Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Uncle Frog

If you are blessed at all, you have a favorite uncle. I don't care how wonderful your uncle may be mine is better. No one, except for about a hundred cousins, has a better uncle than mine. Frog was my mother's little brother. He was single when my memories started and he lived with us on three different occasions. The first time was when I was just a few weeks old and my dad was invited to join the war in Korea. Frog moved in to help my mom with one baby and one toddler. Unfortunately I didn't keep good notes back then so I have few memories of his stay. I do have one memory but its probably because the story has been told to me. I'll pass that story on later.

The second time Frog lived with us we were living on Sam Calloway Road in Fort Worth. One of the things I remember most about living in this house is Frog teaching my cousin, Mike, and me to smoke. As a side note, Mike is my cousin and best friend. We were born within three days of each other and together learned most of everything we ever needed to know. Mike and I equally idolized our uncle Frog and we had a huge appreciation for his willingness to share his vast knowledge of things our dads thought we were too young to know. At the advanced age of four, Mike and I were ready to smoke like every adult we knew.

I remember that day as if it were yesterday. Frog was sitting on the couch enjoying a good cigarette break. Mike and I wandered in from fighting Indians and bad guys and climbed up on the couch on either side of him. Purely out of a sense of discovery we asked Frog what cigarettes tasted like. He said he couldn't explain it. We would just have to find out for ourselves. I thought that would be the end of it because I knew Frog loved his cigarettes and was reluctant to share. Mike had a more inquisitive nature and continued to pester him for a valid answer. It never took much to wear Frog down. In about three minutes he produced a cigarette out of his pack for each of us and kindly lit them up before handing them over. The three of us had barely settled in for a good smoke when my mom walked into the room. You would have thought we were doing something dangerous or wrong the way she reacted. I don't know if my aunt Ramona ever knew that Mike got a spanking from my mom. I do know both of us got a severe beating and Frog would have got one too had he not been just a shade faster than my mom getting to and out the front door.

Mike and I gave up smoking after that. We saw no sense in getting beat for doing something that made us want to throw up. Uncle Frog is gone now as are all but one of my wonderful aunts and uncles. The Lord did answer our selfish prayers though and uncle Frog lived a good long time. He never changed....thank you Lord!!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Tree Surgeon? Can I hear a "Quack Quack"?

Well, I tried to add a photo but it appears I'm a bit...uh, stupid. I have no idea where my pic went but trust me you would have laughed. I few weeks ago a crew of "tree surgeons" came through our area. They had been hired by the power company to trim branches away from power lines. Nice idea and proactive but I might suggest hiring someone who actually knows how to trim trees before this happens again.

The photo I hoped to include showed a tree down the road from us which had been "trimmed". It had been a beautiful shade tree at one time. Now its....well, its indescribable. This same desecration occurred all around the area. Some areas look like war zones. A drive down Glade Road used to be a pleasant trip under mature oak and elm trees. Now its more like driving down Kindling Row. Its a sad scene which I will try to avoid for a couple of years.

I happened to be on my patio the day the surgeon made his way to my back neighbor's place. He had a huge tree which I've never been able to identify. It has, or had, about eight trunks coming up from one spot. It was weird but pretty. It shared its shade with us at certain times of the year. When the job was completed the tree had morphed from a multi-dimensional piece of art to a two-dimensional abstract. I hate it. While the job was going on I walked out to discuss the job with the surgeon. Unfortunately, he no hablar ingles. I started to talk to him using my vast Spanish vocabulary. I explained to him I had no problem with the job he was doing other than he was destroying my neighbor's tree. I made suggestions like "leave that limb alone", "if you have to take that limb, cut it at the trunk and not six feet out", and lastly, "touch any of my trees and I'll shoot you". While I was speaking, the man's supervisor walked up behind me. I turned and asked him if he thought his employee understood me. He spoke to the employee in Spanish and got a response. The supervisor then told me, "yes sir, he understands you would like to order a large chicken burrito, rice and beans".
I guess it has been a while since I've used my Spanish and could probably use a refresher course. I explained to the supervisor that I didn't want any of my trees touched by his butchers. I said it in a nice way of course. He explained he had to trim away anything closer than six feet to the power lines. I got out my tape measure and checked my trees. They passed my yard up and continued their carnage further down the road. I'm still heartsick over the damage done to our beautiful trees but thankful I had trimmed my own trees a few weeks before these guys showed up. Maybe I can bid the contract with the power company next time.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Haunted House on Elm Street

I've told this story many times but have never taken the time to write it down. It's a true story. The events are as I remember them. Some of my siblings remember different things in different ways but these are my memories of the haunted house on Elm Street.

We moved into the house in 1955. It was new and in an unfamiliar area. My long life of five years had been spent in the River Oaks section of Fort Worth. This new house was way out in the rural town of Hurst, Texas. The first several years in the house held no surprises for us so its confusing even today how or why the haunting began. We know exactly when it began though.

Daddy had been transferred to Roswell, New Mexico in the early sixties. He was with a team of men responsible for the electrical wiring of the underground missile silos installed to defend our country against the evils of the Cold War. Rather than sell our house in Hurst my parents chose to rent it out in case we wanted to come back to it some day. They rented it to three college girls and off we went to our new adventures. After the project was completed in Roswell, General Dynamics decided my dad was needed in San Diego. Because of five young children and a Texas born and bred wife, he declined the transfer and moved us back to Hurst. The renters still had a few months left on their contract so we moved into another rent house a few miles south of there. When the lease was up on our old house we moved back in. It was soon after this move we were introduced to the ghost.

Mama was the first to see the ghost. It was a Saturday afternoon late in the summer. We had wrapped up the weekly yard care and house chores and had cleaned up to go shopping for school clothes. All of us were piled into the 1960 Pontiac and as we backed out of the driveway mama told daddy to stop the car. She had left her purse on the dining room table. She hopped out of the car and ran up to the side door of the house. This door opened to the dining room which was next to the kitchen. As she stepped up into the house she froze then quickly slammed the door and ran back to the car. She told us someone was standing in the kitchen. Daddy got out and told us to stay in the car and lock the doors. He then went to the side door and stepped in. He was gone for what seemed like an hour but was surely just a few minutes. We didn't know what to expect...maybe a burglar running out the front door with daddy in hot pursuit. Eventually the side door opened and daddy stepped out carrying mama's purse. He had checked the entire house and found nothing. Mama was sure she saw someone but when asked to describe the person she couldn't even tell us if it had been a man or a woman.

As the years passed the ghost appeared to mama several times. She would never see enough of it to describe but she did determine the ghost was a woman. Her sightings were always in the kitchen or hallway. She occasionally found pictures moved on the hallway walls. One evening while standing at the kitchen sink she felt she wasn't alone in the room. She felt a hand gently rest on her shoulder. She quickly turned to see.....nothing. The feeling of a presence was still there but nothing more. None of the rest of us saw anything until 1968. We had all heard various sounds over the years but no sightings. The sound I remember most was kind of like a television set off in a distance. You can hear it but can't understand what's being said....does that make sense? I heard this for years late at night. The first time I saw anything was during one of those "sounds". Unlike before, the sound began to rise in volume until I woke up enough to sit up in bed. I looked out my bedroom door and saw a pulsating light in the hall. The sound increased and decreased in volume as the light pulsated. After a few seconds the light faded along with the sound. I would have written it off as a dream had it not been for our conversation over breakfast the next morning. I started out the story with, "Now don't any of you laugh but let me tell you what I saw last night". I then described to the family what I had seen the night before. Glenn laughed at me and Cindy rolled her eyes but my mom set her coffee cup down and said she believed me because she had seen it too.

Not long after the pulsating light thing, I started having nightmares. The dreams were always the same. The television sound would start down the hall and all of a sudden someone would grab me by the ankles and try to drag me out of bed. I would wake up holding onto the headboard and scared half to death. I didn't tell anyone about this though. I didn't normally have nightmares but they were just dreams....nothing interesting. Then one night the dream started again. The sound started and I felt the fingers wrap around my ankles. Just when the pulling would normally start, the music stopped and the fingers went away. It woke me up and as I sat up in bed I saw a woman sitting at the foot of my bed. I started to say something...probably something stupid, but before I could say anything she smiled and slowly faded from sight. I never had the dream again.

As all of us kids grew up and moved away mama would occasionally mention seeing her ghost. I had long since decided my own experiences were brought on by some medication I must have been taking but mama was persistent. The ghost was real. She had seen "her" so many times she could describe the clothes she wore. Her stories were so regular I began to feel a little bit creepy when I would come home to visit. In fact, I was checking on their lawn one summer night while they were away on vacation. It was hot and I was craving a glass of cold water. I hated like everything to go into the house the dark...but a cold glass of water on a hot August night sounded just too good to pass up. I went in and turned on the lights in the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and got the cold water. I poured a glass and stood at the sink sipping on it. I felt someone walk up behind me and place a hand on my shoulder.....I am not making this up. I just got goose bumps remembering it after all these years. I never turned around to see who my visitor was. I dropped that glass and ran for the door as fast as my legs would carry me. I never spent another minute in that house by myself.

The last couple of years my folks lived on Elm Street the ghost didn't make any appearances. I asked my mom one day if she had seen "her" and she shook her head 'no'. She said she kind of missed her, too. A few months before my dad passed away we were sitting together at the nursing home talking about old family stories and such. He got quiet at one point and seemed to ponder what he was about to say. Then he looked up at me and said, "You know Blanch's ghost? I've seen her several times over the years too."!