Monthly Archives: April 2018

jobs

Knife thrower ?

No , I don’t want that job. Thanks .

 

knife thrower 1900

It’s a little too dangerous for my delicate constitution . I just wouldn’t trust myself to do a good job . Sorry .

blacksmiths 1926

I’m willing to work hard , you know . I’m kind of a simple guy . I don’t want too much responsibility . Some , sure , as time goes on .

diving suit 1920

I’ll take a risk or two , if it’s just me , you know . I don’t want to risk someone else , though . I don’t have the self-confidence . I couldn’t be a doctor. One of my nightmares is when I find my dream -self in the role of eye surgeon . Imagine that . My hand holding the scalpel is always shaking  . Not good . Not good .

I wouldn’t want to be a dentist , either . Having my hand in someone else’s mouth ? No. Not my thing . And I’d have to find something to constantly chatter about when the poor patient has his/her mouth open  and is at my mercy . I don’t follow sports . I’m not much of a talker . I’d have to tell dumb jokes , I guess , and I’d soon lose my clientele as a result , unless I was a really good dentist , exceptional . Nah . If I were a dentist I wouldn’t be exceptional . It’d just be a job for me . My heart would be elsewhere .

dentist 2

I’d be dreaming of  a job in the wildernesses , maybe .

logs 1907

Oh , who am I kidding ! I couldn’t work nearly as hard as those old generations did , day in and day out six or seven days a week , year in and year out . I’m a spoiled little woosie .

bricklayer-1928

I’d have to come up with some less strenuous gig .

one man band

I could be a one-man band . Maybe . Ah , on second thought , maybe not . I’d like a steady income . Something to count on on a regular basis would be nice . Peace of mind , you know . Security .  Something steady and reliable .

Oh , you know , I could be a teacher .

old school

Or a tow truck driver.

horse tow truck

Or an outlaw . Outlaw’s good in some ways .

The Notorious John Dillinger (4)

However , then you get caught . So , then where are you ! In a pickle .

pickle sisters.jpg

Wait . I don’t have to look for a job , now that I think of it . I’m a retired guy . I’m looking for non-essential stuff now , like a warmer sleeping bag ; I dream of the ideal travel vehicle and I talk it over with other guys who are also retired or dreaming of . A light weight trailer would be ideal — with a toilet . Gotta have a toilet .  Ada says a toilet is not essential . She wants a van and a plan to set off to discover America . Hit the road and roam .

old car flat

goat on model T

Maybe I should get a tattoo , too , while I’m at it . Life is short . Sky’s the limit .

sutherland macdonald tattoos (9)

 

 

I’ll think about it some more after my nap .

The Notorious John Dillinger (2)

 

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was it lavinia ?

About 7:10 am we left the house this morning to meet a couple of friends for a hike up into the foothills not too far from here , above Alta Dena , which is between Pasadena and Sierra Madre , not too far from the Rose Bowl . Although close to Arcadia , Ada and I had never been to this specific area .

I realized right away that I had forgotten my camera . I didn’t have my cell phone with me , either , so a photographic record of the trip was out of the question . You’ll just have to take my word for it , I guess .

Our friends drove us from their Alta Dena house up some narrow road into the mountains past a couple of trail heads to a parking lot . A small campground is there with a camp host who lives in a mobile home . Gates are locked in the evening .

I talked to one of the campers . I wanted to ask a couple of simple questions but this guy wanted to gab until , finally , I had to cut the conversation off and slowly back  away . He had a disappointed look on his face . Probably lived alone and needed to talk to someone .czech dolls

A little earlier we had come across a woman on the trail near a waterfall . She didn’t respond to our hellos . Someone said , ” She’s not very friendly “,  but Ada  was sure that the woman was homeless and with her own set of problems . Greeting hikers wasn’t one of her concerns .

I’m happy to be able to wander off into the countryside and meet some odd types who are doing their own thing with their own particular passions . None of them seemed to mind me stopping by with Ada and a couple of our  friends .

Eventually , at the top of a slight rise , we came upon a ‘gated community’ of several mansions . At that spot there had been a tuberculosis hospital in the old days . This general area was thought to be a good place for a TB cure around the turn of the 20th Century , with dry clear air . We met a man up there who recently moved his family from Hollywood into one of the houses . He was walking his dog . He stopped to talk as we emerged from the wilderness and stood all of a sudden at the edge of a paved street . He loved the area , he said .

It was a Tuesday . Hey , doesn’t anyone work any more ? In the interest of full disclosure , three of us were retired and one was going to work later in the day . The man with the dog might have been in the movie business , or maybe he worked from home and could make his own schedule , or maybe he had inherited nineteen billion dollars from his daddy and just walked his dog all day around the grounds of what used to be a TB hospital.

What was the place called when it was a TB hospital  ? I couldn’t quite remember. LaVinia ? Doesn’t matter now , I guess . Now it’s a slightly isolated gated community of huge mansions with nice views of the city below . We walked right in from the canyon side , though . Someone  forgot the gate  to lock the back  . They’d better put some barrier there to keep out the riff-raff . You never know who might show up .

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kite day (continued)

Recess came around. The school assembled outside the classrooms. Kites would be counted . Those without a kite were doomed . Mengele nun would point : You to the beach . You to the classroom . Classroom , classroom  , classroom. Beach . You , you . No kite no Kite Day at the beach .

My fourth graders had spent part of the morning making kites . They had attached a few inches of yarn to  little diamond -shaped pieces of stiff paper . We used all the supplies that I had available . How many have we got ? You boys count .  More than two hundred ? How many more ? We don’t have any more yarn . No , Jimmy , we ‘re not going to pull the threads out of Rosalba’s sweater. We’ll go with what we’ve got .

The second assembly :

Agnes at the bent bullhorn says again : Anyone without a kite stays . Hold up your kites ! The moment of reckoning has arrived . Three hundred students hold up kites.

Those  aren’t kites  !   The bent bullhorn was rattling .

Of course they’re kites ! , I said. They fly !  At this point I ran with one of them , holding the end of the yarn and dragging a reluctant little diamond-shaped paper as it  wobbled and spun in clumsy contortions before the assembly .

Sister Agnes , drill sergeant stance , arms akimbo , glared at Principal O’Donnell .

” Are you going to let him get away with this ? ”  There were shards of glass in her stare . The prisoners waited to hear their fate . Everyone watched O’Donnell .

And then Jesus came down from heaven . Jesus whispered in the principal’s ear . Something . There was a momentary pause .

” They fly . They must be kites ” , said O’Donnell .

The clouds scattered , the heavens opened , and bright rays of light came down upon the gathered multitude . The teachers smiled . More astute students waited for the other shoe to drop ; waited for Sister Agnes to swing that hammer and smite the enemy once again . Waited .

Nothing . With some kind of a harumpf noise that sounded suspiciously  like a curse she turned away and barged back into her classroom . We all went to the beach that day and all but one person had a wonderful day there .

Agnes took the bullhorn to the beach and directed activities on the sand  because she was in charge of Student Council and Kite Day was a Student Council event . It must have been agony for her .

Understatement : She wasn’t happy with me that day .

I was smiling all day long , though. I couldn’t help it .

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more agony

This is an old one . I saw that there will be a Kite Day at the Santa Monica pier soon , and that reminded me of the old St. Clement’s Kite Day , and of my old colleague Sister Agnes . And some others around that school . Neither the school nor any of these characters in the story are still around . Only the memory remains . 

 

We had Kite Day at Saint Clement School each year in June. The school , on Third Street in Venice , was three blocks from the beach . The whole school would take a day off , walk to the beach , fly kites , picnic ,  bask in warm comraderie , run and laugh .  The teachers and attending parents would bask  in the surety of a successful gesticulation of knowledge and wisdom within these young minds over the upcoming summer vacation .

Fun. It was meant to be fun . And it was a school tradition.

Unfortunately the whole Kite Day was under the direction of , yeah , Sister Agony , because she was in charge of Student Council . It was a Student Council event. Fun did not play a significant part in her life. Sister Agnes would not have recognized fun if it had sauntered up , perched on her shoulder , and tweaked her nose . Fun could have ransacked her room in the convent with her sitting in there because fun was invisible to her . Fun ! Did Jesus have fun hanging up there on the bloody cross ? Think about that . Fun was not important to our Agony .

There must have been fun somewhere in her early life . Deep down she must still have the memory . But the fun in her life had long since been strangled and chased away . Quashed . I’ll give her this much : probably not her fault .

So it was easy for her to cancel Kite Day , one year when she was behind on her grading . She was too busy . She told Principal O’Donnell : No Kite day this year. Definitely not. But it’s a tradition he told her . Definitely not , she repeated. She had other things to do .

For once O’Donnell stood up to her . Insisted . Must be done ; tradition . O.K. , we’ll go a little later in the day so you can get some of your work done. A couple of hours later in the day . But Kite Day must go on ! They wrangled and rampaged and Kite Day was delayed a week , then two . Agnes had ninety or a hundred pounds on O’Donnell  and was a hardened street fighter . O’Donnell was rangy and determined but inescapably cowardly . She had the nun habit and the steel of  self-righteous confidence on her side . But O’Donnell had the pastor on his side , crusty old Bill Williams .

We called Father Williams Bingo Bill after he made the school children sit out in the rain eating their lunches instead of allowing them to come into the church hall , as had always been done before . Father Williams had , after all , just purchased brand spanking new tables for bingo and he didn’t want those kids messing them up ! No way ! Bingo was gonna be a big moneymaker for the parish . Better those three hundred children sit out in the rain than  trust them at his new bingo tables . Bingo Bill had priorities .

But Bingo Bill , in this case , joined forces with his principal O’Donnell and insisted that Kite Day must go on. It was tradition. O’Donnell and Bingo Bill may have forged the alliance over the double scotches they drank on parent council nights . They had a habit of going to dinner together before the meetings . Hours before the meetings . Sometimes O’Donnell came back so sloshed that when he stood up to address the parents , most of whom didn’t speak English , he didn’t make any sense . Once he rambled on for ten minutes or more , the scotch  talking ,  spouting drunken jibberish. Ruben Gonzales , the translator , had to improvise . To his credit , he stood up  calmly and told the audience : El senor director dice  Hola .  And then he sat down . On with the parent meeting . Bingo Bill never spoke at the meetings .

So Kite Day happened . Sister Agnes had been out-flanked and overrun . But she wasn’t giving in . She snarled in writhing anger and planned her escape . She still had the hammer of God hidden in her habit.

Kite Day came . Morning assembly . Agnes at the bent bullhorn . Holding the microphone on its piggy-tail wire . Announcing : Kite Day will start this year after recess. Only those students with a kite will be able to go .

O’Donnell was over there near the school office . Surprised teachers turned to watch his reaction. Did he know ? Did he approve this outrageous new rule ? Was he gonna make a stink about it ? Would he , as usually happened , wimp out and let her get away with it ?

I estimated about fifty kites . Only fifty kids out of three hundred would be allowed to go to the beach ? On Kite Day ?   Sister Agnes spoke up . Her bullhorn blared . She had heard the gasps , seen the reaction . And she was fighting back . You have to have a kite to participate in Kite Day . It’s Kite Day ; you’re supposed to have a kite. No kite , stay at school . Regular school day .

Oh , though , this was new shit. Last year about fifty kids brought kites. The year before about the same number brought kites . Every year we all went down to the beach. To have fun . It’s Kite Day . You remember how you were when you were a kid ? These kids looked forward all year long to  Kite Day . Waited all year . And here it was Kite Day morning .

And  Agnes Jean  stole Kite Day .

Disheartened students and teachers ( who were destined to the classrooms too ) shuffled into the rooms . The gloatation of arrogant pride rose from Agnes’ face like steam . Elsewhere gloom had settled on the scene . Shock .   She averted her eyes from the cowardly O’Donnell , who stood in wimpish defeat . He was not worthy even of her glare . He had been  out-maneuvered by his nemesis nun again . He cowered and accepted his fate .

But remember : I was at war with Agnes . Guerilla war . All is not lost .

O.K. , kids , today we are going to make kites . It will be a math lesson . Geometry and fractions .We have a finite amount of poster board and only so much string. We need to make 250  kites by recess . Can we do it ?

Smiles . Smiles all around : they knew. The classroom crackled for the next hour or so  with a risible yes .

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