Category Archives: Just Stuff

America’s Economic Classes – Where Are You?

In the last week, two articles about economic classes have caught my attention. One had to do with what income was required to be truly middle-class and the other was what is needed to be considered upper-class. The news isn’t good for most of us.

First of all, most of us like to believe we are middle-class and, depending on one’s definition, most of us are. But, consider this definition. Middle-class is being able to have achieved an advanced education, purchase a quality home for yourself and your family, drive decent vehicles, take your family on frequent quality vacations, eat well, have access to quality medical care, provide your children with advanced educations that don’t leave them with a ton of student debt, permit retirement at a relatively early age while leaving you enough savings and investments to live a lifestyle similar to what you have been used to. Are you finding it difficult to fit yourself into that definition? This is not where most of us find ourselves and to have all the above one needs an annual income of approximately $235,000.

Continue reading America’s Economic Classes – Where Are You?

The Blues Man Pickup Truck. Shades of the Wilsons

Sometime back in the ’70s or ’80s Dale Wilson and his son Kenny were building pickup trucks based on real-life semi-tractor trucks. I can’t recall now if they were full size of miniatures.

Anyway, in 2015 my grandson and I were in Clarksdale, MS at a blues festival and just happened across this full-sized monster that had been made into a pickup truck. Called the Blues Man it was driving around in a city appropriate for its name.

Hopefully, it will jog some memories and some of you may have some photos of Dale and Kenny’s creations to share with the group.

 

Biscuits & Gravy, a History

I am a member of a Facebook Page aimed at people who love food and love to cook. One of the common postings is about having had biscuits and gravy for breakfast, especially biscuits and sausage gravy.

It’s a popular meal and almost everyone has something to say about how they prepare it and/or how they consume it. I prefer mine, for example, as a single split buttermilk biscuit with just a minimal amount of gravy containing a mild sausage. On top, I like a sunny side up farm egg with salt and pepper.

One member wrote about making a tomato gravy and serving it on toast. I tried making it and served mine on a biscuit. If I were to do it again I’d fry up a couple of strips of crisp bacon to crumble on top of the gravy.

Continue reading Biscuits & Gravy, a History

My Front Tooth

Remember the movie, My Left Foot? Well, I’ve got a story to tell about my front tooth and it goes all the way back to growing up in an era before toothpaste and drinking water contained fluoride and kids with rotting teeth was the norm.

I came from one of those families that didn’t empathize dental hygiene and about every adult I knew had a full set of dentures. One of my best friends in high school had a set of fake chops before his junior year. By the time I’d gotten out of the Navy and lived a couple of years in California I had changed my ways but I still had a front tooth that showed the black signs of decay.

Continue reading My Front Tooth

Snooping Around Wilmington Air Park

I was coming home from Wilmington recently and came upon David’s Drive, a newer road that leads over to the north side of Wilmington Air Park. So, I turned right to see what I could see.

Once the road reaches the airpark it takes a hard right and parallels the facility for some distance. The first thing that caught my eye was a large plane sporting the words Prime Air sitting beside a large building bearing a number of Amazon phallic trademarks (Yeah, you’ve seen those boxes and thought the same thing, haven’t you?).

Continue reading Snooping Around Wilmington Air Park

You’re Gonna Need an Ocean, of Calamine Lotion

I recently posted on Facebook some photos of the area around our home. We live in thick woods surrounded by most plants and animals common to our area. That includes an abundance of poison ivy and other things that may make your skin itch.

One of the photos was of our wooden walk from the drive to the screened-in porch at the back of our home. Along the walk is a large tree with English Ivy growing up the trunk. Mixed in with the good stuff is a smattering of poison ivy and a plant named Virginia creeper. Some visitors to the posting seemed to not be able to identify the good from the nasty vegetation so I decided to do a little educating.

Continue reading You’re Gonna Need an Ocean, of Calamine Lotion

The Skill & Art of Flintknapping

The first time I heard of flintknapping was in a college course I took on Western American History. Flintknapping, by the way, is the art and craft of making arrowheads and other stone tools.

If you aren’t aware, the hobby of searching for and collecting Native American artifacts is huge and can be practiced in about any area of the United States. It’s a complex topic that involves periods of time, type of materials used, manufacturing techniques, styles, and the trading of information and materials among the many native tribes.

Continue reading The Skill & Art of Flintknapping

The Muffuletto From the North

Sometime in the early 1990s my wife, my son, and I were in the French Quarter of New Orleans and finding ourselves hungry we tripped into the closest restaurant to us; a very old place called the Old Absinthe House. As first-time visitors to NOLA, we didn’t have a clue that we had stumbled into one of the oldest and most famous bars in America. The Absinthe was where Andrew Jackson met the pirate Jean Lafitte to ask help in repelling the British invasion of the lower Mississippi and New Orleans. Lafitte agreed and history was made.

Continue reading The Muffuletto From the North

Horse Manure Stories Involving Krupp, the Kaiser, & My Amish Neighbor

One of my Amish neighbors just opened a harness shop and I was offered a tour. Afterward, I thought he’d be interested in knowing the history of E.L. McClain and his invention of a hinged collar and the manufacturer of collars and horse pads. He said he’d heard that Greenfield’s high school had been built by a millionaire but wasn’t aware of the source of the wealth. We both learned a little something and he sincerely enjoyed the story about McClain’s collars.

Continue reading Horse Manure Stories Involving Krupp, the Kaiser, & My Amish Neighbor

The Day We Got Tossed From Paula Dean’s

A couple of friends recently visited Savannah, GA and posted some food photos on Facebook. They mentioned the names of a couple of restaurants they visited but not Paula Dean’s place. I’ve never eaten at Dean’s and probably never will after her fall from Food Network grace. But, I do have a story to tell.

Sometime in the late ’90s a friend and myself were headed to Florida for a fishing trip. We decided to take I-95 going through Savannah and stopping at Dean’s for lunch. We were in a large van and pulling an 18′ boat making a parking place hard to find. My friend was handicapped and used a modified crutch to get around. So, I drove by Dean’s and dropped him off to secure a place in line while I found a place to park the boat.

Continue reading The Day We Got Tossed From Paula Dean’s

Where’d You Guys Learn to Shag?

First of all, we’re not talking Austin Power’s shag here, we’re talking about popular dances! As a kid growing up in Greenfield, OH in the 1950s being able to jitterbug earned you just a little higher step on the socially desirable ladder. We waltzed, we foxtrotted, we twisted, we strolled, but those who were really cool jitterbugged and we jitterbugged differently than what we thought anyone else did.

You could, as we did, run home after school and catch American Bandstand and those Philadelphia kids just weren’t cool because they didn’t jitterbug as we did. Their steps just weren’t as smooth and crisp as ours and there wasn’t the refined coordination between partners like there was with us.

Continue reading Where’d You Guys Learn to Shag?

Shaw’s Monthly Care Package from Peaches

Going into the service does lots of things for a young man from small-town America. One of the most important is introducing him to the great variety of humankind we share this nation with.

In boot camp, I met my first person from the state of Washington, learned some of the slang of Italian-Americans from the steel mill towns of Pennsylvania, and had to learn how to pronounce a Polish kid’s name containing almost no vowels.

Continue reading Shaw’s Monthly Care Package from Peaches

Reprise of Thoughts as I Neared my 60th Birthday

I’ve recently been scouring through things I’ve written over the years since retiring from teaching. I came across the following that I penned as I neared my sixtieth birthday. Well, In a few days I’ll turn seventy-seven and I decided to reprise this list of seventeen years ago.


As my sixtieth birthday approached I began thinking about what being sixty meant. If anything it certainly means you’ve lived long enough to have reached a few conclusions or truths about life, people, places, government, etc. With this in mind, I took a tape

Continue reading Reprise of Thoughts as I Neared my 60th Birthday

Smart Alec Damned Know it All Teachers!

I was listening to NPR recently and in the discussion, it was mentioned that much of Trump’s support comes from people who distrust learned people. People who are educated and have some degree of expertise in a field of knowledge. Even people who are not formally educated but who have taken the time to acquire a significant body of information from either reading or experience have experienced this rejection.

I have no problem agreeing with this assertion. Many times I’ve seen people who can’t get beyond their own “gut” feelings or unfounded assumptions and become defensive when they are challenged. Trump himself has exhibited such behavior. We’ve all heard him say that such and such is correct because he just knows it is, his gut tells him it is.

Continue reading Smart Alec Damned Know it All Teachers!