Saturday, May 31, 2008


An American Indian tribe that lived in the South Carolina area, known as the Catawba (keto’be), gave this tree the name Catalpa (pronounced ketal'pe). It is said that the Indians smoked the bean pods for a hallucinogenic effect, so the tree became known as the "Indian Cigar Tree", the Indian bean, and smoking bean, some folks even refer to it as the “fish bait tree!”

Here in my neck of the woods this beautiful flowering tree is called the “CATAWBA!” We say “Ka Ta Ba” like it ought to be!

PaulSqueaky” Goddard, his grandpa, and I used to go fishing at the Kingston Steam Plant using the Catalpa/Catawba worms that hatch from eggs left by the catalpa sphinx moth. The moth larva devours the leaves of the tree (the Catalpa is preferred) and often completely strips it of leaves which readily grow back. The tough skinned caterpillar is hard to push a hook through, and you have to push it through at least twice to get it to stay on the hook long enough to catch a crappie! If you leave too much hanging down, the fish will steal the worm bit by bit until your hook is bare!

Squeaky even kept some frozen in his freezer, by placing them in cornmeal or sawdust, packing them in a glass jar, and freezing them immediately. He often used them throughout the winter months.

In the original 35mm slide of Mr. Goddard, you could read the name of the reel clearly on the side. This scanned copy is a touch blurry, but you might be able to guess the manufacturer* anyway. Always thought I should have sent that slide to them!

The tree’s lovely flower can be seen in late May and early June. After that, the flowers are replaced by a long bean pod (cigar shaped pod in a cluster). This tree is in Harriman, Tennessee on Hwy. 29, in front of Bowers Elementary School and across from South Harriman Baptist Church.

The wood of the Catawba was widely used in the South for fence posts.

*Johnson Century Model 100B

Thursday, May 29, 2008


We still believe in segregation, as seen in these two photos: The Dragons on one end of the porch and The Knights on the other end.
On the Dragon end there is loud, almost irritating (almost because we’re accustom to it) cackling. Most would call this “hen cackling”, but we Knights call it “Dragon Cackling!” You can get just a taste of it in the attached YouTube posted video clip by the same name!
From left to right are Neena, Charlotte, Judy, Terri, and Linda trying to out talk and laugh each other. Since the dialect is in East Tennessean, I’ll try to interpret for you.

Neena is recalling a man named “Shorty” from their old neighborhood, so called because his legs were short. Judy says, “All three of’em was short!” Neena says, “He finally married a woman named Petunia.” To which Linda corrects, “Zinnia!”
None of it meant anything to us either, but to them the people in the stories and their own comments and inflections are just too funny! I have to admit that it makes us happy to see them this way. They are very close and love each other very much, although from the cuts and sarcastic remarks an outsider could never tell!
Us Knights just rolled our eyes, take another drag off our cigars, and chase it with another shot of tequila! Tequila makes everything seem and sound so much better!
The fun continues down the highway home, as you can see from this photo of Steve taking our photo as we are coming to a stop at a country intersection! He is shooting over the top of his convertible Mustang, while I’m standing up through the sunroof!
It’s always a good time when the Knights and Dragons play!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Katie Bug drove me to Wild Wings Saturday for a little birthday celebration for the old man!

I have to admit, I was a little nervous as I got into her Granny’s car with her at the wheel, but by the time we hit Hwy. 61 and headed northeast toward Knoxville, I was already at ease.

Katie is an “excellent driver, definitely an excellent driver”, to quote the Rainman!

I noticed, however, that she was breaking and slowing down too much when coming to curves. In East Tennessee, you have to learn to drive curvy roads or spend too much time going anywhere. I decided to hold my lesson for the return trip.

At Wild Wings we ordered a luscious 25-piece platter, with 5 varieties, and chowed down. She loves her wings and ate until she was about to pop. She even kept her cellphone off!

The evening before Katie had given me a great lesson on texting with my new cellphone. If you remember, my old one was ruined by falling into the creek!

I have watched her stand around flying through the keys and could not understand how anyone could type words that fast on a tiny little keypad. I did not know you could set you phone to word recognition and it practically knows what you are typing before you complete a full word.

Look at her standing there, all pretty and everything, kind’a like me, programming my phone while sending a text message to some “horny” little boy on hers! I don’t worry about all those boys that text her…she’s a “player” and has them all eating out of her hand, and choosing not to settle for a single steady! She likes them all, but luckily she gets so tired and bored of them quickly and moves on. If you ask her what happened to one of them she answers, “He got on my nerves!”

Anyway, back to the driving and wing story!

We talked a lot about boys, life, and other things on her mind, and then left.

I had two Yuengling drafts and it was good to have her as my DD!

On the way back home we took Hwy. 95 to Hwy. 327 and on to Hwy. 61. The first two are very curvy state roads that have always been a favorite drive of mine. Back when I had my Mustangs I drove these roads never touching my breaks, using the four of five speed transmissions to gear down going into the curves, and then accelerating down the straights. So much fun, especially when I could feel a slight drift in the rear and then the torque straightening it out and pushing me on down the road!

Left the throttle right here, let it roll into the curve low and slow, now ‘gap it’ (a term we used in the ‘60s when engine timing depended on a point gap) here and come out of the curve fast and high!

After two curves she got the essence of what I was trying to explain and from then on she was actually having fun and looking forward to the next curve. With a little practice, she will be as good as the ol’ man!

It made me miss not having a straight shift. I would still love to go through the gears on some back road, and feel the power under me! Ah, those were the days!

Thanks Katie Bug for the “most excellent” birthday!

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Do you remember The War of 1898? Me either, but I do remember The Spanish-American War, some battles of which were fought in the Philippines where Pvt. Johnson served. This was the war for the generation of Patrick Hayes Johnson, born in August of 1877. Patrick died almost 31 years after that war ended. He was killed in a tragic accident in 1929 at a railroad crossing.

Cecil Johnson, my uncle through my marriage to Corey’s mother, is a surviving son of Patrick. For all of Cecil’s adult life, he has pursued some honor for his father and this year he finally got the long delayed recognition from the U. S. Government for which his father fought. The government even sent Tennessee Congressman Lincoln Davis, who was instrumental in securing the honor, and an Honor Guard to highlight the laying of a plaque at Pvt. Johnson’s grave in the Harriman Cemetery (Harriman, Tennessee).

It was not an easy path to obtaining the government’s recognition, mostly because of a house fire that destroyed all of the soldier’s military papers. However, through the wonder of the “information age” a grandson found the records online and with the aide of Congressman Davis, the honor came about recently.

Two of the photos used here were scanned from the Roane County News, one showing Cecil walking away carrying the flag and shell casings, used in the 21-gun salute, presented to him after the ceremony, and another fuzzy shot of the grave marker.

I see Cecil and his wife Joyce once or twice a year, but always at my granddaughter Lily’s birthday party. I’ve included this year’s shot from the party, and also a shot of him, Corey, and me when we all wore younger men’s clothes.

Cecil was also a veteran of the Korean War, and suffered many ordeals while in country. Cecil’s brother, Willis, also followed in their father’s footsteps by serving in World War II.

Of course, I never knew Cecil’s father, but I know he would have been proud of his son. Cecil is a quiet man, with much internal strength. He never fails to offer me his hand, a smile, and often a hug when we meet. I’ve always been proud of him too, and looked up to his silent strength. He and Joyce will always be family to me.

This newspaper article came to my attention just in time for me to post it in honor of Patrick Johnson, and for all who served and died to make this country free.

Have a wonderful and reflective Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


As much as it pains me, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t remember.

On this Memorial Weekend, I remember those that I lost and those that we’ve all lost.

Thank God you were born American.

Thank God for those that made/make it possible.

Oh yeah, thanks for celebrating my birthday too!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Ron and I hiked the east end of the North Boundary Trail (approx. 3.2 mile round trip), a Greenway in the Oak Ridge, Tennessee area, near where K-25 Plant sits. The gravel road runs about 7 miles from the west end of the City of Oak Ridge, just below the old war era guard station, to just below the old Wheat Community.

This area was settled in the 1700s, and in 1846 was first called the Bald Hill Community. However, it was changed to Wheat in 1880, after the community’s first postmaster Frank Wheat. Early residents included family names such as Henry, Inman, and Welcher.

In about 1840, a Gallaher purchased the area and it was later called the Gallaher-Stone Plantation.

These families buried their families and their slaves (unmarked) in family plots all over the area that became the Reservation known as Oak Ridge. The homes and farms in this area ceased exist in 1942 when the U. S. Government began their “secret” project to build the first atomic bomb that eventually ended World War II.

Today, all these graveyards are numbered and documented using GPS positioning, and open to only the families that once lived in the area. However, if you walk this particular Greenway, you can visit at least 3 of them.

Today we visited 62 (Slivey family) and 63 (Rather family) sites.

Along the trek we discovered a new wildflower with lovely “violet like” blooms called Moth Mullein - the flowers grow from and around a single stalk. If you look closely, you can see why it’s call “moth”…the bloom has the appearance of a moth.

We also stopped and listened to the mating chatter of the 17 YEAR CICADAS that are out in force this year!

This is a very peaceful walk…and sometimes, when the weather and lighting is just right, it can be down right spooky!

Naturally, Ron and I ended up at the Smoky Mountain Brewery for burgers and pale ale later!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


There’s the neatest little waterfall over here Mushy (not his real name),” Judy said.

Look at those “Bluets” down on the side of that rock,” Ron added.

Earlier, Judy had been miffed at me for not coming across to the big rock she and Neena were exploring. I have a camera and anything I can’t see from there I blow up with the zoom, so I saw no need to jump the gap.

However, after their insistence, I hopped over onto the first of a series of boulders that formed the right side of the waterfall we had been admiring along the Middle Prong Trail near Cades Cove in the Smokies. Between two smaller rocks, was a tiny little waterfall with a lot of velocity that caused the stream of water leaking through to explode in a spray on a rock about 2 feet below.

I carefully made the “Bluet” shot and then made my way over to the mossy dark spot that can be seen the photo of Neena and Judy, just to Neena’s left. I noted and was careful of an area was a small depression, where water stood and feed the surrounding moss. I took the little fall shot and looped the strap on my camera around my right wrest for the trip back across to the boulder where Neena, Judy, and Ron stood watching.

Under her breath Judy said to the others, “I’d have to laugh if he fell in,” which elicited giggles from her sister!

As I crossed my left foot behind my planted right foot, my right foot shot forward about 3 inches causing me to arch backward and away from the top of the rock.

Now at this moment, I began trying to remember what the area directly below me looked like, and all I could picture in my mind was sharp rocks. I mentally prepared myself for the coming pain of smashing 8 feet below me into jagged rocks sticking up out of the rushing cold water below the fall.

As I hit the water, across the top part of my back first, I felt no immediate pain. I then noticed that I was being swept down stream through the natural flume created by the surrounding rocks. I started to panic at being swept far down stream and dashed against boulders along the way, but as I planted my feet on the bottom, and stopped my tumbling, I realized that I could steady myself and support myself against the large boulder on which my now screaming family stood.

As quickly has the second fear subsided, I began to think about hypothermia! I frantically began to look for a way up and out of the freezing water. There was no way I could get up to my left, nor could Ron reach my hand from above.

Finally, I moved to my right, almost stumbled over a larger rock hidden under the water, and made it to a small eddy where dead branches had collected. Luckily, there was a small tree about 2 inches in diameter that was still rooted to the bank that projected out over the debris. Using this aid, I made it up out of the water, but still could not make the huge step up to the top.

About that time Mike Hagney (send an email Mike if this isn’t correct) (Mike is at left with the great Van Morrison t-shirt) from Florida just happened by with his family. He and Ron grabbed an arm and I was finally firmly planted on higher ground. I stood there draining and suddenly remembering my camera!

No, it’s okay,” Ron told me as he handed it to me. It was actually still on and had suffered no harm as I apparently flung it off my wrist and onto the top of the rock from which I fell!

I did lose my cap and sunglasses, and everything in my pockets: my cellphone, wallet, keys, and camera case were drenched.

I removed my hiking boots, drained them, and rung out my socks, but the walk back was a little sloshy!

At the car, where the butterflies constantly buzzed by after feeding on a nearby “horse muffin”, I removed my wet shirt and zipped off the legs of my hiking pants. Ron gave me a dry pair of socks and a large towel to sit on.

We made a pit-stop at the Townsend Visitor’s Center, where I decided I would go “commando” the rest of the way! I was out there, Jerry!” (For you Seinfeld fans!)

I finally relaxed and talked over the event with my companions at Uno’s in Maryville, where we had Uno’s Amber Ale and a very good pizza!

It was not until after I looked closely at the attached photos that I realized just how seriously I could have been hurt or killed! There are rocks peeping up above the water just to the left of and directly under where I fell! However, I was only very sore in my left arm and leg, and moved very slowly that night and this morning. There were no bruises (found two since this was written), scraps, or contusions like I expected.

Each night, especially before such outing, I pray that the good Lord will watch over us. Some may say it’s just luck, but to me it was an answered prayer.

So, thank you Lord, and you too Ron and Mike! I also appreciate the concern shown by Neena and Judy.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Look at us, still just as young, slim, trim, and happy as ever…well, we’re all still the happiest and closest class ever to come out of Harriman (South Harriman) High School anyway!

Friday night, about 24 or so of us old classmates met at Jerry and Judge Gene Eblen’s (our host in easy chair) for a reunion of sorts. This group, with a few missing, has always remained very close. Everyone brought “finger foods” and the dinning room table and kitchen bar was overflowing with everyone’s favorite dishes.

Judy and I brought our famous pork tenderloin rolls, which disappeared in no time. There was everything from those to chocolate dip strawberries! What a selection!

Judy and I still run into several of our classmates like Jerry (pink top), Regina (white top) and Steve (a.k.a. Danny – fellow in the yellow shirt) Webster, Sandy Hooks (patterned top), and Donna McAbee (black top) at the grocery or Wal-Mart occasionally, and we also saw some like Ronnie Thornton (on left in table shot with rust colored jacket) and Bob Hamby (in glasses and a blue short sleeve shirt) at work, when we worked, in Oak Ridge. I run into Arty Austin (in the middle of table shot) at his liquor store “Cheers” occasionally, but for Donna Hood (brown shiny top), Patti Arp Henry (light blue top - David’s sister), Sid Hudson (seen in bathrobe standing next to Tom Hooks), David Arp (blue long sleeve shirt), Jim Hall (brown shirt-big smile), and Lee Childs (on right in table shot) it had been at least 24 years since we’ve seen them!

One thing about us, we still know how to party…’course we always did that well! I think our class is a little noted for that fact, and is probably why so many non-class members join our reunion parties!

Everyone mingled well, eventually getting round to each person and telling their favorite memories on each. Some of the ladies even discussed their crushes and old rivalries over the same guy!

Note the two photos of Judy and me with David Arp (long sleeved blue shirt). David is famous for being a main character in several of my tales, but particularly for being a member of the “Fight Club” and for getting Judy and me together at the 15th Year Class Reunion.

I appreciated the fact that David came all the way from Sarasota, Florida to attend this gathering. It was a very nice surprise to see him.

And, it was also good to see Patti's husband Jim Henry (former state senator - black top with the Tennessee logo). He's always enjoyed our class shindigs!

The other picture of me is with Jerry, who was the girl I described in “My Two Best Halloweens” that wore the “fuzzy coat!” She is also the girl that hung the monikerMUSHY” on me over 45 years ago! Strangely enough, she did not remember the historic incident.

[NOTE TO CLASSMATES – To view older posts, scroll down to the bottom and near the bottom of the sidebar you will see “Go Back in Time and Read My Earlier Posts”. You can find previous postings that way, or look at the very top and in the SEARCH field, type in things like “school”, (your first name), “fight club”, “Harriman”, and other related key words!]

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


A few days ago I got a call that went something like this, “Hello?”

Is this Paul Mashburn?”


This is Richard Lacher.”

No kiddin’! Where the hell are you?”

I’m down the road from you in Spring City…just started working at Watts Bar.”

Long story short, we agreed to meet at the Cracker Barrel in Harriman Tuesday evening and reminisce. So, we did just that!

The last time Richard and I saw each other was about 1964, just before I joined the Air Force. My cousin Mark and I (click for a flash back) drove from Florence, Alabama to Waynesboro, Tennessee to see Richard.

After forty-four years we still hit it off and seemed to pick right up where we left off! I thoroughly enjoyed the couple of hours we spent setting on the front porch of the Cracker Barrel asking each other, “Do you remember…?” and “Didn’t we once…?” Man that felt so good!

There has hardly been an event in my life that I hadn’t wished Richard was there. When you have a close friend that you grew up with, you want them to experience everything you did and that’s just the way I’ve always felt. I suppose part of the reason I wrote all my “Laugh & Times” was in hopes that one day Richard would come along and get caught up on all I wished he had experienced with me!

I told him about “Mushy’s” and gave him one of my “Blogness Cards”, so hopefully he’ll soon be checking out all the great stories he was partly responsible for me writing. Posts like “Cuddles and Puddles”, “Ol’ Smiley Burnette Got the Drop on Me”, “Night Moves”, “My Hands Felt Just Like Two Balloons”, “Breaking Into the Outhouse”, “The Mockingbird”, and “A Scout is Friendly, Courteous, & Kind”.

Richard and I lived in the Mockingbird Trailer Park in Florence, Alabama together twice and in Waverly, Tennessee once over a span of about five or six years. He and I went through puberty together, so, as you can imagine, we analyzed everything, but we were definitely “working on mysteries without any clues!” These were probably the most important years of our teenage life, and it really hurt when our families finally had to go different directions.

Hopefully now Richard and I can relive the past years, catch up on the lost forty plus years, and even renew our friendship. We have a lot of catching up to do!

Thanks buddy for making the effort and taking the time to give me that call.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Patrón Silver & Jalapeño Shooters!

The Dragons and the Knights met at Ron and Neena’s for a pre-mother’s day celebration Saturday, and it began innocent enough with cigars, beer, wine, and Wild Turkey. Later we feasted on grilled hotdogs, slaw, chili, chips, and several desserts (strawberry shortcake, coconut and lemon pies)! All of us were watching our weight – as usual!

However, leading up to this, Steve began giving everyone a Doritos chip with a jalapeño resting on top. Pretty tasty with my Turkey, and that soon evolved into half a shot glass of Patron and jalapeño juice, garnished with a jalapeño in the bottom! Don’t ask me how we got on this, but the thought just hit me and soon we were into a naming contest. Most agreed “Mushy’s Magma” shooters fit the bill! Naturally, Steve and I were the only ones fool enough to try one, but after the shot, he and I agreed we liked them! Don’t knock it ‘til you try one!

It burns all the way down…very warming and satisfying!

After the dogs, Steve and I competed in a “how many deer do you see” contest, and the Knights retired to the dayroom to watch Ted Nugent reruns of Spirit of the Wild! We learned how to clean, cook, and properly eat pheasant!

I hadn’t had a cigar since Christmas; actually I don’t think any of us had, so we made up for loss time. I had a nice Vintage Macanudo that Jeff set me sometime back and then a Madura Mac that Ron gave me after he swore off.

Incidentally Jeff, the reason I was hitting the Turkey was that I sat around and let the last case of Yuengling go bad! I know, a disgrace, but I haven’t been indulging very much lately and I sampled two Friday night, prepping for Saturday night while posting my contribution of Redneck’s Reserve, and the taste was way off. I wanted to stop and get a 6-pack of Flying Dog on the way over, but we were running late, so I packed a bottle of Turkey and we were off to Ron’s.