Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Emma and Jesus

The other day, my 3 year old granddaughter asked her mother if Jesus was in heaven. My daughter said; "Yes, Jesus is in Heaven". Then my granddaughter said; " I thought that Jesus was in my heart". My daughter not knowing exactly how to handle this question from a 3 year old, told Emma: "Yes, Jesus is in your heart". Then Emma said; "How can Jesus be in heaven and in my heart". Out of the mouths of 3 year old children. I would never have thought at that age that one could comprehend that tough a question. Emma is a work in progress and a good one at that.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Stories about June 28 and a heartwarming story about my hero, my daughter

Today is June 28. I really don’t like this date. Today I will tell about the bad things that have happened on this day and finally I will tell something good that happened this last week.

First of all, this was my Uncle Edward’s birthday. That’s the only thing good about this day. He was my dad’s older brother. He was a big man that had polio when he was young. He always wore braces to walk. I understand that he was a really good athlete before the polio. He always smoked a pipe. He was a smart man that made a business out of making braces for people. His handicap became his life’s work at helping others with the same or similar conditions.

Let’s go back to June 28, 1970. It was a Sunday, just like today. I had just graduated from high school and had started summer school at the University of Texas. All was good for me. On June 14, 1970, my grandparents, Pop and Grandma Cecil, came to our house and gave me my graduation present. It was a Bible. This was my dad’s father and stepmother. My dad’s mother died when he was a child. Grandma Cecil was Pop’s second wife, but the only grandmother I had on that side of the family and she acted like a grandma. I loved her dearly. She was good to me.

I am called Pop by my grandkids because of my Pop. He came to the United States as a young man from Sweden. He had a tough life, but he was very loving to his grandkids. He never lost his Swedish accent, so I really had to listen to him sometimes to understand him, but he was special to me. The day that I got my driver’s license; I drove across town to see Pop and Grandma Cecil. I spent the afternoon with them. He and I played dominos.

Now back to June 28, 1970. After church, Pop and Grandma Cecil headed out on a Sunday afternoon drive, just like they usually did. They had a small Nash Rambler with an add on air conditioner that was mounted underneath the dash. Common in those days. They were heading east on Hwy 183 and had just passed under the overpass at I-35. At the intersection, they were broad sided by an Austin Fire Truck on the way to a fire (turned out to be a false alarm). Grandma Cecil died at the scene and Pop died later at Brackenridge Hospital.

I had spent the afternoon out dove hunting with Guy Pannell. When we got back to the house, there were lots of people in the driveway and most were crying. I remember someone telling me what had happened while I sat in the car with Guy.

I was devastated and later on that night I saw my dad and it’s the first time I had ever seen the man cry. I didn’t know what to do and the next few days were very hard. The grandsons served as the pallbearers for the double funeral. Tough day.

Now, go forward to June 28, 1986. It was another Sunday. We had just got home from playing softball. My daughter, Christi, had made the All-Stars and we were playing. That afternoon, she was to go with her Aunt Brenda and Uncle Tommy to a family function. She left the house early in the afternoon.

I remember watching television and seeing that George Strait’s daughter had been killed in a car accident just a day or two before. While I was watching television, I got the phone call that no parent wants.

Mr. Hinderer, a man that lived on Fitzhugh Road about a mile and a half from our house called and said that there had been a car accident and that Christi had been involved in the wreck. As we were leaving, I called Carla’s mom and dad who lived in the neighborhood and told them. They actually beat us to the accident.

When we got to the accident scene there were emergency vehicles everywhere. There were two ambulances. Christi was sitting beside her Aunt Brenda and cleaning her face. Brenda had been driving. A young kid hit her head on while driving down the wrong side of the road. Brenda has cuts and scratches all over her face.

Christi seemed to be ok. Out of nowhere some lady,(this lady was an angel, no one ever saw her or knew who she was: Don't try to tell me that Angels don't exist) who said that she was a nurse, but just came up on the scene said that Christi needed to go to the hospital, that she was going into shock. Well, Christi was loaded into the ambulance and taken to Brackenridge Hospital. They put her on oxygen while in the ambulance and she quit showing signs of shock by the time we got to the hospital.

We all followed the ambulance to the hospital. As a coincidence, my sister who by 1986 had married Guy Pannell was at Brackenridge with Guy. He was in a room with back troubles. She was watching emergency vehicles come into the hospital and saw us come in.

The emergency room was crazy. We went back with Christi and she seemed to be ok. Carla’s mother had left her house in a small blue nightgown made out of the materials that towels are made of. She looked pretty silly there. While we were in the emergency room, a doctor came in and touched Christi’s stomach and announced that she needed to go into surgery right away. Carla and her mom wanted a second opinion, so the doctor left. Within 15 minutes, Christi was throwing her guts up. It was really bad. I have neglected to tell you that I am actually Christi’s step dad, but I have never felt that way. I have helped raise her since she was about 4 months old. She is my girl and always will be. But never the less, her biological dad showed up at the emergency room and made me leave. The nurses said that I had to go.

Well, that was ok, since I spent the next couple of hours finding a surgeon to do the surgery. Christi went into surgery late that Sunday night. She had a torn intestine from wearing a rear seat belt. I truly believe it would have been much worse if she had not had that seat belt on. I have religiously worn a seat belt since June 28, 1986.

Well, she spent the night and most of the next day in intensive care. Christi turned 13 in the hospital. Her birthday is July 3. She was most angry because her softball season was over.

Well that’s my June 28 stories.

Christi is a very special person. People are drawn to her. She can accomplish anything that she decides that she really wants. Like most gifted people, she doesn’t understand the gift that she has. She sometimes tries to run away from it, but most of the time, it just shows up when not expected.

This happened last week. Christi is a teacher. She is also a coach. But last week, she was teaching vacation bible school at the church she attends. It is a large Methodist Church. They had over 1000 kids in vacation bible school. Christi was teaching 2nd grade boys and girls.

I think it was last Wednesday that it happened. Vacation Bible School was over for the day and she was walking to get Willie and Emma. She noticed a crowd gathering around a lady that was pounding on the back of a small boy, around 3 or 4. The boy was choking. She went in closer to look and the mother of the little boy grabbed him and turned him upside down and was shaking him to get him to spit up whatever he was choking on.

Christi kicked in. As a teacher she is well trained in first aid. She went over to the woman and told her to give him to her. She had caught the little boy’s glance and he was about to pass out. His eyes were rolling back in his head. She took the little boy and turned him back up and sat him on her lap with his back to her chest. She then performed the Heimlich procedure on the little boy. On the second attempt, a lifesaver spit across the room from his mouth and he was able to breath. The little boy started crying and threw up on Christi’s back.

The mother grabbed the boy and asked Christi how she did it. I am telling you Christi has that intangible spirit that kicks in when needed. I told her after she had told me this story, that I would go into battle with her by my side anytime. Oh, by the way, we both collapse after it’s over. But during the battle, Christi will fight to the end.

I am so proud to call her my daughter and love her with all my heart. She is something special and I needed something good to happen before June 28.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pistol Pete the Anteater

Two years ago last January, I stopped at a local Petsmart to get some kitty litter. Highly unusual for me to stop there. It just happened to be close. Carla stayed in the truck while I went in. While coming towards the checkout, I passed the pens of little dogs that were rescued from the local shelter. I leaned over to pet one and he jumped into my hands.

I put him back down and checked out. While I was leaving the parking lot, I told Carla about this dog that had jumped into my hands. She said: "Stop, I want to see that dog". We had to put our old dog to sleep about 7 months prior to this visit to Petsmart.

When Carla saw the dog, it was love at first sight. I've got to say that he is a great dog, even if he is a mama's boy. She carries him around the house every morning. He get more vitamins than we do. And he doesn't eat dog food. Sometimes I feel like my grandfather. Pistol like chicken and I often cook chicken for him.

Well anyway, Pistol hates ants among other things. When we are sitting out back on the porch, he lies by Carla. Every time he sees an ant he goes and eats it. It is funny to watch, because half the time he dancing trying to eat that ant.

Anyway, here's Pistol Pete the Anteater.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

News Flash: Baptized by the Sheriff

I know that not many people can make that claim. Doyne Bailey,the future Sheriff of Travis County baptized me. He went on to become the Director or the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission under Governor Ann Richards. I always thought how ironic that an ordained Southern Baptist Preacher could grow up and run the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Doyne Bailey came to Kinney Avenue Baptist Church in Austin to lead a youth revival. He came in an old hearse from Arkansas. This boy was crazy.

While leading the revival, the current preacher at Kinney Avenue resigned and the deacons asked Doyne to serve as the interim pastor.

I love this man; I think he is a great person. Not many people got to know him like I did.

While interim pastor at Kinney Avenue, his future father-in-law, Wyatt Hall, lead me to a decision to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My sister, Diana, made a decision for Christ about the same time.

Doyne scheduled me and my sister and another lady to be baptized at the same time. It was pretty scary thing for me.

While dunking me in the water, Doyne slipped and almost dropped me. We recovered and no one knew what had happened. We were in the dressing room and Doyne looked at me and said, “Not bad for the first time”. We were the first people that Doyne ever baptized. I looked at him and said; “Now you tell me”.

I can’t say enough good things about Doyne. He is a great guy. He is a real person. I have more stories to tell about him. But let me tell you, he had a real influence on my life.

Doyne was like a real life Andy Griffith to me. That is saying something good.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Shop Stories: Why is it red, not orange? Huh?

Getting used to the people in North Austin was one of my biggest challenges. I thought for the most part they were weird. Here’s a case in point.

This little Chinese man bought his YELLOW Cadillac in to replace the back glass. This was around 1979. It was a brand new YELLOW Cadillac. For a few years, Cadillac made a small box shaped car that was on the same chassis as some other GM models. This was one of those Cadillac’s.

Anyway, he was a nice man and owned a Chinese restaurant nearby. His car was YELLOW. The outside was YELLOW, the padded vinyl top was YELLOW, and the interior leather seats were YELLOW as was the dashboard. When you looked at this car all you saw was YELLOW.

Replacing the back glass on this car was a challenge. You had to pull up the padded vinyl top around the back glass. Then you had to drill out the rivets to remove the frame around the back glass. Only then, could you replace the back glass. We had just replaced the back glass and were waiting for the vinyl top man to put the vinyl top back down to finish the job.

I was sitting at my desk in the office, when this nice man comes in. Apparently he had looked over his car and had a question? Why is it red not orange? Now I had trouble with his Chinese accent in the first place, but I couldn’t understand what he was talking about, the car is YELLOW. He kept insisting that I tell him why it was red and not orange. I was getting a little frustrated with him, when I finally told him to take me to the car and show me the red. He agreed.

The car was sitting outside just around the corner. I followed him up to the YELLOW car. When we got there he pointed to the little red lines in the back glass that were the defroster lines. All heated back glasses have these little lines. I remember thinking; he’s got to be kidding. He really caught me off guard, cause for a minute I didn’t know what to say.

I finally gathered myself and told him that the lines were red instead of orange, because they have to be burnt in. I said that they would turn orange after he used the back glass defroster a couple of times. It was hot summer, so he would have no need to use the back glass defroster for some time. It seemed to make some sense to him, so he said ok.

I made that up on the spur of the moment, but I think between the sun fading those lines out and using the defroster some, that those lines would fade. Never really settled that one in my mind though, I just know that it satisfied my little man.

He left and I went and found my vinyl top man and told him to get on that Cadillac right away. Top Priority. I wanted that car gone. I never heard from that little man again after he picked up his car, so I guess he was happy.
But this is one of the reasons that a South Austin boy couldn’t understand those crazy people in North Austin.

Here's a video from The Clash: Brand New Cadillac

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

It’s hard to describe my Mom. She is a very loving person who is fiercely loyal to her family and friends. She made great efforts not to play favorites with us kids.
You know, you won’t appreciate that until later in life. I am close to my brother and sisters. We are all very close. Mom made sure that to this day that we call each other on birthdays. It’s a given. The goal is to be the first to call.

Mom did the discipline in our family. I will never forgive Jack LaLane for that plastic exercise strap that he sold back in the early 60’s. Mom and June Hill bought them to exercise with. Mom used it on my butt more than I want to think about. I always had the problem of wanting the last word. That last word usually cost me. I swear I don’t know what happened to that blue plastic whip. I wish I did.

Mom is a practical joker. Dad loved turnips, but we (kids) didn’t. Mom would fix potatoes and mix in a couple of turnips; just to watch us kids spit those turnips out. I can’t count the number of practical jokes that she played on family and friends.

Mom is there when you need her. When I was a sophomore in college, I had a serious reaction to an antibiotic. It nearly killed me. Mom was by my side for months while I recovered. I can’t thank her enough for that. But that was just Mom.

Mom is the family historian. She keeps up with the genealogy and tells us about our family history.

Mom is a great grandmother, her grandchildren adore her and so do her great grandchildren. She will get after you if she thinks you are doing something wrong. She speaks her mind.

Mom taught my brother and me how to treat women. Our wives have Mom to thank for that. She taught us to say, “Yes, Maim and No, Maim and Yes, Sir and No, Sir”. That comes automatic to us. Mom taught us to respect everyone.

One of the main things that I want to thank her for was not teaching us kids to be racist. While Mom was not perfect in that respect, she didn’t teach us to disrespect anyone. That was tough in the 60’s in South Austin.

Dad was the provider, but Mom was the teacher for us kids. She taught us about life and how to deal with life. She is a good teacher.

I don’t know what else to say, but thank you Mom. I have passed onto my daughter many of the things that you taught me and she is passing those values onto my grandkids. I think that is your legacy. Your teachings are passed onto another generation.

I love you Mom. Hope you have a great day.


Here's a fun video for you.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


First of all, I want to say that Emma is now the most popular name for girls. Way to go, Emma. Emma is my 3-year-old granddaughter.

While she may be only 3, she is the youngest child. She has a brother, Willie that is just 1 year older than her. She keeps up with him all the time. Emma is so much like my daughter it is scary. My daughter, Christi, is a great athlete. She played all the sports growing up. She played tball at 5 years old. She absolutely loved sports and competing. She would run over you if it meant scoring a run, a basket in basketball, or an ace in volleyball. She even played goalie one time in high school soccer with a cast on one leg. The team didn’t have a goalie and Christi volunteered even though she had never played soccer before.

We got to spend a weekend with the grandkids a couple of weeks ago. Christi took us out back and showed us how Emma could hit. She would pitch a waffle ball and Emma would hit it most of the time. What impressed me most was that you could tell she never took her eyes off of the ball and that she had a good batting stance. I don’t know if you can teach that to a 3 year old, I think it is more instinct. Emma could hit the ball.

This story is from just a couple of days ago. Emma and Willie go to the same day care. This day care is in the home of the caretaker. The other day, the little boys were outside with their bats. They were trying to hit a ball off of a T. Most of them were having little luck. They couldn’t seem to hit the waffle ball off of the T. Emma stood patiently in line for her turn. When it came her turn, they told her she couldn’t hit. “Girls can’t hit”, is what they told her. Not taking no for an answer, Emma got her turn. My daughter was watching. Emma not only hit the ball, she hit it over the back yard fence. She had to go get the ball. Now the boys were all saying, “I wish I could hit the ball like Emma”.

Its funny how you can tell athletes at an early age. It just comes natural to them. I swear they are born with it. She’s only 3, but watch out sports world. I don’t know what her sport will be, but she will excel. She can dribble a ball with both her right and left hand.

All I can say is, “Go Emma”. The world is your stage.

Grammy and Pop

I wanted to include a video with music and girls playing softball. Hope that Emma gets to see this video.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Shop Stories: Why I hate Audi’s

It really wasn’t the Audi’s fault, but this is one car that I will never forget.

It must have been around 1980. My dad owned two shops at the time and we installed auto glass and seat covers and other types of trim. I was managing the North Austin shop.

We did a lot of dealer work for the General Motors dealerships in North Austin. We didn’t do much work for the foreign car dealers. One morning, Bob Miller Porsche Audi called and wanted us to do some work for them. We were at the corner of North Lamar and Hwy 183 and they were out 183 close to the MoPac Expressway. I took my shop foreman and picked up the Body Shop Manager at the Pontiac Dealership and went out to Bob Miller Porsche Audi. It was around 3 miles away.

We got to the dealership and there she was. A 1979 Gold Audi 4 door sedan. It had blue leather seat covers. Pretty nice car, except that a fire had started under the dash and burnt the dash and the right door panel. It was also coated with smoke and some ashes inside the car. I told the service writer that we would take the car and clean it up inside, get rid of the smoke smell and replace the right door panel. I told them I wasn’t interested in doing the dash work. They agreed and I sent my shop foreman off in the Audi back to the shop.

I stopped with Glenn the Body Shop Manager and drank a cup of coffee. The day was going great. After drinking the coffee, I was going to take Glenn back to his shop and get on back to mine. As we approached the Olds-Cadillac dealership, I saw Jesse, my shop foreman standing outside the Audi in the middle of Hwy 183. He had slowed down to allow someone to turn into the Olds-Cadillac dealership and a lady in a late model blue Chevrolet rear-ended the Audi. It wasn’t a bad wreck and the Audi could be fixed easy enough, so I wasn’t really worried. I got the phone number of the lady that had caused the wreck and I told her that I would call her when I got an estimate of the damage. I had the Audi towed over to my shop. After we got to the shop, Glenn took some pictures and gave me an estimate.

The shop’s insurance would only pay if we were legally liable for the accident. It was not our fault at all. So the woman’s insurance would have to pay. When you hit a car in the rear end you also cause the rear fenders to bend. I called the lady and at first she was very nice. I then asked her to come to the shop and look at the car. I explained that the rear fenders were bent down a little too, due to the wreck.

It was at that point that things started to go wrong, extremely wrong. She started screaming at me over the phone that she did not dent the rear fenders. I tried to explain the damage and assured her that if she would come and look, she would understand.
That was not to be. She kept screaming at me and hung up the phone. Now what do you do?

In the meantime, I had placed a call to the owner of the Audi, now you get to meet the owner. We’ll call him Mr. J. Just my luck the owner of the Audi was a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. His last station before retiring was the Pentagon. Let me just say at this point that he was a very nice man, he just wasn’t used to someone telling him no.

Mr. J. came over to the shop and looked at the car. He looked at the car and shook his head. The next statement out of his mouth is that he doesn’t want the car anymore. I just looked at him and said that wasn’t my decision. I told him that the lady’s insurance should cover the rear end damage and that I was waiting on confirmation from her insurance company.

Well………. I tried to call the lady again. This time she claims the accident is my fault and she is going to sue me. I tried to reason with her and she just screams and hollers and hangs up on me. I call her insurance company and find out that she didn’t pay her premium and she didn’t have any insurance.

My next call is to Mr. J. I told him that the lady that hit his car didn’t have insurance and my shop insurance wouldn’t cover the damage because we weren’t legally liable for the damage. It would fall back on his insurance. His insurance company was USAA. This company is for military personnel and their families.

Now we have his insurance company involved. The adjuster that worked on the burned dash and door panel came out and looked at the car. He came up with an estimate to give to USAA. Now a year old Audi was worth around $9500 at that time in 1980. The estimate for the rear end damage and the burn damage was around $7000. Now the insurance company had to decide whether to total the car or not.

This process started to run into months with this car just sitting at my location. The adjuster was sure that the car would be fixed and Mr. J. was adamant that he wasn’t going to have that car. Now technically, Mr. J. was my customer. I had to please him. Now the adjuster would come by every couple of weeks and get mad because I wasn’t working on the car. I would call Mr. J. and see if he had heard from his insurance company and tell him the adjuster was pressuring me to repair the car. He said go ahead and fix it, but that he wasn’t going to pay me. So, I just let the car sit there. It sits there in a stall in my shop, the K car in front (which is another story) and the Audi.

I had the car for well over 6 months and probably more like 7 or 8 months when the USAA made their final decision. The reason it took so long was because Mr. J. was a high-ranking retired officer, which had an effect on the time it took them to make a decision. I was told it went all the way up to the CEO of USAA. The final decision was that the damages were the result of two different accidents and they had to be considered individually, so they would not total the car. It had to be fixed.

Mr. J. came over to my shop and sat down with me. He was very nice but explained that the car had to be perfect for him to accept the car. Now sometime in that 6 or 7 months, the Bob Miller Porsche-Audi dealership had closed and we no longer had an Audi dealership in Austin. Now I was the main guy in the deal. Before they closed, I could have taken it back to them (since I originally got it from them) and they would have to deliver it. This fact would come back to haunt me.

Well, I went about getting the car fixed. I had my buddy at the Pontiac Body Shop fix the car. He had a body man that I considered to be one of the best in the business. I requested that he fix the car. Getting parts was a problem though. Remember, we don’t have an Audi dealership in town and they had to order parts through the Bob Miller Volkswagen dealership. Now this was a good parts department for Volkswagen, but they sucked at ordering Audi parts. It took a month or two to get the car back from the body shop because of parts delays. But the car looked perfect when I got it back from the body shop.

Now remember, the dealership was going to do the dash work, but there was no dealership to send the car back to. I finally talked the Bob Miller Volkswagen Dealership into installing the new dash. Again we had parts delays because we had no dash. Another month goes by waiting for this to be done.

I finally get the car back and clean the inside up and repair the door panel. I was sick and tired of this car. By that time, I had told my shop foreman that to give quotes on Audis that were so high that we didn’t work on them. I felt like I was cursed.

We parked the car outside most days and pulled it back in at night. Now remember the blue leather seat covers. Where the sun had shone on these seat covers, they had faded. The blue was not as blue as it had been. These seat covers could have been dyed and been just perfect. No problem…. Mr. J. decided to make the seat covers his make or break spot. He told me in no uncertain terms that he was not going to take delivery of the car unless we put new seat covers on the car. I tried to explain to him that it wasn’t my decision. I was losing money on the car no matter how much I charged. It was killing me.

Well………I got a hold of the adjuster and told him about Mr. J’s demands for the seat covers. He got in touch with USAA and in a couple of weeks they came back and asked how much the seat covers would be. I said I would have to get a price from the Volkswagen dealership. I told that adjuster that I would get the price, but that I wasn’t putting out one more dime on that car. If they decided to get the new seat covers, they could pay for them with the order. They finally agreed. Remember, Mr. J. was a valued client of USAA. His high military rank also gave his more pull than most.

I went over to the Volkswagen dealership and told them that I wanted a price for blue leather seats covers for this Audi. Remember that I told you that they sucked at ordering Audi parts. Well, I was there for an hour before this parts guy finally gave me a price. I remember the price being around $1700. They also told me that they couldn’t give me a date as to when the seat covers would be delivered. It might take 6 months or more, because they had to come from the factory in Germany. I took all the info with me and called the adjuster.

He got with USAA and it took another couple of weeks for them to decide to order the seat covers. The adjuster called and wanted them ordered. I reminded him that I was just going to order the seat covers, that they would have to pay for them. I called Mr. J. and told him they were going to order the new seat covers.

Now for the nightmare. When I went back to the Volkswagen dealership, I tried to order the seat covers. I had all the parts numbers with me. I remember it clearly, the little parts guy looked up and me and told me he had made a mistake. Oh, Lord, what now? He said the price he gave me was for leather inserts in the seats and vinyl boxing. I told him, that I had requested all leather seat covers. He apologized and shook his head. All leather seats covers would cost $3400, twice the original price I had given the adjuster. Again they told me they could not guarantee delivery. They would call me when they came in, but to expect 6 to 12 month waiting time.

I drove back to the shop trying to figure out what I was going to tell that adjuster. It wasn’t my fault but I knew if he didn’t have a heart attack that he was going to scream and holler at me. I think it took me a day or two before I got the nerve up to call the adjuster. The total repair cost for this vehicle was now $500 over the book value. I just wished that they had totaled it. We had already told Mr. J. that he was getting new seat covers so there was no going back on that.

I finally called the adjuster and I really thought he was going to have a heart attack. He was so mad and it was at me. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was not my fault that the Audi dealership had gone out of business and the Volkswagen parts department sucked at getting Audi parts. He lost the USAA account over this car.

Well, now then, I had to call Mr. J and tell him the news. I was expecting to get screamed at again, especially since I would have the car for another 6 to 12 months. This man was making payments on a car that had not been driven for a year already. Surprisingly he took the info very well.

He came by the shop and told me not to worry about ordering the seat covers. He said that he would take care of it. Now, Mr. J. never told me the whole story, but those seat covers showed up in just under a month. I really believe that he used his military connections in Germany to get those seat covers. I think that they probably were shipped by military cargo. I just never knew how those seat covers got here. We finished up the car and Mr. J. picked it up and paid me. I had now had that car over 1 year. I was sick of Audis.

Mr. J. asked me to keep some of the parts that I had replaced because he was going to sue USAA. He was upset at how the whole situation was handled. I told him I would keep the parts for a short while. That damn car was still haunting me; I got rid of the car but not the used parts.

I kept the parts for a couple of months and had not heard from Mr. J. I called his house and his wife answered the phone. I explained the situation to her and asked her if she knew if he still needed the parts. They were taking up room in my shop. She just started laughing. Not seeing anything funny in the situation, I asked her what was so funny?

She said Mr. J. didn’t own the Audi anymore. Two weeks after he picked the car up from my shop he was rear ended in the Audi. He got rid of that jinxed car. To this day, I remember this car like it was yesterday and it has almost been 30 years. I still don’t like Audi's.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sometimes you gotta tell your friend's stories

I am posting this one early because I am getting ready to go see my grandkids.

I came across a story that was told by a high school classmate. I have know this guy for since we were kids. He worked as a Special Agent for The United States Treasury Department. He always was a lot of fun. This is a story that he told and I just had to repeat it.. This is a true story, nobody could make this up. Here's the story, enjoy.

I left the Senator in the dark...my turn

U.S. Senator John Tower from Texas was a very powerful man. He stood about 5'7" but was huge in political stature in the Washington Beltway and in the Lone Star State. Senator Tower was the ranking Republican U.S. Senator on the Senate Committee on Armed Services (Ninety-seventh and Ninety-eighth Congresses); appointed a member of the United States arms negotiation team in Geneva, Switzerland, by President Ronald Reagan 1985; chairman, President’s Special Review Board (“Tower Commission”) 1987; appointed Secretary of Defense in 1989 by President George Bush but not confirmed; chairman, President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board 1989; was a resident of Dallas, Texas, until his death in a plane crash near Brunswick, GA, April 5, 1991.

Needless to say Senator Tower was very important and as I learned later had a good sense of humor and understood practical jokes. His office in downtown Houston was located in the Federal Building on the sixth floor down the hallway from my office. I was a rookie Special Agent with the U.S. Treasury Department during 1981, and my partner was the orginal practical joker, Wayne-Bob. Now there was a "Men's Restroom" at the end of this hallway that wasy right across from Senator Tower's office.

All the guys in our office used it as did others that had offices on this hallway. Wayne-Bob was in this restroom one day when I went to use it and as I stepped into the 1-stall room I had a funny feeling that Wayne-Bob, who was standing at the urinal, was up to something. As Wayne-Bob departed the restroom and me in the stall, the lights went out. Now if this has ever happened to you while you're "doin' your business", it can be a little scary. Oh, I yelled and cursed Wayne-Bob for several minutes in the dark while I finally...it was not easy...got my pants up and short-stepped over to the lightswitch by the door. I was ready for some pay-back.

Yeah, I told Wayne-Bob that he got me good but I survived. I downplayed it with him and refused to talk about it. I was biding my time and watching him like a hawk.

We all knew what Senator Tower looked like and would see him on the elevators in the building from time to time. He seemed friendly and would acknowledge our presence if one of us spoke to him. We also noted that he liked his black cowboy boots and it seemed like he wore them all the time. Wayne-Bob wore black cowboy boots, too.

Then the day came when Wayne-Bob leaves the office and I suspect he is headed to the "Men's Restroom" and I wait a couple of minutes and then I head for the restroom also. Now was the time to strike!

I get to the restroom and step inside. Wayne-Bob is in the stall and I can see his black cowboy boots and slacks pulled down. A grin creeps across my face as I yell, "Good-night Wayne-Bob!", and hit the lightswitch on my way out of the restroom. I stop outside and laugh to myself a self-satifying belly laugh...and then around the corner comes... Wayne-Bob?

NOOOOOOOO! It can't be. Wayne-Bob was in the restroom.

Wayne-Bob walks up to me and asks what's so funny. I stare at him and whip around to look at the door to the restroom and...yes, I mean no, it can't be. Senator Tower walks out through the door and walks right up to both of us in the hallway. I swallow my tongue almost and Wayne gets a shit-eating grin on his face as Senator Tower looks at us and says, "You boys like to have a little fun every now and then?" Well, yes, I mean no...oh hell what's the right answer. Senator Tower just smiles and walks off chuckling to himself.

Wayne-Bob figured out what happened and told everyone about the practical joke I did on Senator Tower. I survived...

The man could take a joke. Thank God!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lisa Kay, Baby Sister

I am a bit worried writing this one because I know that Lisa is reading this blog. Lisa is my baby sister. I am the oldest of 4 and she is 14 years younger than me. My brother, Larry, is the third child and he is 9 years older than Lisa. So you see, Lisa is the baby sister to us. Lisa, you had to know that I was going to get around to talking about you. It's all good.

I remember going with Mom and taking Lisa to Kindergarten on her first day. I was in college. I remember her running to the window and looking out at me and Mom. She wasn't happy. She had "The Stare" on her face.

Lisa is not the talkative one in our family. Knowing that, being the oldest, I am most scared of Lisa. Diana is the one most likely to shoot you, but Lisa has “The Stare”.

I would never want to get in an argument with Diana, because, well, you can’t win that one. But, with Lisa, you have “The Stare”. Lisa has had “The Stare” since she was a small child. She wouldn’t say anything, but the look she gave you sent chills through you. You know she wasn’t happy. I have a great story about her when she was about 5. It to, involves "The Stare".

But this story is about her at the hospital with Mom. Lisa lives next door to Mom. She has for a long time. She and Diana take care of Mom and I appreciate that. She and Diana took care of Dad too. Dad used to tell me though, Lisa is the boss. He meant that with love but he meant it.

This story is about the second time that Mom went to Brackenridge Hospital with her heart condition. We had just been there a week ago and the cardiologist said that he thought that this was a one-time condition. Well, here we were again.

This cardiologist was part of a group of doctors that took turns seeing people in the emergency room. Our family was sitting in the emergency room that day waiting on the doctors. Mom was in stable condition. This one cardiologist came out and said that he was going to run further tests on Mom, including an angioplasty. We all felt relieved. Well his partner came in a little later and released Mom with no further tests. We were out in the emergency room and didn’t know that he had come into see her. We had gone into see her and see said that she was going home. We insisted that she stay.

Well, needless to say, we were upset. But Lisa had “The Stare”. I got up the next day; it was a Saturday and went to the hospital before dawn. I wanted to talk to the cardiologist. Well, I sat there all day with Mom and he never came in. It was evening and my brother, Larry, and my sisters, Diana and Lisa, and my wife, Carla was there. I think Dad was there too.

We were waiting on that cardiologist to show up. They were all telling me what to say to the doctor. The cardiologist finally shows up and acts like nothing is wrong. He is in front of me and Lisa is behind him. I lit into him about the lack of treatment that Mom was getting. Lisa was staring at me from behind him. I kept giving this doctor a piece of my mind, all the while looking past him at Lisa. She was staring him down from the back and boy, if looks could kill. I thought that the more I chewed on the doctor the better she liked it. I was afraid that I wasn’t doing enough for Lisa’s liking. After a while Diana and Larry both jumped in and started chewing on that doctor. Lisa didn't say a word. She didn't have to, we all saw the look on her face. You know they saw that a picture is worth a thousand words. A stare from Lisa will make you start babbling like a baby.

Well, the doctor apologized and did the angioplasty on Sunday, when no other procedures were normally done. This doctor normally didn't work on Sundays, but he did that one. It turned out negative and Mom had more problems later, but at least I did all that I could to make Lisa happy. We are a great family, but honestly, Lisa is in my opinion the glue that holds us together.

Enjoy the video, "We Are Family".

An Old Family Saying

I don’t know who came up with the saying, I think it was probably my brother, Larry, but it is so true.

Dad taught all of us kids how to use firearms. My brother and I hunted on the same deer lease with Dad for years while we were growing up.

My two sisters, Diana and Lisa, also knew how to shoot guns. Mom is a good shot. We always lived in a rural type setting and Mom was deadly with a pellet gun. She shot all types of varmints around the house.

My sister, Diana, is only two years younger than me. She took a real liking to firearms. She carries them with her. Diana was always a little paranoid of strangers coming up to her house. She and my brother in law, Guy, live in a rural setting.

One time she opened the door with a loaded 357 to greet the UPS man. Scared the hell out of him. She just didn’t know who was at the door. Well, my mom lives next door to her and I would often go up to her house to see her. I would always call her on the phone and tell her I was coming and when I got to her house, I would stand beside the door and knock and start yelling, “Diana, it’s me, Mike” at the top of my lungs. Needless to say, I didn’t want to look down the barrel of that 357.

Here’s the old family saying. Lisa is the best shot of the girls in my family, Mom is the next best shot, but Diana is the one most likely to shoot you.
Diana, don’t shoot me for posting this. I have attached a video that I think is appropriate, "Gimme Three Steps".

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Seeburg 1962 Jukebox

About 15 years ago, a client of mine told me that he had an old jukebox that he had in his basement in Iowa for a long time. He was now in Texas. He wanted to sell the jukebox for $200. I looked at it and bought it. Took it home and it didn't work very well. That jukebox sat in my living room for years until I could find someone to fix it. Well, I finally found Steve Brunson. He really didn't want to work on it, but I took it to him anyway. He mainly fixed video games and pinball machines. His told me as I left it, don't call me I'll call you when I get it fixed. Well he had the jukebox over two years before he finally got it fixed. It was the last jukebox that he worked on.

My jukebox is a 1962 Seeburg, but the 1961 and 1963 versions looked the same. Look at this youtube video to get a picture of what my jukebox looks like:

Here's another youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxdpyDd4Hh0

My mom always played music for us kids and I think we all love music. None of us can sing worth a hoot but we sure like to listen to music, especially the music mom played for us growing up.

My favorite song on my jukebox is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ulyd6Ro9fZw
Couldn't get it right by The Climax Blues Band

My grandson, Willie's favorite song is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSuI_JrVDl8
Shotgun Willie. This version is by Kid Rock and Willie Nelson

I play more music at my other two blogs. http://www.hesgonecountry.blogspot.com and www.itsstillrockandrolltome.blogspot.com

My Dad's New Glastron Boat, We should have named it The Titanic

Mom and Dad had a lake place on Bee Creek on Lake Travis. My dad always had a boat but it was always a little metal 10' boat or a 12' fiberglass boat. These boats were all used for trot line fishing. I'll have more to tell about that later. Us kids were starting to get older and were interested in skiing. We could ski behind one of the old fiberglass boats, but we didn't look cool.

Dad went and bought a new Glastron inboard/outboard boat. Our boat wasn't a jet boat, but it had the same marking as the boat in the video. It was beautiful.. I really don't remember if it was the maiden launch or not but the boat was brand new. We had a dock down on the creek that we tied all the boats up to. We had a place to fish inside the dock. It was lots of fun.

Well, anyone on this particular day, Dad launched the new boat and after cruising around Bee Creek came around and tied it up to the dock. We all went up the hill to the lake cabin to do something. When we came back down to the dock, the boat was still tied up the the dock but it was upside down. It had sunk.

Well, it wasn't that funny at the time. Dad was really mad. I don't know how it happened but the drain plug had been left out and the boat just filled up with water and sank right there at the dock.

We had to get someone from town to help us get the boat out of the water. It was at the start of the summer and by the time we got the boat back from repairs, summer was almost over. And the boat never really did run that good again. Always had trouble.

But that's just one of the great memories that I have at Bee Creek.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Uncle Dan – The Mouse Man

There are few people that I can tell you that I actually remember the first time that I ever met them, but I vividly remember meeting Uncle Dan.

I don’t know how old I was but I was a small child. I was at Nanny’s House (My Mom’s Mother), she lived next door to us and I went to see her all the time. I just loved to sit at her table and watch her. She always had something good to eat. She made the best chicken and dumplings that I ever ate.

Well, anyway, I was sitting at the table by the window and in the back door walked this great big man. He was tall. My dad was 6 ft. 3 ½ inches but this guy was bigger. He was wearing a khaki uniform and a funny looking hat. Nanny ran over and hugged him.

He was in his military uniform. He has just recently gotten back from Korea. Now I was starting to wonder who in the heck this big red headed guy was. Nannie told me that this was my Uncle Dan.

When I was growing up, my mom took us over to Uncle Dan’s. I remember thinking; he really has a strange job. You see, I had heard of cattle ranchers, goat herders, and even chicken farmers, but my Uncle Dan raised mice. I thought most people are trying to get rid of these little creatures and he was raising them. I couldn't imagine eating them. He had this long old barn that was just full of them. They didn’t smell very good and the chorus of thousands of little mice was deafening.

It took me forever to understand what he was doing. Most people had uncles that drove trucks, fixed cars, worked in an office, but mine raised mice. Specifically, he raised white mice. Now I am not trying to be racist here, but there wasn’t a Mexican or black mouse in the bunch. They were all white mice.

Apparently many laboratories around the country used white mice in their research. Uncle Dan shipped these mice around the country. I don’t know how he got into that business but I know that later on he quit the mice business and went to work for the University of Texas.

A story about these mice. Uncle Dan and Aunt Katherine (we call her Dan’s Katherine, since Dan’s sister’s name was also Katherine) had 3 boys; Scott, Bruce and Bryan. Scott was closest to my age.

Apparently Uncle Dan took the mice rejects (most had tumors on their bodies) and threw them out in a field behind his barn. I guess he was so tendered hearted that he couldn’t or wouldn’t kill them.

Well, one day, Scott and I were out back hunting with our BB guns. We were shooting every can, post or ant pile in sight. We can upon the mound were the mice rejects lived. They were everywhere. Little white mice with tumors running all around. It was to much temptation for two little boys. We started to take our revenge on those mice. They were running everywhere while we started shooting BB's at them and hitting those mice with rocks and the ends of our BB guns. We were going to town on those mice, romping and yelling with every little defenseless mouse that we attacked. We were winning the war against some evil force until Uncle Dan showed up. He was mad. He made us go back to the house and he told us how wrong we were to kill those mice.

Today, I am not proud of what we did, but I sure remember it. I’ll have more stories later about my Uncle Dan, The Mouse Man. He’s really a good guy unless you are playing 42 against him and then he is just ruthless.

I came across this video and realized what the White Mice were used for. Herding Elephants. Watch.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Our Honeymoon or the Bright Lights of Galveston

After spending our first night together at the Hilton Hotel near Highland Mall, we left for Galveston the next morning. We only had a couple of days to spend on a honeymoon.

This was the first time that Carla had ever spent a day away from Christi. This was very difficult for her. I was opening a shop in two weeks and I had to get back to Austin as soon as I could.

I just wanted to tell you about the bright lights of Galveston. We made reservations to stay at Guido’s. http://www.gaidosofgalveston.com/ We stayed at the motel there and spent time walking up and down the Galveston Seawall. I think it was probably the second night that we were there that we went to eat at Guido’s Restaurant. A very nice place with white tablecloths and very good seafood. I remember we had a table that was looking out at the Galveston Seawall and the ocean. I had a good plate of fried shrimp and a dozen raw oysters. We were having a good time, when all of a sudden, all I could see was Carla in front of me. Everything was turning black. It looked like I was looking out a pipe. I took some deep breaths and finally it went away. I didn’t tell Carla at the time because I didn’t want to scare her. But I nearly passed out right there.

We went back to the room and I told her what had happened. It scared her really bad. She insisted that we go the hospital and get it checked out. Well, the bright lights of Galveston are the lights in the emergency room at the hospital there. Here I was on my honeymoon and I was waiting to be seen in the emergency room. Carla thought this marriage might not last as long as the first one and it didn’t last a year. This marriage was only a few days old.

The doctors ran and EKG and blood tests and everything came back normal. I remember the doctor talking to me about what was going on in my life and I told him about just getting married, the funerals, and opening a shop. He said, “Young man, you are stressed out. You are ok, but you need to settle down”. Like a miracle the chest pains that I had been having went away. I was ok. I had married the gal that I had loved forever and I was going to live on.

Dang, now you know, I spent the third night of my wedded life in the emergency room in Galveston, Texas. That’s pretty embarrassing.

Got to laugh now. Watch the video, it's pretty funny.

Our Engagement, Part V, Opening a New Shop and Visiting with Dr. Bud

Besides everything else that was going on, Dad wanted to open a second shop in North Austin. Dad owned Leroy Carlson Auto Glass and Trim. I worked for him. We had moved over to 700 South Lamar in 1969. We did a lot of dealer work. Two of our biggest customers were Charles Maund Olds-Cadillac and Bill Munday Pontiac. Dad had known Charles Maund for years. A good friend of ours, Ed Wright, was the service manager at Bill Munday. Glenn Borkland ran the body shop at Bill Munday.

Dad had found out that these two dealers were moving their locations to Hwy 183 and North Lamar. He wanted to follow them out there. So it was decided that we would open a shop in North Austin. Dad found a location at 183 and Lamar, on the northeast corner. That was about the edge of town in 1976, but it was growing rapidly.

Well now, I got engaged, was going to have an immediate family, had a couple of funerals and I was going to open the shop, May 1, 1976, about two weeks after I was married. I was really getting stressed out. We had to build tables for the sewing machines, windshield racks and many other things had to be done. I was 23 years old and getting older by the day.

I even had a wreck while I was sitting still. I was trying to turn left onto West 6th Street and was looking for an opening. I never saw the lady, but she was pulling out of the U.T. married student housing across from me. She was going down the street that I was on. The parking lot for the married student housing wasn’t exactly in line with the street that I was turning from. Well, she came across at an angle and clipped my front bumper. Didn’t hurt my Blazer, but put a pretty good crease in her left rear quarter panel.

She jumped out and started hollering at me for running into her. She was hysterical. I am not good with hysterical women. She was crying and crying about her car. She kept on blaming me and I hadn’t moved. I just couldn’t get this lady to quiet down or shut up and I was being very nice. The cops finally got there and took statements from both of us. When the cop asked me what happened, I just told him that I hit her. She finally shut up. My insurance paid for the damage and I was able to get away from this woman.

Sometime in these few months, I started having chest pains. It hurt when I breathed. I am telling you this because I had to go see, Dr. Bud Dryden before I got married. In those days, you had to have a test for VD before you could get a marriage license. I went to see Dr. Bud and instead of going to an examination room, he put me in his office. This man had brought me into this world (that’s another story) and he was just sitting there talking to me about most everything. He congratulated me on getting married.

He signed the statement that I didn’t have VD and was sending me on my way. I stopped and said, “Doctor, I am having some chest pains”. To show you why I was scared of the man, he said; “ Oh g-damn it, your ok, get the hell out of here and go back to work”. I obeyed him and left.

That wasn’t the end of those chest pains, but that ends the stories about our engagement.

The most fitting video of today is by Jackson Browne. Here is, "Doctor My Eyes".

Tomorrow: The Honeymoon and the bright lights of Galvestion

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Our Engagement, Part IV, 2 Funerals

We were so happy in the weeks after January 16. I was so excited that I was telling everyone. Since Margie (Carla’s mom) knew, the whole world would soon know. One of the many people we went to tell was Granny and Papaw Jim. Margie’s mom and dad. Granny (Minnie Cox Heffington) was something else. I have many stories to tell about that woman, but she was one of my biggest fans. Papaw Jim, (you met him in the horse racing story) was a wonderful man that couldn’t say anything bad about anybody.

We went and told them about our upcoming marriage (I am pretty sure we hadn’t set the date) and they were thrilled. I just remember getting a kiss from Granny. Ever since I had known her she was a frail little woman (around 100 lbs.). She was so happy.

She had wanted Carla and I to marry ever since I started dating Carla. You see, one of my biggest problems was that everyone in Carla’s family wanted her to marry me. She felt a lot of pressure from that. But heck, it’s better than them hating you. Besides, Granny was a real treasure.

Sometimes around Valentine’s Day (My Grandmother’s Birthday), I got a call early in the morning. It was Margie and she was crying. I asked, “What’s wrong”. She said,” It’s Mom”. Granny had passed away in her sleep, she was 75 years old. Papaw Jim had called Margie that morning and told her he couldn’t get Granny to get up and he was afraid that she had died. I can't imagine the horror. Margie told me that Carla didn’t know and that I should go to her. Carla was very, very close to Granny. Wow, knock me down, I hurried to Carla and told her. It was a very emotional time. We were counting on Granny to be at the wedding. But we talked about it and we knew that Granny died knowing that Carla and I were going to be married.

It was a tough couple of days. In the meantime, I had found out that Charlie Pannell, my brother in law’s dad was in the hospital. He was in intensive care but seemed to be getting better. Charlie was like an uncle to me. He and his wife, Dorothy, had stood up and witnessed my Mom and Dad’s wedding. I got to tell you he was quite a character. Dorothy and Charlie had been divorced for a couple of years. Charlie never recovered from the divorce. His health and well being spiraled down and down after the divorce.

About the time we were preparing for Granny’s funeral, we got the news that Charlie had died. Just a couple of days before, they had put him in a regular room out of intensive care. Apparently they didn’t roll him over and he caught pneumonia. He died two days after getting in a regular room.

This was a blow. Charlie was my Dad’s best friend. Dad really suffered from this. Dad had suffered when Dot and Charlie got divorced.

So, a few days after Granny’s funeral, we went to Charlie’s funeral. Carla had lost a grandmother and I had lost a man that was like an uncle to me. This was a tough week.

I wanted to honor these two loved ones. I came up with a Willie Nelson video, singing; "Amazing Grace". My second grandson is nameed after Willie. This is a great rendition of the song. Listen.

Find more about Willie at; http://willienelson.com/

Tomorrow; Opening a New Shop!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Our engagement, Part III, The Wedding Dress Fiasco or Christi needs stitches.

This story is about the day Carla and her mom went to buy the wedding dress. I was going to keep Chrisit while she and her mom went shopping for a wedding dress. OK, this would be the first time that I kept Christi by myself. Carla’s dad had something to do, so it would be just me and 2 year old Christi. Have I told you yet that Christi was a handful and up to this point I had not changed a diaper. There was always someone else around to do that.

Well, I did what any normal red-blooded American boy would do when faced with this situation. I took her home to moma. No kidding, I made arrangements to take Christi to my mom’s house and she could help me keep Christi. Remember this is going to be her grandchild. She did it willingly.

Everything was going great. Christi was playing and having a good time. I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then it came time to eat. You remember the bar that I was sitting at when I told Mom that I was getting married. I was sitting in the same stool and Christi was sitting beside me eating. For some reason, Christi wanted something that was on the other side of the bar and I couldn’t reach it unless I got up and went around the bar to get it for her. BIG MISTAKE. Before I got up, I told the 2 year old princess that she needed to be real still while I went and got what she wanted. I told her, "Don’t move". She didn't listen very well.

At that point I got up and started around the bar, but as soon as I got to the other side, Christi kicked her feet and fell off of her stool. These were very high stools. Christi disappeared and all I could hear was her screaming. I got around to her and I was in a state of shock. Christi had a very light complexion and have the blondest hair that you had ever seen. Now that blond hair was mixed with a lot of really red blood.

I reached down and grabbed her and started hollering for Mom. Christi had a big gash in her forehead. She had hit her head on the edge of the bar going down. Mom got me a washrag to put on Christi’s head to try and stop the bleeding. She decided we needed to get Christi to a doctor because she probably needed stitches.

I thought to myself, “Oh great, the first time I keep Christi she winds up needing stitches”. Mom called Dr. Dryden. More about Dr. Bud Dryden later but I just tell you, if you think I was scared of telling Carla that Christi needed stitches, I was really scared of Dr. Bud Dryden.

Dr. Dryden told us to meet him at his office down by Brackenridge Hospital. We got in the car and started out. I was holding Christi and had a washrag on her forehead. By this time she had stopped crying. As a matter of fact as I was holding her, she started to go to sleep. NEW PROBLEM. I had always heard that you shouldn’t let someone go to sleep if they have a head injury. Soooo, I started to shake Christi a little bit to wake her up. I went from having a quiet child to one that was screaming again. Silly, silly me. Thank goodness, it only took about 20 minutes to get to the doctor’s office but it felt like a lifetime to me.
We got to the office and Dr. Bud (as we affectionly called him) took her into an examination room. He said, "She needs a few stitches". Christi was screaming. I had kept her awake and here was some guy she didn’t know messing around with her bleeding head. Christi didn’t want any part of this.

Dr. Bud said, “Janette, this kid isn’t going to like me so I need you to hold her arms over her head to keep her from moving her head. Mike, you keep her legs down, I don’t want her kicking me”. I always obeyed Dr. Bud. Anyway I had the easy job. I just held her legs down and I didn’t have to watch while Dr. Bud stitched her up. I was getting sick at my stomach.

It was finally over and I was still feeling sick. We got back to Mom’s house and Christi played like nothing had happened. She had these nasty looking stitches in her forehead. I finally left and went back to Carla’s house to wait for her to come home. Boy, was I nervous. Chrisit was playing and playing and I was sweating and sweating.

Carla and her mom finally got back home and I told her the whole story. She was ok with it because she could she that her baby was ok. Carla was proud of her dress and I know she showed it to me, but I just don’t remember anything about that day other than Christi’s stitches.

Coming Tomorrow; Our engagement, Part IV, 2 Funerals

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our engagement, Part II, Telling Mom

I guess I have put off telling you how I told Mom that I was going to be married. I think I did the same thing 33 years ago. I kept putting it off. I don’t remember why, but I think once I told her it was official. Carla’s mom knew and I didn’t want her to tell Mom before I did.

Mom (and I know you are reading this) is a tough cookie. She can be your biggest fan but also your biggest critic. She will tell you in a heartbeat just what she is thinking. Mom knew how I felt about Carla for a long, long time. I mean since I was a kid. I don’t think she ever thought that we would get married. Don’t get me wrong, she liked Carla but she didn’t think Carla would ever marry me. I’m pretty sure she was shocked when Carla and I really started dating. I know she was happy for me but I am sure she thought that I would get hurt. Well, after dating for about a year and a half, she started to bug me about when I was going to get married. I didn’t want to talk about it because I didn’t know if it was going to happen myself. I got to where I was a little nervous about being along with Mom; because I was afraid the marriage thing would come up. She like myself was getting real attached to Christi. She was crazy about Christi but was scared of getting to close to her.

So, you can see, now that it was going to happen, I just really didn't know how to tell her. After putting it off for a couple of days, I finally got the nerve up to go over to Mom’s house. I sat down at the bar and she fixed me a cup of coffee. We sat there for a long time and talked about a lot of stuff. All the while I was trying to bring myself to tell her. I was running out of things to talk about so I finally just stopped and told her that I had something to say. She just looked at me and said, “What? I said, “Carla and I are going to be married”. There I had said it. Well, she just jumped out of her stool and came over and gave me a hug. She told me how much she had hoped we would get married.

She said, “ I getting a beautiful daughter in law and my first grandchild at the same time”. Now I’ve got to tell you that might not have been the exact words, but it was in the vicinity.

I don’t remember anything else that she said. I just remember feeling relief and knowing that Mom was happy for me.

Coming Tomorrow: The Wedding Dress fiasco or Christi needs stitches?

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Day I drove 65 miles in 2 1/2 hours from Austin to Gidding to eat a Whataburger and turn around and drive home.

I will get back to stories about my engagement tomorrow. Yesterday was such a crazy day that I had to write it down.

Yesterday started very well. It was Easter and we were going to my sister, Lisa’s home for a family gathering. The little ones would hunt Easter eggs. After that we were to drive to Houston to see our grandkids. We were raring to go.

Well, we got up and started packing for the trip. Not so much in clothes as we were going to come back home on Tuesday. We had goodies for the grandkids. Carla was so excited. We also had to make Queso to take to Lisa’s home. Although we make our Queso with Velveeta Mexican Style, we add a lot of things to it. So, we spent an hour getting the Queso ready. While Carla was washing the dishes, I was packing the truck.

We left for Lisa’s at about 1:35. I stopped at the Chevron 3 ½ miles away to clean my windshield. I had a bug spot right in front of my eyes. While I was cleaning the windshield, I just remembered that I had forgot Pistol’s (our little dog) food and toys. He’s really pretty spoiled. I drove back home and got the food and then turned around and headed to Lisa’s. We were supposed to be there at 2 but it was now 2 as we got back to the Chevron. This should have been my first clue that today was going to be different.

We got to Lisa’s at about 2:30, thirty minutes late but that’s about right for us anyway. Had a good time at Lisa’s. Got to see Mom and my brother and sisters. Got to see my nieces and nephews. I sat around on the patio outside and talked with my brother and his two boys and my brother in laws. As usual we talked about funny things that had happened in the past.

It rolled around to about 4:00 and I told Carla we needed to leave. Now I didn’t know that Carla wasn’t feeling so well. She was having a real hard time with her allergies yesterday. When that happens, she has a lot of drainage. She didn’t eat much breakfast; she just drank a can of Ensure (that stuff tastes really bad to me). When you start drinking Ensure, you know that you are now eligible for AARP.

At lunch, I had noticed that Carla didn’t eat much either. About 3:30 the women moved from inside the house to out side and were setting up an Easter Egg Hunt. Carla has trouble with heat too, and it was hot yesterday afternoon. She told me later that the heat, mixed with something that she ate and she got nauseated. When we were driving out of the driveway at 4:30, she asked me to stop at a near by Sac N Pac and get her some mints. She thought that might help her nausea. Well we stopped at the Sac N Pac and while I was in the store, she threw up for the first time. She had been holding our little dog, Pistol, and she said that he had farted. She said that’s all it took for her to throw up. I said, “Let’s just call Christi (our daughter) and tell her that we were going to stay home”. Carla was sick. But she wanted to see the grandkids so bad, Carla insisted on going anyway. I said ok, because I was missing the grandkids too.

We took off and passed the Manchaca Fire Hall Kitchen and the light at Manchaca and 1626. We were heading west on 1626, when we approached the railroad crossing. All of a sudden the lights started flashing. A train was coming and it was headed downhill into Austin. Well, we had to stop for a freight train. I don’t think I have ever stopped for a train at that location. We had to wait about 10 minutes for the train to pass. It was going fast downhill into Austin. I remember telling Carla while we were sitting there waiting. “Why did this have to happen to me, today”. Little did I know what was to follow.

After fighting some traffic on I-35 heading north, we finally got to the Ben White exit and we were moving pretty good until we got out by the airport. I hate that light just past the airport. It’s the one where you turn right to go to the county jail. We had to sit through five or six light changes. It was really bad and took a long time.

Well, Carla was still feeling nauseated. I told her I was going to stop at a Valero right before we got into Bastrop for gasoline. I told her I was also going to get her some Benedryl to see if we could stop that drainage. While I was pumping gas, she went to the restroom. When she came back I was washing the side rails on her side of the truck. She had made a direct hit on the side rails from her first throw up. She got back to the truck and before we could drive around back to the front of the store, she jumped out and threw up for the second time. Luckily she reached the trashcan by the pumps. I was really concerned now. I went into the store and bought some Benedryl (cost $9.00, remember it's Easter and all the grocery stores are closed). I have to stand in line behind 5 people. Everyone in front of me was paying with a ten or a twenty. The young chubby gal with the real bad complexion behind the counter was inspecting each and every one of those bills very carefully. She put them up to the light and studied them. She was looking for counterfeit money, but she was slowing down the checkout. I finally got back to the truck and gave Carla a dose and we sit there for a couple of minutes trying to decide what to do. Should we turn back and go home.

Carla was determined to see the grandkids and wanted to press on. I don’t know how long we were at the Valero but it was a while. We zipped along all the way into Bastrop. Just after the Colorado River Bridge we turn right and take Hwy 21 to Hwy 290. Trouble lay ahead. The traffic stopped and I mean stopped just over halfway into town. I could see ahead and it was about 3/4 mile to our turn off. The problem was a rear end collision on the bridge about 300 yards from our turn off. There were no exits, no way to get off of this road. Needless to say, we spent the next 20 minutes crawling along before we finally got past the accident. We had a motorcycle in front of us most of the way. It was this bid old guy with his chubby biker chick sitting behind him. He was wearing a sleeveless shirt. He had these big old hairy arms with tattoos all over them. The only reason that I mention this is because Carla and I both notice how red his arms were. He must have been riding all day, because he had really bad sunburn.

Well, anyway, we made our turn and thought we were in the clear. I told Carla that it was now 6:30; we have been traveling for 2 hours and had gone 42 miles. I think its around 15 to 20 miles down Hwy 21 to Hwy 290. We went along there pretty fast. I was getting pretty tired. Well, we got about a ½ mile from the intersection and traffic stopped again. I looked at Carla and started laughing. I said, “What now”. Even after the Benedryl, Carla was still sick at her stomach. I told her, Giddings was about ½ way to Christi’s home. If she still felt sick when we reached Giddings, we should probably go back home. She said ok. Well, we waited about 10 minutes to get through this traffic jam. A horse trailer was hooked up to a wrecker on top of the Hwy 21 Bridge over Hwy 290. It took us another 15 minutes to get to Giddings.

It was just before 7 when we rolled into Giddings. I told her I wanted to stop and get something to eat. I told her she needed to try and get something down herself. I stopped at the Whataburger.

When I pulled into the parking lot, Carla said she didn’t feel well. I pulled into a spot away from the building and Carla opened the door and threw up again. Our little dog, Pistol had been riding in her lap all of the way. When she leaned over to throw up, I was trying to grab Pistol away from her. Now remember, I was in the driver’s seat and Carla was leaning out throwing up out the passenger door. I leaned over to try and grab Pistol, so Carla wouldn’t have him to deal with. Well, while Carla was leaning out the door, and I was leaning over to get Pistol, Carla cut wind right in my face. I just started laughing.

Carla had just sat back up in the truck and closed the door. We were talking about what to do, go on or go home, when our truck was rocked. Carla hollered and said "What was that". I looked into my rear view mirror and saw that someone had backed into us. It was a big black guy with bulging eyes and a whole lot of kids in the back seat.

Well, I got out and looked and there was no damage. The guy apologized to me and I shook his hand and said, "Have a good Easter". I got back in the truck and looked at Carla. I said, “ I think I’m ready to go home”. She called our daughter and Christi agreed.

Well, I went in and ordered a burger and fries. The little gal behind the counter got my order wrong, but I was too tired to mess with it. I figured that’s just a minor thing and pretty par for the course for today.

We pulled out of the Whataburger parking about 7:45. We were headed home. We had driven 65 miles to this Whataburger and turned around.

After almost turning back around and heading to Houston at least three times, we kept on driving towards home. We really wanted to see those grandkids. The trip home was rather uneventful. We came upon another wreck on Hwy 21, but got through that pretty easy. We saw another truck that had broken down was being loaded on a wrecker but we zipped by that one.

We ran into heavy traffic back in Bastrop, but after that zipped on back home, dodging a few things in the highway. We got home around 9 and it took me another hour to unload the truck.

The day was over. We are going to try and plan to go see the grandkids next weekend. God willing and the creeks don’t rise.

I picked a song to remember this trip. I picked The Beatles, Long and Winding Road.

Coming Tomorrow: I finally get back to telling Mom about my engagement.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009

Instead of telling life stories today, I have decided that I want to celebrate Easter with you today. When I was in my teens, I thought that I had a calling to the ministry, but that was not to be.

Today, I am going to give my first Easter Sermon. I am going to do it with music. I think that the best way to get you to listen.

First I think we should start in prayer.

That was nice. One time my preacher on Easter, didn’t do the normal Easter service, because he knew that this is one Sunday in the year that some people come to church. Well, I don’t have a church, but I am going to tell about my Jesus and my beliefs.
Listen to the first song, “Why me, Lord”. Have you ever asked yourself that question?

Hope I have you attention, because I am going to slap you back down. Well, you can get on your knees and pray and sing to God all that you want, but the next song tells the truth. Don’t try to deny it.

Well, now that we understand each other. I want to listen to Elvis sing “I Believe”. Stop and think. Do you know why you believe. You have to answer that for yourself.

Have you thought lately about Jesus coming back. Would you be ready. What would he look like and would you recognize him. I think the next song will make you think.

Look around you and look for God’s will. I am a grandfather and I love my grandkids with all my heart. But some kids don’t have a home or parents that care. This is for the kids. It’s called the 11th Commandment. Have you helped a child today. WARNING: GRAPHIC DEPICTIONS OF CHILD ABUSE .

I’m sorry to have to show that to you, but you need to see it. You really can’t know God without it. Stay with me now. Next is a great song about Jesus. The title is funny, but watch the video. You will understand the video if you know Jesus. If you don’t understand the video, email me at mcarlson12@austin.rr.com and I will explain it to you.
Watch closely.

Yeah, Jesus is with us if we are listening to him. But you need the message of the next song if you are not listening.

I am afraid this next song would be true in many churches across America today. So sad. Some people let religion get in the way of Jesus. Hope that doesn’t apply to you or your church.

I am going to follow that one up with another message that might insult you, but just listen. You know that it could be true.

Well, it’s Easter and I have given you a lot. You may or may not agree with me, but this is what I wanted to tell you. Listen to the next video, from the Passion of the Christ. Very moving.

I will close with “All Prayed Up” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Vince Gill. Hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter.

Our Engagement, The Proposal - Sort of, Kind of....

Our Engagement – Part 1.

I will have to break this into a couple of segments. There is just too much to tell.

Now I am going to tell you something that Carla and I have never told anyone, I mean, never told anyone before. It's always been our little secret. But heck,
we’re 56 now, so what? It's really kind of funny.

Carla knew from our first date how much that I cared about her. But Carla’s problem was that she was recently divorced, living at home with her mom and dad and she had an infant child, Christi. Carla’s first priority was Christi and anything else came second, including herself. She was scared of making any long-term decisions at all.

I was really ok with that for the first year and a half. I wanted to be there for her. I had loved her for a long time. Some time in the future I will tell you about all the grief I got from the guys at dad’s shop over the song: “Please don’t squeeze my Charmin”. I will leave that to your imagination but it took place years before Carla and I dated.

After dating for a year and a half, I began to become concerned about Christi. She and I had bonded. She called me; “My Mike”. One of the pictures on Margie’s wall was a raised black felt outline of a Roman knight. Christi thought that was a picture of me. I was getting so attached to Christi that I was worried about the effect it would have on Christi if Carla and I didn’t get married.

Carla and I talked about that briefly around Thanksgiving of 1975. Carla was still very non-committal on getting married. But I told her that I wouldn’t wait forever, because of Christi.

Well, we got through Christmas and New Years without talking much about it, but I guess it was on Carla’s mind. I don’t remember where we went on the evening of Jan 16, 1976 but after I took her home we sat and talked for a long time. I don’t even remember how marriage came up but it did.

I was pretty scared at the time that she would tell me to leave. I said repeatedly she didn’t have to decide that night. Heck I don’t even remember actually asking her to marry me that night (I never really asked her to marry me, it was just understood). Well, she wouldn’t let me leave and she just sat that for a long, long time. She told me to be quiet. Boy, was that hard for me. I just sat there and sat there while she just kept looking at the floor. It felt like an hour, but I really don’t know how long we sat there. I could tell she was making a decision.

She was sitting on the edge of her bed at the time. She finally lay back down on the bed. And then she said; Well shit, I guess I’ll marry you. That was it. I was in a state of total shock.

Then she said, I’ll marry you but I don’t want to tell anyone for a while. Let’s keep it our secret. I’ll let you know when I’m ready. My palms were sweating, my head was spinning and I was agreeing to anything. I could feel my heart beating. I was happy, scared, wondering, oh heck, I didn’t know what to think.

But I said, ok, I won’t tell anybody. Not even my mom. At that, I left and drove home. I don’t think I slept much that night. I can’t remember why, but I was supposed to be back at Carla’s house the next morning.

Best as I can remember, I drove up to her house and knocked on the back door, which was Cliff’s office. I remember Carla’s mom answering the door and just grabbing me and hugging me and telling me how happy she was. I did not know what to say. Just 12 hours earlier, I had told Carla that I wouldn’t tell anyone and here her momma was just gushing over the news that we were going to be married. I was totally confused.

When I got in the house and saw Carla, I remember looking at Carla in bewilderment. What happened? She just smiled and told me she would tell me later.

Well, later, she told me what had happened? I must have left Carla’s house around midnight the night before. I tiptoed out of the house as all the lights were out and it seemed like everyone was asleep.

Well apparently, Margie wasn’t asleep and must have been listening at the door as Carla and I had talked. Because as soon as I left, she bolted through Carla’s door and hugged Carla. She told Carla how happy she was at us getting married.

The secret lasted less than 30 minutes apparently. Just to make it clear, I really didn’t propose that night or even ever formally propose and Carla (not a curser) really said; “Well shit, I’ll guess I’ll marry you.” A night and a next day that I will never forget.

I always felt that Carla was stuck in the middle between me and Christi to start with. But she loves me and we are soul mates. Here's a video, Stuck in the Middle with You. Enjoy.

Next, I went to tell my mom.

Coming tomorrow: Telling My Mom

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Carla Jo

33 years ago today, our pastor, Charles Stewart, married us at Kinney Avenue Baptist Church. Wow, so many memories. 33 years ago today, I became Christi’s daddy.

We dated a little over two years before getting married. Everyone in the church was happy for us. We were a first for our pastor, Charles Stewart. He was a strict Southern Baptist preacher and he didn’t believe in divorce. He wouldn’t marry anybody that had been divorced. We were engaged in January and had a few counseling sessions with Charles Stewart right after we were engaged. He announced in church soon after we were engaged that he would now consider marrying someone that had been divorced. He had been in the pulpit over 10 years at that time and we were the first couple that he married that had involved a divorce. Believe me, that was a huge change for the man. I thought that was pretty special and believe me it wasn’t because of me. Carla, everyone loves you and he did too.

The picture below is one of my favorites from the wedding. Your parents, Cliff and Margie are standing by you and my parents; Janette and Leroy are standing by me.
Right beneath that picture is another picture of our new little family. Carla, Christi and me.

I think the pictures say it all, Carla, you are the love of my life.

I was watching the movie “Jerry Maguire” last night and the last clip of the movie is what I want to share.

The film shows a man at his desk. His name was Dicky Fox. This is what he said; “ I don’t have all the answers in life to be honest. I’ve failed as much as I’ve succeeded. But I love my wife and I love my life, and I wish you my kind of success.”

You know, that kind of sums up my life.

In closing, I picked a song that tells you, Carla, just how I feel. It is from the movie, “Heartland” and is the closing scene. It shows your favorite singer, George Strait, singing “I Cross My Heart”. I love you, Carla Jo.

Coming Tomorrow: Our engagement Don’t miss this one.