Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Trouble for Ol' Stodg

My good buddy Fleming got me into a lot of trouble at Camp Polk way back in 1952. There was the day a foreign officer was trying to teach us something about the M1 rifle and kept repeating, "Put your tum on the stock." He meant thumb, of course.
So Fleming, grinning, poked me with his elbow while saying, "Remember, Stodgy, put your tum on the stock." I started laughing - I mean who wouldn't? - so a sergeant said, "Something funny, soldier? Stand up and share it with the rest of us."
I dared not tell the truth so it took some quick thinking to dream up another cause for my hilarity.
Then there was the day a sergeant was giving a lesson on how to use the bayonet. I nudged Fleming and whispered, "He's doing it wrong. I could take the rifle away from him."
Fleming started giggling and then laughed aloud. The sergeant halted his demonstration. "Something funny, soldier? Stand up and share it with the rest of us."
So Fleming stood up and pointed down to me. "He says you're doing it wrong and he could take the rifle away from you."
The sergeant wasn't amused. With a few expletives deleted he said, "Is that right? Well get your sorry ass up here and show me just how you'd do that."
I got to my feet, murmuring, "I'll get you for this Fleming." When I climbed up on the platform the sergeant, a man I had never seen previously, was waiting with fire in his eyes. When he dropped to a semi-crouch ready to begin his long thrust, there wasn't the slightest doubt he intended to skewer me on the bayonet.
I was right, though, or I wouldn't be sitting here writing this. As he thrust, I parried. A second later the sergeant was on his knees and the rifle was in my hands. The man, humiliated in front of a hundred snickering soldiers, was livid. Before handing the rifle back to him I checked to be certain there wasn't a round in the chamber because murder was on his mind. In the months ahead I kept a wary eye peeled if there was a chance he might be in the vicinity.
As for Fleming, what could I say? He just laughed about it. "I knew you could do it, Stodgy," he said. All I could do was hope he really meant that.
Then there was the day Fleming and I went into town to buy Ping Pong equipment for the company day room with money contributed by the rest of the men. Or the time he ordered high-powered fireworks and had them shipped to my address in case of trouble, but those are other stories.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Write Right - Do the Research

Some writers enjoy doing research, others do not, but anyone worthy of being called a writer must do it. Readers or viewers pounce on mistakes and feel the entire work is suspect.
Take Eight Men Out for example. It is an excellent book by Eliot Asinof that tells the story of the 1919 Chicago White Sox, the infamous Black Sox who threw the World Series.
Later it became a movie of the same name. An excellent film, faultless in detail. With one exception. Few people would have any way of spotting that lone error concerning the pronunciation of the name of Chicago's leading pitcher, Eddie Cicotte.
I am one of the exceptions because I grew up listening to Jack Graney (shown at left) broadcast Cleveland Indians baseball games in the late years of the 1930s. I heard him again in the late '40s and early '50s.
Jack Graney (pronounced Grain-ee) was a man of many firsts. He was the first player to wear a number on his uniform, first to bat against Babe Ruth when the Babe pitched for Boston, first former major league player to broadcast a game and first to broadcast a World Series. He was the roommate of Ray Chapman, first and only player killed in a major league game. Graney often spoke of him, and of the dark, dreary afternoon when a Carl Mays pitch hit him on the head.
From the time he joined the Indians in 1908 through the season of 1920, Jack Graney faced Cicotte many times. He knew him well. He often told stories about Eddie Sigh-COT-ee. Some were humorous, others deadly serious, and all of them touched with sadness because Jack Graney had liked and admired Cicotte.
But in the movie version of Eight Men Out, Cicotte was called SEE-cot. Why? Because in the 1950s Al Cicotte pitched in the major leagues. Not wanting to be associated with his infamous relative, Al pronounced his name SEE-cot. That was the pronunciation picked up by the film makers.
Could they have done better? Of course, but it wouldn't have been easy because few players of Eddie's era were still living at the time the film was shot. Then, too, they had no reason to suspect they had it wrong.
The point, though, is that while I enjoyed the movie and have seen it several times, that mispronunciation grates on my nerves. I always wonder why somebody didn't do a little more digging.
Like many errors, this one is self-perpetuating. Wikipedia picked it up from the movie and says the name was pronounced See-cot. Others have and will continue to make the same mistake.
Sorry, Eddie, but as long as the game of baseball is played, no one will know how your name was pronounced. Italians, of course, may be suspicious that something is wrong.
Oh, yes, I had one other source of information. For two hours in 1976 I interviewed Edd Roush, the centerfielder for the Cincinnati Reds when they played the Black Sox in that 1919 World Series. A Baseball Hall of Famer, Roush was a man who believed a sentence wasn't complete without at least one four-letter word. Two or three were better. He mentioned Cicotte several times. At one point he said, "Hell, we coulda beat that damn Sigh-COT-ee any day uh the week and twice on Sundays. Hod Eller woulda whipped that sonuvabitch's ass every time he faced him."
Ah, the voice of authority. And Edd Roush, like Jack Graney, was the authority.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Would I stoop to being tricky?

Today I was unjustly accused of using a ploy to get out of doing something I considered unworthy of my talents. The accuser, of course, was Jackie.
This did get me to thinking of a clever ploy that made my life as a newspaper reporter much easier. It involved being told to do a story on some subject I found extremely boring. Invariably this meant something to do with facts and figures in one of the offices at the courthouse.
What I would do is go to the office in question - treasurer, auditor, assessor or whatever - and head straight for the best-looking female employee. This was important because the better they looked, the more accustomed they were to being approached by men.
I would ask her to get me the needed books, then fumble around for a minute or two, shaking my head and looking confused. Without fail she would take my list and say, "Here, let me do it." More often than not I would be told to come back in an hour so that meant going to the nearest place where the coffee was good, or better yet, free. When I returned, everything would be ready for me so heading back to the newsroom and writing the story was a snap.
Only once did this tactic come under suspicion. The next day after the story was in print a woman who had been helpful scowled at me and said, "You're not as dumb as you look."
However, this is shaky ground for me. I met Jackie at an office where she worked in a courthouse. After catching onto my routine I'm not sure she took it as a compliment when I first approached her. My "best-looking woman" explanation has never seemed convincing, at least in her opinion, because only two of them worked in the election office.
That meant pulling out all the stops. "You know I was sincere about you being the easiest on the eyes because you were the Republican representative and Democrats are usually more helpful."
I think that did the trick.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Are Movies a Legitimate Teaching Aid?

Muncie Central High School in Indiana has played a significant role in my life. Jackie is a graduate of the school. So were my mother, three aunts, an uncle and two cousins. I attended the school for a couple of months myself just before entering the Army in 1943.
Muncie Central has won eight basketball state championships, more than any other school in Indiana. One of those cousins was named Mr. Basketball, the highest honor for any Hoosier player.
The school has had a number of distinguished graduates, but today its test scores are abysmal. Gene Williams, executive editor of the Star Press, successor to the Evening Press, my paper for 20 years, wrote a column on the subject recently. The column centered on the showing of movies in class.
Since the current semester began four months ago, one English class has been shown four movies. While the movies were good ones, exactly what does watching Forrest Gump or any similar production have to do with teaching or learning English?
This smacks of a lazy teacher. It's far easier to show a movie than it is to prepare a lesson plan and then work with the students to see that they understand and will remember what they have been taught.
It would be interesting to know if any action was taken after Williams' column ran in the paper. Were the school administrators upset? Were any parents angry? Did the general public give a damn?
Would paying teachers more money produce better results? Not unless it attracted a better class of teachers. Anyone who has a job but performs only according to how much they are paid isn't worthy of anything more than being fired.
Some people feel that new buildings are the answer. In Akron they replaced a dozen or more fine structures with brand new ones, but the results have not improved one iota.
One thing is certain: Kids in the United States are falling way behind those in many other countries. So what is the answer? I don't know, but have serious doubts that it is watching movies in class.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Very Fine Day

The Christmas card I made for Jackie shows our old house in Muncie. The tiny figure shoveling the driveway is Jackie herself. I was busy in our upstairs office writing my daily column for the Evening Press.
Some women might have resented it being that way. Not Jackie, though. She loved doing the outside work and still does, although now it is on our sixth floor balcony. Her Christmas present this year is a hand truck or dolly so she can easily move heavy stuff around. That's just the way she is and I'm the chief beneficiary.
She got a few other things, of course. One is a movie-style popcorn machine on a somewhat reduced scale. She also received a 150-page book of the photos she took on our trip to Europe some years ago. Most pages have two photos with text and they are printed on slick photo paper courtesy of Lulu and its printer, Amazon's Book Surge. It turned out beautifully, far better than I expected.
Our late friend, Ross H. Spencer, a wonderful writer, once wrote about Old Man Time and the toll he takes. It was Old Man Time dressed in his Santa outfit that brought me a cane made especially for lefthanders and something called a bunion sling. I thought it was a bunion brace but a second look showed it is a sling, an apt name because at times that's what I'd like to do with the bunion.
The cane is great. The palm of my hand fits on it so it is much nicer than the standard cane handle. I didn't know they made such things but I'm glad someone thought of doing so.
Our hamster Sophie didn't get much and didn't really care just so long as the food treats keep coming her way. Our visitor, tiny dwarf hamster Whiskers, did get a present, a tiny house just his size. He must like it because every time I check he is curled up sound asleep inside.
So that's the way it was, or is, here in the Western Reserve Territory of Northeast Ohio. A fine Christmas with no snow on the ground and no rain, just some clouds and an occasional glimpse of sunshine. A very fine day for us.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our Christmas Houseguest

We have a guest named Whiskers who will be staying with us for Christmas. Not the jolly fellow people think of this time of year because his whiskers aren't white, he doesn't wear a red suit and he never says, "Ho-ho-ho." In fact he doesn't say anything because Whiskers is a dwarf hamster only a couple of inches long, if that.
Under normal conditions - and no one enjoys normal conditions more than a hamster, dwarf or otherwise - Whiskers lives with a lady named Tammy, another resident of our 52-unit building. He has a snow white tummy and the rest of him is sort of gray, not brown like our golden hamsters have been, including our first, Chigger, who is shown wearing his Christmas hat.
When we got our first look at each other this morning both Whiskers and I were a little suspicious of each other. It didn't take Whiskers long to decide he didn't like what he saw so he hopped on his tiny wheel and began running for home as fast as his little legs would go. He wasn't too happy when he got off every minute or so and found he was still in the same place.
I sympathized with how he felt because hamsters and I share one trait, a dislike of change. If something was in a particular place yesterday it should be in the same place today, that's the way we look at. When Sophie, our full-size hamster, walks out of her cage onto the coffee table every evening the first thing she does is make certain everything is in the exact same place it was before. Any change is viewed with displeasure and must be fully investigated and approved before the evening activities can begin.
I feel the same way if furniture has been moved from one place to another. Such a thing is inexcusable, at least in my opinion.
Anyway, Whiskers settled in and went to sleep after an hour or so. By then I had decided the little guy was OK and Jackie had fallen madly in love with him. Given the chance, Sophie would have bitten his head off. You know what thoughts are running through her head: "I'm the house hamster and there is no room here for another, not even for a couple of days."
It won't surprise me even a little if one day Jackie comes home with a dwarf hamster of her own. If that happens I just hope it isn't at all like the time she came home with a cute little female normal size hamster. A pregnant normal size hamster as it turned out when I discovered eight babies in her cage a few days later.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An upbeat Christmas newsletter

It has been enough to turn a man against the holidays reading all these Xmas newsletters from folks whose kids just graduated from Harvard Law School which must have had one king size graduating class so it has come like a breath of fresh air to get one from Ol’ Ike down near Gnaw Bone, Indiana which follows:

Well, friends and kinfolk, none of us can complain about the kind of year it has been for the family cause for 2 months now we been out of bankruptcy as you probly know. The bank took back our new 12 room house but we found a great little empty place only a short way off from where the railroad goes through. After a couple weeks you can’t hardly notice the trains go by 50 feet off from the outhouse.
Esmeralda is jest about all recovered from that little disagreement with one of our new neighbor ladies. Most of the knife wounds are all healed up and the doc says the only scar will be the 8 inch one running crost her nose and on to her right ear.
It brought joy to us all when young Jimmy was let out of Reform School jest in time for the holiday seeson. On top of that, little Hortense passed 3 of her 5 subjects in fourth grade down at the union school and that shore was a big step upward from last year.
You may have seen on the TV about Aunt Tillie being et alive by a rampaging black bear but it turned out OK when the county was nice enough to put her 6 kids up in the orphan asylum jest down the road a piece. They wouldn’t of had to done that cepting for the parole board turning down their daddy’s application so it looks like Uncle Ed will have to stay up there in the state pen at Michigan City a while longer which ain’t bad when all things are taken into account. From what I hear the kinfolk of them three men he gunned down at the beer joint over Terre Hut way said some pretty nasty things about Ed at the parole hearing and that didn’t help his cause one bit.
The one sad thing in our lives right now is Cousin Anse still being in a coma up to the hospital in Naptown after being run down by one of them 18 wheelers when the car he stole turned out not to have no brakes. His wife Maude has filed suit agin the owner of the car and is specting big things to come of that.
So as you can see it has been a pretty good year here in Hoosierland and all we can say is we hope life has been as kind to you and if not the new year treats you jest like it has us down here. So like the fella says don’t do nothing I wouldn’t do – ha ha.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Merry Whatever to All

In this era of political correctness I was somewhat at a loss for a Christmas greeting to send out until good friend Abe March supplied me with this:

Subject: Holiday Greetings (as cleared by my lawyer) -
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for -
1. An environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious and/or secular traditions at all.
2. A fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2009, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make the United States great (not to imply or infer that the United States is necessarily greater than any other country), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual orientation of the wishee.
This wish is limited to the customary and usual good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and is not intended, nor shall it be considered, to be limited to the usual Judeo-Christian-Islamic celebrations or observances, or to such activities of any organized or ad hoc religious community, group, individual or belief (or lack thereof).
Note: By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all. This greeting is freely transferable with no penalty for alteration to the original greeting by subsequent and/or separate wishers. This greeting implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for the wishee, her/himself or others, or responsibility for the consequences which may arise from the implementation or non-implementation of same. This greeting is void where prohibited by law.

Is it as bad as the Great Depression?

Times are tough, that's obvious. There is constant talk about it being the worst downturn since the Great Depression. But is it as bad as the 1930s? The answer is a resounding NO!
We don't see breadlines extending for blocks as you did in the early years - 1930-32. We don't see huge numbers of families living in clusters of cardboard shanties called Hoovervilles. We don't see former executives selling apples on street corners. We don't see unemployment figures of 25 per cent. We don't see teachers and many others being paid in scrip rather than cash. We don't see any of the conditions that were the hallmarks of those dreadful years.
But what about the later years? Have you seen any doctors or lawyers manning shovels on WPA projects? Of course not. You would have in 1937; at least I did.
On the other hand, we see some things you didn't see during the Great Depression. We see people trying to hold onto houses far beyond their means, houses they never should have attempted to buy in the first place. We see the federal government handing bankers $350 billion and then have them refuse to say what they have done with it. The same bankers who now are saying, "Give us another $350 billion." The same bankers who are accustomed to huge bonuses and expect them to continue. That, they say, along with all the other perks enable them to concentrate on their work. We can see what a great job they've done of it.
We see the government handing General Motors and Chrysler more billions, then telling them they will have to show marked improvement in their business practices in 90 days or so. Decades of poor decisions are going to be fixed in that amount of time?
So who did a better job of tanking the economy, George W. Bush or Herbert Hoover? Bush wins that contest in a landslide. Hoover, bad as he was up there in his ivory tower, had barely taken office when the mess he inherited collapsed. Bush has had eight years to watch it happen.
No, it isn't even close to being as bad as the Great Depression, but the bankers, the executives and the people in Washington are working at it. So who knows what may lie ahead?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Please note: it IS winter

What planet do they live on, those people who actually believe winter begins on December 21? You hear that nonsense every year about this time. A TV newsreader said it again today after mentioning snow storms, ice storms and freezing temperatures: "And it isn't even winter yet."
Or what about summer? Some of the hottest weather comes during the first three weeks of June and yet there are foolish people who make silly faces and say, "It isn't even summer yet."
So forget Alice and the Yellow Brick Road and get back to the real world. Our TV weatherman, who has been on the job since 1963, frequently points out that to meteorologists winter is December, January and February. Summer is June, July and August. The number of hours of daylight and darkness have little to do with the hard facts of life.
Sure, there can be some crossover. Snowstorms often come in November and March. It can be hotter than a typical day in hell in May and September. The weather maker doesn't throw a switch on the first day of the month, but that doesn't change reality.
For the first time a wise man has said we may be in the early stages of another depression rather than the middle of a recession. Others can't decide if we should be worrying about inflation or deflation. Yet when you go out you see as many cars on the road as ever. The parking lots are full at the malls and shopping centers. Go into the stores, though, and you seldom see too many shoppers. People still buy the necessities if they have any money at all, but it has to be that way.
Yesterday we saw a man of about 30 or 35 standing in the rain holding a homemade sign written on a piece of brown cardboard. He was pleading for a job, any job.
So it doesn't matter too much what the experts say. Recession, depression, inflation, deflation - all it means to most of us is that times are tough. Damn tough. Barack Obama is inheriting a big sack of foul smelling stuff from George W. Bush. Why didn't those experts see it coming and do something about it? Could it be that they aren't quite as smart as they think they are? Or does greed always trump intelligence?
As Oliver Hardy so often said to Stan Laurel: "Another fine mess." Yes, indeed it is.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Reality Check Time

The governor of Illinois seems to have been acting less than honorably and isn't that shocking? C'mon, the man's a politician. How many can you name who left office poorer than when they entered?
Years of my life have been spent covering politicians from township trustees to United States senators. Dozens of them, probably hundreds, in Ohio and Indiana. As time went along I came to believe three of them were totally honest. The passage of more time proved I was wrong about two and the third was suffering from some mental disorder.
So where do you look for pristine behavior? The church? How many preachers and priests have been caught behaving badly in one way or another?
Business men and women? Let's be serious about this.
The unions? Yeah, sure.
Sports? Uh-huh. Right, from the Black Sox to the National Felons League the players have always served as models of upright behavior, or so they would like you to believe..
Writers? You mean aside from plagiarism and occasional lying?
No, there doesn't seem to be anywhere to look for complete, unwavering honesty aside from looking in a mirror. But can you truely say you have never crossed the line even a little sometime in your life?
Funny thing about politicians, though. In my experience the ones who have done the most for the good of the public, the ones who really know how to get things done, are also the ones who lead the way in straying from the path of honesty. It is better to have a competent crook in charge than a bumbling, self-righteous jerk who wraps himself in a cloak of morality but isn't above a little hanky-panky when the the opportunity arises. Those types are the worst.
However, if the reports are correct this Illinois governor has set a new standard for arrogant, ignorant, immoral behavior. From what we hear he doesn't appear to be a competent crook or anything even close.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Drop dead, you Grinch

Someone who chose to remain anonymous wrote to say that I personally was ruining Christmas for all the children of the world so I should just hurry up and die.
This came as a shock, of course. Not about dying because anyone my age has one foot in the grave and the other on the proverbial banana peel. No, the shocking part was learning that I had so much influence on all the rugrats out there. Even Hitler or Atilla the Hun didn't possess that much power.
Not that I have any objection to being called Scrooge or a Grinch, although some might consider those names insulting. I look on them as complimentary even though at one time I had the job of being one of Santa's helpers. Any bum off the street can make that claim, but I have proof in the photo below that once ran in the Muncie Evening Press.

Warren (Santa) Collier was the sports editor. He, Roy Bigger and I covered most, but not all, of the high school basketball and football games in the vicinity. For Roy and me that meant twenty extra bucks per game in our weekly paycheck because during the day Roy covered the business beat and I did the same at the criminal courts.
When you were earning about $150 a week that extra twenty came in handy. You were doing really well if you could cover two games. Better yet was doing that and also handling a nighttime meeting of some sort.
Like all good deals, there were drawbacks. Roy and I had to be at our desks at 7 a.m. so the game stories had to be written the night before. No problem there if the game was in Muncie or close by, but when it was eighty miles away in Lafayette or Logansport you couldn't count on much sleep that night.
Covering a basketball game in a distant city on a snowy night was a real joy. Then there was the pleasure of walking the sidelines trying to make notes on a rainy evening at a football field without a pressbox.
But most of it was fun. The boys appreciated it, too. On many an occasion in Kokomo or Marion or Indianapolis a player would see me and call out to his teammates, "Hey, Stodghill's here!" Always made me feel good, think it was worthwhile and not just for the twenty bucks. Looking back on it I can't recall any of the kids ever calling me a grinch although after an unfavorable writeup a few coachs did say something about dropping dead.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

An Excellent Book to Check Out

Today we are pleased to have a guest blogger, Shelagh Watkins. Shelagh, who lives in Wales, edited the fine anthology she writes about.

Thank you for reading this blog entry! This is the sixth post on the Forever Friends blog tour. If you are following the tour, thanks again for your support! If you missed the start of the book tour, please check the previous five blogs for December 1st-5th listed at the end of this post, where you will also find links to and for anyone considering ordering a copy of Forever Friends.
At the time of writing this blog post, the tour has already begun and the second blog post will be appearing within a matter of hours. On those two posts, I talked about the wonderful comments I received about the book and gave a brief outline of the book’s contents. Two comments I received since I wrote those posts came from two of the book’s contributors:

“Being a part of this compilation was a great experience for me. The poems and stories in this book reflect the love and friendship that is found in the world. if one just takes a moment to notice them.
Thank you to all the contributors for making this a positive and endearing book.”
“I love this book and I'm not just saying that because a short poem of mine appears in it. In these days of chaos, what better time to focus on friends in stories and verse! There are many views of friends here and each one pulls us farther into the book and reminds us of the best parts of our lives: our friends.”

Dick is one of those friends who make the world a better place. I would like to thank him for inviting me onto his blog. I share Dick’s sense of humor and thoroughly enjoyed reading his book of short stories, The Rough Old Stuff, sixteen his stories published in Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine from 1979 to 1985. I can wholeheartedly recommend the book to everyone who enjoys dry wit and a wicked sense of humor.
Dick’s short story in the anthology, A Dog’s Best Friend is well written and entertaining. The dialogue and prose are skillfully handled and make for an enjoyable read. Dick also has a keen eye for human mannerisms, no doubt from twenty years as a reporter, sportswriter and daily columnist at the Muncie Evening Press in Indiana. The column won a United Press International (UPI) award as Best in Indiana.
Dick's story is one of many that will entertain readers and make them want to read on. Order your copy now. As I keep saying, you will not be disappointed!
Forever Friends is available now from all major online stores, including
Forever Friends
Forever Friends
Thanks again for reading this and best wishes for the holiday season!

Shelagh Watkins

Please follow the tour to learn more about the book.
Blog Tour:
December 1 Chelle Cordero
December 2 Zada Connaway
December 3 Mary Muhammad
December 4 Helen Wisocki
December 5 Pam Robertson
December 6 Dick Stodghill
December 7 Philip Spires
December 8 Grace Bridges
December 9 L. Sue Durkin
December 10 A. Ahad
December 11 Malcolm R. Campbell
December 12 Lynn C. Johnston
December 13 Dianne Sagan
December 14 Donald James Parker
December 15 Karina Kantas
December 16 Milena Gomez
December 17 Tiziana Rinaldi Castro
December 18 Yvonne Oots

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Paying Sincere Compliments

I'm feeling pretty good today because Jackie paid me what people who run self-improvement seminars call a sincere compliment. She said I may not be the worst person in the world because she hasn't met everyone in the world.
She also said something about me being living proof that men are descended from apes, but that's neither here nor there. This was because I scratch too much, or so she claims. I told her I only scratch when something itches. "Well go somewhere else to do it," she said.
That's hardly a satisfactory solution to keeping her happy. Jumping up and going to another room every few minutes when hit by an unexpected itch would definitely detract from the quality of my life, such as it is.
Speaking of self-improvement seminars, I once was offered an opportunity to attend one for free. It met once a week for several months, during which time I leaned all about offering sincere compliments and stuff like that. Those in the class also learned how to remember things by associating them with a series of actions. For example, you make a mental list of objects like a table, a chair, a revolving door and so on. Then when something must be remembered you associate it with a table, a chair or a revolving door. If you are supposed to bring home a loaf of bread you picture it whirling through a revolving door, that sort of thing.
We also were taught to remember names through association. While I have forgotten the exact routine, I do recall a joke about someone who attended a similar seminar. He was taught to remember people's names by making a little rhyme. After being introduced to a fat lady named Lummick he memorized, "Mrs. Lummick with the big stomach."
The next time he met her he said, "Hello, Mrs. Kelly."
So much for self-improvement seminars, memory lessons and sincere compliments.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Golden and Olden Years

This morning while basking in the glow of my Golden Years my thoughts drifted back to an earlier time. Golden Years, if you don't know, is a phrase coined by someone aged 25 who has yet to learn about aches, pains and parts of your body that no longer function as intended. Legs and fingers, for example. In your Golden Years, legs sometimes go left when it was your intention to go right. At inopportune moments they tend to give out completely or develop an excruciatingly painful cramp. Fingers that seem perfectly normal suddenly turn to stone when you try to make change at a checkout counter.
So this is why my thoughts turned to a time when everything worked properly. Quite naturally my early weeks in the Army came to mind. That is when raw recruits learn that sergeants aren't God. No, they are far more powerful than a mystical, and perhaps mythical, figure in the sky. Sergeants are on the ground right beside you and are there for the purpose of destroying any illusion of joy and happiness in your life.
Take the sergeant who carried a hickory switch that he used to thump recruits on the head. This was not a solid swagger stick carried by a puffed-up officer who hoped to swagger more impressively. The hickory switch was flexible so that it inflicted maximum pain without fracturing a skull.
The sergeant enjoyed using his stick on a helpless head on all occasions, but especially when we were duck waddling. His victims were those who were not quacking loudly enough, at least in his opinion.
While in an uncommonly good mood one day he explained why he carried and used the switch on people unable to retaliate. His exact words were, "I don't use the switch because I don't like you. I use the switch because I hate every bone in your worthless body."
His words were a morale booster. He didn't dislike us after all. In fact, after hearing them I felt almost as good as I do on the average day in my Golden Years.