MUSHY'S MOOCHINGS: January 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

AS IT WAS MEANT TO BE

I continued working at The Roane County NEWS for a little over four years, becoming the Advertising Manager and hiring two wonderfully talented sales women. One was a beautiful young and energetic California lady who I quickly assigned the “hard sell” accounts. The other was a sixty plus year old woman with more energy than a three month old pup, sharp as a whip, and who had known every established business man and woman in Roane County for over fifty years!

I took on the new Wal-Mart, Goodyear, Sears, and shops owned by women. Most of these accounts required extra time on the golf course or in back rooms playing poker, and, in general, needed more attention than any of the others.

Together, we were quite a team and effectively increased the advertising inches required to publish the bi-weekly newspaper. The paper at that time was a very large driving force, helping to promote businesses and sports in Harriman, Kingston, and Rockwood, Tennessee. Even though the towns were rivals on the playing field, they came to realize the NEWS was the place to reach their customers.

Corey’s mom and I started our home during the period between the newspaper job and the time that I was hired at Oak Ridge.

I did pretty well during this time and even ran a wedding photography business on the weekends. I used a Koni-Omega Rapid 200 camera and shot in 120mm film in the 6X7 format that required no cropping when printed in 8X10 size. I developed a package of 40 – 8X10’s for $200. It was a sweet package for a young couple just getting started, but the pressure of making each exposure, with two of them combined into a double exposure that depicted the bride looking down upon the wedding scene, was nerve racking!

I only took 4 rolls of film, 10 exposures each, to a wedding – no room for error! There was a system to the madness and every shot came in order and to a prearranged sequence in the tufted album. If “Uncle George” came up and requested I take his picture, I simply hit the test button on the Graphflex flash and, for all he knew, I had taken his photo!

Since the shots did not have to be cropped, I ordered everything developed and printed in 8X10! It was a chinch, but caused me to soak many a “leisure suit” with hard earned sweat!

I was once asked, “Are you the groom sonny?”

No mama, why do you ask?”

You’re the only one here sweatin’, so I figured you were gettin’ married!”

The new home, and the problems we had with builder(s), and the nine month long horror may have set in motion the end of our marriage, but that is a story you will not read here.

Suffice it to say, by the time Corey had reached four years of age, I had accepted an hourly job at the K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant near Oak Ridge Tennessee. K-25 was built during WWII to enrich some of the uranium for the first two atomic bombs.

The head of personnel did not really want to hire me, thinking that since I had a degree I would not stay long in the hourly union ranks. However, to me it was a foot in the door.

After a year and a half working as a second class mechanic on seven day rotation, I was recommended for a “weekly” job. I have always worked hard and even though the union boys kept after me to “slow down” and saying “you’re working yourself out of a job” I remained true to my upbringing and advanced up through the ranks with recommendations from my supervisors.

I worked the weekly job, directing the movement of large equipment, some over 40 tons, out of the UF6 diffusion stream, to refurbishment, and back into service, for over two years. Then one day a job appeared on “the board” looking for someone with television experience.

I had taken a quarter of television production, in preparation for making commercials, at UT. That, plus my good looks, got me the new position!

That led me into encrypted slow-scan video of classified meetings between Oak Ridge, Torrance, CA, and Portsmouth, OH concerning the new enrichment technique of centrifuge separation.

A new day, around 1985, dawned and my facility was transferred into the Telecommunications Division. Somewhere along the way, I moved to the “voice communications” department, and was promoted to a monthly position. To clarify, hourly simply means you are paid by the hour, weekly, by the week, and monthly means you get a check once a month! However, the grades in this level are much higher and normally require a sheep skin! Got one!

I first took a position as “Telecommunications Coordinator” at the Y-12 weapons plant, about ten miles away, but still under the Department of Energy umbrella, and working for the same division head.

Then I was asked to help out my friend Robert Ridenour, the supervisor of the Telecommunications Section, that administered a contract with AT&T and South Central Bell for telephone services, and supervised the incoming calls for adds, moves, and changes at the three plant sites, which included the National Laboratory at ORNL, and the DOE offices within the city of Oak Ridge. This all amounted to over 20,000 telephone lines and data circuits.

Robert ran into a foul pole playing softball injuring himself and was off several months. When he came back, I was in charge! We shared duties for a time before he moved on to something new.

These were probably the happiest times I enjoyed while employed. I had fifteen or twenty great employees, only 4 were men, and the women could all cook. We were blessed with a huge break room and full kitchen and some of the most wonderful meals were cooked there - partly the reason I look the way I do today. I loved them all, even the two guys I was forced to fire over timecard abuse.

I then worked for Patti Pitts, a very intelligent and demanding supervisor that insisted sexual harassment was mandatory! Not really, but it was a running joke.

Patti’s group listened to communications problems and complaints and found solutions for the issues. Mostly we replaced the antiqued 1A2 6-button sets with the then new, now old, Merlin phone systems. Basically, we made secretaries very happy!

Later I did another couple of years as the Communications Coordinator for the K-25 Plant, which continued until about 1999 when DOE awarded a contract to the Bechtel Jacobs Company (BJC) to clean up and shut down the plant, turning it into an open industrial park that DOE could then lease.

The original Communications Division outsourced itself to a private company, but Bechtel Jacobs needed a Communications and Computing Division to continue service for the five year duration of their contract. Truth is, these poor folks are continuing that work today, almost nine years later.

I was given the choice of going commercial or staying with DOE and BJC. I was the only person who dared to stay.

Long story short, I became a Department Head, working under Miller Taylor, overseeing all telecommunications (phones, data circuits, network, cellular, and radio services) after only one interview with my new boss. I never worked harder for any man, than I did while under Miller's supervision, but I never learned more either!

I was under great stress through the first few weeks, but one day Miller told me the secret to managing – “You don’t have to do it yourself, you have to make sure the people with the right knowledge gets the job done! After that, I never pretended I knew every thing. I just let people with the expertise do what they were trained to do, took their advice, and made the decisions based on all the educated input. The other thing I did was to praise them everyday for doing their job. If I got praise, they got praised! I even praised them if they just tried. We were all working for the applause!

Before I left in 2005, I had also become responsible for the computing for BJC. Our computer room had over 300 servers in the beginning, but we slowly cut that back, and I assume they are still trying to consolidate and reduce the number of applications used today.

I also had the maintenance section that installed, replaced, and repaired thousands of personal computers and servers. Quite an accomplishment, if I say so myself, for a big handsome fat guy who started out in one of the lowest ranks.

God blessed me by letting me retire still under the umbrella of DOE, which means I receive a company pension and a 401K. My wife also retired from the DOE arena, so we want for little, and we thank God everyday for His blessings.

Young people being hired today only get offered a 401K. There are no more company pensions – that era is over.

I started working for DOE under a Union Carbide contract, that later became Martin Marietta, then Lockheed-Martin, and finally BJC. Hopefully, I’ll out last them all!

Monday, January 28, 2008

HOW I KILLED PAPA JOHN

So, I stood on a hillside overlooking a four-lane state highway and with a distant view of Interstate 40, which steeply slopes its way off Walden Ridge into and out of the Cardiff Valley that runs from Harriman to Rockwood, Tennessee, saying my last goodbyes. As I walked away from the grave, I thought of my dad saying, “When I die, I want to be buried beside the road so I can watch the traffic go by.”

I looked up and surveyed the landscape, and said, “Well dad, you can see it all from here! That was the first time I really cried over the loss of my father.

It was only a couple of months later, at least in my mind, that my mom met and married John Sweeney, a short bald headed man that was born in Scotland and raised in Ireland. John and I had a few problems in the beginning because we were both so head strong, I suppose.

I must add here that John was only my mom’s second husband. She married Bill Lindsey after John died, and Bill is the gentleman I wrote “What’s It’s like to Die” (Chapter 123) about. Since Bill died, my brother and I often refer to mom as “the black widow,” having put three gentlemen in the ground!

First off, and I apologize to any of you from New Jersey, I have yet to meet anyone from that state I like, and John was not the first. John and I went head-to-head lots of times. He knew I did not like the fact that he and mom married so soon (at least in my mind) after my dad passed away. There was also the fact that he had a heavy Scottish accent and was Catholic!

The New Jersey thing started at the University of Tennessee, which I attended between the years of 1969 and 1972. I was back from Vietnam and very pro-American, as you can imagine, and that’s a state that I have yet to out grow!

In several of my Communications classes was a very hairy guy from New Jersey, and he was a very “in your face”, knew everything, kind of guy who always started arguments in class discussions about class assigned projects. I passed a rally one day where the “hippies” of the day were sitting or lying around on the ground listening to someone speaking through a megaphone. I recognized the speaker as the guy from New Jersey. I half listened to what was being said and it did not take me twenty steps to understand that we disagreed.

This guy was one of the leaders of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) organization on the UT campus.

Most of the shouting and ranting was about the war that still raged in Southeast Asia. It burned me to the core for people to be protesting and attempting to shut down my classes as a means to show their displeasure with the United States government.

One day I stood in a large open window in Ayers Hall, across from the Administration Building, and watched this guy standing, no he was blocking, the door into the public building while screaming, what to me was communistic, or at least, anti-American slurs through his megaphone.

The crowd faced away from me, listening to him, and chanting and jumping up and down in unison to his blaring cadence. Suddenly, I noticed the Campus Police lining up downhill from the Ad Building and I grew anxious and anticipated a dramatic encounter right in front of my eyes.

I grew so angry inside that my feelings began to swell and grow into a choking lump in my throat, but I held on, and just watched the police advance. Then the crowd hushed, and someone shouted “Just shoot them all! The crowd turned and looked toward the window I was standing in and I suddenly realized that it had been me that shouted!

It came out before I even knew it and just when the crowd quieted and turned their attentions to the police effort. I had no idea that would be the instant my brain would choose to shout out its deep seated feelings!

A hot flush filled my face and I backed up into the shadows and waited to be arrested or attacked by irate protestors - neither happened.

I have met several people over the years from New Jersey and every time, while I attempt to give them benefit of the doubt, they do or say something to reinforce those college day opinions. It is just some arrogance instilled at birth there!

Meanwhile, back on the subject of John Sweeney, I suppose the Catholic part bothered me some as well.

I remember I finished the fourth grade in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. On the first day of school, mom took me by the hand and lead me into what she thought was the public school.

As we walked up a large winding staircase, with marble steps, we both began noticing the statues inset in the corners of Mother Mary and other saints. Even before we met any Nuns, mom looked at me and said, “Let’s get out of here!

I do not know, but possibly that, plus a childhood friend who cursed constantly except on Sundays, set the stage for my early mistrust of the Catholic institution. Whatever it was, I did not like the fact that my little Baptist momma was marrying a Ca-thol-ic, as my brother and I often broke it down!

As it turned out, I grew to love the old funny talking man, and had I known about my own Scottish heritage back then, I might have gotten past his immigration to New Jersey, and we may have gotten on much quicker.

Today, I have an extended family of step-brothers and sisters through this relationship. Michael, the youngest, is now the priest at the parish my mom still attends in Harriman. I call him, “My brother the Father!”

I grew to like Papa John as being part of my family, and Corey, who first dubbed him “Papa John,” also loved the old dude, and they often spent time riding around town together. Too bad I killed him with a hamburger though!

John was seriously injured years earlier by getting into 440 volts at the steel mill where he worked before the medical retirement. He survived the encounter with the extreme voltage, but it left his heart muscles weakened.

One evening, several years after marrying mom, he stuffed himself with two of my grilled burgers, and some of my wife’s potato salad and baked beans! Later that night he woke up having a heart attack.

I really felt bad about the incident and begged him to forgive me the next day. He told me, sitting on the side of the hospital bed that it was not my fault, and the doctor reinforced that by stating it was just a matter of time anyway.

I went to work the following day, thinking the best of thoughts for John, but I got a call about midday – John had had another heart attack and died.

I was always thankful I got to speak to him and discuss the hamburger incident. My mind is at ease.

However, when I tell you I make a “killer burger” believe me – it’s true!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A WING OF DRAGONS

It was Steve (burgundy t-shirt with Dragon wife Terri in green) that first dubbed the Poland sistersTHE DRAGONS!” I think the first time I heard him use that term was when they lived in Nashville. My wife Judy, the second oldest Dragon, and Terri had gone to visit their brother in Atlanta leaving Steve and I to shoot pool, listen to music, and drink beer and discuss religion (the very best night I remember ever sharing with him). Upon their return a day later, and upon hearing a car door slam, he remarked “The Dragons are here! Ever since then the five sisters have been the Dragons to us Knights!

This shot of the Dragons (l to r: Charlotte, Judy, Neena, & Terri) was taken Saturday evening at one of our local Mexican food restaurants. Missing is Dragon Linda and husband Noel.

As usual, they always insist on a “clutch” shot of the Dragons for posterity, and normally wear something matching signifying their “weir”! I got the terms, “wing”, “clutch”, and “weir” from a form discussion on what to call more than one dragon. It sounded definitive to me.

Last night it was the dragon talisman one of them discovered on one of your family trips. In the past they have had matching t-shirts.

I also used “wing” in the post title because it properly defines dragons that are out for a fight, and these Dragons normally are. They will pick at each other, teasing about clothes and makeup, or something silly said, but as soon as a Knight makes a similar comment the “wing” is upon him!

Steve and I clicked away taking the group shots and then the obligatory couple shots, annoying everyone sitting around us. Included here is a shot of Neena and Ron (he in blue and she in red), Charlotte and Gary (she in purple and he in white), and of course, yours truly with wife Judy (in pink)!

The food was wonderful and so were the large Dos Equis drafts!

You can tell the drafts were going down well from the shot of what appeared to be, from our light buzzed heads, a little man peeking out from under Charlotte’s jacket!

Ron and Neena, of course, were unwinding from Ron’s latest test, a bone scan, and weeks of worrying about his prognosis. It seems it has come down to a small incision and no chemo. We thank God for this outcome and continue to pray that the treatment plan does not change.

Just about everyone else has been watching what they eat since Christmas, so we “pigged out” and “porked up”! Life is good!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"BEER BAT" AND ICICLES


No, not that kind of “beer bat,” just a separate encounter with each last night.

It has been very cold here of late, but no snow, just temperatures in the teens, and wind chills in the single digits, and a long icicle hanging above Baylee’s water bowl. Burrrr…looks cold, don’t it!?

I pulled a soft round package of pork tenderloin from the refrigerator last night and prepared to cook it to go along with our still baking sweet potato. However, when I zipped my knife down the side and rolled the meat out on the cutting board, I noticed that there were some bones! Bones? There ain’t no bones in a port tenderloin!

That was the first time I read the package…PORK RIBLETS! Heck fire…it looked like a roll of tenderloin when I tossed it into the buggy!

What the heck…I cut it in to 6 inch long pieces and cooked it just the way I would have the tenderloin. I couldn’t take it back now, so I might as well cook it, and if we don’t like it, Baylee will!

I poured a cold Yuengling into the Molson glass I walked out the Fallsview Casino & Resort in Niagara with, and cooked the riblets in EVOO, minced garlic, and a new jalapeño cooking sauce I bought recently. After salting and peppering, it browned up beautifully and Judy and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Baylee got the little flat soft bones and we were all happy and good to go for the evening.

Katie Bug came and spent the second night with us this week, arriving just in time to watch “Friday Night Lights.”

I then settled in to visit some blogs and leave intelligent comments, when Judy came flying in the computer room, “There’s a bat in there!

What?

It’s another bat, and don’t tell Katie,” who was by then taking a shower.

This was the second time we have had a bat in the house. They live, by day, along the bottom of the vinyl siding, and somehow they work their way up into the fireplace…best I can figure, and fly out into the living room looking for a place to get out.

The first time, it was spooky…something fell in the living room after lights out! There I was walking through the living room to the kitchen in the dark, Bersa .380 stuffed full of Hydra-Shoks! I kept feeling something blow on my hair! I turned on a light, and there was the bat fluttering around, just missing my head with each circle.

I grabbed a broom and made a few “swings and misses” and then thought to open the French doors that lead to the deck. After bumping him/her a time or two, I succeeded in directing it out the opening.

Last night’s encounter took a little longer, but nothing was knocked off and broken like the last time. Judy ran and closed all the bedroom doors and I succeeded in hemming it in the living room and dinning room area. I swung and missed twice (sorry no photos), then remembered the deck door. After opening it, I took up a batter’s stance and swung one last time; tipping the bat into the side of the couch. The bat tumbled to the floor and with one hockey like swing; I scored a goal through the French door!

The bat lay there exhausted and I closed the door and turned off the porch light, and took several deep breaths myself.

After stuffing some small towels in between the fieldrock wall and the fire-screen, I took another look outside. The bat was gone, but did it fly away or did one of my owl buddies get him?

So, I decided to have that third Yuengling!

I answered a couple of emails from Lin and Jeff and went to bed. I figured I would dream about bats all night, like I do when I watch things about snakes, but I slept peacefully all night. Must have been the beer!

Friday, January 25, 2008

PAPERBACK WRITER!


The paperback version of "The Laugh & Times of Mushy" is up and ready at Lulu.com.

As I've said, it's a compilation of blog post from Mushy's Moochings (Also known as a blook!). This blog was started in early 2006 with the express intention of leaving some documentation of "who and what" I am/was to my children and grandchildren.

I was thrilled to find out that my memoirs were of interest to many other bloggers, and especially to those I have listed in my "blogrolls," which is really a list of all the new friends I made while engaged in this project.

With that said, I want everyone to know that you should feel no obligation to buy the new "self-published" book. After all, you have been privy to the posts as they happened! Therefore, please do not get the impression I am pushing this off on you. (Shhhhh, maybe folks just now arriving will be interested!)

The "proof copy" in hard cover, arrived a few days ago and I was thrilled with everything but the back cover. I have made some revisions, added a few more chapters, and I have admit the two (including Cross+Hairs) look pretty good sitting here on my desk!

Inside the latest, you will find over 113,000 words, 311 pages, made up of over 124 chapters, most of which were posted here.

Anyway, I wanted you all to know!

Thanks for your faithful following here!

Love you all...meant it!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

RECONCILING WITHOUT MY DAD

My dad died in July of 1976 and my son was by then twenty-three months old. Dad got to hold his grandson before he died, but Corey, of course, was much too young to remember him. Dad would have been fifty-seven years old that September.

Dad was very unhealthy from 1973 forward, and was forced to take an early retirement from his electrician job at the Kingston Steam Plant, in Roane County, Tennessee. The doctors told my father that he had a bad heart, but as it turned out, his heart was the last organ he had functioning just before he died.

Dad lived his life in a rush. He was never satisfied to just stay in one place and enjoy his surroundings or those around him for very long. I will always remember how he pushed us on the weekends he wanted to go “down home” to get in the car and get the trip started. That was the reason I always had to relieve myself in a soda bottle (see Chapter 25), and mom and I had to grab a quick sandwich at a drive-in and eat it while he continued to head down the two-lane highway at 65 and 70 MPH, passing everything he could, and cussing those he could not.

However, as soon as it was sun-up the next morning, at Ma and Pa Mashburn’s in Five Points, Tennessee, he was urging mom to get things together so we could move on down to Lexington, Alabama for our next visit with Grandmother Williams. Then, as soon as the sun was up on Sunday he was dropping hints about getting back on the road home.

Sometimes mom would lay the law down that she was “…visiting my mother for as long as I want this trip!’

This caused him to mope around the yard or in the woods, smoking Camels, until he again got the courage to plead his case that it was time to get on the road “…or we won’t get home before dark!”

A doctor once told my mom, a few years before he died, that his internal organs were about twenty years older than his chronological age. He’s just living his life as fast as he can,” the doctor told my mother.

Thankfully I have learned to slow down and appreciate the life around me, and I think Vietnam taught me that lesson. Perhaps this is why I’m living a bit longer life, thus far, than he did.

Corey was born in August of 1974, while I was working as the advertising manager at The Roane County NEWS, and it was about this time that dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer. If you remember, it was about this time that Hubert Humphrey was also diagnosed. Humphrey elected to have his bladder removed, but dad decided he would take the chemo treatments, because he did not want to be stuck “peeing in a bag” for the rest of his life.

Looking back, this was a bit selfish on his part, because Humphrey lived until 1978, having elected for the surgery, giving his family that much more time to love him.

During dad’s final hospitalization, I juggled work, running home at lunch to see and photograph Corey, and dropping by the hospital to shave and feed him in the afternoons. I can remember the lotion smell and greasy feel of his skin as I leaned over him running the electric shaver up and down his face and throat.

I pray to God that I never live long enough to become dependant on someone like that, or to get that hospital sponge bath, and then be lathered up with some generic lotion. Please God!

I would often talk about Corey and show dad pictures I had taken and developed. One day he looked up at me and said, “Don’t love him too much son, it would hurt too much if something happened to him.”

I was shocked! I froze, looking down at him and holding a spoon full of mashed potatoes. A fury rose in me that I tried to choke down, but I could not hold it all back.

I had always been pissed at him for not doing more with my brother. Every time I mentioned that he should take Wade hunting or fishing, he would say, “We’ll do all that when I retire. After he became sick, before he could retire healthy, I just held it all inside, rather than start an argument.

So, at that moment I could no longer hold it inside. I shouted at him, “So, is that what you did to Wade and me?”

What do you mean?”

I mean, did you not love us ‘too much’ so YOU wouldn’t be hurt if something happened to us? Is that what you did?”

Frankly, I do not remember if there was any further exchange to that conversation. I do remember storming out of the hospital and crying all the way home. It was just too much to hear that your own father held back showing his love because he did not want to miss me too much if I died!

As he got worse, as the days progressed, he became more and more irritable with everyone, but, it seemed, especially with me.

Do you want another bite of meat? Do you want another sip of milk? Do you need another pillow?”

Don’t ask me so many damn questions,” be finally blurted out one day through his obvious pain and frustration.

This was a common exchange that I often overlooked, but sometimes I would drop the spoon, or fork, and just walk away.

After that final explosion of frustration, I went home. Later that night I got a call from my mom telling me that he had passed away. So, the words “Don’t ask me so damn many questions,” will forever ring in my head as the last thing he ever said to me.

I have since blamed the final exchanges on the disease, but I could not help taking it to heart. I am, after all, a little boy, even at sixty-one, still trying to grow up in many ways. I longed to hear my father tell me he was proud of me, that he loved me, and that I was a man. Somehow, I find it hard to really “grow up” without having ever heard that from my dad.

I have, however, endeavored to never let my son, or my granddaughters, feel that way. I want them to know I am proud of them and that I love them more than my own life. I have never held anything back, even at the risk of hurting more than I could ever bear should something ever happen to either of them.

My mother will read this and be angry saying, “Oh, your daddy loved you. He showed his love in many ways.”

My response is always the same, “So why didn’t he ever just say it - just once?”

People that met my dad loved him almost immediately. He was funny and engaging and never seemed to meet a stranger. I am not that freely engaging, but I do have his sense of humor.

I am appreciative of that gift, but it would have been nice to have heard those words, just once.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A MILESTONE FOR MUSHY!

I reached another blogging milestone today by clicking over 50,000!

It don't mean much, just that I've hung in here a while longer than I had figured I would.

Another post coming later this evening!

See ya, and thanks for all your clicks!

Monday, January 21, 2008

YOU TAKE WHAT LIVES GIVES YOU

Somehow you get locked into a community, a local area that becomes your home, and you cannot remember exactly why. If you put loved ones in the ground, or you attend a school for more than five years in a row, then more than likely you will become rooted whether you want it that way or not.

I probably could have lived anywhere besides Harriman. I mean Waverly, Tennessee was nice and I have a lot of memories from that time, even went to school there for over three years, but I guess it was because we did not have to bury anyone there.

Florence, Alabama was nice, and I attended school there for two years, but I suppose it was the threat to tornadoes, the red clay soil, or possibly the flatness of it that prevented me from going back.

The truth is I settled in Harriman because I went to school there for six years, including my last two in high school, buried my dad there, married a girl with life long roots there, got my first jobs there, and my mother retired there.

One day you just wake up and you realize that this is where you will also die. Nothing will make you move from the familiarity of it all, or the relationships you have intertwined into life.

Oh, there was a time I wanted to leave, and had my first wife not had her roots deep into family and the area, we would have left and probably ended up in Atlanta, Georgia.

During my senior year at UT, the College of Communications arranged for “field trips” of a sort to Atlanta to participate in “mock interviews.” I suppose some of us could have been offered jobs, but the truth, as it was given to us upfront was that these were trial runs designed to give us experience at interviewing and to test our portfolios.

The top advertising agencies in the United States has offices in Atlanta, and in those days the top two were Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB), of Alka Seltzer and Volkswagen fame, and McCann-Erickson, of Coca-Cola fame!

I instantly wanted to work for McCann-Erickson, because in my view it was such a laid back and creative environment. To me, it appeared that the account people just sat around in this big room and brainstormed ideas. All around the room were red and white Coke creations (signs, print ads, coolers, etc.) they had come up with and I wanted to be a part of that so much.

I knew I had what it would take to be creative mentally, but after a few of the copy writers explained how tough the business was, I had second thoughts. Some of the agency people talked about working for 2 or 3 agencies during the course of a single year, while others said they had been working on the same product, but had just walked across the street when the account changed agencies! It began to sound like a dog-eat-dog world, and a voice whispered “you had better be good if you want to survive here.”

Nonetheless, the big ad agency was what I had my heart set on!

Atlanta was a fun time in 1972, running around with a dozen college friends with life leading us on and a tiger by the tail. Even an encounter with a homeless wino on the Atlanta streets did not seem to dissuade me from my dream.

The wino grabbed my arm and demanded money. I was scared out of my wits and my entourage just kept walking, leaving me to deal with the situation. I jerked my arm a couple of times and it was obvious he was not letting go, so, always quick to mentally work my way out of a situation, I reached into my pocket for some change. I was shocked to find that I only had a nickel! I was doomed, I thought if I handed it to him. Therefore, the smart thing to do was to flip the coin into the air. The drunk released his grip and cupped his hands and ran away to get under the coin.

Meanwhile, I had already caught up with the cowardly crowd and moved on down the street. Bastards never said a word or looked back.

Quick thinking would also save me from an even nastier scene years later!

Suffice it say, we did not move to Atlanta. You just take what life gives you!

I finished school, still living with my in-laws, and took an advertising sales job with The Roane County NEWS in Kingston, Tennessee.

There was little glamour in the job, but it paid $200 a week, provided me with transportation, and gave me little moments of creativity genius to satisfy me.

Looking back, had the job paid more, or had provided better insurance, I might still be there plugging away with my pencil and layout pad, and my 35mm camera, shooting football games on Friday nights, and attending local community events shaking hands and smiling superficially. Who knows, I may have even become an editor and/or part owner, with a bottle of creativity down in my bottom drawer.

However, I know one thing, I would not be retired now…if ever.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

MY BUCKET LIST

If I were doing a “bucket list,” I would have to include lunch with the family at the Smoky Mountain Brewery, a movie afterwards, and then to come home and find my book in the mail one more time!

That’s the summary of today, and it was so nice.

Yes, again we went to the Smoky Mountain Brewery. Tracy, Katie, and Eddie had never eaten there, but I have a feeling they will be going back soon!

Katie had Buffalo Shrimp, Eddie tried one of the big burgers, Tracy got the Philly Cheesesteak sandwich, and Judy and I halved a Chicken Ruben! Everyone enjoyed their iced tea while I again indulged in a Pale Ale (a seasonal beer not on the menu)! I incorrectly identified it in the previous post as “red ale” but it was the “pale ale” we raved about then. All their beer is microbrewed on the premises.

Eddie had to go to work and get some exercise machines working at The Rush, while the rest of us took in “The Bucket List.”

When I left the theater and headed for the restroom, my jaws were aching from holding back my emotions. I don’t know if it was because of what’s going on with Ron, getting older myself, or if it was just great acting, but I hurt from trying not to cry during the last 30 minutes of the movie! It is good folks…really good.

Like I said, Eddie had already gone back to work, so Judy went with Tracy and Katie shopping. Judy tossed me her car keys, knowing I did not want to go shopping, so I headed home.

When I check the mailbox, there was the hardcopy book I had ordered from Lulu.com. Wow! The Laugh & Times of Mushy” was beautiful in all its orange and green colors! It is almost like someone sent me a new baby through the mail. I was so thrilled to finally be holding a “draft” copy!

The only thing I’m not pleased with is the back cover…my fault completely, just a little bit out of kilter, so I’ll have to work on that. However, everything else turned out as I had envisioned it. The front cover is exactly like I wanted it and the text turned out looking very nice and professional.

Let me encourage any of my blogger readers, especially those with a blog, to consider doing a “blook!”

I especially think Suldog, Pat, Buck, Lin, and Robert need to consider preserving their writings in a hardcopyblook.” I does not have to be from Lulu, although they make it so easy, but you do need to consider it. It may not be a “best seller” but there are people in your family that would appreciate it…at least someday.

If you want to know more about the process, either go to Lulu.com or send me an email (fuzzbert_1999 at Yahoo dot com).