Archive for the good old days

What’s Next?

In one of my earliest blog posts, Weird, Isn’t It?, I asked the question, “Where’s everybody going?” We’re always in a hurry to get to one place, so we can do whatever there, then rush to the next place and the next thing. Well, we started young. Read the rest of this entry »

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Obsessing… Still

Obsessing Still

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My first new car. I still dream about it sometimes; finding it in an old barn, maybe.

In my youth I was obsessed

The automobile and its awesome power

Owned me

Its only rival the music that

Moved me

Or were they partners in the game 

Both have ceased to call to me


And yet… I find myself obsessing still

But now… with being still

Absorbing silence

Breathing deep of the rose

Rendered odorless by man’s fumbling desire

To make things “better”


In the void, seeking; sometimes finding

Blessed inner peace

Wanting nothing more

Hoping for nothing less

Obsessing on its promised caress

All else… scattering in the road

Behind me


Now and then, glancing up to the mirror

Watching… as the silent movie plays

Parts and pieces bouncing and tumbling

Into the muddy ditch of the past

Once filled with the raging waters

Of my life


Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn


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No Sir, I Ain’t No Cowboy

Long before I worked at Roger Robideaux’s Gulf station where I used to shoot the breeze with a couple of real cowboys—Tom Cox, and James Caan—I found out I was not cut out to be one.

Oh, I had heroes like John Wayne, Marshall Matt Dillon, Rowdy Yates, and so on, but I learned the hard way that being a cowboy wasn’t as easy as it looked on TV. I learned this when I was about eleven or twelve years old. We used to go to Flay Randolph’s ranch just outside of Buckeye, and he’d saddle up a horse, and let us take turns riding it in the alfalfa field

On one of those visits I was riding in the pasture, where some steers—not very big ones—were grazing. The saddle Flay had put on the horse for me had a lariat hanging on the side, by the saddle horn, so I figured I might as well try my hand at calf roping. I’d seen Rowdy and the boys do it on Rawhide, and it didn’t look too hard.

calf roperSo, I took the rope off the saddle and got it ready, then rode up alongside one of the steers. The steer didn’t seem to notice I was there, so I just dropped the rope over its head; piece a cake. One problem: The steer didn’t like it at all, and it took off running across the pasture.

No problem, I thought, as I grabbed onto the rope and yanked back like I’d seen them do on TV. Next thing I know, I’m air born, then skidding along the ground learning what alfalfa tastes like. I finally let go of the rope, and after I’d recovered a bit, limped over to the house and told Flay what I’d done.

When he finally quit laughing, Flay saddled up another horse and with me riding behind him, went out to retrieve his rope and my horse. Horse and steer were grazing side-by-side when we arrived. After I jumped down off the horse, Flay dropped his lasso over the steers head and—of course—it ran off again. But, to my amazement, it stopped abruptly when it got to the end of the rope. I followed the taught line of the rope back to Flay’s horse and saw that the other end of the rope was tied to the saddle horn. Flay just grinned and said, “Go git your horse, cowboy.”


Wondering how I knew James Caan? Click on this link: Working With James Caan

And, if you’re curious who Roger Robideaux is, click on this one: Don’t Do That!

Tom Cox? Shoot… everybody knows who Tom is!

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Working With James Caan

At the same Gulf station I talk about in my story about Blue Chip stamps—Don’t Do That!—I had another interesting experience. Buckeye, Arizona was a farming and ranching community, so there were a lot of cowboys in the little desert community.

One of those cowboys was Tom Cox. He was several years older than me, but he liked to stop by the station and chat with me while I worked. On one of his visits, he sauntered in while I was fixing a flat tire. He had somebody with him, but I didn’t recognize the guy until he got up close. I couldn’t recall his name, but I knew he’d been in the movie, El Dorado, with John Wayne a couple of years earlier.

After Tom introduced me to his pal, James Caan, the three of us shot the breeze for a few minutes. Turns out Caan and Tom were calf-roping buddies, and got together to team rope quite often—still do, so I’ve heard.

They didn’t stay long, and I never saw James Caan in person again, but I’ve been a big fan ever since. How can you not be a fan after you’ve shook hands with the guy and talked about calf roping in a Gulf station garage bay?

Jame CaanAt one point during the conversation I was struggling to get the tire onto the rim, and James Caan stepped up and pushed down on one side of the tire. As the machine spun the tire onto the wheel I grinned and thanked him, and he did that James Caan head-tilt and gave me one of his already patented grins in return.

So, I like to tell people me and James Caan worked together at a gas station back in the day. Well… we did, didn’t we?


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Don’t Do That!

Back in the day, some gas stations gave out “stamps” with each gas purchase. Customers could save them and exchange them at the Green Stamp store, or Blue Chip Stamp store for some pretty cool stuff.

gulf stationI was nineteen, and I’d been working for Roger Robideaux—he was a pretty cool guy—at the Gulf Station for a few weeks, when I noticed a lot of people didn’t want the stamps. I figured it was probably too much trouble; saving them, licking them, and driving all the way into Phoenix to the stamp store. So! I got this fabulous idea; if a customer didn’t want their stamps, I would keep them!

In no time at all I had a mess of Blue Chip stamps, and was off to the Blue Chip Store, where I got an eight-track tape player for my car. This stamp bidness was the bomb!

A week or so later I was sitting in Roger’s office chair, my feet up on his desk, browsing through the Blue Chip catalog, deciding what to get next, when Roger walked in.

He looked at the catalog then looked at me with his head cocked to one side and asked, “When a customer says they don’t want their Blue Chip stamps, what do you do?”

I grinned. “I keep them,” I said, raising the catalog. “You can get neat stuff!”

“Don’t do that!” he barked. He seemed excited, and maybe a little bit mad, but it was hard to tell with Roger.

“How come?” I said.

He did a funny little dancing jig, rolled his eyes and said, “Because I have to pay for the stamps!”

That made no sense at all to my nineteen-year-old brain. “Then why do you give them away?”

He went over and hit the wall with his hand, danced a little more and said, “Just don’t keep them. Okay?”

The bell rang, signaling we had a customer at the gas pumps, so I slapped the Blue Chip catalog onto the desk, gave Roger a little salute—I was kind of a smart aleck sometimes—said, “Got it, chief,” then sauntered out the door.

After I’d filled the customer’s tank, I asked them if they wanted their Blue Chip stamps. The lady said, “I sure do. You can get lots of nice stuff with those stamps.”

I grinned and said, “Yeah, I heard about that.”

I figured Roger was watching me, so when I got to the driver’s window, I made a big show of holding the stamps up where he could see them, handed them to the customer, held my empty hands up for Roger to see, and smiled real big. Did I mention I was a smart aleck sometimes?

Roger smacked himself in the forehead with the palm of his hand then did one of his little dancing fits. Yep, he was a cool guy to work for, ol’ Roger.

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Three on the Tree?

three on the tree

It’s true, we don’t see many standard transmissions these days (do they even make cars with them anymore?) and so the scene I witnessed this past Saturday morning was quite unusual.

We stopped for gas in one of those little east Texas crossroad “towns”; no more than a gas station/convenience store at a four-way stop sign, with a couple of dilapidated metal buildings next door and across the street. There was an old car—maybe a ‘90s model Mustang, but couldn’t be sure—sitting in the sloped drive facing the road. As I pumped gas into the tank, I wondered why the driver had parked there; kind of in the way. As I was climbing back into the truck, an older local (I could just tell, ah’ight) ambled out of the convenience store with a sack of fried chicken in his hand. He was “big” and I marveled at how he could even fit into the small car. He hit the starter, and the car made one protesting grind then went silent. The driver’s door immediately popped open a leg came out and with one smooth motion the car was propelled down the driveway. It lurched as he popped the clutch and the engine sputtered to life, and he made a right onto the farm road and vanished into a cloud of gray black smoke.

I grinned and in my mind went through a myriad of similar scenes of myself doing much the same thing, many times and many years ago.


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How it Should Be

3-8-17 4 quote

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