Tag Archives: farming

A Christmas Luau in Letongaloosa©

From Garrison Storm’s earliest memories, Christmastime in Letongaloosa meant
sledding and snowball fights in down at Ol’ Man Connelly’s farm, hot cider and
skating with the Duggins kids, and sampling the cookies that he and his Mom
baked for Santa on Christmas Eve. Garrison has countless wonderfully, nostalgic,
childhood memories, but his most memorable holiday memory happened last
year when he and Clara Vidente, Letongaloosa’s resident psychic, saved
Christmas.
Typical days at MEGA-TV are an odd mix of terribly busy, and nothing much to
do. Everyone works in ebbs and flows. Some days are calm. Others are frantic.
Holidays are just plain crazy.
Garrison, the station’s lead meteorologist, was in the middle of a frantic stretch
which meant he would be working over the weekend to get forecasts ready for
Christmas. By Sunday, despite the lure and distraction of the yuletide activities in
town, Garrison had had a productive day. He had managed to deliver the
forecast for the upcoming week. He tweaked the layouts of the night’s
weathercast and even made time to go online to order a shiny, snow racer sled
for his nephew, Parker. He then walked across the street to eat at the diner
where he struck up a conversation with his psychic friend, Clara.
Clara had lived in Letongaloosa for years. She had a shop on Main Street that
lured passersby to come in to have their futures told. Garrison always walked by
on his way to go sledding with Paul and Tommy Duggins. She’d wave at him
through the bright yellow and green neon sign hanging in her store window.
That afternoon, as he waited for his roasted turkey sandwich and potato salad,
Clara told him she was concerned about the weather. It had been a bit
blustery, but after pouring over the radar all weekend Garrison saw nothing out
of the ordinary. Weather conditions were normal for that time of year, cold and
snowy. In other words, perfect weather for warm cider, cookies and sledding.
“I’ve been consulting my crystal ball and I don’t see snow at all,” Clara told
Garrison.
Garrison could tell she really believed in what she had “seen”, so he just sat and
listened. He had known this sweet lady his whole life.
“Go on,” he said.
“I see flowers blooming, children eating the snow, instead of throwing it. This is
going to be unlike any Christmas Letongaloosa has ever seen. We’ve got to do
something!”
“Tell you what,” Garrison said. “I’m going back to my office and I will check
every forecast again. I promise to issue a special weather bulletin if anything
other than snow happens on Christmas day.”
After lunch, Garrison took a short walk down Main Street to stretch his legs. It felt
good after the frantic pace he’d been on. He looked down at the snow on the
ground, took a deep breath, and thought about what Clara had said.
Garrison didn’t consider himself a haruspex. He couldn’t predict the weather.
And all of his data and experience as a meteorologist told him that everything
would be normal.
Walking back to the station, Garrison met Merry Duggins. She’s Paul and
Tommy’s mother who volunteers at the courthouse as a guardian ad-Litem.
Merry always had a kind word, a smile, and a pat on the back for kids in need.
Merry was as level-headed as Clara was psychically inclined. As they chatted,
Merry told Garrison that the winter festival would have a bit of a twist. He
promised he’d be there. He thought she had given him a peculiar smile as she
continued down Main Street.
Weeks later, Garrison walked into the courthouse meeting hall. He couldn’t
believe his eyes. Tropical flowers were everywhere. The good folks of
Letongaloosa had donned Hawaiian shirts. Their kids were chomping snow
cones. Garrison had walked into a Christmas Luau.
Clara’s crystal ball predictions had come true. He glanced around the room
taking it all in. Then he spotted her.
“You were right!”
“I can get used to this. It’s nice.”
“Merry Christmas, Clara! Now let’s go sledding.”
-30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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No Joke

As a teenager I worked on a farm one summer.    I used to talk to an old guy after work.  He was hard of hearing.    When the old guy didn’t hear  me , but didn’t want to acknowledge the fact, he would say,  “That’s no joke,”  after my remark.

But some of the time I WAS telling a joke.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Cheap Dirt

Maggworth’s Flea Market–excuse me, Maggsworth’s Antique Mall—is named for a guerrilla leader who raided our town and killed a lot of people during the Civil War. Colonel Moriarty Maggsworth was his name, and kill and pillage was his game. He and some of his cohort were later hanged.

Its name is the only thing exciting about the “mall.” The place itself is pretty drab—there’s a bunch of stalls set up in an old warehouse near downtown.

There are jewelry booths, pre-owned clothing stalls, furniture booths, sports card booths, and a both where they sell toilet paper holders made out of armadillo shells. The mall is only open on Saturdays and Sundays. You don’t quit your day job when you open a stall at Maggworth’s Antique Mall. But owning a booth at the mall, or shopping there every weekend does give the townspeople something to look forward to. Other wise they’d be sticking their tongues into electric lamp sockets to break the monotony.

One Saturday morning a stranger came to the mall and asked to rent a booth. There were four or five stalls unoccupied at the time so Ana Maria Symphonia Schultz, president of the mall cooperative association, signed him up, collected a month’s rent and showed him to a stall.

“You’re not going to sell dirty magazines are you?” asked Ana Maria Symphonia.

“No,” said the stranger.

“Good,” she said and went back to the booth where she and her partner Greta Soulsworthy sold exotically contorted ceramic vegetables.

The stranger dusted off the shelves and stacked them with cheap white Styrofoam cups—the kind you buy when it’s your turn to furnish hot cocoa for 150 people at a church bazaar. Then he nailed a board across the front of the booth for a counter and hung up a sign. It was hand lettered and it read: “DiRT fOR SaLE.”

With his merchandise in place the stranger sat down on a folding chair and began reading a magazine.

“Whatcha sellin’?”

“Dirt.”

“What?”

“Dirt.”

“Ya mean DIRT?”

“Yes.”

“Lemme see.”

The stranger handed the man one of the Styrofoam cups.

“It’s fulla dirt.”

“Yes.”

“Hey, Maggie, git over here. This guy’s sellin’ dirt.”

Maggie didn’t respond. She was gazing into a glass case containing several sets of authentic kidney stone earrings. Others, not so deeply absorbed, sauntered over to the stranger’s booth.

“This guy’s sellin’ dirt,” Gertrude’s husband said as a small crowd gathered.

“How much?” asked a pragmatic 13-year-old who had pushed his way to the front.

“The large containers are 75 cents, the middle-sized ones are 50 cents, and the small ones are a quarter, tax included,” said the stranger.

“Where’d the dirt come from,” asked somebody.

“From my back yard,” said the stranger.

“You just dig up dirt in your back yard and bring it in here to sell?”

“Yes.”

“What does it do?”

“Nothing.”

“You’re selling dirt that don’t do nothin’?”

“Yes.”

“Hot dog,” said the man. “I’ll take three big ones and a middle-sized one.” The stranger had sold all his dirt in an hour. He never returned.

-30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Bib Overalls ©

 

Fashion designer Amanda Pershing stepped out of a limousine and walked to the door of an exclusive New York City restaurant.  A doorman ushered her inside. The maitre‘d bowed her to a table for two.   A tall thirty-something man wearing a $7,000 Seville Row suit and $1,200 Croc Italian oxfords stood as they approached.

“Good evening Ms. Pershing.  I’m Laurence Carpenter.   Monsieur Mershonbom sends his deepest apologies.  His jet was diverted to Boston on a flight from Paris.  I’m vice president for marketing.  Please sit down.”

****

A rough hand shook Mandi’s shoulder.  It was cold and dark outside.

“Wake up, girl.  Git dressed. Then git out there an’ slop the hogs. Throw some hay down for the cows and milk ‘em   After thet ya kin  gather the eggs and make breakfast.”

Mandi sat up shivering. “Them are Jimmie’s chores, Pa.  Ain’t he gonna ‘hep me?”

“Jimmies gonna rest in awhile.  He gotta ball  game t’night.”

“I’ll miss the school bus.”

“Jimmie’ll tell  ‘em yer sick.  Ain’t nobody gonna miss yew no how.”

“Please, Pa, Miz Flowers said a pr’fessor from the U is comin’ to talk to our art class.  She’s gonna intra’duce me.”

“Don’ back sass me girl!  Now git out there and slop them hogs.”  Pa whacked Mandi hard with his open hand.

The school bus and Jimmie were long gone by the time Mandi finished cleaning up after breakfast.  Ma was over in Hopeville helping Ginger Anne with her new baby.  Pa was out in the barn working on the tractor.

“I think there’s a chance you could get a scholarship after Professor Ackermann sees your work,” Miss Flowers had told Mandi the week before.   “So whatever you do, don’t miss class next Wednesday.”

It was Wednesday and Mandi sat at the kitchen table, with her face in her arms, weeping.  Her art class came right after lunch and the Pershing place was seven muddy miles from Letongaloosa.  Then she raised her head.

“I’ll walk,” she said and stood up.

Pa came in from the barn.

“Where ya think yer goin”?

“I’m gonna walk ta’ school, Pa.”

“An’ whose gonna fix my lunch, Missy?”

“Please, Pa.”

“You wanna walk ta school? Well git, then.”

Mandi smiled and started up the stairs.

“No ‘mam,” said Pa.  “If yer goin ta go,’ yer gonna go  jist like ya look.”

“I gotta change, Pa. The Pr’fessor’s comin.”

“P’fessor be damned.  Ya’ll go as ya are or stay home,” said Pa, and stomped out.

“Look! Here comes the Prom Queen,” said Marilee Tompkins.

Students in the art class turned toward the door.  Mandi was ten minutes late.  She had stopped to wash the mud from her knee high rubber boots in the girls’ bathroom. Then she had pulled the legs of her pin striped bib overalls down over the boots. Her plaid men’s long sleeved shirt was open at the neck.  Mandi blushed and took her seat.

Professor Ackerman resumed talking about “Art in the Market Place.”

****
“Ms. Pershing, I took the liberty of ordering a bottle of Romanee Conti,” said Laurence Carpenter.  “I hope you approve.  The filet d’Rusindorf they serve here is superb. I thought we’d have that.”

“Please call me Mandi,” she said.  “The filet d’Rusindorf will be fine.  What Romanee Conti did you order?”

“The 1978.”

“Wonderful. That will be a treat.  Thank you.”

Over dinner they discussed the weather, the Knicks,  French cooking, the cost of chalets on the Costa del Sol, and skiing in Bariloche.  After they had had dessert and the table was cleared Carpenter got out a  mini laptop. He opened the lid and turned the screen so they could both see it.

“Monsieur Mershonbom loves everything you’ve designed for him.  He’s sure that your work will be the talk of the fashion world this season.”  Carpenter touched a key on the computer and the screen lit up.

“He’s absolutely ecstatic about this line of high fashion bib overalls.  He says the haut couture boutiques will go wild for them.  Then he’ll sell millions of down market knock offs in malls and department stores.  The rubber boot accessories are pure gold.   Where did you ever come up with such a marvelous fashion concept?”

“It’s a long story,” said Mandi.

-30-Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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A Smart Aleck Geezer

I was working on a farm in Rupert, Idaho the summer after my senior year in high school.  I needed money to go to college in the fall.  The farm house was at a crossroads and there was a farm house across the street.  An old guy (not as old as I am now, perhaps) who came out to talk to me after I got  off work.  We’d talk about life and the weather and farming and such.

The old man  didn’t want to let on that he was hared of hearing so when he’d miss some part of my conversation  he’d fall back on the phrase, “That’s no joke,”  which he thought, would cover most statements I  might make.

I caught on to the ploy, and with teenager’s wit, I began telling him jokes.

To which he’d reply “That’s no joke.”

To which I’d reply, “Yes it was.”

Smart alak kid.  That’s what I was.  Now I’m a smart alak geezer, older (though less wizened) than he.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Monkey Shines

Before he won the lottery, Lee Jones’s life was as ordinary as
his name, and J. Pennington Whitley’s life was as lustrous as his
name. The two worked at the same place: Whitley International,
Inc. Jones was a clerk in Accounts Payable, and Whitley, scion of
the venerable Whitley family, occupied a corner office in the
executive suite on the top floor of the Whitley Building.
They met once when the head of Accounts Payable, put a
sealed manila envelope in Jones’s hand and walked him over to the
executive elevator. His boss told Jones, “Hand this to Mr. Whitley
personally.” The elevator rose, the door slid noiselessly open, and
Jones saw for the first time in his life what a corporation’s executive
suite looks like. He didn’t get a chance to look around because J.
Pennington Whitley was standing at the elevator door, waiting for
the envelope. Jones placed it in his hand and went back to work.
Jones was in his mid-thirties at the time and had been with
Whitley International, Inc. since he was 16. He had started in the mail
room and had gone to night school and taken online courses until
he had a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and a master’s degree
in finance. In addition to his degrees Lee Jones had a gift for
corporate finance that was far beyond the scope of his classmates
and contemporaries in vision and spunk. While he slogged away in
Accounts Payable, Jones developed a powerful but exotic fiscal
process that, if implemented, would put Whitley International, or any
other similar corporation, far ahead of its competitors.
Jones knew that he needed a boost up the corporate monkey
tree from someone who was solidly established in the executive
suite. His meeting with J. Pennington Whitley, gave Jones the
opportunity to make his move. He decided to present his plan, in
detail, to Mr. Whitley, and arranged through friends higher up in the
Monkey tree to present his plan to Whitley in person. The result was
initially disastrous, but was ultimately it was eminently successful
Mr. Whitley, as it turned out, desperately needed a corporate
Hail Mary to save his hide. The shareholders were unhappy with the
recent performance of Whitley International, Inc., and were planning
to replace Whitley with a more dynamic and forceful leader.
Fortunately Jones presented his powerful project privately, almost
clandestinely to Whitley who realized immediately that the
corporate gods were smiling on him.
At that point Whitley did what top branch corporate monkeys
have been doing since time began. Whitley took credit for the
project and threw the smaller monkey out of the tree.
Jones, who had assumed he was destined for corporate
greatness found himself out on the street, sacked from Whitley
International, Inc. for reasons so bogus that the Human Relations
officer who fired him couldn’t even look him in the eye.
That ironically was the very day Lee Jones bought a lottery
ticket and chose a winning number worth $556 million. No one else
had chosen that number, so the whole prize was his.
Jones bought all the shaky Whitley International stock he could
lay his hands on. Whitley stock holders and investors virtually
trampled each other to sell the stock to him at the price he set. Then
he dismantled the company and sold it off in pieces. The last piece
of Whitley International, Inc. Jones sold was the Whitley Building
itself. Jones kept the top floors of the building and the executive suite
for himself. And he had several million dollars left after the last
government financial investigation was completed and the last
investor lawsuit was settled.
With that money Jones set up a foundation and gave young,
smart, unconventional entrepreneurs a leg up The Monkey Tree. The
enterprise was highly successful. In a twist that happens quite often in
real life, but rarely in fiction, one of the most successful of Jones’s
entrepreneurs was a young woman named Charlotte Whitley. She
was the daughter of J. Pennington Whitley. Ms. Whitley had moved
to the city from upstate New York where her father had settled down
on a horse farm.
-30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Meet Hanger Duggins ©

Hanger Duggins love of agricultural aircraft started one March
day when he spied a JN-4 Jenny gliding low over “Ol’ Man”
Connolly’s potato field. Hanger had a spare nickel (a rare
occurrence) and was walking into town to buy a soda when he
spotted the airplane. Craning his neck, Hanger watched as a faded
red bi-plane swooped low to spray fertilizer on a field of potatoes. It
was then he knew he wanted to be a real-life superhero and learn to
fly.
After that day, when Hanger walked into town from the country,
he always hoped to catch a glimpse of the crop-dusters. Standing
still and gawking up at the sky, late one afternoon, Hanger didn’t
notice an old man approach. The man pulled off his hat and wiped
sweat from his brow.
“Watcha lookin’ for son?”
Startled, Hanger looked down. “I was hopin’ to see the ol’ Jenny, is
all.”
“Sorry, son. Those crop duster planes only come around once a
year.” Replacing his hat on his head, the man said, “Name’s Bruce
Connolly. I own this here farm.”
“Hanger. Hanger Duggins.”
“Hanger, huh? Nice to meet ya. Live round here?
“Up the way. Out by the Haskinses.”
Come fall we could use a hand harvestin’ these spuds.”
Hanger spent the next five summers planting and digging with “Ol’
Man” Connolly and his crew. Every year, he worked in the fields and
watched for Jenny to come buzzing through the sky. Every time he
saw her, the urge to fly like the superheroes had read about as a kid
swept over him. He read books about flying went to and all the
picture shows that had planes in them.
John, the bi-plane pilot, whom Hanger met when he was fueling his
plane, regaled him with stories of flying Stearmans as a U.S. Army
pilot. As time went on John showed him how to work on an ol’ girl
like Jenny.
Hanger was a pretty decent airplane mechanic by the time he
graduated high school. Then he joined the Air Force and spent the
next 30 years at various Air Force Bases repairing first piston –driven
aircraft, then jets. One of his favorite stations was Mitchel AFB in New
York. On his days off he’d go to LaGuardia to relax, eat a burger at
the airport diner, and watch the planes come in.
One day while he sat there sprinkling salt on his French fries, Hanger
saw something beautiful and miraculous. She took his breath away.
He felt like he had when he first laid eyes on the bi-wing airplane
years before. Hanger wanted to learn everything he could about
the girl with the emerald eyes and fiery curls who walked toward him
carrying two suit cases.
He approached, fighting to keep his voice light, “Hello, miss. Let me
help you with those bags?”
Merry, an attorney with a large New York law firm said later that she
thought that the young man was quite handsome. He was also
courteous. She accepted his offer, and they walked out of the
terminal together.
That encounter turned into a year’s worth of dates. Countless
bouquets of flowers from Hanger led, eventually, to wedding vows
and to two sons, Paul and Tommy. Air Force mechanic Hanger
Duggins and his family were stationed in Canada, England, the
Netherlands, and many bases in the United States. For Hanger it was
the life of the caped-crusaders and heroic aviators of his youthful
dreams.
After nearly two decades of traveling the world, Hanger and Merry
decided to put down roots in the Midwest. The two boys, Paul and
Tommy are attorneys and are following in the footsteps of their
mother and have a family law practice in New York. Merry e-mails
advice when she isn’t volunteering at the courthouse, as a guardian
ad-Litem, and a kind word and a smile for kids who need it.
And “Old Man” Duggins, as he is now affectionately known, is
supervising mechanic at the Letongaloosa Regional Airport. He
oversees a crew of young whippersnappers and regales them with
tales of his travels as a young Airman. And even though he may be
old, Hanger is learning to fly an ol’ Ag-Cat he affectionately calls
“Jenny,” and on weekends he soars through the air like the comic
book characters he loved so much.
-30-

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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