Saturday, April 5, 2014

Rich Men's Folly

It was a seasonal business with summer being busy, and winter not so much.  Life guard service?  No, it was a mobilehome sales and service.  I worked there, making a decent living for about 25 years from 1970 through 1995.  As I had no control over the vagaries of the business, I only have vague knowledge of its ups and downs, but one could get a feeling of the success, or lack of, at any given time by several separate factors.  Whether in a state of euphoria over high sales, or a feeling of gloominess prevailed when times were slower, the company stayed alive.  After I medically retired in 1995 the company managed to remain active without me, and lasted another dozen years or so with little change.

It was a family business started by a middle-aged couple in 1956.  Around 20 years later it was turned over to two sons who kept it thriving.  By the middle of the first decade of this century the sons were of a retirement age and decided to sell the business.  It was sold to another family with much the same history.

During the 1950s this family also started a business of selling used cars.  That business had been built to become the largest new car dealership in the area, and then turned over to 4 sons who kept it thriving for many years.  The 4 sons decided to buy the mobilehome business as an addition to the car dealership.

Within 2 years the mobilehome business was bankrupt.  Now this was a business that had a reputation as a fine place to do business with.  It had sold homes for over 50 years, and was yet going strong.  The new owners had also been associated with a business that had lasted over 50 years.  Why then was it suddenly impossible to keep the doors open?  Obviously people yet needed housing.  New families were still beginning. 

At least part of the answer is the housing market took a terrible downfall all over the United States, causing bank failures to match.  But, why?  What suddenly changed?  Nothing!  The main reason for this almost catastrophic event is due to monetary speculation among rich people wanting to be richer, although having control of scads of money has no real purpose.  It is nothing more than a few people playing with the lives of millions of their fellow space travelers.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool

I believe it was 1984, but I’m not certain it was.  It was April first, I am certain of that.  We were lounging around on a Sunday morning shortly after finishing breakfast.  Our antique wood-burning cook stove which we used for kitchen heat all winter was burning softly on a reasonably mild day.  I was standing near it warming my backside while my wife sat at the kitchen table reading the Sunday paper.  My two younger children ages 12 and 16 were there also.

Suddenly my wife Nora said, “I smell something burning!”

Although my odor detection ability is not as good as most peoples, I said, “Look, I wasn’t born yesterday.  I know it is April Fool’s Day, and I don’t smell anything.”

All was quiet for a minute or two as we continued our activities as little as they were.  My wife spoke again, “I can smell something burning.”

Detecting the rising panic in her tone, I decided this was no apparent joke.  My son Carl spoke, “Dad I smell something hot too.”

Immediately suspecting the cook stove area I looked upward to see a wisp of smoke near the stove pipe at the ceiling level.  I grabbed a dish off the breakfast table, filled it with water, and threw it up at the smoky area.  At the same time I asked Carl to run upstairs and check the pipe area from above.  I continued to toss bowlfuls of water at the smoke around the pipe near the ceiling.

Carl hollered down that he had found a small rubber toy touching the hot pipe.  He moved it away, and watched it carefully as it cooled, before bringing it down the stairs.  The excitement was all over, and soon we calmed down, but none of us ever forgot the April Fool’s joke that wasn’t.

Sunday, March 30, 2014



They thought that they were heaven bound,

when they were planted in the ground.

There to lie and turn to dust,

it seems in heaven you just can’t trust.


Their tombstones tell of life so brief,

butcher, beggar, rich or thief.

They’re all the same when in the ground,

eternity is all they found.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cox's Greenhouse

I began the first grade of school in a one-room-schoolhouse when I was four years and seven weeks old.  Obviously this made me younger, by about two years, than all of my grade peers.  So it was when I started attending a new school for the ninth grade I was 13 years old.  It was a new village, new friends, and all new older than I students in my high school classes.
I was having second thoughts about entering this new element.  My older brother Ron mentioned I should look up a person he knew that was close to my age in the grade lower than my own.  I did that at my first opportunity.  His name was Dean Cox, and we soon became fast friends.  His parents owned and operated a greenhouse a couple of miles from my dairy farm home, but I had never heard of him, his parents, or the greenhouse.  The next summer, which was 1951, I spent nearly every Sunday afternoon at his home.  Although my family was not a church-going group, his mother was a Wesleyan Methodist who attended church every Sunday morning without fail dragging Dean and his two sisters along.
Dean’s parents lived in an older modest home, but it was quite comfortable, and they seemed happy with it for the first several years I was such a regular visitor.  Then when I was a senior in high school Dean’s father began building them a new home across the driveway from their older home.  The new home was completed about 1955 when I, at the age of 17, joined the United States Navy.  I asked Dean to join with me, but he didn’t think he wanted to go that route.  Less than a month later he also joined the Navy.  Things were never the same though as when we were in our early teens growing up in this environment.

The driveway went up the hill between these two homes, with the original on the left that is now caving in, while the new one, built in 1955 yet remains in good condition, but showing its 60 years of age.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Job Lawton

When Oliver and Ann Lawton traveled the arduous journey through the woods and trails from Rhode Island to the New York wilderness in 1789 their five sons and daughter were with them.  Although I have no exact date, son Benjamin, born in 1770, married within a couple of years, as he and his new wife began having children in 1792.  Their third child, born the last day of May 1795, was a son which they named Job.

Job grew to be a man, and at age 19 on October 5, 1814 enlisted in the U S Army to fight the British in the War of 1812.  While in the Army he became a part of a crew sent to clear a trail north and west to Sacketts Harbor on the St. Lawrence River.  The further he traveled through the wilderness the more he learned to like it.

After the war, he built a log cabin in the woods on what would become the town line between Scriba and New Haven, New York, and there he and his wife became the parents of a dozen children beginning yet another Lawton clan.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Case of the Missing Hat

I am 75 years old.  I am bald.  I like to sleep with a window slightly open for fresh air even though I live in northern New York where the winter night temperature is often below zero degrees.  Because my son often leaves his two dogs at our home when he works I close my bedroom door when I retire for the night so they do not wake me early in the morning with slobbery kisses.

So it is that at the beginning of the present winter I began wearing a knitted woolen toque to bed at night to protect the hairless surface from the chilly breezes entering my window.  All winter long I’ve faithfully donned my hat when I go to bed, and just as faithfully it is always somewhere other than on my head when I awake.  Sometimes it lies flat on my pillow.  Other times it is above my pillow either on the bed or having fallen down over the mattress end.  At yet other occasions I may find it down among the blankets in some odd area.

This morning, as usual, my toque was missing from my cranium.  I sat up in bed, hung my legs over the side, remembered to look for my toque, to be unable to locate it.  Not on the pillow.  Not above the pillow.  Not down by the end of the mattress.  I continued to sit on the edge of the bed as I searched among the blankets to discover—nothing.  My wonderful little head warmer was totally among the missing in action.

I gave up, and decided I would strip the sheets and blankets later to find it.  I reached for my dresser drawer, grabbed a pair of socks, and drew them up over my feet.  I then proceeded to stand and reach for my long underwear hanging on a wall peg.  With long johns in hand I turned to look where I was about to sit, and there was my toque.  I had been sitting on it the entire time I had been searching for it.  Foolish old man.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Do we all know KISS is an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid?

Practically all United States adults, and most children, are overweight to some degree.  Many of these same people try various methods of losing some of these excess pounds.  There are many businesses selling various plans of weight reduction, but they are unnecessary, and often border on scamming a believing public sector.

Back to KISS.  There is only one way to gain weight.  You eat it.  It is impossible to gain a pound if you don’t eat that pound.  That’s a fact.

If you want to lose weight, and it is probable you should for your own health, the simple way is merely eat less.  If you don’t eat it, then you don’t need to lose it.  No fancy weight loss programs are necessary, and no money is spent losing weight you never should have had in the first place.

Okay, I hear you.  You already have the weight, and need to lose it.  KISS!  For your next meal, fix your dinner plate just like you always have.  Now scrape off half of it into the garbage, and eat only the remaining half.  Yes, you were just about to eat twice the amount of food you needed to.  Repeat this process for a day or two.  Now that you have learned to adjust your portions downward, only cook half of your previous amount and place it on your plate to start with, and quit wasting the other half.

For a day or two you might feel a little hunger, that is to be expected, but it will last little longer than that.  Accept that and resist with all your being the temptation to snack.

You’re on your way to losing weight.  No rigorous exercising is necessary to try to lose calories you should never have eaten.  If you want to exercise it would probably be helpful to tone up your muscles, and you would lose weight a little quicker, but it’s not necessary.  Weight loss is simple, don’t eat it.