Tricks of the trade

A new Olympian event: hacking.

Computer speed on input into a keyboard.

Do farmers call “a spade a spade?”

What do tractors track?

What kind of fields have baby corns?  Is that a blister on a child’s foot?

If one plays dirty pool is that mean he is cheating behind the eight ball?

Are unions are institution between a man and a woman who get a union card?

How can a person be at a hearing if his hearing aid is on mute?

What kind of conviction do you get at a kangaroo court?

Do Eskimo people wear hush puppies or are they stuck with snow shoes?

Why are dumb bells considered without intelligence?  What do they peel when they are rung? 

What happens when the Queen of England get rained on during her reign?

Was Edgar Guest ever at home?

Was Hedda Hopper related to Bugs Bunny?

Did Bugs Bunny get eradicated by Orkin?

What kind of tea is served to the Queen?

Did Brussel Sprouts ever mature and become adult?

 

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The farms go by the wayside

Old MacDonald had a farm,

E I e I o

But the tariffs came through and there goes the farm.

E I e I o

With no soy in the fields here and no soy there,

In fact polluted water in the well,

E I e I o.

 

The cows refused to give milk for they got low pay,

E I e I o

The chicken refused to lay eggs day after day.

E I e I o.

The pigs wanted to be given better slop,

And the farm became an economical flop,

E I e I o.

 

And ICE came to deport the farmer away,

No e I e I o

Deported back to Ireland for his papers were not correct,

The banks bought the land and treated with no respect.

E I e I o

 Condos were built to replace the farm,

And the land was destroyed with much harm.

E I e I o.

 

Why man and woman were thrown out of Eden

The Real Garden of Eden

It is probably lost in the translation. We are depending on the Bible translations which depend on which definition that the translators use when interpreting a word that is in a language which in time has undergone many transformations. Let me give you an example. If you watched the movie True Grit you noticed how many phrases were used that we no longer use in today’s vernacular. That is only a hundred and fifty years ago. Now, imagine a few thousand years ago and the meanings could really be different.

I propose that the Garden of Eden may have existed. But I do not believe the fruit is the cause of the eviction of Adam and Eve. I believe that God would not have used an apple or fruit to tempt the two. I believe that Adam was the culprit and caused the problem. I believe that Adam ate something that caused the problem. What was it? MEAT.

Okay, I know now that you are reading this in disbelief. But do you really think that God gave rise to animals and then let them be slaughtered for food?

I believe this was event that caused the irritation God felt with man. What kind of meat? Possibly goat, pig or even sheep.

Now, let us look at the Garden of Eden’s population. That is what I said. Population. If God commanded multiply then why not. There was a bunch of people  and they also were corrupted by the meat eating. They too also violated God’s commandment of no meat eating. No meat eating of those who are in the image of God.

The result: a corruption of the soul. The negating of God. And without a reason for Eden the ruination of the safe haven for man.

Dying for the country

He awoke with a start.  “Where the hell am I?” he thought.  He tried hard to get his facts straight.  He realized his hands were tied behind his back and his feet were tied to the chair he was in.  At least he had no blindfold.

He remembered he had been on patrol in the enemy area.  There was a group of eight men.  Their assignment was to capture an enemy for interrogation.  The enemy came out of nowhere.  Within seconds they were subdued.  He remembered he was clubbed and then darkness.  He must have gone unconscious.  And now, he was in a room tied to a chair. 

He looked around and saw there were five other men in the room.  It was the team that had been assaulted.  Where the other three men had concerned him.  He assumed they were dead.

All the men were now awake.  But they could not talk.  They were gagged with a rag of some type. 

A voice came out of nowhere.  “I need to know where your main force is located.” Tell me now and your lives will be spared.

It was the enemy.  They wanted the men to divulge the location of their main force. 

“All you have to do is rock the chair from side to side and we will know that you want to save your life and the lives of your companions.”

No one moved.  Then the water started to come into the room

Slowly this water crept up on the men.  It was at their ankles and they still did not move.  They all were sticking together.  The enemy would not win.  They would protect the secret.

The water now was waist high.  Still no movement from the group.

Schwartz was the guy on his right.  Schwartz was only five feet six. Now his stature would be deadly for him.  He would be the first to go under.  Now with the water at his chin he still did not move.  The other men watched in horror as the water went over his head and they saw bubbles come up.  Now the water was up to their chins and they now knew they could be dead in a few minutes. 

The voice boomed into the room.  “You only have a few minutes left and then you all will be dead.  Shake your head up and down and we will stop the flow of water.

Save yourselves or perish.  The remaining men did not move their heads.

 The water went over their heads and there was blackness.

 

He awoke with a start.  He was laying on a table strapped down.  He looked around the room and could see all seven men were on tables strapped down as he was.  His mind was cloudy.  He had thought they had all died.  He knew he was not dead.  His gag had been removed and he could yell out.

“Guys, where are we?”  the other men chattered and were totally in the dark.

Then two men came in and wheeled his table into another room.  Surrounding him were men that were dressed in the military uniforms of his side.  He thought,

“what the hell is going on?”

Then the general entered the room.  He asked only one question. 

“Why did you decide to die instead of giving away the position of your army?”

“It was my duty and I followed it to the letter.” He responded

And then he realized the truth.  The pogo truth.

“We have met the enemy and he is us,”

A short story in the works about Key West

The Mystery of Key West by Barry Wax

 

Chapter one

“Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don’t freeze up.” ― Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again

 

There was a trace of fog early in the morning as Barry drove to Key West.  It was a ride of sorrow.  Barry’s wife had passed away and he was in a deep funk, but his main concern was not himself but the two children who were sitting in the back of the car.

Philip and Missy were half asleep in the back seat.  Two little ships  lost on the sea.  No words can describe the loss.  Abandonment was felt but that was not the mothers fault.  She had died of a brain tumor.  Her death was not swift but a long travel down the road of losing ability after ability.  Finally, at the end with no escape the inevitable occurred.  She drew her last breath early in the morning.  The sun was just coming up and that seemed fitting.  Surely, she would be ascending to heaven.  But now the void was there, and it drown all who knew her.

Barry needed relieve.   A change of pace.  The house now was a mausoleum.  He needed to take the children and escape to somewhere.  He called his brother in Key West and asked if he could stay there for a while.  With a yes, he loaded the car, took the children out of school and headed south.

Mile after mile passed with no conversation.  In the back of his mind, Barry figured he would get mental health in Key West.  He wondered if Pastor David was still there. He had forgot to ask his brother that question.  He remembered Pastor David.  A good listener and seemed to have some answers.

Philip, now approaching his thirteenth birthday finally spoke up.  “Dad, I need to go to the bathroom.”

“Glad you told me now, for we will soon be on the Seven Mile Bridge and to my knowledge there are no rest rooms on it.  We will stop at a convenience store on Knight’s Key.”

 

 

Seven Mile Bridge

Seven Mile Bridge with the original in the foreground

 

During the stop at 7-11 they all got out of the car to stretch their legs.  Philip and Missy went to the bathroom and he picked up some chips and drinks for the next phase of the trip.  His wife would be pissed if she saw this.  She was a vegetarian and avoided such crap food.  But he let that guilt feeling pass.  He was in a hurry and healthy procedures were put on hold.  After the children came out he directed them to stand by the counter in view of the clerk while he relieved himself.

In the car he passed Doritos and cans of Coke to his children.  At first, they gave him that look of guilt.  But neither said what was on their minds.  Instead they ripped open the bag and started to eat the prohibited chips.  The cans were opened, and the hiss of gas escaping could be heard in the car.  For some reason this act seemed to break the tension.

Philip took a swig of the soda and then asked, “How long before we get there?”

“I would say at least five more hours depending on traffic. If there is a tie up on one of these bridges we could be in a mess for a long time.”

“We are heading to Uncle Ed.  I do not remember you talking a lot about him.”

“Actually, that is because I have lost contact with my brother.  Time changes things.  We saw things that we never could understand, and the time was filled with strange things.”

“What things.?”  Philip was intrigued.

Because of the situation and to break the silence Barry decided it was time to tell the story of his early days.  “I guess I can tell you the story of what happened when the family moved to Key West.”

The two children seemed interested and he started the story with, “This story is real or at least what I remembered of that time.  It has a few disturbing points to it.  Are you game to hear it?”

Philip said, “I sure would like to hear it.”  Missy just nodded.  She was tired and started to nod off.  Her interest faded with fatigue and the sugar of the soda did not revive her but made her tired.  Barry noted this and put in the back of his mind that he needed to have a doctor investigate this.

“Philip why do you not move to the passenger seat and let your sister lay down and take a nap?  Barry waved to the seat next to him. In the back of his mind was the fact that the story he was going to relate might be too complex for his young daughter.

Philip complied, and Missy lay down her head and within moments was in a light sleep.

 

Where to begin?  “Let me give you a little background before I start.  The time was the beginning of the 60’s and America had a main enemy.  Russia.  This country had gotten nuclear weaponry and we were scared that they might take us on.”  He took a fast look at Philip and realized he was losing him.

Better not get to much into history he thought to himself.  “Hmm…” he hesitated and in his mind switched to a different way of starting the story.

“Do you ever have things happen to you, that you could not explain, and seemed weird to you at the time?”

“I am not sure.  I once took a test and thought I had done well on it and it came back with a bad grade on it. You mean like that?”

Barry did not want to say no, so he lied.  “Kind of.  Well when I was your age, my dad and mom took this same trip we are on.  We went to Key West because of my father’s job.”

“What was Grandpa’s job?”

“It is kind of hard to explain.  I guess you can say he was in the spy game.”

“You mean like James Bond?” Phillip had just seen Dr. No, and thinking his granddad was like Bond was intriguing.

Barry decided to keep Philips attention going so he said, “I guess you can say that. His job was to go to Key West and interview the Cubans who fled Cuba to get information from them.  I believe the United States was thinking of invading Cuba and needed information about the island.”

“Did Granddad carry a gun?”

“Actually, he did.  He constantly reminded me not to play with it.  He kept it locked up when he was at home.”  Barry wanted to get to the story and stay on topic, but he did not want Philip to shut down.  This was good that the two of them were now talking.

“Any rate, there was danger in Key West.  We were worried about spies and you were not sure about people.  We got down here and moved into the house that the government had rented for us.  It was near the beach.  It had two stories.  I remember two bedrooms were on the second story.  Your grandma was angry because she did not like the kitchen.  I remember her saying it was to small.  But we were under the assumption that we would not be there for a long period of time before Dad would be reassigned to somewhere else.”

“Did Grandpa ever shoot anyone? Philip was awed by the thought Grandpa was James Bond.

“To my knowledge no.  But then he would not bring work home with him or even speak about his adventures.”  Barry hated to lead on his son but if that was what made the story interesting he would bend the truth a little.

“I remember that after we moved in that I should acquaint myself with the area.  I decided to walk a little bit on the beach.  I noted that there were a few houses on the block we had moved into.  They all had the skirts of intertwined wood on the bottom of them.

 

I learned later that the reason for that was in case a storm came in and the water raised up that the houses would not suffer water damage.  They called this area a crawl space.  Later in the story you will understand why I bring this up.  I went to the beach and there was an old man there. He was fishing.”

Philip perked up.  He never had gone fishing and he wondered if his Dad would let him try his hand at that task.  “When we get to Key West, can we go fishing.?

“We can try our hand at it.”

At first, I feared this guy.  He was an American Indian.  He had this pole rod with him.

“This guy was fly fishing.  He would cast his line into the pool of water that was created by a cove near the home we just had rented.

 

 

 

It was just off the beach and it with access to the sea, fish swam in the cove and out.  He would flip his line in and every occasionally, a fish would grab his bait.  He had three or four fish he caught in a bucket next to his leg.  I watched him for a while but was to timid to go over there and look at the fish.  In the next few days I noticed he went there regularly.”

“What kind of fish do you catch here,” I finally got the nerve to ask him.

He smiled.  “Wonder when you would ask me that.?” His face was filled with lines like he had spent a lot of time in the hot sun and his face had cracked with the heat.  He was old.  Barry guessed at least eighty but maybe older.  He had a slight bend in his back like he was always leaning over.

“I got a couple of redfish and a snook.  The kind of fishing I do is angling.  You snap the rod forward and flip the line into the water.  Then you slowly reel it in and hopefully a fish in the shallow flats will grab it.  It takes a long time to get the hang of it, but once you do you can get some good tasting fish.”

“Can I give it a shot?”  Barry asked cautiously.

“Tell you what I can do.  I will bring a second rod with me tomorrow and you be here at seven in the morning.  Just as the sun comes up. I believe tomorrow is Sunday.  Right?”

Barry thought it was strange that this man would not know the day of the week, but he answered, “It will be Sunday.”

“When you do not have a regular nine to five job you kind of lose track of the days.  I will meet you at seven and I will show you how to cast a rod.  I will bring my little rod, so you can have better control.”

Barry was excited.  But then the Indian said something that bothered him.  “I think we should keep this to ourselves.  Barry did not understand why.

Barry had no idea what that meant.  “By the way, I did not catch your name.”

“They call me Red Cloud.  And you.”

“They call me Barry.”

And with that conversation Barry met his first friend in Key West.

Barry looked over at his son and realized his son was drifting off to sleep.  He stopped telling the story.  Better to let Phillie sleep.  But in his mind he remembered the past.

 

 

 

 

 

He remembered the school that he had to go to.  Since his father was FBI and pretty much undercover he was placed in the regular school on the island.  Horace O’Bryant school was less than a mile from the house.  He was enrolled there in October 1960.  At the time there was four hundred and twelve students in the whole school. He remembered his home room and the weird makeup of the students in his class.

The teachers name was Mrs. Obrien.  She was old.  At least to a twelve year old boy she appeared to be old.  But in reality she was in her forties.  The class had a mixture of half a dozen Key West children who had been born on the island and lived there full time.  Then there was a couple of Black children.  There also were a half dozen children from the island of Cuba.  They had come over by taking rickety boats across the dangerous waters between Cuba and Key West.  At best that excursion was ninety miles but in rough seas it was extremely dangerous.  Barry noticed that the children were seating in clusters based on their group.  And it did not take long before he realized that they did not get along.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two:

The New School but the old clicks.

“Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” ― Thomas A. Edison

Barry was enrolled into Horace O’Bryan School going into the seventh grade that Monday.  As far as schools go it was in fairly good shape.  It had been built to standard to avoid a weather flare up and was painted recently.  There was no air conditioning.  Instead large windows were open during the hot months.  That was primarily the entire year.  The class I was assigned to be a class of about sixteen students.  Evenly split with boys and girls.  There were two Black students for integration was starting to be implemented.  There was  a half dozen Cubans.  Most of the Cubans could barely speak English and the white kids made fun of them.  The Whites handled the Blacks as subservient because they grew up with them.  Their mothers were the maids and cleaners of the town.  But the new group of Cubans stuck together and were considered as interlopers to the American classroom which proudly displayed the American Flag.  The Supreme Court had made the decision in Brown versus the Board of Education that the classrooms would be integrated and by 1960 this was in full swing in the country.  As soon as he said Brown versus the Board of Education  Classes moved to from one classroom to another.  First period was English.  The teacher was beside herself for everyone was on a different level.  The Cuban students worked hard and tried to learn English, but the White kids did not try to help them.  They treated them like outsiders and disliked them as if they were getting extras in a country that did not want them.  Hatred existed.  Barry did not want to join any group and therefore was also considered an outsider.

Most of the Cubans came in from boats that were not sea worthy and made the dangerous crossing.  They risked their lives and now here were not made welcome.

 

Some came in under the code name of Pedro Pan.  These children were not the poverty children of the boat lifts but of the wealthier parents who wanted out of Cuba and fled the Fidel Castro regime.  Thus, even in this little classroom the Cuban children were divided into the haves and the have nots.

Three girls stuck together in the class.  They were dressed a little better than some of the other children.  One of them Maria Sanchez came from a family that wanted to go back to the island and get rid of Castro.  Her father was big in the take back movement known as the resistance.  Barry’s father was involved with him.  Unfortunately, he disappeared just as Barry’s family got to Key West and one of the duties that was assigned to him was to locate him or worse find his remains.  But Barry was unaware of that at that time.  Rumors had it that Marie’s dad was on a undercover mission and it involved invading Cuba.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter three: A science experiment gone awry.

Albert Einstein: ‘Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe…

 

Mr. Greenberg was the science teacher for class 7 C.  He did his best and tried to get his class involved and moving rather than sitting and just reading from the book.

He had connections with the military establishment on the Keys and had borrowed a Geiger counter and a trace of radioactive material from the medical facility at the base.  It was barely a trace, but it did register slightly on the counter.

He picked Barry to go around the room with the counter and find the trace that he had hidden in the room.  The rads from the trace were smaller than one would get at a dental x-ray so there were no health issues.

Any rate, Barry walked around the room.  He watched the dial.  When he passed Maria, it did a slight jump.  He did not say anything figuring it was mistake.  A few seconds later he got the real reading and found the little box with the trace radioactive stuff in it.  But he kept the Maria reading to himself.

At lunch he went to the table where Maria and her two friends were.  He asked to speak to her, but she snubbed him.  He later learned that was not correct protocol and he was being a little disrespectful.  He always noted that Maria was dressed nicely.  A nice skirt and blouse and a large cross worn around her neck.  He figured she was a good “Catholic girl” and that was the end of it.

Boy was he wrong.

Since Barry came into the class after it was formed, he was sat in the back of the room next to the class bully.  George Freeman was quite large for his age.  A redneck.  A child who gave the teachers a run for their money.

Barry came in the first day with a bag filled with a sandwich, a cookie and a little money for a drink that he was to purchase when the class went to lunch.

George saw the bag.  Barry had placed it in the desk, but George saw it.

“Looks like you have a lunch with you.?”

Barry did not know what to say.  “Yeah” was all he could get out.

“I am hungry and forgot my lunch.  I figure that you should let me have half of what you got.  What do you say.  Friend.”

Barry did not like the way he said Friend.  If he shared the lunch, he was safe and if not, would he now have an enemy?

“It is just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Barry said hoping that would turn George off.

“Hey, that is better than nothing.”

And with that Barry split his sandwich and gave his cookie to the bully at lunch.

In the next few days the same routine happened.

Barry tried to figure a way out of this mess.  He even bought two sandwiches, but the bully wanted more.  The more he brought in the more George wanted.  Now, even Barry’s mom started to question what was going on.  Barry wanted to keep this low profile.  All he could see was that eventually George would be pounding him into the floor.  He had to find a way out of this mess.

A situation existed which he could not talk about.  Dad was constantly at work and mom was constantly with his baby brother.  Even at four years old he was a hand full.  He would have to take care of this problem himself.

 

A week into going to the new school Barry had it.  It was a fight or take a chance and tell the teacher or a plan that he had in the back of his mind.

The morning of the incident Barry made two sandwiches.  On both he put in the hot tamale peppers that his dad liked for seasoning.  He never understood how his father could take the heat, but he seemed to like it.  Barry on the other hand would gag on the pepper.  He hoped George would have the same reaction and would make a commotion in the lunchroom.

At eleven thirty the class went to lunch.  As usual George motioned for the sandwich.  Barry complied, and George sat down and opened the confiscated meal.

A bite was all he could take.  He yelled and ran to the water fountain to sooth the burning sensation in his mouth.  Unfortunately for him another large kid was slurping water from the fountain.  George grabbed him and pushed him away to get to the refreshing water.  But the other kid would not stand for it.  A fight ensued, and both were suspended.

 

Now as an adult he thought maybe he had done wrong.  Maybe there was a better way to handle the problem.  But deep down he was smug and glad he did what he did.  And then there was Marie.  She saw him in the hallway.  She went up to him and said, “Thank you, for putting that bully in place.”

His heart skipped a beat.  He was recognized by the girl he secretly liked.  What could be better than that?

 

 

 

 

 

The Mystery of Key West by Barry Wax

 

Chapter one

“Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don’t freeze up.” ― Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again

 

There was a trace of fog early in the morning as Barry drove to Key West.  It was a ride of sorrow.  Barry’s wife had passed away and he was in a deep funk, but his main concern was not himself but the two children who were sitting in the back of the car.

Philip and Missy were half asleep in the back seat.  Two little ships  lost on the sea.  No words can describe the loss.  Abandonment was felt but that was not the mothers fault.  She had died of a brain tumor.  Her death was not swift but a long travel down the road of losing ability after ability.  Finally, at the end with no escape the inevitable occurred.  She drew her last breath early in the morning.  The sun was just coming up and that seemed fitting.  Surely, she would be ascending to heaven.  But now the void was there, and it drown all who knew her.

Barry needed relieve.   A change of pace.  The house now was a mausoleum.  He needed to take the children and escape to somewhere.  He called his brother in Key West and asked if he could stay there for a while.  With a yes, he loaded the car, took the children out of school and headed south.

Mile after mile passed with no conversation.  In the back of his mind, Barry figured he would get mental health in Key West.  He wondered if Pastor David was still there. He had forgot to ask his brother that question.  He remembered Pastor David.  A good listener and seemed to have some answers.

Philip, now approaching his thirteenth birthday finally spoke up.  “Dad, I need to go to the bathroom.”

“Glad you told me now, for we will soon be on the Seven Mile Bridge and to my knowledge there are no rest rooms on it.  We will stop at a convenience store on Knight’s Key.”

 

 

Seven Mile Bridge

Seven Mile Bridge with the original in the foreground

 

During the stop at 7-11 they all got out of the car to stretch their legs.  Philip and Missy went to the bathroom and he picked up some chips and drinks for the next phase of the trip.  His wife would be pissed if she saw this.  She was a vegetarian and avoided such crap food.  But he let that guilt feeling pass.  He was in a hurry and healthy procedures were put on hold.  After the children came out he directed them to stand by the counter in view of the clerk while he relieved himself.

In the car he passed Doritos and cans of Coke to his children.  At first, they gave him that look of guilt.  But neither said what was on their minds.  Instead they ripped open the bag and started to eat the prohibited chips.  The cans were opened, and the hiss of gas escaping could be heard in the car.  For some reason this act seemed to break the tension.

Philip took a swig of the soda and then asked, “How long before we get there?”

“I would say at least five more hours depending on traffic. If there is a tie up on one of these bridges we could be in a mess for a long time.”

“We are heading to Uncle Ed.  I do not remember you talking a lot about him.”

“Actually, that is because I have lost contact with my brother.  Time changes things.  We saw things that we never could understand, and the time was filled with strange things.”

“What things.?”  Philip was intrigued.

Because of the situation and to break the silence Barry decided it was time to tell the story of his early days.  “I guess I can tell you the story of what happened when the family moved to Key West.”

The two children seemed interested and he started the story with, “This story is real or at least what I remembered of that time.  It has a few disturbing points to it.  Are you game to hear it?”

Philip said, “I sure would like to hear it.”  Missy just nodded.  She was tired and started to nod off.  Her interest faded with fatigue and the sugar of the soda did not revive her but made her tired.  Barry noted this and put in the back of his mind that he needed to have a doctor investigate this.

“Philip why do you not move to the passenger seat and let your sister lay down and take a nap?  Barry waved to the seat next to him. In the back of his mind was the fact that the story he was going to relate might be too complex for his young daughter.

Philip complied, and Missy lay down her head and within moments was in a light sleep.

 

Where to begin?  “Let me give you a little background before I start.  The time was the beginning of the 60’s and America had a main enemy.  Russia.  This country had gotten nuclear weaponry and we were scared that they might take us on.”  He took a fast look at Philip and realized he was losing him.

Better not get to much into history he thought to himself.  “Hmm…” he hesitated and in his mind switched to a different way of starting the story.

“Do you ever have things happen to you, that you could not explain, and seemed weird to you at the time?”

“I am not sure.  I once took a test and thought I had done well on it and it came back with a bad grade on it. You mean like that?”

Barry did not want to say no, so he lied.  “Kind of.  Well when I was your age, my dad and mom took this same trip we are on.  We went to Key West because of my father’s job.”

“What was Grandpa’s job?”

“It is kind of hard to explain.  I guess you can say he was in the spy game.”

“You mean like James Bond?” Phillip had just seen Dr. No, and thinking his granddad was like Bond was intriguing.

Barry decided to keep Philips attention going so he said, “I guess you can say that. His job was to go to Key West and interview the Cubans who fled Cuba to get information from them.  I believe the United States was thinking of invading Cuba and needed information about the island.”

“Did Granddad carry a gun?”

“Actually, he did.  He constantly reminded me not to play with it.  He kept it locked up when he was at home.”  Barry wanted to get to the story and stay on topic, but he did not want Philip to shut down.  This was good that the two of them were now talking.

“Any rate, there was danger in Key West.  We were worried about spies and you were not sure about people.  We got down here and moved into the house that the government had rented for us.  It was near the beach.  It had two stories.  I remember two bedrooms were on the second story.  Your grandma was angry because she did not like the kitchen.  I remember her saying it was to small.  But we were under the assumption that we would not be there for a long period of time before Dad would be reassigned to somewhere else.”

“Did Grandpa ever shoot anyone? Philip was awed by the thought Grandpa was James Bond.

“To my knowledge no.  But then he would not bring work home with him or even speak about his adventures.”  Barry hated to lead on his son but if that was what made the story interesting he would bend the truth a little.

“I remember that after we moved in that I should acquaint myself with the area.  I decided to walk a little bit on the beach.  I noted that there were a few houses on the block we had moved into.  They all had the skirts of intertwined wood on the bottom of them.

 

I learned later that the reason for that was in case a storm came in and the water raised up that the houses would not suffer water damage.  They called this area a crawl space.  Later in the story you will understand why I bring this up.  I went to the beach and there was an old man there. He was fishing.”

Philip perked up.  He never had gone fishing and he wondered if his Dad would let him try his hand at that task.  “When we get to Key West, can we go fishing.?

“We can try our hand at it.”

At first, I feared this guy.  He was an American Indian.  He had this pole rod with him.

“This guy was fly fishing.  He would cast his line into the pool of water that was created by a cove near the home we just had rented.

 

 

 

It was just off the beach and it with access to the sea, fish swam in the cove and out.  He would flip his line in and every occasionally, a fish would grab his bait.  He had three or four fish he caught in a bucket next to his leg.  I watched him for a while but was to timid to go over there and look at the fish.  In the next few days I noticed he went there regularly.”

“What kind of fish do you catch here,” I finally got the nerve to ask him.

He smiled.  “Wonder when you would ask me that.?” His face was filled with lines like he had spent a lot of time in the hot sun and his face had cracked with the heat.  He was old.  Barry guessed at least eighty but maybe older.  He had a slight bend in his back like he was always leaning over.

“I got a couple of redfish and a snook.  The kind of fishing I do is angling.  You snap the rod forward and flip the line into the water.  Then you slowly reel it in and hopefully a fish in the shallow flats will grab it.  It takes a long time to get the hang of it, but once you do you can get some good tasting fish.”

“Can I give it a shot?”  Barry asked cautiously.

“Tell you what I can do.  I will bring a second rod with me tomorrow and you be here at seven in the morning.  Just as the sun comes up. I believe tomorrow is Sunday.  Right?”

Barry thought it was strange that this man would not know the day of the week, but he answered, “It will be Sunday.”

“When you do not have a regular nine to five job you kind of lose track of the days.  I will meet you at seven and I will show you how to cast a rod.  I will bring my little rod, so you can have better control.”

Barry was excited.  But then the Indian said something that bothered him.  “I think we should keep this to ourselves.  Barry did not understand why.

Barry had no idea what that meant.  “By the way, I did not catch your name.”

“They call me Red Cloud.  And you.”

“They call me Barry.”

And with that conversation Barry met his first friend in Key West.

Barry looked over at his son and realized his son was drifting off to sleep.  He stopped telling the story.  Better to let Phillie sleep.  But in his mind he remembered the past.

 

 

 

 

 

He remembered the school that he had to go to.  Since his father was FBI and pretty much undercover he was placed in the regular school on the island.  Horace O’Bryant school was less than a mile from the house.  He was enrolled there in October 1960.  At the time there was four hundred and twelve students in the whole school. He remembered his home room and the weird makeup of the students in his class.

The teachers name was Mrs. Obrien.  She was old.  At least to a twelve year old boy she appeared to be old.  But in reality she was in her forties.  The class had a mixture of half a dozen Key West children who had been born on the island and lived there full time.  Then there was a couple of Black children.  There also were a half dozen children from the island of Cuba.  They had come over by taking rickety boats across the dangerous waters between Cuba and Key West.  At best that excursion was ninety miles but in rough seas it was extremely dangerous.  Barry noticed that the children were seating in clusters based on their group.  And it did not take long before he realized that they did not get along.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two:

The New School but the old clicks.

“Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” ― Thomas A. Edison

Barry was enrolled into Horace O’Bryan School going into the seventh grade that Monday.  As far as schools go it was in fairly good shape.  It had been built to standard to avoid a weather flare up and was painted recently.  There was no air conditioning.  Instead large windows were open during the hot months.  That was primarily the entire year.  The class I was assigned to be a class of about sixteen students.  Evenly split with boys and girls.  There were two Black students for integration was starting to be implemented.  There was  a half dozen Cubans.  Most of the Cubans could barely speak English and the white kids made fun of them.  The Whites handled the Blacks as subservient because they grew up with them.  Their mothers were the maids and cleaners of the town.  But the new group of Cubans stuck together and were considered as interlopers to the American classroom which proudly displayed the American Flag.  The Supreme Court had made the decision in Brown versus the Board of Education that the classrooms would be integrated and by 1960 this was in full swing in the country.  As soon as he said Brown versus the Board of Education  Classes moved to from one classroom to another.  First period was English.  The teacher was beside herself for everyone was on a different level.  The Cuban students worked hard and tried to learn English, but the White kids did not try to help them.  They treated them like outsiders and disliked them as if they were getting extras in a country that did not want them.  Hatred existed.  Barry did not want to join any group and therefore was also considered an outsider.

Most of the Cubans came in from boats that were not sea worthy and made the dangerous crossing.  They risked their lives and now here were not made welcome.

 

Some came in under the code name of Pedro Pan.  These children were not the poverty children of the boat lifts but of the wealthier parents who wanted out of Cuba and fled the Fidel Castro regime.  Thus, even in this little classroom the Cuban children were divided into the haves and the have nots.

Three girls stuck together in the class.  They were dressed a little better than some of the other children.  One of them Maria Sanchez came from a family that wanted to go back to the island and get rid of Castro.  Her father was big in the take back movement known as the resistance.  Barry’s father was involved with him.  Unfortunately, he disappeared just as Barry’s family got to Key West and one of the duties that was assigned to him was to locate him or worse find his remains.  But Barry was unaware of that at that time.  Rumors had it that Marie’s dad was on a undercover mission and it involved invading Cuba.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter three: A science experiment gone awry.

Albert Einstein: ‘Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe…

 

Mr. Greenberg was the science teacher for class 7 C.  He did his best and tried to get his class involved and moving rather than sitting and just reading from the book.

He had connections with the military establishment on the Keys and had borrowed a Geiger counter and a trace of radioactive material from the medical facility at the base.  It was barely a trace, but it did register slightly on the counter.

He picked Barry to go around the room with the counter and find the trace that he had hidden in the room.  The rads from the trace were smaller than one would get at a dental x-ray so there were no health issues.

Any rate, Barry walked around the room.  He watched the dial.  When he passed Maria, it did a slight jump.  He did not say anything figuring it was mistake.  A few seconds later he got the real reading and found the little box with the trace radioactive stuff in it.  But he kept the Maria reading to himself.

At lunch he went to the table where Maria and her two friends were.  He asked to speak to her, but she snubbed him.  He later learned that was not correct protocol and he was being a little disrespectful.  He always noted that Maria was dressed nicely.  A nice skirt and blouse and a large cross worn around her neck.  He figured she was a good “Catholic girl” and that was the end of it.

Boy was he wrong.

Since Barry came into the class after it was formed, he was sat in the back of the room next to the class bully.  George Freeman was quite large for his age.  A redneck.  A child who gave the teachers a run for their money.

Barry came in the first day with a bag filled with a sandwich, a cookie and a little money for a drink that he was to purchase when the class went to lunch.

George saw the bag.  Barry had placed it in the desk, but George saw it.

“Looks like you have a lunch with you.?”

Barry did not know what to say.  “Yeah” was all he could get out.

“I am hungry and forgot my lunch.  I figure that you should let me have half of what you got.  What do you say.  Friend.”

Barry did not like the way he said Friend.  If he shared the lunch, he was safe and if not, would he now have an enemy?

“It is just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Barry said hoping that would turn George off.

“Hey, that is better than nothing.”

And with that Barry split his sandwich and gave his cookie to the bully at lunch.

In the next few days the same routine happened.

Barry tried to figure a way out of this mess.  He even bought two sandwiches, but the bully wanted more.  The more he brought in the more George wanted.  Now, even Barry’s mom started to question what was going on.  Barry wanted to keep this low profile.  All he could see was that eventually George would be pounding him into the floor.  He had to find a way out of this mess.

A situation existed which he could not talk about.  Dad was constantly at work and mom was constantly with his baby brother.  Even at four years old he was a hand full.  He would have to take care of this problem himself.

 

A week into going to the new school Barry had it.  It was a fight or take a chance and tell the teacher or a plan that he had in the back of his mind.

The morning of the incident Barry made two sandwiches.  On both he put in the hot tamale peppers that his dad liked for seasoning.  He never understood how his father could take the heat, but he seemed to like it.  Barry on the other hand would gag on the pepper.  He hoped George would have the same reaction and would make a commotion in the lunchroom.

At eleven thirty the class went to lunch.  As usual George motioned for the sandwich.  Barry complied, and George sat down and opened the confiscated meal.

A bite was all he could take.  He yelled and ran to the water fountain to sooth the burning sensation in his mouth.  Unfortunately for him another large kid was slurping water from the fountain.  George grabbed him and pushed him away to get to the refreshing water.  But the other kid would not stand for it.  A fight ensued, and both were suspended.

 

Now as an adult he thought maybe he had done wrong.  Maybe there was a better way to handle the problem.  But deep down he was smug and glad he did what he did.  And then there was Marie.  She saw him in the hallway.  She went up to him and said, “Thank you, for putting that bully in place.”

His heart skipped a beat.  He was recognized by the girl he secretly liked.  What could be better than that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

A dog bite and a lie

Sometimes we do dumb things.  Remember the picture of the man sticking his head in the mouth of a lion.  Well, I did something like that. When I was young I had a dog.  Red, like a cocker spangle, but I believe he was mostly a mix mutt. We lived  in Shore Hills on Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey. My father owned the Jewelry Store in Dover and had just added a pawn broker business to his list of endeavors. At this point in my life my parents were divorced and my brother lived with our mom and I with our dad.

One day I was outside and Rusty had a bone of some sort in his mouth. I tried to get it away from him thinking he might choke on it. Bad move. What did I know? I was only twelve and naive and could be considered downright dumb. Of course, Rusty did not take me as his savior but instead bite me right on the fleshy part of the palm. I bled badly. I ran to the door of the house we rented and yelled for my dad.

He came out but would not let me in the house. I believe he said I would bled on the rug and since it was not our rug that would be a problem. He ran and brought out a towel. He wrapped my hand in it and lead me to the car. He was going to drive me to the local hospital which in Dover.

I was told to keep pressure on my wrist to cut down the bleeding. As we approached the hospital my father informed me we had no insurance and since we could not afford this I was to do the following. The instructions made no sense to me at the time but now I understand his plight better.

He would let me out of the car. I was to leave the towel in the car. I was to go to the front of the hospital to a sprinkler and fall. I was to make like the sprinkler had caused the cut. I was to keep my mouth shut except to give them my father’s phone number at the store. I was to yell and scream a lot.

I did as I was told. The hospital people came out and brought the poor lad, that was me, into the emergency room where I got stitches to close the wound on my hand. I gave out the number and by the time they called my dad he had gotten to the store. He closed the store and hurried to my aid. He was at the hospital within a half hour.

I do not know much of what happened. I believe I was given a shot of something. It made me woozy and sleepy. I remember my dad yelling and screaming some stuff.

.

Well, there it is, a dirty little secret. If you do inform Dover Hospital of this breech I will assume I will get a bill in the mail. Otherwise I guess we got away with it. Either way I have the scar on the palm of my hand to remind me never to take food away from a dog which is hungry.

Cowboy violence

I grew up in the years of the cowboy,

Television had a string of them promoting a toy.

What kid did not have in on his hips a six gun proudly displayed,

We played gunslingers fighting it out in a mock charade.

 

The cast of characters is in my mind,

Many of them fictional with heroes designed.

There was Paladin and his show Have Gun Will Travel,

Then Richard Boone became older and Hec Ramsey had clues to unravel.

 

Billy the Kid was portrayed many a times, sometimes in a good light,

Bat Masterson had a cane as a weapon a rather strange sight.

Laredo was silly, Wagon Train had Ward Bond leading them west,

Then there was James West in the Wild, Wild West and he was the best.

 

Bronco, Cheyenne, and the rifleman too, shoot outs were common sometimes more than two.

Gunslingers in black hit the dust with a thud,

the good cowboys never got a smudge on their clothes, not even mud.

 

And on occasion there was a dud or two,

Wyatt Earp had morals and principles for you.

Years ago, when the good guys wore the white hats,

Good was good and evil was bad and that was the facts.

 

Now it is babble and confusions statements of sin,

Not so easy now to figure out who is bad and who wears the tin.

Goodbye Roy Rodgers and Gene Autry who now ride in the heavens,

Gene with his horse and Roy with Mrs. Evans.

Tonto is there still leading the Lone Ranger,

Saving the world from the bad guy and unspeakable danger.

 

The chapters are closed, and the reruns are set,

The good guys usually win the contest, a fixed bet.

X Brands was silent and a friend not a foe,

So many good memories are all that I know.

 

So when I hear too much violence is bad, it is a made up story.

I remember the days of old, watching the cowboys in their glory.

Body counts were high but the cowboys really did not die.

It was a television show and not reality that is what I know.

 

Recently I watched Wonder Women the movie and the Justice League movie.

So much killing and mayhem certainly is not politically correct or groovy.

Thousands died in front of my eyes, and the floor was covered in red,

At least the old cowboy shows were just corny and not the nightmare dreams I had in my bed.