Junction: County Road 197

As It Was in the Beginning, pgs31-36

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 along.

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?"

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THE 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. There 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 did.

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 of hair on genetics. Some blame the war. Some attribute the bald condition to farming. The truth is, it was those two six-ounce Cokes!



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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 Chumuckla. 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 today.

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 stores.


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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, and The Grateful 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"?


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Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody gave my generation solid role models. It was not long before Captain Kangaroo pushed Howdy aside. Then, network competition 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. Years 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 a little 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 encounter one day with Patti, a young lady in our office, left a permanent mark on my ego.

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 of television education and a soft society, blurted, "Mister Campbell, you look like Mister Rogers!"

"Mister RAMBO Rogers to you, kid!"

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A FREE HAIRCUT FROM UNCLE BOBBY

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. A barber 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 surgery (beheaded at his own request). Those who now practice the tonsorial arts are a discipline apart from those who pull teeth, or who intentionally extract blood.

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 a symbol 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 shop. He insisted 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, those who visited a barber shop were keenly interested in distancing their image from those 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 as well. I 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 (I think).

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. Only the selection 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 to 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 in State government.

When I visited Uncle Bobby, I could get a free haircut. The Governor, however, would have to pay. These days, I expect, most politicians are grateful the barber's art no longer includes bloodletting.

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