“LOCAL AS IT GETS”

No bridge to our coastal home of Emerald Isle, NC, before the ’70’s. Our end of the island has residue of the wild days.   Sharks, stingrays, copperheads, raccoons, coyotes.  A local gardening shop featured an unannounced 7 and a half foot alligator on the display  floor.  Even the spectre of racism, Trump or the virus pale compared to #1.  Anything but a hurricane is local mantra.  Actually, it is water damage. “Don’t ask for deluge!” (Starbuck a.k.a. THE RAINMAKER).   The pearl of our community is “The Yacht Club”. It has an abandoned flat bottomed Core Sound skiff on top of the building. Thus “Yacht Club”. Three years ago Florence totally flooded many businesses and homes including the “TYC”. Friday night was our developments trip to the YC. Had to be out by nine o’clock pm though. That’s when the bikers came. A roadhouse bar,  the food was getting better before the flood. Head waiter wore a t-shirt that said “NOPE NOT TODAY”. The drink menu included ” The Hurricaine, Yella-God-Amighty, Stranded in Honduras, and the last item was “Sex On The Deck”–$2.50

One fundamental of a healthy retirement is local friends. Randy and Pat Campbell and David and Lynn Odom visited recently. Pat brought a lovely bouquet of 12 yellow roses. A player once told me after all day in the sun playing “Coach, you’re getting up a little bit”. Post op and  everything tastes and smells bad about yourself   So it didn’t surprise me after Randy had posed a single rose behind my ear the lovely yellow petals fell off the bud…all of them. Got a video. Coach Odom has a hometown friend here named Rex Teaney . Rex recalls that every conversation with Mr. Odom Sr. concluded with the questions “is David a good boy Rex, is he a good friend, do people like him?” Rex’s signature story is about his first high school varsity team wrestling match: Rex is not a large man and certainly there wasn’t much to him in the 9th grade (about 90 lbs) It was sort of an odd debut. The high school versus the Goldsboro Boys Home. Nervous but not noticing much but that his opponent looked to be about 25 years old. And he was apparently blind. Back on the mat  and Rex was pinned in 20 seconds. The next realization was he was skinned burned from the guys lack of a shave. David bailed him out: “I don’t think Rex ever lost a high school wrestling match .”

Right down from the Yacht Club is “Phillips Seafood”. Jimmy Clyde Phillips has his market written up often as a tourist attraction. Jimmy has a sign in the front window: “Local As It Gets”!

TIPPING POINTS

The first book I  wrote was done much like a blog.  Different articles, all strung together. And, there were some blue or risque subjects and language.  One dealt with elimination on an eight day Colorado river rafting trip.  Potty humor for sure, but pretty much true.  Caught some flak .

Same kind of humor kicked in last week during second hip replacement.   Nothing funny at 4am thought of impending third catheterization.  No details.  Just cannot pee.  There I said it.

My member is saying,  “Coach, don’t you understand that Nurse Ratchet is down the hall, sharpening her switch blade?

Self One  to Self Two: “What part of PEE don’t you understand?”  All you are doing is  faking a pee.  Take a pee.  Take, not fake.

One other unpleasant human phenomenon  was  this pain.  The way hot spots blink–then intensify.   Thinking  I was pain  free,  a single sensation would pop in.  Just like oven burners.  The bb size pain point grows to a hot dime to a hot damn.  Hello drugs.  No lack of vile thoughts drugs can contribute .

Then, the sensation of a positive.  Tingle grows.  Hark is that a valid precursor?  Another fake. Now the dance.  Yes?  No?  The plot thickens.

The number of tubes needed  runs double for me.  First,  the dreaded IV and  tubing.   For me there are about 5 of these crisscrossing my chest, other parts.

Hey  Dumbass,  this is real, gotta go.  Nearly tops on the burner.  Get up and run.  Oops, I knocked the nurses button beyond reach.  Now the scene,  Five days post op it is now a riot.

I can’t figure which tube goes where, can’t holler loud enough to get her.  Prayer changes from go,  to whoa, whoa, whoa.   I was saran wrapped.  duct taped,  mummified.

Covid-19 proved nurses are heroes.  Final scene?  Did we make it?

Wait for the YouTube!

 

A. 20/20 HINDSIGHT (390)

Cranes-5911.jpg

It is almost 2020.  I am almost 80.  It is almost Christmas.  It is Festivus.  Dec. 23.

Junior Johnson just died.  That confirms mortality.  I met Junior  once.  And I met Ted Williams, my hero.  “First there was baseball”, but “car racin'”wasn’t far behind.  We didn’t have pro teams in the South then.  We did have baseball and racin’.  Basketball was fermenting, but the baseball game of the week and Darlington were staples.  Ford or Chevy? Up there with Democrat or Republican?

All politics are local and so was racin’.  Our small town changed it’s name twice and wound up being called after the mill owner, “Robbins’.  Pure mill village, labor  and management the dividing line. The  minor league baseball team was named the “Robbins Robins”.

My teenage years coincided with the deification of the automobile.  We proved you do need a seatbelt. And it ain’t smart to drive drunk.  But once they let you have the car keys you could go any where you could make it home for check-in.  Drink figured into the equation and we had some peculiar laws there.  Our dry end of Moore County meant nightly reconnoitres to Pinehurst, the rich and “wet” end of the county.  Bring me a six pack of PBR!  No mixed drinks, only “brown bagging”

Moonshine and North Carolina are synonymous.  The best recent book on the combination of cars, moonshine,NC and Nascar is DRIVING WITH THE DEVIL by Neal Thompson.   Driver, promoter, and mechanic.  Began in our hills but soon got to the flat lands (Percy Flowers ruled the Piedmont).

“Moonshiners put more time, energy, thought, and love into their cars than any racer ever will. Lose on the track and you go home. Lose with a load of whiskey and you go to jail.” —Junior Johnson, NASCAR legend and one-time whiskey runner.

We have just added a traffic circle at now home , Emerald Isle, NC.  And it trigged some nostalgia  (more later).  The first circle in our  Robbins neighborhood in the 50’s was,  you guessed it, in Pinehurst.  We accepted it as an in route challenge to our cars and driving skills.  Beer in hand, how fast could you drive around the circle?  In 3 trips?  First to  pass someone in the circle?  Record for number passed per lap? First ticket?  First ticket with no license?

Sadly, but inevitably, the causality and severity of a mistake stunned us.  Tex Graham was  first, a football player who sang 16 tons (“…you load sixteen tons and what do you get?  Another day older and deeper in debt”. )  RIP, Tex.

Less severe but notable early scenarios include Ben Brady’s solo trip to “the Pines” in his 53 pickup, stopping in front of the police station, Blowing the horn till the puzzled officers came out of the station.  “You can’t catch me ” was Ben’s challenge, whereupon he patched out at top speed.  Sadly  Ben  flipped her and wound up under the truck, specifically the red hot muffler.  Burn city.

Lenonard “Urd” Benson drove his Studebaker into a ditch that was roof high and Studebaker wide to the “war eagle”.  It happened on Prom night.  We abandoned the dance to laugh at Urd, and walk across the car.

Next up Glenn McCaskill,  didn’t make the sharp curb at Aberdeen lake.  Don’t remember if he made the lake, but do remember that a week before he had driven the same route with me and nine others in a sedan to a little league baseball game.

“And my friend Brian Temple
He thought he could make it
So from the third story he jumped
And he missed the swimming pool only by inches
And everyone said he was drunk.” FAMILY RESERVE (Lyle Lovett).

NC 705 from Robbins to Seagrove is 13 miles.  I know it well because I tried to thumb back home one midnight. Walked the whole 13,  never saw a car.

“Heading down south to the land of the pines
I’m thumbing my way into North Caroline
Staring up the road and pray to God I see headlights “.(WAGON WHEEL by Dylan),

NC 705 intersected with NC 220 which led to Level Cross, NC,  home of the Pettys, Lee, Richard, Kyle and such.  Not only that, 705 had about a 3 mile stretch or “the straight” that had not a bend and not many laws.   Drag racing with the family vehicles blossomed.  Lore galore.  Races followed by, or including wrecks, fights, bragging rights.  Soon word drifted down that the Pettys had a great quarter mile drag track just up the road.  Locals just snuck on at all hours, uninvited.   I had a classmate who was a “management’s child” and thus wealthy.  Upon his 16th birthday he was given a new 56 Bel Air Chevy, with all gadgets, plus two four barrel carburetors.  Ripe.

The kid missed school one day and showed up the next with a God All Mighty  depressed look on him.  He said there was no need to try to hide what happened.  He felt obligated to try the 56 on the Petty fast track.  By cover of darkness he idled her on –then pedal to metal.

He acknowledged the saw he 3/4 inch cable strung between two sawed off telephone poles at track’s end: ‘But hell, she was wide open and nothing left but to hit the cable head on, head light high.  “Car is in the shop already.”

I guess a lot of small NC towns had driving tests.  We had several.  One road was called “the rough and crooked”.  What was your “top end” on the “rat path” or the tree lined back  road from West End  (now Seven Lakes) to the crossroads?   In the other direction , toward  Highfalls,NC,  there was a prolonged curve. Severe, dangerous and the perfect for locals to declare their “personal best”– screening around on two wheels.  Somehow the most difficult one got pushed backed in my thinking, yet crept into mind one recent day in mid-Emerald Isle circle.  Like many county seats in NC, Moore County’s courthouse was located in the roundabout in Carthage, NC. While it  was a longer way home it offered  a challenge.  Between the drug store and the sidewalk’s end there was a 2×2 foot brick column.  From column to store the width was almost 4 inches to spare for vehicles of that time.  Tight squeeze that only the best could navigate.  That didn’t stop the amateurs, whose cars wore scars on their sides to the indignation of miscalculation.

***RECENT STATISTIC:  “When a second teenager joins a teenage driver, the chances of an accident increases 4 times.

Emerald Isles’ circle  was controversial, yet has worked out well.  A bar with an open air view of the circle that has probably been a disappointment.  No accidents have been reported.  There is a hint of scandal no one talks about.  Some odd variables have yet to unfold. The circle’s  appearance coincided with Hurricane Florence, whose fury left the island with damage beyond the work forces ability.  Tough on people, particularly town management and workers.  The town manager, already beloved, emerged as a local hero of no small proportion.

So it shocked the town when this valued servant announced he was moving to another town.  Why the puzzled populace wondered?  Word on the street concluded that the work load of  more frequent future hurricanes was frightening.

That became somewhat the main story, Yet I wondered about the Heron?  Was the town manager responsible for the new circle sculpture.  It was a puzzle to me, but  local insiders said the manager was too busy with the storm and assigned the sculpture project to a local women’s garden club.   Said manager actually had a snicker over the birds, upon his departure.

It wasn’t the quality of the two heron’s portrayal.  However the positioning of the two, so like the fowl deed done ” a tirgo”, could hardly go unnoticed.

If that project had occurred in our neighborhood in our time, Jack Hussey  still be circling, looking for a an opening around anything that wasn’t clocking a good time. Plus the heron would not have gone unnoticed.

I’ll get crap about this but it’s too funny to ignore.  Plus during this Christmas season someone ordered the circle’s Christmas tree to cover the birds.  Garden Club?

Any way the heron have some privacy.   And THE EMPEROR WEARS NO CLOTHES.

 

 

B. GRANDPARENTING (141)

We got married a little later than average. Our children came a little late, too. And they,too, were “mature”. We did have a grandson to brag about, and have done our best.
However, we have not had a fair chance with some of the early birds and more prolific. Not till 2015.
Surprisingly and with great joy we now have two more grandsons. Infants, and months apart.
Everyone is gaga as we share pictures via technology. Skype, Facetime, Videos.
The first child of my youngest Son got the usual treatment of first time parents at Christmas: A picture with SANTA.
Actually not a picture, but a string of about twenty rapidly shot options, exhibiting lots of opportunities for grandparents.
Typically we let the comments fly:
“…look at his eyes. Just like his Fathers!”
“…he is a big boy!”
“…and his red velvet suit, trimmed in white fur collar”
“…his hair looks a little different here!”
“…yes, that changes in young ones!”
Like said, ours was a big child (now referring to it “ours”).
This one was big too. But about the 12th frame down something caught
my eye.
“Margaret–that ain’t “our child! That child is a girl.”
A big girl, but a girl. The give away came with a posture shift
that revealed white leggings, also trimmed. I knew MY son would not
allow his boy so photographed.
Grandma said “…maybe its just cold and she wanted him to be warm?”
“Nope. Scroll down!”
Sure enough, there he was. Looked like he was dressed in camouflage. Almost square.
“…well, my,my. Look at his hands. How sweet!” (she)
“..’our’ boy is a stud!”(me), etc.

Merry Christmas

C. MOBY DICK (140)

“Yea, foolish mortals, Noah’s flood is not yet subsided; two-thirds of the fair world it yet covers.”

Just saw Ron Howard’s film The Sea Beneath Us,about Melville’s research for his great novel, Moby Dick. The film, like the book, is a testament to the “leviathan” and his power. We saw it in 3-D. And, while this magnified the whale’s fearsome abilities it also makes another point. That being the uncontrollable ability of the seas.

Witness Melville’s words on this subject:

“…though but a moment’s consideration will teach, that however baby man may brag of his science and skill, and however much, in a flattering future, that science and skill may augment; yet forever and forever, to the crack of doom, the sea will insult and murder him, and pulverize the stateliest, stiffest frigate he can make; nevertheless, by the continual repetition of these very impressions, man has lost that sense of the full awfulness of the sea which aboriginally belongs to it.” And:

“But not only is the sea such a foe to man who is an alien to it, but it is also a fiend to its own offspring; worse than the Persian host who murdered his own guests; sparing not the creatures which itself hath spawned. Like a savage tigress that tossing in the jungle overlays her own cubs, so the sea dashes even the mightiest whales against the rocks, and leaves them there side by side with the split wrecks of ships. No mercy, no power but its own controls it. Panting and snorting like a mad battle steed that has lost its rider, the masterless ocean overruns the globe.”

Whale oil preceded modern oil and its products for our energy. And while we give ourselves credit for ceasing the massacres of whales, our misuse of oil and carbon may find us among the slaughtered. Politicians won’t decide about climate change. The sea will.

And, while the question of off shore drilling here in North Carolina, and off our Atlantic coast, has serious financial and social variables, that is not really the issue. Nature and the sea are showing us some severe possibilities. Any who pretends they know the limits of the power of the seas of the world is a fool.

D. FLORENCE (340)

“It won’t happened to us” just happened to us.   It was named FLORENCE, and she roared through our neighborhood Sept. 18, 2018.   In the 1950’s movie THE RAINMAKER, Burt Lancaster’s character, STARBUCK warns “…don’t ask for deluge”!  Somebody didn’t get the memo.

Trying to find some good out of all this, I make this observation and suggestion.

Our community of some 400 lots and houses is fairly new.  The codes from day one prohibited metal roofs.  This was a decision made with aesthetics a major guideline.

Coastal people described Florence as “once in five hundred years” storm.  Yet the description was applied a week later to storm MICHAEL, that literally blew a Florida town off the map.   While Florence was  evaluated as “…” the most expensive storm in North Carolina history” by Governor Roy  Cooper,  Water–not wind was –the problem:  Unlike 2018’s Michael, or the 1954 monster Hazel.

The water, in flood-like fashion came from down  to up in homes and businesses.  More  often it came down, through  roofs with shingles.  Our house tops turned “tarp blue”.  We travelled eastern NC several different routes,  to Wilmington, who got it the worst, to Raleigh via 24/40 west or 58/70.  To Beaufort by 24/70 or down the island’s 58.

SAME STORY EACH WAY!  While shingled roofs allowed water into the buildings,  most metal roofs remained intact.  NO INTERNAL DAMAGE.  I asked my  insurance adjustor if my observations were accurate?  I guessed a 50-1 ratio between shingled or metal.  He said “…you are no where close”.

Lots of bad weather lately.  Hard to work outside.  Today and yesterday it has been nice.   Roof work every where.   Our people voted to allow metal roofs now.  But—they are more expensive.

CUT TO THE CHASE.  Shouldn’t replacement and new roofs in certain coastal and suspect geographical areas be metal?  Is a study worthwhile considering how to make metal roofs more accessible?   Should governments from local to federal  be concerned about not going through this nightmare again.  Insurance companies?   Certainly homeowners and businesses who are rebuilding.  New ones?

Our people know the scoop now.  Still pricing has people rebuilding with shingles.  While “I won’t be around for the next one” may be true, don’t you want your heirs to avoid this trauma?  Will the extra cost of metal now yield higher resale?

Time for some thought.  Action.  Do your own survey.  How many tarps on shingles roofs.  Metal?  Best evidence?   Check the old tobacco barns with intact metal tops!

If, in fact, the next FLORENCE styled storm is 100 years away –newly added metal roofs will join the tobacco barns as survivors.

 

E. OLD ROCKERS (102)

My friend,”Country” Boykin, calls my wife OLLIE RAY. Hambone ran the rural store near “Country’s” Rock Ridge, N.C. home. “Ollie Ray hung around ‘Bone’s’ all day and didn’t buy anything. At closing time he would go out to the highway and hitchhike. If a car was going east he’d thumb east. West and Ollie Ray would cross the road and hitchhike that way. Made no difference. He just liked MOTION under him.”
Wife Margaret was fifth of six. She recently read a letter her Mom wrote long ago, describing her children to a relative. By the time she got #5, four year old Margaret, she simply noted “…that one is a little RIP.” I think they should have named her GO.
When we retired I offered, “chose your spot!” No hesitation: “I want to live at beach”. Fine. But, I WONDERED.
Cost of building our “dream” beach house rose as the house rose. Maybe a word of caution: “If we keep adding to building this house we won’t have a bunch for a lot of extras later, for example–travel.” Famous last words:
“You don’t have to worry if we get to that beach!”
That lasted about two weeks.
To be fair she found a solution. Within the last month she has made separate trips to Oregon, Canada, and Denver. All expenses paid because of volunteer “altruistic”services she renders. Really quite honorable as well as lots of miles logged. Doesn’t take long to recover. She’ll unpack, put her clothes up, report in—VERY SOON, wanderlust gene kicks in. She made it an hour upon returning last week from Colorado: “I just booked another to San Fransisco.”
She, maybe we, have a looming problem. There is a fast approaching age deadline (no pun intended) that ends a major avenue for her travels. That, combined with my desire to not get out of my zip code, has several concerned. Beach neighbor, Coach Dave Odom, wonders “…how long are the two of you gonna be able to stay home together. He has a point. Last winter the weather forced us all inside for a LONG few days. Coach Odom noticed that “…when she cordoned that six foot area around your recliner with yellow crime scene tape, now that is scary.”

I am rather stationary. (LIKE A ROCK–Bob Seger).
I just turned 74. Bob Dylan is 73. Dylan has a pretty good take on all of it, aging included. Wille Nelson noted at turning 75 : I’ve outlived my pecker!”

***”…it’s not dark yet, but its getting there.” DYLAN
***”…I love you more and ever shall, but there’s no one left to tell, the world has gone black before my eyes.” Dylan (NETTIE MOORE).
*** Bob with a little hope: “Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow. Things are just about to get interesting, right about now”. MISSISSIPPI

I do hope she’ll “stick with me.” I’ve known all along there was no need to try to cage this OLLIE RAY.  One wife told her husband “…if we are gonna gracefully grow old together, you are gonna have to slow down.” Half the Beatles are gone. Dylan, the Stones, lots of commentary. Some quite wistful: “…and I want to rock your gypsy soul, just like days of old…” Van Morrison (INTO THE MYSTIC).

Maybe I should just write her a song. Like my contemporaries. I probably would fare better in country venue. Lets see:

“I USED TO BE YORE ROCK AND ROLL,
BUT NOW I’M JUST A ROCK”

G. DOWN EAST

“Hoi Toiders.”
Our coast is called “The Crystal Coast.” Eastern-most Carteret County houses the “Hoi Toiders” or the “High Tiders.” They go “way back,” as my boat-building buddy, J. A. Rose, of Harker’s Island, says.
I asked one old timer about his siblings. They had all relocated elsewhere. Why? “We wuz so poor we had to scatter.”
“Possum” Hale was driving a local, who asked if Hale had anything left to drink (True Story!) Watson or Possum, told him there was a pint in the glove compartment. Before he could stop him this Hoi Toider had drunk half a can of brake fluid.
“Possum” took the immediately ill passenger to the emergency room. After violent vomiting, the Doctor asked, “ Are you all right? You drank a half can of brake fluid.”
“Ort to be able to stop her on a doime,” said the recovering “Core Sounder.”
One tale holds that times were so bad that a fisherman had to take his wife along to help him. A storm washed them both overboard. He was saved and taken by the Coast Guard to the hospital.
A doctor broke the news. “Sir, we found your wife. Unfortunately she was tangled beneath the sea in a net. She has about fifty blue crabs attached to her. It’s quite a mess, and we really wonder what you’d like us to do?”
The Hoi Toider’s conclusion: “Well, toimes being toimes, and Thelma being Thelma, just take them crabs off and re-set her.”
Mr. Rose said a Hoi Toider was awakened at midnight by a neighbor who reported, “Oi’ve hit something out in the road. It’s got an ugly, big hard head, and its ass smells worse than anything Oi’ve ever encountered.”
The husband reported, “ My Lord, you’ve hit Pauline.” 226

H. JOHN, NOT BROTHER AL, MCQUIRE

•ON GAMBLING
(“Bayou Sam, from South Louisiann, had gambling on his brain.
Evangeline, from the Maritime, was slowly going insane.”) EVANGILINE.
Living at the beach does have some disadvantages. You have to drive two hours before you get anywhere. Wish I knew now to fly a private plane. Better still let Margaret fly it. I haven’t been able to find a good local card game. Miss my Elon bunch. I did get in a game but it was a little heavy for me. I like to play for fun. Not so one John McGuire. John is the brother of the basketball coach and announcer Al McGuire and also former NBA Knickerbocker, Dick McGuire. John’s first love wasn’t basketball. About 90 years old and the proud father of nine children, John is a consummate curmudgeon. Not much casual conversation with John. Particularly during a poker game. I tried. He fascinated me with his dogged concentration and love of gambling. I could tell he was a cut above local boys. Several levels above me. I gleaned the information from the game’s players that John had made some money. Finally I got to where he would talk to me. Particularly if I came early before the game started. How did you make your money? Basketball? No way was the reply! He then told me the story. He had a good friend who was a lifetime business partner. But like John, his first priority was not business, but gambling. Trouble was, while they were good at business, they were lousy at the race track. Their business was the bar business in New York City. “We figured out that heterosexuals went to the bars on weekends, but that gays went every night.” Thus a move to Queens and the gay bar business. And a good business. Trouble was, John said “…we’d make a ton of money every night and then lose it back just as fast, or faster, the next day at the track”.
Most of the time John sat quietly during the game. His only intention being to get the crowd to play as many hands as possible. If he wasn’t getting good cards he would often blurt out something that the crowd often didn’t understand, or pay any attention to. “Red board” would come from nowhere. Finally I asked him: John, what does it mean when you say red board. After he explained his action I realized this comment came when the conversation was too long, too idle, or just an excuse (“by God, if I had of caught a deuce I’d have reamed you”). John explained that at the race track, after the race, the results were posted on a big red board.
Once posted. The race was over. Move on. Play another hand. Golfers are the second, next to poker players for whining (“…if I hadn’t double bogged #7…red board.)
John wouldn’t give you any extra information. Once, when asked if he was bluffing, John stated “…my name is Zink and what do you think. I do your laundry for nothing!” After prodding him at the game’s conclusion, John told me about the laundry sign in New York. When the person was told his bill was 40$, he said what about the sign. The manager explained “…you read the sign wrong. “My name is Zink, and what do you think? I do YOUR laundry for NOTHING?” Mr. Zink would ask.
John’s daughter would bring him and come get him. One day after our game I noticed she wasn’t there. I told John to call her and let her know I’d take him home. We still didn’t know
each other well. He looked a little funny when I said “…there is a price for my taking you home.” What price? “You have to tell me one Al McGuire story nobody else knows.” John thought a few minutes and then asked: “Do you remember, when teams first integrated, how coaches were asked how many black kids did the coach play? “The standard joke (I think it was a joke),
was “two at home, three on the road, and four if I’m losing?” I do remember that. John said that we altered that to “three at home, four on the road, and five if we had a bet on the game”.
Gambling certainly has a dangerous side.