See You Next Week!
See You Next Week!
“Hey Mr. Johnson, Can I interest you in the worlds’ most informative and fun, fact-filled newspaper in America?”
“Huh. Who are you?” he asked,
“I’m your neighbor, Lawrence Wilson. Don’t you remember? I helped find your lost dog last week?”
“Well, I don’t buy from strangers and especially door to door salesmen.”
“Hm. Hope you dog runs away again you crabby old fart.”
“Hello Mr. Anderson.”
And so it went. “The opportunity to make a fortune,” the add promised. “Put yourself through college, attract girls and be the envy of all your friends.”
So much for that. I couldn’t sell enough copies of ‘Grit'(or anything like it) to buy a pack of gum, let alone a fancy car or get girls.
I’d be lucky to get out of 5th grade.
Opportunities came and went, along with their respective fortunes.
“Sell ……” “Learn Real Estate.” “Become a Licensed Financial Planner in only six weeks.” “Earn Real Wealth with …..”
It all came to a head while working my way through college. I got a summer job selling Cancer Insurance which was the new way to address the rising costs of treatment.
My boss/mentor had an opening line that went something like this. We would pull up to a new-looking home with the owner outside, painting.
Mr. Salesman of The Year would walk up and start a conversation.
“Nice looking home you got here. Is it new?” Why thanks replied Mr. Homeowner. Then the hook. “I’d sure hate to see you lose it if you or a loved one got cancer.”
About that time, Mr. Homeowner would either run for the shotgun or let the dogs loose.
After three months of going hungry and flinching every time I heard a dog bark, I got a job as a bartender.
Eventually I found something that required no selling, no convincing, and I didn’t really have to talk to anyone.
All I had to do was run into burning buildings.
Yep, I got a job as a firefighter.
After 30 years or so and yes, I did talk to people from time to time.
Stuff like “Change your clock, change your smoke detector battery.”
“Stop, drop and roll.”
Stuff like that.
Then one day a friend called and invited me to help sell boats at a Midwest boat show.
I was retired and who knows maybe now I can get it. “Sure, I’ll be there.”
He sent some literature with instructions. “Just know everything about these boats. Watch a You Tube video or two and come prepared to sell.”
Thirteen makes and models, along with all the various sizes and prices. Fishing, sport, ski, pontoons, deck boats, day boats, cruisers. And about a hundred options to boot.
Nightmares of fifth grade came rushing back. I broke into a cold sweat and didn’t sleep for days, waiting for the inevitable rejection and failure.
“Sorry about your house, mister.”
“Hi folks, see anything you like?” “Just looking,” they replied as they hurried away.
“How are you today?” (Nothing).
As if I were a leper, the closer I got to people the farther they shied away.
Then I tried the tactic of hovering between the boats while they looked. You know, like the used car salesman who suddenly appears out of nowhere when you stop to look at a car. He just pops up like a groundhog at Chuck ‘E’ Cheese.
Two women who were interested in a pontoon boat stopped and I led them to our show special. “Yes Mam, 22 feet of deck with a captain’s console, room for eight and a 150 horse engine pushing her.”
I no sooner got them on board than another salesman started up a conversation with them. It seems that they all vacationed in the same area, of Wisconsin. Sounded like they might have been neighbors or something.
After about ten minutes of being ignored, I just sort of faded away, back down to the fishing boats.
Forget about the cruisers, the bow riders….
At least I knew which end was which on the fishing boats. The pointed end is the front (bow). Right (starboard) left (port).
The horsepower is printed on the engine so even I could get it right just by looking.
Finally, a middle aged man and his son approached, looked around and settled on one of the more expensive models, a 20 footer with a walk-through windshield, 200 horse motor.
“We’ll take this one, he said. With these options. “Ok I replied, I’ll write it up.” “But we have a few questions.”
Oh, great. More questions about options, packages, trailer accessories and about seven other things I knew nothing about.
I got another guy to come over and help. I got my manager to help. In fact, he not only spent several hours with the buyer but closed the deal and wrote it up.
First one in the bank. Wow. My first commission ever, and it was a big one.
Not to say that I didn’t really do anything to earn it. Just said “hi” and handed them over like a quarterback to the running back for the heavy work.
Sold one other just like that. Actually it was the manager’s previous customers who stopped by and bought not one, but two boats.
I was on a roll.
Then they started to close down the show. This was the last day. They didn’t need me again until next year.
Next year? I’m rolling now. I’m selling. Now.
They thanked me for my efforts and promised to call in January when the shows start up again.
January? I was just getting the hang of it. What am I supposed to do ’til January?
My cardboard sign is printed and stapled to a broken shovel handle.
I have a thermos of coffee and a sandwich or two stuck in my jacket pocket.
I’m ready for the picket line.
I tried to convince them, my family, that when my door is closed and the muffled sounds of talk radio or a Brewer game are heard, that’s my time to write. My thought process as it is doesn’t take much to interrupt and the next great idea can disappear in a wisp of e-smoke.
They, on the other hand expect me to be at their beck and call, dropping everything to respond to perceived “emergencies” like an exploding toilet or when my wife’s mother died.
I tried to make the funeral but was totally engrossed in editing two paragraphs of the greatest story ever told.
I kind of liked her too.
So, it’s come to this. No more household chores, no more responding to cuts, bruises or dog poop. I’m walking out, on strike for better writing conditions.
These are my demands.
This schedule is to be followed Mon-Friday with arbitrary substitutions for Saturday and Sunday if the fish are biting. After all, my creative batteries must be recharged from time to time.
“Hey, where’s everyone going? What’s the moving van doing here? You just can’t do that without an appointment! I do have a say in what goes on around here!”
“Oh look at the time, 3:30.”
Henry Ford’s Tractors
Some still do the work of 27 horses while most have long since ceased to work at all.
Some still show the gleaming red and grey paint job which was unique to the brand while many have long since rusted away in abandoned fields and barnyards.
Trees grow through their oxidized frames and decayed rubber tires as nature, slowly but surely takes back the landscape.
These were the machines that replaced horses on the farm and, before rural electric service became a reality, even powered milking machines with a vacuum pump connection extending along the transmission.
By 1945 tractors made by several manufacturers; Ford, John Deere, Allis Chalmers, Case, et.al., had surpassed horses as the main power train on America’s farms.
They pulled a two-bottom plow, and all the implements needed for a young veteran returning home to 40 acres and a herd of milking cows.
A new Ford tractor cost around $600 when they were built but if you have one today that still runs, with hood and tires intact, it can be worth up to $4000.
Parts are still available usually at a junk yard where for a few dollars you can rummage through the field of worn out machines searching for the one that matches yours, hoping the part you need is still there-and still works.
The one we owned was purchased through a grant from the State Vocational Rehabilitation Program for my dad while he recovered from the effects of polio and was used to raise pickles on an acre of land my grandparents owned.
It also made extra money for us by plowing neighborhood gardens in town.
It was my first car at age 12.
I along with one or two other idiots would race around town sometimes actually doing what Dad wanted me to do but mostly just screwing around.
One day while a buddy, Larry was plowing and I riding the fender, the plow found the one boulder in Mr. Anderson’s potato patch. The tractor stopped dead while I continued to move forward at about 6 mph, bouncing off the front tire.
That old Ford could do wheelies.
Another time, years later with the same two idiots, we were hauling firewood on the farm when Dennis threw a piece of wood which ricocheted off the rear tire and hit me in the back of the head.
He claimed, after several minutes of hysterical laughing, that it was an accident.
Seems that head injuries were a familiar thread through my life.
You really do see stars.
My first business was to use a newer (1948) Ford 8-N with a front end loader with which I skidded logs off a ski hill being built in Waushara County.
Today, it’s known as Nordic Mountain-1100 feet high with runs for skiing, snow-boarding or tubing, a full service chalet and cross country trails.
The trick was to drive straight up the steep grade to the logs already cut, jam on one brake to spin the tractor around, facing downhill while shutting off the engine to keep it from sliding back down (brakes wouldn’t hold). Then I would quickly hook the logs and skid them down to a level field for cutting to length and loading.
We still have one, an 9-N which was built in the early ’40s. It’s condition is closer to the rusted out models than new but still serviceable when we can get it started.
The starter linkage is broken but if you short across the solenoid with a screwdriver (being careful not to touch the metal) it will arc, spark, turn over and finally start running.
We use it to snake through the cut-over wood lot to bring out firewood; oak, cherry and walnut, hauling it to the pile near the farm house for splitting and stacking.
With chains on the tires we can use it all winter long unless the snow gets too deep or the temperature gets below zero.
Below zero it doesn’t start at all, but then again, neither do I.
Move Over, Pilates
Doc says I need to exercise more and lose some weight.
More? I get plenty of exercise.
Like when I forget my keys upstairs and have to run back for them. Or my wallet, or a dozen other things I misplace during the day and have to go back and retrieve them.
Or when I put something down to pick up the thing I forgot….it’s a vicious cycle.
There was the time I drove thirty miles back for tickets left at home.
Not much exercise to be had but my heart rate did get up there for awhile.
Likewise when looking for something in the clutter of my office.
Lots of pacing and swearing but I don’t think that counts.
Let’s see, two flights of stairs from office to bedroom. Twenty-six steps in all. I only have to forget three or four items a day and I’ve climbed enough to tackle Mount Everest.
It’s not that I’m forgetful, just busy.
My coffee maker is in the kitchen upstairs which means four to six more trips up and down with another one or two to find my phone left lying on the counter.
Added to that, two trips to the mailbox, one to look for a royalty check and another to make sure that the US Mail didn’t forget (guess I have to sell something first).
Then there are meals, up one flight x 3 plus a nap (two flights up).
Probably forget the phone again.
Researchers tell me that each step going up burns .17 calories while a step down takes care of another .o5 calories.
At that rate I would have to do about one thousand two hundred forty-five steps to cancel out the handful of chips I grabbed on the way back from my nap.
Still, some consider stair climbing to be “vigorous” exercise.
Works for me.
Then there’s that list thing.
After being chided by my wife to make a list before going to the store I have finally done it. Then while entering the store I realize that I forgot the list. Forty yards to the store, back to the car and race home, returning to do it all over again. That’s exercise.
There is a reported connection between obesity and memory loss.
Experts say being overweight can lead to poor memory but that is precisely the way I get more exercise.
So now I have to choose between losing weight in order to help remember things or rely on my poor memory to help lose weight.
Now, where was I?
I made the comment recently, “I’m tired of learning new things.” I Don’t want to learn anymore.”
Having been slightly chastised by that remark, like a politician, I’ll have to “walk it back” a little.
I’m 66 and only want to learn what I want to learn.
Like how to catch more fish; walleye, bluegill, just about anything that I haven’t caught for a lifetime.
There are other things I would like to learn. How to hit a golf ball straight. How to write more convincingly. How to get paid for my writing, things like that.
I would like to nurture my relationship with those I care for. Learn a little more about God.
Did I say I want to catch more fish?
Those are the things I would like to learn.
The following are things that I could easily live without.
Things like flossing, and losing weight.
I have no desire to know more about social media; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and all the rest.
Tagging, being tagged, posting a tweet etc. is about as exciting as a salad of watercress, unless it’s smothered in Peppercorn Ranch.
Email is tolerable.
I hate it when every ad that pops up on my screen is now somehow linked to a website I have visited.
How “Single girls from DePere” could possibly have come from a recent trip to Cabela’s is beyond me. Really sweetheart, I don’t know how that happened.
Netflix and Amazon are OK, but there is a rate of diminishing returns as far as my time is concerned.
If it takes longer to search 300 or so movies, trailers and reviews, than the actual run time of the show-I don’t need it.
I would cancel the internet altogether, but it’s the only way I can play solitaire.
I don’t really care to learn another language, get a degree or study physics. Especially study physics.
I don’t want to know any more about those “Five fruits never to Eat.” or “The Seven Retirement Facts You Thought You knew.”
Dear Microsoft: “I do not want Windows 10!”
Other habits like exercise no longer appeal to me. Didn’t I just walk a 10K last year? “Been there, done that.” Let’s move on.
Not to say that I’ve never done anything to change my attitude or lifestyle. After all, I did quit smoking (but could easily start any day if you don’t get off my case) many years ago.
Besides, it’s my right to be obstinate-right?
Maybe I do need to learn more about social media. After all, that’s the only way to develop a platform for getting my writing noticed these days.
I Phones, smart gadgets and all other make and manner of devices are a requirement if a person is to communicate with millennials and their parents.
Blogs, texts, tweets, face book timelines and pages are all necessary evils in the working world of words and pictures.
Grandpa used to scare us with his false teeth in a glass. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
OK, I probably need to floss and save what’s left of my teeth.
And lose 30 pounds to save what’s left of my wardrobe.
It shouldn’t be that big a deal but it is. Simply get up five minutes earlier, floss, brush and rinse after breakfast and coffee or, coffee and coffee, which is more accurate.
Then sometime during the day make a point to take a walk, ride a bike, work up a sweat or cut down on potatoes. http://lpwilsonwriting.com/?p=124
I could probably start to learn a little more about a lot of things-except for anything math related.
But I don’t have to like it.
I never was much of a hat guy.
None of my heroes wore hats. Not my Dad or JFK.
James Dean wore cowboy hats in one of his movies, ‘Giant’ and owned a motorcycle cap, like Brando.
I doubt if he wore one while driving his Porsche Spyder, however.
It might have blown off…
John F. Kennedy delivered his iconic inaugural address on a blustery January day in 1961, brown wavy hair blowing in the wind-chilled air, as he and Jackie ushered in the era of Camelot.
My Dad always had a full head of hair, parted down the middle and combed back. Until his later days when he too started wearing a hat to protect a thinning head of hair.
That must be it. In Wisconsin especially, hats are a necessary evil as we age and stay in this climate.
And, I don’t have to comb it as often.
I have several. None that say “Old Fart” or anything like that.
A Green Bay Packers cap of course.
A limited edition one that says “2003 Lambeau Field Project Team.”
That one I got, not so much due to my being involved, but on the off chance of being there at the right time and knowing a guy who knew a guy-that sort of thing.
Another Packers cap honoring veterans. That I like.
Another from NYFD. Goes without saying.
And one dedicated to “Our Real Life Super Hero.”
I also have an authentic Stormy Kromer original gray felt hat with the ear flaps.
That’s my winter cap. The ear flaps don’t quite cover my ears anymore but then my ears aren’t the problem.
I need another “Stormy.” The one I have is used for business, pleasure and even worn to church.
It’s getting kind of beat up for anything but basic warmth.
Would like to get another original, this time the classic red plaid style.
As Leif HerrGessell states in ‘Courage Is A Plaid Hat’, Elmer Fudd did not wear a Stormy Kromer. http://www.chuckhawks.com/courage_plaid_hat.html
I once had a genuine Davy Crocket coonskin cap complete with tail. Somewhere out there is a synthetic raccoon still looking for his fur.
I have a hard hat that I don’t use anymore. Probably should though, when cutting trees for firewood.
I could get a cap that reads, “Old Fishermen Never Die, They Just Smell That Way.” Not enough room on the hat.
Don’t own a Milwaukee Brewers hat. No particular reason. Maybe if they won some games?
Stocking caps are ok for when it gets really cold but they don’t have a bill to block the sun. That’s another issue I have, eyes and glare.
I could wear one of those golf hats, you know, the ones with no head covering just a headband and bill. But then the bald spot comes into play.
Caps as we know them today weren’t always the fare.
Bowlers, fedoras, straw and cowboy hats were popular until a couple generations ago when sports teams began to push fan-based caps.
A $10 baseball cap can be just thrown away after 6 or 7 years without washing, but a handmade Panama at $200-that’s a forever hat.
A Green Bay Packers Division Championship Cap from 2016 can be had for around 35 bucks.
A 2016 NFC Championship hat-not available.
Hats may have just been around, like forever.
Wikipedia presents the case of someone named “Venus” of Brassempouy, France who had one some 25,000 years ago, back in Paleolithic times. Not much left of it now.
EBAY might refer to it as “vintage.”
There are many styles to choose from. Ascots to Fezzes, Pith helmets to the Zucchetto, which was recently snatched from the Pope’s head by a rambunctious 3 year old.
Just about everyone in America wore a Fedora at the turn of the century, except for women that is.
Theirs were adorned with big bird feathers, sequins and such, or were just big, loud and floppy.
The Military of course has always depended on hats or helmets for recognition and protection, along with a large assortment of weapons and ammo.
So, there you have it. The Mad Hatter, hats in hand, keep it under your hat, ‘Hats off for Larry’ (Dell Shannon), tip your hat, and a tip of the hat goes to…, Top Hats and Tails.
A doff of my cap, to you.