Feb 17 2011



Victory ranks 7th on my all time list of favorite words. During WWII, our President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, encouraged everyone nationwide to have their own Victory Garden, to forsake their grassy yards and plant vegetables instead to help the war effort. Yes, plant carrots and beans and tomatoes in pots on patios and balconies; spade up parks and other public lands to grow corn and potatoes.
In 1945, when the war in Europe finally ended, VE Day (victory in Europe) was proclaimed and celebrations ensued. In the Pacific Theater 3 months later, it was VJ Day (victory over Japan). I attend Victory Baptist Church where we sing that old gospel song “Victory in Jesus.” At sports contests worldwide, crowds cheer their teams on to victory. As for myself, I attained a personal victory in my life when I successfully wrote and had published a book which I entitled “Truthful Lies of My Childhood.” Yes, victory is sweet.

Feb 16 2011


I have many great friends. My best friend is my husband. Today I received books from my friend Michelle, who I love so much. She is so straight forward with me and inspires me. She is the type of friend that loves me even tho I have faults. May we all have friends like that. Today I have been reading on the internet about hemodialysis and renal centers. Very scary, all I didn’t know after 5 years! I tell you–they do not educate you! Monday I go to Tyler to have my access checked. Keep the faith, Linda

Feb 14 2011

Valentine Day

My darling husband took me out for a Valentine lunch. And I sat in the garden for a couple of hours while Eddie worked. Taz the garden cat came to visit, then what an unexpeted visit, Sierra our 11 yr. old granddaughter came for a visit! For a bit of background I am in renal failure and a year or so ago my legs failed me. Now I walk with a walker. My hands and feet have lost some feeling. So I don’t go much except to the renal center, thus making today very special.

also I would like to blog about renal failure and hear from others who have the same problems. Keep the faith, Linda

and for an

Feb 13 2011


My name is Linda Ann and I am married to Edward Emanuel, and I should have introduced myself first of all. We moved here about 10 years ago, to this wonderful place that is not like Texas at all. It has small hills and trees.

Feb 13 2011

my first blog

Thanks to my wonderful kids I am trying to blog. I am a hemo-dialysis person. When we moved here to Hidden Creek, we hoped to do a lot more than health has let us do. But my Lord has opened many other doors. Just a mere 47 years ago He gave me my wonderful husband.

Jul 11 2010

New Book: The Three Little Pigs

Please help support Edward Emanuel and buy his latest book: The Three Little Pigs.

Jul 25 2009


This time it was springtime 1946, I was six years old, and I was feeling really good – maybe cocky would express my outlook better.  I had found that shooting marbles was my game, a game that I was good at and getting better every day.  We didn’t play the way you see kids doing in the big cities, or on TV, using a popsicle stick and a string to scribe a circle and then trying to knock the other kid’s marbles out of it.  Instead, we would make a slick straight track with our shoe, the further end being slightly higher, and use our “bully,” a large marble equal in value to 15 or 20 regular sized cats eye marbles, to inscribe a target hole.  Then the competitors would take turns from six or eight feet away, rolling a marble up the track, hoping to land a hit inside the target hole.  If you did, you would inherit all of the previous misses.  And have bragging rights.

As I already stated, I was obsessed with the game and proud as a strutting peacock at my new found skill.  My Mother had sewn me a white cloth bag, equipped with a drawstring, in which I placed my bakers dozen of the prettiest marbles in all of  and my lucky bully, which was as ugly as homemade sin and black as a Halloween cat. My expertise soon became obvious, as now the bag was stretched, bulging with gifts from not so good classmates.  Only one competitor remained, that egotistical freckle faced strawberry blonde headed kid named Jimmy Maynard.  I challenged him that April Fools Day to what I knew was for the championship, or as the old cliché states, for all the marbles!

The last class of the day was spelling, and if I had known what a omen was, when the teacher returned my test paper marked with the big D, I would have immediately struck out for home.  Freckle Face had received, as you probably already guessed, an A.  But I had no worry for marbles was a game of skill, which was in my favor, and had nothing to do with brains.  At last the bell rang and 29 students whooped and headed for the door, down the hall, and down the 19 steps to the outside door, then out to freedom.  I had retrieved my bag from the shelf underneath my well worn and name carved desk, and was ready for action.  I headed for the battleground and was delighted to see that I was the first to arrive.  I put my jacket on the windowsill and arranged it so that Blackie could see my victory from his vantage point in my jacket pocket.  Confidence invaded my body, emerging as a smirk on my face.  I was ready.  I was more than ready.  I was thinking that my mother would have to sew me another bag that could hold more marbles.  Out of gold colored material, that was it!  Gold for a king!  Me, Edward John Emanuel, the Marble King!

My thoughts were interrupted by a tap on the shoulder and a voice that I could learn to hate, saying “Get ready to lose!”  Here we were on the southwest corner of our old red brick school building where my name was soon to go down in history.  World War II might have been over, but this more important battle was soon to begin.  My smirk once again emerged as I made the track to fame with my right foot and carved a hole in its dirt with “The Bully.”  Sometimes to make the game more exciting, the two combatants would ante up an equal amount of marbles, sort of like in the game of poker.  Today I suggested 20, and my suggestion was met with approval.  The stay behind line was scratched in the dirt, and I rolled my first miss.  That miss was followed by his success and my bag was getting lighter, much lighter.  I then managed to win a few times but I was still far behind, and so I suggested another ante of 25.  Blondie connected on his first roll, and it was all down hill from there.  Soon the contents of my bag evaporated, and so I urgently asked him to stick around, which he gladly did.  I ran the 400 feet to home and sneaked out my brother Dave’s marble bag which held exactly 41, more than enough to win back my losses and wipe out Freckle Face for the champion-ship, or so I thought.  This dream needed a happier, better ending, but to no avail.  I not only lost a total of 108 marbles that belonged to my brother and myself, I also lost face.  I got whipped, I whimpered, I sulked and gave up marbles for good…..in a few years it would be checkers.  But that is another story…..

A month of mornings later, when I was eating a breakfast of cream of wheat, milk, and white sugar, I asked my favorite playmate if he could recall the marble incident.   He answered that he had not thought of that day in a long while, and was sorry that I had brought it up as he was trying to blot it out of his memory bank.  It was probably because I had left him and my jacket there on the windowsill at the schoolhouse, not remembering them until after I was in bed.  And there they stayed, for I knew that my parents would not allow me to retrieve them, for it was after dark.  I had slept very little, blaming myself for this bout of stupidity.  I left for school extra early the next morning.   When I arrived at yesterday’s battle scene, a lump as large as Bob Larson’s goiter filled my throat.  They were gone!  Sheer panic swept over me for not only was my best friend missing, but also the new denim jacket that I was so proud of.  What to do, what to do?  I was at an all time low; everything I had was dragging as I crawled up to the first grade classroom.  With grief and despair in my heart, I forced myself to change my focus from the floor to my hook in the cloak room, and wonder of wonders, they were there!  Luckily for me the Marble King had taken them home the day before and brought them back in the morning.  Much to my relief, he had hung them both in the cloakroom without saying a word.  Maybe he wasn’t so bad after all, even if his mother was a teacher.  Maybe, just maybe, I had found a new pal!

Jul 6 2009


The orange ball of the sun remained low on the horizon, as if it were on vacation.  Perhaps, it was ashamed of something, whatever the sun could be ashamed of, I couldn’t even guess.  Embarrassed kind of ashamed, trying to stay out of sight.  It definitely did not contribute much warmth to raise the frigid temperature that had been lingering well below freezing for nearly a month.  It was quite apparent to me on that January day that it was only there at all to aggravate my already sour disposition by reflecting off the piles, hills, and valleys of umpteen tons of powdered snow, dumped on the entire Midwest by Old Man Winter.  My bloodshot eyeballs rebelled against the intense glare as I asked myself the same question once again: why did we have to move to the farm?

I couldn’t sleep the night before, sinuses draining down my throat and pouring out my nasal passages made my life miserable.  I sat in the kitchen on a rickety old, indeed ancient, wooden chair, it’s seat as well as mine, softened by a tick covered chicken feather pillow.  I tilted it back, leaning against the wall a mere three feet from the cast iron wood-burning cook stove, listening to the flickering flames devour the sticks of oak, watching the firelight that escaped from around an ill-fitting lid.  My flannel pajamas covered woolen long johns, and above those two layers, I shivered in my fleece-lined denim coat and knitted stocking cap.  Every hour or so, as I would start to drift off with my chin resting on my chest, the burning sticks would make a clunking noise as they did their thing in the firebox.  That would be my signal to stoke the fire and add another chunk, or two.

The next morning, early, found me trudging through the drifted snow, pulling “the box,” which was another of my grandpa’s masterly built works-of-art, heading west up the short hill to the woodshed.  In actuality, it was a wooden rectangle, made of poplar boards, two inches thick, tongue and grooved together.  “The box,” was probably 48 inches long by 30 inches wide and 30 inches deep.  The sturdy runners had a steel strap nailed to their bottom, which enhanced their ability to glide across the snow covered tundra, and increased their ruggedness as well.  A sturdy rope was attached for pulling.
If I knew what cursing was back then, I probably would have been doing it.  My non-sun-glassed eyes were itching and burning with a wild abandon.  The knit scarf that mother had tied across my nose and chin, gave little relief from the cold and only served to make my breathing more difficult.  Blackie was smart and did not venture out with me.  Sam, my Heinz 57 dog, peeked out from behind the old towel that served as the door on his doghouse, and whimpered encouragement.  Indeed, I was suffering alone. . . alone, that is, alone with the creeping crud.

My gloves were thick, but not thick enough.  By the time I reached the woodshed door, my fingers were starting to freeze.  I shoveled out the door, using my hand-me-down black rubber galoshes as the snow mover.  The left one boasted three patches, permanently borrowed from the inner-tube repair kit, and glued there by my father, Hank.  My bib overalls were bloused inside my boots, yet the snow managed somehow to sneak inside anyway.  After an eternity, or so it seemed, the door could at last be pried open.  With as much speed as I could muster, I loaded the box full of various kinds and lengths, and headed down the hill to fill “the cavity” as we called it back then.

The farmhouse was indeed too little, even for a small family; ours was far from small.  Four years previously, Hank, in his infinite wisdom and with his tools of trade, had enclosed the back porch.  Voila!  The result was an 8 feet by 16 feet kitchen, with the southeast corner set aside for an enclosed 3 feet by 4 feet floor to ceiling wood-box, known to us kids as “the cavity.”  There was a butterfly-hinged door access both on the inside and out.  A new chimney was also constructed adjacent to the box along the outside wall.  The stove-pipe was then cut, adjusted, and connected.
After three trips up and down the hill, “the cavity” was filled to the overflowing, the excess was left in “the box,” covered with an old braided rug.  I stumbled through the back door.  My mother was at the stove, punching the bread dough in an earthen crock bowl that had been in the warming oven, allowing the yeast to rise.  She called out, “aren’t you cold?

Shivering, according to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, is “to undergo trembling: QUIVER.”  I was shivering, quivering, quaking, but only where it was not visible.
“No, mother,” I answered.  “I am quite comfortable.”  My hue was blue, but my training would not let me utter reality.
She said “Fine, that is good, very good.  Then you can help your brother, Dave, carry the water for the horses and cows.”

*                *                *                *                *                *

Let me explain the situation to you in laymen’s terms.  The barnyard, as well as the entire area for miles around, was an expanse of ice, had been for about a week, ever since that ice storm blest our world.  On the front side of the barn was a concrete apron, dangerously sloped, especially with an inch thick layer of ice.  Livestock are not known for their gracefulness, and seeing that ours had no ballet training, they were ungraceful, also.  We were poor farmers which could not afford to have an animal with a broken leg, for it would have to be put down (killed).  Letting them out to drink from the stock tank adjacent to the pump house was definitely out of the question.

The pump house and well were 93 feet from the wooden stave tank in the haymow, just inside the exterior wall of the dairy barn. The tank was of medium size, capable of holding 450 gallons of water.  An enclosure, made of oak planking, surrounded the tank.  This was covered with an enormous  heap of timothy hay, so thick that even a Wisconsin winter’s cold could not penetrate it.  The chance of the water in the tank ever freezing was less than nil.  Piping connected pump to tank.  So why did we have to carry water?

Mainly, there were two problems: the designing engineer was from Miami, Florida and the plumber was a local drunkard who believed what the engineer told him to do, and explicitly, without question, obeyed those words.  The instructions arrived by mail, ordered from an ad that blanketed newspapers nationwide.  “It is so easy anyone can follow the words and picture illustrations” touted the large print.  Roy, always in a stupor, and his slightly retarded 33 year old son, completed the masterpiece in less than three days.

The 1½ inch galvanized pipe rose straight up from the well casing, extending five feet above the horizontal run that entered the tank inside the barn, four inches below the top of the tank.  The run itself was 18 feet above ground level.  The drop on the pipe was five inches, which was sufficient.  That and the vertical stack insured drainage – “no water would ever stand in the line,” as per the ad. The pipe was braced and supported, properly and safely.  So far, so good.

Now, let’s look at the barn itself.  It was built in the year of our Lord, 1910, as the numbers on the side of the copula proudly announced.  I can’t recall the exact size, but it was a small, yet typical, mid-western building, constructed of oak plank, 1½ inches thick, nailed on massive timbers and beams.  A hillside was carved out to accommodate the structure, allowing ground level access to both the haymow from the west side, and to the animal domicile beneath, from the east side, via the barnyard.  Cedar shingles adorned the roof; the paint was, naturally, barn red.  A silo, almost as tall as the barn itself, held ensilage, or i.e., chopped up corn, that became more and more sour and fermented as time went by.

The thirst of the livestock was to be quenched by a practical and simple means.  Plumbing was run from the tank via a network of ¾ inch galvanized piping, terminating in fairly large cast iron drinking bowls that were mounted between every other stanchion.  The cows, using their nose, could get as much water as they desired by simply depressing a metal pretzel that actuated a valve, allowing gravity to fill the bowl.  The flow stopped when the nose no longer depressed the pretzel.

A thin hemp rope was attached to a cedar 2” X 10” about 12” long that floated on top the water.  The rope was threaded through a hole in the tank’s cover and, by utilizing a couple of 2” pulleys, the rope’s other end appeared in the livestock hotel below, providing a means of measuring the depth of water in the tank.  When the level dropped to a certain point, someone would start the pump, filling the tank until water came out the overflow pipe.

Testing of the system was concluded by Roy and his boy at dusk that Thursday evening in June.  It had worked beautifully!  Flawless!  That engineer was to be complimented!  Payment was made for materials and services rendered.  Roy argued with himself over which bar he should frequent, for definitely a celebration was in order!

*                *                *                *                *                *

How much water can a cow drink?  How about a horse?  How much water can two young boys carry?  The boys can, or rather will, carry all that is required.  All that the cows want.  Likewise, the horses, too.  Hank said so.

Four galvanized buckets awaited us, Dave and I, stacked upside down, just inside the entrance door of the pump house.  They each have the number 10 dimpled on the bottom, the same ones that in the summertime see unlimited action in the green bean patch.  A four-pound sledgehammer with a long handle is used to smash a hole in the ice of the tank, large enough so that water can be dipped out.  The cold weather ritual begins anew.  The buckets are filled nearly to the brim, and the trek to the barn begins.  The icy path causes an occasional slipping, and with that, the water in the buckets starts to slosh around, spilling some of it.  Needless to say, it drenches the legs of my bibbies, and some of which finds the seclusion of my rubber boots.  By the time I slip and slide to the barn door, my pants legs are frozen.  The frigid cold water in my boots soon becomes two blocks of ice.  Frostbite, actually ice-bite, evolves, numbing my legs and lower body.  Worse yet, the more that is spilled, the more trips are required to complete the watering chore.  Morning and evening, twice a day the buckets of the frigid liquid are placed and held in the concrete manger in front of each of those bovine critters.  And don’t forget the three work horses.

Why is this water carrying necessary?  Cows need water to produce milk.  That is a given fact.  But why not utilize the water system already in place? The answer to the question became obvious that first year of the systems existence when that wintertime rolled around.  The story goes something like this: the rope gauge told the farmer that his tank was nearly empty.  The pump was started.  The thermometer, as if one was available, registered 3 degrees Fahrenheit.  The galvanized water line, 18 feet in the air, registered the same amount of coldness.  The diesel engine coughed and sputtered, then died.  By the time the farmer got back to the pump house to restart it, the water in the pipe had become frozen.  The partial blockage caused the water to geyser out of the stack and rain down on the pump house.  The result was a spectacular cascade of water that froze instantly into a remarkable likeness of the Patron Saint of Ice Sculpture.  It truly was a spectacular event, but mostly, it was heartbreaking.

Jun 27 2009


Christmas is the highlight of every Wisconsin winter.  All the kids for weeks before buzz around like bumble bees in a field of clover, bursting at the seams with excitement.  Each and every one of them is trying to be good, or at least trying not to get caught at being bad.  BW, which stands for back when, or before Wal-mart, “The Season” started in the small towns a mere week or so before, while in the cities the department store conglomerates were criticized for rushing it by displaying beautiful pine trees laden with colorful lights and ornaments the Friday after Thanksgiving Day.  Then, too, there were Teddy Bears and dolls and a rocking horse and oodles of gaily wrapped presents under it.  Somewhere nearby, the proverbial “Holiday Hero” sat on his throne making promises that he could not keep to dreaming kids with great expectations of electric trains, BB Guns, tea party dishes and such.  Good Old Santa Claus, the red suited individual who has the power to disillusion the younger and to anger the older, was the subject of discussion at most supper tables.  I suppose, pound for pound, he is both the most loved and the most hated superhero ever to fly above our United States of America.
Kids compose letters which are better known as “I want”  and “gimmee” lists to the parents.  These are mailed, most of them without postage stamps on the envelope, to a place where mortal man has never ever set foot before and never ever will, i.e. the North Pole.  All of those explorers who claimed to have been there have lied, for none have reported seeing Mr. C, let alone an elf or a reindeer with a red nose that glows!  He owes the United States Post Office for postage due an astronomical amount which exceeds the national debt  of $71,000,000,000,000 by 31%.  Yet he has never been apprehended nor arrested nor have the charges even been filed against him, and so the bill has never been turned over to a collection agency.  Not even the interest amount has ever been paid!

Have you ever wondered why this fat man is fat?  That is a no-brainer, for it’s mothers, who on demand from their offspring, are forced to bake cookies, probably as some kind of a bribe.  A mounded plate of which, along with a glass of milk, are left on the fireplace mantle supposedly for the nourishment that is required to finish his appointed rounds.  And rounds is what he gets, averaging a net gain of 21 pounds per sleigh ride!   Then for him it is fasting, diet, and the treadmill, with Samantha, his wife, griping and yipping all year long, sounding like a kennel full of Chihuahuas.  By the time the next Christmas Eve rolls around, he is back to his jovial self, over-weight by a mere 75 pounds more than his cardiologist and he him-self would like him to be.  But be that as it may, according to the most recent survey including all age groups, 98.2% of both men and women proudly state that they, at one time or another, have loved him just as he is.  And believed in his powers.  And have heard sleigh bells and/or the prancing of hooves on their roof.  And have left milk and cookies for him.

And then there is the more beautiful side to the Christmas Season, the true reason for the season – the remembrance of the birth of the Christ Child.  There has been a lot of argument about the actual day or even the season or the year that the most significant event ever did occur.  To me, it matters little, but what is important is the fact that it did indeed happen.  As the Bible and history did record.  It is an undisputed fact: the birth, life, death, and resurrection of our Savior  Jesus Christ.

The Fairchild High School choirs yearly gave a winter theme concert on the last Friday before the Christmas Season break.  It was held in the gymnasium and was well attended, even more so than the Purple Dragon basketball games.  Much of the musical fare was the traditional one of snowmen and snowflakes, silver bells and sleigh bells, Christmas lights and mistletoe, and so on and so forth.  Almost all the singing in the early part of the program was filled with nostalgia as these renditions of the past brought forth an inner glow.  But the best was yet to come for the strains of Oh, Holy Night filled the air, and when you thought nothing could be better, the audience was asked to join in the singing of Silent Night, Holy Night.  A thunderous ovation of whistling, shouting, and clapping gave the approval of each and every one there.  It was truly a time to remember, and the best part was that it got better with each subsequent year.

At long last, Christmas Eve arrived.  This was the true pinnacle of the Season as town folk and country folk alike overcrowded the area churches to the bursting point.  There was songs of shepherds watching their flocks by night, of angels announcing “good news of great joy,” of a Virgin giving birth in a manger, of gifts of frankincense and gold and myrrh.  These were intermittently interjected with the recitals of small children.  Their antics were truly precious as they related “The Bethlehem Story,” quoting the pertaining passages in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the Prophecies of Isaiah, Psalms, and elsewhere.   All this and more gave an inner peace and tranquility, strength for today and hope for tomorrow.  It was a time of smiling and handshaking, the renewing of friendships that had been neglected for too long.  There were well meant promises to try and do better in the days ahead, although in reality very few of them would be kept.  There was a lingering aura, a warm glow of laughter as they shouted “Merry Christmas” and “may God go with you” while the crowd slowly dispersed into the night.

My heart was racing with anticipation for we always opened our gifts after the services on Christmas Eve, but as usual we were one of the last families to leave.  At long last, we too headed into the cold of our snow filled world.  Enormous sized flakes began to float very slowly downward making it easy to catch them on my tongue.  There is nothing in the whole world that tastes like one: invigorating, nonfattening, and delicious.  I became completely engrossed in my new found sport, counting 41 “catches” during the short two block walk home, savoring each and every one of them.  All of the children at the church had been given a bag of goodies which consisted mostly of a couple of apples and an orange, along with a few various kinds of nuts and half of a handful of hard tack candy.  My sack was now wet from the snow, but I really didn’t care as my thoughts were on the small stack of packages underneath our tree, hoping my name was on at least one of them.  Maybe Santa had made an appearance and left me my wish, my only desire, a stuffed black Scottie Dog that I had seen on page 154 of the Sears catalogue.  The price was 19 cents, more than twice the amount I had saved in my piggy bank, but just maybe one of the elves at the North Pole had made one for me, or maybe, just maybe, Santa had a little bit of cash put back and had ordered the real thing for me direct from the warehouse in Chicago!

I ran as fast as I could slide the last short distance home and was the first to reach the front door.  I didn’t need a key for back then you had no need for one; in rural America honesty was prevalent and if you really needed something, you would ask for it, not permanently borrow it without permission.  I needed help opening the door as my mittens were wet and were having an awful time doing what my brain was telling them to do.  At long last, it swung open and in a flash I was in the living room, leaving a trail of snow behind.  It was worth the scolding that I received, for on one of the upper branches of our tree was my Blackie.  I was in heaven!

I can’t remember other gifts that I received, if any, for what else could a youngster want or need?  That night I had slept like a dream and dreamed as I slept.  We were a team indeed, that Blackie and me.  We spent that night doing what most other boys and their dogs do, things like fighting Indians in the Old Wild West, slaying dragons, finding golden treasures to give to our mother so that she could buy chocolate chips and other stuff to make cookies, rescuing those who needed to be rescued, and so on.

The morning came much too quickly for us, but the snow had stopped, the sun was out, and the prospects for the day seemed endless.  As I threw back the covers on my bed, I could smell the ham that Mom was baking in the oven of her woodburning cook stove.  Hurrying down the stair steps, I hardly glanced at the tree, but instead focused on getting to the breakfast table to fill up Blackie and myself before we set out on our daily adventures.  Good old Mom, she must have gotten up before dawn for there was freshly baked bread already sliced, and a quart jar of strawberry jam sitting alongside a bowl of freshly churned butter.  What more could a young lad ask for?  Blackie and I grabbed a couple of slices that Mom had already blessed with butter and jam, smiled our approval, then started to wolf them down.  Between and during bites I explained what I was going to do, and then Mother told me what I was going to do.  The grandfolks were going to drop by and my assistance was needed to help put things in order.  Things like setting the table and sweeping the floor – definitely not things any boy would like to be caught doing, but the tone in Mothers’ voice said that I would simply love to help her.  And so I did.

Family get-togethers are meaningless to a kid unless there are  uncles doing magic tricks, or aunts handing out a dime or two, or some distant cousin that wants to do what you want to do and wants to do what you say.  This one was going to be boring, for none of the above would be happening that day and so one must generate his own excitement.  But now things were different, for at long last I had a friend, a true friend; I had my Blackie!

I struggled through the formalities of the day.  I had set the table,  swept the floor, and managed to smile and be civil before, during, and after one of Mother’s best meals ever.  The ham was baked with pineapple, and there were mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, and there were a half dozen different veggies, and cranberry sauce not from a can, and there were four different kinds of pie: pumpkin, mince meat, apple, and cherry!  I’ll bet that you can’t guess which of the pies was my favorite, and I can’t either, for I loved them all equally the same!  To me there is only one thing in this world better than pie, and that is potato pancakes!  But not for Christmas Day dinner…….

I had eaten so much that I was sluggish.  I sat down on the end of the couch that was nearest the tree, listening to my siblings whisp- ering back and forth about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Yes, nearly three weeks ago those nasty sneaky Japanese had the audacity to strike without warning, sinking or crippling our battleships.  Luckily for us, our aircraft carriers were out on maneuvers.  Now the question that was being raised was, what can we do to help?  Finally Doris suggested, how about forming some kind of backyard army?  And so, the idea was soon put into action; the BYA came into existence, its goals and purposes would soon be established.  We would be ready for come what may, a deterrent to all aggressors!  My eyelids were getting heavy.  I soon drifted off, leaving the cold snow-covered tundra for the warm islands of adventure with Blackie, my fearless companion and protector.

Jun 21 2009


I cannot recall Fireside Chats, news and encouragement that would compete with the loud noisy static, blaring out together from that 10” speaker in our nearly new Gibson radio.  It was definitely one of my mother’s most prized earthly possessions, a floor model she called “The Console.”  She kept the mahogany highly polished with a lemony ointment that she ordered from Mr. Eddy Killenspiel, an elderly gentleman that made monthly rounds selling Watkins products.  He was missing his left leg from the knee downwards, blown off by a grenade while serving his country in the trenches of France in 1917.  He was proud that he had served and prouder still of the long list of products that he represented to “better the community.”  He owned an elderly horse, a chestnut gelding given to him by the widow of a Major Duncan.  Eddy had served in the US Cavalry under the Major, who was now long deceased.  The Last Will and Testament had explicitly listed Private Killenspiel, who had heroically served under his command and who, according to the letter that accompanied the Purple Heart, which described  “his unselfish actions that did indeed save the Major from injury or even possible death,” as the recipient of 1500 pounds of horseflesh named Candy.  The will also listed an elderly four wheeled farm wagon as an afterthought gift, one that was greatly appreciated.  You could always tell when it was “Watkins Day,” for you could hear all three of them squeaking, creaking, and a-groaning from a mile off.  A canvas tarp covered his wares.

Our family would gather in the living room along with several of the neighbors at 8PM Central Standard Time at least once a month, usually on a Sunday, to hear our president, Mr. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, give us hope and assurance.  Things were recovering slowly but surely, foreign trade was up, the US dollar had stabilized, the job market and the overall outlook was gradually looking brighter.  He was indeed thankful for God’s help and direction the past six years, and thought that it would be appropriate this year of our Lord, 1939, to have not just one Thanksgiving observance, but two.  He was so enthused  and enraptured that he was proclaiming the fourth Thursday of that month, November 28th,  as an additional  “Thank God Holiday.”

Killenspiel had a nephew that played professional football for the Green Bay Packers, a linebacker, I believe, by the name of George “Nails” Nielson.  The Packer’s coach and general manager, upon hearing our president’s broadcast, called the spokesman for the Detroit Lions and asked the feasibility of having their match-up changed from the first Sunday in December to the new Holiday – same time, 1:30 PM kickoff; same place, East City Stadium in Green Bay.  An affirmative reply was received that evening, and the tradition of Thanksgiving Football was created.  When Eddy heard the sports news the next morning, he stopped at the Fairchild Grey-hound Bus Station and bought roundtrip tickets for his entire family, destination Green Bay and the BIG GAME!

Nails had three young boys and a pretty wife named Nellie whose maiden name was Thames, a fourth cousin to my mother.  She just happened to be nearly nine months pregnant and so Eddy thought it would be best if she were to stay at home near the family physician, Doctor W.W. Wilson, and he told her so. But she remained her usual self, headstrong and determined.  Woe be it to those who opposed her “wants to,” because she had her mind made up and come hell or high water or anything else, she was going to the game and that was the bottom line.  NO DISCUSSION!  When do we leave?  He went back to the bus station the next day and bought another ticket.

It was just 11 days until game day when Nails received a letter from his uncle, requesting him to purchase nine of the best seats in the stadium.  Also enclosed in the business-sized envelope were a couple of crisp new $20 bills, with pictures on them of our seventh president, Andrew Jackson.   Nails was surprised  –  pleasantly surprised, indeed!  Many times he had asked and pleaded for his family to come to a game and watch him play, and now, finally, it was about to happen.

He and 14 of his teammates were staying in a rundown three story for which a contract had been negotiated between the Packers’ liaison and Whalen Bridges, a sleazy landlord whose only scruples was the word itself found on page 986 of his Webster’s Dictionary.  While Nails walked the seven blocks to the ticket office at the stadium later that day, he practiced his begging voice.  The basement of the three story was mostly unused, and it was imperative that he be allowed squatters rights for his family there.  He was certain their funds would be completely exhausted if they would be forced to check into a hotel, even if a suite there was still available at this late hour.  Nails smiled as he suited up for the practice, his begging had been successful.  The tickets were on the 50 yard line, seventh row, a great bargain if he must say so himself.  And one couldn’t beat that price of $22.50, a paltry sum of $2.50 each.  And the kinfolk would have free lodging.  How he missed them…..

The Killenspiel Clan boarded the bus on Wednesday morning and arrived in what now is called “TitleTown, USA” some eight hours later.  According to the nameplate just under his portrait, the driver’s name was Llewyln Moltrin, safe, reliable, courteous.  It was quite a lengthy journey both in miles and duration, traveling mostly eastward on US 10, then turning north on Wisconsin 32.  This, as were most others in the Dairy State, was labeled a “milk run,” pun intended, and rightly so, for the Greyhound stopped at every tiny burg, hamlet, and even an occasional intersection with a state or county highway between here and there.  The driver had been instructed to pull over whenever he would spot a frantic wave where- ever it might be, as it could possibly mean additional revenue to the bus line, either in freight shipping or passenger fares.

The bottom line is that the trip was much too long for Nellie and her three young boys, all of whom became more and more restless with each passing mile.  Maybe her uncle by marriage was right.  Maybe she should have stayed at home and rested, but she grew more determined than ever to blot out that possibility and to disregard that sometimes stabbing pain in her lower back.  They started out by playing “I Spy” games, looking for horses and cows and sheep and whatever.  When that novelty wore off, the two oldest boys, six year old identical twins Harry and Larry, started counting telephone poles, competing with each other, trying to impress all the passengers with their mastery of numbers.  When at long last, they grew weary of looking out the windows, the sound and vibration of the diesel engine soon lulled almost everyone into “Sleepy Land.”

Nellie, too, started to drift just as the driver yelled out that they would have 20 minutes for lunch at the next scheduled stop, Stevens Point.  The clan had brought a dozen and a half peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches, and two quart jars filled with grape flavored Kool-Aid stowed away in an ancient picnic basket, made long ago by the Thunder Clan of the Chippewa Indians.  They dwelt in a hogan a mile north of Happy River Falls on County Road EE.

The bus station was indeed crowded.  This was a terminal where north-south passengers could transfer to go east or west, or vice versa.  Three other buses with their motors running were sitting along in front of the station/diner.  Llewyln eased in behind the building, and every passenger started a rapid exit as soon as the door of the bus swung open.  Mother nature was calling.  Almost everyone was trying to either get in or get out of the station at the same time.  Chaos ensued.  Only a US Marine sergeant could have restored order.  Lines were formed for the little boys’ and little girls’ rooms.  Many were waiting to sit down on the red leather swiveled bar stools that lined the counter.  Three waitresses with pink uniforms shouted additional requests at the pass-through window on whose well-worn shelf lay a dozen or so orders, mostly for shakes, burgers and fries.

When the announcement came to once again board the bus, most of the Nielsens and Killenspiels were still in line for the relief stations.  The second and last call for boarding came two minutes later, sending their group as well as several others scurrying for their seats on the bus.  Nellie was cranky and cantankerous, griping at the elderly driver.  Said that they didn’t have time for the comfort stop, let alone to consume their lunch.  Seeing they occupied the three rear seats, he reluctantly agreed to allow them to dine on their poor man’s caviar and French wine if they promised “to bus the bus before they leave the bus.”  His eyes twinkled after he said that – I truly believe he had used that one before.   Maybe to the slogan “safe, reliable, courteous” they should add “bad jokester?”
Back in Fairchild, my mother was pondering what she should fix for “The Second Turkey Day.”  Maybe she could get by with something simple, as last week she really outdid herself, preparing the biggest spread the family had enjoyed since before the Depression.  My  mother’s mother had been alerted that this could be the day as the same pains were developing that had developed those six times previously.  (I was child number seven).  Maybe we could have the get-together over at Gram’s house, it would sure make things easier.

Mother had heard the gossip concerning her cousin Nellie, how she had insisted on traveling when her time was so close, and worse yet, she was going to sit outside for three hours on a cold bleacher seat during inclement weather.  Those ball players were crazy, and her husband the worst of all.  He needed a brain implant as it was indeed obvious that he didn’t have one of his own.  How could he allow such a thing to happen?

Thanksgiving II dawned cold, spooky gray, dismal, and dreary.  The overcast was so low and thick that the only way even the old self-made weathermen could tell when dawn actually occurred was by consulting their watches and the Farmer’s Almanac.  WGB Radio in downtown Green Bay was predicting nasty conditions for game time, snow and plenty of it, driven by winds of 25 MPH and upward.  A true blizzard with accumulation of 20 inches or more.  Would the fans show up?  Would the game go on as scheduled?

Game time came and no sign of any wind or snow.  Optimism swept over the half filled stadium.  The Lions won the toss and on the opening kickoff return, their star right halfback Edmundson was nailed by Nails, causing a fumble.  Bedlam broke loose on the Packer side of the field; they had the ball on the Detroit 12 yard line.  At the same instant Nellie had a pain that said it won’t be long now and she announced it to all present by a blood curdling scream, soon to be swallowed up by the riotous mayhem all around her.  Midway into the first quarter the labor pains were five minutes apart and closing on zero, fast.  The Pack was ahead seven to zip.  The snow began falling, a token of large flakes began cascading down upon the bleachers and the playing field.  Nail’s kids started catching the lazier of the flakes on their tongues.  Eddy’s wife, Cora, while watching them remembered an incident from many, many years past when she and her ten year old brother were doing the same.  He had poked her jokingly in the ribs and giggling like a girl, said something like “I hope all the birds have migrated south!”

Lion’s ball, pass play.  Just as quarterback Jed Harlowe released the bomb, it was intercepted by a gust of wind that was so strong that the pigskin ended up in the bleachers one row behind Eddy Killenspiel.  Immediately it became a whiteout as the horizontal winds swirled and whirled the white stuff with abandon, chilling cheeks, numbing fingers and toes.  The storm grew relentless.  The labor pains grew stronger and more frequent.  Droves of people plunged off of the bleachers and en masse headed for the exits and the shelter of their automobiles.  Luckily, the kids were bundled with their winter’s best.  Nellie started to cry, which was a terrible mistake.  Her family crowded around her, trying to help shield her from the storm.  Mercifully, Nails appeared and led her and the rest of his tribe, slipping and stumbling, mostly forward.   He used the bottom row of bleachers as a guide, heading for Green Bay’s locker room now a hundred feet away.  The wind ceased for a short minute, enabling Nails to get the outer door open and his freezing herd inside.

The team’s physician, Dr. Oglesbee, was inside his office.  Nails and Nellie soon would be, too.  She clung to him, sobbing, the new tears running down her frozen face, almost forming icicles.  The good Doctor wagged his head in disbelief.  With the family outside his door, still shivering and praying, Nails Junior was born 10 minutes later.  He was the first baby to be born there at East City Stadium, and as far as I know, the only one.  Nails’ jersey, with the number 34 on it, was his first blanket.

I was born the next day, in Fairchild, at 2PM, in Grandma’s house.  My arrival had delayed and disrupted the festivities, postponing the consumption of the yesterday’s leftovers until after 6PM on that “We are so thankful Friday.”  Junior and I, what a team!  Never did hear if the Packers and the Lions ever finished that game