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 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 was not 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:

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:
Couldn't get it right by The Climax Blues Band

My grandson, Willie's favorite song is:
Shotgun Willie. This version is by Kid Rock and Willie Nelson

I play more music at my other two blogs. and

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. 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;

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 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.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mom and Dad's Anniversary

This is a really tough day for me. I know it is for you, Mom. Today is not only my Mom and Dad’s Anniversary, it would have been their 60th anniversary.

I don’t really have much to say today. Mom, I know that you miss Dad. I can’t begin to understand the pain that you have there. Tomorrow is Carla and I’s 33rd anniversary and I know how much she means to me.

Mom, just know that I love you. I tried to think of something else to do, but all I can think about is the great song that you had played at Dad’s funeral. I think I just want to listen to Vince Gill sing that song today. I can know that Dad is in a better place. In the intro to the song, Vince encourages everyone to sing along. Mom, I'm singing.

I love you, Mom.


I was going to post the next video tomorrow for Carla, but I really felt Dad talking to me.

Coming Tomorrow: Carla and I celebrate 33 years of marriage.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

David Hill, Family Member

David Hill as Santa

You know, I don’t remember not knowing David Hill and his family. His mom was one of, if not the best friend my mom had. David’s parents lived across the street from us when I was very small. David’s parents were June and Wilbur Hill. I actually don’t remember them living there. But the friendship that developed between June and my mom lasted for a lifetime. I consider the Hill family to be a part of my family.

Both June and Wilbur are now deceased, but I have great memories of both of them. June was an Avon Manager and Wilbur worked for the Texas Department of Transportation. Wilbur hunted on the deer lease with my dad. My brother and I also hunted there. Spent many hours with Wilbur. Wilbur loved to hunt and I think he loved hunting the turkeys as much as he loved hunting the deer. Mom and dad loved to go country dancing with June and Wilbur. June was a red head and everything that you expect from redheads was true about June. David was a redhead before he started turning Santa Clause white. See the picture above. He makes a great Santa.

June and Wilbur had 3 children, David, Cindy and Julie. David and Cindy are a little older than me. Julie was in my high school class. Cindy passed away a couple of years ago.

David is the one that I have been the closest to. When I was a teenager, David is the only guy that I actually remember that went to Viet Nam. It scared the hell out of me.
The only thing that I remember about his Viet Nam tour was that he was a radio man. That was one of the most dangerous jobs. I know he had many close calls. He has suffered most of the rest of his life with complications due to exposure to Agent Orange.
But David never complains, he is always the one laughing and keeping everyone else up.
My mom sent letters and packages every week to David when he was in Viet Nam. She sent all kinds of things to help him remember home. I can’t remember a week going by without mom sending something to him. It was her contribution, but more importantly, she loved David. You see, he was part of the family.

Another thing that I remember about David is that he took off and became a Mountain Man for several years. He lived up the the mountains out west and survived on his on. Tough guy.

I just want to thank David for being in our lives. When dad was in the hospital before he died, David was there to be with us. I can’t tell him how much that meant to me.

You know, I email with David all the time, mostly jokes and things. But I want to take this opportunity to thank David for all that he and his family has meant to my family.

David, we love you.

I want to close with a tribute to you and your buddies that served in Viet Nam. God Bless You. Listen to the song: Knocking on Heaven's Door, and please watch the video. This type of war footage was what we saw on the evening news every night back in the late 60's. I remember it well.

Coming Tomorrow, April 9th, Mom and Dad's Anniversary

I saw this cartoon yesterday and it reminded me of Tucker.

Let me start by saying that Tucker is really really smart. He takes after his Pop (ha-ha). Tucker really doesn't like homework though. He makes straight A's on his report card, but like I said he really doesn't like homework. I came across this cartoon yesterday and I just couldn't wait to put it online here. Dude, I mean Tucker if you are reading this........Peace Out.

The Dreaded Flip Flop

Plop, plop,plop,plop. While I was lying in my bed, snuggled up against the cold morning, those were the sounds that I woke up to. I could hear those plopping sounds coming down the hallway. Not again today, not the dreaded flip flops.

I just recalled something from my childhood. The house that we lived in had a long hall to the bedrooms. My brother and I shared the bedroom that was at the end of the hall on the left.

I can remember mornings and waking up and having to get ready to go to school. Mom was always up real early. She fixed breakfast for dad and us and got everything ready for us to go to school. I remember lying in bed in the mornings not wanting to get up. Just wanting to lie there for a few more minutes.

My mom always wore flip-flops. I am not sure but I think she did this on purpose to wake us kids up. She would walk down the halls and make the most popping sound with those flip-flops. I could hear her coming from the kitchen. Those flip-flops were an everyday sound in my childhood. As irritating as they were then, I kind of miss them now.

It’s funny how you somehow remember a memory that you thought that you had forgotten. Great memory.

Coming Tomorrow, David Hill, Family Member

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Beach Boys Singing Barbara Ann

Read the post below and you can hear me saying Pop, Pop, Pop, when the Beach Boys are singing Barb, Barb, Barb. A memory that I will never forget and hope to pass along to Tucker, my grandson.

How I became Pop and Why Tucker doesn't like The Beach Boys song; Barbara Ann

Being a grandparent changes you. You have all kinds of decisions to make, but the first and most important one is what that grandchild is going to call you.

When Tucker (my oldest grandchild) was born I realized that I needed to make a plan for my new grandparent name. Wow, this is a big decision. I didn’t want it to be some silly name that Tucker might start saying by himself. I wanted to pick my name.

It didn’t take me long to come up with Pop. I called my grandfather on my dad’s side, Pop. I have very fond memories of him. We even started calling my dad Pop, as he grew older. Besides there is Pop Corn, Pop Tarts, Pop Cycles and the list goes on. When ever Tucker wanted a treat, there was always one out there with Pop in it. This really made Carla mad and she started calling Pop Cycles, Grammy Cycles.

And, Pop is a one-syllable word like mom and dad. This should be easy. Every time I held Tucker, I would start telling him that my name was Pop.

Well, I like music a lot and I have lots of old records that I often play. I would play them and hold Tucker and dance with him. One day I was playing one of my Beach Boys albums and they played “Barbara Ann”. There is a place in the song where they say, Barb, Barb, Barb. That was all it took. I played that song over and over to Tucker and at that point in the song, I would sing Pop, Pop, Pop. I know that I did this at least a 100 times in the first years of Tucker’s life.

Now, Tucker knows the song and can’t stand it. I think I wore him out with it. But, I was very successful with it; he learned to call me Pop almost as early as he could say Mom or Dad.

The name has stuck with the other two grandkids Willie and Emma. So now I am Pop and I’ll answer to that anytime.

Coming Tomorrow: The dreaded flip flop

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Leroy Carlson, My Dad

My dad passed away at the age of 85 on August 16, 2007. He was a truly wonderful man that got better with age. I have so many stories about my dad, that it would take a years writing every day just about him.

My dad was a full-blooded Swede. My grandfather came to America from Sweden in the early 1900’s. East of Austin, the Germans and Swedes settled the area. From Manor to New Sweden and Elroy and places in between.

My grandfather, Gustav Carlson, had some kinfolk that had come to America a few years earlier and sent for him. He came along, going through Ellis Island on the way to Elroy, Texas. My grandmother, Ruth Carlson, (that’s right her maiden name was Carlson) came to America first through Minnesota and then came down to Texas.

My grandmother had 4 children, before she died in childbirth with the 5th child. The baby died also. My dad was the second oldest. He had an older brother, Edward, a younger sister, Ethel and the youngest, Leonard. My dad was about 10 years old when his mother died.

My grandfather was a tenant farmer in Elroy. He farmed some of Judge McAngus’ land. When I was a teenager we use to go dove hunt on the McAngus property and I saw what was left of the house that my dad grew up it. It literally was a shack.

When my grandmother died, my dad quit school. He was in the 6th grade. He had to go help his dad out in the fields. My Aunt Ethel, who was about 8 or 9 at the time had to take up household duties. Washing clothes and cooking and cleaning. My dad was always very protective of his sister. He would fight anybody that crossed her.

My dad was to first to leave the farm, he was about 20 when he came to Austin to work at the old Brackenridge Hospital as a porter. He cleaned bedpans and waxed the floors at the hospital. It was hard work and not much pay, but he wanted off of the farm.

I am not sure when he went to work for Binswanger Glass in Austin, but he started out learning how to install auto glass. He liked the work. He had a friend that worked for Binswanger in Fort Worth and his friend wanted him to go work there. Dad transferred to Fort Worth and worked at Binswanger there, but he didn’t like it. His family were all back in Austin. When he tried to get his job back at Binswanger in Austin, they didn’t have a place for him.

Not knowing what else to do, dad opened up his glass business. His first was a leased stall at the old Austin Top Shop on West 5th street. Billy Pannell owned that shop. They installed seat covers and convertible tops. I’ll have another story about the Austin Top Shop.

Well dad was in several locations. The first location that I remember was on Riverside Drive between South Congress and Barton Springs Road. Before he left that block in 1969, he had a shop in 3 different locations on that same block. They were right next to one another.

Well, my dad married my mom on April 9, 1949. I am the oldest of 4; I have one brother Larry, and two sisters, Diana and Lisa.

As you can tell from the early life of my dad, he really didn’t have a childhood. All he knew was work. He could fix practically anything. If he didn’t fix it he probably tore it up.

Dad really didn’t know how to deal with kids. Mom was a stay at home mom and she took care of us. She administered most of the punishment. If we were really bad, she threatened to tell dad. I can only remember him spanking me one time, but the threat of his punishment got us kids to straighten up.

People loved my dad because he was caring and compassionate. Since he died, I have had more people tell me stories about my dad and the good things he did then I could have ever imagined.

But dad was one of those guys that really started to mellow as he grew older. My youngest sister is 8 years younger than my brother. She was the baby of the family. Dad was 44 when Lisa was born in 1966. His tenderness was growing rapidly after that. Then in 1976, I married Carla and dad got his first grandchild.

Then other grandchildren started to come along and I almost didn’t recognize the man anymore. He talked about those grandkids all the time and worried about them. Then, my daughter and Kelly (Diana’s daughter) begin to have children and give him great-grandchildren. I have a great picture of dad holding one of Christi’s kids at Gattitown. He was unbelievable. It was almost funny, but really was fun to watch this man age.

I’ll stop now because I just wanted to give you some of the basics about this man. You can see the other stories fit in place as I tell them.

Coming Tomorrow, How I became Pop and why Tucker doesn't like the song; Barbara Ann by The Beach Boys

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Story about Papaw Jim as told to me by Cecil Perkins

Yesterday, Carla and I went to Lowe’s to see about some things for the house. We went to the Lowe’s at Highway 71 and Ranch Road 620. I can hardly go around that spot without getting Carla something from Rosie’s Tamale House. They have really good breakfast tacos and Carla wanted one.

When I stopped in, the first person that I saw there was Cecil Perkins, the old ring neck himself. I went back outside and got Carla and we went in and sat down to listen to Cecil. Cecil is a first cousin to Carla’s mom. Carla’s mom’s maiden name was Heffington and Cecil’s mother was a Heffington. Cecil has a small ranch on Hamilton Pool Road and the log cabin that Jim Heffington was born in is located on the ranch. The ranch is the old Heffington home places. The log cabin was restored by Cecil. Jim Heffington was Carla’s mom’s dad. Since Carla’s mom (Margie) was an only child, Jim treated Cecil like a son and Cecil loved Jim like he did his own father.

Cecil has many stories about Papaw Jim, but the one that I like best is the trip to the horse races in Hot Springs, Arkansas. You see, Papaw Jim was a life long Southern Baptist and adhered to most of the ways of the Baptist faith. His only weakness was the horses. He loved horse racing with a passion.

Well, Cecil had taken Papaw Jim to a couple of horse races, one in New Mexico and one in Louisiana. Cecil also loved horse racing and actually owned some race horses. Jim bragged to Cecil about those trips but said that the one thing he would enjoy most in life is to go back to Hot Springs, Arkansas. He said that he was too old (he was in his late 70’s or early 80’s at the time) to go back there.

Cecil found out that there was a horse race in Hot Springs in the next couple of weeks. He asked Papaw Jim to go. Papaw Jim got to go to Hot Springs and sit in the mineral baths that he had done earlier in life and then Cecil took him to the races.

Papaw Jim told Cecil that he had always wanted to go the horse races and bet $10 a race, which was way out of his budget. You see, Papaw Jim was a retired fireman and his pension was only $100 per month. Well, Cecil took Papaw Jim’s money and went and got him 14 ten-dollar bills. There were 14 races that day. He wanted to make Jim’s wish come true.

Knowing that $140 was too much money for Papaw Jim to lose, Cecil decided on a plan.
He would tell Papaw Jim that he bet the races just the way Papaw Jim has handicapped them, but Cecil decided not to actually place the bet.

Cecil had decided to give Papaw Jim back his $140 at the end of the day, assuming that Papaw Jim would think that he had lost all his money. According to Cecil, at the end of the day, Papaw Jim had calculated that he had won $488. Papaw Jim was really excited.

Cecil not wanting to tell Papaw Jim that he had not actually placed the bets paid Papaw Jim the $488. The problem was that Papaw Jim talked all the way home about winning $488. Cecil was growing tired of hearing about it.

He told Papaw Jim that he ought to quit talking about it because he was afraid that Margie would find out about it. Papaw Jim said “dadburn thunderation” (his trademark saying) don’t tell Margie. Gambling was against the Southern Baptist ways.

So Papaw Jim kept quite about betting on the horses and Cecil kept the story to himself until after Papaw Jim has passed.

This is such a great story and I am looking forward to Cecil telling me mores stories.

Coming tomorrow, Leroy Carlson, my Dad.

Friday, April 3, 2009

BJ, My Mom's beloved Rat Terrier

I don't plan on making two posts in the same day, but my baby sister Lisa, (She's only 42 as of today) called me this morning and told me that they had to put down my mom's little dog, BJ.

BJ was fourteen years old. He was a great dog. Mom always said that he understood english and always knew what she was talking about. She taught him to sit up, roll over and spin around and other tricks. She would always tell me, he knew when I called and was coming over and he sat around and waited for me.

He developed thyroid problems late in life and gained alot of weight and was fairly lumpy, but still had a great disposition for those that he knew. Mom told me today, that in the past couple of years that he didn't like strangers at all. She said he would poop on the floor if a stranger came. That's funny.

Well, I know Mom will miss him, Lisa is burying him out back. Mom was always great with animals and they loved her. BJ was her favorite.

I am going to miss BJ, because he was always glad to see me.
BJ, 1995 to 2009.

Coming Tomorrow I am going to tell a tale about Papaw Jim that the old ringneck himself, Cecil Perkins told to me today. Everybody likes horse racing stories.

In My Daughter's Eyes by Martina McBride

The song that Martina sings kind of sums up how I feel about my daughter, Christi. Christi is the best person I know. Please read below the video the new article that I wrote about Christi.

My Daughter, Christi

I was talking to Rodney a high school classmate of mine the other day and he mentioned that his brother-in-law owned a wrecking yard south of town. Growing up in the automotive business, I knew most of those wrecking yard guys. He told me that Jim was his brother-in-law. I said that I have known Jim for 35 years or so. He’s a really good guy. I said his oldest son was the mascot at Bowie, my daughter’s senior year when she was the Head Cheerleader. Well, we talked about Jim for a while when Rodney said, he’s not actually my brother-in-law. My sister is married to Jim’s wife’s brother. But we have been so close over the years that we just call each other brother-in-law.

That’s the way it is with my Christi. I am not her biological father, but I have been in her life since she was 6 months old. Just days after Christi was born, I called Carla’s dad to ask about Carla and the baby. That’s when he told me that both were doing fine and the baby girl’s name was Christi. Cliff (Carla’s dad) was so proud. My wife separated from Christi’s biological father just months after Christi was born.

I still remember the first time that I saw Christi. Carla bowled at Austin Bowl-O-Rama on Monday nights with her mom and dad. I used to bowl with them before Carla married Larry. I was out with my college roommates (Chris and Phil) one Monday night and we drove by the bowling alley. I decided to stop by and see Carla and the baby. There Christi was in her little baby seat, she was beautiful. I think that was the day that my life changed and I decided to try and get Carla to marry me and that's another story in itself. I knew that Christi came along with Carla, but I thought that was the best thing that could ever happen to me.

Carla and I married when Christi was 2 ½ years old. At that point, she started calling me daddy. Prior to that she called me, “My Mike”.

Growing up, she called me daddy and never told her friends that I was her stepfather. Well, her last name was Cox, so her friends began to call me, Mr. Cox. I actually went by the name for years with her friends because it didn’t matter. I was Christi’s dad.

After Christi graduated from high school, I decided to become Mr. Carlson again. I remember talking to one of her best friends, Crissy and she kept calling me Mr. Cox. I finally told Crissy that I was taking my maiden name back and my name was Carlson. She said I know that, but being Christi’s dad, I just think of you as Mr. Cox. Thank goodness, she’s old enough now to just call me, Mike

I kept my Carlson name until Christi started teaching and coaching at Covington Middle School. Christi was a student there in the 8th grade when it first opened and was one of the first Covington Cheerleaders. I have other stories about Christi and Covington Middle School

Christi is a great volleyball coach and she coached basketball because they made her do it. Although, Christi had married by this time, she went by Coach Cox at Covington, because her biological uncle and my next-door neighbor was the Head Football Coach at Bowie High School.

Christi needed time keepers and score keepers at home games and she generally volunteered me (made me do it). Well you can see it coming. She told the girls that her dad was keeping score. She was Coach Cox, so I became Mr. Cox again. Not only did her players call me Mr. Cox, but so did her player’s parents. It was too hard to explain, because she had a new group of players for each sport and a new group every year that she coached there. I just became Mr. Cox. Even her co-workers called me, Mr. Cox.

That kept on until, Christi’s husband got a job in Houston and took Christi and my grandkids to Houston. I haven’t got to tell you about being Pop yet. I love my grandkids; Tucker, Willie and Emma Ray.

The moral of this story is that you don’t have to be blood related to be a dad. I have so many memories to tell about raising Christi. From the time we got carbon monoxide poisoning in a motor home to catching Christi busting curfew when she was in high school. From coaching her playing T-ball at five years old to seeing her participate in the Miss Texas pageant. We’ve had some good times, great memories and I love her. I don’t care what name you call me by, as long as you call me, Christi’s dad.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Mom, Janette, The Practical Joker

Yesterday I told you about the practical joke that my mother played on my father-in-law while he was in the hospital. It was April 1st, his birthday.
I exchanged e-mails with one of my college roommates after he read that blog. He said you ought to tell about some of the times we had at college. I didn’t intend to tell this story so early, but it just gives you more insight into my mother, Janette.

In the spring of 1973, I pledged a business fraternity (Alpha Kappa Psi) at the University of Texas at Austin. Today it is just a club, because women Titled IX, the fraternity and forced them to admit women.

Well, anyway, our pledge class was very small. I think we had something like 13 pledges. Somehow I was elected President of the pledge class. The two guys that helped me the most were Chris and Phil. Jeff was my big brother in the fraternity. After the semester was over and we became members of the fraternity, we all decided to room together the next year, our senior year. We moved into “The Cascades”, an apartment complex close to Oltorf and South IH-35.

This story starts that summer of 1973. We hadn’t lived there long until a beautiful girl started cooking us dinner on Sundays. She was gorgeous and oh by the way, she cooked for us wearing a very revealing bikini. I don’t remember her name or how this came to be, but the girl could cook and she was very beautiful in that bikini.

Every Sunday for several weeks this girl would come over or invite us over to her apartment and cook a grand meal. We were all infatuated with this girl, but Chris, now Chris was in love.

That’s where the problem started. You see, Chris was practically living with his girlfriend (his first wife) during those days. Got to get his permission to tell some of those stories about her.

After about a month, this girl told us one Sunday that she was moving to Panama City, Florida the next week and this would be our last meal. We were crushed. But that was when my mother concocted her joke. You see, my mom had an uncle that lived in Panama City.

I had told my mom how crazy Chris was about this girl and that she had moved to Panama City. She loved to tease Chris and the game was on. A couple of weeks after the girl moved, mom wrote a letter to Chris pretending to be the girl. She mailed the letter to her uncle and had him just mail the letter back to Austin from Panama City. Chris “was in love”, he took the bait, hook line and sinker.

Mom kept doing this for a couple of months. She would mail small gifts and letters and have her uncle mail them to Chris. Chris actually believed that this girl was in love with him and was sending him love letters. I told Jeff and Phil and we were laughing our asses off at Chris. With every letter, he was more in love.

This kept on into the fall semester and pretty soon the whole fraternity knew about the letters this mystery girl was sending to Chris. Most of the fraternity knew what was going on, but we were just letting Chris brag to us about this girl. While it was so funny, it was getting pretty serious. Chris was talking about breaking up with his girlfriend and try to go find this girl.

The fraternity had weekly meetings (yeah right) on Thursday nights at Hansel and Gretels. This was a great place to go and drink beer. Every Thursday, we discussed the condition of the world. It actually mostly was talking about the girls we knew. Bragging was the favorite sport after a couple of hours.

This particular night, Chris was telling us all about how he had decided to quit his longtime girlfriend and go find our bikini girl. Well, after we had consumed several beers, this story Chris was telling us was getting funnier and funnier. We all knew the truth.

Finally, we were laughing so hard, that I just had to tell Chris the truth. I told him how my mom had played this crazy practical joke on him. I told him how she mailed the letters and gifts to her uncle and how he had mailed them back to Chris.

It took awhile for me to convince Chris that I was telling the truth. He was convinced that this girl was in love with him. It’s hard to sound convincing when you are laughing so hard. Remember we had a few rounds by this time and most of us were feeling pretty good.

Chris finally realized that he had been the butt of a crazy joke and got mad and me and started chasing me. I ran for blocks with Chris chasing me and throwing rocks and cussing at me. The next day we all had a good laugh and a few more beers.

But I think Chris will always remember this as a great practical joke played on him by my mother, Janette. This ain’t all of her jokes, but that’s another story.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Remembering Cliff on his Birthday

Margie was 1 year and 1 day older than Cliff. Her birthday was yesterday and he was born on April Fools Day. My story about Cliff will be about an April Fools Joke played on Cliff on his birthday.

Cliff always gave Margie grief on her birthday, because for a day, she was two years older than him. Cliff would have been 77 years old today. I have many, many stories to tell about this great man.

My story takes place sometime in the mid to late 90's on his birthday. Cliff had developed an irregular heartbeat that had hospitalized him on several occasions. This time the was in the short stay unit at Seaton Hospital in downtown Austin. This was an area that patients could stay without being admitted to the hospital. It kind of looked like an ER room, but on this occasion, Cliff had his own little room about 10 foot square. He had been there most of the week. The problem was that the Short Stay Unit closed down on the weekends. You either had to leave the hospital or be admitted. Cliff still had the irregular heartbeat. So, it was determined that he would be admitted and sent to the fourth floor. It was a Friday and I had spent most of the afternoon with him and I knew he was going upstairs.
Carla stayed behind with her dad, but I left and went the the Manchaca Fire Hall to see my mom and dad.

My mom is a great practical joke and wanted to pay Cliff back for a joke that he had played on her years ago. She saw her opportunity. She talked Cindy Vogel Goll into calling Cliff on the phone and posing as the nurse from the fourth floor.

Carla was with her dad when he received the call. Carla did not know about the joke being played on Cliff.

Cindy, very professionally told Cliff that she was informed that he was coming to the fourth floor and wanted to ask him some basic questions.

She asked about his family, living will, religious affiliation and most pertinent questions that would not arouse any suspicion. Carla said that her dad was going along and answering each question, putting in his own two cents worth about his family. He bragged on everybody. This went on for a few minutes and finally Cindy told Cliff she had one last question. He asked what that may be.

She said, "Mr. Cravatt, what color condoms do your prefer". Cliff knew that he had been had immediately and asked Cindy what color she preferred. Carla said that her dad turned beet red and if you knew Cliff you would appreciate that.

He accused me for years of setting that up, but I didn't do anything but tell my mom Cliff's condition.

We have laughed about this for years and remember it happened on his birthday, April Fool's Day. My mom got him.

Finally, I worked for two days to put this video online and I hope that you can see it. I found a short video of Cliff and wanted to share it with you.

I don't know if you can just click on the http address above or if you will have to copy and paste it into another window. Let me know if you need help.

Hope you enjoy it.
We love you Cliff, Happy Birthday.

Carla and Mike