Archive for Mostly true

Me & Tater Salad

My first wife, Evelyn, brought it up in a Facebook comment yesterday, so I thought I might as well share it with y’all along with another related story.

It was Thanksgiving—I’m going to guess 1970—and we were living with my maternal grandparents, Ma and Pa, in Moab, Utah. Ma had invited her friend, Edith to Thanksgiving dinner, and Edith brought potato salad. Well, I didn’t care for potato salad, and thought nothing of not putting any on my plate. Edith, however, noticed it right away, and thinking she’d help me out, handed the bowl to me and said, “Charlie, you didn’t get any of my potato salad.”

I said, “Thanks, I don’t want any.”

“Oh,” she said, obviously hurt that I didn’t want any of her potato salad.

A few minutes later, she said, “Charlie. Are you sure you don’t want any of my potato salad?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said. “I don’t care for potato salad. But, thank you.”

I think this is where it became a challenge for her. “I think you’d like my potato salad. It’s very good”

She got a raised eyebrow from me with that comment. And out of the corner of my eye, I saw Pa grin at me, then quickly look back at his plate.

edith bunkerI looked across the table at Edith. The hurt expression was gone, and a glare had taken its place. This was not going to end well.

She put one hand on the bowl of potato salad and said, “You should at least taste my potato salad. It’s really good, and I just know you’ll like it.”

I put on my best smile, and said, “Lady! I don’t want any GUFFING potato salad! (I did not say guffing.)

Pa busted out laughing. Ma gasped, put her hand over her heart, then shot Pa a glare that could curdle gravy. Poor Edith was in shock. Evelyn, attempting to save the day, said, “I’ll have some! It’s good!” Me, I went back to eating my turkey and dressing.

I was wrong. It ended just fine. Not another word was said about that stupid potato salad. By the way, in later years, I developed a taste for potato salad. I love the stuff!

~~~~

Several years later, I was single, and visiting Pa, who had retired and moved back to Fritch, Texas. It was the early eighties, Ma had passed in the late seventies, and Bunk (Pa’s nickname) was baching it too. Evelyn had gotten tired of following me all over the country (I was –still am, I guess—a gypsy of sorts.) And so, we went our separate ways. Well, I went, she stayed put.

Any way Bunk and I went down to what was, I believe, the only bar in Fritch, where we played some pool and drank a few beers. It was late, maybe about eleven o’clock, when this drunk guy came busting in, looking like he wanted to fight, and not caring with who.

The guy was a couple inches taller than me and outweighed me by probably sixty-seventy pounds. He stood in the doorway, glaring as he looked around the room and, since the only other person in the place was the old guy behind the bar (Pa was in the men’s room), his glare landed on me. I smiled politely as the big guy lumbered toward me but kept a firm grip on my pool cue. You know, in case he didn’t want to be friends.

First thing he said was, “You know who I am?” He had a funny way of saying things, so I thought he was joking. I grinned at him.

I heard the men’s room door open, and Pa laughed out loud then said, “Tater Salad!” The big guy looked past me, his face lit up, and he shouted, “Bunk!”

I said, “Tater Salad?”

The big guy ignored me and as he strolled toward Bunk, said, “Just the man I want to talk to.”

“Tater Salad?” The guy still ignored me.

“Well,” Bunk said, shaking the big guy’s hand, “Buy me and my grandson a drink, and we’ll talk all you want.”

The guy glanced at me, grinned, then yelled over his shoulder, “Boo-Boo, Give us three Crown and Coke!”

“Don’t call me Boo-Boo, Tater Salad, or you’ll be drinking through a straw for ‘bout a month.”

They all laughed—Bunk, Tater Salad, and Boo-Boo. I said, “Tater Salad?”

We climbed aboard stools at the bar and Pa said, “What’s up, Ron?”

I said, “Ron?”

“I’m fixin’ to go into stand-up comedy, Bunk. And I got some ideas for routines, but I figure you must have some I can use, too. Can’t nobody tell a story like Bunk Stringer.”

So, Bunk told him some of his best stories, and Ron “Tater Salad” White soaked ‘em up.

When Bunk had about run out of material, I looked around him at “Ron” and said, “Tater Salad?”

ron whiteHe grinned a drunk-on-his-butt grin and half snarled, half laughed, “You just ain’t gonna let that go, are ya? Ah-right, here’s how it goes.”

He told me the story about being drunk and getting arrested for driving on a sidewalk in Fritch. The cops knew who he was so when they asked him his name, he—being the smart aleck he was—said, “They call me Tater Salad.” And, a legend was born.

When he finished, Bunk laughed and elbowed me. “Charlie, tell him your tater salad story!” And so, I did. Ron got a big kick out of it and said he might use it in one of his routines when he hit the big time. He never did. Use it that is. He hit the big time, big time. Maybe you’ve heard of him.

~~~~~~~

Please check out my remodeled website and my latest books:

Just A Boy ~ A childhood memoir

Just a Man ~ A book of encouragement

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My First Video!

A cute little ad for “JUST A BOY“, put together by the publisher. I need to learn how to make one!

Available in paperback or e-book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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Billy Staub

It was hotter’n blue blazes around this part of Texas this past summer; over a hundred degrees on a lot of days. It reminded me of this poem I wrote several years ago. It’s a true story–embellished a bit–and what happened on that long ago day had everything to do with the heat. Lord knows I wish I could say the whole thing happened in my imagination. If it hadn’t been so hot, and the logging crews hadn’t been shut down, Billy Staub might still be with us. But then again… probably not.

This Silence Was Not Golden

 

I was on the porch in the wood swing

It creaked and gently swayed

In a hot south wind

 

No workin’ in the woods on those kinda days

Fire danger and all

Didn’t matter to me

 

I was four beers in; two to go

And Hank Jr. was croonin

‘Bout bein’ whiskey bent

 

Billy Staub’s chainsaw was whinin’

Out back somewhere

An angry steady sound

 

Dale’s old hound dog came up and laid at my feet

I thought to shoo him

But let him be

 

My leg was itchin’ something fierce

No way to scratch it

Through the dang cast

 

Hank stopped singin’… a tree crashed

Then Billy’s chainsaw

Sputtered… and died

 

hound-dogThe old dog raised his head, listening

Somehow seeming to know

This silence was not golden

 

The breeze sighed then went still

And somehow I knew…

Billy was gone

 

Billy Staub was small in stature, but tough as nails, and had a heart as big as an old-growth fir tree. He had his faults, and one of them may have been partially responsible for his death, but he was a good man and a good friend.

I left the woods after a big tree fell on me, breaking my leg so badly it required two operations, and about two years in and out of casts. Billy was killed not long after my accident, when a big tree he was felling took an unexpected turn and landed on him. He was probably high when it happened, because he usually was. When the big tree hit my leg, I saw it coming and ran like crazy trying to get out of its way; I imagine when Billy saw the big tree coming at him, he probably just grinned and looked at it with those ever-droopy eyes of his and said, “Huh… would ya look at that…”

Copyright © C. Mashburn 2012

(Revised 11/07/2018)

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My Not-So-Patient Ways

Yep, I’ve pulled some stunts, and many were due to my rebellious and not-so-patient ways. Hey, I already knew everything. Such was the case when my grandpa taught me to climb poles.

I was nineteen and working for the local cable TV company. The job was cool, except for that big heavy ladder. It only took a few days for me to know I needed to learn how to climb poles, so I wouldn’t have to pack that ladder back and forth to the truck

One afternoon, I told Bunk (my grandpa) I needed to learn how to climb poles. We got his hooks and belt and headed out to the light pole by the storage shed. Bunk explained the basics, and after a few tries, I had it all figured out. I’d go up a few feet, then jump back down. It was easy! Bunk tried to get me to go a little higher, but I saw no need. “I got, it, Bunk,” I assured him.

“Now, wait a minute,” he said. “I need to show you how to get dow…“ I waved him off, took the belt and hooks off then sauntered toward my car with them. I was a lineman, now.

The next morning, I drove to my first install, put on the hooks, and up that pole I went. Once I was up there, I snapped the safety belt around the pole, leaned back and surveyed my kingdom. Man, this was awesome! I was awesome!

WichitaLineman.tif

I did the install, then as I was putting my tools in the pouches on my belt a sudden realization hit me; I didn’t have the slightest idea how to get down. My mind raced back to all the things Bunk had said, and I recalled those last words, “I need to show you how to get dow…”. Oh, guff! He’d been trying to get me to slow down, so he could tell me how to get down.

I was only up about twenty feet—it looked like ninety, and I think I stayed there—frozen in place—for fifteen or twenty minutes. Then, resigned to the fact I was going to have to try and get down, I went for broke. I yanked my right hook out of the pole, my left knee bent allowing that hook to split out of its grip, and I was on my way to the ground. Then the belt caused me to slam into the pole, which at the time I thought was a good thing, and I wrapped my arms around the pole and hung on for dear life, which slowed my decent, but not much. I slid in jerky motions—fast, then slow, then fast again, to the ground. Did I mention there was a drainage ditch on the street side of the pole?

I hit the ground, tumbled sideways into said ditch, landing upside down with the belt twisted and holding me tight against the pole. My shirt was torn to shreds.

I stayed there for several minutes, hoping no one had seen me fall, then started wishing someone had seen me, and would come help me get out of the ditch. Finally, I managed to undo the safety strap, then slid to the bottom of the ditch. I finally got to my feet, knees shaking, and my face, chest and stomach literally on fire. I was scraped and scratched from my cheek to my waist and there must’ve been a hundred large, creosote splinters in me!

I got most of the splinters out, and somehow struggled through the rest of the day—I used the ladder—but by the time I got home, I was miserable. Bunk helped me get the rest of the splinters out, chuckling the entire time. I’m pretty sure he was laughing at me, not with me.

That weekend, we went out back again, and Bunk gave me a thorough lesson on how to climb poles. He also showed me how to get down after I’d gone up. I listened intently to every word he said.

 

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Just A Boy! It’s Here!

Just A Boy - Cover“JUST A BOY”—my new book—is now available! The paperback can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and through the publisher, Outskirts Press. Now available on Amazon Kindle, too!

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Click on any of the four links above to purchase your copy!

THANK YOU!

 

 

 

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Many Years Later

boysMy new book, Just A Boy, will be coming out in a month or so, and I hope you’ll read it. It’s mostly about growing up in a small town during the 50s and 60s but it’s also about growing up in the dark shadow of an angry, confused man. The book is full of good stories, some of them funny, and some of them about me just being a kid, but I felt like the other stuff–the bad stuff–had to be touched on as well.

When I’m beginning a new book, my thoughts wander in a random and jumbled fashion (Don’t say it, Gary Williams) and then they start forming sentences, paragraphs, and pages. And usually, that’s when the book begins. While the first book was about a boy, the second will tell the tale of that boy becoming a man (Gary!). That said, this morning I woke with the following thought on my mind, and thought I’d share it with you. I’m quite sure the following paragraph will, in some form, appear in the second book:

I realized what had happened when I was a child was my dad made me fear him, which made me angry at him, which made me hate him, which caused me to become like him. And then, many years later, I realized all that had happened when I was a boy, then a boy becoming a man, had eventually helped make me a better me. I’m certainly not trying to say I’m a good man, mind you, but I will say this; I’m not afraid, I’m not angry, and I don’t hate.

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All Things Considered

In the mid-eighties, I spent a few blurry years in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and it was there I ran into a guy by the name of Rooster Myrick. I don’t recall how we met, or where, but it was a match made in… well, we made a good team. That is if you were looking to cut a wide swath through life, kickin’ butts, taking no names, and never using your real one.

Rooster was a big, good looking guy, and he’s even bigger now but his looks have gone a bit south on him. At the time we met he was a lean, mean 240 pounds stacked on a six-foot-six frame. There’s been debate over the years about his height, but the man is tall, ain’t no doubt about it.

We partied hard back in the day, and a few of those parties took place at Elephant Butte Reservoir, south of Albuquerque near the town of Truth or Consequences. For real, folks, that’s the name of the town.

It was on one of our trips to said lake, my propensity for incidents reared its ugly head, and Rooster (so he claims) was nearly a victim. Like I’ve said before, I never set out to do anyone harm, or cause trouble, but sometimes folks were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. With me.

I had a souped-up ’85 Chevy pickup at the time, and man that thing could haul a boat uphill. I won’t go into the boring details but suffice it to say it was a mean machine. Anyhow, one morning we decided to take a cruise around the lake and see what there was to see. I was driving, Rooster had shotgun, and another of our pals from ABQ was in the middle. Of course, we all had a beer in hand. I mean, after all, it was only a few hours ‘til noon, and it’s quite possible it was five o’clock somewhere. And besides, at the lake it didn’t matter what time it was.

pickup rideThere were some jeep trails out where we were and seeing as how the “truck” was four-wheel-drive, we decided to give one of those trails a whirl. Well, I decided. Kind of sudden-like, too. It was like, there was this dirt path going up a hill, and I said, “Hey! Let’s do some four-wheelin’, boys!”

Well, we shot up that little hill, and I never even asked Joe to hold my beer. Shoot. The truck had an automatic transmission, and any old fool can drive with one hand. I got to tell you though, the ride got pret-ty hairy, pret-ty quick. There were some sharp turns where we couldn’t see nothing but air out front of the truck, and I can’t even put to print some of the things Joe and Rooster was saying. Me, I was laughing like a crazy man, and hanging close to the side of the hill. Heck. We weren’t even going that fast! I couldn’t figure what they were so concerned about.

Then, quite sudden-like, the trail got real steep, and the tires lost traction. We began to slide backward down the narrow trail, and that when the screaming started. Darndest thing I ever heard! Took me a minute to realize it was coming from the fellas riding with me. I coulda swore a couple of ten-year old girls had somehow gotten into the pickup. Those two big ol’ boys were shrieking like someone had stole their beer coolers.

Well, anyhow, we somehow got situated and were able to get down the hill. Them boys were quiet for a while, but then started in calling me names and threatening bodily harm if I ever pulled another stunt like that. I just did some guffawing and grinning, thinking they’d get over it by beer-thirty (noon).

When we got to the bottom of the hill, a young fella was sitting there on his motorcycle, and he waved at us to stop. I pulled up beside him and asked what was up. He said, “Dude! Are you crazy, or what?” I give him a grin, and Rooster and Joe hollered, “Yes!”

I took a swig of flat beer—it gets like that when you shake it up too much, and the ride up that hill had done us some shaking for sure. “Whatchootalkinbout, Willis?” I said to the kid.

He shook his head in that way that, says, “Yep. Dudes plumb loco.” Then he said, “That’s a motorcycle trail you just tried to climb!”

Joe and Rooster about went nuts when they heard that. Called me things they’d left out before.

Me, I said, “Well… we did pretty good then. All things considered.”

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