On retirement:
 Don’t say you are retired, say you’re unemployed. The volunteer
chasers won’t bother you.
 “Everynight is Saturday night,and Saturday night is NewYear’s Eve.”
 The “Big” paper comes on Sunday.
 I’m down to two keys – Home, Car.
 “I don’t do nothing and I don’t start ‘til noon.” Bum Phillips
When people ask you about retirement wanting to know (1) what do you do with your time? And (2) do you have enough money? They are really wondering about themselves.


OUCH ( )

“I have no idea what you are writing about, but that advice you just gave would be good for a lot of people.” So, while I’m thinking about it, allow me a serious moment here.
For people undergoing surgery:
• Expect the unexpected. Somehow something happens that can throw you if you let it.
• Judge improvement by the week, not by the day. • Be patient. Did you get me?
Be patient. It takes time. When it is over you won’t remember the bad.
• Do your rehab. This is a must. Sometimes it’s painful, but do your rehab.


Couples our age often talk about death and what happens before we get there. Euthanasia seems to have a lot of appeal. Maybe the Dutch are right. The abject fear that I share with so many contemporaries is rest homes, Alzheimer’s, lingering pain, and the like. One such conversation recently amused me. Choices of suicide in later life reared its head. Living next door to the ocean I suggested I might just “head east.” Then it happened. One person suggested asphyxiation! Their partner pointed out a failed case of one who attached a hose to their car’s exhaust and waited patiently to die. What happened? I inquired? Answer:”… the dumb son of a bitch ran out of gas.”
Our country does a poor job of caring for the elderly. As for the process of dying, we all say the same things: I don’t want to go into a rest home. I don’t want to be a burden on my children. Why do you pay $50,000 a year for something you don’t want?
There is a Living Will. Certainly a proper will. North Carolina has a M.O.S.T. form that helps further define your specific wishes in this important decision.
At my last medical exam I concluded the session with a question of my doctor. What is the latest on how to “die well”? He looked puzzled. Then came what seems to be pretty good advice. My doctor suggested one of my age is probably going to die of heart disease or attack, cancer, or stroke. If you have a sudden heart attack and die, the problem is solved. With cancer
If I have been born in India would I be a Baptist? It bothered me early on that the little children, non-Baptist that so many were, were going to hell.
Jared Diamond’s book, THE WORLD UNTIL YESTERDAY, has a chapter on religion. He lists several reasons for religion: 1. explanation 2.comfort 3.anxiety 4.order 5.organization 6.treatment of others, and interestingly 7.justification for war.
Was it Friedrich Nietzche that contended “If there was no God mankind would have invented him?”
Maybe my parents named me properly (Thomas, as in “doubting”). Maybe I was just like the thermos bottle (“how do it know?”), but listening over and over again I began to assume a devil’s advocate attitude (now there is a pun). And early on, and later on, I was probably a definable agnostic. There have been later life experiences that have led me to a kind of faith.
Yet it still bothers me for someone to contend that they KNOW about the “hereafter”.

you generally have adequate time to make a decision on your own, Cancers are defined medically as either curable or treatable. If you have the possibility of being cured then sound medicine is a way to go. Full bore. There are a large range of cancers that are
are treatable. Some of the treatment is not real nice. But you do have time to decide what you are willing to tolerate.
My doctor then said that one you should be most concerned about sudden, severe stroke. This is the illness that causes so many rendered incapacitated, semiconscious, being wheelchair bound or bedridden, mouth agape. Useless.
How to best avoid this possibility? My doctor advised that you and all around you should be advised that in the event of a “severe stroke” you DO NOT WANT TO BE ADMITTED TO INTENSIVE CARE. Why? Because if you wind up there they are in full control. At that point and for whatever reason(s), out come the tubes and medicines.” People can be kept alive for a long time nowadays. BIG BILLS FOR LONG TIMES. Is it Christian-like to do this to people? Geez, we don’t put our pets through this agony. Of course these decisions are up to each individual. Or, in the words of Robert Zimmerman: “…it is not he, or she, or them, or it that you belong to.” IT’S ALRIGHT, MA.”


March 9, 2016
My wife is named Margaret Parham. So is the lady pictured on the cover. My father’s mother was living when I was born, but died shortly thereafter. This picture is the only one I have ever seen of her.
As a matter of fact I never have even thought of her much until this fall. I turned 75, but more importantly two grandsons arrived, somewhat surprisingly so, to accompany the first grandson.
My one sibling does remember the older Margaret Parham: As a youngster I asked her what she knew of this woman. She revealed that this mother-in-law had earlier lived in my parent’s home. Much to the consternation of my Mom, who simply summarized her feelings by saying: “We didn’t get along too well. She didn’t think anybody was good enough for E.T.” (My Dad).
Golfer 1: Hmm. A son-in-law chip
Golfer 2: What does that mean?
Golfer 1: Not bad, but not what I’d hoped for.
My Dad never said much about his family. “Pretty rough times.” I reacted like anyone denied information and persisted to the point of finding out more of the story.
North Carolina “Parhams”come almost exclusively from the Oxford/ Henderson area. Dad said due to the depression his father moved
them to the mountains of North Carolina, around Hendersonville, NC (Ironically). I have never known the original bunch.
Pressed by me, and in small doses, my father parceled it out to me. There were four girls and E.T.,the only son and the youngest child. The depression bore down and the farming didn’t do much. My grandfather, ostensibly, left the family to try to find work. He never returned. One sister survived. My father never quite said it as such, but implied the other three sisters more of less starved to death.
I am glad I had these conversations, painful as they were. And I think it also helped my father to unload some darkness. Two memories he
had stand out in my mind. With no small amount of pride he said “…I
was behind our mule, ploughing, at age 9.” He never went without
a garden that I can remember. He was never happier than in the garden. He never bought a “machine” to “turn the earth”, rather found someone with a mule who would lend it to him to prepare. Later he found an older Black gentleman with a mule who helped him in his late 80s. They smiled a lot.
His recollection of this, brought tears from both of us: “…you know, I somehow always valued education. I would not miss school
if possible. After the girls died there was nothing. So,as I grew, or wore out my shoes, Mother would go to the closet and hand me the next sister’s vacant pair. The other kids made fun of me, but I went to school.”
My Dad and our name survived. As I now reflect on the fact that there are now six living “Parham Boys”, I can’t help wondering if we don’t owe my Dad’s mom some thanks.
Having piece-mealed an education together, E.T. Parham and his mother traveled though out North Carolina to 14 different one room schools in 18 years. Dad laughed at the fact that, “… I was a school principal at age 18. They survived. So have I, Tee, Dan, Andre, James, and Lennox.
My guess is that old lady WAS “tough”. And thank God she was. Belated, but sincere thanks, from us all. And thanks for a deep belief in education.
I never knew either Grandfather. Not much of a mental picture there. I am gonna try extra now, to see what happens with the Parham boys.
This is my fourth amateurish attempt at writing something I hope will survive, and that one day the little ones will have some “pictures” they can find helpful.


This is repeated from blog 322.  FEAR AND INTIMIDATION have a high success rate. Try the Mafia’s history. Threaten one’s children and you may get your way. No one suffered intimidation more than the black population of America. In David Halberstam’s THE CHILDREN he describes how young blacks realized they had to confront racism before they had children, having witnessed their parent’s fear of someone hurting their children and thus not being able to act.

So many of the “school shooters” fit a similar profile: Teenaged, white, male, not much parental foresight. Isn’t it logical to try to prevent this scenario?
Is this the algorithim we must  identify?
1. I can’t fight them
2. No one at school will help.
3. My parent(s) won’t do anything. Or don’t know how.
4. I’ll practice my videos and get good. Daydream of revenge.
5. I am great at this.
6. Somehow access to an assault weapon
7. “After tomorrow that son of a bitch will never scare me again. Nor will his buddies.”

20/20 HINDSIGHT (390)


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.