weiner wagon 2   There was vacant land next to my elementary school way back last century  when I was in primary school .  (   Or was it Grammar school ? My friend Joe and I had a discussion about the use of those terms : elementary vs. primary vs. grammar school . )  A Hughes Market grocery store was built there . Now it’s a Ralph’s Market . Most of the space , or half of it at least , is now the parking lot , of course .  But that’s irrelevant to my story , so let’s get on with it .

Another random memory ,  emerging now  from my brain bunker  where I keep them  , uncatalogued , forgotten for decades , came back to light suddenly . I had gone to Berlin , saw a wurst stand , and began , I guess , to ponder wieners ( The name comes from Vienna , by the way , I hear ) . Unknown things trigger memories sometimes . We’ll just leave it at that . I can’t better explain why the memory came  . Doesn’t matter .

Anyway :

One day the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile pulled up and parked on the vacant land next to the school .  The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile ,  a 1930’s idea of one of the Mayers , was a vehicle shaped like a giant hotdog in a bun .  It was driven by   ” Little Oscar” , who  was a little person dressed in a chef’s outfit , traditional high chef’s hat and all .  The nuns ( Corpus Christi Catholic Elementary School  ) took the entire school out to see the Wienermobile .  Why ? How that happened ?  Your guess is as good as mine . Stranger things have happened , I guess . Perhaps . Wienermobile 6

Well , this event was memorable . Who knew there was such a thing ? Who knew that hot dogs were cooked by little happy chefs in high hats ? Who knew ?

When I was a kid I didn’t know much about the world ( Same holds  true now — a little less so ) . From time to time little bits of it would show themselves , surprising things , good or bad things . The Wienermobile was one of the oddest things to come along . Now that I think of it , it’s still an odd piece of the reality puzzle . I know that there are odder things ;  but for a seven-year-old , a Wienermobile with a small chef inside with wiener whistles  for everyone —- that was something !

Yeah , to top it all off , Little Oscar handed out little plastic wiener whistles to every student and we all whistled like crazy out there in the open ,  and then we got to play with the silly things  for a few minutes back in the classroom .   Amazing ! weiner whistle

Wiener whistles are available on eBay . Get a vintage one for $ 3.75 !

There are , evidently , eight Weinermobiles  still in operation . The drivers , recruited from the ranks of college students , are called hotdoggers . A hotdogger blog hides on the world wide web , telling of hotdogger exploits .

I had forgotten all about that old Wienermobile and my wiener whistle ( which probably broke that same day ) , and Little Oscar the happy hot dog chef .  I never missed them , I have to  say ; but ,  it made a nice break  in  that long-ago day  from reading , writing , and arithmetic . weiner wagon chef


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I missed the eclipse . I was looking forward to viewing it up close , but my internal gyroscope was wobbling , I suppose , and I miscalculated the month . Ada and I were in the air on a WOW Airlines jet coming back toward LAX from Iceland when the eclipse was happening . Well , silver lining at least , my eyesight is just fine .

I’m glad I missed it , actually . Isn’t it a little like a Disneyland ride , where you wait in a long line ( people like to use the English ‘queue’ these days , I’ve noticed. Sounds much more sophisticated , I suppose . I’m proud to say that I’ve never waited in a queue in my life , though . I’ve never ever queued or queued up . Ever . I haven’t missed anything I think . But , on the other hand , I’ve spent a lot of time waiting in line . UCLA was good for that . I almost said ‘wasted my time ‘ in line ; but , one makes of their time what one makes of it . One man’s waste of time is another man’s observation opportunity . Or , something like that . )  and then the ride is so brief that the thought nags you from then on that the wait just wasn’t worth it ?  Why go all the way up to Oregon for a one or two minute show , anyhow ?

I know . I know. Sour grapes !

Anyhow , this post is about something else entirely . If I knew what that might be , I’d be straightforward and tell you ; but the topic of the day has temporarily drifted away . Maybe if I go into the same room again where I was thinking about it ……………………………..   .     It happens . My mind is not a steel trap .

Which brings me to the story of the old guy sitting on the fender of his Bentley and crying . Someone approached him to ask what was the problem . ———– Well , you know the joke . I can hear Ada right now in my mind’s ear saying : “Yeah . Yeah . I know that one !”  with a tone that clearly says she wouldn’t like to hear it just one more time .  If friends are around , then she’ll probably add : ” I’ve heard Dan tell this  joke 1000 times , and he still laughs his butt off when he tells it . And if someone else tells a joke , he just sits there with a straight face ; but then when he retells their joke later on he laughs his butt off . ”

Oh ! I know . I intended to write about the heat wave that is scheduled to hit our area this weekend . Monday will be the hottest day : 104 degrees in Arcadia . I’m pretty sure that Monrovia will be the same . I’ll check with the guy who lives in the house behind mine when I hear his sixties music wafting over the fence. He’s in Monrovia ( …. but I’m pretty sure it’s not his fault . He seems like a nice enough guy despite being Monrovian . Who knows how these things happen and what might be the unique exigencies in his existence ? We should all learn to get along , despite another person’s circumstances ) .

I don’t know what 104 F   would be in Celsius . I just got back from Europe . I don’t know if you know this , but they talk a different language over there  :    ” It’s gonna be 24 today ; up to 30 maybe by the weekend .”  Okay . How hot or not is that , really , in good old red blooded American Fahrenheit ? They must sell cheat sheets someplace . My friend Tom can accurately do the calculation of conversion in his head . I saw him do it once . Tom won’t go to Europe , though ,  because he can’t stand the thought of not smoking his Camels for such a long time on the airplane . So what good is his talent , I ask you ? Life is weird !achie bunker

We don’t have air-conditioning . At one time I put a couple of window units in and they cooled the bedrooms pretty well ; but Ada likes fresh air and doesn’t care for the noise of the air-conditioners . The window units are gone , or out back in the shed perhaps . I’ve snuck in a couple of portable fans that I will use this weekend . 103-104 degrees Fahrenheit calls for a fan , at least . Ada will be poo-pooing my fan usage .

Ah ! , but the ceiling fans she’s taken to using sometimes nowadays, I’ve noticed  . Southern California living just spoils a person ! That’s all there is to it .



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you can’t take me anywhere

I go through life trying not to be a klutz . Really . I’m a big guy but I walk around the house like a James Fenimore Cooper Iroquois in a pre -Department of Agriculture forest , softly , deftly , and making as little disturbance as possible  trying my best not to draw attention .

I’m not saying that I’m a delicate dude , but I usually try to be polite and cause no trouble . Doesn’t always work out that way , though .

Ada and I were over at Sister-in-law’s home having dinner a few nights ago . Cousin Mirek and his wife were there . Everything was going along swimmingly until I stood up at one point only to see a chocolate stain on the cream-colored armchair upon which I sat . It kind of stood out , no — more than that  ;  it announced itself in a definitely embarrassing-to-me way to Sister-in-law , who was sitting on my left , and to Ada , who was on my right .

At first I thought that the spot must have been there before I sat down . Really . I even asked Sis-in-law if it had been there . I heard a definite ” Certainly not ” , luckily with no anger attached . Ada poked the rear of my black jeans a bit as I was standing . She declared no chocolate there . Cousin Mirek was entertained , I noticed,  and Sister-in-law began the  ” Don’t worry about it at all ” protestations.

When I checked a little more carefully in the bathroom I could see that I had indeed sat on some chocolate. It was that chocolate mousse that Sister-in-law served . Actually , I had dished myself a helping , so I had to have been the one who had plopped a bit on the chair and then rubbed it around before I caught on that it was there . How I had done that I have no idea . Things happen .

I don’t know what it might be with sisters-in- law , but years ago Ada and I went to Easter dinner at my brother and sister-in-law’s newly re-decorated house in Newport Beach , CA . All the furniture seemed to be ultra-white fabric .

Do you see this one coming ?

No sooner had we arrived and I had sat myself down on the new white sofa , than my niece who was sitting next to me , said , ” Uncle Dan , you’re bleeding ! ”  She said it just loud enough to get everybody’s undivided attention . I looked down and a circle of red about the size of a dime glowed right under my arm . Some tiny cut on my wrist had bled just enough and just long enough to ruin the new decor . It was a small spot that shone like a bright red beacon in the previously spotlessly white room .TALL SHIPS Szcz. 2017 117

Sister-in-law came rushing over . Who knows what might have been going through her mind . The   “Don’t worry about it at all ”  protestations had already begun .  ” I can get it out ,” she assured everyone . And maybe she did get it out ; but I doubt it . I think that red spot was there up until the day they sold the Newport house . I’m not going to say that that’s the reason they sold the house ; but , who knows ?

And then the bottle of perfume  at Sister-in law’s apartment in Paris . I accidently shattered it one night , trying to open the bathroom window a bit . How did I know the bathroom window sticks and an expensive bottle of French perfume was sitting on the little crowded table next to the window ? I simply wanted a little air . That’s all .

Well , I’ll replace the perfume  . Accidents happen .

Ada thought that I was blaming someone  for putting the costly bottle of stuff out in an exposed and precarious place near the defective window on a rickety table with a lot of other stuff when maybe such an expensive item like that shouldn’t have been there so exposed in such a vulnerable position at all at all as if it were some kind of a booby-trap , a ticking time bomb , set just for me  ; but I wasn’t .

I go through life trying not to be a klutz. Sometimes  it just doesn’t work out as planned  . So send me the repair  bill . It’s okay. These things happen . Better yet , think twice about inviting me over . That might work. Or , on the other hand , I could carry along a drop cloth to spread over the furniture — just in case . Hide the expensive items . POLAND 2017 with Frankie and boats 047







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beer and boats

Once again , time to relax down by the river , sip a beer , and watch the river traffic pass by . I could’ve , instead , decided to do greater things , but hey……………………… poland 2017 020boats poland 2017 001

boats poland 2017 008POLAND ships 2017 001


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cowboys in poland

KARPACZ 2017 002So we went to Karpacz on what Ada assured me would be a luxury bus . Eight hour trip . [ I started this with the word  “so” because I’ve noticed that it has become the going thing these days for media folk to begin their reports from the field with : ” So………….” . I don’t like it ; but , then again , I’m sort of a stick-in-the-mud on change .  So , let us continue. ]


So this luxury bus had a toilet  but it was locked . Only for extreme emergencies , the driver told Ada when , on my behalf , she asked . Instead , we paid two and a half zloty for a pee when the bus stopped . I think it stopped three times . Reminded me of the Greyhound bus stops when I was younger ; but they seemed more frequent at the time in life when I needed them less , and we never paid for a pee in America. That’s un-American !  That’s the kind of freedom we still have in America . So far .

So we eventually arrived in the beautiful Sudeten town of Karpacz , which is Polish but was German until WWII . It’s a ski resort in the Carpathian Mountains . I might post some descriptive stuff about it sometime . It’s near the Czech border , but there’s a mountain in the way . There’s an Irish pub there , too , with an Irishman attached . There are Irish pubs all over creation , even in Shanghai ,  but most don’t seem to have an Irishman . When I found the Shanghai Irish pub there was a Chinese owner and German customers drinking Guinness , but no Irishman .  As Nancy Mac would say : Just saying !

This town has a place called Western City nearby . It’s like Tombstone , Arizona , or like Knott’s Berry Farm in California  used to be before it got too corporate —–  old wooden cowboy -town buildings , periodic shoot-outs in the street , wandering cowboys , etc.  In Tombstone , Arizona the cowboys are as likely to be from Germany as not , I noticed. I guess Germans are into that sort of cowboy play-acting thing . But Poles ?KARPACZ 2017 178


So it was fun . The cowboys looked like real true movie version Wild West cowboys . The accents weren’t so authentic ………. but , hey ! Ah , just kidding .

The Indian doing the war dance did a good job , I think , had the right moves , although his complexion was a little pale . It was probably good that no Arapaho or Sioux were nearby to object , though . It would be hard to find a true-blooded native American in Karpacz  I would guess ; but then , who knows ! Jack R. suggested that maybe part of the Lewis and Clark expedition got sidetracked and ended up in Poland .  Stranger things have happened.

So there was mechanical bull riding , lasso throwing , horseshoe tossing , bow and arrow shooting , gold panning .  The horse shoe tossing was from about three feet away . That made me laugh a little . The participants were almost close enough to drop the shoes over the metal peg , but they were all having fun , and experiencing some real true Americana . I guess .


So there was a bullwhipper , too , showing off his skills .KARPACZ 2017 779

And a fast draw , gun twirling demo too . So .KARPACZ 2017 769

KARPACZ 2017 911


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The Immortal Jukebox

Let’s remind ourselves what’s A1 on The Immortal Jukebox and why!

Some songs have a brutally simple primal perfection.

Usually these songs are recorded at the very beginning of an artists career before they start to look into the rear view mirror and become conscious that they do indeed have a career, a legacy and a reputation to protect.

These are records that come at you full bore and demand you listen now!

Think of the primitive perfection of the last song recorded on the day the Beatles recorded their first LP.

You want to know what The Beatles sounded like in Hamburg? Listen to the raw bleeding magnificence of John Lennon’s vocal on, ‘Twist and Shout’ and the eyeballs out commitment of Paul, George and Ringo.

There was no way a second take could top that!

Think of the stupid beauty of the Undertones debut single, ‘Teenage Kicks’ –…

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A Polish Connection

I am reblogging this from a fine military writer’s well-researched blog . Here I am in Poland , so this particular post fits right in . Enjoy :



Merian C. Cooper was born in Jacksonville, Florida, United States. He was the youngest of his siblings and at the age of six, he started to dream about exploration and adventures, a common dream among future aviators. Then he studied at the United States Naval Academy, but didn’t finish it and became a journalist. It […]

via Merian C. Cooper, extraordinary life of a hero of 2 nations and King Kong — Pacific Paratrooper

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