THE DEATH OF OL' CRAZE...
Most of us experience the loss of a pet at some point in our lives. It is a virtual
requirement in the curriculum leading to adulthood. No matter how attached we
become to our beloved pet, we must inevitably face its demise. Hearts are broken.
Tears are shed. Memories linger.
The first pet we lost was Davy. Davy was a bird, a parakeet. We named him after
Davy Crockett. We taught him to say his name when we sang the "Davy Crockett" ballad
from the Walt Disney movie. "Born on a mountain top in Tennessee, killed
him a bar when he was only
three...," we sang. Davy would chime in with his name as if on cue.
Since he could only say "Davy" and he said it continuously, even without
music, I am not entirely certain he was as brilliant as we thought.
We let him out of his cage one day. We wanted him to be a pioneer, like his namesake.
He explored the living room. He "explored" on the couch, on the coffee
table, and on the bookshelf. We rushed to get Davy back in his cage before he
did any more exploring.
As we slammed the door to block his getaway, he flew into the doorway, meeting
an untimely end. Davy died of a broken neck. The accident ended his singing career.
Davy had a proper burial. His coffin was a large matchbox (the kind kitchen matches
come in). We made a small cross out of popsicle sticks and buried him near the
honeysuckle vine in our back yard.
Thereafter, we had a regular procession of pets into our home—and out the
back door. By the time we were grown, there was a rather large memorial park
dedicated to their remains (and to their memory) in our back yard.
I was reminded of Davy when our friends the Bergs told us about the death of
their dog, Craze.
Craze was a member of the family. He was a fourteen- year-old beagle. Craze was
deaf, nearly blind, and almost completely lame. The family loved him immensely.
It was on a family outing to the lake when "Ol' Craze" passed on to
the "Great Golden Kennel" in the sky. Craze was an avid swimmer—in
his day. The lake excited what few senses remained within his feeble memory.
When nobody was looking, the old dog eased himself into the shallow water and
began to swim. "Ol' Craze" headed for deeper water, casually dog paddling
When the family saw him, he was already seventy-five yards out. They shouted
in vain for his attention. The old beagle could not hear them. He could not see
them either. "Ol' Craze" was in the only element left on earth that
he could enjoy—and that, too, was about to end.
The children cried. The grandparents called out. Father Berg swam out to save "Ol'
Craze." But the old dog ran out of energy. He gave up, and he drowned.
The youngsters were heartbroken. They sobbed all the way home. Mother Berg explained
that Craze's time on earth was gone. Now he would go up to heaven.
That sad evening, following the prescribed ritual, Craze was buried in a cardboard
box in the back yard. Each member of the family said a final kind word over the
grave. They all turned to go in the house. That is, all except Junior Berg.
The four-year old, concern on his face, spoke up in protest. "Mommy, we
can't go in yet. We gotta watch him go to Heaven!"
The dutiful parents sat down with the boy. Eye to eye, they gently explained,
as best they could, the concepts of life and death, heaven and earth. When their
infinite wisdom was spilled completely out, a look of understanding came over
the boy's face.
"Now I understand," he said. "But, will the box go up there too?"
BUBBLE GUM GENERATION GROWS UP
The Chumuckla High Class of '67 will hold its 20-year reunion next year (1987).
I missed the 10-year reunion. I heard thirty-five percent of the class showed
up—six people. We were a class of 17—unusually large for Chumuckla.
A revolution has taken place in our society over the short span of 20 years.
Not all the changes are for the better.
When compared with the youth of my generation, young people today are spoiled.
For instance, in the old days, there were only two brands of bubble gum, "Double
Bubble" and "Bazooka." "Double Bubble" had the best
comics, but the "Bazooka" tasted better. "Bazooka" had
a full-bodied, fruity bouquet. It carried a suggestion of impetuousness.
was a hint of excitement. A mere whisper of fine powdered sugar covered this
pink miracle of processed sapodilla tree extract (chicle). It was irresistible.
When "Double Bubble" started marketing a chunk style and then dropped
the comics, "Bazooka" had a field day. At least for my money, they
Compare the choices today—an unlimited assortment of wimpy brand names
to spoil the kids. "Bubble-icious," "Bubble Yum," and "Chewels" are
each available in a dozen unnatural flavors. They have 'mass advertised' their
way into a soft generation. It is not easy to find natural-flavored "Double
Bubble" or "Bazooka" any more. Most newer brands have removed
all traces of sugar. Wherefore is it then, the "little people" will
find the lesson of tooth decay?
In my day there was genuine "Coca-Cola." The real REAL THING. It was
made with authentic sugar (sucrose). It was sold in six-ounce glass bottles.
I could find it under about four and three-quarter inches of ice in the red "Coke" box
at Pug Carnley's Grocery and Gulf Station in Chumuckla. The elixir was nearly
frozen; a cold, mysterious vapor floated out of the opened bottle.
The "secret ingredient" was pure battery acid from indelicately aged
pulpwood trucks. Of this I am ninety-nine percent positive. The "REAL Coke" could
burn the hair off your tonsils. Paul Stewart, Chumuckla High Class of '67, Vietnam
Veteran, Experienced Farmer ("Former Farmer"— same thing), and "TI" (Tough
Individual) chugged two in rapid succession one summer day in 1965 at Bernie
Diamond's Grocery Store and Standard Oil Company Gas Station in Brownsdale. Junior
Wade was a witness. Paul's "near-death experience" inspired Junior
to plan a career in the life insurance business. The last time I saw Paul,
there was very little hair remaining on his head. Some people blame the loss
on genetics. Some blame the war. Some attribute the bald condition to farming.
The truth is, it was those two six-ounce Cokes!
Country stores did not have asphalt parking lots. The parking area
was paved with flattened bottle caps, the result of a millennium
of cola sales.
Bottles were used over and over again. Original bottling locations
were stamped on the bottom of the bottle. We wagered a round of "Cokes" over
the imprint. The loser held the bottle with the closest point of origin to
For instance, a bottle from Pocatello, Idaho, would easily win over one from
Jackson, Tennessee. For many Americans, this would be their only contact
with the study of geography. I don't know how youngsters learn geography
The modern "Coke" is sweetened with corn sugar (fructose). The caffeine
level has been cut so low an addict might need a 55-gallon drum fed intravenously
to ward off sleep. Even this may be too little to keep a caffeine devotee awake
in a room full of dead people. They persist in saying it is the 'real thing,'
but my doubts remain. Some colas have no caffeine at all—and no sugar
either. They actually advertise the fact.
Six-ounce bottles are gone. Wooden bottle crates can only be found in antique
Good music aired from virtually any rock channel on the radio, 20
years ago. We had The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Birds, Canned
Heat, Tiny Tim,
and The Grateful Dead. Now, the artistic offering is garbage: Prince, Multiple
Contusions, Kiss, Twisted Sister, Black Sabbath, Boy George, Banana Rama,
Dead (they won't die). Weird names. Weirdo people. Weird-to-the-MAX music.
What happened to sensible groups with meaningful names, like "Three Dog Night"?
Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody gave my generation solid role models.
It was not long before Captain Kangaroo pushed Howdy aside. Then,
brought us Mister "nauseatingly nice" Rogers! Soon, Sesame Street arrived with
certified education from a Big Bird. Is it proper for children to learn table
manners from a Cookie Monster? I am saddened to report the younger set today
believes "Howdy Doody" is a cryptic greeting between older people.
The first Baby Boomers are now 40 years old. The crop of 1949 is not
far behind. I am no longer 24 years old. My belly is no longer flat.
of vitamin therapy,
a careful diet of cheeseburgers (no ketchup, extra onions), and (very)
modest exercise has allowed my body to delicately age toward something
less than perfection. I have aged more delicately than some of my contemporaries,
but aged nonetheless.
In a recent cold spell, I wore a cardigan sweater to work. My mirror
had not prepared me for the revelation that soon followed. Alas, a chance
one day with Patti, a young lady in our office, left a permanent mark
Certainly, child labor laws are trampled underfoot when 19-year-old infants,
like Patti, are hired to work in REAL jobs. She took note of my gray
sweater, with its buttons and pockets. The corporate lass, a product
education and a soft society, blurted, "Mister Campbell, you look like
"Mister RAMBO Rogers to you, kid!"
A FREE HAIRCUT FROM UNCLE
Nowadays, we don't visit the barber shop to have surgery or to have
a tooth pulled. In days gone by, however, that was the reason for barbers.
in the Fifteenth
Century was likely to provide bloodletting and tooth-pulling services.
It was Henry VIII who separated the professions. Perhaps he was forced
to make the ruling after his wife, Anne Boleyn, underwent radical hair
at his own request). Those who now practice the tonsorial arts are
a discipline apart from those who pull teeth, or who intentionally
A few reminders of the surgical side of "barbery," are
the red and white spiral striped pole and the surgically sharp razor.
The pole is
of bandages used by the barber of old after a bloodletting session.
Today there are different reasons to visit the barber shop. In the
early part of the second half of this century, Pop took me to the barber
that I appear as normal as any other juvenile in our county. Crewcuts
seemed to go well with buck teeth in that generation. In the 1960s,
visited a barber shop were keenly interested in distancing their image
who rebelled against both social order and old magazines.
I frequented Tom Moore's shop on Stewart Street in Milton. If Mr. Moore
did not cut my hair, Mr. Schultz did. Mr. Schultz was deaf and speechless
would point to the familiar poster on the wall, to show which hair
style I preferred. If he thought Pop would approve, he gave it to me
The barber shops I frequented would have a healthy supply of old
comic books. And behind the "Field and Stream" magazines
was an adequate supply of WWII veterans. These men would occasionally
offer one or another of several
political observations for public consumption.
Sometimes I would visit Roy Barnhill, in Pace, for a haircut. Occasionally,
I would visit Red Hudson's Barber Shop in Jay or Mr. Hinote's shop
in Milton. Cletis
Smith cut hair in Chumuckla for a time, but there was too little
business and the shop closed. Each barber used about the same technique.
of magazines was different. I could read "The Farm Journal" in Red's, "Look" magazine
at Roy's, and "National Rifleman" at Cletis's. "True Detective" magazines
dating back to 1942 were in stock at Mr. Hinote's shop.
When I came home from the Navy, the first thing Pop did was take
me with him to Jay. There, I was given a "regulation" haircut
by Red Hudson. It was as if the Navy was not conservative enough,
and Pop felt an obligation
reinstill the parochial values of the real world.
A barbershop is a good place to study local politics. My Uncle, Bobby
Carswell, at the Marina Barber Shop in Panama City is a prime example.
His shop continually
hosts political leaders in the Bay County area. His advice and the
counsel of his patronage are sought by both the meek and the powerful
When I visited Uncle Bobby, I could get a free haircut. The Governor,
however, would have to pay. These days, I expect, most politicians
the barber's art no longer includes bloodletting.