In our last episode…
My friend Bob (of the many friends named such) – my former P.I. boss and gun store boss – was losing weight and on a feeding tube due to the inability to eat due to esophageal cancer (!)
And he (and we) were awaiting approval from on-high (his health care insurance) to begin chemotherapy and radiation for the throat cancer.
And the insurance company was balking at beginning treatment, as he had yet to gain any weight (or to save themselves money – you decide!)
I heard from him yesterday, as I reached out to him for the Thanksgiving weekend. He has been receiving ‘treatments’ going on three months, with the last one scheduled for this coming week.
THEN, we will see the prognosis…
He says he is very tired and is maintaining (mostly) a good attitude.
Please keep a good thought, and pray for him (if that’s what you do).
I was in high school, active in the (award-winning) choir, and in The Mystic Crystal (the magic club). And one of the kids in the neighborhood pointed me in the direction of an amateur troop of kids who performed free. For people who needed entertainment.
And I thought what the heck.
They were called The Cavalier Players. Founded by a quintessential stage mother to get her daughter’s (marginal) dance talents exposed further, they performed free for anyone who would have them.
And I signed up.
I remember many elder care facilities, some like Phoenix’s The Beatitudes – the top of the spectrum. Others where the only thing in memory was the smell of urine.
And one Thanksgiving at the St. Vincent De Paul dining hall, packed to the brim with the unfortunate.
Other members included dancers, singers, gymnasts, and piano players. On one occasion, the tape deck with needed music broke, so (Geez! What the hell was her name?) the stage mom stepped out on stage, announced “I-AM-THE-ORCHESTRA!” and began humming so the dancer could continue with her performance!
Another time, Debbie J. (a gymnast) performed the splits, but had not stretched sufficiently. She reached the bottom of her split, but was unable to come back up. And began screaming and crying. The EMTs were called. She had torn some ligaments. YIKES!
Being a magician, my only faux pas were dropping my concealed handcuff key (loudly, on a wooden stage), and having one of my juggling balls bounce off the stage toward the audience.
At least I was able to exit the stage, pick up the ball in mid-bounce and continue juggling! I was much more mobile and faster, then.
I performed with them a couple years in high school. It did teach me a little about the less fortunate, and about the show going on.
We even made the local paper, with a photo! Sadly, in the pre-digital age, my likeness was over-done with ink, making me appear as a minstrel show player! Not very cavalier…
The stage mom and her daughter moved a couple years later. I never saw them again – guess the daughter never ‘made it’?
(See – I told you!)
My Life’s friendships are made up of many folks. But an inordinate number (for whatever reason) are named either Bob (Robert) or David (Dave)!
Who knows why?
I was walking to McClintock High School to attend a Summer School session (having missed my first Freshman semester because of the onset of my leg disability) and wanting to complete high school in 3 1/2 years to stay with my class.
Turned out, a number of other Tempe High students were also attending McClintock’s Summer Session. And walking more-or-less the same way to school.
Conversations ensued. It was about a mile-and-a-half from my house, and an 0700 start time, so it was early, ‘cooler’ (AZ summertime) and we were bored kids.
And friendships developed. One was with David M., who had to walk an additional 1/2 mile to get to where I was. Not to be confused with Dave the
genius mechanic, or David the artist college-roommate.
And we walked together to Summer School, and back on the return trip. And became fast friends.
David was smart, funny, musically-talented (playing piano by sound!). He was a school A/V guy and a photographer. And we both liked the same stuff. Magic tricks, philosophy and girls.
Not necessarily in that order.
And it was David who introduced me to the Firesign Theatre and Cheech & Chong!
And I introduced him to the magic club. And other the neighborhood guys became his friends, as well.
We palled around together all through high school, and into college.
His parents were divorced, and his mother was religiously conservative. She seemed to like me, but objected to the magic club, as there were things just not right there (in her mind.) She called playing cards The Devil’s pasteboards!
I remember both of us liking to listen to Jethro Tull. His dad was putting an addition on his house, and we used to sit in the unfinished rooms (for the acoustics) to play flute. I, self-taught with a rented one – he bought his and could play rings around me. Accompanying Jethro Tull’s Aqualung, again, with David playing by ear! He even held it wrong (not knowing any better) – both hands facing backward (fife-like) – and could STILL sound better! And actually play!
He was going to marry once. They canceled it at the last minute – I never did find out why.
And, as with many other friends, we drifted apart.
He has a common last name, and I’ve been unable to re-connect with him via social media for this reason.
Wherever he is, I wish him well!
Regular readers of this blog are familiar with my dislike of this holiday. NOT with the sentiment! :-)
Make certain you hold each other close, honor each other, show each other you care and respect each other at todays gatherings.
And tell them you love them.
It’s not such a bad idea other days of the year, as well.
Because you never know…
And, it’s a good idea to make a list, even if it’s just in your head, of those things and people for which you are grateful.
I’ve a roof over my head, food in my belly, and a car – albeit a beater car. But she runs (kinda)!
Many people don’t have such things.
And today’s feast is traditional with me:
Salad, garlic toast, and mostaccioli!
and Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends, family and blogfriends™!
I’ve posted before about my childhood foray in legerdemain. Magic. Sleight-of-hand. Conjuring.
While I enjoyed a certain status in my childhood neighborhood – performing at kid’s birthday parties, and all – it was a lonely proposition. There were no other kids nearby who loved magic as I did. Of course, this was pre-Internet. And I was too young to drive and go into Phoenix to the Rabbits In Our Hats Club.
The Summer between junior high and high school my leg disability developed. Crutches and a leg brace for a year. And I missed my first semester of high school as a result. I was hanging around the neighborhood a lot, including my friends – most of whom were younger than I.
And something magical happened. We formed a magic club!
Looking back, it might have been because I was the oldest and that was my thing, but who knows?
We named it THE MYSTIC CRYSTAL. The name gleaned from the song Aquarius lyrics ♫Mystic Crystal revelations…♫.
Jim, his younger brother John, John’s best friend Steve, and, later, David M and Ken.
There was a constitution, officers, dues, meetings, a newsletter and food!
Our officer’s titles all were prefaced with the beginning The Great Almighty (in an effort to resemble a men’s lodge or secret society). I.E. the treasurer was The Great Almighty Keeper of the Dough! :-)
We met monthly, rotating through the respective member’s homes.
Practicing magic, hanging-out, BS-ing, eating food, talking about girls. Sometimes (if a piano was present) David M. would play for our amusement. We made a club sign, silk-screened t-shirts (which we erroneously called bowling shirts) and spent much time goofing-off.
And we attended the annual International Brotherhood of Magicians chapter banquet.
And we would discuss and plan our first magic show, at length.
But we never performed, as a club!
Some of us did some charity shows; some made a few bucks semi-pro.
But we just never got around to performing as a group. Certainly family and school activities took precedent.
Upon reflection, I, for one, continue to be astounded that all of our parents allowed us to get together, monthly, often on a school-night, to eat snacks and goof around as only boys in junior high and high school can!
I guess they saw it as harmless fun, versus popping our collars, wearing leather jackets and smoking cigarettes on the corner until all hours of the morning.
The club lasted from 1966 to 1971. And we all eventually went our separate ways. College, marriage, children, divorce. Life.
Afterward, Ken did perform for a few years professionally as a clown! At least one of us made the cut…
(a follow-up to the November 8 post I Sometimes HATE Novembers, as promised…)
So, here I was, in my insurance-paid-for-rented-condo, about a mile North of my home, while contractors rebuilt it, after the drunk driver had hit it two weeks prior. That’s what I get for buying a corner lot, off a street that zig-zags. Drunks never caught that nuance, head straight for the alley, see the power pole, and crash into my back yard.
It had happened before. Last time it was just the fence that was destroyed.
I, of course, still had to go to work, pay bills, and check the mail at the house, all while surveying the excruciatingly-slow process of rebuilding the rear of my home and replacing the fence.
Thankfully (?) I was beginning to have more health issues (joy, joy) which meant I was missing more work. Which gave me the excuse to stop by and check the mail and the progress of the reconstruction more often.
And, it had been a couple of days since I had last checked the mail, and it was my birthday(!), so I thought I’d check the mail again. Hell, there might be a birthday check from someone in the mail? :-)
I pull into the driveway. No contractors present. This always bothered me, as this process was taking forever. Of course, mine wasn’t their only project.
(This had been a little over two weeks!)
AND THE SIDE DOOR WAS STANDING OPEN ABOUT TWO INCHES!
This alarmed me, as no one was around. The door had been always locked and the extra key placed in one of those Realtor-access combination locks around the door knob. Which was now nowhere to be seen!
I exited the car and drew my 1911 pistol. (Yeah, I know. All my training (which I had trained others to do many times before) was to leave the area to a relatively safe location and call the police to respond. After all, there may have been multiple armed intruders inside burgling my home!)
BUT, this was MY HOME! And the training went out the window. Sigh.
I slowly entered the kitchen, listening intently for any activity inside, pistol at-the-ready. Then into the living room, bath and two bedrooms. This was relatively quick, as it was a 740 square-foot house.
It was obvious someone else had been inside. Someone NOT a contractor. A home computer, portable television, stereo, some faux Samurai swords and a number of other items were missing. Movers had taken many of the larger furniture items to put into storage prior to the reconstruction. But I was told they were unable to take the gun safe, as they were prohibited from storing firearms.
They had removed the Dillon XL 650 reloading press from it’s mount, preparatory to the rebuild. But had not put it into storage. (I guess it was gun-related). It was gone.
And the 800 pound, Fort Knox gun safe was missing. And this was on the floor…
Someone obviously had pried off the combination dial and locking lever to open the safe. And when that failed, THEY TOOK THE ENTIRE 800 POUND SAFE!
Credit cards, spare checks, school transcripts, cameras, my birth certificate and over fifty firearms! Gone.
First, I called the insurance company, to see if they had perhaps authorized storage of the safe and it’s contents, and had inadvertently broken the locking mechanism somehow in transit. Then, I called the mover and the police.
And was scolded by the 911 operator, as it was for emergencies only. How was fifty+ firearms possibly out on the street was not an emergency?
Ultimately, the contractor, the storage guy, my insurance man and the police arrived on the scene. I recounted my actions upon arriving multiple times for each of them. And I was livid. To keep me occupied (and busy and out of the way) the police advised me to make a list of what was in the safe, including all the firearms and serial numbers.
I knew most of their descriptions by heart, but the list (with Polaroids and serial numbers) was not around. It was probably in the materials previously packed and moved to storage.
Fortunately, I still had many of the receipts and gun boxes, which were labeled on the edge with the numbers.
And set about making the list on a legal pad.
All parties were questioned. The contractor’s employees all had cellular telephones they were required to keep with them at all times (for GPS tracking purposes). And all passed the location test.
As if someone couldn’t have left the phone at home off-hours to do a burglary? Or they told someone else? Come on! I never broadcast about the safe in my home, suddenly, after many strangers had seen it, it went missing.
After six months, the house was reconstructed, painted, re-floored (safe drag marks) cleaned (even clothes in the closet dry cleaned!) and restocked with the stored items. I had called in to stop all my credit cards the same day.
I received a check for the maximum available from my policy. (Note-to-self: Make certain all valuables are covered, and if there is a cap it covers all firearms. I was insured for a maximum of 5K on the firearms, eventually paid just over 7K total. Firearm valuation of the missing? Over 21K! in 2009 gun values)
Fortunately, I had taken my favorite 1911 and .38 snub with me to the condo!
And none of the identity items, credit cards or firearms have ever surfaced.
I’m thinking Mexico, and thank God that Fort Knox makes a quality piece of security equipment! I suspect it’s abandoned in the desert somewhere, still unopened. (Let this be a lesson – if you’ve not done so already, bolt your safe to the foundation and wall studs – even if it weighs 800 pounds!)
And among the missing are my electroless nickel Colt Gold Cup, 1969 Browning High Power, 4 AR-15s, my Ithaca Deerslayer Police Special 12 gauge, my pre-model 27 Smith & Wesson 5″, my Sig-Sauer P220 – marked made in W. Germany(!) and my 1942 Springfield Garand!!
I had to use the insurance money for other things, and never was able to replace any of the missing firearms.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
They tell me cat videos are ubiquitous on the Internet…
Yep. Ol’ Guffaw is sixty-frickin’-three today!
It’s been said I don’t look a year over 68… :-)
Seriously, I’ve many gifts for which to be thankful…
A roof over my head
Family and friends
If I knew I would be living this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.
Now, I figure a good burger or pizza, with an occasional beer is better than a skinless chicken breast or tofu with green tea.
I know I probably won’t live as long, but I will enjoy it more.