Freight Train

Where I grew up most of the freight trains came carrying sugar beets. Open topped cars filled to almost overflowing with big white beets. When the sugar factory on the north side of town was operating, the stink filled the whole town. But like the cattle feed lots that joined in the stink, nobody complained about ‘the smell of money.’

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Curse

My grandmother didn’t curse. When really frustrated she would spell out S-H-I-T. Maybe she cursed when I wasn’t around. But her son, my father, couldn’t get through a sentence without some sort of curse word. He used to brag that he talked like a drunken sailor. He never said a goddam thing that didn’t need a strong curse. And me, what position do I take on cursing?

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As a Kid

As a kid I loved shooting rubber bands and spit balls at people. I thought it was funny to tell other kids they had spiders in their hair. I liked calling random people on the phone and asking if the refrigerator was running. That goofy sense of humor went away. Or maybe it turned into a love of puns, obscure literary references, and strange science stories.

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Glad

“He was a mean son of a bitch and I’m glad he’s dead.”

I didn’t know my grandfather. Nobody, including my mother, ever spoke about him. One time I asked my Uncle Dave about him. That was his answer.

When something like this lives in your family history, how does it affect the generations that come after?

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Funny

She was such a funny kid. The youngest in the family, the clown. She could make me laugh until I face ached and my stomach would have laughter abs. That was what made her a hit with everyone, all those smiles and all that joy. Priceless, she was.

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My Favorite Toy

Stop me if I’ve told you this before. Oh, right. You don’t know what I’m talking about yet. Well, when I was a kid I had these gold colored cap guns. Shaped like six shooters. They used caps that came in a disc with six shots. I had a plastic holsters to carry them in – one on each hip. I tell you, I was so cool carrying those cap guns down the street, I could hardly stand myself.

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Your own two feet

I remember my mom saying, “use your own two feet,” when I complained about wanting to go somewhere she didn’t have time to take me. Way back then, I didn’t realize what a gift it was to have two good feet and two good legs that would propel me through space and take me places with ease. Feet, knees, legs, I want to thank you for your service. You’ve done well.

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New Clothes

Are you a thrift store shopper or do you want your new clothes to actually be new clothes? I do a bit of both. When you are still wearing 25 year old tee shirts, maybe finding new clothes of any kind isn’t really your main focus in life.

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Childhood idol

Many people have talked about Carrie Fisher as a childhood idol. For my generation her mother Debbie Reynold was the idol. For me personally, I idolized Esther Williams when I was a child. She was a swimmer, as I was, and she could do magical things in the water. I wanted to do everything in the water that Esther Williams could do.

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Strange Gifts

You’ve been opening presents lately, right? I’ll bet there are some strange gifts in your history. Things you can’t imagine why someone gave you? Mine was a basketball. What did I want with a basketball? Nothing, actually. But I got one. Odd how other people around me had so much fun with it.

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