Sunday, October 25, 2009

Going Home

Going home is not as easy as it sounds.

My dad wanted to move back to his hometown of Alvin, Texas. It was soon after my mom had died and he felt the need to go home.

So we moved him into a nice apartment complex there in the heart of Alvin where he and his siblings were all raised and attended school. As a matter of fact, you could say that my dad and baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, Nolan Ryan went to the same school....even if it was 3 decades difference in time. This move lasted only about a year or so, until he realized that 'home' was back here in Beaumont.

I guess it was about ten or twelve years ago when several years of graduating classes from the 1930's began having shared reunions and I had the honor of taking my dad so he could attend and reminisce. That was neat being able to sit in and listen to him and his classmates talk of their stories from ....'back in the day'.

One of the last reunions was scheduled around the last formal public viewing and visitation of the old high school before it was to be demolished for a new school. Let me tell you something; the folks that made the trip to Alvin for that final public visit were amazing.

You could see it in their eyes and their smiles. You could hear it in their voices as well as sense it in their presence. That common bond between Alvin High School Yellowjackets.

There were tears and laughter all being shared openly. Memories were filling the halls and classrooms where the different years of classes were gathered.

Then there was the lull in conversation when a name would be mentioned and for whatever reason, that individual had passed on ahead of them...then almost at a predetermined time....the silence would be broken with the familiar phrase: "Hey, do you remember the time that...."

I am certain that many memories were revisited that day; the simple stirrings of first loves; the friendly competitions between team mates, and the banding together to pull out a victory on the field of play....were only a few that I noted hearing while trying to blend into the background and listening to the shared stories.

My dad as was many of his classmates were surviving members of the notable group of people called the Greatest Generation that had also survived the great depression and had fought in the war to end all wars.

These people had managed to go home for a visit of the old high school and came away with a different set of memories.

I suppose these folks had never been told that you can't go guess is that they probably wouldn't have cared if they had either.

Call me sentimental....but I was hoping Nolan Ryan was gonna show up and top off the day for me.

Reckon you can go home after all...if you really want to go there...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cookie Crumbs and Ethics

My dad was a traveling salesman.

His wares of choice were common everyday items that most everyone could enjoy having at their ready. I will dare say that a few sold better during specific seasons simply due to the way each was manufactured.

Now mind you the seasons here in Texas are as follows: Hot and not quite as hot.

The biggest difference in the two are like night and day....kinda like when the sun goes's not quite as hot. But still, the heat of the seasons did play a part into the success of whether or not my dad had decent sales or not.

My dad was a route salesman for a couple of different cookie companies...and he traveled the country roads of East and Southeast Texas for many, many years.

Just to clear up the seasonal sales statement, chocolate covered cookies didn't do really well in the hotter months, so these were obviously a 'hot' item come the fall and winter months...and the fact that we didn't make many night time runs to stock the stores shelves will support this.

Mrs. Shelby's Cookies and Little Brownie Cookies are the brands that brought me through my childhood. You could say that I was raised on stale cookies....probably more than I like to admit.

My dad would use me and my brothers as his own personal "in house" test survey to determine if a new product was going to sell or not. He would soon know whether or not to push the new 'taste' to his customers.

It was late 1964 when we left Beaumont and headed north to Jasper, Texas. The Little Brownie Cookie company wanted to expand into the area where a new Corp of Engineers project was in its final stages of completion.

Hello Lake Sam Rayburn reservoir.

The largest man-made reservoir inside the boundaries of the great state of Texas. Little did I know then, what type of impact this body of water would have on me and my life this far down life's highway. (you did read about me and my love of bass fishing didn't you...?)

I rode with my dad in his cookie truck through many summers. Making the so called stops at the hundreds of Mom & Pop stores to restock the shelves. Taking in the memories of the screen doors emblazoned with the popular Rainbo Bread logo or the infamous Triple 'XXX' Root Beer that called out to a young boy thirsting for refreshment.

My dad's route covered so many little roadside stores, I still find myself wondering when I pass by an abandoned building along the many miles of familiar roads; if it in fact once housed a set of shelves where a mild mannered father would place his offerings of treats for the public...while his son would go in search of and find the owners old hound dog to pet, or pay a lay-away installment on his first .22 caliber single shot rifle that he still has today, or actually help in rotating the stock of cookies with the freshest in the back, or question where we were gonna eat lunch that day.

Yes I spent a lot of time on the old step-van cookie truck, having to ride sideways on the motor cover and try not to stare at the ever disappearing white stripes on the roadway...double checking with my dad to see what set of license plate numbers we were looking for next.

This was a game he played endlessly to keep his mind occupied. Always looking for a triple set of numbers on the license plates of the thousands of automobiles either coming or going....111 , 222, 333, BUT you had to go in proper order and keep your own list.

This must be where I first learned of and about ethical behavior.

Hey thanks Dad. Thanks for the little things.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Driving Force

It is often times misunderstood; which would support why I am not even sure if it actually exists in the first place.

Oh I know that it really does exist, but what happens when the 'drive' goes away? Is it like the transmission on a car? If it's not in gear, you're not going to move very far.

The driving force behind getting something done. The reason for, the need to, the gotta have, the will to endure to reach a goal.

Sometimes it's as simple as ... just because it's what I want.

The part of nature that kicks in and causes different amounts of gray matter and body mass to be put into motion that ultimately give us room to perform and reach that plateau or level of acceptance among our peers.

I witnessed a bit of the phenomena earlier this week when report cards were issued. These were the first for my son in high school.....

Mind you I wasn't expecting the next brief exchange with my son, but was pleasantly surprised. He had received passing grades in all but one class.

The conversation immediately went into the common tennis court theme. Just like players who volley to see who gets to serve first...thooomp..thooomp...thooomp.

To my surprise his counter reply with..."I am simply going to have to hunker down, study, and try harder for the next grading period..."

The driving force for my son is that he wants to try out for the freshman baseball team come next semester and like any good and decent parent, I seized the opportunity to remind him of this.

This is that 'something' he wants...his driving force.

That 'gotta-have' that is fueling his desire to play high school baseball.

Isn't it good to see the 'want-to' in your kids lives actually work with the rotation of the earth? The natural balance of the systems are within factory specifications and working together for the good of life in the Chambers' home for now.

Last week I took my son to the batting cages for the first time in about 3 years. He has been away from organized baseball for that long and understands that he will have to work harder than others that have continued playing.

His attitude is much different this time around. Not sure exactly why, but thankful for the fresh wind that is blowing in from outfield.

That wind blowing in could be the result of the many new and unfamiliar eye catching smiles that crowd the halls and classrooms of his school or even discovering his older sister's Letterman's jacket from her four years of being a cheerleader in school...which prompted the question...

"How do you get one of these jackets?"

We will have to wait and see.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sincere Thanks To You

How many different ways is there to say thank you? Probably about as many as there are languages and dialects of those foreign lines of communication.

I owe each and everyone of you a special heartfelt thanks for spending time here.

Where here is exactly is what you're looking at. Inside my blog. You could be any other place in our cyber world, but you chose to exit off the cyber-hiway and cool your fingers and space bar pounding opposing thumb for a few're looking at your thumb resting on the space bar there on your keyboard aren't you..?

In setting up my blog a friend of mine suggested hooking up with an online device that tracks all the visitors to this site. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to see the list of 5 or 6 friends who frequent my new obsession of randomly captured adventures from my life or not.

Just this week, I stumbled across a few extra visits from some of you folks out there and wanted to acknowledge your part in boosting my morale. The discovery came on a day that was just really lousy for me. Almost to the level of lousiness..(is that a word?) when the Dallas Cowboys lost their opening game to the New York Giants at the new billion dollar facility.

Goes to show you, spending money on your house and not your foundation, which in this case in my humble is the QB...tony romo...does not...I repeat....Does Not guarantee you a win.

...sorry about that. Let's get back to the issue. My cyber friends out there who give of your valuable personal time to visit my blog. Just for grins, I am gonna list a few of the places where you have checked in it all a mistake or on purpose that you came in here, I can deal with it.

Here we go now. We have on the list in no particular order the following locations:

North Carolina
Canada - Regina, Saskatchewan
New Zealand - Wellington
Philippines - Manila

Like I opened this post with the numerous ways to say thank you being way more than any one person can list. Being a simple old country boy at heart, let me try it this way....

Hey thanks y'all, I really do appreciate your making time to visit. Hope to see the list of locations grow in the near future. Tell your friends.

It Is What It Is ..... y'all.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Can't Get There From Here

It's only a moment in time but usually is noted by some type of occurrence.

Oprah refers to this as an ... "Ah-ha" moment.

Many others of less notoriety will pass it off with a mention of ..... 'Well now, don't that just knock your hat in the creek?'

Most of my moments will be parallel to some type of utterance of swear words usually not fit for printing here....and more than likely there are a minimum number of witnesses to the specific point in time.

This time of year used to always have me planning on being in the woods chasing the elusive white tail deer. Having to find my small pack of essentials that go with me into the wild outdoors is one of the first items I check to see is still intact. Mainly the stuff that will assist in getting me into and out of the woods.

One particular year, I was hunting on a parcel of land near my home. Driving less than an hour is considered local for me so this place was really close.

This property is better known as the Big Thicket and is made up of several different tracts of land that total right at 100,000 acres. The acreage of this section was near about 25,000 acres, but I was only interested in a small part that consisted of lets say 1/2 mile square.

I knew the road that I drive in on ran north and south...cause that's what my compass told me.

Never argue with your compass.

Venturing off the road heading west to the small creek that wound through the thicket was my intent for this days hunt. Packing in my folding stool for sitting along the creek, hoping to see some type of native game that lives here. Every time I make a day hunt, I always try to discover a little bit more of the area so that I can say I hunted smart. This day would prove to be an eventful day.

As I skirted an area that looked really 'deer-ish' to me, I stumbled upon an old tree stand. Made a mental note to where it was and continued on with it to my left. About an hour later, I spotted another old tree stand just to the right of my line of sight.

My ah-ha moment was moving towards the idea that this area must be a great place to sit and wait for the deer to cross. Looking for a game trail to focus on, that the deer use to travel from point A to point B on, made sense to me.

While searching for a game trail, I was drawn closer to the second tree stand...only to realize that this was the SAME stand I had found an hour earlier.

You guessed it. I had walked in a circle for an hour. I made a mental note to have my legs measured when I got back eliminate this the next time. Obviously, one of my legs is lazy and doesn't keep up the same pace as the other....

"Oh crap!" ... that's my ah-ha moment. I am freaking lost....I ain't never walked in a circle before, not without wanting to....

Remember earlier when I said to never...NEVER argue with your compass. I had never actually gotten to the point where I was confused and doubting my location...until that day. This was before the handheld GPS units were affordable.

If I remember right, it was even before the home computer craze took off.

It was right about now, I took a reading, heading east to the road. Hopefully, when I find the road, I will not have to flip a coin to see whether to go left or right to find my truck. Trucks are never where you leave them in the Big Thicket....not like you would think they should be.

I should tell you that this area of the Big Thicket is in close proximity to an old straight as an arrow dirt road that many locals refer to as....Ghost Road.

With that knowledge in the back of my mind and my personal experience as a teenager spending many different nights on that ghost road chasing the 'light'.....kind of spurred me to get to the truck before dark.

You ever heard of it being bad luck carrying two compasses....?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Only a Month?

This week marks a whole month since my surgery. According to my internal feels like it should be somewhere around the middle of December than just now scratching the early going of October.

Do you remember me mentioning learning a little bit about patience in a recent entry? To be truthful I have discovered that I am not as patient an individual as I once was or at least thought myself to be...or so I have been told. Thank you Cindy.

The term short temper would pretty much cover the overall feeling I have been dealing with in recent weeks.

Along with a few brushes of...deep dark depression...excessive misery....gloom, despair, and agony on me....go ahead, you finish the know it from the old comedy from Cornfield County we watched years ago... HEE HAW.

Today my doctor released me from my immediate restraints. I no longer have to keep the arm in the sling. This in itself was a load off of my mind, my neck and my shoulders.

Just do not use the arm for any type of lifting. Got lifting.

Pretty good trade off as I see lifting. Can do....or won't do.

My daughter has obviously picked up a smidgen of my sense of humor without me knowing it. In one of our visits a few days ago, she casually asked when I was going to go fishing again.

Re-wind back to me and my arm in a sling. You having a visual yet?

Family sitting around the living room with conversation being wide open to any topic and she hits me with ....

"Hey Dad, when you gonna go fishing again?" ....and as she looks over to me she finds me looking rather intently at her. She never has been able to win a staring contest with me.

Then she realizes what she had just asked me....I pretty much have been dry-docked the entire summer and with the slated recovery time...the fall fishing season is pretty much a wash out as well.

The best I can do for now is to put some fuel stabilizer in the fuel tank of the boat and run the motor while sitting on the front casting deck and dream of front-ending my fishing partner in the back of the boat.... all the while sitting along side of the driveway....keeping a charge on the battery.

The staring contest is still going on.....

My daughter tries to avert the attention of the awkward moment to her latest malady. Her shoulder has been hurting also. Mind you she hasn't had any surgery that we know of, just sleeping on it wrong when she and the granddaughter sleep in on Saturday mornings along with a recent flu shot.

Still staring....maybe even an upgrade to a possible Level-1 glare....

Then it happens.....just about now, she tries to stifle a laugh and fails....she cracks up and so do I. She knows how much I love to fish and is trying to find the lighter side of my dilemma.

The irony of the situation...I made the final payment on my boat with the September payment.

Looks like I will have to give the round to my daughter. Since she scored way more points than I did. Well hey, she does take after her dad....thanks for caring Laci.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I just finished reading the new book that was just released last week by Mackenzie Phillips.

'High on Arrival' is the title to her book.

Wow! What a life she has let's make that...what a life she has survived.

You remember Mackenzie from the television sitcom One Day at a Time and her first big screen acting job in the movie American Graffiti. She is the daughter of John Phillips of the 60's rock 'n roll group, The Mama's and the Papa's.

To put it bluntly, there is no earthly reason for Mackenzie to be alive today and sharing her story with those of us that enjoyed the music from early in our generation. It is obvious to me that our Creator has a plan for her and will use her in reaching others through her tumultuous childhood and almost lifelong abuse of drugs that nearly took her life.

I picked the book up last weekend and finished it just today.

Even though I basically read it from cover to cover in less than 24 hours, it was easy for me to read simply due to the fact that I enjoy reading true stories and learning about people of my generation. No politics involved, just the music of our youth and the life style that ran parallel with it. The generation of making love and not war.

After finishing the book today, I wanted to share it here with you. Some parts of the book are tough to read and hard to get your mind wrapped around due to the nature of the activities and the lifestyle of the rich and famous in the 1960's.

There has been a lot of controversy from her family pertaining to the 'tell-all' format of the book. After reading the book, I can understand the concern, but I found myself pulling for Mackenzie as the story unwound.

I see it as a form of healing that Mackenzie needed so that she could turn the corner and escape the 'monster' that had taken up residence in her life. The monster was the drug habit she lived with and her daily encounters with her monster will take the reader into places never imagined. Let me warn you that some of the language may not be suitable for tender ears...providing you read out read it quietly to yourself.

'High on Arrival' pretty much sums up the storyline....but you need to get you a copy and read it for yourself. If the 60's meant anything to you...I'll wager a bet that after reading the story, your opinion of the author will be something you didn't see coming.