Thursday, September 27, 2012


      Moving on to Angelholm, we found a Tourist info, and they steered us to a B&B. Walking back to our car, We saw a couple of officers placing a ticket on our car. I ran to them as they walked away.
“Oh sir! O sir! Did we do something wrong?” And we both started giving our very best “Clueless American” impressions. Didn't have to fake it much. He stepped over and removed the ticket. “Welcome to Sweden,” he said, and smiled. Or maybe it was a laugh. I told him they were a very nice welcoming committee. But just yesterday, five months after we got home, we got a ticket from Norway for failing to pay a road toll three times, and we don't even remember a toll road. $15, and Barbara paid it today. We didn't want an extradition committee showing up at our front door!

      The B&B was over a garage, and nice, but the bad news was, we would have to walk into the house to the toilet. More good news. She insisted upon washing, ironing, drying, and folding two loads of clothes for us, and was extremely meticulous about it. She saw us hauling in Barbara's thin back pad, and when we returned later, she had brought us a heating pad. Along with a chamber pot.
We had a wonderful breakfast, along with many extras. She had a true servant's heart, a wonderful lady.

      We drove to the Sea. When we got out, I saw a couple of fishermen loading fish into their trunk. I walked over to look. They were anxiously measuring the length of two large Salmon, and I sorta made them nervous.
After walking the beach a long way, we almost never found our way back to our car. It seems no matter where we go in Sweden, It's clean, They're good people, and trusting and friendly. They have lots of very old things, and take care of them. Goodbye Sweden!


      We first came into Sweden over a very long bridge. This time we decided to take the ferry back. The crossing was uneventful, except once I accidentally led Barbara into the Captain's area. The stern Captain looked at me hard, pointed to the door sign, and said “No!” Barbara put her hands on her hips and said, “Well OK. But you don't have to hurt my feelings!” His sternness disappeared, and he laughed.
The ferry ride connected to a very large city, the signs were different, it was crowded, and we began to think we would never get out. Once we did, we headed south along the coast. Then we headed inland. The B&B was sufficient, but isolated from the house. The operator was young, new at it, and had not learned to be a great host, like we had gotten used to.

      We drove around a bit, aimlessly, trying to get a feel for Denmark. Everything was different, and they drove faster. We ran onto what we thought must be the most beautiful cemetery we had ever seen. Each grave was surrounded by perfectly trimmed hedges, at least four feet tall. There was a very beautiful, freshly painted, red church behind. We saw many more like that as we traveled on, but none as beautiful. We were seeing many homes with their roof made of a thickly thatched reeds. We learned later that most of the reeds were becoming scarce, and to redo them, they had to be imported. A new roof cost about $100,000. But it was tradition. We drove down to a harbor at seaside (I guess they all are) and found a tiny building that served very good fish and chips. Out in the bay, a small houseboat made to look like a space ship bobbed about. No bigger than half a bus, a family had been living in it for eight years. It was obviously fiberglass, very light, and it was just tossed about. How could they do that?

      At a tourist Info, a lady drew us a map to two castles. She said it was OK to walk the grounds. The first castle was great, complete with moat, drawbridge, and sharp prongs above to drop down on intruders. We parked, walked across the drawbridge, and had just started walking the grounds when an angry woman came running out at us, telling us it was private, turn around and get out! I tried to apologize, and explain what we had been told, but nothing would please her except our immediate absence. We hurried across the drawbridge, before she dropped the sharp prongs on us. The old hag. She deserved to be destined to live in a drafty old castle! Having seen all the castles we wanted, we drove to a big park that advertised great white cliffs over the ocean. But it was so foggy, all the white we ever saw was white fog. Oh, well. We've seen the White Cliffs of Dover, and anything else would be second rate, anyway.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Post 160 - Finishing up Sweden

      We ran out of anything to do early the next day, and showed up at our B&B a little early. The lady had sang in the Stockholm opera for many years. She was lonely, and happy to have somebody to talk to. She said she married an opera singer, and when her reviews started getting better that her husband's, he divorced her. She insisted that we come down for a glass of wine before bed. We don't really care for it, but went, just to be sociable. She had very fancy glasses, and a decorative decanter, along with all sorts of other goodies she had fixed. She just kept refilling our glasses.
      She suggested breakfast at nine, but we had a big day tomorrow, and Barbara just has a coffee fit well before nine. No addiction, though. Barbara begged her down to 8:30. But I think she realized the problem, though, because she brought up a thermos of coffee later. The next morning, we watched all her birds outside just flock to the oleo sprinkled with oats she pampered them with while eating a great breakfast ourselves.

      We said goodbye, and headed for the tourist office in Saffle. They lined us out good on the really big festival spread out over a dozen locations on a very large peninsula. Selling farm good, crafts, whatever they had. The area was called the Varmlands. We worked our way down the peninsula, then back up, hitting most of them. The parking and traffic was a problem. At one site, young men were getting to shoot an actual shotgun at targets. They acted like they had never actually seen a real gun before. That seems to be the case with most all countries we have been in. Most people in the world seem to have the impression that all Americans carry guns, like the wild west days. I have overheard many conversations to that effect, all over the world.
      Barbara was in her element, with these great crowds of people. Once, we were waiting in a very long line for the toilet. They all stood in absolute silence, not a word spoken. Barbara, of course, spoke. “You Swedish people sure are a quiet bunch!” An old man, way up the line, added, “Yes, we have always been a very stoic people.” That broke the ice, and the words came flooding out, along with much laughter. By the time our toilet turn had arrived, every one of them personally knew us, and all about our travels. A common question: “Do you have kin here? All other Americans go to Southern Europe.” Did we look blonde to them? Well, I could have been. A long time ago.

      By the time we got back off our tour, we were thinking about finding a place to lay our heads. The people at the Tourist office had been so helpful, we went back. They booked a Hostel on down the road. The directions sounded easy, but then nothing ever is. It was another Hostel, Barbara wasn't very happy about it, but our budget was. We thought we again had it to ourselves, but we walked right into a couple of guys when we walked down to the TV room. Barbara screamed. I did not. I'm more stoic. Barbara just does not like it, when someone we didn't invite walks into our Hostel.
      We saw the attraction that place offered before we left. It had a rushing river, and a series of locks and dams lifted and lowered boats from one large lake to another. At one point, there was a “Only one in the world” thing. Starting with the river on the bottom, a boat canal directly above, A foot bridge directly above that, then an automobile bridge directly above that. Four modes of travel occupying the same geographical space. Five, if a plane flew over. Pretty cool.

      We drove to Gotsberg. A major city. Actually, there are two little dashes above the “o” in the name to show how it is pronounced, a characteristic of most of their long words. But my computer, to my knowledge, can't do that. We figured since it was Sunday, the traffic would be light. It was true of most cities in the world we have seen, but not here. And in Los Angeles. We wandered aimlessly among the hoards of humanity awhile, before an avenue of escape presented itself, and we took it. The highlight of the day occurred when Barbara spotted a Bull Moose, in all its glory, just outside the city by the interstate. We had been seeing Moose signs along the road, and watched for one so long, we had given up. Actually, the tell-tale signs of wildlife, usually road kill, was very light the whole time.

      When we found a hotel, a ways down the line, it was too high. But, they said they had an older version across town, but we had to fix our own bedding. We took it. No breakfast, but $100. Isn't that just the way things are? We were beginning to look at that price as “A cheap bargain.”
      We got a Kebab tonight, along with a Pizza. Their way of doing things was very different, and Barbara, in trying to figure out how to handle it all, got every single person in the cafe to helping her. Remembering Hillary Clinton's book, I told them, “It takes a village to keep her straightened out.” Many knew what I was referring to, and laughed. Most countries, all over the world, know about and love everything American. And, they loved us. Its just America in general they have a problem with. Kebabs were beginning to not be so good. Getting a bit old, because they're the cheapest. So just quite naturally, we have seen a lot of them. But the pizza was good.

      The next day we just sorta took it easy. It drizzled all day. We went to a Bibliotek (Library) and Barbara got a free hour on a computer. She found we were still pretty close to budget, better than we had feared. That pepped us up. So Barb just had to go to a mall, spend some money. A worker at one store was looking at us and laughing, while we were still a long way off. Were my pants unzipped or something? But no. He was one of the crowd last night, helping Barbara order Pizza. “Was the Pizza good?"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Post 159 - Sweden, Once Again!

     After a leisurely afternoon, in which Barbara made loads more friends, We went back to our Kebab place. A new man was cooking, and he didn't know our habit of buying one and splitting it, so he started two. Since he already started it, we took both. Now, those Kebabs are large. One fills us up, and after eating two, we were about full of Kebabs for awhile. Barb wanted just a spot of ice cream, and since he felt bad about the Kebab deal, he mixed up a whole new batch of ice cream, just to give her a dab, at half price. When he then saw we were sharing that dab, he felt sorry for us and brought me out a real big cone for free. I know he was beginning to think we were far too poor to be off, over here, away from home. And in this place, he would be right. Barbara just had to get a picture of him for that.

      We toured a botanical garden the next day, Then just ran around a while. We went by a theater where everyone was running around really excited, because Sweden's most famous actors and actresses were about to put on a play. They told us we just had to see it. But, we wouldn't even know them anyhow, so we went on looking for our Hostel. It was way back out in the country, when we found it, on a farm behind a farm. Lots of people were around when we checked in, so at least, we wouldn't be alone this time. It was a huge building. Said it was a converted “Old Folks Home.” Well, we weren't that old yet, but so many   younger people were there too, It shouldn't be so bad.

      We drove out to town for supper, and when we got back, we realized we were the only LIVING souls in this three story building. Again. Even the woman who had taken our money had disappeared. None of the buildings within sight had lights on. Going up to the third floor to investigate, I saw a light was on in one room, and the door was open. It was full of computers and such. I walked on in to check it out. A very small, tentative voice from a hidden spot said, “h-h-hello?” It was a woman, who, when she began to get over the shock of me walking in on her in this deserted place, said, “My husband rents this room for office space. We have a farm nearby. I'm just up here, catching up on my book work.” I apologized for startling her, and she was nice, but as soon as I left, she locked up and cleared out too. I guess her car must have been out back. We never saw her again.

      Barbara reminded me of the history of this building, and mentioned that a lot of those old folks probably died in here. Along about that time, strange, unexplainable sounds started coming up from the basement. We had some time before bedtime, and we busied about to take our mind off all those strange sounds. Barbara took a long, soaking bath sitting up in a bathtub about the size and shape of a washing machine box. Then, we washed clothes in it. In Wing, we always believed in multiple use of a big tub of hot water, but Barbara didn't. Had to change the water after each use. Then, Barbara read while I looked for a book. I had already read every book I brought along. That's one area I have the jump on Barbara. She reads on a book a week or two. Two days or so for me, maybe three. Anyway, I found a large color picture book of their Princess Victoria. She was beautiful. Just like Barbara. Perfectly posed in every shot, just like Barbara. Perfectly at ease in the presence of royalty. Perfect makeup, clothes perfectly matching, never a wrinkle. Just like Barbara. I really don't understand how Barbara always looks so perfect on trips like this, we hardly ever find a place to wash clothes. But she does. All I can figure out is, she was born destined to become a Princess, or a Queen, And I must have came along early, and stole her away, before she had a chance to meet her destiny. I just have no other logical explanation.
      We had two single beds, the only kind they seem to have in Europe. But we scooted them close together that night. After a time, we dozed off, in spite of the fact that the who-knows-whats kept playing around downstairs.
      The nice lady showed back up and fixed up a good breakfast. She said the radiators had just been turned on, hooked up to very deep wells. The air from that deep in the earth, a few degrees warmer, circulated up and heated the place. Questionable heat in that climate, I thought, but the radiators did dry our clothes good. Maybe that explained the noises. We declined a two night stay. We were ready to move on.

      Traveling through the dairy country, I realized the Swedes had developed their milk cows to an amazing degree. Their udders were often twice the size I had ever seen before, comparable to some we saw at a Fair in Quebec City. Their bag was so heavy, they sometimes just sat back on their haunches, like a dog, to rest their load. Actually, I fear they are ahead of us in other areas of technology. America seems to call them over to do very difficult things, like setting up a computer system for a city.

      Barbara had started ragging me about a week ago about getting a haircut. But, they wanted $60! I was just not about to do that. Every town we came to, she tried to bargain them down. We were sitting in a town square one afternoon, enjoying an ice cream cone. Barbara said, “Be right back.” I looked down in the direction she was headed, and I knew she had spotted another salon. Will she never give up on that? Well, actually I knew the answer. No. She stayed in there a long time, then stuck her head out and motioned me down. She had gone through all the operators, one at a time, telling them how little hair I had, how we won't spread the word about a cheap haircut, how we would never be back. Finally, she just wore the youngest, 21, down. She didn't have her customer base built up yet. $20, how could we pass that up? She did a great job, though. We found they have to go to school five years for that. Like a Doctor. Who would guess

Continued         Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Beautiful Norway - Post 7

      We left out the next day, in spite of the fantastic scenery from our front window. We could see a lot more of it ahead.
      Toward the end of the day, we looked for lodging. We saw a motel, the first one in Europe, But it was even higher, because, they said, “We are a motel.” Nothing like those cheap hotels, I guess. We looked at their small buffet, also very rare, but it was $40 each, so look was all we did. We found a pizza for $20, split it, and, garnished by a little peanut butter and bread we had, it was not bad.
      Barbara commented, “When we get home, we'll just have to go to Caddo Valley, (five miles away from home) on occasion, and stay in a hotel. They're so cheap, we just can't afford not to.”
We found an old, old hotel, with a long walk to the toilet, for $100.

      We were not far from the border, so we decided we would leave Norway tomorrow, before we have to start looking for a poor house.
We drove and drove the next day. We stopped for lunch, got a single hamburger, split it, washing it down with water. A snicker bar at a gas stop was $4.
We got off the road at Lillehammer, home of the Olympics long ago that I well remember. Some of you don't. But it soon helped us forget our money worries.
      We stumbled upon a distant view of the Olympic ski jump. As we looked, we could see tiny bodies flying through the air. Although it was summer, they were jumping! We kept working our way toward it until we were right there. We could even touch it. Nobody stopped us, so we just got right up in there amongst' um'! Dang! Wish I had skis. 20 or so guys seemed to be using it for summer training, even though they were landing on hard plastic, and skiing out over green grass. But I guess packed snow is a hard landing too, if you fall. But they never did. They were all perfection personified. We watched a long time, and they never fell. I even went out on the landing surface and inspected it, between jumpers. Just made of plastic strips laid on like shingles.

      We bypassed Oslo this time. We reached the border that afternoon, changed out our money and got more Sweden maps.
      After hitting a grocery store, getting low on peanut butter, a helpful couple (aren't they all) pointed us to a reasonable hotel. Walking the town, we found a cheap Kebab place. They seem to all be ran by middle eastern guys, and they are always good. We decided to stay two nights, Barbara had got wind of a linens factory that made the linens for all the Royalty in this part of Europe. Sounded like a good day trip. Maybe she could talk them out of some “seconds” she could afford. Well, they were not cheap. But they just kept getting cheaper with each new room we went into, and we were soon in a room of “second seconds.” Barbara bought a couple of table runners, and some linens for friends. She always spends 75% of her shopping budget, and time, shopping for family and friends. I guess I'm just more greedy by nature than her.

      Back in town, we found the info place near the train station. We booked two B&B's on down the road, and by then she was hooked up with the people she planned to buddy up with and find our the life history of, this time. This time it was two German boys, giant backpacks, on the road for a year, and about to get on a train. Their train pulled in, and she said she wanted a picture of them. They loaded on their packs, and one rolled up his sleeve and flexed his biceps. Tattooed across it, in big letters, was “Don't panic.” We all had a good laugh over that. Barbara is just so fun to watch, operating in a foreign country. I know, I know, like the spy told us, “She travels far too lightly about the world.”
Someday it may well come back to bite us. But until then, I guess we'll just enjoy it. I think if she had to just leave all the people alone, she would just be ready to go home.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Back to Norway - part six

     We made the turn, headed back toward Oslo, and drove miles along a steep cliff, on a very questionable road overlooking the sea/fjord. The next town had a fair minus hotel, but was $250. We asked about other places to stay. “There are none. Well, there are camping cabins, but I'm sure you would not dare stay in a place like that.” Well, after her $250 quote, I felt sure we would dare
     They turned out to be small, but OK, for a mere $100. She was going to charge for sheets, but now we had our own. We had already wised up about this. But she did charge $2 for a towel. I started to tell Barbara we could just drip dry, but I knew it was no use. We decided to stay there for two days. $100 lodging was rare in Norway.
     The next day we took a trip back up the mountain to see Europe's largest Glacier. At the viewpoint, Barbara again swapped taking picture with people from many nations. It drizzled all day, but could not dampen our spirits at this glorious place. We followed the rushing river back down, and stopped at a road up to a farmhouse. A table loaded with raspberries was sitting out, with an open money box. Everyone just helped themselves. It would be nice if we could do that at home. What a trusting people!
We noticed as we drove back into our cabin that the office had a computer, so we walked over, met the owner, and I talked to him while Barbara got on the internet.
     The man was an engineer. He told me, in his broken English, that he always leaves his truck unlocked in town, and leaves his wallet on the seat. He's never had to pay a price for that.
Europe has “common law,” they call it. It was a holdover from long ago when people had to walk to go anywhere distant. It allows anyone to camp on another person's property, just close the gate behind yourself, don't set up camp anywhere close to houses, leave it clean, and be quiet.
     I asked him if he had ever been to America. “Yes, we've been several times to visit kin. But America has a very large police presence. We were driving, saw a grassy spot, and camped. In the middle of the night, the police woke us up with lights in our eyes. They wanted to know what we were doing here, in a school yard. And, I got several speeding tickets.” 60 miles per hour is very different from 60 km per hour. We only saw two or three police cars in 34 days in Europe. Traffic is monitored by cameras, and they always put up a warning sign in advance. They really don't want to have to fine you, unlike many of our small towns, who make money from it, and jump at the chance to stick it to travelers.
But he also told me, half his wages goes to taxes. Now that he knew us, he backed off charging us for a new towel.
We called both the kids tonight, everything was fine. Good to hear.

We have been following the edge of the Fjord now for days. A Fjord is a path gouged out by a glacier, on its way to the sea, and it always has a sea opening. The valleys left behind always have the rounded out appearance, sloping up to tall mountains. It makes for beautiful scenery, but farmers have almost no flat land. Waterfalls rush down the mountains in abundance, all summer, until the next freeze up, then more snow. A totally beautiful place.
     Norway is awash in new oil money, but we noticed that middle class people, who seemed to be doing well, paid a price for that. Many held multiple jobs, and business owners never seemed to hire much extra help, doing all the different jobs themselves. A business we in America would use half a dozen employees to run was often handled alone, Running constantly from one job to the next. Customers seemed to just be used to having to wait a long time for service. And there was seldom fast service. The cook was out wiping tables, running cash registers, just doing it all. All in all, I like our system better.

       Headed up the mountains at the head of the fjord, we followed the directions of the tourist lady way back along our path, and took a smaller road up. It didn't take long to see her reasoning. The view was spectacular. Above the tree line, nearing the snow, it turned into a single track, still two way, with pullouts far apart. Kinda scary, knowing nothing about who might be zooming toward us at the next curve. I guess we would just have to have a Peru-type summit meeting to decide who would be backing up a couple of miles.    A ski lodge loomed, off season now, and it had a cafe. And a toilet. The two women who were there were nice and talkative, but the cheapest item on their menu was two grilled cheese sandwiches for $20. We decided we really weren't actually very hungry. We got off the mountain, were in towns now, but the hotels were so high we continued on until we found a camping cabin. Out came our used sheets, worth their weight in gold. Free towels!
       The owner pointed out where a big “event” was taking place, so we chased it down. “Events” we stumbled onto in our travels had been productive, at times.
It was a “Pioneer Days” thing, so we payed our entry fee and went in. The locals couldn't believe foreigners were in their midst. It was mostly over, so we missed the entertainment. But they felt sorry for us, showed us around, and told us a lot about their pioneers. Boy, and we thought our pioneers had it rough. They even fed us for free, a very rare bird. No, I don't mean we ate a bird. Just a figure of speech.
Barbara asked about a very large, fragile, hand carved bowl sitting on a table. They just readily handed it to her to examine. Barb saw the carving date on it, 1500, and very carefully sat it back down. Just seemed to be no end to their trusting nature.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Visit back to Wing - Conclusion

      I went out and looked over the old farm some. Seems like, now that I have written a book about it, and blog about it a lot, I now know all those old places better than I ever did when I was a kid, 60 years ago. As I just stood, looking at that old farm, a large part if my childhood passed through my mind. Right in front of me was where the huge barn had stood. Grandpa John Wesley Gillum used that barn to breed Super Mules. He bought a Giant Mammoth Black male donkey, to breed to everyone's mares. He paid a thousand dollars for King Leo, at the turn of the century. King Leo won first place at the Arkansas State Fair. Mares were brought from far and wide to King Leo.
      Right over there, under that giant oak, My great grandpa, James LaFayette Gillum, built his blacksmith shop. That ground was just covered with iron scraps when I was a kid. I'll bet I could bring a metal detector up and dig up a ton of old horseshoes and other old Gillum treasures.
      Right up on the hill, right there, the old homeplace stood, now long gone. It was a genuine kit house, ordered from Sears and Roebuck, in the 1920's, by my school teacher aunt, Hallie. She must not have ordered the entire kit, because it retailed at around $2300 dollars as a turnkey job in the catalog, and this one cost between $500 and $800, depending on who was telling it. But she ran out of lumber, and lumber was taken off the old Gillum homeplace to finish it up. My aunt Lula Bell had came over and thrown a royal fit when she found out, but the salvaging continued. By the time Hallie's house was built, the old house was not fit to live in, so the whole family made the 20 foot move in with Hallie. Aunt Hallie never lived in her new house alone, dying early, in 1941. I was born in that house in 1944.
     Fifty yards away is The Bluff, where ninety years of Gillums threw ninety years of trash that wouldn't burn. The thick trees below now hide all those glorious piles of Gillum history. A thousand years from now, an archaeologist will dig into that spot, and be filled with wonder. Gillums always produced spectacular trash.
On out, between The Bluff and Stowe Creek, is the field of Stinging Nettle. Sister Barbara Lou and I always had to walk through it to get to the swimming hole. That's the only place I've ever seen that particular species. Touch it, and you itched for hours. Years later, I remembered this plant, and transplanted one to my biology class room, along with a big sign, DO NOT TOUCH THIS PLANT. But seems like most of my kids eventually just eased by and rubbed against it, just to spite me, when I wasn't looking. But it never went unnoticed by me in the long run. The guilty party always scratched until the bell rang, then walked out scratching .Every kid needs to experience Stinging Nettle, once.
        On the other side of the road is the Big Hill. My nine acres. As a kid, it had huge pines on it. It was cut over after I left Wing. Forty two years ago, I bought it. Thirty four years ago, son Corey and I planted those pines back. They're pretty big now, but nothing like they were when I was a kid. Harold was a Forester at the time. He kept on at me to thin them out, cut out the hardwoods. Maybe I could make some money off them someday. But he never understood. I didn't want the money, I just wanted to see those pines like they were when Sammy Turner and I rode those carts we had made, with abandon, down that hill, dodging each big tree. Mine had a genuine B-29 steering wheel on it, and wheels off my little red wagon, removed when it was too tired to go any more. I hope I see those huge pines again before I die.
      Looking off the bridge over the little creek by Uncle Homer's house, I saw the little hole of water where I fished, using grasshoppers or wasp larvae for bait, as a boy. I could always count on catching four or five big perch or goggle eyes, string them up on a forked stick, and head for home to clean them for supper.
As I stood there and looked, two perfectly round black balls, the size of a basketball, each consisting of hundreds of tiny black animals, swam by. They were packed tightly together, and they swam perfectly together, like synchronized swimmers, here and there. I had seen this before, once, as an 8 year old boy, not 100 yards from this very spot. My biology professor walking buddy just had no idea what I was talking about when I described them to him. Even tiny critters in Wing are just a little bit different.
      The deer are back now. I had seen them today. They were totally absent during my childhood. Killed and eaten, in season or out. A couple of years ago, the bridge on Stowe creek, right beside my 9 acres, was replaced. But this new bridge had no sides. Later, Harold noticed it had been caved off on one side, and the creek below had a lot of shotgun shells, 12 gauge buckshot, lying in the water. One of those midnight spot lighters had an accident here, it seems. Good enough for him. He had no business messing with my deer.
As I gazed over the old farm, I remembered back. 60 years ago. Dad had me totally believing that the whole farm would go totally to Hell, if he was absent from it, even for a day. And he almost never left. Yet here it is, nearly 40 years after Dad had left it forever, looking much the same. New owners now, but they are keeping it up well. The woods have not reclaimed the fields where the cattle contentedly graze, as Dad had always feared. He pushed me to mow every square inch if it every summer. Then he always sent me out with a chopping ax, to all the spots of persimmon sprouts, to make sure not a single one survived.

      I went to see Elois Hunnicutt, now 94. Her sons Grady and Wayne were my good buddies as we grew up. They, Sammy Turner, Jack Larry Gillum and I often skinny dipped in that very cold, very deep hole in the creek down in our pasture. Some of the guys felt proud to walk the bank most of the time. I always called them the “Bank Walkers.” Personally, I tried to stay in the water nearly all the time. Anyway, Elois Hunnicutt and her husband Alja were always the hardest working people I ever knew. They did the same kind of work most everybody in Wing did, only they did twice as much, twice as fast. I worked for him one summer during college. I got to ride 40 miles in the back of his pickup to Dover and 40 miles back, every day. I totally wore out two good pair of work boots that summer, just trying to keep him in sight in those hard mountains. We lost him several years ago. A big loss to us all, and a very good man.
      Elois still lives alone on their farm, still has a big garden. Some time back, she fell out there and broke a bone or two. Over several hours, she managed to crawl back to her back door, but that's as far as she could get, alone. She had to lay out a good part of a day and night. Cell phones don't work well in Wing. But she's as lively as ever now, and gets around pretty good with her cane. I know I would be hard pressed to keep up with her now, much less when I'm 94.
      I got to meet the Gillilands, the new store owners. There has been only one store in Wing, in my lifetime. I got to tell them about sitting, cluelessly, reading the funnies, throughout the great robbery of that store, 56 years ago. That is the only sure enough crime I ever remember happening in Wing. Effie Turner figured out she had been cleaned out when she came back, called ahead, and they were caught before they could get out of the valley. The robbers got a year and a day. Effie was an older lady at that time, and she died at 100, in 1979.. During her lifetime, she rode in a covered wagon pulled by oxen, and saw men walk on the moon.
I told Mr. Gilliland I would like to place some of the copies of my book, Spreading Wing, there in November when it came out, as I wanted books available where it all happened. He said, “Sure, be glad to. And it won't cost you a thing.” I told him I just never worked that way, he WOULD get a commission. He said I was sounding like Harold, who had come in for a three minute repair job on his car, and just insisted on paying him. I told him Harold and I had the same Daddy and Mama, who gave us both that same “Do Right Mechanism.” A Gillum always pays his own way in this world.

     I went by and looked at the old church next door, where the Memorial Service for JR Turner, Effie's son, had just been held. JR died this year at 102. JR fired a wanderlust in me, as a child, telling me stories of his world travels, and showing me gold he had found “1000 miles off the pavement.” Without him, all of my tales of our world travels might never have happened at all.

      Scientists just really need to do a study in Wing, see why so many people live so long, hours away from a major hospital. But actually, in my heart I already know. Folks in Little Rock would be amazed, living there in the hustle and bustle, and the rush, of big city life, at the lifestyle we at Wing lived, and how much longer many lived, just two hours away.

      As I drove out of the hills of Wing, I knew, as I always know in my heart as I leave Wing, that, though I left those hills 50 years ago, and have never lived there again, I am forever a hillbilly.
And proud to say it.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A visit back to Wing - Part two

      When I got up the next morning, Dan had already been up for a long time, and drained the coffee pot totally dry, maybe for the second or third time, because you can never tell about Big Dan. He was now long gone, off to see his girl friends and boy friends. Harold was up too, waiting at his spot at the table while Lou cooked breakfast. He said, “Just go look for yourself, and see if you can pick a track out of that mess”. Well, that told me we must not have been successful, but I rushed out there anyway. The bait was gone, the trap was thrown, and the trap was pulled to the end of the wire. There was a lot of claw and scratch marks where this animal pulled the trap around, but the flour was pretty much a mess, and using all my skills built up from my woodsman experiences, about all I could read from that was, he sure had some sharp claws.
Well, I sure did want to hang around until the end game of this mystery played out, but Barbara was expecting me home sometime today, and looks like I will miss it. My last bit of advice to Harold was to remove all the cat food, sprinkle moth balls around in the room and under the house, leave the outside entrance open tonight to give it room to get out, then close it back up tomorrow. Most pests I had experienced have no tolerance for moth balls. But I knew in my heart that Harold would not go with it, because by now, he just really had to get a look at this smart animal.
      I wanted to grab that last piece of lemon pie, but there was just a tiny sliver left. Mom always frowned at us when we grabbed the very last bit. I always let Lou know when I'm coming, and I usually arrive at about meal time, and she has my favorite, coconut pie, waiting. This time she surprised me, and It was lemon. I now think my favorite kind of pie is lemon pie.

      As I walked out the door, I could tell Harold was starting to plot his next move in his mind. I would like to tell you more, but another night has now passed, and I'm just dying to go call Harold. I can't wait to hear what happened last night.

      Well, it's now a few hours later, and I have talked to Harold. He's had a change of heart. He feels sad and respectful toward this very worthy opponent, and he has decided to take all the cat food out of that room, open the outside opening to the underside of the house, and hopes, maybe when it has eaten up all the cat food it has stashed away, that it will move out and seek another life. Probably with a sore nose or head from that rat trap. Anyway, somewhere away from his house, and he wishes it well. We all would have liked to have gotten a look at this brilliant creature, though. Several have mentioned getting a motion activated camera to help get a look at him, and everyone agreed it was a good idea, but no one stepped forward and offered to foot the bill. Goodbye, Einstein of the wild animal kingdom! We all wish you well. Sore nose and all.    (LATE NEWS FLASH! It seems the smart animal did not take leave of the house after all, Harold got his second wind, and somehow worked out an intricate method of capturing one of the animals, a pack rat. His method still is a little fuzzy in my mind, but involved lady's nylons and peanut butter added to Harold's vast assortment of weapons already brought to bear.  Yet, the cat food loss seems to still be moving forward.. As Ken Gillum e-mailed me, the strange saga continues.......Ken is actually Harold's youngest son, Big Dan the middle one. Sorry, Ken! Now, why didn't I think of lady's nylons? It seems so simple, now.)

     Harold and Big Dan were both blessed with great strength. Those strength genes just passed my side of the family by, But I did have one strength when I was young. I could run a long way.
But fortunately, I never really needed strength to get by in this world. Even as a young man, just out of high school,. I had and still have a well thought out self defense plan, consisting of these 6 steps. 1. Never become a regular at Honkey tonks, where most of the problems arise. My Dad never let me get accustomed to such as that when I lived in his house, and I just never got the urge to change that. 2. Be humble, which I have always been. 3. My fake big man status. I say fake because I weighed 160 pounds, 6'2” right out of high school. No fat. That's the size I still am underneath the fat, though I eventually got up to 260 pounds fat and all, now trimmed down to 220 pounds. So I'm a fake big man, because the fat really does not figure in on the positive side where self defense is concerned. Just slows you down, and makes you hit the ground harder if you do go down. But fortunately, this is the first time I ever confessed all this, and most possible trouble makers don't really know I'm not an honest to goodness big man. 4. Bluff. That goes back to step #3. 5. Don't be too proud to run – far. Which I was able to do as a young man. And fear will help out with the lack of speed problem. Though this one may be a little outdated, and I may have to rework that a bit.. 6. Don't be too proud to lie flat on the ground if none of those other steps work, and beg for mercy. I have no pride. Actually, bragging about a lack of pride is a form of pride in itself. But I always take great pride in my lack of pride.

So far, thank goodness, I've never had to go past step 3. But it could happen, and when it does, I'll be ready. Remember this general rule to live your life by:
A man who can run fast and far, and is not too proud to do it, does not need to be a fighter. But always remember to rework some of that, when you get to be 68 years old, and can't run a lick.

     Thanks for your time, and your attention. (See? I told you I was humble.)    Continued