Archive for the good old days

A Fathers Day Tribute

My grandfather, Luther “Bunk” Stringer, was a man whose life, in my opinion, was of historic note, and his story deserves to be told and remembered. He was by far the best man I ever knew and he was my hero. If I’m one day considered to be even half the man Bunk Stringer was, I, too, will have had one hell of a ride.

One Hell of a Ride

 

Come over here and sit for a spell

Lend an ear, I’ll give it a bend

I’ve been known to tell a tale or two

Of things that were, or might have been

 

With words I’ll paint a picture of days

When I was young and I was lean

Of days I sat tall in the saddle

Long ago when just a teen

 

I’ll tell of the time I met a girl

Who made me blush and act the fool

The most beautiful girl in Texas

Was no mistake they called her Jewel

 

I’ll tell you about the sunlit days

                              Out on the north Texas plains

Where I chased the steers that wandered

                                 ‘cross the hot mesquite filled range

 

I’ll tell of how I sat atop my mount

         On a hill as I pondered and dreamed

             Dreams of what lay beyond the hills

                   Far places I’d never been

 

I’ll tell you ‘bout some of those places

For a bit of traveling I have done

                                Oh, I wandered from ocean to ocean

                              In pursuit of that brighter sun

 

     But all roads lead me back here

                         Now I’ve lost the lust to roam

And so you find me here on this porch

       In Texas, my home sweet home

 

No, I don’t have much to show

                               For the eighty some years I’ve lived

For I lived hard and I loved hard

                            I gave this world all I had to give

 

But cry not when you look upon

             The few things I leave behind

My life was full of love and laughter

            And I had one hell of a ride

Copyright © 1996 C. Mashburn

 

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I Want To Be Like Billy

This is a repeat, but it bears repeating. God puts people in our paths to show us the way. I wish I could’ve realized it sooner; maybe I would have paid better attention. Fortunately, the lessons he showed me with the people he sent my way took root. It just took me awhile to realize it.

Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Psalms 25:4

God sends special people into our lives for us to learn from. Today, I’d like to tell you about three very special ones He sent my way.

Judge Billy Meck was my Sunday school teacher when I was ten. I didn’t spend a lot of time with him, but he left a lasting impression on me. I remember him as one of the kindest, perpetually happy men I’ve ever encountered. I want to be kind and always happy like Billy.

just us kids 2

In case you can’t tell, Billy Ray is the one on the right. The other two are pretty special too. (I’m the beanpole on the left. Kenny is the hot dog below me, and sister, Patsy is the beautiful little girl in the middle.

Another Billy who left a lasting impression on me was my little brother, Billy Ray Mashburn, who died at fourteen in a car accident two weeks before I graduated high school. Billy Ray could look at you with those big blue eyes—fighting back a smile, so as not to crack his forever chapped lips—and you couldn’t help but smile back at him. Billy Ray loved everybody and everybody loved Billy Ray. I want to love and be loved like Billy.

My oldest son, Billy (he goes by Bill these days, being grown up and all) is the Billy I admire these days. I don’t know anyone who can match his work ethic or his love for his family. He’s a good man, a good husband, and the most devoted father I have ever seen. I am so very proud of my son. I want to be a good man like Billy.

I’m working on it.

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Speaking of Gary Williams

What? … Oh, I know we weren’t speaking of him, but I saw a post his sister, Karen, put on Facebook, and it made me want to share this with y’all again. He’s a fine fellow, and he just loves to poke fun at me about some of the adventures (incidents) I write about. I don’t mind; the old fart is getting along in years, and his memory isn’t that sharp anymore, so I let him prattle on. I know he doesn’t mean any harm, and when it comes to being quick witted, he’s pretty much a non-threat. But enough about that; let me tell you how me and ol’ Gare squared off for the tennis championship one fine spring day.

………………

minion tennis I was a junior, and Gary was a senior (again). He’d been on the tennis team all six years he was in high school, and because of the longevity of his career, he was the best player on the team. Of course, everything is relative, and you have to understand that nobody played tennis at our little high school in those days—except girls… and Gary. He was the only guy on our tennis team, and thus, as I said, the best we had.

We did, however, have to play tennis in PE class. It wasn’t something most of us enjoyed—except Gary—but it was only for a few weeks each year, and we tolerated it. Gary hated it, because most of us—even some of the freshmen—could beat him. He was, by the way, undefeated in conference play. The school refused to haul him to away games, and none of the other schools in our conference would bring one guy to our campus just to play Gary. But! He never lost!

It was pretty comical when tennis season would roll around in PE class. We all had to wear the basic PE uniform; blue shorts and a white T-shirt, but not Gary. No way! He showed up in his starched white shorts and dazzlingly bright white polo shirt, with this red scarf around his neck. He kind of reminded us of Snoopy when he does the Red Baron thing, except—thank goodness—Gary wore pants.

Gary somehow fell mysteriously ill during PE tennis season his senior year. Rumor was he had mono, but we all knew he couldn’t possibly have that. It was common knowledge you got it from kissing girls, and there was no way Gary could have gotten it. Just sayin.

Due to an unfortunate miscalculation on his part, Gary showed up for the last day of PE tennis. He tried to fake a fainting spell and get excused but Coach Ramsey just grinned and said he’d have to play. It was the last day, as I said—the day we had our tournament—and as you might guess, I wound up playing against Gary for the championship. It wasn’t like we had a big double elimination tournament or anything like that; we simply blasted the ball around the court until most everybody got tired and took a seat on the benches beside the court. Gary and I happened to be the last two on the court.

I walked up to the net—Gary stood back at the serving line, eyeing me warily as I approached—and when I arrived at the net, I said, “One game for the championship?”

Gary looked over at all the other guys and Coach; they were all grinning at him, and he turned red as a baboon’s butt in the summertime, then yelled at me in his high-pitched voice, “You’re on!” It was more of a whine than a yell, but I’m trying to give him some credit for at least accepting the challenge.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I beat him pretty soundly. Not that I was any good at the game—I wouldn’t admit it if I was, because it wasn’t cool to be good at tennis in those days—but, truth be known, Gary was simply too big and slow for the game. He likes to tease me about how slow I was back then, but I heard one of the baseball coaches laughing one time and saying how Gary was slower than a moose in a mud bog. It was sadly true.

So there you go; the story of how I beat the school tennis champ at his own game.

 

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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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Cholly Meets the Incredible Hulk

On my first construction job, I was one of a dozen or so laborers, and our foreman, Bethel Lee, was a giant of a man from Jamaica. He was at least six and a half feet tall and weighed probably four hundred pounds.

On my first day, several of us were eating lunch in one of the unfinished rooms—about ten guys sitting on the floor, backs to the wall. I was just to the right of the door when Big Bertha (some guy with a death wish must’ve given him the nickname) came into the room.

hulkHe casually surveyed the room, a hint of a smile on his face, and when his gaze fell on me it was like I looking up at a tall building. His smile vanished, and he said, “Cholly.” His voice was deep as the ocean, and his dark eyes twinkled with either merriment or murderous intent. “You knows where ah eats ma lunch?”

“No sir.” Thinking maybe I’d unknowingly taken his spot.

His eyes sparkled, his grin got so wide it seemed to fill the room, and he said, “Anywhere ah wonts to.”

For a few long seconds, the room was silent, then everyone—except me—burst into laughter.

I just looked up at Big Bertha with a weak smile and said, “Oh.”

I guess it was his way of welcoming the new guy.

 

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Ain’t I a Hoot!

 

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This is yours truly, demonstrating how to properly attire one’s beverage of choice while on the links. On this day I’d chosen the lime green Rimz One koozie to keep my Shiner Bock nice and cool.

I have been known to be a bit of a smart aleck now and then. No, no, I understand how most of you will find that hard to believe, but it’s true. Every once in a great while, I slip from my mild-mannered, courteous ways, and say something inappropriate.

 

My golfing buddy Jay Bird has often wandered into the path of one of my salvos, but being a bit of a wise-guy his own-self, he usually walks away none the worse for wear. I got him good one day though.

We were playing a nice course out Kingsland way called The Legends. It’s one of those rolling, wide-open golf courses, where guys like us can usually get back to the clubhouse without hurting anyone or breaking any windows. Jay Bird does not like to play on those courses that have houses lining the fairways; freaks him out worse than a water hazard full of alligators.

So, we were in the middle of one of those wide, rolling fairways, and Jay Bird’s ball had come to rest on a slope. The ball was below his feet, and he was trying to figure out how to set up to hit it properly. He discussed the situation with himself—at length—and when he finally reached the conclusion of the self-seminar, he took a mighty swing and hit the ball about ten feet directly to the right of where he was standing.

He turned, threw out his hands—he said he didn’t mean to throw the club, but I gave him a seven for distance and a eight for form—and commenced to complaining as to how he never could remember how to set up for a shot when the ball was below his feet. As we drove over to get his club, I shrugged and said, “You shoulda asked me.”

“Oh,” he said, as he hopped out of the cart, picked up his club, and started walking back to his ball. It was on level ground this time, and he hit a decent shot that landed just short of the green.

A few holes later, he found himself with another shot, almost identical to the one he’d muffed before. He chose a club, walked over and surveyed the situation, then turned to me and said, “Okay, Mr. Palmer, how am I supposed to set up to hit this shot?”

I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Beats me.”

One of his eyebrows shot up high on his forehead, and he said, “Well, you told me I should ask you!”

I smiled and said, “I didn’t say I would know.”

Ain’t I a hoot?

 

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The Cake Incident

When my boys were about seven and nine years old there occurred what I’ve dubbed “The Cake Incident”. Their mom, Evelyn had an uncanny ability (I know none of you moms out there had/have this) to tune the boys out, and zero in on what she was watching on TV. I was not blessed with the ability to tune them out, so I heard every word they said. I didn’t mind. Quite often, they were better entertainment than what was on television.

cake incidentSo, there we were, having a quiet evening at home, Mom relaxing on the couch, watching TV; me in my recliner, and the boys playing on the living room floor. Billy, the oldest, leaned over and asked little brother, Wes, “Hey, Wes, you want some cake?”

Wes nodded enthusiastically, and Billy looked over at Mom and says, “Hey, Mom, can we have some cake?”

Nothing.

So, the boys went back to playing, and about five minutes later, Billy leaned over to Wes and said, “Wes! You still want some cake, right?”

Wes is really into the idea of cake by then, and his nod is even more enthusiastic. Wes was a boy of few words, mind you, but when he decided to speak, he could blow your mind. (Still can.)

Billy looks at his mom, and a little louder this time, says, “Hey, Mom! Can we have some cake?”

Nothing. Zonesville.

So, they returned to their toys, and after a few more minutes had passed, Billy leaned over to Wes and says, “Okay, Wes, I’m gonna ask her one more time, then we’ll start tearin’ stuff up.” Wes got a wide-eyed look on his face, glanced over at his mom, then shrugged and gave a curt nod of approval.

I said, “Evelyn, you better get the boys some cake.”

She said, “Huh, what?”

The boys got some cake.

 

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