Saturday, December 18, 2010

Random Memories of Clanton

1. Breakfast in the Mill Village at MawMaws with biscuits and all the normal stuff. MawMaw always put cheese in her coffee. I finally decided it didn’t have anything to do with the coffee, she just liked her cheese melted.
2. If we came to Clanton during the summer, the Mill always had a big picnic in the park with watermelon and washtubs full of Coke on ice. Everyone in the neighborhood showed up.
3. Christmas at Mammo’s with us kids upstairs in Carolyn’s old room. I SWEAR I heard Santa Claus downstairs at the tree but we couldn’t get close enough to really see. We were really afraid we would be seen.
4. Coming in for Christmas from Maplesville and seeing WKLF and knowing we were almost there.
5. Hearing Grandad Tucker tell stories about the awful things that were at the end of the street behind the kudzu in the CC camp. I was grown before I ever questioned that it could be true.
6. Waiting for PawPaw to get off at 10pm at the mill. We would wait on the old metal benches with the shelter over them right at the gate. There was a concession stand there and PawPaw would buy us a Dr. Pepper.
7. Seemed like every time we came home PawPaw had a new car. I particularly remember an old Pontiac he was really proud of. I never could believe he could get that thing in that little garage he had behind the house.
8. Playing upstairs at the News. Getting the “confetti” from around the perforator.
9. Watching the folder at the press downstairs. Fascinating.
10. Using the phone and actually talking to the operator and saying “23j please” to get Grandad on the phone at his office.
11. Going bowling in Clanton. 4 lanes? 6 lanes? It closed soon after the mill did.
12. Grocery shopping at “Pig’s” in west end. Way before he became Piggly Wiggly downtown. Everything went on a ticket and got paid payday. I couldn’t believe there was actually someone they called “Pig” to his face.
13. Going to a football game with Aunt Carolyn at the high school. The high school was Adair! The football field was that little place at the end of the property!
14. Meeting Donny Martin when he was a teenager. He got to ride around with the police in town. I’ll bet back then there weren’t but 3 or 4 police in Clanton and he was probably kin to most of them.
15. The city pool was a cool place to go. They had lockers in the shower and everything.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My brother, Fogged Occurance, reminded us today of the “I have a dream” speech by Dr. King. Of course there was a march and rememberance on the mall in Washington. Another group gathered “by coincidence” with another agenda. I am not particularly known for being liberal, but even I have a hard time believing that ANYTHING done by any of the political views can be coincidental. I just ain’t buying it.
Strangely enough, the subject of bigotry came up in conversation with my mother just yesterday. I commented on the amount of ‘trash’ e-mails I have received from friends and family that just make your skin crawl. I am most offended by relatives who are supposed to know me but still think I would approve of bigoted and ugly jokes, stories and/or cartoons. I have never passed them on to others, I have never given them more than a cursory glance before deleting them. I also have never replied to any of them saying ‘how dare you’. I guess that is part of the reason for my breaking blog silence. The ‘N’ word has never been part of my vocabulary. Mother taught us early on that it would not be tolerated in our house. I grew up with that and separated myself from those did use it. To me it was a guilt by association thing. When my kids were small I had an employee that was black who came to the house often enough that they thought he was their cousin.
It still bothers me that the first thing we use to describe people is their color. We don’t say anything if they are white but we always seem to say “ you know, tall, black guy” not “tall guy with the yellow shirt, sits in the third row on the left”. I live in the south so we recognize “black talk”. I don’t quite know how to describe it but we know it. I know some “Bubba’s” with the same speech patterns and I am meeting more and more people of color who speak King’s English better than I do. The black talk is used in our humor to ad “color” without saying that we just added color. I still know people who will use it in the company of our friends like they aren’t going to be offended, it’s a joke. Come on people!
I am sixty-one years old and I still have trouble communicating what I know and think without falling back on all of the ‘black’, ‘colored’, ‘african-american’ labels that we use to describe friends and brothers that we love and care for but remain uncomfortable enough with the labels that we don’t like to use them.
I don’t know where else to take this so I am going to stop. Thanks to Ric for making me think today. Thanks to my friends, regardless of the color of their clay. Somehow, I think when we get to heaven maybe we will all be kind of transparent. You know, just get rid of the issue once and for all. Comments?
Unclewesty, over and out.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One of my favorite blogs to follow is There may be a better way to post that but that’s how I know to do it. Alice is a professional blogger and writer and I truly enjoy her humor. She is considered a “mommyblogger” by the blogging world. I just like her view of life. She posted today about a lady at the gym that chose to be mad at her for what was in her opinion “no good reason”.
The mad for no good reason strikes a chord with me. I see it all around us today. I think it starts with folks not looking you in the eye when you speak. They don’t want the contact. They are afraid you will see inside. They might have to explain themselves or something. Folks go from zero to “bite your head off” monster at the speed of light. Their expectation is that you want something they aren’t willing to give.
The bible tells us to be slow to anger. I had to work on that when I first heard it. It’s a choice that you make ahead of time that you PREFER to not be mad. Those of us who live in the south are familiar with Bubba and the guys who will fight because you told them their mother wears Army boots. I now that sounds silly to a lot of folks, but it really does happen around here. Now, I know my mother. She does not wear Army boots. Bubba’s intent is to start a fight. But if I am not offended by the prospect of Mom’s ugly footwear, no fight happens. While I run in a pretty restricted crowd (sheltered) I still have to assume that no one I know is going to offend me on purpose. That is not to say I cannot be offended, it is just that it is not my first response.
How about you? Are you easily offended? By those closest to you? Talk about it. See if you can stop the mad.
Unclewesty, over and out.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thirty-seven years ago today I married Andrea Woods. One of my better decisions.
I can remember the day with great detail. My best friend from the Navy was in town to be my best man. We wasted the day away with others of the wedding party at the pool hall in town. At the appointed hour we found our way to the church and the waiting room at the back of the church. McKee had my ring for safe keeping and managed to drive me crazy by rolling it down the table as we waited. The ceremony was uneventful save the ceremony itself. At the reception I found out that my boss from the Navy, Lt. Norbert Commons had come up from Pensecola to be with us. That was way out of the box for me. (He was kind of my hero.) We took lovely pictures and enjoyed the reception only to get in the car to find the works of Brother Charles. I had left my car in the personal responsibility of Richard Lynwood McKee. I expected the normal shoe polish on the windows etc., but I warned him about anything damaging to my new Vega GT. (bet you don’t know what that is). We jumped in, cranked it up and put it in gear. Let out the clutch and didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t know what was wrong nor did I care. I came out of the car VERY quickly looking for young Richard. He was already 300 yards up Blacksnake road and had no intent of stopping. Brother Charles had picked up my car and had cement blocks put under the back of my car. He picked it up again and the took out the blocks and we drove off none the worse for the wear. Our trailer was in Alexander City, I had been living there since I got out of the Navy. We drove there for our honeymoon. We stopped on the way at the car wash in Alex City to get that stuff off my new car. I didn’t have to be back at school until Monday morning. Hence the honeymoon.
Today we are still together. It is a choice we made thirty-seven years ago. There have been days that we both have questioned our collective sanity, however, here we are. I speak for both of us when I say we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Happy Anniversary to Andrea Woods West. I love you.
UncleWesty over and out.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Life is not a bowl of cherries!
Who ever came up with that one did not have their eye on the ball. Life is preferred over non-life. Life is wrought with indecision and spectacle. Life is a b…. but I regress. Life is many things, but hardly a bowl of cherries.
Peachy Keen seems to be the only one of us to have remained active in this world of blog. I fear that my own rambling had become monotonous and introspective. Too much old days, not enough now. Now I notice that it has been more than a month since my last missive. Today I shall ramble on.
Fogged Occurrence has been trying to pick a fight with anyone on Facebook. Nothing devisive, just looking for someone willing to go “OH YEAH?” and take a swing. Most recently naming names and politicizing those who “misinform”. Like there is anyone on either side that is giving out good information. Just today I see where our beloved Richard Shelby has been demonized by the press for holding up federal appointments until he can make sure we are going to get our share of the pork barrel barrel. What’s wrong with that? Surely, no northern democrat can object to holding the congress at bay when you are holding the shotgun. (can anyone say Barney Frank or Ted Kennedy?) My boy, it’s the way things are done around here! Where ya been boy? Calm down. I say, calm down and have another beer! Everyone will go on to something else tomorrow. Be quiet and this will all go away. Someone else will do something dumber tomorrow and no one will ever mention this again. That’s how its done, boy!
I don’t like talking politics. I don’t like politicians. No one seems to have the ability to step out and do what’s right without worrying that they will get beat down by the others because no one else will play fair.
I think I will ramble on later on another subject. This one has me bummed out.
UncleWesty over and out.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas after the fact

Let me tell you just how cool Shootin’ Shell fanner 50’s really were! Every cowboy worth his leather “fanned” his gun when in a gunfight. Use your imagination. A simple act that would take half a page to explain. Shootin’ Shell was quite literally a projectile coming out the end of the gun. (yes, I suppose it could have put your eye out) What looked like a 50 calibre shell with a spring inside and a grey plastic projectile that looked like a bullet and pressed onto the shell. Sheets of circular caps with adhesive on the back that allowed your shootin’ shell to also be a cap gun. We had double holsters and spare bullets. We were SOMETHING!

Peachy Keen mentioned the decorations at Paw Paw’s trailer on the hill. I can’t believe I didn’t remember that. Pulling trees thru those wrappers and making it “our” problem that the customer didn’t think about how they were going to take a tree home in the family sedan.

Bikes! Transportation for boys! I can think of bikes at Glendale though I cannot remember how we got them home. I think my favorite bike was in Millington in what must have been 6th grade. I got a bike, I got a paper route, I went everywhere! I had a huge basket on the front to handle the paper route. I was a man of means.

Sang my first “Messiah” in Oxnard as a freshman in high school. Our choir director at school was the director for the city chorus group. He recruited from his choirs to make sure he had people he could direct. I certainly enjoyed it. I still have a copy in my library in case I ever come across a community singing.

We missed the brothers who could not make it to Mom’s this year. Those who were there had a good time and I believe Mom enjoyed everyone. Pizza is still an odd meal at Christmas but it sure is good relative to all the ham eaten in the days before and after.

Happy New Year to all, and to all a good night!
Uncle Westy over and out!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I just thought I was through!

The silver tree with the color wheel base! I don’t remember how long we had that one but we were sure cool for a while!

Ric reminded me about the construction paper ring chains and the threaded popcorn. I think that was in Maine.

My first Christmas away from home in the Navy. Christmas in Honolulu! You would have thought they invented it. There were lights everywhere. Santa Clause in a Hawaiian Shirt. Palm trees with Christmas lights all around and up in the tops.

Christmas in Okinawa. Japanese people, Shinto religion, follow the money. The U.S. held the island under treaty, the American Dollar was the official currency and Santa reigned. At least in Naha and everywhere there was an American base. By the way, the worlds largest drive in A&W Root Beer stand is in Naha.

Mandy as Mary in the Christmas plays at Lighthouse Church when she was in elementary school. I have forgotten how many years she got to be Mary, but it was just assumed.

The year we did the Christmas story at the Lighthouse and used real animals. A real donkey and several sheep of which I think only one made it to the play. While unloading them at the church, several of them made a run for it down Hwy 31. There were reports for a couple of days after of sightings of the stray sheep but we never caught them. I didn’t chase them but I remember watching several of the guys running WAY behind the sheep.

Christmas breakfast at Brother Charles’ house. He would have fried up at lease one ham, many pounds of smoked sausage, many pounds of bacon, a huge pot of grits and fried eggs to order. Mrs. Burgess’ cat-head biscuits and plenty of juice and coffee. He invited just about anyone he was related to and most of those he went to church with. I qualified both ways so I never missed. He got great satisfaction from being the cook and serving everyone.

Maybe more later. Merry Christmas everyone.
Uncle Westy over and out!

In no particular order:
Earliest Christmas I remember . Jacksonville , FL. The Christmas party at the base. I remember a HUGE hanger with a million people. We all got a bag of gifts. My memory is that it was a huge bag, but then I wasn’t very big at the time.

Christmas at Mamo’s. We kids were upstairs in Carolyn’s room being unruly. The tree was in the living room but we couldn’t really see it from upstairs without being seen. I remember hearing jingle bells and we all ran back to the bed and hid. Don’t remember anything else until the next morning when of course Santa had come.

Christmas at Mamo’s. Ric and I got Shootin’ shell fanner 50’s. Double holsters, hats. The guns had sticky caps that you put on the shell and the rubber bullet was spring loaded so they really shot. I can’t imagine being a parent putting up with that. Especially multiple sets!

Christmas decorations at PawPaw’s. First in West End. They lived in the neighborhood behind where West End Baptist is now. Then in the Mill Village. PawPaw always had the house trimmed in lights. Everyone in the Mill Village was big on lights.

Driving in from anywhere west of here and coming thru Maplesville. That was our cue to start waking up and watch for Carolyn’s radio station. It still seemed like a long way from that station to Mamo’s.
Tornado in the Mill Village. Took off the end of the Mill and made a mess of the Mill Village.

Chimney fire in the house on Temple Rd. The week before Christmas and the weather wasn’t sure whether it was going to be warm or cold. Tried to rush a wood fire in the wood heater and left the bottom door open too long. Set the creosote in the chimney on fire and we had to call the fire department to put it out and check the house over. Right in the middle of it I noticed this one old guy sitting on the couch not doing anything to help but really enjoying the commotion. Bib overalls, no tee shirt, ball cap. I asked him if he was with the fire department (volunteers remember) and he said “no, but I heard it on the scanner and wanted to come watch.” I asked him to go home.

Christmas on Temple Rd. Or rather Christmas Eve. ALL of our clan coming to Dad’s. Some of us after communion at the Methodist church, other as soon as they could clear other responsibilities. Dad leaving the movie camera set up on a tri-pod in the corner and just letting it run during the festivities.

Christmas Eve Dad sitting in his chair holding court during the opening of presents. Someone else got the presents but he directed the traffic and made sure that everyone was opening something. The sheer quantity of it all! An eggnog toast and everyone off to there own home until we could bring all the kids with their presents back for him to inspect the next day.

Christmas programs at First Methodist Church Clanton. Big productions by Miss Helen. Men, women and children everywhere.

Candlelight/communion service Christmas eve at First Methodist with Mom. Who ever of us would show up and fill up two isles on the left side, mid-way down. God lives there you know. It is only right to sing out loud and clear and stand next to Mom so she can hear you. I have had my own church responsibilities for many years and have different applications of the things we learned of Jesus, but there is a comfort in that old church with the murals, stained glass and big organ that I only get when I go there.

I really thought I would have more than that. There’s a lot going on around here today and I’m just not concentrating. I’ve started the thread, y’all pitch in.

uncle westy over and out!