Thursday, September 17, 2009

Old Familiar Places

The trip Mom, Jeff, Ross, and I took to Texas back in July was a great time to reconnect. And not only with people, but places.

It has been decades since these homes, church houses, and other places ceased playing any direct role in our lives, but it still meant a lot to be able to stand on my two feet in front of them, walk across their green lawns, and breathe the air of those places...again.

They have all changed, and some have passed away.

4915 Love Road El Paso, TX.

6639 Country Club Circle Dallas, TX

Former site of the Turtle Creek L.D.S. Chapel, Turtle Creek Blvd Dallas, TX.

The Turtle Creek Chapel parking lot now...

...and then.

The Turtle Creek building. I scanned this from an old Sunday School program dated September 7, 1969. Back in the days when Sunday School was in the morning and Sacrament mtg. was in the afternoon. Looking at the above photo, my best estimation of the vantage point for the program photo would be at the treeline in the center of the photo, maybe a little left, and aiming towards you.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Some Helpful Rules For Survival Should You Find Yourself in a Mafia movie.

1. Don't take the toll road.

2. If Ace Rothstein asks you to take your feet off the table, do it.

3. Take a raincheck when someone suggests a relaxing drive through a corn field.

4. Never sit in front of Peter Clemenza in a car, or in front of Al Neri in a boat.

5. When dining out with Michael Corleone, insist he use the bathroom before you pick him up.

6. Don't ever broach the subject of the great game of baseball with Capone.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Could Bloom County Have Earned Me A Beatin' ?

Back in my junior or senior year of high school I was over at the home of the Galloway family. They were church and school friends. I looked up to Paul who was a couple years older, and I once had had a massive crush on Ruby who was my age. I'd been over the crush for a couple of years at the time of the incident I am about to describe.

I was at their house, for what reason I do not remember. Anyway, on the coffee table was a book collection of a very popular 80's comic strip called Bloom County. The strip was characterized by some of the most biting, stinging, yet cleverly cloaked political commentary of any medium, let alone comic strips. It also happened to be funny as heck apart from it's keen political satire. Some of the main characters were Binkley, Steve Dallas, Cutter John, Bill the Cat, and the chief protagonist (he was my favorite anyway) Opus - a chubby penguin. So, I picked up the book and started thumbing through it.

Also at the Galloway house that day was Anthony, a fellow whom Ruby was dating at the time. He was a pretty big dude and was a starting lineman on the San Angelo Central High Bobcats football team. He had come over and was sitting with Ruby on the couch across from me. Anthony seemed upset. From what I could overhear as I read through the comic strip, he had managed to get his pickup truck (or whatever vehicle he drove at the time) bogged down in some mud.

During what must have been a suspenseful part of his tale I burst out laughing at one of the strips, and Anthony thought it was directed at him. I assured him that in no way was I laughing at his misfortune.

I continued looking through the book and had at least a couple more laugh bursts, and each time Anthony broke off his mud narrative to pointedly ask me if I was laughing at him. I again promised him I was not laughing at him.

Now, when I say that I was not laughing at Anthony but at Bloom County, I am telling you the absolute truth. But, what is also true is that I didn't mind too much having him think (or wonder if) I was laughing at him. I suppose, despite having gotten over my crush on Ruby, that I still had some occasional phantom twinges of jealousy. And so, it turned out to be a convenient and sufficiently veiled form of revenge.

I can now concede that Anthony was probably an allright guy. After all, I did not end up with a beatin'. But maybe to be on the safe side one should avoid reading Bloom County in the presence of a Bobcat. They don't seem to like being laughed at.

Monday, June 29, 2009

"Injured by a Mongoose," or "Gravity Works."

It was a feat of engineering exquisite in it's simplicity. A 6' x 1' board, leaned against an old trunk which we'd drug from Peter Alvarez's garage.

The location: The alley behind Peter's house on Glennox Lane, which ran parallel to and just south of Lover's Lane in Dallas, TX.

The cast of characters: Myself, my friend Peter Alvarez, and John Sawyer, who lived about midway between Peter and I on Glennox.

The launch vehicles: Peter and I both rode the BMX Mongoose, and I don't remember what kind John had. Perhaps a Red Line?

It was a calm morning. The sun was out, and the breeze was scented with Mimosa blossoms. There was certainly nothing to indicate any imminent disaster, but it soon became a day I would never forget.

We had all built the classic "board leaning on a cinderblock" ramp before, but we were no longer satisfied. When Peter proposed the trunk, we all were for it. Or pretended to be. It takes courage to be a ramp builder, and the courage of many a ramp tester has been left behind in pavement and asphalt all across this great land in the form of scraped epidermis.

Was it ethical to go from a one-foot cinderblock to a three-foot trunk? Just because we could, did that mean we should? History will decide.

The ramp was ready, and (by means which I do not recall) John was picked to go first. He was about fifty feet away when he started pedaling. The ramp held, and John achieved an altitude of about four feet, landing seven or eight feet from the end of the ramp. Good form, landed on his rear tire, a successful trial.

After checking and re-setting the ramp, it was my turn. I started from about the same spot John had. As I looked at the ramp ahead, my thoughts could be summed up thusly, "Bad idea, bad idea, bad idea, bad idea..." However, the die was cast and I was committed. Could I endure losing face in the eyes of peers such as Peter Alvarez and John Sawyer? I submit to you that I could not.

I started. I was pedaling much faster than John had, perhaps from adrenaline. The ramp approached. I hit the board and felt myself going airborne. Something was wrong. The bike and I began pitching forward. I landed on my front tire and my body, which wanted to stay in motion - did so. The momentum carried me forward over my handlebars, the ends of which (due to worn handgrips which had slid up the bars a couple inches) were exposed metal tubes. My chest raked over the end of my left handlebar (I believe), ripping my shirt and giving me a nasty deep scratch from mid-sternum to about three inches above my belly-button. The Mongoose had landed.

I lay there with my eyes squeezed shut, my body completely clinched as it tried to comprehend the incredible pain and shame it was feeling. My paramedics (Peter and John) ran over, Peter exclaiming, "Dude, you went FAR!!" A tiny node deep inside the recesses of my brain took some small, momentary satisfaction from that. Other than that I was using all my will to shrug it off, convince Peter and John that I was in no pain, and above all to not start crying.

They each took an arm and hustled me inside Peter's house (somehow avoiding his parents) for "medical treatment," i.e. - dumping me on the couch in his upstairs game room. I lay there for about an hour trying to recover and get myself to a mental state where I could nonchalantly enter my own house without provoking any questions. I don't remember how I concealed the rip in my shirt.

Peter and I rode those BMX Mongeese all over our part of Dallas, one saturday riding nearly out to Love Field to visit an acquaintance. But I never built a ramp again

Thursday, February 19, 2009