Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The rest of the story ...

Watching NBA basketball is not my definition of an enjoyable of night. But I had spent most of the day Tuesday mowing the yard and cleaning up my shop and was just flat TIRED.

So, I decided to just sit, rest (after I cleaned up) and watch NBA basketball. I sat through the Mavericks-Hornets elimination game and then through half the Spurs-Suns game until I heard the bed calling my name.

I didn’t find out until the next morning that the Spurs had won.

Now, what’s so bad about that(?), you may (or may not) be thinking.

I haven’t watched a pro basketball game for two years, or more. Oh, I admit when Michael Jordan was doing his thing and the Bulls were winning championships, I had a mild interest. Back in those days, I was supposed to watch them, or, at least, that’s what I tell people.

I haven’t watched a a pro basketball game in a couple of years or so, mainly because I don’t’ care for NBA basketball. Unless it’s the Yankees or Cowboys, and especially my beloved Oklahoma Sooners, my days of paying attention to any sport has pretty much disappeared.

Now, I’ve been a Yankees fan clear back to my high school days, and I still have a definite interest in them. Ditto, the Cowboys, since I used to go to so many games in my sports writing days. The Sooners have had my interest for as long as I can remember.

Much to Cynthia’s chagrin. She likes gong to a good baseball or basketball game, and UT-Tyler is good in both.

Just last weekend, I went to my first UT-Tyler baseball game of the season, simply because Cynthia wanted to go. But we still left after six innings, because I had had enough.

I watch ESPN’s First Take every morning, I get a chance, except for the days I have something else to do.

One guy I used to cover Dallas Cowboys games with – Skip Bayless, then of the Dallas Times Herald, is on First Take, and I’m amused at what he has to say. He’s a big San Antonio Spurs fan and used to cover the Mavericks, so he knows of what he speaks. To listen to him, he actually knows everything, at least well enough to talk about on ESPN.

The NBA is his specialty, so he says, so that’s why I was watching NBA games, to see if he actually knows of what he speaks.

Now, as they say, you know the “rest of the story.”

A trip down the Ledger way!

Hey, let’s take a little trip through something I like to call “The Ledger”, since that is the name. We haven’t done this a while, but it is great fun.

Hey, ready to go? Yay, let’s hop on the Ledger train!

This week’s edition isn’t out yet, so we will be visiting the one from last week. Ooh, there is a COLOR picture of a butterfly on a wild verbena plant on the front. Good start, huh!

Let’s see, the top story is something about a Board considering property tax exemption vote! Great, will I get my taxes cut…? Oh, afraid not. It only concerns household personal property and livestock employed in support of the family.

Livestock employed? How does that happen? Do they get a 401K?

Moving on…Corn seeks delay of public use plan! Wow, how did corn do this…ah, it’s Oklahoma Sen. Kenneth Corn, I see. Perhaps I am wrong, but isn’t the Forest Service like a national organization, not a state one?

Bluegrass, bike run on tap in Poteau. Have the bluegrassers run and I’ll attend. Did notice there is something called a golf torunament in Late September. What is the torunament they are referring to? Hmm, the final paragraph says the golf tournament is not free to attend. But what about the torunament?

Spring cleanup set! Yes! Will be held May 12-16. Warning! It says move your stuff out to the curb from May 5-9. So any of you people who have crap at the curb you don’t want hauled off, better put it back on the porch. I can just see it now: “Wife” says the husband, “Where’d my recliner go that I like to sit in out by the road while drinking beer?”

Public is invited to view courthouse. Free GRILLED hot dogs and hamburgers. Hmm, FREE? You mean my taxes did not pay for these GRILLED hot dogs and burgs? Cool, sorry I missed out.

Page 2 was boring, so let’s move on to Page 3, shall we? Yes, this is the commentary page. Whoa, Ruth Sanford is still alive and spouting anti-Republican stuff. She closes out her thankfully short column with the following statement: “Thank God George Bush will not be on the ballot!”

Complete with exclamation point!

Roy wrote a column about global warming. Nothing good in the Letters to the Editor, sadly. Gov. Brad wrote a column but it looked long and boring so we will pass over that one.

Onward to Page 4. There was a story and pictures of Whitesboro FFA and the future of forestry. Hmm, can’t pique my interest. All right, it’s Down Memory Lane, my favorite part of the paper, other than the legals.

An old picture and story of Martin Tate as an aviation cadet. Sadly, I can’t read the whole story. In 1928, local businessmen were planning to pave Main Street. Hey, that’s an idea! Plus, the prom was going to be held…at a church. In 1978, Freddie Cox won a bass tournament and I didn’t even know Freddie fished!

I was about to skim over page 5 when buried at the bottom, I ran across the following headline: Racing Lawn Mowers. What the heck, I actually thought and I am NOT lying. People race their lawn mowers? Heck, I only race mine when Wild Bill (don’t know if that is his actual name) drives in front of my property going approximately eight MPH, in one of his 30 trips a day up and down Morris Creek Road. Yep, 2-0 so far in 2008 against Wild Bill!

They are going to show us how to race lawn mowers on May 10! Mark thine calendars and, uh, let me know how it goes.

There is also a story about Endowed Chairs on that page just dying for my commentary. How exactly did a chair get endowed and...uh, better let that one pass, eh?

The next two pages were boring, but hey, Waldron Nursing Home news is at the top of page 8! You might not know this, but I’m a big fan! Hey, they went to eat at the Golden Corral in Fort Smith and got to see flowers and budding trees! There is even a picture of two residents in the actual Golden Corral.

By gosh, we also have Lamplight Theatre Music News and not to be forgotten, Howe Music Hall News!

On the following page, a picture and story about the HHS softball team. And people playing on their ATV’s. There’s an ad promising $5,000 from the Farm Bureau for information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons involved in some shooting.

I guess they have the money to do this, since they pooted out the only claim I made against Farm Bureau during my over nine years of having insurance with them. How foolish was I to think if something was stolen from my own house, it would be covered. Yep, I was supposed to hear from the claim person in one to three days, waited a week and when I called, was denied.

The next page is church stuff and a couple of boring pages until we stop to scan the obits and see if there is anybody we know who died. Bernie Beydler passed on, sad to hear.

Classified ads were next. Sorry, nothing that caught my eyes. Now, drum roll please, it’s the last page. Yes, we know what that means! It’s the legals!

Wow, a full page, I was impressed until discovering they were duplicated. It’s bad enough your name is in the legals for getting sued or arrested, but it’s in their twice!

Apart from knowing a couple of people who failed to use their seat belt, didn’t recognize any names. Good.

Until next time, hope you enjoyed our trip!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Googling

Just out of curiosity, I decide to go Googling this morning.

I don’t know if a person can actually go Googling, although I did. Perhaps, the correct term is “Google it”, but I didn’t like that and wanted to be distinctive.

First off, I Googled “Craig Hall of Heavener, Oklahoma”. Now this is a tad scary, but there were 12,700 hits. Again, 12,700! Cool, eh? Fortunately, most of them came from either “Craig”, “Hall” or Heavener. Luckily, they were not all about me, that would really be scary

I did find one link I wasn’t aware of, please feel free to see it HERE. Family safe, I assure you. Gee, I feel honored. This is how it described my Smugmug photo site: “gorgeous pictures of the Heavener Area by a local resident”

Nice one, huh? Fortunately, other than the expected hits such as Best Looking Male in Heavener, etc., that about summed up Craig Hall in Google.

Since that didn’t occupy much time, I switched to Heavener in Googling. Much more information, of course. Here is some information about our fair city that you might be aware of, then again you might not. And then again even more, you might be wondering why you have read so far.

Anyway, here goes:

Heavener’s coordinates? How about 34”53’21-N and 94”36’15’-W. I honestly did not know that! Then again…Now before somebody comments that I didn't put the right dealiwhopper between the numbers, that's the best I could.

Did you know Heavener occupies 4.9 square miles? I sure didn't!

Elevation? How about 554 feet, by gosh! No wonder I feel so tired when I exert myself.

The population is estimated to be around 3,201 with 1,606 males and the rest, hopefully, females.

Heavener was formerly known as “Choctaw City”.

How about our median income? Would you believe it is $26,500? Really. In 1999, residents living below the poverty level were 26.3 percent compared to a state average of 14.7. Come on, people! Let’s boost that income, shall we!

Average household size of Heavener is 2.8 compared to 2.5 in Oklahoma. Does that mean we win?

Now here’s something I wasn’t aware of, and you probably wish you weren’t after reading this: The number of homosexual households in Heavener is 0.3 for the lesbians and 0.2 for the males. No stats about undecided so I don't the accuracy of this.

By the way, I thought I handled the last paragraph in a fairly classy manner, don’t you? But it was difficult, I might add.

The change in the population as far as race in the 1990’s? Only a smooth 21.3 percent, as if.

Now, you know much more about Heavener than you ever expected, or wanted. I accept your thanks in advance.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bumpy Ride

Since Craig brought up his flying experiences a few days ago, I thought you might find this interesting.

I've flown Southwest Airlines several times and have always enjoyed the experience. I understand they've changed their boarding policies since I rode with them last, so I can't say that phase of their service needs improvement.

This video IS NOT a Southwest Airlines plane, but it's similar in appearance. Since it sounds like it's from a foreign country (from the background audio you hear at the end), I can't confirm the type aircraft as a Boeing 737 (like Southwest...and other airlines, fly).

The point of all this, is that sometimes you can get a thrill from riding commercial aircraft.

video

You wouldn't want to be walking down the aisle when this baby landed.

I miss...

First off, I’m not some sappy living in the past guy. There are some great things about the modern era.

However, here are 10 things I miss about the past, mainly about the way Heavener used to be. Here they are:

1. Walking to and in downtown. If a person did that now, the loony squad would be in rapid pursuit. We used to walk downtown after school, on weekends, summer days and even to the theater at nights. Oh yeah, many of us who lived in town walked to school. No bus routes inside Heavener back then. We did have shoes and if the weather was bad, we could usually get a ride, no walking to school some four miles in the snow without shoes.

2. In the same vein (not blood, BTW), the way downtown used to be alive. That was the place to be. You didn’t have to go to Poteau, Fort Smith or ebay to get what you wanted or needed. There was a good chance somebody in Heavener actually had it.

3. The Liberty Theater. We didn’t care that it was run down, probably violating every health standard anybody could think of, that the seats were not comfortable and your shoes would stick to the floor. A part of Heavener died that October night in 1979 that has never been replaced.

4. The stores. We used to have Stanley’s Hardware, Wilson & Johnston, Caudell’s, the Appliance Center, T&M Pharmacy and my personal favorite, Ben Franklin’s. Wal-Mart and the malls just can’t ever top that.

5. The two banks. Back then, you were either an SNB or FNB person because your father and the father before him banked there. Both banks contributed so much to the community, not that I am knocking the current banking system here in Heavener. Just not the same.

6. Passenger trains. I rode on one of the last ones while in kindergarten. With the price of gas, it might be time to take another look at this type of transportation. I can just see it now: “Next stop, Poteau Wal Mart!” Plus, the caboose.

7. Shupert’s Service Station. I look over at his corner every time I drive by, knowing Dutch will not be there, but wishing he was. Back then, if there was something wrong with your car or you needed an oil change, you could count on Dutch.

8. Several different grocery stores. Now, we have Marvin’s. When I was a kid, we had a handful, some which would actually deliver your groceries.

9. The old athletic grounds. Our new football stadium, gym and baseball and softball fields are much better, but I would love to watch a game back in the old gym or sit on the uncomfortable concrete bleachers at Harvey Stadium one more time. Plus, in the summers, you always knew there would be games played at the baseball and softball fields and you could go back and forth, depending on who was playing.

10. Classmates. Some of moved, others have passed away and many still live in Heavener. But when we went our separate ways after saying farewell on graduation night, that bond slipped away for many of us. Now, we just see each other at alumni deals or happen to bump into each other at the store or a game.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Priceless

No, this isn't a knock off of the Mastercard ads, that were actually pretty good the first thousand times we saw them.

Instead, this blog is about something I truly feel is priceless. But first, a little background.

For those of you who don't know, I really got into photography in 2004. When I get into something, it’s usually with both feet, legs, torso, arms, brain and everything.

Don’t get me wrong (dang, that sounded bossy, eh?), I still enjoy photography and spend a lot of time each week trying to come up with a masterpiece.

Something has gotten pushed to the wayside because of my photography, however. Family time? Uh, hopefully not. No, it is using the old camcorder to film stuff.

That was made evident the other night. My wife found our old tapes from our Sony camcorder. We bought the camcorder sometime around 2000, prior to all the digital ones coming out.

Yes, it uses tapes. It does not have a built in disc recorder or internal memory. Tapes, by gosh!

After hunting for the camcorder and the accessories to make it work, we got the thing working and were brought back in time.

It may not seem that long ago, but life changes a lot in five, six, seven or eight years, especially when you have children growing up. We watched our kids grow from little guys to much bigger guys. Their bodies transformed in front of our eyes, as did their squeaky voices.

There were Christmas celebrations, along with the birthdays, and so much more and the tape collection has barely been touched.

I saw footage from what I call the great ice storm of 2000. I stood on the back deck and filmed what looked like it came from a horror movie. I heard the limbs breaking off the pine trees at the back of our property, making a noise that sounded like shotguns going off.

The following day, my youngest son and I went investigating and saw how bad it really was with limbs torn from the tree, some hanging. The ice was so thick, it’s amazing that any trees survived.

We saw our old friend Oscar the weenie dog, who passed away in 2004, back in his prime, making sure he was included in pretty much everything. We saw him play with his toy, sit up and beg and got to hear his bark.

I also saw my old dogs Maggie and Harley, also gone to the great dog resting place. They were 12 and 13 when they passed on, but full of life in the videos.

We saw our youngest son play basketball and score six points in one game. This was in a league played at the old gym with few rules and short rims. Somewhere along the line, he gave up the sport. But in the video, he scored baskets, turned and waved at us, the smile stretching from one ear to the other.

My little buddy James, our seven-year old nephew, was a star in several tapes. I saw him walking for one of the first times, or trying to walk. On one tape, I filmed him as he used my legs to pull himself up and try to walk, failing after a couple of steps.

We celebrated his first birthday, his face getting covered with cake in the cute way only little ones can do.

I saw the way our place used to look. Prior to moving in during the summer of 2000, the area where our house is located was overgrown pasture. No trees, shrubs and the only flowers were the wild kinds.

We saw the trees again, back when they were first planted, and even how things looked prior to that.

There is so much more to go through, but so much more that I missed. I will not quit taking pictures, but know I need to fire up the old video camera at special times and even times that don't seem so special. Pictures are great, but there is something about the video that even a photograph can’t touch.

And just think, somewhere in that old house on the west side of town, there are videos from even farther back, just waiting to be discovered once again.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Depot

One of the favorite memories of my youth, living in Heavener, was the time when I was delivering the Tulsa World newspaper in town (the West side). I inherited the job from John Owen, who was a couple of grades ahead of me in school. I think I was in the 9th grade at the time.

Okay, to be truthful, I didn't really enjoy delivering papers, but there were some benefits.
Since the Tulsa World was a morning newspaper, I had to deliver it before school each morning of the work week and before Church on Sunday. I learned right away that there was no way I could cover the whole West side on my bicycle and still make it to school on time.

Since I was going to turn 14 in January, my Dad allowed me to get a motorbike (one of the benefits I mentioned earlier). We bought it down at the Western Auto, from Mr. Council. The motorbike was a "Simplex"...belt drive, automatic transmission, but for a 14-year-old, it was quite a thrill to ride compared to a bicycle. Dad constructed a heavy-duty rack to fit over the back fender for me to hang my paper bag on.

The Tulsa World newspapers made their way to Heavener, each morning, aboard the Kansas City Southern. As I recall, the train was scheduled to pull into Heavener's station around 5:30 a.m., and since it was winter when I took over the job, it was dark at that time of morning. I tried to arrive at the depot before the train got there, so I was usually in a position to pull the paper bales from the train as it pulled to a stop. The guy in the mail car would always have them sitting next to the open door as the train came to a stop.

Back then, ....1958 or '59..., Heavener's train depot was a large two story building. It had a nice cozy waiting room where passengers, and those waiting to pick up passengers, could sit in one of several benches that filled the room. There was a window where tickets could be purchased and the ever-present 'status board' showing the expected arrival and departure times of the trains. Times were 'chalked' on the board because the times fluctuated day-to-day.

Since there weren't normally many passengers waiting for the train at that time of the morning, I usually had the place to myself. It made a nice warm (and dry, if it was raining outside) place where I could 'roll' my papers. About the only place I ventured other than the waiting room was the telegraph office that was located upstairs at the opposite end of the building. The operator would usually buy a paper from me if I would make the trip upstairs and offer him one.

The depot was exciting for a 14-year-old (at least this one). While the rest of Heavener was still asleep, for the most part, the depot and surrounding ramp was usually bustling. As the train's arrival neared, workers would start moving the large-wheeled carts into position to accept luggage and/or mail and freight deliveries. Okay, maybe it was just one guy, but he was 'bustling'.

When the train arrived, I would notice the faces peering thought the windows and I'd wonder where these people were going and where they came from. I don't believe I ever had the nerve to do it, but my old friend Ira Dale Franklin, when he was there (he had a paper route also), would sometimes take an armful of papers and get on the train and walk the aisles, selling most of them. I always had this fear that the train would take off before I could get off, so I wasn't as venturesome.

In warm weather, I would usually roll by papers on the outside of the waiting room. This allowed me to better monitor the activity going on around me on the ramp. It wasn't unusual to hear baby chickens 'chirping' as they were moved from the train to join the other boxes, mail bags, and who knows what else that was unloaded with them.

The Heavener train depot was one in a long list of things that I hated to see go away when it was torn down. I don't remember exactly what year that was, but it was no longer needed once passenger service ceased out of Heavener. It's removal was one of those "signs of the time" that one witnesses as years go by.

The Coffee Shop

Many years ago Heavener had a bus station in the downtown area. It was located at the corner across the street from the current police station. It was a drive through corner similar to those that used to be popular for downtown gasoline stations. Next to it was the Coffee Shop on the same street as Stanley Hardware. It survived longer than the bus station.

The Coffee Shop was the weekly meeting place of the Quarterback Club. It also was a place where some kids hung out in the early evening (before midnight). The summer between my sophomore and junior years at HHS it was also my employer. Not too many people were aware of the job because it didn’t start until 3:00 AM and was over by 5:00 AM. I was the swamper who cleaned up the floor each night (morning?). Practically the only people who were in the place at that early hour were railroad men and an occasional drunk.

My job was simple. Get the mop and bucket and swamp the floor from the back to the front. At least it would have been simple if not for the customers in the Shop at the time. Getting one of the railroad workers to move his feet or change booths was nigh on to impossible. And any drunks that were in the place made life even more interesting. So what should have been a one hour job usually took me closer to two hours as I waited for the slow coffee drinkers to leave so I could clean the floor in all the booths.

The best part of the job was the end! When I had finished I would drive to Hodgens with all the windows in the car down. Air conditioning was something still in my future but, before 5:00 AM the air at least felt cool. It was also usually at 100% humidity. On the return trip from Hodgens I would drive as fast as my Father’s car (1955 Chevrolet with the small block V-8) would run. First, across the flat north of Hodgens and then a slight reduction in speed to turn after crossing the bridge over the Poteau. Accelerate again until the curve around the end of Pine Mountain came up—back off a little—and then let it all out on the straight into Heavener. At the end of the straight I would stand on the brakes and make the turn on to Independence Road as fast as my skills would let me. On a couple of occasions I went just a little north of the west bound road and up in the church yard.

It would be dangerous to do now what I did back then. I never met anyone on my high speed runs into Heavener and cannot recall ever having to pass a car. Traffic was practically non-existent.

I suppose that my Father would have skinned me if he had known what I was doing.

Thanks, Derek (as in Jeter)!

In the blogging business, this is what is referred to as a “quickie”. A blog quickie, not any other kind, mind you.

I have a lot to write about, but little time as a trip across the border to Fort Smith is on the menu for this fine Saturday afternoon. My reason for the trip will be revealed later.

Anyway, I just wanted to inform everybody that my future millionaire status will be delayed at least three days. As you no doubt read about in yesterday’s fine blog, I discussed my entry into a contest where a guesser picks a player each day to get a hit.

If the guesser can do that for 57 straight days, they win a million smackers. I was on a three-day streak going into yesterday. Foolishly, I picked a Yankee (just kidding John Inman), Derek Jeter who basically went ohfer.

Now, I am back at zero. Remember, there is no crying in baseball or in the MLB Beat the Streak Contest! I must get up, rub some dirt on the pain and go again. Garrett Atkins of the Rockies (who is batting .387 lifetime against Brad Penny of the Dodgers and hitting .333 on the season) is the MAN.

Don’t let me down Garrett and join Derek (Ohfere) Jeter on my banned list. Some clutch hitter you are, Derek! Yeah, I know all about the World Series success, but when I leaned on you, aargh!

I shall keep everybody updated. Go Garrett!

Every day, we have new topics at the Heavener Forum. Please get involved and either start some topics at the forum or suggest some to me via email.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Craigman...future millionnaire!

I would like to take this opportunity to let all of you know that in 54 days, I expect to be a millionaire.

No, I am not a psychic. Psycho? Only when a certain favorite sport team that will remain nameless flops in the Fiesta Bowl.

Instead, I expect to win a million dollars. Yep, I will be receiving a check for seven figures, at least that’s what I am counting on. Hopefully it isn’t one of those deals where they give you a certain amount the first year and then some every year thereafter so they can benefit from their interest earned.

Now how am I going to win this million dollars? Is it because of my good lucks? Shih Tzu no. Charm? Sadly, no. Some invention? The only thing I have invented is a different way to sit in the favorite chair so I can eat and control the remote at the same time.

So, just how am I going to win a million dollars in 54 days? It’s because I am taking part in the MLB Beat the Streak contest. The kind people at MLB have promised to give me (or anybody else, as if) that much money if I can correctly guess a major league hitter to get a hit every day for 57 straight days.

It doesn’t have to be the same batter or that would be impossible (Just where have you gone, Joe Dimaggio?). Instead, every day, I get to choose who I think will get a hit that day.

Now that gives me something else to think about instead of the important stuff, eh? Right now, my streak is three. After Derik Jeter gets a hit off Paul Byrd in today’s game, I will be up to four!

I have only been playing this game for a couple of weeks. I was actually up to six games a week ago before A-Rod bombed on me, the bum. I would have been at eight games then, but I forgot to hit the submit button the first two times I tried to play.

If you are looking for something that doesn’t take much time to take part in and want a chance at nabbing a million bucks, I urge you to do this. I’ll even share my strategy, and it won’t cost you a penny.

Every morning, I look over who is pitching for the various teams. I always choose an el stinker, somebody who has an ERA approaching what the cost of gas will probably be in a year from now.

I also like to pick a player from a good team, so sorry Ken Griffey Jr., you are probably out of luck, along with everybody from Washington, Baltimore and the National League teams, other than my man Chase Utley, who has come through in the clutch twice!

From my extensive research, I try to pick a player from a team playing at home. Then, I look to see how the player has done against the pitcher over the last few years and also how they are doing this year. All available right there!

Yep, I have vetoed name-brand players because they have problems against a certain pitcher, or because their hitting is in the toitey.

As you can see, that isn’t very technical. But in two months when I’m in the money, you can say you knew me back before I was a rich snoot and how I made my money.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More on 'Friends'

It’s nothing like “Friends”, the sitcom which appeared on network TV a few years ago and still has re-runs today, but my circle of friends brings some laughs, too.

The Heavener variety is a long-running circle, dating back to, hmmm, I guess, the early 1950s. From the days of growing up on 2nd Street, there are friendships still to this day.

Like Russell Walker, my next door neighbor. We don’t talk a lot, but I don’t miss an opportunity to visit with Russell, or anyone from Heavener for that matter.

Once, Cynthia had some business in Oklahoma City. Since I’m retired, I usually travel with her. I saw going to OK City as a chance for a mini-Reunion. There are plenty of friends there.

In addition to Russell, there’s Dennis West, Paul Riggins, Jim’s brother Harold Patterson and even Nancy (Gilstrap) Adams, who lives not far from there in Purcell. Nancy and I were ‘sweethearts’, as far back as the 2nd grade. Cynthia knows that, plus she and Nancy have a friendship that dates way back. Dennis was a 2nd Street guy, too. (more on that in another blog, maybe).

Paul was a classmate of mine as were Nancy & Dennis.

I remember when I first saw Jim and Harold. It was in the summer prior to my junior year and it was at a fireworks stand on the south end of town. Jim drove an old green Studebaker and he and Harold came running across the hi-way. (Just thought I’d throw that little tidbit in)

Anyway, I got in touch with all of them, and we managed to get together for supper at one of the many fine restaurants in OK City, Spaghetti Warehouse, I recall.

Naturally, the spouses were invited as well. Harold’s wife Sheila and Dennis’ spouse Carol joined us. Paul’s wife didn’t come, but I’ve met her at one of the HHS Reunions. Nancy’s husband, Lee, didn’t come along, either, but we got the opportunity to meet him at their home in Purcell.

Nice fellow, that Lee.

Also, we got a chance to meet with one of the late Ron Bentley’s sons, Jayson. I mentioned in a previous blog, that Ron was one of my best friends, so I go back a way with Ron’s children Jayson, Dean and Raechel.

We all had a grand time sharing a few memories and laughs. That’s what reunions are about, whether it’s with old classmates, or just part of our days in Heavener.

Another time, again when Cynthia was on a business junket to Oakland, CA., we got a chance to visit with Rick Noble, one of Cynthia’s classmates, who lives in Pleasanton, a little south of Oakland. I didn’t know him, but we had something in common, beside Cynthia.

Rick and his wife are both in the newspaper business. Rick at the San Francisco Chronicle, after spending time at the San Jose Mercury-News where his wife works. Cynthia had mentioned Rick several times. Rick actually designed the T-shirt for Cynthia’s ’71 class and most of the class had one on at the last HHS Reunion. He designed it with the Runestone in mind.

I always want to meet a fellow journalist from Heavener.

A techno world

For those of you expecting a blog about my visit to Louisville, you’ll have to wait another day or two.

I’m tired of writing about traveling and remembering my trips over the past year.

Instead, I’d like to talk about the upcoming presidential election and…okay, don’t click on the back button or gasp, the big X yet, that was a joke.

I REALLY have no desire to write about any of them. Instead, I want to comment on the internet.

Why? I started a topic yesterday at the Heavener Yahoo Group on favorite web sites. By the way, you are more than welcome to visit the Heavener forum and comment on this topic and others.

I listed my favorite web sites as Yahoo because of the varied content it offers. Plus, that’s where I take part in the fantasy sports. Baseball is my favorite fantasy sport, followed by football, golf and basketball. Sorry, can’t get into Nascar. No wrecks on fantasy racing.

But it also got me to thinking about what I like and dislike about the internet and modern technology.

The numero uno part of the internet I enjoy is the instant gratification. No, not that way. What I mean is if I want to find out something like what the weather will be three days from now, or, research the batting average for some seldom-used KC Royals second baseman, I could find the information out in less than thirty seconds.

Back in the old days, you had to wait hours or longer to find out information like that. Plus, the internet is a great way to communicate with old friends and meet new ones. Thanks to the internet, I have had people AROUND THE GLOBE (that’s what they used to say on ABC’s Wide World of Sports) actually see my photographs.

Would that be possible without the internet? Not likely. I think my photographs are pretty good, but I don’t have anybody banging on my door to publish a photo book because the Koreans can’t get enough of my pictures of bugs.

I have published several web sites, as some of you are aware. That has allowed me to get to know people who I would not have met otherwise. Many of them are now friends, or at least I consider them friends.

Plus, the internet is entertaining at times. There are interactive forums, games, videos, news and so much more. So personally, I think the internet has added to the living experience.

But…

There are things about the internet and modern technology that I don’t enjoy. The first part is how many people spend way too much time on the internet. There are people who choose to sit at home all the time instead of getting out of the house, exercising, socializing and much more, all things that are very important.

With the internet, video game boxes, cell phones and satellite televisions, modern technology has taken over the lives of so many people.

Yes, we have all of these items. I spend too much time on the internet, don’t play video games much anymore, talk only on the cell phone when it is necessary and watch some television.

However, I do get out of the house and go for walks (oops, usually with my semi-modern camera wrapped around my neck) and used to go for drives until the cost of gas knocked that for a loop.

I do not text message on my cell unless I can’t actually talk. I also don’t keep my phone glued to my ear constantly like you see so many people doing while walking or driving. It’s like a requirement for some people: I’m just walking or driving so I will talk on the phone about whoever and whatever.

Could I get by without my cell? Yes, but I would like to have it for emergencies and I use it for my main phone for work.

But I would really enjoy walking through the mall or driving and not see 90 percent of the people with a phone glued to their ear.

Sometimes, I enjoy just reading a book. A real book, not an audiobook or an ebook.

When I am out and about, I seldom see the youth outside playing, like we did. That’s how we entertained ourselves. Now the only kids you see outside are the Hispanic kids. No wonder there are so many kids struggling with their weight.

Some of my fondest memories as a little one are the backyard football games, hide and seek and whatever else we came up with. It could be hot or cold, it really didn’t matter.

That’s the way it should be for the kids, not inside surfing the net, watching television, texting friends or talking on their cell.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Friends are important

Friends are important, especially when they are from Heavener. I never hesitate to tell anyone where I’m from, nor think twice about visiting with a friend I knew back in my Heavener days.

Cynthia and I always make it back to the Heavener High School Reunions.

Two of my best friends ever are from Heavener, Mike Mattison and Ron Bentley, both of whom have gone on to meet the Lord. And many of my best friends are from Heavener.

I always keep in touch with Jim Patterson, a former classmate, even though he lives in Arlington. We email each other almost every day and Cynthia and I always go to Arlington every year when the Yankees play the Rangers. Jim gets us tickets every year, and we already have a trip planned in August.

We’re going to see the Yankees when they play the Astros in June, and we’ll probably see Steve Mattison while we’re there. He was the best man in our wedding. He is Mike Mattison’s brother and was one of Cynthia’s good friends in high school.

You get the idea I’m a Yankees fan

Steve is the kind of guy whose job has taken him to several cities and states, but we’ve never lost contact. Cynthia and I have visited him in Charlotte, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and, earlier this year, in Houston.

We were in Heavener in February to visit her Aunt Mable and for me to go to a class meeting at Sherry Copeland’s house. It gave me a chance to have lunch with Bill Pitchford at the Southern Belle and catch up on some old times. We did grow up just down the street from each other.

I lived only a few houses from the Babcocks and we’ve visited on occasion with Bill, whenever we make the drive through Octavia along 259 to Heavener. We also visited with Joe when we went to Lake Conroe in January. He lives not far from there, in Plantersville,TX.

One thing I’ve missed about blogging is reading something about Heavener, or someone from Heavener.

Since Craig (Hall) stopped publishing HOL (Heavener on line) I’ve missed reading blogs from Craig, Gracie (Coggins) Kidwell, Glen Lazalier, Pat (Linville) Burroughs and Chuck Hudlow (and others). I didn’t know Glen and Pat before, but felt I did after reading their blogs.

Chuck has retired from the fast-paced life at DFW and moved closer to Tyler and we have plans to see him and Maureen soon. He says he play golf a lot, so I may have to take up the game again. I used to have a set of golf clubs, but gave them away so I would never be tempted to play again.

He lives in Hideaway now, which is only a few miles from Tyler. We’ve already seen him once, at Cracker Barrel. Chuck loves to eat, and so do I. So, that’s another thing I have in common with Chuck. (You could never tell it by looking at either one of us.)

I’m not the only one who consider Heavener friends important. Cynthia on business trips has visited with Lalia (Tate) Click in Nashville and with Rick Noble in Pleasanton (CA) on a trip to Oakland.

If any Heavenerite makes a trip to East Texas, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Anyway, it’s good to be blogging again and I hope others in Heavener do the same.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The not so friendly skies

During the first few times I flew, things went smooth. I expected flying to always go like that.

Sadly, I found out that wasn’t the case. If you recall from yesterday’s blog, I flew to Seattle in June. My next trip was in November to Louisville.

Should be an easy go, eh? A simple flight from Fort Smith to Memphis, a short layover and then on to Louisville.

Not so fast, oh bald one, I soon discovered. I was set to fly out Sunday morning on Northwest. Early that morning, I got a call saying the flight was cancelled due to maintenance issues.

Yeah, right. Now if the plane actually had issues, I wouldn’t want to be flying on it. I figured they just didn’t have enough passengers. Anyway, I was rescheduled on an American flight at 5 p.m. with a layover in Dallas and then on to Memphis.

I would get there much later, but still no biggie, right? Uh, wrong. We start to board the plane and are ordered back to where we just came from. Trouble with this plane! Egads.

We wait and wait. I start worrying about my connection. I am semi-reassured that if the plane takes off within the next hour, I’ll get my connection.

Finally, they let us back on and we set sail to DFW. Surprisingly, it only takes 30 minutes to get there. I’m not sure, but I believe the pilot might have exceeded the speed limit, if there is a speed limit.

At DFW, I catch the little speed tram, or whatever it is called, and zoom to my gate, barely making it on time. Or so I thought, the flight is delayed. I can see my precious beauty sleep fading away.

To mercifully end this part, we finally get to Louisville and I check into the hotel at about midnight CST, which just so happens to be 1 a.m. EST. I have to be up in, hmm, five hours?

So I spend my three days in Louisville. On Wednesday, I get to the airport way too early for my afternoon flight. After killing hours, I head down to the gate. Within a few minutes, I see a lot of anxious fliers attempting to get to Rochester. Whoo, I thought, glad that isn’t me.

Almost time to board when I notice my flight is delayed 30 minutes. No biggie, still plenty of time. A little later, I notice the flight is kicked back another 15 more minutes. I start to worry about my connecting flight out of Memphis. No prob! I am assured by the counter person.

I breathe a sigh of relief and head to the toitey. As I return to my gate, there is a line stretching out of sight. What’s up, I ask the last person. Big storm in Memphis. Flight is delayed for another hour.

I do the math. It isn’t good. There is no way I can get my flight out of Memphis, which happens to be the last flight to Fort Smith that night! But I have to start my new job the next day!

The lines split as another person appears. Sorry, she tells me. You’re outta luck. She didn’t actually tell me that, but that’s how I took it. I picture myself hanging out in an airport all night, not my ideal sleeping arrangements.

After some haggling, she agrees to let me have a hotel room. No food, just a room. The hotel is right next to the airport and is below Hotel 6 standards. But I do get out the next morning and arrive home smoothly.

My next trip is in January, again leaving out of the Fort on Sunday at 11ish. I woke up that morning and discover the fog is thicker than Oprah’s chub rolls. This isn’t good, I decide. That thought is confirmed once I get to the airport. Everything is backed up.

During the weeks leading up to my flight, I seriously considered driving to Louisville instead of flying. It would take some 12 hours so I decided to go ahead and fly.

Finally, some two hours after my flight is scheduled to leave, they announce my flight will be boarding soon. I check my connection with the counter person. I had missed my original flight and all the other flights were full. She sends me over to the American counter.

The helpful attendant gets on her computer and decides she CAN help me. Cool, I thought, until she told me I would have to go from Fort Smith to Dallas to Denver to Louisville and get in well after midnight.

The flight is delayed so I happen to notice another attendant. I explain my situation and ask if there is some other way to get to Louisville without touring the country. She gets on the same computer and discovers an opening on a later flight direct from Dallas to Louisville.

I wind up getting to Louisville after midnight. What should have taken five hours, takes 14. So remember the 12 hour drive? That would have beaten what it took to fly.

I get to my hotel and they don’t have a reservation. But after much begging, they let me have a room for the night with assurances that it will be taken care of in the morning.

By the way, after spending almost three weeks in Louisville, which I will discuss in a future blog, my flight home went as planned. Miracles apparently do happen.

Monday, April 21, 2008

We're Back!

So, I get this email from Craig today and he explains this Yahoo thing. How long has it been since HOL bit the dust? A long time, right? I'm out of sync and it may take awhile before I get back into it....writing, I mean.

I'm wondering how many of our Heavener High School alumni will figure out how to get here and actually read any of these things, but I'm not going to worry about it. For any that do and know me, I'll update my situation for you.

I am now retired...I hung up my headset (figuratively speaking) in January of this year. My wife and I have moved to East Texas and are enjoying the great outdoors and playing lots of golf. We enjoy eating lunch on our deck overlooking a back yard full of tall pine and oak trees while watching squirrels and some birds I've never seen before, fight over the feed that we leave out for them.

I'll try to get in the groove and write something interesting next time.

Travelin' man

Oh, I'm a travelin' man

Yes, I'm a travelin' man

Oh, I'm a travelin' man

Mmmmm....

Those are some of the lyrics to “I’m a Travelin’ Man” by Rick Nelson, used without permission, I’d like to add. I found the last line to be songwriting at its best. "Mmmmm...."

Now just why am I leading off my blog with lyrics to a song that many people have not heard and those who have probably wish they hadn’t? I don’t know, I guess it is because that describes my life over the last year. I’ll get to the very non-juicy details shortly.

But first, I must lead you down the short path, otherwise known as padding the length of the blog to make it seem like the content is better.

Over the years, I have pretty much made Heavener the center of my universe. I haven’t traveled much, other than a few short trips to here and there. I use the term “here and there” because I don’t want to spend too much time describing the few places I have been, although I just did in explaining the term.

Anyway, I did go to Las Vegas once in 1995 and then spent a week in St. Cloud, Minnesota. First trip was pleasure, second on business. Nothing all that memorable, eh? The last trip was in 1997 and I had not flown since then, not that it bothered me.

But in the last year, in addition to putting over 20,000 miles on the old Equinox driving the narrow, windy, two-lane roads in western Arkansas, I have flown three times.

Yes, three! Egosh! (that’s the internet version of my gosh!) Here’s the lineup: Last June, Bellingham, Washington (the state, not the District of Columbia). Then, I have flown to Louisville (as in Kentucky) twice, the first time in November, the second in January.

All three trips were work related and thankfully paid by my employers, yes, that is plural. Future blog, eh?

Let’s discuss the Washington trip first, since it occurred before the Kentucky journeys. It was early in June last year, right as the temperatures were soaring here in the Heavtown. We left early on a Sunday morning out of Fort Smith with the first stop at Memphis.

I had not flown in the last decade, which was before the serious inspections at the airport. Thus, I had my dangerous body spray seized and confiscated. Hmm, they were obviously more worried about my sneaking a bomb onto the plane instead of body odor issues.

But then, it was on to Seattle. Pull out your old map, shall ye? As you can see, to go from Seattle to Memphis is quite the trip. A four-hour trip, a four-hour trip (sorry, I borrowed that from Gilligan’s Island). Northwest Airlines, baby, a soon-to-be thorn in my side and other body extremities, would furnish the airplane.

So, you might be wondering, how was I entertained during this long trip? Movie? Grub? Not so fast. Two cans of pop, no food unless I wanted to pluck down a five spot for a can of Pringles that would last about two minutes, give or take the turbulence level. Movie? I don’t think so.

Instead, I tried to stare out the window. Most of the trip, I saw a lot of clouds and squares. After getting closer to the northwest, I did get to see a lot of snow-covered mountains, then more clouds. After getting close to Seattle, we got to see all the big mountains like Hood and Baker, the snow-covered tops peaking through the clouds.

We landed in Seattle and took a bus, no, that’s right, I did say a BUS for the hour and a half trip to Bellingham. Scenery was beautiful. Did I say anything earlier about clouds? Well, it was cloudy, cool and it rained, an annoying little drizzle that seemed to happen every day, most of the day.

I have never seen anything so green. We saw the ocean, the bay, a lot of people riding bikes, as in the pedal kind, along with many people who needed a haircut.

Bellingham was a nice place, although kind of dreary. Most people didn’t seem to notice their yard needed mowed. I visited the bay which was the highlight of the trip and is the picture at the top of the blog, but didn’t see any whales. Somehow, it failed to drizzle during that trip. But did you happen to notice it is cloudy in the picture?

I believe the highest the temperature ever got was in the mid-50s. In June! I decided then these people probably had some clogged-up sweat glands. I also discovered quickly that the price index for that region was at a higher level.

Nine bucks for a burg! Outrageous! But they did have this thing called Jo’s, which is what they called their French fries. I think they are actually just steak fries, but they were served pretty much everywhere and were good.

Anyway, I did survive the week. As we were leaving and driving back to Seattle on a BUS, one of my classmates got a call and was told that our business had pretty much shut down for the rest of the year. Strange, nobody bothered to tell us at company headquarters that our ability to make money was basically shut down. Hmmm. Must have been an oversight, eh?

When I stepped off the plane in Memphis, it felt like I was going into a sauna. That’s when I knew I was close to home.

Next up, the unfriendly skies.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring has sprung

Ah, spring!

The time of year when the front (and back) lawn have bodies of water where there should be none.

The pollens have thine nose a tickling and the snot a dripping.

Alas, let’s not forget about the threat of a massive F5 twister bearing down on one’s house, the danger greater the closer ye live to a mobile home community (commonly referred to around these parts as a trailer park).

You can walk outside, on certain days, and actually work up a sweat. Other days, you can freeze your tush.

Lately, the days have gotten a might warm and the nights a tad chilly (just the way I like it, I shall add!) But I might also add it would be nice if the old AC was working.

The ticks are a biting and the mosquitoes are a swarming. A turtle can be seen squished in the road and just yesterday, a snake was seen in Hall Pond (the real and actual one!), no doubt wishing one Craig would approach closer so he could inject venom into my system.

Outside, I hear the birds a chirping. The wind chime is doing that dingalinga thing that sounds so nice during the day, but can be quite bothersome when the certain person mentioned in the prior paragraph is trying to catch a few Z’s.

I have mowed the front part of the lawn twice so far. The back yard has resisted the lawn mower, thanks to soggy conditions brought on by the wettest spring in memory. But those backyard weeds best be ready, they shall be chopped down to size at the first opportune moment.

We have been lucky. No golf ball-sized hail has thunked our gourds and automobiles, like the kind residents of Fort Smith have endured. Also, we have had some high winds but Mother Nature has steered the serious stuff around our community, just the way she should.

The hang gliders seemed to enjoy the weather as four of them could be seen circling around Poteau Mountain yesterday (look, a photograph to the left to illustrate!). I admire their guts, but I must say that if man were meant to fly, they would be in an airplane. More on airplanes in the coming days, just be warned, it isn’t a story about the Friendly Skies.

Our dogs are a panting, throwing water substances here and there. The flowers are blooming and the first signs of the Bermuda (as in grass, not the islands) are appearing. Don’t forget the fire ants! They have emerged from their winter hibernation, if ants do hibernate, and are ready to swarm any person unlucky enough to step on one of their giant mounds. Bonus points if the person is barefoot or wearing flip flops.

The HHS reunion is on the horizon, coming up in July. Vacations will be here too soon, at least for those of us who have worked in their present location long enough to get one. The students and retirees have it extra nice, not that I am ready to change places with either one.

After all, have you tried to figure out phonics or the medicare system?

Enough for this sitting. The weed whacker is calling my name. Rumor has it there are weeds in the front yard, just waiting to be cut and throw off pollen and other allergy-causing items.

But it is spring, and I for one, am glad.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Welcome

In the year or so since I stopped publishing Heavener Online, many people have mentioned how they missed the web site and the halltheway site where local blogs were published.

I miss HOL also. But I haven't had the time to publish the site. I was spending an hour or two every day back in the HOL days, early in the morning. REALLY early in the morning.

Lately, I was wondering what could be done that could come close to matching HOL, but others could lend a helping hand. This is how the whole deal came together.

Ever since I hung up HOL, I had also stopped taking pictures for the most part. For a while, I imagined that someday I might be able to take pictures full time. One day, I said the heck with it. I am not going to worry about making money with photography, I will just take the kinds of pictures I enjoy.

So I opened a new photography account with flickr and started posting some new and old photographs. I ran across a feature for groups. Hmm, I actually thought, it would be nice to have a group for Heavener photographers. So I created a Heavener group.

A day or so later (I am firmly entrenched in middle agedom so my mind does not function as fast as it once did), I remembered seeing something about Yahoo Groups.

What the heck, I actually said, why not? So I started a Heavener Group at Yahoo and invited a few friends. I messed around with the settings and found out all members could post messages, photographs, polls, files and a whole lot more.

If somebody has an event coming up, put it in the calendar. Taken a great photograph or found an oldie but a goodie? Post that baby in the photo section. Little Johnny hit three home runs in his T-ball game? Write it up and post it in the message section!

Presto! This thing might work. Okay, I didn't say or think presto until I started writing this paragraph. Everybody could take part and it is easy!

I remembered also that there was a forum attached to HOL. I found the link, made some changes and the newly reborn Heavener Forum was good to go.

What an amazing chain of events, eh? Maybe not all that amazing. Anybody else would have probably figured it out long ago. But still, something was missing. Our amazing group of bloggers, who eventually grew almost as popular (or more so) than HOL.

In the past, I enjoyed all our bloggers. But I had to format all the posts and it was time consuming. So there had to be a better way! About that time, a great DUH! hit me.

Couldn't you have several authors on a group with blogger? You know, the blog site I used to post all my silly blogs on? The same place you could have set everybody up on years ago and made posting blogs easier for everybody?

Why yes, you can. Here, not there, is the proof. I said, "Craig", cause that's my name, "do it!" The inner Craig asked if I would be spinning my wheels. "Would they come?"

I don't know. But this Heavener bloggers group pretty much completes the picture. So, if you like to write and want to join, please send me an email saying you are wanting to blog. After receiving it, I will invite you to join.

You will have to accept the invitation and register for a google account. Don't worry, it's easy. Then write and post to your heart's desire.

Cool, eh? Now we have most of the benefits of the HOL deal and nobody will be worn out. So again, welcome aboard. Get involved!