A couple of days ago I was in a dark mood, sitting on a bench at Publix,
waiting for Misty and watching people check out.
A little girl 5 or 6 years old said, “I’m going to sit by you.”
She sat and talked with me for about 5 minutes.
She held a small black purse with two straps,
and she didn’t deal in affectations or childish cuteness,
but looked directly into my eyes and conversed person-to-person.
She said, “Is your mommy here?”
I said “Yes.”
She said, ‘What’s her name?”
I said “Misty.”
She pointed to her mother and told me her name.
She turned and took a closer look and asked “Do you have make-up on?”
I said no and she said, “A beard.”
I said “Yep” and she said, “Why?”
I said, “Style, I guess.”
She accepted that, and pointed at my longish hair.
I said, “I’ve got to cut that hair.”,
and she said “No! Long hair is nice.”,
running her fingers through her blond hair to illustrate.
A lady shopper stopped and told her, “You’re so pretty!”
The little girl just smiled her thanks.
Misty appeared with her shopping cart.
She smiled and said, “I see you have a friend.”
The little girl said, “Go!” to me,
as if people should go when their parents are waiting.
I said I’d probably stay seated there.
(I was having a bad hip day. An old Disco injury.)
She asked, “Why?”
I told her I liked to watch the people, and she thought that over.
Then her mother came by and they walked away.
She turned and waved and called “”Bye”.
She made me happy!
I won’t forget her.
© 2009, 2018.
It was ten minutes to one AM in Nashville, by the studio clock.
The pickers were tired and ready to pack up and head out.
They were also bored cross-eyed
by the three songs they had just recorded for the new singer.
The material would have been more interesting if it had been terrible,
but it was just amazingly mediocre…
in fact it should be in the Guinness Book of Records under “Mediocre”.
Now the singer was insisting on getting in one more song,
and there was no escape.
The union says they are hired for the full three hours.
They did one quick run-through on the fourth song,
and the vocalist began to sing.
The harmonica player found it hard to play while yawning.
As they were heading into the second bridge the singer got unexpected gas,
and the rather obscene sound was picked up by the microphone,
in living stereo, with reverb,
and it bled through all 24 tracks.
It did wake the musicians up.
They all looked suspiciously at each other,
because there was no dog to blame.
The engineers tried unsuccessfully to get the noise out during the mixdown.
In their frustration and excitement, mistakes were made,
and the first three songs were accidentally erased.
The singer was ready to cry,
because he was quickly running out of money,
and his potential career depended on one single track with a fart in it.
The only course he could take was having a few hundred copies pressed
and sending them to radio stations,
hoping they would not notice that part of the record.
A couple of overworked deejays were busy and did let it slip by.
Calls started to come in.
Listeners were asking to hear it again because they couldn’t believe their ears.
Some of the more vulgar ones thought it was funny,
and others could relate to the recording artist’s embarrassment
and gave him a sympathy vote.
This, of course, is how popular records come to be.
Critics argued about it, some saying that it was artistic integrity,
and others condemning it as a bad influence on their children,
who apparently had never heard such a sound.
In some places the song was banned, which is a sure way to get a hit.
Although the real title was “You’re So Sophisticated”,
the public called it “The Fart Song”,
and that’s how it will go down in music history.
The singer had a few more chart entries until he ran out of funny sounds,
and tried to switch to straight ballads.
Nobody took him seriously.
He’s been depressed ever since,
but thanks to that unfortunate little outburst,
he can sulk while sitting on his yacht.
He’d found the hook.
© 2009, 2018.
Potso lived in the gray shingle house two doors up the street from me.
His real name was Robert Stanley.
I don’t know how he got the nickname “Potso”.
He was Potso when I got there.
He was a couple of years younger than the rest of us kids,
and not very good at sports,
but he tried.
His cheeks were red, and his nose ran a lot,
especially in the winter.
It’s hard to be cool when your nose is running.
I don’t know who tagged him with “Potso”,
but I don’t think any of us meant it in a mean way.
Mr. Pennell, a neighborhood dad, made a rock garden in his backyard,
and decorated it with cement imitation stones.
Each stone was engraved with the name of one of us kids.
“Potso” was there in a place of honor.
I can tell you this: If anybody picked on our “Potso”,
they’d have to deal with us.
As a couple of years went by,
Potso began suggesting that we call him Robert.
I think it was his mother’s idea.
She was a pretty and intelligent lady,
but I didn’t realize that until later.
We tried to remember to call him Robert,
but habits are hard to break.
Robert’s father was everybody’s handyman,
doing simple chores up and down the street.
My parents said he was “shell-shocked”.
He was a sweet, childlike man, who smiled, but never talked much.
He walked with a slightly unsure gait.
The Stanley’s were the object of quiet sympathy.
Sympathy can hurt.
One day we were all shocked to hear that Mr. Stanley had died.
Kids aren’t used to death.
I don’t remember when Robert and his mother moved away.
A few years later,
I got a Christmas season job jumping on and off a delivery truck
while the driver sat in the warm cab,
smoking cigars and drinking something
from a bottle he carried in a paper bag.
One cold afternoon, we were delivering in a section of town
that was a step or two classier than where I lived.
I went up the porch steps of the two-story brick house,
and rang the upstairs doorbell.
Robert Stanley answered the door.
He looked different.
I think he was on his way out
because he was wearing expensive looking clothes,
with a camel hair fingertip length topcoat.
He still had the rosy cheeks, but his nose wasn’t running.
I was happy to see him, and started a conversation.
His mother came down the stairs behind him
and told him he’d better hurry.
She was polite, but I could feel she wasn’t really glad to see me.
I felt a little slighted, but after I thought it over I realized this:
They had their new life where nobody felt sorry for them.
She didn’t want him to be Potso anymore.
© 2009, 2018.
There was the usual spam and forwarded jokes, which he deleted without reading.
The sixth message subject line read “Final Notice”, and the sender was an acronym, “T.P.T.B.”
He started to dump it as spam, but for some reason he clicked it open.
© 2009, 2018.
The cavernous old railroad station was dimly lit, or seems that way in my memory.
My parents, my sisters, and I headed toward the big doors that led to the platform where the trains chugged and waited.
It was the end of an era. One of us wasn’t coming back… ever.
We had never been your average family. My mother had been an artist and a model.
My father was a flamboyant jack-of-all-trades: A stock broker at times, head of an oil company,
owner of a gambling ship that never sailed, a mortgage broker, an aviator, and author of a course on aeronautics.
He was a party thrower and the life of every one, and made every holiday a festival.
He was rich one year and broke the next. As a young man he was a boxer and a daredevil.
During World War Two he was drafted to be General Manager of the Bell Aircraft plant,
at the same time there were rumors of his involvement with the black market.
I came home from school one afternoon and couldn’t get the front door open.
It was stuck against silver fox furs. The whole house was knee deep in them.
I don’t know where he got them, but I wasn’t too surprised.
We all knew him and were ready for anything.
There was a distinguished couple in the living room, browsing through the pelts,
a New York State Supreme Court justice and his wife.
He was brilliant in an off-beat way, and an adventure as a father.
Then he got sick. His disease had symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s,
and the smart, witty man of the world became like a child.
He couldn’t work. He tried.
My mother submitted a resume for him, and got him a job on his track record as a mechanical engineer.
She dressed him in a suit and tie and took him to the job.
He called a few hours later to be picked up.
He had ordered his crew to put way too much pressure on a ship’s drive shaft they were working on,
and blew it through the factory roof.
The family was broke and had to split up.
My father was to live with his sister in Ohio, “just until things get better”.
The rest of us were to sell all the furniture and belongings, and move in with my mother’s parents in Florida.
Certain memories stick in my mind like clear snapshots and never go away.
One of those is the night at the railroad station when we kissed my father goodbye,
and lied to each other that it was just temporary.
I remember pushing through giant swinging doors that led to the train platform.
The steam from the idling engine puffed out across my knees.
The ceiling was dark and high with sooty light bulbs in it.
And that’s all I remember! The rest is gone.
I do recall seeing him one more time several years later.
I was hitchhiking from Florida or somewhere and I stopped in Miamisburg to see how he was.
He opened the door, and after a minute he recognized me. I didn’t think he would.
He grabbed me in his strong arms and hugged tight.
One moment in time again… like a photo… and everything after is blank.
I don’t have any memory of hearing of his death, or a funeral.
I have a thing about funerals: People tell me I was there, but I have no memories of them.
All in all, he was the tailor made father for me.
We had so many good times, it’s funny that this railroad station picture surfaces so often.
After he died I kept seeing men who looked like him for several years.
A car would be ahead of me in traffic and I’d see the back of the driver’s head. It was him!
I’d hurry to catch up and it was just a stranger. Or was it, I wondered?
Maybe it was my dad for the minute before I caught up.
The writer sits by the open window in his comfortable room,
his feet propped up on the sill.
He holds a yellow legal pad and a felt tipped pen.
This is what he writes:
“Twilight in the afternoon. Only two o’clock, but looking more like seven.
Cold front moving in.
“Big soft raindrops
slap down random leaves on the bush that leans against the window.
The tempo of the rain picks up.
Now the breeze turns to wind, and the trees thrash around.
It begins to rain on your feet.
Feeling rugged and outdoorsy. The feet stay!
“Suddenly, lightning, and then thunder! The feet come down.
Rain splotches appear on your writing paper,
and the blowing curtains drape over your head,
creating a Mona Lisa effect.
From somewhere across the lake, a train whistle.
A sound often described as “lonesome”, but more like “unrestful”…
A moving sound, a signal to the wanderer inside us.
“You turn on the lamp and security fills the room.
The sky and lake are a lighter gray now and you reopen the window.
The rain is letting up, mostly just the eaves dripping.
A squirrel checking out the wet garage roof.
The air smells different:
Washed vegetation, damp wood, supper cooking.
And it’s colder.
The feet return to the windowsill
in fuzzy socks from the bottom of the drawer.
“A storm is not bad from the inside, looking out.
You recall other dark days, in bleak, hopeless places.
You were alone, cold, and it was no fun.”
(That is all he puts on paper. His eyes close as he dozes off.)
The policeman says “Come on. You can’t sleep here”.
He’s lying on cement, covered with a large piece of cardboard.
He opens his eyes and sees the inside of a parking garage.
There are oil spots in the empty parking spaces. It’s chilly.
He says: “What the hell?”
The cop nudges him with his nightstick. “Come on, buddy. Let’s go.”
He struggles to his feet, aching all over.
“I gotta get home”, he says. “My wife’s cooking supper.”
The cop says “Uh-huh”.
Out on the pavement he tries to get his bearings.
The unfamiliar street is lined with old warehouses
and dirty brick buildings.
Some of the second story windows have old shades,
or shreds of curtain, as though somebody once lived there.
The sky is clouded over gray.
No telling what time it is. It looks like rain.
He picks a direction at random and starts walking,
collar turned up against the wind,
hands deep in his pockets in search of warmth.
A paper cup blows along the gutter.
He thinks about the dream he had before the cop woke him up.
Something about a warm house, and the smell of dinner cooking.
He feels for a wallet, knowing it wouldn’t be there.
There is some change in his pocket, and a half-smoked cigarette.
By long habit, he’s looking for the edge of the city,
so he can hitch a ride to a smaller town where help comes easier.
Big cities don’t care.
He’s almost across the city when the rain starts and the chill sets in.
He spends some of his change on coffee at a Burger King,
and is now entering the suburbs.
The storm comes up fast and he ducks into a doorway.
Lightning, and then thunder, almost at once. That was close!
Now he’s cold and wet. He’s not going to make it out of town tonight.
He’s got to find shelter!
He leaves the doorway and turns down a tree lined side street,
with a small lake on the left, and sturdy old houses on the right.
Lights are on in some of the windows. “It must be nice.”
Across the lake he sees some boathouses that might help him get dry.
This street probably winds right around there.
He sees a house that looks strangely familiar.
Maybe a look-alike from his forgotten past.
Now he notices the first person he’s really looked at all day.
There’s a guy in an open window with his feet up on the sill.
In this weather! He must be nuts!
It’s been raining on his feet, and he’s asleep!
The curtains have blown up around his head like a bandanna.
He turns and walks away, shaking his head at the stupidity,
On a day like this, if you have a window, you should close it.
Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan
To all my friends family and fans who have read my Inspirational Column’s on Frans Maritz’s WHISNews21 over the years, I want to thank you all for your support. Frans and I will appreciate you going to his web site directly at www.whisnews21.com to read any of my columns in future as they will always be archived on the website. He is a dedicated hard working Christian man and does right with all the folks he works with, he is always ready to help with their careers.
I have dedicated most of my life to the music business and due to some serious health problems the time has finally come that I need to spend more time resting and at the same time, dedicating more quality time with my Husband Bob and my family.
– Rhonnie Scheuerman for WHISNews21
Last night we went to a little beer and wine joint
to see and hear a 15 piece modern jazz band.
The decor was Early Dumpster,
and we were the oldest people for miles.
A girl put white bracelets on our wrists at the door,
in case we escaped.
A lot of the young guys wore long baggy tee shirts
and ankle length shorts, like Charlie Brown.
The girl in front of us had the US map tattooed on her back,
in case she got lost.
They were a small but friendly group.
Empty heads waiting for information.
You could look into their eyes and see that nobody was driving.
There were no seats, so we stood on the cement floor
We bought a couple of beers
and put cotton in our ears for safekeeping.
The echo in the room rolled all the sound into one big lump,
so I can’t judge the music with any fairness.
Much of it sounded to me like the mental hospital orchestra
rehearsing “Flight of the Bumblebee”.
I know the band is excellent, which only makes me feel dumber.
They rehearse at this little bar where they charge fans to get in.
a guy armed with an electric guitar was allowed to play for free.
They should have made him an offer to leave.
He assaulted the strings for an hour on the same three notes,
without letting go of a single musical idea.
The best part was when he got his thumb caught in the strings.
He eventually stopped, shook the saliva from his guitar, and left.
The patrons drifted back into the room for the next band set.
All in all, we did enjoy the experience.
Sometimes I just complain to be funny.
This morning is like Old Home Week.
I’m old, I’m home, and I feel weak.
Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan
When you read the story of the New Testament Church, you tend to get caught up in its explosive growth and amazing miracles. But here’s a component you shouldn’t miss: ‘No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had…There were no needy persons among them…those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money…and it was distributed to anyone as he had need’ (vv. 32-35). You say, ‘If I just had more money I’d be happy.’ You might feel more secure and have fewer worries, but you wouldn’t necessarily be happier. In the Journal of Happiness Studies, researchers looked at what distinguished quite happy people from less happy people. One factor consistently separated those two groups. It’s not about how much money you have; it’s not about your health, security, attractiveness, IQ, or career success.
What distinguishes consistently happy people from less happy people is the presence of rich, deep, joy-producing, life-changing, meaningful relationships. Social researcher Robert Putnam writes: ‘The single most common finding from a half-century’s research on life satisfaction, not only in the U.S. but around the world, is that happiness is best predicted by the breadth and depth of one’s social connections.’ But you can know a lot of people without really being known by any of them, and end up lonely.
Those folks in the New Testament Church got it right: it’s in sharing with one another spiritually, emotionally, financially, and relationally that you achieve your highest level of joy.
Prayer Heavenly Father,
thank You for putting into my life people I am able to share life with.
People who know You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
The above devotion was written/compiled from multiple sources by
Tim Hetzner, President of Lutheran Church Charities and author of WORD Bible Studies.
You’ll experience a new level of fulfillment when you begin to see what you do for a living as an important part of God’s will for your life. Jesus preached and healed, but He saw it all as ‘work’ given to Him by His Father. You must too. Instead of seeing church as a place where you meet with God on Sunday morning, see it as a place where you’re fed and strengthened so that you can carry the presence of God with you into the workplace. ‘Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him’ (Colossians 3:17).
Notice two words here:
1) ‘Word.’ That covers skills of communication and information.
2) ‘Deed.’ That covers skills such as creativity and building. Whatever you do, you’re supposed to do it with a thankful heart, as though the Lord were your boss – because He is.
When you work with that attitude, you come alive. One person comes alive when they pick up a musical instrument, another when they lead a team, another when they counsel someone who’s hurting, and another when they’re looking at a financial spreadsheet. When each of us is doing what God designed and called us to do, the world around us is enriched. All skill is God-given, and we’re invited to live in conscious interaction with the Holy Spirit as we work, so that we can develop the skills He gives us. Work is a form of love. We cannot be fully human without creating value.
Prayer Heavenly Father,
help me see that the work that I do is all part of the plan You have for me right now.
Thank You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen