Tommy B. Lemmer

imgresA big portion of my life was spent riding the rails, so railroaders come to mind quickly.  Crazy bunch of guys. 

Tommy B. Lemmer was a guy I worked with on the Santa Fe Railroad.  Knowing full well that there are some six billion people on this planet, I will shamelessly declare that, “Tommy was unique.  He was one of a kind.  He was my friend.  I have not spoken with him in years, don’t even know how to get ahold of him, but he can still make me smile. Continue reading

Back Home and Re-Charged

Hey!  We are back and it is good to be home. 

October 1st, 2012 gimme a ghoulish vampire or monkey mask and a big ol Pumpkin, fall is in the air!

Our first bus adventure took us deep into the heart of the state of Texas and then later on, up to the Southeastern portion of our home state Oklahoma.  We met with friends there, enjoyed a story or two, and some good food, then came back home.  (Pictures are included here, please follow the links.)

More or less floated a day or two with some other friends here at the Goat Farm and then attended another bus get together 35 miles from the house.  This was at a gathering entitled The Three Amigo’s in Oklahoma City where met and made new friends, where we were introduced to some very interesting people in that group.  Its always nice to make new friends with which to mingle.

It has been an interesting and productive couple of weeks.  The bus has been backed into the shop and it is sitting there kind of forlorn and sad (If a bus is capable of such things?), waiting on our next adventure whenever that might be.

A great deal has happened in our absence and there are a lot of new items to be pushed to the front burner of the stove. 

For instance we went shopping at the Mall in the Dallas area recently and I discovered that I am now a minority in my own country.  Perhaps one of these days I will write an article on it entitled A Foreigner In My Own Land or something.  Walking along with the wife in this shopping mall, surrounded by people of middle eastern origins, blacks, mexicans, and the presence of very few white people, surely was an eye opener for me.

America is changing incredibly fast these days.

Give and you shall receive:  Reading newspapers in restaurants in different cities has always been one of my hobbies.  I read where a Dallas girl, had found $2,000 and handed it over to the authorities and was finally rewarded for her honesty.  There is however, a glitch here, there is always a glitch.

She did the right thing, no doubt about it when she found the money in a sack in a north Dallas parking lot and turned it in to police.  They told her that if no one claimed the money, she would be entitled to it.

After waiting the allotted amount of time, she went to collect the money and was told that the city was going to keep the money after all.  The resulting media outcry prompted an unnamed donor to reward her with $4,000.  The the city reconsidered their stingy bastard behavior and gave the teenager the $2,000.  In the end, for her honesty, she was $6000 better off.

It is a shame cities or governments have to be forced to do the right thing these days.

Stoooopid Crook Files:  A man, wanting to rob a downtown Bank of America, walked into the Branch and wrote this, “Put all your muny in this bag.”  While standing in line, waiting to give his note to the teller, he began to worry that someone had seen him write the note and might call the police before he reached the teller’s window.

So he left the Bank of America and crossed the street to the Wells Fargo Bank.

After waiting a few minutes in line, he handed his note to the Wells Fargo teller.  She read it and, surmising from his spelling errors that he wasn’t the brightest light in the harbor, told him that she could not accept his stickup note because it was written on a Bank of America deposit slip and that he would either have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to Bank of America.

Looking somewhat defeated, the man said, “OK” and left.

He was arrested a few minutes later, as he was waiting in line back at Bank of America.  I just love stooopid crook stories, they always make me smile.

Reach Out and Bug Somebody:  Employee’s of an Amtrak train headed for Salem, Oregon, stopped the train so that a 39 year old man could be escorted off the train at a non-scheduled stop.  The man allegedly spent “16 hours” talking on a cell phone in a “quiet” car.

Everywhere we went this year, the phones and the electronic’s were there.  My wife even has her phone rigged up to automatically send a photo that she has taken, back home to the computer and placed into storage.

Imagine that.

This simple feat of technology just amazes me.  I have pictures in my cellphone that are over three years old, I don’t know where it is they reside, nor do I know how to retrieve them and get them out of there.  Now …. Ask me if I care?  That are about it for today, we are back, somewhat rested and in the groove, hope you enjoyed the brief hiatus as much as we did.


Take A Shot At It.

My grandson (11 years old) cannot throw a football, he does not play baseball, no Frizbee either.  He for the most part, sits in his home and plays video games.  And that to me is so sad, but as this is treading on tender-ground in the family dynamic, I keep it to myself.  There is so much more to life, so many adventures and learning experiences are out there, ripe for the taking, but he will never know them.

It occurred to me that someone ought to start a thread on the strange things or interesting adventures we have done in their lives.  All of us at one time or another have done some things that others (especially those of us that are not insane by nature) would consider strange, adventuresome, or interesting.  My Bucket List on life is for the most part empty, I have had my fair share of adventure and really feel more or less circumspect in my life at this point in time.  As it has been kind of slow here lately this has been on my mind. 

So during a lull in festivities, I made a list of some of the quirky things in my life. 

Did a snipe hunt once or twice, before I figured out that Snipes are not indigenous to Oklahoma, just to my cousin’s house out on a farm east of Crescent, Oklahoma.  On the same token, I have never stuck my tongue to a frozen flag pole in December.  Played “stomp ball at the park” in a four inch downpour and loved every dog-gone minute of it.  

When I was young, I walked thru a railroad tunnel in Niles Canyon, California.  With no flashlight to illuminate the way, no working knowledge of trains or train schedules, another guy, Jim Crossett and I walked thru this roughly two mile long tunnel.  When JFK said “every American should be able to walk fifty miles” my buddies and I, rode our ten speed bikes 112 miles in one day.  Left at 4:30 am in the morning and it was wayyyyyyy after dark when we got back.

Climbed a hydroelectric transmission tower to the very top, man man, the juice flowing thru that thing sounded just like bacon frying on Mama’s stove and you could see forever.  Been to the top of two or three volcano’s in my life all extinct, none were active.  Surfed at Santa Cruz and body-whopped Half Moon Bay.  Sat on a boat dock, in Jax Florida and ate Oysters right out of the shell and washed them down with hot sauce and Budweiser.

I found an abandoned mine in the Sierra’s once and we went back into that about 1/2 mile or so, only to discover a ceiling chocked full of bats!  Now that turned out to be a turning point in my life, as I found myself whenever I discovered one (abandoned mines or tunnels), venturing deep into the pits of a mine and exploring by flashlight, the bowels of mother earth.

We were in Spain, and a guy bet me that I would not jump off of a perfectly good aircraft carrier, so I did.  Ninety-four feet to the waterline.  But this wasn’t something all that new to me, I had previously jumped off a railroad bridge at Lake Texhoma and a public bridge at Catfish Bay, Oklahoma.

Noodled for catfish on the Washita River and went to a Rattlesnake hunt in Okeene, Oklahoma, both I would wholeheartedly pass up today.  There are safer things to do in this life, such as, digging for sand crystals on the Salt Flats or something like that.

My cousin talked me into climbing a rock face with him in Colorado and everything was just swell, until I found myself at a place where I could not go up or go down.  Froze on the side of rock cliff for some six hours, not a pleasant Saturday afternoon as I recall.  

I danced with a transvestite in Trieste, Italy, and did not know that he/she was a tranny.  That got interesting for a brief time, until I gave “her” to Harry Braid, who was from Dayton Ohio, and I assume he had never danced with one either.

Took diving lessons, learned to dive in a swimming pool with an instructor.  Then went to Florida and did a dive that was sixty-five feet.  Made it half-way down, and my ears started to really bother me, so I stopped and held onto the rope, that is until a Barracuda swam by my face, and then I decided it was time to go up (Post haste) to the dive boat.  

Went up in a small airplane three times to jump and begin my sport parachute career, didn’t happen.  I did however get out on the wheel strut and briefly looked down at the earth, some 4,000 ft below before crawling back into the plane.  Ran my Harley up to an honest 130 MPH on a country road one hot July back in seventy-four.  Rode it 6,000 miles across America over a period of some five months time.

Skinny dipped with college kids on the South Canadian River, swam in the Yellowstone River sans attire, did a river in Idaho one time alongside a busy highway.  Never have been to a topless beach but I have heard of them.  Did some class three rapids on a river in California and a girl named Debbie on lake in Missouri at midnight on a full moon night in August.

You would think that would be the end of it, but it isn’t.  Not long ago I inadvertently came across one more opportunity for adventure of sorts.

We were in New Mexico having breakfast at Clines Corners.  Two local guys pulled in with a pickup and horse trailer and then unloaded three horses to rest, and tied them to the trailer.  They came in and sat down in the booth next to us and ordered breakfast.  I inquired of one of them, “How come you have three horses, but there are only two of you?” and this guy smiled and says, “Charlie was out all night long chasing skirts, and did not want to get out of bed this morning.  We decided to come on without him, we had already loaded the horses.”  

He then looks at me and says, “Can you ride a horse?” and his buddy kind of chuckled.

I replied with, “You betcha, I can sit a horse, no problem.”  

He then said, “You wanna go up in the hills with us and bring down some cattle today?” and I looked at the wife and said “You be okay, here in the parking lot?” and she just gave me that look that I know so well after all these years.

Now it is your turn.  What is the strangest or most interesting thing  you have done in your life?

Take a shot at it.


Night Moves

Walking down the well worn path to the dispatcher call box, I savor the cool night air, something about being up at four thirty in the morning.  The cicadas are singing in the trees and it is my job to get the horses out of the watering hole, take ‘em down the main, and put them on the train.

Friday night in the big town, tight shoe money night, payday!  Here I am, fetching another rattler to take down the line.

Walking up to the call box, I hear something in the south, I turn and look and see the headlight cutting thru the night like a sharp knife, I hear her whistle crying out, such a lonely and mournful sound at this time of the morning.  “Well, we aint going anywhere soon, that is for sure” I think to myself.  Another freight is slowing rolling into town on its journey up the main to Kansas City or maybe even Chicago, one of many each day carrying the necessities of man, the nations’ goods.

Stepping back from the tracks I reach into my shirt pocket and fetch me a smoke, we will be here awhile.  The northbound freight slowly rumbles by, and pulls up to the depot for a crew change and I savor my cigarette and check the night sky.

Don’t really know why I have developed this habit of checking the night sky, most of the time, it is all there, right where God put it and I notice nothing out of the ordinary.  Something rustles in the weeds to my right, and I wonder what it was, or if it is going to bring harm to me.

Most folks this time of the day are tucked into their beds, sleeping peacefully and warm.  But not the railroader, he is out, shagging the main, boarding up on a shooter and heading to the end of the line.  Seven days out and twenty-four hours a day, an unsung hero of the working American economy.  Out chasing the almighty dollar, no birthdays, anniversaries, high-school graduations, holidays or the like, just one endless string of trains to be rode and put away at the end of the day.  Flea bag motels and greasy spoons to dine in, one after another, some better than others, most not all that great.

Air brakes kick off on the main, crew change is now complete, she slowly starts to rumble outta town.  Funny, we always refer to trains as “she” perhaps in nostalgic remembrance of the sweet thing we left at home?  Hack flies by, she is run eight now and speeding down the line, I walk over to the call-box and the phone.  The red warning light on the rear-end starts to get smaller as she rolls away.  I take one last pull on my smoke, toss it to the ground and grind it out with my boot, open the call box.

“Two fifty-seven, Purcell.” I bark into the phone.

A little static on the line, and then the voice of the dispatcher answers up.  “Go ahead two fifty-seven.”  I ask the dispatcher for permission to enter the main.  Three hundred miles away, a man who I have never met, will unlock the gate and let me out.

The big horses and I will head on down the main and get on our train.

The light at the end of the pole, flips from bright red to high green, and I unlock the switch and give the locomotive engineer a come ahead with my lantern, the locomotives belch a ton of smoke and come on line.

The ground shakes below my feet as the four big pig iron ponies come out of the watering hole and thru the switch.

Slowly we take our place on the main.  One more player in the parade of life.  One more long train in the night.

What a way to make a living.



Early Morning Musings From A Red State.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  “Anybody who wants the presidency so much that he’ll spend two years organizing and campaigning for it is not to be trusted with the office.”

So Obammer chooses Joe Biden, where is the change in that?  A career politician, 36 years and still going, who gives long winded speeches, using his or other people’s thoughts and words?

The new “Obamma America.”

This week I received an email from Ireland to the brethren in the States…a point to ponder despite your political affiliation:  ‘We, in Ireland, can’t figure out why people are even bothering to hold an election in the United States this year.

On one side, you have a pants wearing woman lawyer, married to a lawyer who can’t keep his pants on, who just lost a long and heated primary that they still  haven’t paid for yet, against a lawyer who states he is ‘black’ when it is  documented that he is only 12% ‘black’, who goes to the wrong church, who has  stated that he wants his countrymen to learn to speak Spanish rather than English, who refuses to put his hand over his heart and say the pledge of allegiance or wear the flag of the country he wants to run, who can’t remember if there are 50 or 57 states in his own country, who is married to yet another lawyer who doesn’t even like the country her husband wants to run.

Now…On the other side, you have a nice old war hero whose name starts with the appropriate ‘Mc’ terminology married to a good looking younger woman who owns a beer distributorship.  What in Lord’s name are ye lads thinking over there?

Unfortunately, it is not that easy nor is it all that cut and dried … Politics is not the art of the possible.  It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.  Put these two in charge of the Sahara Desert it will eventually run out of sand.

Amtrak train bound for San Diego ran out of fuel over the weekend.  It was the little engine that couldn’t. A quick train trip down the coast turned into a long haul for dozens of stranded Amtrak passengers when their train from Los Angeles to San Diego ran out of fuel over the weekend.  The train sat for about two hours in the Sorrento Valley neighborhood in northern San Diego before another engine came along to push it to its final destination.

It arrived early Monday morning. The Local Trainmaster said a train running out of fuel is “an unusual occurrence” and Amtrak officials will be looking into how it happened later Monday.  AMTRAK is a “government run entity” in case you didn’t know.

I used to work on a railroad and often my duties were to ride or work the Santa Fe Chief Passenger train that ran from Chicago to Dallas.  On one particular day a brakeman got into a bit of predicament with a lady passenger and her baby.  During the course of the conversation he had mentioned that “her baby was the ugliest baby that he had ever seen” aboard a train.

Which of course did not sit well with the passenger and she went to the conductor of the train and in no uncertain terms, told him what she thought of this thoughtless and uncaring employee of the railroad.

The conductor understanding her concern and trying his level best to make do of a bad situation told the woman that he would have a long talk with the brakeman and he would get him straightened out.

He also told her that “it was not the policy of the railroad to hurt, injure or inflame the passengers that rode their trains, that he would as a way of correcting this obvious situation offer the lady a free meal in the diner car located towards the rear of the train.”

He said to the upset patron, “Please go towards the rear of the train, to the dining car, and tell the people there, that I am issuing you a free meal” and they are to bill me personally for it.

The woman smiled a big smile and replied, “Thank you so very much.”

To which the conductor added, “No thanks necessary, it is the least I could do.  And while you are there, make sure they give you a banana for your monkey.”