than you’ll ever know. Happy Anniversary!…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

…”over exert myself too early”…

Yesterday I got a slow start out of “The Big Pell” as I worked my way to “The Ham” gettin’ some personal errands tended to. I also attended a Visitation & Funeral, “Celebration of life”, of a friends Mother. Those aren’t the kind of things we like to do but sometimes they’re just the right thing to do. After that I got to compleatin’ ‘some additional errands before meetin’ up @ The VT for the Monthly WHS Get Together. I always enjoy seein’ & catchin’ up with Ole Friends. And yet again, last night, I wasn’t disappointed. It was, how ever, a late night last night for this “Ole Boy”. My head finally met my pillow at midnight. Just needed to let my late night ,for me, meal settle before I went to bed. I stayed to enjoy a nice “late dinner” (for me) with twelve (12) friends from the WHS group, after the regular monthly get together started breakin’ up. Was back up this mornin’ @ 5:10am. Needed to get my Brides Mug-O-Joe abrewin’ so it would be ready, for her to doctor up, so she could get out the door by 5:20am. {{{ DONE ! }}}}. Then I got my Pot-O-Joe abrewin’. Finally!, relaxin’ in my recliner, watchin’ the Local & World News. I like to see what the idiots around the globe did over night as I enjoyin’ sippin’ this magical elixir from my newest “Bama Mug”. I can feel my body slowly reactin’, wakin’ up, as I start to see the bottom of my 1st Mug. Guess I’ll shuffle over to the Pot for a refill. The good thing about this New Mug is it holds more which’ll empty that ole pot in two mugs instead of three. Don’t have to make that third trip. Wouldn’t want to over exert myself too early of the mornin’. Y’all enjoy your day & travel safely if you must fight the mornin’ traffic…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

…”Until next time my Brothers”…

Today, Saturday, My Bride & I were fortunate to be able to meetup with several/five (5) “Ole Friends” & their wives @ The Birmingham Boat Show. An event many/most of us thru the years have used as an opportunity to unite, refresh friendships, & just catch up with each other. Most of us guy’s have been runnin’ buddies from Grammar School days, High School days, Cascade Plunge, & Wahouma Ball Park days. A couple of us did time in the Military, a couple of others took the College route, as the others found their careers & started families. Yet as our Military & College Days came to an end we all just seemed to find one another as though we had never parted. Now all but two (2) of us are retired after various different career fields, families are raised, & we all brag on Grandchildren. Most of us have been Bass Fishin’ buddies since the mid to late 1970’s. A few of the others have joined us in those adventures in latter years. We just wander aimlessly just lookin’, admirin’, & dreamin’ of that Next Boat! Oh the options that are available now days along with extreme price tags! But, Toys do get expensive no matter what your interest may be. After a few hours we left the Boat Show. There we lost one couple to other activities. Yet met up with another across town for a casual dinner. The {{{{{ Cold Beer ! }}}}} began to flow as The Stories got to be “Tall Tales & Fairy Lies” of days gone by. The laughter at times got loud & out of control as one story topped the previous. But we didn’t reallyseem to care. The Management didn’t ask us to tone it down of threaten ot have us removed so I guess we didn’t offent the others around us too much. Everyone had a Yarn to tell! Too many to count. The Brides all seemed to enjoy the “Tellin’ of Tales” even as some of them, at times, really got vivid with details from yesteryear. I feel both blessed & fortunate to have shared my life & memories with these guys (& their Brides). No one bought a Boat but we had “One Hell Of A Day”! Until next time my Brothers (from different Mothers)…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>